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I’ve probably been groped about a half dozen times in my life (on the street, at a concert, on the subway, at an amusement centre, at work…) and witnessed a man masturbating in a parking lot not far from me, trying to get me to come over to him.
But this story is a bit different – it involves two men, in broad day light, on a busy London subway train.
I was standing near the subway doors and doing my best to move out of the way for people coming on and off the train. As the doors opened, I moved away from the doors but felt something rub on my ass as a man exited the train. Then I felt the same thing happen again and noticed this second man exit, this time with his hand in his pocket and clearly sticking out so as to have rubbed up on me. I saw the first man look back and give the second man a knowing look (sort of like ‘that was fun’).
By the time I realized what happened the doors were closing and there was not much I could do about it.
I didn’t get to say anything this time (although in the past, I have chased a groper down the street yelling at him as he got away on his bike). However, I did want to share this story because it’s important to show that these are not isolated incidents, where only one (sick/crazy) man is involved. In this case, these were two men who felt that not only could they both grope me but that they could also get away with it, as they did.
I’m glad this website is here so that these incidents can get exposure. So that we can stop the myth that people can do this to other people, and that no one will speak up about it.
Here’s to assaults like this never happening, and here’s to us doing something about it when they do.
Submitted by C
Sadly this was in 2003, shortly before I had a cell phone, and definitely before I had a camera phone, so I don’t have pictures of the perps, but I LOVE this website, and I felt it was worth sharing the story because I made a huge scene and embarrassed the s*** out of a couple of creeps who street harassed me.
So: Back in summer of 2003, I was walking to get lunch in the middle of a workday – so about 1 pm, broad daylight, and in the middle of Harvard Square – and I walk by a couple of guys sitting on some steps with their shirts off drinking tall boys out of paper bags. A little unusual for the demographic of Harvard Square, but whatever. They weren’t doing anything more creepy than that, and I kind of think open container laws are pointless anyway, so I went on my way. Then one of the dudes comes after me and says “Hey, uh, my friend over there wants to make babies, and he was wondering if you wanted to make babies with him.”
I looked at the guy and said, in a very pissed off voice, “Really? Which friend is this?” And the guy is like “Uh, no, uh, never mind…I probably shouldn’t have…uh…” So I say “No, let’s go meet this friend of yours RIGHT NOW” and march over to where the other guy is sitting and start yelling at him. I forget exactly what I said but I do remember calling them both disgusting classless creeps, and then he was like “Come on, it wasn’t a big deal, relax, we were just joking around!” At which point I really blew my stack and start yelling “REALLY? IT WASN’T A BIG DEAL? YOU JUST SAID A COMPLETELY DISGUSTING THING TO A STRANGER BECAUSE YOU LIKE TO LOOK AT MY BREASTS AND IT’S NOT A BIG DEAL? LET’S PULL ASIDE SOME OF THESE NICE PEOPLE GOING TO LUNCH AND SEE WHETHER THEY AGREE WITH ME THAT YOU’RE A DISGUSTING CREEP, SHALL WE?” So I start pulling strangers over and saying things like “Excuse me, may I take a moment of your time? This gentleman just said a disgusting thing to me and now I’d like to share it with you.” They finally start begging me to stop, saying things like “Come on, don’t make a scene, you’re embarrassing me,” things like that, and I told them maybe they should have thought of that BEFORE they sexually harassed me, and that they should think of me and the world of pain I, and thousands of other women like me, would be only too happy to unleash whenever they thought of acting like pieces of slime in the future. Then I said I was going to get a goddamn sandwich before they ruined any more of my lunch break but if I saw them on the steps when I came back I was calling the cops and reporting them for open containers, sexual harassment, and being generally lousy people. When I came back, they were gone. To this day I am 100% certain I did the right thing by publicly humiliating them, and I would do it again in a heartbeat, though this time I’d want a videophone handy and I’d use it to file a police report.
