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When my friend and I were 13, we were walking back to my house from a fast food restaurant. We had entered a fairly nice neighborhood and were minding our own business when we hear “damn!” And we turn and there’s a group of 4 guys who looked to be 17, cat calling us, and just making lewd comments. After hearing enough, I turned around and flipped them off, telling them that if they didn’t shut up, they’d be getting this finger somewhere else. It’s amazing to see how young this behavior starts.
There is a local grocery store within .1 miles of my house that I walk to often, not having a car to drive, and I have gotten honked at multiple times, guys slow down when they pass me and give me a degrading stare, and I get comments like “hey hot stuff!” thrown out the window often. I’m barely 15, why not watch the road instead of the adolescents walking next to it??
Walking to my Y when a man at a bus stop on 16th and 50th NE started screaming at me and calling me a dyke, telling me to suck his dick, and that I deserved to be raped. Because I walked past him. I kept walking and called the cops, but he was gone when they arrived.
I have experienced everything from whistling to someone aggressively forcing a conversation on me while I was walking somewhere.
The worst had to be the time I was walking to the grocery store. I was in work out gear and had head phones in when a car horn blares scaring the living daylights out of me. I look up and see some young guy hanging his head out of his friends car. We make eye contact for a split second and then he spit at me before the car drove off.
I was so caught off guard by the whole interaction. The only thing I could do was laugh, but nothing about the experience was funny. No one deserves to be degraded and made to feel scared.
This week, Hollaback! was featured in City Paper, Belgium Time, CONTESSA GAYLES · Multimedia Journalist, Black Youth Project, Writog, State News, and NY City Lens. Also, Thee Kats Meoww just released this awesome video from our rally earlier this month!
Finally, check out this video from STAGE: Students Taking Action for Gender Equity. In celebration of the launch of our Holla 101: An Educator’s Guide to Street Harassment back in February, STAGE hit the streets and held their own Chalk Walk, in an effort to reclaim their city’s sidewalks. The video is a recap of their walk!
Here’s what HOLLAs around the world have been up to:
Hollaback! Appalachian Ohio held a 2 hour workshop at Hocking College on Assertive Responses to street harassment and Bystander Intervention.
Hollaback! Baltimore was interviewed on WYPR’s Maryland Morning radio show talking about their Safer Spaces campaign. Check it out here! On Tuesday and Thursday, they co-sponsored an event with Tatyana Fazlalizadeh, artist of the Stop Telling Women to Smile project. Tatyana held an open and casual discussion about street harassment and the Stop Telling Women to Smile project.
Hollaback! Houston visited with some inspiring students at St. Catherine’s Montessori who wanted to know more about the Hollaback! movement. They are taking on some great feminist topics and are ready to take action. Sounds fantastic!
Til next week,
HOLLA and out!
- The Hollaback! Team
I was coming home from a lovely evening with a friend last night, riding my bike west-ward on Ontario towards the deMaisonneuve bike-path and I was waiting at the red light right in front of Katacombes. So i’m sitting on my bike, and this entitled DICK-BRAIN LOSER casually walks by me and gropes my ass, completely unceremoniously without saying anything, so I shove him off, and start swearing at him profusely… So this complete and utter piece of shit of a human being backs off a bit, then grins at me, then comes back forward and FLICKS MY BOOB and stumbles backwards again, still smiling, while i’m literally imploding with wrath.
I really wanted to get off my bike and do something, punch him, kick him, spit at him, scare him and get that fucking smile off his face but decided that I didn’t want to leave my bike unattended / put myself at risk / bother with such a pathethetic dipshit no-life stinky butt slug… ARGGGHHH TIMES INFINITY!!!!!
A few days ago I was walking down the street after having lunch with my friends alone, singing some corny Lion King song and wearing an old sweatshirt and jeans that had not seen a washing machine in a long time. Some man with a beard hollered at me from his car, with immense aggression in his voice, “Let’s see those titties! Show them to me, you bitch!” the street was completely empty, and he had his head completely out the window staring at me. I totally would’ve started screaming and telling him to leave me alone, but he was not extremely rational, and I didn’t want to provoke him into coming after me. I am fourteen. I was singing Lion King and eating a giant sundae. Why do people think that because you’re outside you’re somehow part of the porn movie of their life?! Keep it in your pants, homies.
