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As someone who has been taking public transport / works as a cashier, and is in public a lot, I’ve dealt with cat calling and being bothered by strangers for awhile now. I get the usual honking, unsolicited compliments, long-winded conversations, begging for a phone number, and occasionally an ask for sexual favors. Yesterday though it reached a level I really didn’t expect and I’m still in shock over it.
I was sitting on the bus and there was a man who had been drinking (he was acting drunk and had a bottle of beer in hand), sitting across from me. There were three other people nearby me. I ignored him but as he continued to get louder and talked to other people on the bus, I snapped a few pictures of him (I think as a precaution, although I was likely just going to delete them later). At one point he tried to talk to me and he said, “Go to Hollywood and become a movie star.” Eventually, one of my ex friends boarded the bus (we’ll call him Josh), and Josh came and sat across from me. Although we are ex friends, Josh and I are still friendly and on talking terms. So I tapped Josh’s leg with my foot and whispered for him to sit next to me, although I thought I was being kind of silly/paranoid at the time. He obliged and sat next to me.
At one point this drunk person turned to me and said “you’re sexy”. I gave him polite eye contact but said nothing, and then looked away. He stood up and moved to another part of the bus. I made small talk with Josh, starting to feel a little safer, before this man came back. He approached me directly, wrapped his arms around my neck/shoulders, and kissed the top of my head. He then let go and looked to Josh as if non-verbally proving his masculinity to him (or from what Josh told me, I didn’t see this happen myself because my face was in the drunk guy’s chest).
He moved to a different part of the bus again and Josh put an arm around me trying to comfort me, and told me that if the guy approaches again he’ll do something. I was mostly in shock and couldn’t speak. Nobody on the bus did anything. The drunk guy eventually got off the bus and the story pretty much ends here.
I’m still in shock as this happened last night and I don’t know what a proper response or reaction to this is. I don’t even know if this counts as harassment or what. But there you go. I think because of this and many other instances women just can’t feel safe in public. While I do have his picture I am not sure if I will be sharing it for privacy’s sake. But I guess my initial paranoia wasn’t unreasonable.
Estaba caminando de regreso de la universidad a mi casa cuando un grupo de chicos que caminaban en dirección contraria a la mia comenzaron a silvarme y hacer comentarios sexuales de mi apariencia desde algunos metros antes de que nos cruzaramos. Cuando nos cruzamos, añadieron sonidos como gemidos que me hicieron sentie demasiado incómoda y hasta asustada, ya que yo era la única en la avenida.
I experience incidents everyday during my commute to the city. Some are “smaller” incidents like a man breathing in my face or holding his phone in an unusual position to photograph me and some are more serious incidents like being touched inappropriately. A few years ago, I experienced one of the more serious incidents. I was sitting on the train and reading something and didn’t notice that a man was standing in front of me. After I looked up from what I was reading, I noticed that his pants were unzipped and he was flashing me. I was shocked; I had never experienced anything like that and I thought I must have been mistaken. But when I looked again, I saw that I wasn’t wrong. At that point, the other people sitting next to me, including a middle aged man and a young woman, got up from their seats and began to move away. I wasn’t just shocked that I was being harassed, I was shocked that no one thought to help. Not one person who got up thought to tell me that someone was harassing me and not one of them tried to help. When I noticed that everyone had stood up, I stood up too and moved away. But he followed and I was too shocked to move to a different car. I still remember what he looks like and what he was wearing.
My husband and I went to Istanbul for a one year anniversary trip. We rode the tram everywhere, which was mostly great, but one day it was especially crowded. I clung tightly to my husband (he’s very tall, no way you can miss him). I felt something on my leg and thought it was the guy next to me’s hand, so I shifted. Then I felt it in between my butt cheeks and realized he had a boner and was pressing his bulge into my butt. I have actually experienced this before, it’s called Frotteurism, but I couldn’t believe it was happening again. I told my husband what was going on, but he thought I was just complaining about it being crowded. So I shifted and jabbed my elbow into his sternum and started talking loudly about what a frotteur is and how disgusting it is. But my husband just got embarrassed that I was making a scene. We got off the train and had a huge fight, but once he realized what had actually happened, my husband felt incredibly ashamed that he didn’t believe me and that he did nothing. We’re working through it but it feels like 2 kinds of trauma at the same time.
This week at the office was filled with community outreach and workshops.
Emily was out of the office this week doing some amazing work with Intel. Intel asked Emily to represent our new initiative to combat online harassment, HeartMob, at their Hack Harassment conference in Santa Clara. She was joined by other leaders in the tech industry who want to hack online harassment.
Debjani visited Fieldston School in the Bronx to conduct workshops on street harassment. Debjani was also featured in the New York Times article discussing the increased efforts to reduce harassment on the subway. Hollaback! will be providing guidance to the transit workers who are working on this issue.
And at Hollaback! sites around the world:
Hollaback! Vancouver is holding a story sharing contest in preparation for International Anti-Street Harassment Week and to encourage app usage. Download the free Hollaback! app by March 18th and let them know on their Facebook page, by commenting on their contest post, or messaging them. They will pull three winners at random for some great surprise prizes.