The weirdest thing about this story, though, and the one that bugs me most, is that I told my (supposedly liberal/progressive) boss about this when I came back (leaving out the profanity for obvious reasons), and explaining that I was feeling a little shaken up but thought I’d dealt with it responsibly, and he reacted by becoming VERY uncomfortable and treating me like some sort of hysterical loose cannon for the rest of the week – it’s like my standing up for myself made him more uncomfortable than the fact that I’d been a victim of gender-based violence and was feeling pretty gross and shaken up about it. I guess this shouldn’t surprise me because he had some serious issues with women (including stuff like giving men offices and women cubes despite the fact that they were in parallel positions?), but it still really gets to me – how many people react with discomfort at angry responses to harassment and would just rather that we ignored it and remained silent. Thanks but no thanks.
Submitted by Diana
Like every other woman, I have been harassed countless times, but this particular instance really creeped me out. I was on a fairly full L train headed to Brooklyn when I noticed this old guy sitting across staring very intently at me. There’s a lot of creepy guys out there, but this one, I kid you not, looked like he would be a creep from a movie. I have never seen a more disturbing looking individual with burning, glazed over, angry-drunken eyes in my life.
So as the train pulls into the next stop, he gets up and sits down right next to me. This would be the day that I actually don’t have my iPod with me. Then, he says “You’re very pretty.” I ignore him, and he escalates it louder, “I SAID, you’re VERY PRETTY.” Again, I ignore him. At this point, he is leering right up in my face and follows with, “What do you SAY WHEN SOMEONE GIVES YOU A COMPLIMENT? HUH? ANSWER ME!”
To stop his banter I finally say “Thank you.” I’m looking around the train and everyone is just staring, and watching this all take place without, of course, doing anything. The guy is getting more enraged by the minute, and I am trying to hide my physical shaking. He continues bantering me with “I GAVE YOU A COMPLIMENT! YOU COULDN’T EVEN SAY THANK YOU, YOU FUCKING BITCH! YOU GONNA TALK TO ME? YOU GONNA TALK TO ME?” This man is shouting in my face. I was torn as to whether it was safe for me to even get up and move to the next car, since he was getting increasingly irate but I just couldn’t take it and got up a ran off the train when it pulled to the next stop, and as I look back he’s still screaming at me and running to try and follow me, but luckily the doors had just shut.
Like I said, I’ve been harassed plenty of times before, and I’ve been chased for a short distance, but never have I been so frightened like I was in this incident.
Submitted by Leah
I was riding the C train from work late a while ago. When the train reached Penn Station a bunch of rowdy guys in their late teens/early twenties hopped on. They were looking at me and talking about me, my hair, etc. I was, needless uncomfortable.
I moved and, like an idiot, I meekly smiled at the person who was sitting across from me- a man with a kind of badge around his neck (something that may have indicated he was developmentally challenged). I think I just wanted to look for a connection in another passenger. Big mistake.
When the train stopped at Spring street I noticed the guy whom I sat across from was behind me. I tried to go through the turning exit but he stopped the gate from moving. He held me there with his forearm. I was frightened and tried to call for help. No one in metro station seemed to be alert. But a voice came from the far end of my platform. “HEY!” a youngish man yelled “Are you okay?”. With that, the guy who had pinned me looked shocked and jumped on the next train that was passing by.
Just someone noticing helps so much. In so many of these stories no one noticing, no one baring witness, is a common theme. Having just one person bare witness to accosting can make such a great difference.
How can people be living, working, traveling about in a city and not pay attention to what is going on around them? Maybe assault on someone else is just too surreal for many people to grasp or feel they can affect.
Submitted by Sarah
Mario Valdiviant, the man literally caught with his pants down (with a condom on, to boot?), will serve time in jail. Hey look! That whole “can’t masturbate or show your ding dong in public” law thing is being enforced! Way to go, New York City! A long overdue HIP HIP HOORAY!
Check out the warning Hollaback gives to other would-be flashers on tonight’s ABC Eyewitness News. And then find us on Facebook and share your thoughts on the city’s response to this incident.
