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I was out jogging on a Sunday morning around 11:00 AM while visiting my in-laws, who live 2 blocks from Frontier Park in Erie, PA. A tall, brown-fuzzy-haired, fit, attractive college-y looking guy in his early 20’s with wire-frame glasses in red basketball shorts and a grey t-shirt passed me, smiled, and said “hi.” I’m a New Yorker so I don’t usually greet strangers but I figured it was probably common courtesy in Erie, so I said “hello.”
A split second later he came up from behind me, pulled me up against him, and groped my crotch. I elbowed him and he bolted down the street where my in-laws live. My husband and his family drove around the neighborhood searching for hours and never saw him. To my knowledge the cops never caught him either.
J’aime Olm is amazing. She just won the techdisrupt competition with her idea on creating a “black box” for women’s safety. She also did something totally unheard of. She used her six minutes on stage to shout-out another start-up. You guessed it, Hollaback. She comes on stage at about minute four.
She has won our hearts. We’ll keep you posted when her app comes out.
This is simply amazing. This kid “Astro” must be 8? 10? and is rapping about men who stare and harass his mom on the street. My favorite line, “she’s an independent lady let her stay like that. Stay fly work hard it’s OK like that.” It’s super-fun and catchy, but it also makes me think about how street harassment negatively impacts kids too. Like this kid, I was also the child of a single mom, and we went everywhere together. I saw what she saw. And when what you see is a world where the most amazing lady you’ve ever met is publicly degraded on a regular basis, it starts to shape the way that you look at the world and the people in it.
Probably the most obvious effect is that it makes street harassment normal. We tend to think of things that are normal as permanent, immutable. But not so long ago, having separate water fountains for “coloured folks” was normal. Giving only white dudes the right to vote was normal. A world without handicap parking spaces was normal, too. But some bold people saw “normal” was also short-sighted, and their “abnormal” visions have made the world better for all of us. So screw normal. Let’s bring on the street harassment revolution. Astro’s already written the anthem.
Living in New York (and Philadelphia before that) I’ve been harassed almost on a daily basis. Most of the time I walk away from the incident feeling upset that I didn’t or couldn’t make my harasser feel as violated and threatened as he made me feel. So not too long ago, as I was returning to my office from a Starbucks break, a man leaned into my path and loudly said “SEXY.” He began to walk behind me. I wish there were a way to describe how thick and disgusting his voice was. Combined with the fact that he was raping me with his eyes and that at least 3 other men had tried to talk to me on my way to Starbucks, I was enraged. I turned around immediately and made like I was going to throw my hot tea into his face. He shrieked, apologized, and backed off.
I’ve been getting a ton of backlash for doing this (especially from male friends, no surprise there), although I never would have actually thrown the tea on him–not unless he had put his hands on me. He was following me, and was behaving the same way as men who had grabbed or touched me in the past. I have a right to walk wherever I please without being sexually harassed, and I also reserve the right to pose a physical threat to anyone who poses one to me. The only thing I’m sorry for is that I couldn’t snap a picture of him too.
Submitted by Gabrielle
The scene: an extremely crowded G-train shuttle bus on a Saturday afternoon. Everyone was packed onto the train, everyone’s bodies were touching each other, but I was surprised to feel someone’s hand squeezing my ass. I looked behind me and saw a man’s hand poised there behind his back–still in a cupped position as if he felt no shame or need to hide his covert grope. I was completely enraged and I turned around, grabbed him by the shoulder, and shouted “Did you just grab my ass? Because you totally just did!”
For the first instant he looked shocked but he suddenly became angry and yelled back (though much quieter than me), “Shut the fuck up, you ugly bitch, or I’ll smack the shit out of you.” Now, the bus was very crowded, and I knew he wasn’t going to hit me, though I wish he would have so I could have beaten the hell out of him. So I replied, “You’re going to hit me because you groped me on a crowded subway shuttle and I noticed? Are you kidding me?” at which point he turns around and starts ignoring me. I turn to the friend I’m with and say as loudly as I can “That douchebag just grabbed my ass,” she responds “What a fucking freak,” etc., and I stand close to him glaring the rest of the ride.
