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My boyfriend and I just moved to Wichita, KS from a small town in New England so that I can earn my graduate degree. The street harassment that I’ve experienced since moving is completely unreal, and continues to boggle my mind. The worst incident occurred this past Friday in a thrift store while we were furniture shopping. My boyfriend and I were at opposite ends of the store because we decided to look at clothing when I noticed a man following me. I was wearing a dress that stopped about an inch above the knee and that was slightly form-fitting because it’s very windy here and wearing flawy dresses without flashing everyone is difficult and annoying. Anyways, I noticed a creepy man following me through the women’s section of this particular store, so I decided to move closer to the mens section and look at blazers. I moved quickly, and thought I had left him behind until I looked behind me and saw him crouched behind me on the floor looking up my skirt. I felt disgusted, humiliated and shocked. Not knowing what else to do I ran across the store to tell my boyfriend what had happened. The man promptly left. I felt numb and hollow for the rest of the day. I wish I had said something to him, I wish I had screamed at him, I wish I’d alerted the clerk, but I did none of these things and I feel like a coward. I have always liked to think of myself as the sort of person that would fight back against street harassment, but I find myself ignoring my harasses or refusing to leave the house alone. Usually, if I am with my boyfriend I experience no issues, but I wish I felt safe walking my dog by myself, or running to the gas station down the street.
I have been harassed multiple times in this plaza, all the way up to the ToysRUs. Sometimes multiple times in a day, but ultimately all from a car. It ranges from intense starring and gestures (teeth sucking and kisses) shouting “HEY!!” to “hey baby, what’s up” then calling it a compliment when getting flipped off.
I feel like for most of the dudes that have harassed me here was about power, humiliation and just the fact that they could mess with me. Just to have something to laugh at.
My friend and I are walking back a few minutes after midnight to our dorm from the club *car rolls down window* *wolf whistles* FUCK OFF *window rolls back up* *car drives away*
This week Hollaback! was featured by My Local, HuffPost British Columbia, The Canadian Broadcasting Company,The Smithsonian Online, Tok Nok, Money News, TED Blog, Bustle, Care2, Mashable and Baltimore Out Loud; Hollaback New York City posted about their upcoming participation in Suzanne Lacy’s “Between the Door and the Street” project, a collaborative effort with Creative Time and the Brooklyn Museum to be held on October 19th.
Hollaback! was also featured in a Catapult video that was screened at the Clinton Global Initiative Meeting in NYC this week.
Here’s what the HOLLAs around the world have been up to:
Hollaback Edinburgh held a Day School on Intersectionality and Street Harassment. The school offered workshops on Rape Culture and Street Harassment, and Street Harassment and Intersectionality – with a host of special guests, including Glasgow-based Amina Muslim Women’s Resource Centre.
Hollaback Boston, with the help of Hollaback Ottawa, finalized their State of The Streets Report, profiling their organization and compiling data from their recent survey! They’ve also published a helpful and informational Take Back The Bar FAQ to their site in response to a large number of questions about their popular event.
Hollaback Alberta has reached over 372 respondents through their street harassment survey!
Job well done, party people!
HOLLA and out!
-The Hollaback! Team
I needed to walk two blocks away from my house to the gas station to get a drink. It was ten pm-ish on a friday night. I had been wearing an open back dress all day that showed a lot of skin. I figured since it was late i’d dress down a bit, to attract less attention to myself. jeans and a t-shirt.
I walked down the street and it all went downhill from there. one block away from my house a man crossed the street, walking towards me and aggressively yelled “where you fixin to go, ho1?” ( REALLY!? HOW IS THIS ANYWAY TO TALK TO SOMEBODY! HAS THAT EVER WORKED? SERIOUSLY. I AM SHOCKED.)I kept walking but turned around and yelled “excuse me?!” end of that. I walked another block and into the gas station. Behind me in line was a seemingly inebriated older man. I bought cigarettes. Then I realized, after I paid, that I needed a lighter. I bought a lighter and the man behind me started screaming at me in front of everyone about how I was going too slow. I was taking up time on purpose. And some comment about how I was a racist? which made absolutely no sense at all…I looked around because this stranger was yelling at me in front of 5 or 6 people. No one did anything. I just looked at the guy behind the counter and he kind of just shrugged at me. WHAT. I just start yelling back “this is the 2nd time in 5 minutes that i’ve been harassed by a man! (I think I also starting shaking my finger..it got weird) this is not ok. it’s not ok for you to do this.” I started crying a little so I left quickly.
As I was power-walking home I actually started crying. 1 block left. I can see my house. There are several men in the street. One stands in front of me on the sidewalk as I try to pass and say’s “can I talk to you for a second baby?” and i walk past him. I’m crying a lot at this point. I start walking up my front steps and a car stops at the stop sign right next to my house and a man yells at me from the car, “damn girl! nice legs!” I cry hysterically….I’m not crying because I’m scared or sad. I am so angry that this is “normal.” I get harassed everyday. It happens to everyone. And nobody is doing anything about it. I can’t even take a five minute walk without having four harassing encounters with men. This is not ok. This should not be normal. The worst part about this is that before I went on my journey to the store, I changed my clothes. I took off my dress and I put on something more “decent.” We live in a victim blaming, rape-culture and for that one moment, they even fooled me. They fooled me into changing my clothes and thinking that I could to something about it.
