groping, Verbal

Louise’s Story: Harassment even in supermarkets

I was in Sainsbury’s and I was buying cakes and these two guys looked at me and said ”nice” and followed me around the whole shop and wouldn’t stop looking at me, so I left my cart and went and this isn’t the first this has happened.  On nights out, guys would touch me.

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Midtown Hard Hats New Hollaback Heros


If you’ve never gotten a “Hey baby,” then perhaps you’ve heard a “Yo mommy” called out in your direction by a man who is getting paid a lot of money to be doing an actual job, and not trying to solicit a blow job.

An old comedian friend of mine, Liz Laufer, has a great joke she used to tell on stage about street harassment. She’d say, “I went to London recently and over in the UK, construction workers are a little different than here. There, they actually build stuff.” (more…)

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groping, Verbal

Nadia’s Story: Working with the system to put an end to harassment

I occasionally work through an online service that facilitates pre-screened runners to do tasks for people who either need help for a certain amount of time or doing a specific task. It’s a great service that allows me the ability to work when I have free time, but not maintain a strict regular schedule when a real job would interfere with school. It’s like a more legit way of hiring someone through craigslist to do menial work such as picking up groceries, house cleaning, assembling furniture, moving, event staff etc. During a recent bar tending event, a fellow hired through the same company hit on me the entire night and physically touched me twice. I was going to just let it go but decided that I should stand up for myself, that his harassment was not okay, and that I should not have to wait until I am groped, explicitly verbally harassed or raped before reporting sexual harassment. Everyone deserves a working environment where they can feel secure and not have to simply brush off a situation where another person makes them uncomfortable. I wrote the company this letter and they are taking the matter very seriously. I just got off the phone with one of their representatives who was very supportive and told me that the highest level of the company is currently having a meeting about the situation, that they value and support me and that they are going to take care of this situation. This is the letter I wrote to them:

“This is regarding the bar-tending task that took place this past Saturday 3/12 posted by {redacted} and the runner Ryan S.
I’m sorry if the prose is a bit lengthy and emotional, I’m still upset by the occurrence and had a hard time trying to describe exactly what happened.

It started with the usual introductions and small talk. He asked me if I was single which I thought a bit odd. He then proceeded to lengthily explain that his live-in girlfriend of 5 years up and left him for her boss and how he had moved into the city and was living alone while I nodded politely. At one point I stated that I was tired but my best friend was in from Seattle and I had promised to take her out once I got off but I really wasn’t up for it and needed coffee. He casually suggested half a dozen times that we find an open cafe and grab some together afterward. I pointedly ignored him to spare him the embarrassment and figured he would take the hint. He continued to jockey for an invitation, at one point suggesting that we take the leftover oversize bottle of tequila from the party and split it afterward. I continued to ignore him even though it was obvious that I had heard him. I realize that I should have verbally expressed my dissension but we had several hours to finish bar-tending and cleaning up and I wanted things to run smoothly for our host.

He crossed the line when he physically put his hands on me from behind, holding me with his hands on my shoulders. This was a purely flirtatious gesture on his part. He was not moving me out of the way and it in no way had any practical purpose towards the job at hand. I immediately ran away through the neighbor’s part of the roof that was partitioned off so I could get away as quickly as possible.

I’m not naive and I’ve worked at jobs where the relationship between coworkers allows that sort of contact over time. I had met Ryan that evening and was friendly but not flirtatious and I had given him absolutely no indication that he had permission to touch me in any way. I had just met him, I did not trust him and his behavior was completely inappropriate. He is also considerably older than me which added to my discomfort.

I felt uncomfortable at the prospect of leaving the building by myself in case he followed me as the task ended at midnight and was in a residential section of town. I called a good friend to come pick me up at the door.

At the end of the night he communicated to the host that we were done cleaning and she confirmed that we were good to go. This all happened 5 feet away from me and I heard their conversation. He then came behind the bar where me and the other runner were standing and put his hand on the small of my back and said that we could leave. I wanted him to exit first so that I could wait in the apartment for my ride to show up and to make sure that he didn’t follow me outside. This may seem paranoid but again, I had just met this man, he was older and larger than me, he had physically touched me twice after I had expressed my discomfort and honestly, in the pit of my stomach I felt very unsafe. He stood at the door which was ajar for several minutes seeming to internally debate whether he should openly ask me again to leave with him. I stared at my cellphone and waited for my ride to call, pretending I was engrossed in something.

He is a nice enough man and probably just lonely but he made me very uncomfortable in a situation where I felt powerless to openly reprimand him. I was ambivalent about writing this email at first, but the feeling of discomfort is still vexing me two days later.

