Story, Verbal

Elizabeth’s Story: Bystander shouts down “Smile more”

Last night I did a little bit of grocery shopping. I’m a chubby middle aged lady now, so I’m not as often the target of harassment as I used to be. When I was checking out, there was a young male employee bagging groceries and an attractive young woman cashiering. As I was putting my groceries on the conveyor belt, I couldn’t help but overhear the bagger repeatedly exhorting the cashier that she should, “Smile more,” because she’s “So much prettier when she smiles.” Because, of course, the whole purpose of this young woman being employed by the grocery store is for his personal benefit. Well, that annoyed me a little bit, but it didn’t seem like an appropriate thing for me to interject myself into, so I kept quiet.

But then, the bagger felt the need to comment on some of my groceries in a suggestive way! When he said, “So juicy and delicious” when he was bagging my grapefruit, I initially thought it was an innocent comment because the grapefruit did in fact look particularly juicy and delicious. But then I saw that he was leering at the cashier when he said it. Then he got to my turbinado sugar – the store had only the brand called, “Sugar in the Raw.” So Mr. Poobrain BaggerBoy saw fit to say, “Sugar in the Raaaaaaaw,” in the most suggestive way possible. That was it for me. I pulled myself to my full 5’3″, squared my shoulders, set my jaw, and said something to the effect of, “Hey. You are being a jerk, and the fact that you think your comments are acceptable does not make you less of a jerk. This young lady has not been placed here by divine providence for your amusement, and I am not purchasing these groceries for the benefit of your comments. You had better wise up right here and right now. Now, I will finish bagging my own groceries. Go and reflect on your behavior!”

Ha! He did NOT expect to be called out, let alone scolded and basically given a time out by a customer! Well, I don’t think I changed his behavior permanently – but maybe I had some tiny impact on his future behavior.

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63+

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Story, Verbal

HOLLA ON THE GO: “I was 15 at the time, and going for a run”

I was 15 at the time, and going for a run. A man of around 40 was stopped at a street corner at a red light. He saw me, leaned out his window, made eye contact with me, and gave a long whistle. I made my run about a half mile longer to avoid going the same way as that car.

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34+

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Story, Verbal

Paulien’s Story: “I felt forced to thank him”

So I didn’t want to share this story at first because I felt like I would be overreacting by calling this street harassment, but yeah…

In september my first year at university started and during the week I live in an apartment in the city so I can just go to class by foot. Now, there’s a restaurant in the same street and I have to walk past it to get to my class or to get to the park with my dog. When the weather is nice and the place hasn’t opened yet or they’re taking a break or whatever, the guys who own the place sits outside.

As the friendly person I am, eager to befriend my neighbors, I smile at them every time I pass. There’s one of them who sits outside more often than the others and one time he responded to my smile with a ‘ciao bella’ to which I didn’t really react as I was just about to cross the street. One evening, as I had to walk my dog, the guy that sits outside the most often was there again, so I gave him a very quick smile (the ‘ciao bella’ incident had made me a little uneasy) and was planning to walk past quickly but he started talking to me. At first, the conversation went… all right, I guess.

He asked me if I lived in the apartment a little further down the street as he apparently had seen me inside (yes, inside, as in I-saw-you-through-the-window-inside), if I was a student and what I was studying (English – Spanish) so we started talking about languages and he kind of started to switch languages as he spoke, from Dutch to Italian to Spanish to Dutch to French to Dutch to French and so on. Now, In this region in Belgium, you’re supposed to be able to speak Dutch fluently and well, you should understand French as well. As the conversation went on, he told me I was pretty in French a couple of times and how it always lightens up his day when he sees me, which made me feel even less comfortable but I felt forced to thank him for his compliments. He also asked, jokingly I hope but I’m far from sure, if he could go with me to my place for a cup of coffee. (I responded truthfully that my brother was staying over, which was “such a shame” according to him) He also said something in French which I didn’t quite understand, but I thought it was just another “you’re pretty” so I – shudder – thanked him again.

When I got home, I looked it up, because the way he had looked at me when he had said it, had been a bit… predatory? So yeah, I forgot what it was exactly, but I still remember what the website had said: “don’t ever say this to a woman in France as she will (rightfully) slap you and call the police” A couple of days later, I got the courage to tell my brother about it all (though it was a softened version, because I didn’t want him to tell my parents) and he told me about another route to get to the park. So from then on, I have to go through some dark streets and a parking lot a couple of times a day. I haven’t really seen him anymore (he once waved at me from inside the restaurant, but that’s about it I think) but I don’t know what to do or think about the whole case. Honestly, I think he is in fact a rather sweet guy and that he really just doesn’t see any wrong in his ‘compliments’ however sexual and out of bounds they may be. I’m way too scared to teach him about standard etiquette and street harassment though.

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35+

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Story, Verbal

HOLLA ON THE GO: Out the truck window

I was walking to my car when a large pick-up truck starts following me and the driver yells out his window, ” I will lick your butthole if you suck my balls!” I couldn’t see his face through his car window so I there is no other way to describe him other than the fact that he was driving a huge green pick-up truck.

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38+

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Story

HOLLA ON THE GO: Harassment on the walk home from school

This happened to me back in high school. It was mid-afternoon. I was 14 and walking home from school. A car drove by and nearly came to a stop, slowly creeping alongside me, the man driving staring at me. I didn’t speed up or respond in anyway. I felt uncomfortable but there was no way to escape the situation. I was one street over from my own.

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51+

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Story

HOLLA ON THE GO: Bystander intervention

My boyfriend and I went to miami 10/26/2013. While we were in south beach two guys (thugged out) were walking behind us. As we came to the corner to cross the road two girls were about to walk around the corner and go down they way we had just come from. These two guys physically stopped the girls and would not let them pass. When our friend intervened and pull the ladies through both of the men (thugs) got into his face and threatened all of our lives because our friend helped the ladies sad

 

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30+

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Stalking, Story

HOLLA ON THE GO: Car creeper

I was waiting for the bus yesterday and this guy drove by and smiled as he drove by. I didn’t think much it b/c stuff like that happens often. But then he drove by again this time smiled and winked. After he did this again I started to walk away and he drove by again and so I went the opposite way and he followed. It ended with me going to a friend/co worker’s house (he followed me part way there too) and I waited for another friend to pick me up.

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44+

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Story, Verbal

Judith’s Story: “That unmistakable sense of being stared down”

This happened on the bus, very near to the station. There was a man whistling very loudly (the wolf whistle). At first, I wasn’t sure quite what was going on, but felt that unmistakable sense of being stared down as I kept my eyes frontward. When it came again, it was more drawn out and insistent. I looked over to see him sunken into his seat looking right at me. Fortunately, he didn’t follow me off the bus as I made an early exit.

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38+

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Story, Verbal

Paige’s Story: “Job advice” from creepers

A group of boys started asking me if I was going to be a ‘vagina-tologist’ in the future and told me that being that and stripping are the only jobs women should be allowed to do.

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54+

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Story, Verbal

Yasmin’s Story: “Their idea of a fun night”

I am a college student. I was walking back into the dorms last night with two friends and a group of drunk guys were calling to us outside of their window, saying we were “really pretty” and one even yelling out what was presumably his number. We soon realized that they were doing this to everyone who passed by. They seemed like they were having a blast. Though they were not threatening, I was saddened that calling people out on the street was their idea of a fun night.

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