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TALKING TO THEM “WORKED”
As I was leaving a grueling and wonderful dance class, a group of four construction workers nearby whistled and catcalled. I was dripping sweat and still in my leotard and jazz pants. I decided to challenge their ignorance, and said, “Listen, I’m an athlete; I’ve been knocking myself out for almost 2 hours perfecting something that’s really difficult. Show some respect and stop that!”. They applauded and one guy said “Right on”, and shook my hand.
To this day, I don’t know if it was the right thing to do, or if it made them think seriously about their behavior, but I was glad I’d done it.
The institute where I study is about ten minutes away from my house. I’ve been attending that institute for two months with no problems until two weeks ago. A couple of weeks ago a building started to be constructed near by my house and institute, so every morning when I leave (about 7:45am) I meet with the men that are working in the site. The harassment started with a man calling me beautiful, it may not be offensive, but I was alone and they were in a group, he is a man in his late forties and I’m a nineteen-year-old girl. I started seeing the men every morning, and it went from being an uncomfortable situation to me becoming frightened when this same guy came close to my face one day and whispered ”she is so beautiful”. I felt scared and disgusted and couldn’t concentrate in my classes for the rest of the day. I told my mom about it, trying not to make it sound like a big deal and said that I was simply going to change routes. She agreed and asked me to text her when I arrived. The day that I changed routes, I thought I had finally found the solution and as I was entering the institute, someone from across the street yelled at me ”Hey Beautiful”, it was him again. I texted my mom, and after she talked with my father, he drives me every day to school now. My parents said they wanted me to and could tell the police I was being harassed daily by the same guy. The problem is I never had the guts to look at his face.
Man at airport drop off was drunk, grabbing his genitals, and hit on me with invasive and inappropriate questions. Attempted to open my car while I wasn’t in it. Airport security responded very quickly and took him away.
I walk 2.5 miles home from work almost everyday and there is a man in a white, unmarked work van who passes me each day, driving in either direction. He has yelled everything from “Nice ASS!” “Check out them TITS!” to “Hey I’m talking to you bitch!” Since he passes around the same time everyday, and has been seen driving in both directions, I have reason to believe he drives up and down that section of road looking for me. I have no other route to take home.
I pulled up to the gas station on the corner of Dundonald and Smythe streets in Fredericton, NB, Canada. I realized that the pump I was at was debit-only, so I returned to my car. While I was bent down looking for my debit card, I heard a man yell from a passing car “Yeah bitch you bend over!” It happened so fast I have no idea what the man looked like.
On a 12 minute walk, 3 men – all in separate cars – honked their horns at me, and a group of men on the back of a truck continuously commented on my physical appearance, referring to me as mango, pie, and yellow.
Today I was walking back from school at around 3:50pm, by myself. Two men were walking on my side of the road towards me. I didn’t cross, since two boys from my school were just ahead and could see me. When the men walked past I kept my head down as not to provoke them, and when they walked past in silence I thought I’d gotten away with it, but after a few seconds one of them turned around and shouted “I’d finger her!” Followed by the two of them laughing and the other shouting “Sorry, he’s sick in the head!”. It was embarrassing and scary, and while I worked up the courage to glare at them after the first remark, after the second I just wanted to cry.
I ran until I was right behind the boys from my school and when I got home I reported them to the police, but this isn’t the first time I’ve suffered harassment on that stretch of road and the police just told me that “they were only being immature” and “that happens when people get let out of school”. These were not school children. They were fully grown adults and I am a fifteen year old girl.
Frankly I’m disappointed that the police didn’t do more, my little sisters walk that stretch of road twice a day and I don’t want them to ever have to suffer that kind of humiliation.
A few months ago, I went out to a Friday night dinner with my husband of 23 years at Rocco’s Tacos on Clematis Street in West Palm Beach, Florida. I wore a new dress and was feeling proud of myself, especially after having worked very hard to lose more then 50 pounds to get back to a healthy weight. After dinner, while my husband visited the restroom and before we walked back to our car for the drive home, rather than wait inside I told him I’d be out front since it was a beautiful evening.
As I strolled a few paces away from those dining on the sidewalk, two men who appeared to be in their twenties were approaching, laughing. I slightly backed up and angled my body to avoid brushing against them or others as they passed, and one of them said something that sounded like ‘Tasty!’ while his knuckles brushed the front of my crotch. He didn’t stop moving but it felt like *very* deliberate contact. I immediately turned after him saying ‘What the fuck?!’ but both of them immediately took off running — and laughing.
My husband arrived a minute after that. I told him I thought I’d just been groped and he really wanted to go after them. I convinced him they were long gone so there wouldn’t be any point. Now I wish I’d let him try, although I still think it wouldn’t have led to finding them in the crowds that were on Clematis that night. I feel violated by a couple of punks who obviously think humiliating and denigrating women at random is a fun game. When I think of putting on that new dress for a second time, I just can’t. I’ll probably end up donating it even though I spent a lot of money on it.
At the Mothership, DD Debjani Roy delivered a training to 100 folks as part of the Network for Healthy Teen Relationships conference, ‘From Bystander to Upstander’.
Here’s what HOLLAs around the world have been up to:
Hollaback! Appalachian Ohio completed training with local restaurant O’Betty’s Red Hot!, which makes them their third Safer Space! They also gave four 45 minute lessons to 28 8th graders at Vinton Middle School.
Hollaback! Baltimore is hosting an event TONIGHT where they’ll be reading stories from their website, handing out info to those interested, and making their presence known with a projection – thanks to Luminous Intervention. Local business SugarBaltimore has also signed on to their Safer Spaces campaign!
Hollaback! Boston hosted the FIRST EVER tweet chat on bike street harassment, featuring awesome local panelists in honor of Bay State Bike Week! Here’s a Storify for you so that you can catch up on the awesome discussion that resulted. They have also officially announced that they are part of Mayor Marty Walsh’s Late Night Task Force, to bring the perspective of “examin[ing] the public safety requirements of expanded late night hours. Awesome!
Hollaback! Edinburgh was at the first ever Dyke March on the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia (IDAHOBIT) to celebrate lesbian, gay, bisexual, and trans women in Scotland.
Hollaback! Ottawa was on the morning television show Rogers Daytime Ottawa and co-hosted an important discussion on the role of men and boys in ending violence against women at Crime Prevention Ottawa. Also, here’s a summary of their weekend at Ottawa ComicCon and check out their awesome photos as well! Today, they’ll be participating in Mental Health Day at a local high school by tabling and handing out info.
There you have it, folks! Til next week-
HOLLA and out!
– The Hollaback! Team
A 30 year old who worked at a barber shop who I had just met pressured me into kissing him. I was 16 when it happened.