But Mario Valdivia clearly doesn’t. The 51 year old Queens subway flasher picked the wrong tree, and after footage of his illegal adventure was captured by a bystander and published to YouTube, this monkey got busted. The video went viral, and Mr. Valdivia has been charged with forcible touching, public lewdness, and sex abuse. Insert slow clap with loud, strong, rising crescendo applause and hour-long standing ovation here.
HollaHERO, hear us ROAR. This story has several heros, and let us thank them for their good work: the amazing woman, who has become a voice for all that is HollaFabulous, the quick and timely investigative work on the part of the bystanders (and the cameraman’s request to ‘hey man, let me see your penis!’), and finally and very importantly, the serious NYPD action.
We hope all instances of sexual assault and abuse such as this one won’t require a viral video and subsequent prime time television coverage in order to be taken seriously, but we can celebrate a good thing when we see it.
Happy Thanksgiving to all. Enjoy the CBS report here:
(UPDATE: We used to have a picture here of our very favorite privileged white dude, but then we got told we were violating copyright. Who knew memes had copyright? Anyway, it said “Men shout sexual things to you as you walk down the street? I’d love it if women did that to me!”)
If you missed the privileged-denying-dude meme all over the interwebs, check out KnowYourMeme for a recount of his many insights. We’re happy to hear that he’s weighed in on street harassment. It’s a conversation we over here at Hollaback! have come to term, “What about the menz?!?”
Lucky for us, privilege-denying-dude is often drowned out by rockstar-dude that makes us swoon. We’ve been inundated with support from men who are as fed up with street harassment as we are. We were co-founded by men, our board is 1/3 men, 50% of our donors are men, and just last week an historically black fraternity reached us to us to do an event.
So thanks dudes, for rocking it hard. And if you get a chance, do us all a favor and reach out to your privilege-denying-friends and give them a crash course on being as awesome as you. Us ladies have been working on them for decades, and we could use a little help.
*Thanks for the head’s up on this from @randomdeanna and our friends at Colorlines.
I parked my car 2 blocks from Miami’s opera house. I was walking along the street, in a knee-length dress with long sleeves. Miami is among the worst places I’ve ever been for street harassment but I figured guys saved it for women in revealing clothing.
The guy on the hot-shot motorcycle revved his engine as he came up to the stoplight. I was almost at the intersection when I heard his lecherous voice, “Hey baby, you’re looking so good tonight! What a beautiful woman!” I looked up and was glad to see a police officer in the intersection just ten feet away, directing traffic. He motioned me forward, holding the cars to wait while I crossed the street. I was so relieved: here was a cop to restore my sense of safety in front of the motorcycle-creep. I’m halfway across the street when the cop say, “Wow, you are really tall!”
And at that moment, the comment was not innocuous. Commenting on my physical body made me feel like an object, when I’d just been objectified 30 seconds earlier. In that moment, I was something to be evaluated and assessed, something to be critiqued and hopefully fucked.
I’m going to HOLLA BACK — both when it happens and here online — when it happens. Because yes, I am tall and blonde and fit many stereotypical notions of “beauty,” but that does NOT give any man the right to comment on my body.
Submitted by Tricia
My two girlfriends and I were walking toward the Hotel Rivington on Friday night. We passed by a group of three guys who were catcalling at us and one of them grabbed my arm as I walked by. I said, “Ew” and shook him off. When we walked away, one of them shouted, “Go study for your SATs fucking Chinese bitch.”
I marched up to him and his friends and told them not to call me a bitch. The one who called me a Chinese bitch, who was probably about 6’2″ and over 200 pounds (I am just over 100 pounds) shoved me two or three times – hard. I was yelling things like, “Oh, you’re going to push me? You’re going to push a girl?” He kept threatening to hit me, and he threatened to sic his professional boxer friend on me who he said would basically beat me to a pulp.
Then he spat in my face and bolted.
My biggest regret is not getting his name or photo.
Submitted by Andrea
This was sent to us by one of our readers, and is an incredible story of one woman who holla’ed back on her subway ride. Watch it, and bask in the glory of her HOLLAheroism.