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A few weeks ago, I was walking home from picking up groceries and by the time I neared my apartment building, my fingers were red from the cold and aching from carrying my heavy groceries 7 blocks. I grew impatient when a group of two men (construction workers) were walking rather slow in front of me and taking up the whole sidewalk. I said excuse me so they they started to move out of the way when one of them turned around. He stopped and said “Hey there, I’m sorry. Happy New Year, baby.”
This is the second time a strange man has infantilized me in my neighborhood in the three weeks that I’ve lived there.
I used to ride my bike almost every day, and almost every day, men would express themselves towards me as I rode. They’d shout at me from their car windows as they drove by, often incoherently, but sometimes I’d catch the word, “sexy,” or “baby.” Sometimes they’d honk their horns (not a euphemism) as well, or simply honk their horns and keep their loud mouths shut. Pretty standard stuff.
Except I was only fourteen years old.
It was my first year at a new school. I was young and innocent, and I’d only just started liking boys maybe a year or two earlier. I’d never even held a boy’s hand, let alone kissed one. But there I was, bombarded with sexual evaluations of my budding body from grown men, many of whom were likely old enough to be my father. I didn’t want that kind of attention from grown men. Not only were the sounds themselves extremely annoying, but the easily inferred intent behind those sounds was very intimidating to me at the time, and all I wanted to do was get home or to school in peace. But the truth is that I was starting to look like a woman, and those men couldn’t tell that I was just a child in passing. I know that must have been the reason, because I never got that sort of attention from grown men at that age when I was face to face with them.
So that’s something to think about: That “woman” you’re gawking at and calling “sexy” may actually be a child.
This is actually an excerpt from the blog I wrote about the video Hollaback made that went viral a few months ago. You can read the rest of the blog here: http://therightwinggeminist.blogspot.com/2014/11/the-catcalling-video-commentary.html
Last night I went to use the bathroom in CVS across from the train station quickly before the next train came to go home. I was already anxious being a young vulnerable girl taking the train home alone at 11:40pm, so my mind slipped and I had left my keys in the bathroom due to rummaging through my purse on the sink and didn’t realize until i was about to cross the street outside of the store. Beforehand, when I walked in the store I heard and employee say “what THE fuck” and I wasn’t sure if it was towards me until I ran back into the store to get my keys I left in the bathroom. I heard him say “what THE FUCK” again and when I had come out of the bathroom going down the aisle to exit the store, he was talking shit about me with another coworker and a customer saying “oh yeah, that’s a man alright” “ew” and similar remarks. I was a bit appalled that these cashiers thought they could just treat a customer like a zoo animal. I went up to them and took their picture but I was already shaken enough so I took my phone back down too quickly and all I got was a total blur :(. However, I did catch the name of the rude bystander cashier that was with the man who was harassing me by the name of “ROXY” sadly I couldn’t catch the harasser or his instigating coworker’s name tags. To add insult to injury after taking the pictures they patronized me saying “damn HE’s got the hots for you”. I hope something is done about this I’m in the process of contacting their supervisors/managers and hopefully be taken seriously bc this is disgusting and the last thing any person, let alone a frequent CVS customer deserves to experience on their day-to-day business.
On January 26, 2015, on the 7 train (going to Flushing, Queens) at around 3PM-3:30 PM. At the Times Square stop, a man entered the train cart and stood in front of me and another young girl. His zipper was down and he was masturbating. He was holding something on his other hand and using it to cover himself. It was difficult for me to let the train conductor know because he was right next to the conductor’s door so I took his picture instead.
I was staying the night at my friends home during a rather bad time in my life (breakup with boyfriend) and it was really late at night but I was not tired, I left my room and went into her kitchen to grab something to eat and noticed her roomate (Male, but they aren’t dating) sitting on a chair in the living room adjacent to the kitchen. I had talked to him a few times and he seemed like a really nice guy, was also very attractive. He made a comment which drew me over to the couch that butts up against the recliner he was sitting in. He had a laptop sitting on the arm of the chair with a pornographic forums website up called dick flash. He told me he stumbled across it by accident and told me about a video of girl getting flashed by a guy who was asking for directions. I told him that was crazy and he asked me what I would do in that same situation, I told him I wasn’t sure but that it would probably depend if i got a creepy vibe from the guy like he wanted to rape or kill me.
