As a teenager I used to hate walking past building sites or anywhere that groups of men were hanging out. I never found it flattering to be whistled at or having guys calling out to me. My defense used to be to appear as stony-faced as possible, in the hope that they’d think I was a moody cow and not worth approaching. This invariably backfired because what I used to get was “Cheer up love, it might never happen!”
I heard this cliched cheeky chappie expression so many times! After the umpteenth time I suddenly came up with a brilliant reposte. “Actually, it just did.”
Most of them took a few seconds to get what I had said, some of them never did.
What is a bit bizarre is that I still brace myself when I walk past a building site, even though I’m 55 years old and have been “invisible” for years!
I have been harassed in my town several times but two times specifically stood out to me. The first one was when I was in 8th grade and was walking 4 blocks away to my friends house.There was this white car passing by slowly. He passed me several times… I was panicking, I didn’t know what to do. I started walking faster and it passed around the block again. I finally made it to my friends house and I knocked my heart out while looking down the street both ways. He opened the door and I ran inside hysterical. My friend closed the door and was concerned and later walked me home. Note: this happened during day light.
The second was last year during my sophomore year. This was on the same street from the previous incident. I had gotten off the train and was walking home. There were three boys older than me walking ahead of me slowly. Even before they started calling at me I felt like something was going to happen. They were walking in front of me waiting for me to pass them so they could probably do something. They all made typical calls encouraging each rooting for each other. My heart was racing…. I hate walking slow and doing so then just made it seem like this would last forever. I made sure to keep my distance but I didn’t want to stop walking altogether or I thought they might do something. A corner came up… I thought I would detour my route because I thought they wouldn’t go out of their way to turn back to follow me. So I walked 5 blocks just to avoid them, when my destination was only 2 blocks away…. but I also didn’t want them to know where I was going.
I was at a metal concert in Seattle at Studio Seven when a guy behind me decided it would be a great idea to grab my behind. His hand stayed there. It was a loud concert and very crowded, so no one noticed. My elbow immediately fell behind me as I very gently gutted him in the stomach. (It is a natural reflex, after being trained in self defense) I turned around to look at him, and he said “What the heck?!” I said, “Don’t touch me again.” and walked away.
Dear Hollaback Community,
In honor of the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day please help us celebrate to make this the loudest and proudest Women’s Day the globe has yet seen!
Today we are collecting 100 stories for 100 years of incredible progress! Our local leaders have put together this special video valentine especially for you, to thank you for all of your hard work and dedication to helping make the world a safer place for women and LGBTQ individuals everywhere.
If you’ve never hollabacked, never has there been a better day than today. And if you’ve shared your stories with us before, share another. Put fingers to keypad and share that one story you still haven’t told that might help another girl find her own way to hollaback tomorrow.
And most importantly, thank you for all that you do!
Here’s to the biggest, greatest International Women’s Day yet!
With love and revolution,
By ERIKA K. DAVIS
Since its inception in the early 1900s in Europe and the late 1970s in the US, International Women’s Day has taken a back seat to larger, more popular holidays. But it’s taken a back seat to even the most inane ones, too. How do we know the anniversary of Pacman and Thomas Edison’s Birthday without knowing about Women’s Day? One word: Google.
Google changes their logo for almost anything, but in the past few years, March 8 has come and gone without so much as a nod from The Google. This is not to slam Google, it is my understanding that because today marks the holiday’s 100th anniversary, they do plan on changing their header. What does it say, though, that we need a Google header to realize it’s Women’s Day? Surely I should have learned this in my all-girls Catholic high school.
It is common to give gifts and flowers to women on March 8th around the world and in certain countries, Women’s Day is a national holiday that entitles women to a day off of work. But in the United States, while other newer holidays like Earth Day are woven into the academic school year and publicized in advertisements on subways, buses, and media, Women’s Day has remained largely unnoticed.
I polled some of my friends and a few strangers for an unscientific look at what Women’s Day means to some people. The answers were varied: “Never heard of it” and “Why do we need days like Black History, LGBTQ, Women’s days when we should all be appreciated and honored every day for who and what we are” and “I wish I could say that it meant more, but it doesn’t.”
It’s not hard to understand the lack of celebration around Women’s Day in the United States when we consider the ongoing assault on women’s rights as a whole in our country. You cannot open up the newspaper, turn on the news or open your Facebook feed without hearing of continued political attempts to revoke, amend, and regulate our rights. We’re being assaulted in government as well as in our schools and on the streets. From the now removed billboard attack on African American women in NYC’s SoHo neighborhood in September to the continued fight for federal funding for Planned Parenthood, to a Georgia state representative’s attempt to redefine the word ‘rape’, in the United States, women’s rights are under seige.
