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Last Halloween I was out with my friends at my favourite nightclub in Manchester. It was pretty packed and at the bar we started chatting with some guys. They seemed friendly and were asking us about uni and things. We all moved onto the dancefloor and it was all quite innocent.
Suddenly, one of the guys stuck his hand down the front of my jeans and tried to get into my underwear. Shocked, I moved and told him that if he did that again I would slap him. He apologised and then did it again! This time he managed to get into my underwear before I could shove him away. I walked away and he followed me. I told him that I would report him to the police for sexual assault if he didn’t leave. He called me a frigid bitch and walked off.
I went to the bouncers and told them about this guy, they just shrugged and said it was probably an accident. They weren’t prepared to cause a scene even though by this point I was crying and felt so awful.
I’ve spoken to other girls and they’ve had this sort of thing done to them before. Nightclubs and bars need to be prepared to take action when things like this happen.
By MELISSA FABELLO
I was living in India during its last festive season, which includes the celebration of Diwali, the Festival of Lights, arguably the most important holiday in the nation. We (the other Westerners with whom I was living and I) were warned by our Bengali counterparts to be careful. Diwali, after all, is commemorated with flashing lights, and it’s a common practice, we were told, for “Eve-teasing” to be taken to another level: sometimes, to show their interest, festive men will throw lit firecrackers at women. I figured that if I could survive Dengue Fever (which I suffered twice), I could deal with second-degree burns, but the frequency of “Eve-teasing” in India is, honestly, something I never actually got used to, despite its pervasiveness.
I recently learned that the International Centre for Research on Women (ICRW) released a statement, quoting that a survey of 1,000 teenage boys in Mumbai “showed that the overwhelming majority viewed the practice of Eve-teasing as harmless and inoffensive,” and I wasn’t at all surprised. I forwarded the report to my English-cum-Indian roommates with the headline “Sneaky Gropes,” which is the term we fashioned to describe the crime. But why wouldn’t boys take it more seriously? Used as a catch-all term in Southeast Asia to describe what we would call harassment and assault, “Eve-teasing” sounds innocent and playful, and therefore implies that it’s all in good fun, like stealing kisses on the playground.
Unfortunately, what Eve-teasing in public places really is, is street harassment. “And sexual harassment on the street,” Aisha Zakira, Director of Mumbai’s local HollaBack!, says, “is a gateway crime that creates a cultural environment which makes gender-based violence okay.”
But what I can tell you from personal experience is that the practice of Eve-teasing is not okay. Once, in a rush to meet my friend for lunch, I forwent my usual rickshaw ride for a bus, and what happened there left me rather distraught: one of the employees on the bus reached under my shawl and groped me – an unmistakable, no-way-that-was-an-accident squeeze – twice! I pushed him away the first time; the second time, I jumped off of the bus and walked the rest of the way to my stop. Looking up, I saw the man hanging out of the doorway of the bus, yelling at me, as if I were the jerk for not being receptive to a little jovial fun. I spent the rest of the day trying to figure out if the assault was my own fault. But, truthfully, there is no fine line here between avoiding ethnocentrism and demanding respect: the beauty of the country of India is easily undermined when you’re being groped repeatedly under your shawl on a bus, or when a man grabs your ass on your way onto a rickshaw.
Fortunately, women and men in countries like India, Bangladesh, Nepal, and Pakistan are starting to find a voice, and they are using it to shout back against street harassment. In Bangladesh, the High Court recently ruled that the term Eve-teasing demeans the severity of the action, after activists demanded change.
If we can change the vernacular, then we can change the attitude. Similar to men in the United States swearing up and down that their lewd comments are “compliments,” men in Southeast Asia calling harassment “Eve-teasing” is nothing but a misnomer. Let’s start calling it what it is, and calling it out on being wrong.
Melissa A. Fabello lives in New England, where she volunteers for various feminist organizations and runs the lesbian blog and community ToughxCookies.
See, I’ve never really had it where people have shouted about how much they want to have sex with me. It’s always about how much that they DON’T want to have sex with me. One incident that comes to mind is when I was about fifteen, still living in my small town in the UK, and I was walking home from school, so I was in my uniform. There was some building work going on at an old mill, converting it into apartments, so builders were crawling all over it. Anyway, when I walked by, they all started shouting down about how I was an ugly bitch, and barking at me. I hadn’t even looked up at them or provoked them, and when I saw, they were all maybe late twenties, early thirties, old enough to have daughters of their own. I ran home crying, and when I told my dad and stepmum, they said that I just shouldn’t let it get to me. What kind of world is it when grown men can terrify teenage girls and not get into any trouble??
I had yoga after work; it was a hot so I wore a regular tank top and work out pants. Near my studio I saw two men unloading a truck into the shop next door – they were calling out to every single woman who walked by. Immediately I felt uncomfortable and on guard; as I walked into the building I heard one man shout “hey girl with the pig tails, come back and play with me;’ I kept walking. I didn’t feel ‘sexy’ or ‘flattered’…I felt awkward, embarrassed, and mad at myself for what I was wearing. But no more. I am in my 30s now and I am tired of feeling small and meek; I am tired of wondering if my top is too tight or if I should tie a sweater around my hips…So no more. I will no longer stand for wolf whistles, cat calls, lip smacking, and all the ‘pretty lady compliments.’ I’m tired and done with it…from now on I will ‘hollaback.’
My best friend was groped in the breast by the owner of a bar in Devils Lake, ND. Apparently, he has done this to countless victims. Beware!