I understand that (company name redacted) is unique and the nature of the system engenders an environment where interactions between your employees are hard to mitigate. I don’t want an apology from him and I don’t really care that nothing dangerous ended up coming of it. I would have no trouble classifying this as sexual harassment and want him fired. I absolutely feel afraid of seeing him again and disturbed at the thought of interacting with him, whether at a company party or during a two person job if he happens to get chosen as the other employee. This instance is interfering with my work as I will be weary bidding on two person events, which I usually really enjoy and pay the most.

I feel like I’ve been an valuable employee, picking up jobs whenever I have time, staying flexible to the senders needs, staying communicative with (company name redacted) if there were ever any discrepancies and being an excellent representative of your company. I have a 100% 5 star rating with 20 jobs and have met a few of the actual employees. There are no witnesses to the conversation or the physical contact described above other than possibly the party goers. The other bartender was downstairs at the time. My friend (redacted) who picked me up would be willing to verify my level of distress directly following the party and recount all of the instances I’ve described in this email. I had not met this man before, have no connection to him and will probably never see him again and assure you, I have no reason to fabricate these accusations.

I absolutely do not want to have any further interactions with this man so please make sure he does not contact me. If you have any questions please call me. I would be willing to come to the office and give you an in-person statement if you need one. Prior to contacting him please email me with the course of action you plan on taking. I’ve never had anything like this happen to me before and am still very upset and shocked at the lack of professionalism he exhibited towards me. If nothing is done I will seriously consider closing down my account.

Thank you so much for your time reviewing this matter. I hope to hear from you soon.


My intention of posting this is to bring hope to some women that sexual harassment accusations can be taken seriously and dealt with appropriately. It was initially terrifying writing the letter and I was worried that I might simply be brushed off but the positive support I’ve received so far is truly inspiring and validating of my experiences and worth as a human being. Not all companies are as intelligent and empathetic to their employees but I thought I’d add my story to the pile and encourage women to report their harassers, even if a situation simply makes you uncomfortable. Regardless of gender, people need to learn respect of each-others boundaries or else sexual harassment will never end.

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Stalking, Verbal

Chelsea’s Story: “So much for having just moved here.”

I was 19 at the time and my dad had dropped me off at the bookstore so I could buy a book I wanted. On the way back a guy on his bike stopped and began talking to me. I don’t like being mean so when he began asking me out, asking for my number, and trying to give me his, I tried to be nice and say things like “I don’t really like talking on the phone,” and “my dad will be coming to pick me up soon so I need to go,” rather than saying “Your creeping me out, leave me alone.”

But he keep asking me for my number, and trying to give me his, and trying to convince me I should date him out of pity (He was said he moved to the area a few months ago and didn’t have friends yet). I was getting more and more creeped out and more rigid in my answers but he wouldn’t give up. I didn’t want to leave in case he decided to follow me, so it took 20 or 30 minutes of him repeatedly asking for my number and trying to give me his before I could finally leave. How many times does a girl have to say “No” before this guy gets the picture?

That’s not all though, when I was telling my dad about the creep (who has a very distinctive birth mark on his face), it turned out he had done the same basic thing to my sister a few years back at a carnival. So much for having just moved here.

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To Be (Anonymous) or Not to Be (Anonymous): Women in Technology


“I know, rationally, that random insults are exactly that,” says Grace. “But I still find it hard to brush off. Maybe I’ll grow that thick skin, but I don’t feel that the onus should be on me to do so.””

“The first rule is: try to avoid pronouns.” A tall order, especially when it comes to the basic act of writing. And taller still given that Brittany (whose full name and publication she wishes to remain anonymous) has worked in editorial media for several years. “I mean, of course you end up using them. But if it’s on Reddit or The Guardian online—anything with comments or feedback—it’s the same: you’re going to get shit if readers figure out you’re female.”

Since the internet’s explosion into the mainstream, the idea of harassment has been thrown into the same semantic cyber-danger pot as “chatroom predators,” “identity theft,” and “Craigslist personals”. But as online experiences which have long been solitary become increasingly community-based, receiving abuse via interactive technology has become, it would seem, a given—and widely-absorbed into women’s online routines.

