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I am a male and first I want to say I’m really sorry for what you ladies go through. It’s terrible that there are men out there with such blatant disrespect for women. Reading these stories, it sickens me to hear them. I just wanted you to know that at least one man got your back!
I haven’t read all of the stories on this website, so maybe someone like me has already shared a similar experience. (Also, I’m disappointed there isn’t a Hollaback in DC.)
I live in the Columbia Heights neighborhood in Washington, DC, which is very diverse – a lot of white, black, and Latino residents–but not many Asian residents. There aren’t many Asians in DC to begin with, as they mostly live in the MD and VA suburbs. I am Asian American and female, and I believe the street harassment I experience is not only sexist, but also racist.
One time last summer, after a friend and I had drinks at a local bar, I walked home by myself around 1:00am. The neighborhood is pretty safe, though mostly deserted. I passed by a man parallel-parking his car and he yelled out the window, “You’d make a great concubine!” It was bad enough that he would yell anything at me to begin with, but I know I never would have gotten the “concubine” comment if I weren’t Asian. How am I supposed to respond to that?
I kept walking and ignored him, but I felt so angry that 1) he did that to me and 2) more importantly, I couldn’t do anything about it. I wish there were laws on the books about street harassment, particularly in DC, where it is rampant, so that I could have taken down the guy’s license plate and reported him to the police and he could have been fined or something. But no such laws exist. Yet…?
Another incidence of street harassment happened a few days ago. I was passing a construction site on the way to a meeting, and one of the construction workers tried to say hi to me and get my attention. I just ignored him because he said it in a way that I could tell he was trying to flirt or otherwise sexually/inappropriately harass me. But because I chose to ignore him and keep walking, he yelled after me, “What, you don’t understand English?!” Again, had I not been Asian, I would not have received such a comment about not understanding English. Does that mean if I could understand English I would automatically be willing to respond to him??? How does that logic make any sense? Again, I felt furious that there was nothing I could do in response.
This is quite possibly the most vile thing anyone has ever said to me. It’s not the first time I’ve been the victim of verbal street harassment, and I only wish it will be the last. It was about a week ago, and I stood texting my boyfriend on National Avenue (near One Stop Golf), the same place I’ve waited to meet him from work most weeknights for over 3 months. Before this the same group had done the odd wolf-whistle but that’s it, yeah it’s demeaning and unpleasant but nothing compared to the latest catcall.
Last week as I stood in the usual place, 4 guys (late 20s) cycled past and one of them shouted, “Don’t think you’re going to get any business stood there!” I was completely in shock, I froze and just stood there looking down at my phone in horror. My boyfriend arrived a few minutes later with his friend and they were both really concerned. I’m normally quite quick-witted and things don’t usually shake me this much but I was feeling so awful and sick from the comment I could not even react. It turned out the guys who cycled past actually work with my boyfriend, and I had to beg him not to say anything because I’m certain if they know it bothers me, they’ll get worse. I have even resorted to hiding down the ten-foot until I’ve seen them go by. I’ve never felt so ashamed to be a woman in my life, I kept thinking, “Do I really look like a prostitute?” It took my boyfriend, his parents, his brother and my best friend to convince me that they were just stupid boys saying stupid stuff. I can take a bit of banter but that was too much…
I recently moved to San Francisco for a summer internship. In the 10 days that I’ve been here, I’ve experienced catcalling and other forms of verbal street harassment (from strangers intentionally blocking my way as I’m walking and creepily saying “hello” to making ominously threatening comments about me) on 5 different occasions. That’s every other day. Each time, it triggers memories of my prior experiences with sexual violence and reminds me that I am constantly at risk of experiencing such violence again.
Just today, I began to notice all of the subconscious ways I’ve been responding to this harassment. I look down to avoid all eye contact with passersby (hoping to go unnoticed), remind myself to walk and stand in aggressive ways (in attempts to appear strong), stand near the exit on public transportation (so I can easily escape if I need to) – and that’s just during the day. If the sun has set and I’m alone, I stay in my apartment. Period.
