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It’s not just one event, being harassed happens to me as often as I wash my hair. For every day in Neukölln I walk the streets freely and assault free, there is another where young men, old men, guys in groups, fathers with their children walking beside them, comment my appearance, insult me, tell me to have sex with them or grab my butt. In 99% of the cases I don’t dare doing anything because the people who witness the assault and my response would attack me and support the offender! Of course I hate being harassed, but I fear for my safety if I do anything.
This was several years ago now, but my freshman year of college I would commute by walking down my street and catching a public transport bus to campus. On three separate occasions while walking home I was catcalled at. The first time was from two guys in a car going the same direction as I was (so they didn’t even see what I looked like from the front), and the passenger stuck his head out of the window as they passed, trying to get a better look at me, and stretched his arm towards me as if asking, “What, you’re not even giving us a response?” The second time I was walking on the other side of the street and I got yelled at from the passenger of a car coming from the opposite direction in which I was walking, and that made me even more tense since I saw them more clearly than the other guys. The third time was from a school bus with middle school-aged boys who yelled, “Nice ass.” In all three cases I didn’t outwardly react at all because I was afraid of provoking them further, but I felt extremely uncomfortable, angry, and confused-on none of the days had I been wearing anything even remotely revealing, tight, or “provocative,” though even if I had, that would not have been any excuse. The middle schoolers made me particularly angry and sad because it showed how these harmful behaviors and views of women are being pushed even at young ages.
The saddest part was when I complained about the catcalling on Facebook, and a female friend of mine said, “You should be flattered ’cause it means you’re attractive!” This is by no means the kind of attention I want, nor the type of people I want to be attracted to me, and telling someone to be flattered by harassment is absolutely the wrong response to harmful ideas and actions concerning women’s sexuality.
I am not asking for it.
I had a lovely walk this morning as I was on my way to an interview at the most adorable little tea place. My interview went perfectly and I am 99.9 percent sure that I nailed the job as a cute little tea enthusiast. Can I enjoy that feeling right now? No. Would you like to know why? As I’m walking back home and the weather is still fantastic, my serenity is interrupted by a male in a pick up truck yelling, referring to me as “sexy”. I shake my head and ignore him, but can’t help but overhear him inviting me into his truck and muttering the things he would do to me.
I make it a good 20 yards before another male, a construction worker this time, starts yelling “hey baby” and making kissing noises. More construction workers join in, hollering, staring at me, some even walking onto the sidewalk to get a better view of me.
The remaining blocks that I had until I was home were the most uncomfortable, anxiety-inducing minutes of my entire life. I haven’t never felt more uncomfortable, I have never felt more unsafe. I am a strong female that does not put up with any man’s nonsense, but for those few minutes, I felt like a scared little girl.
My outfit was conservative; professionally. Nothing about it was attention seeking or revealing. Attached is a (blurry) picture that I sent my boyfriend right before I went to my interview. I was all excited and giddy.
Harassing women is not okay. It is not funny. It is not acceptable. But what is even worse, is their intentions.
I didn’t have a phone, otherwise I would have called the police, at least just to tell them where I was and to keep me company, but instead, all I could do was rush home, keys in between my knuckles, constantly looking over my shoulder. When I finally got home, I realized I had tears in my eyes and my lips were quivering.
The point of me writing this post is to 1.) Tell all you women out there to be safe.
and 2.) Tell all you men out there to treat a woman with respect.
The world is too beautiful a place to be soiled by such degrading scum.
I was not asking for it.
I went on a trip to London with my college and we travelled on the underground. when we all got on I had to stand next to two men sat down on seats as the carriage was really busy. one of them patted the space between them saying “you can sit here if you like, babe” and, scared, I looked away pretending I hadn’t heard. they then kept grinning at me, trying to catch my eye the whole journey. when me and the others on the college trip were getting off one of the men kept trying to trip me up. I said and did nothing, mainly because all of my classmates who had seen it either acted like it was nothing or were finding it funny. I don’t know why, but I was terrified. I felt like crying afterwards
A young man in a small burgundy car yelled something about his penis and “having the papers to prove it”, and then, “Suck my cock.” I wish I could have called the police, but they sped away and I did not get the license number. This happens to me every few months, and it makes me feel unsafe in my small community.
