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In addition to giving this testimony, Elizabeth also wrote the op-ed that inspired the hearing! Her op-ed was published in El Diario, but a reprint in English is here. Having had the pleasure of meeting Elizabeth, I can also tell you that she is a true advocate in the fight against street harassment and an incredible, gifted woman. Her leadership in this movement couldn’t come at more important time.
p.s. thanks for the link, NewBlackMan!
I met the AHAlife team at an 85broads event. At the end of her speech, their founder and CEO Shauna Mei quoted Madeline Albright who famously said: “There is a special place in hell for women who don’t help other women.”
Now that’s my kinda woman.
This is a constant occurrence on the A train at the Rockaway Boulevard Train Station in Ozone Park Queens (At least for me). I enter the station and head for the Manhattan-bound A train side of the platform. My entrance is the one at the front of the train and I usually walk to the middle area of the platform and wait for the train. This morning, reminiscent of many others, there was a man already waiting for the train on the platform close to the top of the stairs.
I passed him on my way to my waiting area. When I got to where I usually wait, he was right behind me, casually reading his paper. I felt awkward and walked down to the area about ¾ of the way to the end of the platform. When I turned around to check, the man had followed me down and was half a car-length away from me. The train started pulling into the station, so I walked down the platform some more to make sure there was a car and half between me and him.
I got on thinking he would be in the other car that pulled up right in front of him, but then saw him getting into the same car, one door away from me. So I sat in the seat facing the back of the train, with my back toward the door he was standing at. Two stops later, he moves to the door that my seat is facing and is casually reading the paper and stealing glances at me.
At this point, I’m disgusted because he’s not the first guy that’s followed me down the platform, but was definitely the first to follow me all the way down, into the car I was in, and into my face. That’s when I took the first picture of the creep. He spent the whole ride (from Rockaway Boulevard to Fulton Street) creeping me out with his looks. I was sure he was waiting for me to get up and follow me off the train. He stopped reading his newspaper after Jay Street and was just staring at me the rest of the way.
I was pretending to doze off as I waited for the train to let a bit more of the crowd off at Fulton Street. At Fulton Street, I had had it with the creep staring me down. He had no intention to get off while the crowd was unloading so I pulled out my camera and snapped a picture of him with the flash on. The crowd around me looked confused but didn’t question my extremely disgruntled face as I took the picture of him. The shot shows the guilt on his face and surprise that I would actually take his picture. He disappeared into the crowd (or ran off right before the doors closed) right after my picture.
If there’s anything that gets me upset, it’s disrespectful creeps on the train. Don’t follow me, ESPECIALLY at 8:30AM when I’m half asleep. Had I been awake, I would have caused a stir on the train. Though I think my quiet decision to shame him with a flash photo in front of a crowd worked too. He wasn’t there to follow me off the train. I don’t appreciate creeps pretending to casually stand around after they follow me.
Even if this post doesn’t cause the creep to get arrested, at least I feel better that I made him nervous by taking his picture. It would be really nice to not be followed by douchebags.
Submitted by Maria
The story today on page 19 in the New York Post made me think of a business trip I made this summer with a female co-worker. Me, a male co-worker, and a female co-worker were walking to the train after our meeting. A police officer paused and leered at her as we walked by and he said, “How are YOU doing today?”
It sounds innocent, but the tone and the way he was looking at her was pretty obviously a weak come on. It was like out a 1950s movie. Very creepy. No wonder people don’t make eye contact or smile in the city. Very sad. Thanks for calling wanted attention to it.
Submitted Chris, Plantsville, CT
1. For New Yorkers: contacting your city councilmember to let them know that you believe street harassment is an issue that needs to be addressed by the council; encourage them to read the testimony and support Julissa Ferreras and actually get something done. Find out who your councilmember is here.
2. For people outside New York, call your local councilmember and let them know what happened here in NYC and suggest that they call similar hearings.
3. I’ve been noticing that a lot of the commentary in response to articles on the hearing is really negative and reactionary and sexist. I’d love for people to get on there, make positive comments about the hearing and fight back so that it’s not all obnoxious men calling us feminazis out there!!! A good place to start is here.
My name is Emily May, and I am the executive director of Hollaback!, an organization that has been working to end street harassment since 2005. I want to thank Councilmember Julissa Ferreras and the entire Committee on Women’s Issues for coordinating this hearing. While street harassment has probably existed in our city since the advent of streets, this is the first ever hearing to specifically address this pervasive issue. It’s a historic occasion, thank you.
Hollaback! is an international movement to end street harassment that started right here in New York City. It began because myself and a few friends were getting street harassed three or four times daily. When we walked on, we felt weak. When we yelled at the guys, the situation escalated, and the police didn’t care. The most common suggestion for dealing with it was to plug our heads with earphones and pretend it wasn’t happening. But something inside us told us this wasn’t enough—we wanted to share our stories, and to get our fellow New Yorker’s to share theirs. Five years later, over 1000 bold women and LGBTQ New Yorkers have told their stories of street harassment. Their stories have inspired Hollaback!s to launch in an additional 20 cities worldwide including London, Israel, Berlin, and Buenos Aires. Within the next couple of weeks we will launch an iPhone and a Droid app, making it even easier to Hollaback! and giving the public the real-time data on this pervasive problem.