“Even the most explicit online mud-slinging is easy to kind of ignore or just not internalize. But there’s this feeling, from everyone from the readers to the active commenters to your real, flesh and blood editors, that if you get creepy responses, you were sort of just asking for it– just by mentioning you’re female, or offering a ‘female’ perspective on something that doesn’t have an exclusively female following.” – Kim Pittman

Kim Pittman is a level-designer for Toys For Bob, an Activision studio based in northern California. In addition to working in the game industry, she is herself an avid gamer: “I got into gaming because of my mother and my brother,” she says. “My first conscious memory is of a video-game. I’ve always played them. It was just a family thing at my house.”

Pittman studied at the Guildhall at Southern Methodist University, which has offered an accelerated graduate program in video-game development since 2003. “As a designer, it’s kind of my job to study new games. So I try to spend thirty minutes to an hour every day playing something new: everything from Facebook games to iPhone games to Xbox 360 games. But most of what I play for my own pleasure – not deconstructing anything – is World of Warcraft.”

Blizzard Entertainment’s massive multi-player online game World of Warcraft has gained notoriety in the past decade for its die-hard, often socially reclusive fans, coupled with massive commercial success. But Pittman remains conscious of the stigma attached to advertising gender within its gameplay. “You do not share the fact that you’re female,” she states. “Despite the fact that I play solely female characters, everyone assumes that you’re male. And when you play these games, you just let people assume you’re male, because it’s easier. You don’t have to worry about ‘creepies’, you don’t have to worry about people ‘falling in love with you’ – it’s just easier. Then when you get to know people, eventually you reveal yourself. You can say ‘Well, you know, I’m not really a guy,’ and then you have to combat the initial disbelief. People think you’re just trying to get something out of them. I actually played with a guild in World of Warcraft for over a year, and we finally got a vent server and were suddenly all like ‘Oh God, you really are a girl!’ I’m just said, ‘I’ve been telling you that for over a year now!’ They didn’t believe me.”

A 2006 statistic from the Consumer Electronics Association revealed that women ages 25-34 were out-playing men in “casual” (non-console) games by 30%. Three years later, a Nielsen report would find that women over age 25 make up the largest constituency of gamers in the United States. And in the UK, women have been projected as made up 48% of World of Warcraft players. “It’s a little relieving to not be singled out as that odd girl doing something she shouldn’t be,” Pittman explains. “Video-games still have that kind of stigma – that they’re for children, or that they’re a waste of time. Over the years, as I’ve met more and more people, I’ve begun outing myself as an actual female. And more often than not speak with people you thought were male — and they’re not. Suddenly they’re like ‘Oh thank God, another woman!” and suddenly you build these friendships where you’re just clinging to each other like someone drowning clinging to their life-jacket.”

The irony and self-perpetuation of online anonymity is not lost on female gamers and new-media users. “I went to PAX — the Penny Arcade expo up in Seattle – and it was an eye-opener. Up til that point I saw myself as something of a unicorn,” a metaphor Pittman finds particularly apt, and returns to often, “being a female gamer. At something like that there are going to be thousands of other girls running around, just as nerdy as you, if not drastically more so. It kind of reached this point where I thought, OK, this isn’t abnormal; we shouldn’t be having to hide online, and this is unfair. I should be able to tell people I’m female and not expect crazy to come out of it.”

But out of this unsettling trend has come comfort in the form of the ever-useful screenshot:, launched early this year, allows gamers to share the creepy, comical, inane, and often deeply disturbing feedback female gamers receive, most often via the chat functions in the World of Warcraft and Call of Duty franchises.

“I shared some of the messages I had received with GTZ [co-editor Grace*] and other friends,” explains Ashlee, a co-founder of FsoU, “and we were all laughing about them. I said something like, ‘Everyone is the same. I’m always either fat and ugly, or a slut.’ GTZ said I should make my own site in which I just post all of the messages I get, and our friend Marcus suggested we call it It started out as a joke, but we quickly realized it would be an awesome idea.”

One “whisper” reads: “wow retard r u on ur rag or somethin.” In a Call of Duty chat-log: “you fat fuckin tomboy go kill yourself.”

“I really like the fact that we’re taking away peoples’ anonymity,” says Jennifer, ie “OMGitsFEDAY,” the third of FUoS’ editors, “which I think is a huge reason why people think sending these kinds of messages is OK — because they can get away with it. Not anymore, suckers! And we’re also helping showcase an actual issue that many people don’t even realize happens, though it’s a part of life for any female who’s ever played an online game and had the audacity to reveal her gender.”