Remember that sicko we wrote about a week ago? The “journalist” who published his desire to meet and ass rape a Hollaback activist? Well he still has his job. What can you do about it? Sign our petition. The editorial teams of all the publications he works for receive a notification email every time you and your friends sign it. They may come to realize that publishing his trashy internet rants aren’t worth the price they pay from all the negative attention we garner for them. Please sign it today and let your friends know to do the same.
I was walking home from Nob Hill to Union Square after a Halloween party. I was a small 19-year-old, just transplanted from a tiny country town, and even though I was streetsmart enough to ask friends to escort me home at 2 AM, they remarked about being very tired and wanting to go to bed. So I decided to go home anyhow, alone. Cabs were expensive so I didn’t think to take one. I had walked home from Nob Hill alone before. It was usually deathly quiet around the rich neighborhoods that late at night, which I took mistakenly as a sign that I would be safe until I got home.
I was walking up Clay street, and when I passed the Jones st intersection, I saw a 40’s-ish man in a trenchcoat standing on the sidewalk. He didn’t look hostile but he seemed slightly uncoordinated – I should have taken that as a sign and crossed to the other side of the street, or turned around, but I kept going. I figured he was just waiting for a bus.
As I got closer it was pretty apparent that he was drunk, and from his wardrobe he seemed pretty affluent, not that it makes any difference. As soon as I walked past him and he saw me, he fixated on me.
“Hey, doll, how’s it going?”
I think I mumbled “fine” and kept going. But he started walking in the same direction. He kept calling me doll and asking me questions, although he was drunk/slurring/mumbling. Although I distinctly heard him say, “You look just like my daughter, doll.” That was the last straw. I crossed the street quickly – fortune seemed to be in my favor, because I saw a cab approaching the next intersection, and furiously waved him down, and was driven home.
I was mortified and spent a few days feeling surreal and freaked out. Since then, I find it almost funny how I have never been accosted by a homeless person (not that they’re harmless either) but it’s always affluent, well-dressed, middle-aged men who are the ones who hit on me, and always in a, “you’re young enough to be my daughter and I like that” kind of way. I’m very short and young-looking (I’m 23 and I was charged 17 & under admission at the museum) and I find it disturbing that so many men that age find underage girls so appealing. Gross.
I live in a smaller town now but I never let my guard down. I have come into my own as a feminist and as a person who is aware of rape culture, and I’m glad to have found Holla.
I was riding my bike home from a friend’s house on a pleasant afternoon. In fact, it was broad daylight, 3pm and I had been spending the last few hours with my friend and her 6 month old son.
Bikes of course have the right of way in Milwaukee so I was riding in the street. As I approached a red light at the intersection just north of Humboldt and Locust, I see a dirty old truck and the backs of men’s heads. I make a conscious decision to ignore them straight off the bat and not “provoke” by even looking in their direction. Wrong. Nothing I could have done would have prevented them from doing what they did next. We got the green and I started pedaling, only to have the truck SWERVE right up next to me. I THOUGHT they were trying to avoid hitting something in the street, I thought they were going to hit me (for the second time in my life). They slowed down, then the passenger leaned out his window and smacked my ass before driving off like the cowards they were.
I couldn’t see their license plates, my sunglasses weren’t prescription.
I was full of rage and sadness, I felt ashamed and feared for my life all because some jackass thought it was his RIGHT to touch me.
you know what I would have said had you not been a coward?
TAKE YOUR MISOGYNY and SHOVE IT UP YOUR ASS!
I was once going to my car to retrieve something out of it. When I was finished I turned back around to find a man standing directly behind me. I thought to myself that maybe he was there to ask for change, something that I was used to. Instead of hearing the words “Can you spare a quarter M’am?” I got “I was just tryin’ to make love to you.” Not exactly sure how to react to this I started walking away. He then proceeded to follow me and he asked me where I was going. I said, “To my boyfriends!”. That’s where he grabbed my arm and said something to the extent of “What your boyfriend got on me?”. I was able to remove his hand from my arm. Luckily he just walked off. The man seemed out of it and was possibly drunk or on something else. Not much later I saw a group of horse cops in the same alley way. I approached them and informed them that a man had just come up to me and tried to pull me away and possibly rape me and that they could please stay around to keep a look out. Not only did they barely acknowledge me, but they all road off about 5 minutes later.
A while back, I got the train at around 10pm at night. I boarded the train which was quite empty and sat down and about a minute later a man got on and sat on the opposite side of the train near me. He was making a lot of noise and mumbling a bit to himself as it was very cold, I actually laughed to myself because he was making such a fuss.
The train journey was fine and I was listening to my iPod when I heard something. I took out my earphones and listened again and heard a whistle and suddenly turned my head to see the man and he winked at me. I was in shock for a moment and just stared but managed to tell him, firmly, in my nastiest tone “Go fuck yourself.”
As you can imagine he was quite taken aback by a teenage girl being so forthright, he said what? and I told him he knew what, and that I didn’t appreciate any disgusting advances from a pervert like him and turned back in my seat. He started to defend himself but I kept interrupting him telling him I KNEW he did it and to leave me alone. He denied it so much I started to doubt whether it had happened at all.
He started to get quite loud “don’t flatter yourself, don’t flatter yourself” at which point two men which were on the train further down asked if everything was alright and came over. The man started swearing about me but the men knew what had gone on and seriously, SHOUTED at him. The train conductor asked how I was when he came to check tickets as the men told him what had gone on. Needless to say the man tried to deny it and swore about me on the phone as he walked out of the station calling someone as he didn’t want to walk home on his own!!
It turns out HE was the one that would walk home scared tonight and not me. There are good people out there who will help too and from now on I will ALWAYS HOLLABACK!!!