It was my mothers birthday and we went to go get our eyebrows done at the mall. While my mom was waiting to get her brows done she realized she had forgotten her phone in the car. The mall wasn’t one we were familiar with or came to frequently (we just heard good reviews for the brow art).She asked me if I’d be okay walking to the car by myself and I told her it was no problem. On my way out of Macy’s there were these two guys just standing there, I vaguely remember seeing one out of the corner turn his head as I walked passed him into the parking lot. I got to the car and finished grabbing the phone and an older lady was waiting for me, she said that if those two guys were murdered they would have killed me (they were apparently leering very openly). Being only 14 (I’m tall for my age) I was freaked out because after the lady told me that, I looked up and saw that the 2 guys were standing right by my car. I’m so grateful that the lady saw that, waited for me and walked me back inside the mall. That experience was very scary, till this day I can’t understand why they followed me all the way to my car in the parking lot and it’s scary just thinking about what could have happened if it weren’t for that kind woman, no woman/young girl should ever be made that uncomfortable.
This summer, I decided to make a commitment to be a bit more fitter in my lifestyle. As a result, I have been running about 5 times a week at a large park near my town. On this particular day, I was exhausted and decided walk the entire loop of the park. As I strolled the pathway with headphones in, a tall man yelled something to me while walking towards my direction. I proceeded to take out my headphones and must have looked startled because he asked the question again with his unintelligible thick accent. He then pointed to his ring finger and asked if I was married. He kept following me as I walked the long path and stated that he has seen me run several times. During our conversation, he not only pressured me to come live with him in Jamaica, he asked me to marry him and exchange phone numbers. To be honest, I have never thought of myself as attractive and was never really given attention if I walked down a street. I never thought I would ever be harassed in such a place only because I had this preconception that Americans generally were not interested in Asians like me. This interaction, however, made me very scared and opened my eyes to the harrassment women have to endure on a daily basis.
I have lived on the same block from 5 years. I have walked passed all my neighbors (many of which I know) with and without my husband, said “Hi”, “Have a good day” and all other niceties that neighbors do. Yes, I have experienced the occasional cat calls and harassment, usually not on my block, usually not worth noting. However, while walking passed a stoop on my block a few weeks ago, I stopped dead in my tracks at an absolutely vulgar, disgusting comment. What started as “Hey Sexy” quickly turned into “I could rip that white pussy wide open.” I couldn’t ignore that comment. I stopped, turned back and said “excuse me?” When I commented that I heard what they said and it was unacceptable and disgusting, “keep walking white b****” was yelled at me many times over. I exclaimed that I lived here and it was not okay. Yes, I am white. But as a woman, I should not be made to feel so uncomfortable walking down my own block. Later my husband decided to confront the men, which was not a smart move and I felt too provoking. The group of men was doubled from 2 to 4 and quickly escalated into threats towards my husband. It was all dissolved peacefully eventually. But what stuck with me, is that I was told in the heat of it that I should have “just kept walking”. It is not acceptable to talk to any woman or girl this way. Somewhere along the way, men have learned or decided that these comments are deserved and acceptable because they are men and we are sexualized beings. I still avoid that side of the street and always try to see if that stoop has anyone sitting on it before approaching.
Harassed again from across the street at my bus top. The harassment this time was in drunk, slurred Spanish so I don’t know what was said, but by the pointing, ‘thumbs upping’ and sleazy grin I got, I know whatever he said wasn’t cool. I yelled across the street and asked him to repeat himself, which he did! Then kept grinning and walking away. Wish he’d come over a little closer to say what he had to say so that I could kick his little ass.
Street harassment happens in many different ways. Hollaback! has historically focused primarily on sexual harassment of women and LGBTQ individuals around the world, but with the continued spate of attacks and murders of black men by police officers in the United States, it is with urgency that we express our solidarity with the families of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, as well as all of the communities immediately affected by this violence. We know that these are our communities too. When black men cannot walk safely down the street none of us are truly free. The very recent murders of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile makes this plain as day and we cannot forget all of the others before them who have lost their lives at the hands of state and institutional violence. This must end. #blacklivesmatter #AltonSterling #PhilandoCastile
Here are some links to articles, clips, that express what so many of us are feeling:
Here are some links to articles that focus on things people can do when faced with these tragedies
Here are some links on self care
A man followed me across the road from my front door and blocked my path three times at the mouth of this cul de sac.
When I protested and objected, he said “Suck my cock” and fuck off you ugly dog”.
He has done other things, like look me up on Linkedin, leer at me and he put a card in my letterbox accusing me of lying after I reported him to police.
I sat down on the t (Boston speak for “subway”) and a guy sat down directly across from me. I had a bad feeling about him since he was acting kinda weird at the station. I put my headphones on and purposefully face away from him cause I sat here first. Out of the corner of my eye I could see him grooving to his headphones then stomping his feet loudly. He kept saying things to random strangers on the t car and most people ignored him. Then he started yelling about his grandfather to anyone who would listen. Eventually he did little things to try to get my attention like wave to me which I kept ignoring. Then he stands up to get off at his stop and gets close to me and waves. I immediately whack his hand away and yell “stop it!” He looks at everyone else on the t, pointing at me saying something (I can’t hear cause I still have headphones on). Everyone just stares at him but 3 young women are clapping for me. Right before he gets off the t he waves in my face again so I start take my shoe off. He sees that and very quickly runs out the door.
I live in Virginia and I can’t walk to my job downtown without being cat called at least twice a day. It’s often an older man asking “How’s it going?” I get mad and uncomfortable every time. Sometimes I think I’m overreacting, after all they’re just asking how I’m doing and that’s supposed to be a friendly question. But then I remind myself it’s the tone they use and the way they look at me like I’m an object for their amusement. So I made a vow to say something the next time.
Sure enough, later that day a group of four young teenage boys called out to me “How you doing?” I almost didn’t hear the first time but they called out two more times so I couldn’t ignore it. Finally I turn and look at them and say “Are you talking to me?” They all grin and say yea. So I respond with “Honestly not so well, because I can’t walk down the street without having guys like you call out to me. And it makes me feel uncomfortable and it’s ridiculous that it happens. You boys need to learn to respect women!” And the four of them scramble and run away. Literally run away from me.
I felt like I was not only standing up for myself but every woman on the street. I hope I taught those boys a lesson and they will think before doing it next time. I will no longer take the harassment. My voice will be heard.
As the Hollaback! HQ office closes for the 4th of July weekend, so does a packed week of strategic planning for the future of Hollaback! We’re so excited to share the ideas we’ve brainstormed, focusing on how to expand Hollaback!’s support system and spreading the message of public space safety far and wide.
Meanwhile, at Hollaback! Around the world…
That’s it for now!
Holla and out!
Estaba en el metro y un sexista patriarcal falocentrista capitalista transfobico me llamó por pronombres masculinos!!!