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This evening, walking through the El Cortez casino in Las Vegas, NV, a man called out to me “smile! You ugly anyway” I replied “fuck you!”
A man opened the door of his car while driving to cat call me. Shame he didn’t fall off the bridge.
One of the most memorable things I’ve had shouted at me was when I was walking down the pavement of a main road just outside of Cheltenham town centre late at night. Generally speaking it’s a pretty safe area.
I was unaware of the 3 men walking behind me a little way back until one of them started trying to get my attention by shouting “Hey! Hello?” I turned my head briefly to see who was shouting at me but kept walking and ignored them, as I figured they were looking to get a response, and would lose interest if I refused to give them one.
Then one of them yelled at the top of his voice “I would tear your ass in half”.
I couldn’t believe it. There was no hint of humour in his voice to tell me it was just an idiotic and immature joke or a poorly judged and unwelcome attempt to hit on me. Given that it was after dark and the road was very quiet, it was quite simply unnerving.
I didn’t shout back because I was dumbstruck and didn’t want to engage with them. I wanted to quicken my pace to widen the gap between us, but I didn’t want him to know that he had succeeded in frightening me, so I just kept walking, trying to hide the fact my body had gone rigid.
I couldn’t understand what he got out of doing it other than making me (an 18-year-old stranger, minding her own business) feel both physically threatened/unsafe and deeply insulted/disrespected. I hate the fact that he thought it acceptable/funny to make me feel that way.
I have a pair of thigh high boots that I love. They make me feel like a superheroine, these boots. I put them on and I instantly feel kickass. It’s such an awesome feeling. Some days, these boots are my shield against all the terrible, shitty things in the world. They’re my reminder that I have the power to make a difference just by being me.
They also attract a lot of negative comments.
One day, I was getting on the bus when an older man started muttering to himself about how I was dressed. You know the drill – hooker, streetwalker, skank, whore, slut. For a few moments I felt utterly paralysed. This guy was old enough to be my grandfather. What was the play here? What should I do?
I turned around, I looked at him, and I asked, “I’m sorry, did you have something to say?”
He couldn’t even look me in the eye. He turned away, muttered something about me minding my own business and shut up.
It was the greatest feeling in the world.
I’ve experienced a lot of street harassment no matter how I’ve been dressed. But that one time, on that one day, I was able to stand up and do something about it. I was in a safe space (a bus full of people in broad daylight going down a very busy main street) and I was able to say something that disarmed the person harassing me. And goddamn, it felt so good.
I’m sharing this story in the hope that people will read it and feel like when the time is right, they can stand up and say something too. You don’t have to endure people’s rude comments – you totally have the right to holla back! And when you’re able to do it, it feels so great.
In the middle of the afternoon I took my puppy outside to relieve himself. An SUV with a male driver and at least one male passenger was driving down Avent Ferry toward me. As the vehicle passed, the male in the passenger seat yelled, “Suck my dick!” The SUV sped off too fast for me to take note of any idenfiying details without my glasses on. I’ve been hollered at by men in vehicles plenty of times before (especially in college), but I found this time particularly demeaning. No one even witnessed it, but that didn’t stop me from feeling humiliated and ashamed. I felt completely helpless, and that’s just not the type of woman I am.
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I was in town for a conference and was walking back to the hotel by myself after lunch. I passed a man standing on the corner with a cardboard sign. He told me to have a nice day, so I said, “You, too,” to be polite. Then as I stood with my back to him while waiting for the light to change, he said, twice, “How about you and me meet up later.” And when I didn’t respond, he followed with, “You go, you never go back.”
It certainly could have been worse; he didn’t follow me, nor did I think he would. But it still marred my otherwise lovely spring afternoon and made me wonder what I could have said in response that would have made a difference in how he treats people in the future.
Hi. I waved and smiled to thank you for letting me pass your truck. As you drove by you casually called me a “fag”. Next time I’ll be sure to extinguish my cigarette in your eyeball! Coward. Hollaback!
I was just coming home from a friend’s house, having had a great day, when this truck rolls by and some guy is hanging out the window yelling at me “hey, sexy!” I turned as he passed, and several yards up the road he still had his whole torso out the window, looking back at me. I flipped him off and he flipped back and shouted “Yeah, I won!” as though my “fuck you” was a real invitation. I was just trying to enjoy my walk.
Back in the early 2000′s when I was in secondary school I was very shy, quiet and known as the class “square” and one of the “popular” guys who I’ll call “M” especially made my life hell, he once announced loudly that one day if I was lucky, I might get raped, in assembly he once got all the classmates between him and I to pass on a message to me that he thought I was “hot” so I had to endure them all sniggering and laughing at me while he sat back full of smug pride.
He used to try and gear the teachers towards yelling at me for any tiny excuse he could find, once he stole my pe kit and made a show of sniffing the bag and refusing to return it. He started several pass-around surverys during classtimes titled “is Lydia the class prostitute?” and also “do u think Lydia wears thongs?”
During a school play when it was my turn to sing he wooped really loudly and made a growling sound which everyone laughed at. I refuse to believe it was from attraction, I feel it was because I was an easy target who would never dare to answer back.
I always look back on my secondary school time with strong bitter hatred and embarrassment, I don’t think I could ever forgive him for how he treated me.
I do feel however that my ordeal has made me into the stronger person I am today, now I always make a point of confronting my harassers and standing up for myself.
…I do just hope one day I might run into M, who for the record is now balding, pot bellied and very different from the athletic cocky “bad boy” who tormented me in school…. and give him a punch.