I am a rather conservatively dressed person. And yet today I heard the comment – ”you’re beautiful”. A nice thing to hear, but I know where this could lead – no stranger says this for no reason. So I ignored and tried to walk on. Looking down as to not engage in unwanted eye contact, my wrist was suddenly grabbed by this man. I felt anger more than fear. I hoisted my hand away and walked away quickly down the long empty street. This was in broad day light. I was sober – he seemed sober.
Comments I can ignore – but unwanted physical contact – why does this still occur in a ”civilised city”?
We’re all taught that we should at least feel safe at home. If we buy a home or rent a house, that property should be our haven, a place to live and relax.
Yesterday, I was taking advantage of that. As I was transferring seedlings into pots, a guy who was new to the neighborhood passed by, and we exchanged hellos.
Later, while I was reading in the sunshine, the same guy came around again, struck up a conversation. He was very polite, up until the point he grabbed my rear end.
I stepped back, said, “NOPE. OFF.” and pointed towards the sidewalk.
I think that reaction startled him, because he initially stepped back in a hurry. Apologizing profusely, he shuffled off, looking back at me as if he wanted to try continuing the conversation.
My glare told him just how likely that was going to be.
It’s not the first time something like this has happened to me, and it’s not the worst thing, either. However, it still left me feeling violated, angry and helpless.
After about an hour of stewing, I called the non-emergency phone number for the police. He wasn’t in sight anymore, and I only felt threatened by the uncertainty of “What if he comes back? What if he decides to try something else?”
I gave his description, told the operator what had happened and where the guy had told me he lives. Because I wanted to file a formal complaint, they sent a pair of officers over.
Since it wasn’t an emergency, it took a few hours for the cops to get here. That’s fine. Far worse things happen every day in this city. The two who showed up were a pair of young men.
Most police have a reputation of not taking sexual crimes seriously, and since this one was comparatively minor, I didn’t expect anything more than I got.
After I told my story, the one officer said with a laugh, “And you expect this guy to become a serial grabber?”
Straight faced, I replied, “No, but you know as well as I do that this type of behavior can escalate.”
At another point, he told me that other guys would have stayed and argued. To that, I let him know that, yes. I know that, too. It’s happened to me before, but I never made a report, because I didn’t think anything would happen.
His last try at minimizing the situation was, “Well, at least he knew what he was doing was wrong.”
If anything, that’s worse. If he knew it was wrong, why did he feel confident enough to do it? As a human being, didn’t that seem like a bad thing to him? How would he feel if it happened to a woman he cared about? How would he feel if it happened to him?
When they finally decided to take me seriously, they asked if I wanted a restraining order, which really, is all they could offer at this point.
I declined, since that was the first, and hopefully last, time I’ve ever interacted with that particular guy. If he does try giving me trouble, I will get one and I will keep a record of what he does. They told me that the fact they showed up would help my case if I have to take further action.
I felt a little foolish calling the cops on such a minor event, at first. The worst that’s happening on a personal level is a little more paranoia and anger on my part. I wasn’t physically hurt, and I haven’t seen the guy again since then.
The more I think about it, though, the better I feel about getting this on file. Harassment, whether that entails groping or anything else, is part of why things like rape and other forms of assault are so under reported.
Our culture has normalized that behavior to the point where victims are just expected to stand helplessly by.
I, personally, am sick of it. No, I’m not going to call the authorities every time some jerk whistles at me from the street or flirts lewdly with me in passing. If I did, I’d be on the phone almost every time I left the house.
What I am going to do is share my stories with anyone who wants to listen. When someone tries to get physical with me against my will again, I will make another report, and do whatever’s needed to get out of that situation.
Sadly, I say “when,” because there’s no “if” about it.
Moral of the story?
Don’t be afraid to say no, and if you can, report the incident to the authorities. Even if nothing happens in the long term, there will be a written record of the event and it will add up. Hopefully, that will amount to some change for the better.
When i was 17 i took driving lessons and my instructor tried to grope me every single day. He used to take me to dark lanes to teach driving.
Initially i thought ‘its just in my head,’ but as the days passed by he started to be very obvious making me uncomfortable. One day when he tried to slip his fingers in my top, i held his hand and yelled at him and asked him not to do so.It took me a whole lot of courage to say anything to him.
This is when he got a bit aggressive and came on to me, uplifted my top and assaulted me.The only reason he stopped was because i screeched and made noise.
Next day i discussed this matter with my best friend and we decided to report against him in the driving school. The authorities were shocked and handed him over to the cops.
I really wish i would have reported him initially but it takes a lot of courage to do something like that specially when you know that people are gonna judge you too.
i’m happy that my best friend supported me in this decision and stood by my side.