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A couple of months ago, I posted a success story on here regarding harassment near my workplace. I’ve been reading everyone’s stories since, and sadly there are so few where the victims are able to feel powerful after an incident.
I’ve decided to make it a point to share any successful experiences that I have, to hopefully inspire others to keep going, speak up, and take action. I believe that we can make a world of difference together. We really can.
The most recent experience occurred yesterday. This one was pretty hilarious. I was jogging down a main street in Hayward, California. At one point, I was running on a slight incline, enjoying the focus and pace. I heard a bicycle approaching in the street, alongside the sidewalk where I was. I always look when I hear a bike, to make sure the person is paying attention, not attempting to assault me, etc.
When I looked at the rider, he looked back at me in acknowledgement. Then he looked back again. And again. At that point, I asked, “What?” Not in a confrontational way, but as if you had spinach in your teeth and someone continued to stare. The dialogue was as follows:
Me: “I don’t know, man. You’re making me uncomfortable right now.”
Him: *laughs* “What?”
Me: “Wow, this is really awkward, the way you’re looking at me.”
Him: “I’m just looking at you, looking to see who you are. This is how I look at all the girls!”
Me: “You know I’m only 16, right?”
Him: *pauses and looks back in a double-take* “…Woooow. Woo, oh boy! Oh…” *throws both hands up and starts riding away with increasing speed*
Me: *laughing* “Yeah that’s right, buddy, you just keep on riding!”
He hauled ass out of there like you wouldn’t believe. I wish I had recorded his reaction, or even taken a picture. One of the best ones I’ve seen. I could still hear him in the distance as he was riding away, shaking his head and “woo!”-ing in fear of being caught for his predatory actions. He didn’t look back at me once after that!
I had so much positive energy after the incident, that I was able to jog home in half the time it would normally take me. I went home smiling, laughing, in good spirits. Because I took the power back in the situation.
The funny thing is, I’m actually 25. I mean, I’ll take the compliment, but when a grown man refers to all human females as “girls” regardless of age, I automatically get the vibe that they’re a predator. It’s offensive and insulting to women, but in this instance, I used it to my advantage. I dared to be a woman who stepped outside of her house without a man next to her, and I walked away with the power.
This week, Hollaback! was featured in The Guardian, ArtInFact Magazine, USA Today, Free Press, SheWired, MSNBC, Yahoo! Shine, Upworthy, Slate, NBC San Diego, Spotlight Magazine, Irish Independent, and The Province.
We held our second annual HOLLA::Revolution which included our Site Leader Retreat (pictured here)!! Stay tuned for an upcoming Storify and event re-cap from the Team! We also said farewell to our amazing Spring Interns, Arielle Humphries and Emily Shown, and welcomed our Summer Interns, Rebecca Ponce de Leon and Jessica Alvarez, reppin’ Duke’s Moxie Program.
Here’s what HOLLAs around the world have been up to:
Hollaback! Des Moines presented at Central Iowa Friends of Planned Parenthood’s monthly Choice on Tap Happy Hour!
Hollaback! LA was on a show called ‘Your Call’ via KALW 91.7fm public radio in San Francisco.
Hollaback! Philly‘s petition to San Diego Comic Con was dismissed by the company thus silencing over 2,000 people who said they don’t feel safe or protected with their vague, unenforced anti-harassment policy. They’re hosting three events between now and the convention where they will continue to push the petition and the effort. You can join the conversation on various social media platforms using #SDCCFAIL and #SDCCHARASSMENT. Last but not least, they will be delivering the petition in person to San Diego Comic Con to demand they hear the voices of the people telling the con they don’t feel safe or protected. You go, HB! Philly!
Til next week-
HOLLA and out!
– The Hollaback! Team
Teenage boy reached out and grabbed my vagina as he was walking past me with four of his friends and then they ran away laughing and shouted, “shut the fuck up bitch!”
Walking home from the gym, man walks behind me, shouts “I like your hair,” and I ignore him. He repeats himself, I continue ignoring so he yells, “fuck you!” This sort of thing happens every day to me in Seattle.
My phone had died at work and I had limited time so I decided to go running without it…no harm, I could manage a few miles without music.
Halfway through my run a green Subaru passed me and yelled “nice pussy” or “I want that pussy” or something to that effect. Either way, I made no reply or physical response and ran on. He then came back, passed again, and yelled further disgusting profanities.
Needless to say, I am keeping my eyes open more often as I run now… and I’m never running without music again.
I never had too much of an issue with street harassment on my campus until I lived in one of the dorms along a busier street. As soon as the weather got warm, the harassment started. I would get annoyed and tell my friends about the instances, but then didn’t think too much about exactly how frequently this was happening. After telling a friend about one particular instance, her response was “AGAIN??!” And that’s when I started keeping count.
I was harassed every day that first warm week of spring. And then several random times outside of that, including a guy in a car turning onto my campus who yelled “fa****” at my friend and I just because we were standing and chatting on a street corner.