At Hollaback!, we’ve heard stories of women leaving their jobs, or breaking their lease, because their commute involved too much street harassment. We’ve heard stories from girls skipping school to avoid harassment. And we’ve heard a surprising number of stories from women who moved out of New York City because they just couldn’t take it anymore. These stories come from women and girls in all five boroughs, and represent every ethnicity, from the ages of 10 to 75.
Too commonly, street harassment is believed to be the “price women pay” for living in New York City. But we’re not buying it. Taxes are the price we pay for living in this city, not street harassment.
Just this week I had the opportunity to speak with young women at Barnard and the Little Red School House. Of these 150 young women, 100% of them had experienced street harassment according to our anonymous survey tool. As frustrated as each of them was about street harassment, they were inspired to hear that the New York City Council was listening. Many of them are submitting testimony today.
We have heard from New York City’s women and girls. We know this is a problem. But who we haven’t heard from is our legislators. Until now.
We have an historic opportunity to do something about this. Street harassment is poised to be the next big women’s issue of this decade, in the same way that workplace harassment was in the 1980s. It is a gateway crime, creating a culture in our city that makes other forms of violence against women OK. And the New York City council is well placed to lead the charge, just like they have with so many battles that have come before it.
I know what you’re thinking – that this is issue is going to be tough to legislate. We could choose to ignore it—after all, this is what we have done for a very long time. But I propose an alternative–we could choose to work together and take action—and for it to work, we need to move quickly.
Our ten-year plan is to build a world where all the baby girls in strollers today will never have to experience street harassment the way that girls today have. Today, on this most historic occasion, I’d like to invite you to join us.
Here are three initial first steps:
1. We need a citywide study on the impact of street harassment on women and girls, including recommendations for next steps;
2. We need a citywide public information campaign that teaches women, girls, men, and boys that street harassment is not OK; and
3. We need to establish harassment-free zones around our schools, similar to the drug-free zones that exist today.
New York City’s women and girls deserve the freedom to walk down the streets of New York safely and confidently, without being the object of some creep’s fantasy. And you have the power to change that. You have the power to rewrite history for New York City’s tiniest.
So let’s do it. Let’s make today the day that New York City boldly decided to end street harassment. The women and girls of New York City are counting on us.
Male Students in the hallways at this school are constantly yelling “suck my dick!” at females. They even use the same vile language to female teachers in the classroom. New York City DOE Administrators allow them to get away with it. It is disgusting. How will these male students be acting when they are in the workforce? What message are we sending girls about how they can be expected to be spoken to at work when the graduate?
Submitted by Marie
Earlier tonight (around 7:30/8), walking down 33rd after running some errands. Dressed in work attire (for me, a shapeless pair of tan pants, white shirt, and cardigan) and carrying bags.
Two men in a work-type van pull over to the side of the street a little ahead of me, and motion me to come over. I’m about to ignore them, but one says “Directions?” and I figure that since they look like they’re from out of town (Connecticut plates) and they’re in a WORK van, they must be really lost.
“Can you give me directions to (mumble mumble)?”
“What?” (and I move a little closer, to see if I can hear better)
“Can you give me directions to Pussy Avenue?”
At this point I kind of stared at them in shock, and the passenger unlocks his door and moves like he’s getting out, so I turn around and book it in the opposite direction (it’s a one way, so they couldn’t drive towards me).
I was so angry at myself for not saying anything. This is why I’m so rude to strangers in this city…99% of the time, a man talking to you on the street is actually a creep.
Submitted by Liz
One day while I was running errands I came across a group of men who were hanging out in front of a barber shop. All I heard was “drug store, blondie” and they followed me for five blocks harassing and stalking me until I lead them the wrong way. After that experience I don’t go often near that block.
Submitted by Samantha
I wish I found this website sooner because I would have done something to stop the d*chebag that sat across from me on the bus. (Just for reference, we both had two seats to ourselves.) At first, upon boarding the bus, he didn’t seem threatening even though he glanced at me.
But boy, was I wrong.
For about 3 hours, I had to endure this nasty, nasty man (who had appeared relatively normal-looking) masturbating to himself. I was FURIOUS. Absolutely furious. What made it worse was the fact that he made it SEEM like he was SLEEPING the entire time. Ugh. And this is the first time this has EVER happened to me on a bus. And I’m a frequent traveler to Boston; I’ve been doing this for five years!
Now that I think about it, I should have taken a photo of the creep. I should have yelled at him when we stopped at the rest stop. I should have at least done something.
But because of this website, I now know that I have the power to make a change. No matter how small it may be.
Submitted by Leslie