I handled the incident just like I always hoped I would, but that doesn’t mean it didn’t make me feel shaken and violated. It was absolutely horrible. From this incident onward (about 4.5 months ago), I tell street harassers to fuck off on a regular basis–even if they say “You look gorgeous” or “God bless you.” It feels good, but it doesn’t come close to completely counteracting the feelings of victimization, rage and sadness that come along with being harassed on a daily basis for being a woman.
Submitted by Rachel
Walked to get my coffee, man on the corner makes sounds at me. Walk back home and he starts his own monologue about how I’m looking good, etc, etc… It just kept going! I shouted behind me for him to “Shut up!” Had my hands not been full of coffee, muffin, and keys, I would have taken a picture. It was ridiculous.
Submitted by Rebekah
So up until a few moments ago I was having a very good day. Today was my first day at a new job which I love and this morning I spoke with someone regarding some freelance work that might be in my near future. So you would think that after all that I would be a good mood…guess again. I got harassed on my way home from my great, wonderful day. I walked by this man with his friend and he said “Lovely” to me. I as usual told him to go fuck himself. Now many my not think that the word lovely isn’t all that offensive but I don’t need hear constant compliments on my looks to validate who I am just because I am a woman. Now in response he got very upset told me to “get out of the hood”. Now this brings me to something that I have always wondered about: why does street harassment seem unusually high in the “hood”? And why is it a practice that is becoming increasingly popular among young black men? It has been in my entire life’s experience that 95% of the men to harass me have been black and most of those experiences have happened in poorer black communities. Its entirely safe to say that although I run a risk of being harassed everywhere and most women are I feel safer in Park Slope or Williamsburg as oppose to Bed-Stuy where I currently reside. I even dress a little different knowing that I wont get harassed. I know that whenever race gets brought up it can be a rather touchy subject but I cant help but wonder if more women in the NYC area other myself have noticed this trend or if it is at all significant to bring it up. Should race be tackled in the “Stop Street Harassment” movement? Should it be addressed? The problem that I think this blog is trying to resolve is to get women talking to realize that it happens to women everywhere and with that realization women can stop internalizing. But I wonder if it would serve a better purpose to speak of the harassers. Who are they are and why do they do this. The way I have rationalized my own experiences has been thinking of the black men who do this as an exercise in a power struggle in which they feel as though they are losing. Is it simply one oppressed group trying to oppress another? What that guy said to me resonated because it seemed like he was saying that in the “hood” things are done a certain way and how dare I challenge it by talking back to him. I may be over thinking this it was though he was trying to make some sort of comment on gentrification. I do look like an outsider in my neighborhood and even though I am perceived as minority myself being Hispanic, its obvious by how I dress that I am probably part of the gentrification movement that is slowly but inevitably affecting Bed-Stuy. Are these men noticing this trend and is this a source of anger? I hope this will inspire some feedback because either rude black men are just what I am attracting or this might have some larger significance.
NOTE: Hollaback! believes that street harassment stems from a culture of violence against women, but we don’t believe it stems from anyone’s culture in particular. Our blog shows that men of all races harass women, and our work shows that it happens in all countries. Still, E. isn’t the only one who has asked this question. What do you think?
The New York Post reports that last week a brave Brooklyn student named Annie Jiang helped to catch a guy who was masturbating against her on a crowded train by taking his photo with her cell phone camera. “I tried to take a picture of him because I didn’t want to scream on the train,” Jiang said. “It was blurry, but I got it.”
The story reminds me of the inspiring story of Thao Nygun, who almost five years ago exactly photographed restaurant owner Dan Hoyt with her cell phone camera while he was masturbating on the train. Thao said, “I knew I would feel terrible afterwards if I didn’t do anything.” Thao’s brave act inspired us to launch Hollaback! and today she’s a member of our board.
Two incredible women taking bold actions for a better world. Now that something to HOLLA about!
WAH-NAILS in London runs HollabackLDN, and posted this on their blog this morning. My favorite part? The “we are everyone, we are everywhere” banners on the sides. With new Hollabacks popping up left and right, this isn’t just wishful thinking.