The site has received widespread media attention since its launch, including profiles in Kotaku and GamrFeed, and news aggregator Reddit, which launched an extensive discussion among both male and female gamers. One Reddit user contributed: “I never realized how bad it was until my girlfriend got into gaming. She started with L4D [Valve’s Left 4 Dead] on the 360. She would constantly get bombarded with disgusting voice messages and lewd comments. I’ve been playing online games for a long time and never experienced anything close to what she has to deal with. I’m not even talking about comments like ‘lol a gurl, get back in the kitchen’, I’m talking about extremely vile things. Like the little kid who voice messaged her that he was going to chop her up into little pieces and have sex with all the pieces. I mean, seriously?”

Like all areas of waking life, women in online media are caught somewhere between indignation and the frustration at having to be indignant: the distress of being targeted, and the backlash at discussing factors which still allow women to be targeted – particularly in ways which many view as vestigial of a time long past.

“I know, rationally, that random insults are exactly that,” says Grace. “But I still find it hard to brush off. Maybe I’ll grow that thick skin, but I don’t feel that the onus should be on me to do so.”

For Pittman, her history of harassment in gaming doesn’t begin and end in the digital world. Since entering the Guildhall in 2005, she has left an internship because of a co-worker’s obsessive behavior, and been asked by a previous studio’s human resources department to delineate her own definition of workplace sexual harassment (“because,” she explains “it wasn’t so much a question of if and by what circumstances it would happen, but when it would happen, and I think they wanted to be prepared”). She also shares a story about being kicked out of a guild by a female leader upon realizing that she—Pittman— was also a woman: “You know it’s funny, I’ve never encountered anything even remotely close to that in a game of Call of Duty. I played Team Fortress 2 quite a bit, and even in that it was like, ‘Oh you’re a girl? Big deal – HEAL ME!’”

“There is no reason we should have to hide our gender to play games,” says Jennifer. “I’m not going to go all Mulan and cut my hair, deepen my voice, and wrap my boobs. The comment we get a lot is: ‘Just don’t talk or let people know you’re a girl.’ And it’s bullshit. We shouldn’t have to hide. We like games, so get over it.”


Arianna Reiche is a writer dividing her time between the east and left coasts. Visit her online at

one comment 
racial discrimination, Verbal

Hoda’s Story: You’re racism is not witty

Hi, I’m a Muslim girl and proud to be. I wear the hijab (head scarf) every wear I go and I have been told several offensive comments and this is one of one of the many encounters I’ve had with an Islamaphobe.
One day me and my friend were shopping at the mall and while we were walking to the next store we were walking by a man and his girlfriend and while we passed he stared at me and said “BOOM!” and him and his girlfriend started to laugh at us but we just ignored them and continued walking. I know that isn’t nearly as bad as it gets, I’ve known people who have been physically assaulted just because they were wearing a head scarf.
I really want to but a stop to this type of harassment and that’s why I’m here.

one comment 
News, The Movement

Argentine Turd Threatens Rape to Prove a Point

And we want him fired. From all the publications he works for. Since when are rape threats funny, clever, or intellectual? This douchelord obviously doesn’t have a clue. Check out our petition on and help us serve the consequences to this ignorant “journalist”. We have 1300 signatures so far—help us reach 2000.


Petitions by|Start a Petition »

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Assault, Verbal

Sara’s Story: The importance of standing up for yourself

#1: I was fifteen years old, crossing a busy street in a small town. A young man leaned out the back window of a slow-moving car and yelled: “I want to f**k you!” I stopped in the middle of the street and shouted back “Marry me, Captain Romance! I want to have your babies!” He peeled rubber.

#2: I was sixteen years old, riding the # 16 bus to the ferry terminal with friends. I was the last one off at our stop, a young man stood up in front of me and started pushing me toward the back of the bus. He put his hand between my legs and grabbed my pubis. I picked him up and threw him across the bus.

#3: I was twenty-eight, walking out of a bar with a friend. A strange man tried to grab my breast as I walked past him. I grabbed his hand, threw it at him, and kept walking. When I looked back, he was gaping at me like a clubbed fish.

There were many, many more of these sorts of incidents in my teens and twenties, these are my favorites because they ended well. The others ended with me slinking off feeling contaminated and afraid. But I do think that it is perfectly okay to fight back, to hit, kick, punch and bite, if someone puts unwanted hands on my person. So I celebrate those times when I remembered to stand up for myself in the heat of the moment. It’s important.

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Cathy’s Story: Not a blissful honeymoon

I was on my honeymoon with my husband RIGHT NEXT TO ME and some men approached and said they wanted to fuck me.

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groping, Verbal

Serenity Elizabeth’s Story: My night is none of your business

After a clumsy night with my friends that left bruises and scratches on my legs I was walking home with shorts on. An old man said “rough night,” pinched my butt and walked away.

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