In the United States and around the world women are treated as second class citizens right off the bat. Add other variables like race, religion, ethnicity, disability, weight, sexual orientation and a woman’s rank in society goes down yet a notch further. But serious progress has been made, and movements like the anti-street harassment movement prove that we are changing. In the words of a friend, our country is ripe for a revolution. So who is ready to take that stand?
I’ve often lamented that I wish that I had the gall of our foremothers who walked out of garment districts demanding better pay. I wish I’d been there as we demanded our rights to vote, demanded the rights for contraception, and won the right to choose. I look at pictures of women of varying ethnic groups standing shoulder to shoulder in black and white stills of the marches on Washington and wonder if this generation is ready to make the same amount of real noise as those women. Not just Internet and Facebook noise but real Noise. Burning your bra Noise, mega phone Noise, in your face NOISE! The Women’s Movement may have ended but if we aren’t celebrating Women’s Day in a big way nationally, the fight is not over.
Erika K. Davis is the writer and founder of Black, Gay, and Jewish and lives in New York City.
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I was a teenage at the time, 13 years old, and walking down the beach with a girl friend of the same age when we saw a man on a sand dune. He wore boots and a t-shirt, and nothing else, with an erection visible from where we stood. My friend went white, I don’t know what went into my mind but instead of fear I felt a weird kind of anger, more like stubborness than fury. And as that guy strutted down the dune staring at us I screamed at him: ‘Pathetic!’
The guy stopped. I think it must have been the first time he ever had a victim rebel. By that time I was wound up and continued screaming things like ‘ridiculous’ and ‘minuscule’, my friend took heart and started screaming and laughing hysterically with me. The guy turned heel and ran back up to disappear behind the dune. I learned later that he had been terrorizing girls for months.
My first holla, and my first lesson in dealing with sexual harassers. If you let them get away with it they win. That was years ago but I still hold it true.
When I was 15, my friend and I were walking along the beautiful downtown area of Hoboken, NJ in the summer of ’04. We had just left dinner and were making our way toward the train station to go home. As we walked past the McDonald’s on the corner of Washington & 3rd, two men who had been leaning against the building talking to each other approached us. They looked to be about 30. They struck up a conversation with us, and then asked if we would like to join them for dinner. We said no, thanks. Then they asked if we would go back to their apartment which was right down the road in Jersey City. They even threw in that they had an indoor pool. At this point I was way creeped out by them, so I just nudged my friend and was like, “Let’s get out of here.” But she didn’t seem too threatened. And then they asked us, “Do you girls want to make $1500 each tonight? If you come back to our apartment to hang out for a little, we’ll give you $1500 each. You can make that kind of money in a night if you start hanging around us.” Finally I grabbed my friend’s arm and pulled her away and we started walking really fast. They followed quickly behind us. I panicked and decided to make a huge scene to get everyone’s attention so that they would leave us alone. I started yelling obscenities and was like: “THESE MEN ARE TRYING TO KIDNAP US!” Passersby paused and looked at us, and the men immediately darted off. We ran to the train station and hopped on the next train home.
I think that what surprised me most about this experience was not that these two men were trying to take advantage of two young girls– but that nobody really seemed concerned enough to do a damn thing about it.
This man is a regular at my pub, and at first he seemed a nice bloke, albeit, a bit weird. But soon he would male inappropriate comments, and ask the barmaids for their numbers. One girl left her phone on the bar, and he grabbed it and phoned himself from it, so he had her number. Up until a certain incident, he would phone her 2 times a month to make sure she had kept the number. I came into work on a Sunday, in a very nice top, black, lowcut and pirate-esk. I turned around to find him holding his phone up, licking his lips and clearly taking a picture. I called him on it, and to show me he’d deleted it. When he made to put the phone back in his pocket, and ignore me, I grabbed it off him, and threw it on the floor and smashed it. He left, and neither of us had mentioned it since. But 3 days ago, an ex-barmaid told me he had been caught taking pictures of female customers and barmaids he’s terrorized in the past. So I decided to take his picture and post it on Hollaback. He’s a pervert, but he’s far from harmless. Creep. So if you live in the chew valley, and you like a pint, you will recognise this old pervert.
Once when I was 12, I was standing outside of our public library, waiting for my mother to pick me up, when I saw a man walk by. I’d seen him before, and he’d always sort of looked at me funny, so I just sort of ignored him and made sure to stay where I was. He was tall, dark haired, had a bit of a beard, and wore black clothes, as if he thought he was trying to be Johnny Cash with the color scheme he had going. That day, however, when he walked by he gave me this strange grin and winked at me, and made a sort of kissing noise at me. I don’t know if he thought he was being funny, impressive, or obnoxious, or perhaps something else altogether. But, he certainly was being inappropriate. I was a child, and he was a middle-aged man. I was too afraid to tell my mother what happened, but I made sure never to be alone when I saw that man around town, again.