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A couple weeks ago I was followed home in the most aggressive manner I have ever experienced. Let me first set the scene by noting that I have already been dealing with a peeping tom at my house for over a year now, and despite my numerous calls to the police, reaching out to several of my neighbors and asking them to keep an eye out for suspicious behavior, and my own personal two dog security system, I haven’t felt at ease in my own home in longer than I can remember. Nowhere is safe. But thats not the story here.
I host at a restaurant in San Francisco, and on this particular Tuesday night the restaurant was DEAD, and I was sent home at around 6. It being a sunny beautiful day I decided to walk the 30 min walk from the BART station to my house. About 5 blocks away from my home a beat up white KIA pulled up to the sidewalk just ahead of me and a strange man tried to call out an offer for a ride. I ignored his offer and kept walking, didn’t even look his way. He turned the car around, and tried again. And again. And again. He circled around three times for every block I walked, yelling more and more insensitive offers, turned forceful demands. I never once looked his way. Eyes forward I walked, but I knew just where he was at all times, he made it clear he wasn’t going away that easily.
5 blocks of this until I turned on to the street before my own street and he was still there. I started to feel panicked. I did not want to give the man the power of knowing where I lived. I was minutes away from my already unsafe house, and he showed no signs of letting up.
But now I was in my neighborhood, passing the man that I smile at nearly every day as I walk past him people watching on his porch, and just a few houses down from two other men working on their car in the driveway. I finally felt like the odds were stacked a little more in my favor. In all honesty the men probably would have done nothing to help me, but all I could tell myself was at least there were 3 other people around that could witness this part of the incident.
As the KIA pulled over for its grand finale I grabbed a large rock from the yard adjacent to me, and yelled over the man, as loud as I could. Finally there were at least people around to hear me. I screamed out to the man, told him if he turned his car around one more time, or tried to speak one more foul word to me I would hurl this rock directly through his windshield. And sure enough, he circled around one more time, only this time he never stopped. He sped right past me, and headed back to whatever shit hole it was he came from.
President-elect of the Philippines, Rodrigo Duterte cat-called a reporter, Mariz Umali: “The President-elect said “Nagpapapansin ka talaga sa akin (You’re really trying to catch my attention),” then made a wolf whistle. People in the audience can be heard laughing and cheering.”
Man on the street, I thought he was going to the same party I was when he said “Hey, what’s happening?”
I turn around and see him pulling his penis out. I roll my eyes, open the door with the code, close the door behind me.
I pull out my phone to take a photo – all while hoping he did not have the code to the door.
He first tries to hide his face. Then he sees I’m persistent. He storms the door and starts yelling. I tell people in the hallway what happened. Everyone starts yelling at each other.
He didn’t have the code.
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As a girl from a small town in Alaska, I’ve not been subjected to or ever seen cat-calling (or street harassment) in any form before (except on TV). That all changed once I moved to the Capital District of New York a couple weeks ago.
I don’t have a car most days (my boyfriend takes it to work daily), so I walk to/from the grocery store or library or etc by myself fairly often. I’ve gotten cat-called multiple times during my walks.
Earlier today, I was minding my own business while heading home from the store (I was out of milk and needed some for my coffee) when a guy in the backseat of some car at a stoplight yelled something like “Hey Momma!” or “Hey Honey!” at me. I was the only person on the street. Ignoring it, I continued my walk home, all the while worrying that maybe the car turned around. That maybe the car I hear coming up behind me is the guy (and his friends) coming back.
I arrived home safely, and am thankful for the locked-door policy of my apartment building (key card only access to the lobby and elevators). But it still bugs me how much one phrase yelled by some random stranger made me feel so insecure and scared.
As the humidity rises outside, our office is starting to fill up! Debjani just got back from the New Media Ventures conference in San Francisco where she promoted HeartMob, our new platform created to address online harassment and build a virtual community of support. This week we also welcomed our new communications intern Maggie to the team. Give a warm (not humid) welcome to her!!
Meanwhile, at Hollaback! sites around the world…
That’s all for now!
Holla and out!
We are finally feeling the heat here at the Hollaback! HQ in New York City, and things seem to be shaking up for what will be an exciting summer full of actions and activities! Debjani took off for a New Media Ventures conference in San Francisco, representing our new platform to address online harassment and build virtual community, HeartMob. Don’t forget to sign up as a HeartMobber to make the internet friendlier and safer today!
And at our Hollaback! sites across the globe…
Hollaback! Romania is releasing a survey about women’s experiences of street harassment in Romania for a doctoral thesis.
Hollaback! London announced that they will be transitioning out of group form and assembling “a diverse new collective to help take this message to the streets.” If you know anyone in London, be sure to have them contact their Facebook site! They are looking for event support, social media volunteers, and contributors to partnerships and projects.
That’s all for now!
Holla and out!
I live in a small college town, where I don’t experience harassment every day- people are generally nice to each other. Which is why I was a bit surprised today. I had just gotten off the Appalcart (our local bus system) and was walking down the sidewalk to my apartment. I heard a couple of short honks, made by some sort of truck. I look to the road to see what had happened (I was on the sidewalk) when I saw a plumbing truck from a local business, with two men leering at me, no cars near them. They passed by too quickly for me to react. I’m in summer classes at the university right now and have had a lot of late nights for homework, so I was really too tired to do anything anyway.
I wonder, what about me asked them to “catcall” (via honking)? Of course, this is a rhetorical question, the only people at fault are the perpetrators. It’s still a question that pops up in my mind, however; I run through what I was wearing (I dress conservatively, though that doesn’t even matter!), I had my backpack on, I was walking back from a long day at class… In the end, I am just at a loss as to how someone can think it is appropriate to treat another human as a zoo animal.
If you are in the area, the truck had a logo on it from Triple T plumbing. I’m halfway tempted to phone the business and report this to them, but if the management employs people like that, they probably won’t do anything about this matter.
I’ve been grabbed full frontal in the crotch in a nightclub and at a carnival – where the men could get away quickly and disappear into the crowds afterwards. I felt so angry and powerless, but also disturbed – it was so intrusive that both times it felt like it could be a warm up for something even more sinister.
Drunk vagrant men catcalling and following women out of the museum. Cops were called and never showed up.