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Not very recent at all, but still relevant. Once when I was 11 or 12 years old, I was out with my mom when a man came up to me and asked me if I wanted to go out for drinks. The man was probably 40 years older than me. He followed us up the block before giving up. My mother didn’t try to defend me or get rid of the man, nor did she talk to me about it later. Because my mom blamed me and never tried to protect me from bullying in school, I assumed that street harassment was also my fault.
I work in the Financial District of Manhattan, a male dominated environment to say the least. As a female professional in this area, I am dressed in business attire daily, and I am frequently the recipient of verbal commentary and gestures on my walks to and from work, as well as on my walks to and from picking up lunch. Today on my walk back to the office from lunch, a man walking with a co-worker turned around as I walked by and yelled “Hey, how are you gorgeous?” and of course, I kept my head down and kept walking. To my utter disbelief, I then heard his friend say to him, “Come on man, have you see that video with the girl getting cat-called? You’re not helping our case.”
As feelings of satisfaction and purpose and joy overwhelmed me, I felt I had to share here to make it known that you are TRULY making an impact. Even if it remains this small–and it won’t–it was remarkable to hear this man calling his friend out for the unsolicited “compliment,” and it’s all because of this movement. THANK YOU for what you are doing, and thank you for spreading the message in a big way.
I was riding the A train downtown around 9AM on my way to work, holding onto the metal bar which situated me directly in front of 3 sitting individuals. Specifically, my body was facing was an older man who was sitting reading a newspaper. When we arrived to our first subway stop, I felt what I thought was the outside of his fist- very lightly- run up the inside of my thigh. I remember thinking “was that what I thought it was?” and looked down find him still inconspicuously reading his newspaper. I quickly dismissed attributed it to the corner of his newspaper. Either way, these things can accidentally happen on busy subways in close quarters. The next stop was Fulton Street. Before I could move out his way, he stood up and as he did he ran his fingers all the way up the inside of thigh. At that moment, I knew the first incident wasn’t his newspaper– it was intentional. I remember thinking “okay, that was a little close for comfort” and watched him step off the subway car ahead of me. I walked up the stairs and jumped on the up escalator. The escalator was so packed that morning leaving no left hand walking lane. So I stood still the whole way up. Just as I am about to reach the top I felt something on the inside of my thigh run all the way up to my butt cheek. It took me a second to register that it was a HAND! I turn around to find the SAME disgusting man from the subway!!! I probably flew about 3 steps forward before turning around and giving him the death stare. I wanted to scream & humiliate him for what he did.. but I couldn’t get the words out of my mouth. So instead, I RAN as fast as I could. That morning was extremely traumatizing. I was scared to ride the subway for weeks, especially during rush hour, and I became paranoid that I would see him again on my morning commute. It’s taking me a little time, but I have become so incredibly self aware because of this. Word of Advice to ladies in NYC: when the subways are busy, always check your surroundings (in the front and the back of you). People will take advantage of the close quarters whether its touching you, taking camera pics under your dress or skirt, or just plain standing too close for comfort. Always be cognizant of what’s happening around you on the streets and the subways. Most importantly, if something like this happens to you, MAKE A SCENE- SCREAM, YELL anything you can do to bring attention to yourself. Don’t let the person get away with it. Every so often I cave with the catcalls and lash out at the guilty person. Sometimes, I get attitude back and other times laughter, but most of the time the dudes are silenced & dumbfounded by response. “Yes- I talk. I am a human being not an object.” I can’t find the strength to respond every time, but when I do.. it’s an incredibly satisfying feeling.
While running early one morning in Barcelona I realized I ran by a massage place that offered for 1 hour at 25 euros. I thought it was a great deal, but it wasn’t open so I decided to take a picture of the opening hours and name. While taking a photo a man with a shopping cart passed me from behind and slapped my right butt cheek with his hand. I was fuming, but I didn’t say anything. He was laughing sinister like, and I just prayed for God to bring justice to him one day.