What’s almost worse than the harassment is the fact that I want to respond (and have studied how and done research projects on street harassment), but I’m always too afraid that the guys will retaliate physically. I end up feeling so frustrated and helpless in the face of this thing I want to help stop.
I was walking alone in broad daylight along a busy street in downtown Ottawa.
“If you help me out I’ll give you free movie passes for a year.” A man appeared out of nowhere at my side with these words. I tensed up and started walking faster.
“What are you, a nervous twit?” he said.
“If you’re going to talk to me like that, I’m not going to help you,” I replied with more rationality than was necessary. I picked up my pace.
“Look at you, you nervous twit! I’m going to get my girlfriend to bang your head in!” He was walking with me now, two meters to my side.
I was horrified and veered away from him. Other pedestrians were in sight now, so he started to turn down a corner. I flipped him off as I continued walking away from him.
“You’re fucking ugly!” he yelled. I held my gesture in place for him and the oncoming pedestrians to see as I walked, and as he retreated from our incident back into the rest of the world.
It was a beautiful sunny day in my beach town of Isla Vista, CA, and I decided to go tanning with my boyfriend at Sands Beach, which is a decent walk from our apartment and not actually a part of the town. The beach was nearly deserted, so we walked up into one of the secluded sand dunes to go tanning as we usually do. I took my top off because I hate tan lines and there were hardly any people in sight; also it is impossible for anyone walking on the beach to see what is happening up in the dunes.
After an hour or so of peacefully lying there, my boyfriend looked up to see a scary looking man in his 40s crouching in a bush in a nearby dune and taking pictures of me. He immediately sprung up and chased after the creep, who ran away but was finally caught up to. He claimed to be the neighborhood watch (there is no such thing in Isla Vista) and said he was taking pictures to collect “evidence” of my apparent crime of being topless (a common occurrence at Sands Beach) and when my boyfriend demanded he delete the pictures, the guy made hollow threats to call the cops, tried to run away, threatened my boyfriend, etc.
Finally, my boyfriend had intimidated this sicko enough to convince him to delete the pictures off the camera while he watched, so luckily I don’t have to worry about them showing up anywhere. This occurrence is especially unsettling to me after the tragic events that happened here last weekend, and as a women especially, I have never felt less safe in Isla Vista. I hope things get better here soon.
I was walking home from work at around 5:45pm today. It was a beautiful day. I was on a normally busy public street near George Washington University. However, at that particular moment, there was a brief lull in foot traffic.
A teenager, no older than 13 or 14, was walking towards me. Three other teenagers were behind him. I really didn’t look twice at them.
As I pass by the first teenager who was walking by himself, he slaps my butt. Honestly, it took me a few seconds to register what had happened. I walked a few more steps and suddenly it registered. Apparently, the other three boys were with him and were laughing.
I whipped around and said, “What the fuck?” As they walked away laughing, I continued to get more incensed and said “Really, you can’t treat women like that!” They continued laughing—one of them made a point of pretty much laughing in my face— and told me to “shake that ass.”
I immediately started shaking and crying. I’ve been lucky in my life to not experience much street harassment. This was the first time someone ever felt entitled to touch my body in a public place. And I felt powerless. Since it never happened to me before–someone reaching out and grabbing me–I had no idea what to do. There were no cops around to tell. No one really saw. The kids were laughing in my face.
It’s been two and a half hours. I can still feel the echo of his hand slapping me.
As an American woman in Turkey, I anticipated harassment and notions of “inequality” but I never expected to be physically assaulted on the street.
I was walking from work to a nearby shopping center in the early evening when a man passed me then turned around and followed me. He caught up with me and started talking, but I didn’t know Turkish and he didn’t speak English. I continued on my way as he tried to talk to me. We were on a main street during rush hour. There were lots of trees and garden areas lining the street which proved to be his ultimate cover.
After passing a bus stop, I decided to turn down another main street as he grabbed my arm and threw me down on the ground by my neck. He strangled me as I fought for my life. I had taken self defense classes in university, so I instantly thought to try and poke his eyes out. The struggle lasted for maybe only a minute but felt like a life time. I was able to free myself and started to scream as he pushed me down again into a pile of trash. I kept trying to scream, and finally he let go and walked away.
I stepped out of the bushes, literally about 4 steps, onto the main street and saw people waiting at the bus stop. I waved down a taxi and went home. When I got out of the taxi, I left behind leaves, branches and dirt on the seat. I was in the elevator and a couple saw me, but the woman just whispered behind my back. When I looked in the mirror my hair was knotted and full of remnants from the attack.
I took a shower and laughed to myself that I had gotten away. I was empowered that I had actually fought the asshole off and survived with only a sore throat.
I didn’t call the police as I didn’t know how to, and apparently the police aren’t to be trusted in Turkey.
Ladies we must fight with all our beings. It’s the key to survival.