I am pretty typical in build, appearance, dress, etc. There is no reason to target me. None. If this happens to me fairly frequently, it makes me wonder how often it happens to more vulnerable members of my community, or those who appear “different”.
I don’t have much of a story. I just wanted to document this. It gives me a bit of power in a situation that otherwise leaves me feeling powerless.
I was just so embarrassed on the train earlier today. One of these guys in a group was blowing kisses at me, and then persisted on giving me compliments. His friends were laughing at him. I wanted to cuss him out, but something inside me just told me to ignore him. I did. I think the situation would have escalated if I had said something back to him. A woman told me as I got off the train that I should have moved because he could have been violent, since I was ignoring him. I agreed. Thank God he wasn’t violent. I got a sense that he wasn’t. But I just felt downright embarrassed because this guy was coming on to me in front of everyone on the train. The saddest part of it all was that these were middle aged men. Have they ever took a second to think about what if someone treated their daughter or sister like that? Shameful.
Was walking downtown on a Sunday afternoon when I noticed someone close behind me and getting closer. I quickened my pace and moved to the side of the sidewalk when he groped my ass. He apologized and I told him to fuck off. 20 minutes later I saw him again, I took his picture and yelled at him, he told me not to take his picture and I told him not to grope women. He looked terrified. I reported it to the police and they did not even want to look at the picture.
Happy Friday Hollabackers!
The Hollaback! mothership has been very busy this week. We started the week attending the ROC United rally against sexual harassment in the restaurant industry, where Deputy Director Debjani Roy spoke alongside Saru Jayaram and Eve Ensler.
We released the global street harassment Know Your Rights Guide in conjunction with Thomson Reuters Foundation and coordinated by global law firm DLA Piper. The guide has already been shared on Think Progress, Cosmopolitan and Bust! We also released the Hollaback! international survey with Cornell University. We urge you to take it and share it. We also announced our involvement with the Carrying the Weight Together day of action on October 29th! Click on the link to see how you can get involved.
Finally, Emily and Debjani trained 80 rookie NYPD officers on street harassment on Thursday.
And here’s what site leaders have been up to:
Site leader Sarah Fick wrote this letter to the editor in support of the student group F@#KRAPECULTURE at Ohio University. They participated in a rally demanding mandatory consent education for all students each year, protesting rape culture and expanding awareness of sexual violence. The rally received much press attention coverage and photos galore, including front page coverage in the Athens News (with a Hollaback! mention at the tail end). And the student paper has this pretty cool video up. For more photos click here.
Hollaback! Appalachian Ohio also taught a 1.5 hour workshop on rape culture and bystander intervention for 40 Anthropology students at Ohio University AND Debuted the Body Hair Hoopla photo exhibit at the Ohio University Women’s Center’s Love Your Body Day event.
Hollaback! Boston co-hosted Northeastern Stands Together Against Harassment, a block party at Northeastern University to support Tatyana Fazlalizadeh’s residency at the school with her Stop Telling Women To Smile Project. Here’s a recap of the event. They also joined the Confronting Police Brutality & Racial Profiling Rally and Speak Out where they were announced as one of the members of the new Boston Coalition For Police Accountability. Awesome Boston! AND they did a workshop at Berklee College of Music.
Hollaback! Philadelphia will be at Locust Moon Fest this weekend. They were at NYCC last weekend. Stay tuned for an upcoming TV spot on CBS news talking about food shaming (they’re running it to extend Hollaback! Boston‘s recent work).
Hollaback! Ottawa marched in the local Take Back the Night March.
Hollaback! Brussels was interviewed by La Première – RTBF radio on the subject: “How to protect women from groping hands on the public transport?” They discussed the fines against harassers and the new anti-sexism law in Belgium and the potential ineffectiveness of these.
Wow! There’s been a lot going on. Thank you for all of your hard work as always.
Great job this week, team! HOLLA and out!
– The Hollaback! Staff
I was walking my dog and a man yelled out the window of his house “Hey baby, what’s your name?” I kept walking and he yelled “Well fuck you too then, slut.”. What? How am I a slut for walking my dog?
One guy called out to me while I was walking, “hey working girl, come over here.” Ten feet later another said to his friend, “look at the ASS on that girl in the blue dress.”