The way that street harassment polices the bodies, actions, and lives of women and many other marginalized populations is unacceptable. I shouldn’t have to feel scared, tense, or anxious about walking out my front door. These are my streets too.
I was walking down St. George’s Rd to ASDA near the train line. A maroon car drove past and the driver pressed his horn, leaned out of the window, and yelled, “Get your tits out sexy.” I was disgusted. I know it’s no excuse but if the guy had been young I’d have brushed it off as someone trying to show off. This guy was middle aged he should have known better than to victimize a teenage girl walking down the street alone.
I was recently sitting and waiting for the bus with no one else near me at midday, although the street was very busy. What appeared to be four young men, maybe late teens early twenties, sporting baseball caps, pulled up by the bus stop in their car and began yelling and laughing at me. I had my headphones in and did not remove them. I gave them a stern look, to show I acknowledged and was rejecting their harassment, then turned to look at my phone again. They continued yelling things at me (and I mean yelling) for a few minutes before finally driving off. I was spared from hearing what they were saying because I turned my music up so that I couldn’t hear it. I’m harassed too often and will avoid hearing the vulgar comments if I can. I wish I’d caught the plate numbers. I had no idea a resource like this for harassment existed, and my city should certainly get involved.
Since January, these two boys from my grade (6th!), who walk home the same route I do, have been making comments about my “fat, juicy ass.” And in April it got even worse. They started having loud conversations about how they were going to rape me or how they were gonna put there “spout up my c**t” I’m no longer the cheerful girl I once was. Thanks to two 12 year old douchebags who love to street harass.
The man featured in this photo exposed and fondled his penis in front of me on a Queens-bound N train around 8:20pm on Saturday, 14 June. I yelled at him loud enough for the rest of the passengers to hear, announcing that I was taking a photo of him for the police. He quickly returned to “reading his book” and hustled off the the train at the next stop. Police action still TBD.
Last night, while I was going back home with my best friend (who’s also a woman), some guy asked us if we’d like to come party with them. My best friend said no, yet they kept on insisting, so I told them simply “no thank you.” Right after I said the guy told me to shut the fuck up, that I was probably some fucking racist, and that I looked ugly. When I asked him what was the point of disrespecting me this way while I did nothing but remain polite he started calling me a slut, a bitch, a whore, a loser etc. And then he started threatening to beat me and spill his glass of beer on me, saying that I deserved to have his glass of beer thrown at my face and that he wanted to spit on me. Luckily my best friend didn’t get scared and managed to calm him down. Now I’m scared to walk out at night alone and get attacked, beaten for no reason.
At the mothership, we spoke at Council Member Laurie Cumbo’s, Girl Power Event, leading discussions about street harassment with the amazing Street Artist Tatyana Fazlalizadeh. We also made cool anti- street harassment posters that were wheatpasted around the city (pictured). More photos from the event can be found here.
Executive Director, Emily May, and Juliana of Think Olga hosted a webinar about the #endsh movement in Brazil. Also, we participated in the 5th Annual Father’s Day Pledge Against Violence on the steps of City Hall.
Here’s what HOLLAs around the world have been up to:
Hollaback! Korea hosted a discussion at the Gwangju GIC Talk where they discussed street harassment, shared stories from around the world, and taught the audience bystander intervention techniques. Pictures from the rad event can be found here.
Hollaback! Plattsburgh socked out stigma with the Anti Stigma Alliance of Champion Valley at First Weekends Plattsburgh where they brought attention to the issues surrounding street harassment and fundraised while tie-dying awesome socks.
Hollaback! Sarajevo participated at Peace Event Sarajevo 2014,where they hosted a two day presentation about street harassment for students from around the world. They also participated in panels that brought awareness to gender based violence in conflicts and spoke of the importance of the participation of women in government and the military.
Hollaback! Italia hosted a “How to Holla Back” workshop.
Great work everyone! Til next time-
Holla and out!
-The Hollaback Team