I have only lived in San Diego for 6 months and I have already had some experiences that have made me very uncomfortable to walk home from work in my “safe” neighborhood. I’ll start with the least disturbing occurrence and go on from there. I was on my work, sitting outside of Starbucks with my nametag on. A man said “You should smile, Hailey.” I think it was just because I was sitting alone minding my own business. Another time I was walking past this Starbucks when I followed the gaze of two men (one young, one old) as they checked me out from behind. The older man asked “what ethnicity are you?” to which, I didn’t respond and continued to walk, upsetting them. They became upset.
Here is where things get really messed up.
It was a hot night and I was wearing a short, yet long sleeved dress. My boyfriend and I were walking home when we had come to a stop to wait for the light to turn so we could cross the road. A suspicious looking man was waiting for a different light. He had a large jacket on, glasses, a backpack, and his hands in his pockets. Once he saw us, he immediately started laughing and moved to our side of the street. My boyfriend and I decided not to risk waiting with this man, so we turned around and began walking quickly in the opposite direction. We started running full speed when the man yelled “That’s right you keep running!”
Another occasion, I was on my lunch break again. I was walking past the grocery store when a man with a long beard approached me and asked if I would have sex with him. I looked him in the face (as you should do with suspicious characters) and continued to walk. He began screaming hysterically “of course you don’t want to have sex with me!, why would you want to have sex with me!? Come on!!!” To which I looked back and responded by telling him to fuck off. Maybe not the smartest move but, this was a busy shopping center in the day time. I immediately called the police and let the ladies at work know what he looked like. The police said they could do nothing unless he actually physically assaulted me.
This is possibly one of the creepiest things I have ever experienced. A man comes into the store where I work quite often, we will call him Jeff. He appears to be a man in his 40’s. I am a petite 18 year old that looks more like I could be 16. One night just before close, Jeff comes in and mentions that he had just seen me at a specific grocery store. I thought that was very odd because I hadn’t been there for around 3 weeks. I thought he might work there because I do shop there on my breaks and the employees talk to me. Turns out he didn’t work there. Jeff comes in again a few weeks later and gets something for his daughter. I help him find it and ring him up at the register. He begins to ask me questions about my job and make general but, invasive small talk. A few minutes after he leaves we get a phone call. I pick up the work phone. I recognize his voice. He introduces himself as the “bald guy” I just helped and asks if this is a good time. I figure it’s something to do with work and say “of course, how can I help?” He asks me if I’m single! I say no and that I have to get back to work and hang up. What!??? I let my manager know.
University employee (presumably from Facilities, as he had a university jacket) stopped working to tell me “Smile, baby!” He was working with several other men. I had earbuds in, which he pro a l I gave the man a disgusted look and walked away. The man apologized in a “oh, I’m sorry you were offended” manner.
My friend and i went to our local community centre to see a friend of ours that was performing. Remember, my friend and I are only 16. We were both dressed wearing simple simple modest clothing that was not tight or revealing as its still winter and its cold at night. We left after our friend had played and walked about 5 minutes down the street to McDonald’s. On our way we were stopped at traffic lights and 2 cars had drove past and honked their horns and were catcalling at us out the window. We didn’t let this phase us, continued to trek McDonalds, ate our food, and left.
As we are walking back the same set of traffic lights we are stopped by two middle aged men, we try keep our eyes on the destination, ignore their stares and not seem phased until one of them tries to high five me and hold my hand, this was really awkward. They compliment us and ask us where the nearest liquor store is and if we could walk there with them, we denied, said a polite goodnight and kept walking. We were both really scared at this point because silly us go walking alone at night, we’ve already had men stop us and we aren’t even halfway back yet.
So we’re about 2 minutes away, the centre in plain eyesight, 2 drunk men are approaching us, we move to the opposite side of the footpath, even contemplate crossing the road, I decide we would only make the men offended and angry if we did that. I whisper to my friend not to make eye contact, keep walking and do not seem phased by them.
They stop us, slurring, speaking to one another about our appearance and what they would do to us if they got the chance. One of them even says to me “no offence to your friend or anything but i’d totally root you” (this is typical Australian slang for sex) For me personally, it was one of the scariest nights i’ve ever had and i could only imagine what other women older and prettier than me go through on a night out. I felt dirty and downright disrespected having men I don’t even know comment and say disgusting sexual things to my face. I could also honestly write that if i had said what was actually on my mind instead of a simple “ok, thats enough, have a good night guys” me or my friend would have gotten verbally/physically assaulted or raped.