Stopped at a crosswalk on my bike. Man approached me and asked if I speak Spanish. I speak a little, but didn’t catch it all. He pulled a picture of a nearly naked woman out of his pocket and pointed at her crotch at which point I just shook my head. He then shook my hand, held on to me, and started talking about how beautiful I was. He had wedged his bike wheel on mine and I couldn’t move.
The man pictured in this photo harassed me on the subway after work. As I stood in a hot jam-packed train, I coughed as I grasped for air. After I released one cough, this man who reeked of alcohol started screaming at me with garbled words in English and Spanish. He yelled at me for not covering my mouth (which was not true) when I coughed and started nudging the guy next to him to try to get him to gang up on me too. He screamed and yelled and when I stared him down and ignored him with disdain on my face he elevated his tone and tried to get in my face. I continued to ignore his attention-mongering which made him even more irate. He continued to yell and asked me if I understood him. He carried on like this for several stops and started squirming and yelling. When I decided to get off the train because his stench, harassment, and attitude were pissing me off, he got started screaming at me and another woman who didn’t affirm his harassment to “move out, get out of here, get off this train now.” He was completely disgusting and rude and I’m happy a place like Hollaback exists where he can be publicly shamed and held accountable for disturbing the peace and treating women badly.
I was walking back from a party with friends- we were going to try and get a late night bus. Just as we’re approaching the bus stop, a group of guys started running at us yelling “BITCHEEES”. I wasn’t really appalled until one of them ran past me, and as he did so, he ran his hand up my leg and grabbed my butt. I always thought I would be able to say something in that kind of situation, one that was more than verbal abuse, but I didn’t. I sort of froze and just said something to my friends. I’m disappointed in myself, but I’m more disappointed in the fact that women simply walking down the street is apparently an invitation to grope and touch them.
So, I’m a fifteen year old girl…and I was going to my third period class yesterday (friday). I was wearing a red cotton dress with an over sized tee shirt on top so I wasn’t breaking the dress code that I completely disagree with. The dress goes down to about an inch or so above my knee and my shirt goes down to a little lower than my clavicle. Well my history teacher put me in a group with three other people and I was explaining what was on the homework because of course I’m the only one to do it and I notice my at least sixty year old teacher keep looking at me and hanging around close to my group and he the entire time is looking me over, and I don’t think of myself as a particularly sexy TEEN but I am curvy so I generally catch on when guys stare at my boobs or ass and he was staring at my boobs a lot and when I crossed my arms he called me out of the room. And as always this will inspire an immature ooooooh from my classmates and i walked out embarrassed into the hall with an OPEN DOOR and was quite loud about how I was not appropriately dressed for school and I was distracting the other students, a lady of my age and intelligence (as if letting air touch your skin is harmful to your brain cells)shouldn’t be wearing such apearal blah blah blah and I nodded wanting it to be over and agreed to dress more appropriately on monday because what else can I do? Its not like I can tell him to go fuck himself instead of staring at my tits all 45 minutes of the class. And after I walked into class again i see the two boys in my group grin at me and I raised my eyebrow at them, when I sat down they started to ask all sorts of inappropriate questions like “so did he bust you for being a coke whore yet?” “hey I got five dollars on me is that enough for a blowjob?” “So is there some kind of slut academy where a guy can get a girl a bit thinner than you for cheap?” I fucking kid you not…and no one did anything…so I looked over at my teacher’s desk, guess what? HE WAS FUCKING SMIRKING AT ME WHAT THE FUCK? And so for the rest of the day these boys saw me in the halls and coughed “slut” “bitch” “hoe” “fat cunt” and some of their inbred jerk-off chauvinist pigs of friends joined in…Well I survived friday, can’t wait till monday…
It was a girl’s night. I was out with my friends and we were walking around the city town’s square around 9pm, scouting out stores we wanted to go into. I was walking in front, and my friends were walking and talking behind me. As we kept walking there was a group of 3 guys coming our way and when we were about to pass them on the sidewalk the guy in the middle says “oh yay hug” and forces himself on to me, giving me a hug thinking he is funny. I didn’t hug back, as a matter of fact I pushed him off of me and said “no” As I kept walking, I heard him go “what’s your problem?”, or something along the lines of that, while his friends laughed in encouragement. It angered me that a person, especially a boy I did not know, thought he was in the right by trying to touch me in any way. Out of annoyance and anger, I flipped him off and continued walking down the sidewalk without looking back. At first I sort of felt bad for being so harsh with this guy. I found myself not blaming him at all and making up excuses for him to my friends, saying “Oh he’s just a boy. It’s not that big of a deal. I overreacted.” But my best friend stopped me after I said that and started telling me I was absolutely wrong. That it was an extremely big deal that he thinks he can get away with harassing me in public when it was unwanted. She made the point to tell me that WE CANNOT MAKE EXCUSES FOR MEN, JUST BECAUSE THEY ARE MEN (I put that in all caps because I think it is the most valid point of this story). And I believe what she said is 100% true. He was pushing boundaries, making me feel uncomfortable, and then acting like I did something wrong when I got mad. Thankfully my friend was able to help me realize that I wasn’t the antagonist at all. I now understand why it is wrong for men to think it is okay to whistle at women, or honk at them when they are walking by, or yell things at them, or even try and force themselves onto you. This is not right that women brush the situation off, while thinking “Oh he’s just a guy”; because it is still street harassment, and whatever it may be, it needs to stop.