Hollaback! Baltimore held their monthly coffee chat at Teavolve Cafe & Lounge to discuss plans for the upcoming year, new positions available, and future events and speakers.
Hollaback! Vegas took part in a day of workshops and activities focused on healthy teen relationships. The Teen Summit was presented by First A.M.E Church and Safe Nest.
That’s all for this week! Stay tuned for more amazing stuff next week!
Holla and out!
This morning it was very rainy and cold in NYC so I had my winter coat on with the hood up and buttoned and happened to see my superintendent of my apartment building walking towards me. I waved at him not realizing he didn’t recognize me all bundled up and he responded with, “Fuck yea, baby. I love those legs.” I ripped my hood off and screamed, “I live in your building, you work with my boyfriend who is the real estate agent of said building, and you need to learn how to respect women.” He walked right past me and ignored me as if we don’t see each other every day and say Hello, as if we don’t give him a Christmas present each year, as if I didn’t know he has a girlfriend and a baby to provide for. What do I do now when I see him every morning? When will a female be able to feel safe walking on her own street and wave to someone she knows?
It was around 6 pm here in my city in PH. My friends and I were waiting for a public transport where all of a sudden a man groped my behind with two hands, one for each cheek. I was already having a bad day and this made it way worse. I was too shocked to react and when it finally registered in my brain, the man was already running with his obnoxious friends. I felt violated of all sorts. This happened about a year ago. Now, I’m currently working in my undergrad thesis and chose street harassment as my topic. Filipinos aren’t keen on street harassment. I grew up learning to just adapt it and accept that it will happen every now and then. It is now time to instill awareness to my folks. My resources are very limited and finding this site is like locating a treasure chest filled with gold and all priceless jewels. Thank you.
I wish I could say the story I’m about to tell is my only ever experience of unwanted attention from men in the street. It’s not, by a long long way, but it’s by far the worst. Two weeks ago I was walking to my office when a white van pulled up alongside me and the man inside wound the window down. I assumed he was going to ask for directions but instead said ‘look at you, so sexy, I’d love some hard sex with you right now.’ I was stunned – this was totally unprovoked in broad daylight and I couldn’t have looked less sexy in my winter coat. Always far too polite, I said I wasn’t interested as I’m married. At this point the guy lost his temper completely, calling me a retard and a bitch, asking me if I was ‘too backward’ to understand that he wasn’t interested in whether I was married, he was only interested in sex. A male colleague also walking to the office came past and told me to ‘leave it’ and we walked away. I was shaken for days afterwards and thought about going to the police but was worried I’d be wasting their time, and felt too foolish to ask my colleague to be a witness – even though I’d done nothing to attract this attention. The next day I was wolf whistled at by another guy in a car as I walked home, and ever since I’ve been looking for something like Hollaback, because I’m sick of being made to feel small and uncomfortable just for being female.
We had a lot going on this past week here at Hollaback! HQ.
Desiree was out of the office last week because she was at the Twitter offices! She attended a symposium held by Twitter that focused on their new policies on online safety. We’re also excited to announce that we have been asked to join their safety council which looks to combat online harassment!
CJ met with Brooklyn Frontier High School to discuss a new project. Brooklyn Frontier, Groundswell and Hollaback! will be working together to create a mural on street harassment. We are pumped to be working with Groundswell again and can’t wait to see the finished product.
Debjani and Emily were both interviewed for a future documentary project on online harassment. Just another day at the office!
Hollaback! Vancouver was interviewed by the Straight.com about their (amazing) feminist valentines. The feminist valentines were chosen from a competition that was hosted by the site. Head on down to their site and pick yours up today!
Hollaback! Croatia attended the “Take Responsibility for the Murder of Women” protest. The protest was motivated by the fact that in the past month alone there have been 4 women murdered in Croatia by a partner or family member.
Thats all for this week! Stay tuned for next week!
Holla and out!
This happened to me today, as I was leaving the train station (like I do every day). I had been waiting in the station for a good 10 minutes with my friend, who was picked up before my mother got to the station to pick me up (I’m 16, I can’t drive). It’s a pretty big station, with escalators and little shops. My mom got to the station and I walked to the exit (it’s in a secluded area), but some guy was standing there (half-blocking the escalator) and began asking me a question. I pulled out one of my earbuds to listen, and he said “Do you know where the colleges are?” Umm…what? I literally had no idea what to respond to his bullshit question, but very politely responded “No, I don’t, sorry.” Before I could keep walking, he proceeded to ask me another question: “Do you know a guy, named horny?” This was when I turned around and RAN down the escalator. Then he yelled after me, “Miss, do you know the guy?!” I didn’t look back, I thought he was going to run after me. I could have fallen and broken my neck while running down that escalator with my heavy backpack, but I was so freaked out it didn’t matter. My face felt like it was melting and my heart was in my throat. I got into my mom’s car and pretended like everything was fine. This was the first incident of street harassment that I’ve experienced and, I fear, the first of many.