This needs to stop!
Happy Friday Hollabacker’s!
There has been a great deal of press coverage of Hollaback! this week with the explosion of the viral video. If you haven’t yet read our statement regarding the recent street harassment PSA you may do so here.
We hope you helped #carrythatweight on Wednesday, October 29th. Executive Director Emily May spoke and Hollaback! donated 28 mattresses. Full coverage of the rally can be found here.
Hollaback! Bahamas held an open forum with a performing arts class at College of The Bahamas. They also held an educational session for a sociology class at College of The Bahamas. Additionally, they joined Bahamas Against Sexual Violence & Child Abuse in a demonstration calling for the protection of children, an amber alert system, stiffer penalties, proper rehabilitation, and a sex offenders registry (following the sentencing of a 64 year old man to 5 years in prison for the rape of a 6 year old girl).
HollaBack Cleveland invites you to their very first Holla-WEEN Costume party and funky fundraiser dance party!!
On Saturday, Nov. 1st, celebrate Holla-ween with a SAFE-SPACE COSTUME DANCE PARTY! Come boogie down on the dance floor without worry that unwanted comments on your body or outfit, or gay bashing will ruin your night.
Growing up in Los Angeles, from the time I was in my early teens I could not walk down the block with out getting cat calls by men . I would get cat calls from old men, young men , teenage boys etc. As an attractive female I felt trapped that no matter where I went i would get verbally harrased and in some ocassions stalked. I did not always live in the greatest of neighborhoods in Los Angeles, my family was low income and my transportation was public transportation. While standing at a bus stop or even a stop light, men would pull up their car next to me and try to pick me up as though I was a prostitute. I could not even begin to tell you how many times I was cat called and hollard at while I was a teenager going on to my 20 s. Its unbelievable what being an attractive female is like living in a big city. The attention that these men displayed is not the kind of attention that I wished for. I could appreciate a compliment here and there , but to hear them everyday on a regular basis really starts to affect ones mental state and at the end of a long day a woman doesn’t feel beautiful, she feels like a piece of meat .
New York City, NY (30th October, 2014) – When the street harassment video was launched earlier this week, we hoped that it would make an impact but never imagined that it would be viewed more than 15,000,000 times in the first three days. The response has been overwhelmingly positive. Many women feel a little less alone and a little more validated in their experiences and we have heard support from our partners, new and old.
Rob Bliss Creative donated time and labor to create this video and support our work. We are grateful for his work and the wide reach that his video has achieved but we feel the need to directly address other responses to the video.
First, we regret the unintended racial bias in the editing of the video that over represents men of color. Although we appreciate Rob’s support, we are committed to showing the complete picture. It is our hope and intention that this video will be the start of a series to demonstrate that the type of harassment we’re concerned about is directed toward women of all races and ethnicities and conducted by an equally diverse population of men.
Hollaback! understands that harassment is a broad problem perpetuated by a diversity of individuals regardless of race. There is no one profile for a harasser and harassment comes in many different forms. Check out our Harassment Is: Identities and Street Harassment guide on how individuals experience harassment differently. This video should have done a better job of representing this knowledge.
There are many more voices to add to this conversation and Hollaback! is committed to continuing to make space for those voices by providing platforms and amplification of people sharing their stories and finding ways to push back.
Second, there has been another problem which deserves further attention: the onslaught of rape and death threats that have been directed at the Shoshana B. Roberts, the subject of the video, are unacceptable but sadly unsurprising. When women are visible in online or offline spaces, they experience harassment. When women demand change, they meet violent demands for their silence.
We understand that violence exists on a spectrum that is played out on the street and online. We understand that it needs to change. We hope that you will work with us to end street harassment and to fight harassment wherever it is found.
Third, the coverage that this video has received shows how far we have come and how far we still have to go. Many outlets have used the video to have conversations about street harassment that would never have happened even five years ago. For many, street harassment is a real problem to be reported as such.
Other coverage, however, shows that sexism still shapes culture in a way that harms women. When journalists on major news networks reinforce, support, and normalize street harassment they minimize the violence and fear that women experience on the street.
We want to thank everyone for participating in this vital dialogue — and we encourage continued conversation and debate.