I had put something in the microwave and went to fetch it before coming back to sit on the couch and watch TV for a few minutes. A few minutes later I was looking through my phone pictures about to post something on Facebook and noticed out of the corner of my eye his hand moving up and down behind a pillow, a sinking feeling came over me when I realized what he was probably doing, wanting proof for my friend i turned my phone on camera mode and waited. A few minutes later he said “hey check this out”, somehow the words didn’t register that he was about to flash me and I looked over at the computer thinking that is what he had referred to and when nothing notable showed up i realized he was probably doing what you could imagine he was doing… masturbating. His penis wasn’t hard and I was able to snap a photo of it. I acted disgusted and got up and left. I went to my roomates room and woke her up shaking. It was so pathetic, what a creeper.
Happy Friday Hollaback’ers!
2015 is starting out to be a very busy year. We’ll be hosting our 3rd HOLLA::REVOLUTION here in NYC on March 5th at The New School. Watch out for the official announcement! In other news at the HB HQ, we are joined by 4 new interns, Lauren, Catherine, Katherine and Caroline. A warm welcome to this new group of badasses! They’ve been busy learning the HOLLA ways, but you’ll be meeting them very soon. In partnership news, our program associate Jae Cameron (who celebrates 2 years at Hollaback! this month) attended an annual meeting for the NYC Alliance Against Sexual Assault!
And here’s what’s been up in the rest of Holla Land:
Hollaback! Baltimore is “benefitting” from a benefit show at The Sidebar next Saturday (1/31) featuring Baltimore-based female-fronted bands such as WET BRAIN, Crimson Wave, and The Degenerettes! Rock and roll!
Hollaback! Croatia had coverage of their safer spaces campaign on local radio and two newspapers, and this Saturday they’ll be training a club about how to be a safer space!
Hollaback! Bristol events manager Lea Viljoen participated in a round table discussion on sexual harassment and abuse for Bristol Cable which will be published as a podcast and print article on February 7th in the Bristol Cable.
Holla and Out! Let’s make this a year to remember!
The Hollaback! Team
Walking to college through a shopping centre a “gentleman” held the door for me. Same man then follows me gets ahead of me and constantly kept turning around to make sure I was there this made me anxious but then he walked down and alley and I just thought what a creep so kept walking and he appears at side street looks around for witnesses, asks the time and proceeds to verbally assault me with explicit sexual language. Contacted police all caught on CCTV. No charges. Not my choice. WTF.
I was on my way to work, and wanted to grab a sandwich at a local bakery/cafe. I usually go in, but they have a drive-thru, so I thought I’d just do that to save time. The new guy there seemed okay the last time I went into the cafe, so I thought nothing of it when he greeted me at the window. He handed me the food and drink, I handed him the money, and was given my change. He smiled as he gave it to me, and said something that sounded like “sexy,” or “you’re sexy.” I couldn’t clearly hear it, but I didn’t need to. It didn’t quite hit me at first, so I just sort of absent-mindedly nodded. He walked back toward the kitchen, still grinning through the window. It dawned on me then, and made me furious. He must’ve known that by being at the window, he wouldn’t be heard by any of the other professional and kind people who work there. I usually go there to pick up baked goods to bring home, and now I don’t want to go alone. It infuriates me that just because he’s an employee, I should somehow be less deserving of comfort in going there. I already stopped going to another casual order then pick up type restaurant where a cook hit on me in a creepy way. I hate how flustered I still get in these situations, and that men like himself make it so that I rearrange my routines out of anxiety. When I told my boyfriend about it, I broke down and cried, because I feel like I’m running out of places I can go and feel comfortable. We skipped going to the gym that night too, because I was afraid of any unwanted attention or conversation attempts. I wish the men who do it could just stop making excuses and grow up.
My friend and I (females) were walking home around 1am on Main Street. We were walking behind a man who was following two girls. How do I know he was following them? He was walking too close to them for comfort, the girls were looking behind them at the man frequently while walking very fast, and when they started crossing the street he did the exact same thing. They girls noticed, so they came back to the original side where my friend and I were. He disappeared into the neighborhood.
Today after work at the supermarket, very tired and wanting to go about my business as fast as possible, a man came up to me randomly, bumped me on the arm and said “You’re beautiful”. As he said it, he leered closely over me, making sure to keep creepy eye contact as long as possible. Unsolicited remarks like that really grind my gears, and they’re such a normalised everyday act that happens to women the world over, men invading women’s private space in public, reminding us just where we stand to them, telling us we’re nothing without men’s bodily validation. Naturally I froze, I was actually this close to saying thank you to him, it’s my natural reaction to a compliment, until I figured this was harassment and most certainly not a compliment. Well this is to you rando surpermarket creep: I know I’m beautiful. I don’t need your approval. You can f*ck right off.