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On street harassment, “we discovered it wasn’t just one of us, it was all of us”
Dr. Karla Jay talks early anti-street harassment organizing (including an ogle in on Wall Street), movement building, and how to stand up to street harassment at this year’s #hollarev!
Watch the full clip here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kJBQ_xs350U
During the afternoon at Sydney Central Station, I was walking past the exit when a man said to me “hey do you want to watch me masturbate?” It shocked me at first, and I walked a couple steps forward before I turned back and saying, “Excuse me?!” in a disgusted tone. I was only able to glare at him for a couple of seconds before I kept walking. But I felt so angry and powerless that I couldn’t retaliate anymore because I didn’t have much time to react and respond. The place was busy and there were people all around us. I couldn’t believe this man could just blatantly say something like that.
I was walking back home, and a young man was standing in a corner with some headphones. As I walked past him, I heard him yell “Bonjour!” I looked back (I wasn’t sure he was talking to me because of the headphones he had, and it’s not the first time some tourist stops me to ask for directions on that street), even though his figure and tone made me uncomfortable. He looked at me and asked if “it was free of charge.”
I usually don’t react to street harassment and catcalling, and I don’t know where I got the courage from this time, but I just turned away, and kept walking while I gave him the finger. He started yelling at me, calling me crazy, a whore and all that. I kept my head (and finger) high until arriving at my place, which was just down the street. I’m really proud of myself for finding the courage to react, but I’m also very afraid. He has seen where I live. I’m too scared to leave the house now.
Scared of walking to catch the bus and walking home!
I am a 21 year old independently going to work via public transportation. As I was walking back home from work, this guy in his twenties stopped his white van in the middle of an intersection. As I was listening to music, he was try to flirt with me and leering at me. I got pissed off and told him to go fuck off and he said why do you have to be so mean and left. I felt so scared and uncomfortable.. I told my mom and she said all guys are like that! That made feel worse!
It happened a second time!
I was waiting for the bus to go to work and I saw that same guy pass by. He decided to turn around. As he turned around and stopped at the other side of the bus, he tried to flirt with me again, so I stuck out my middle finger at him. He said why you do you have to be so mean and left. Again I got so uncomfortable and scared…I felt like he wanted to do something to me like rape me…I was now scared to go walking alone.
The third time, I was walking home after getting off the bus. That same guy showed up again, this time on a bike.. he was trying to flirt with me again, and I screamed FUCK OFF ASSHOLE I’M NOT ASKING FOR IT! He said why do you have to be so mean. I was so pissed off, scared, and uncomfortable. It seems like women like me don’t feel safe! No one will care if a woman gets raped… thanks to this, how will I ever feel safe walking alone?
I am a cis-het white female and I acknowledge that 1) I have benefited, and still benefit, from white privilege 2) we DO NOT live in a post-racial society and 3) my experience pales in comparison to others’. But I think it’s important to share this story.
I’m new to the Atlanta area so when I caused the mirror to fall out of one of my side-view mirrors, I called up the nearest shop to order a new one. It came in at noon today, so I went over to pick it up. When I arrived, I noticed a large group of older men were in and around the entrance.
As I got out of my car, someone yelled something obscene at me. As I walked in the door, someone else made a crude comment to me. As I was waiting in line, someone else attempted to strike up a conversation with me, starting with asking where I was from. All of these men I ignored.
While still waiting in line for my new mirror, the last guy started commenting on my height, my hair, something about a “tall drink of water.” I was fed up and furious with all this unwanted attention so I turned around, looked him in the eye and asked him to “please leave me alone” in the most deadpan and unemotional voice I could muster. He pretended not to hear me, so I had to say it again. His response: “Racism is alive and well!”
I was so angry. How dare he turn the fault of this situation on to me. HE decided making crude comments towards me about my appearance trumped MY desire to go about my business and be left alone, which I made perfectly clear by not responding to him initially. And he took it for racism on my part rather than owning up to his own actions.
An employee rung me up a few minutes later, and I wanted to stay and ask how him I should go about installing my new mirror. But I was so angry and upset, and felt so unsafe, that I got out as quickly as I could. But not before another man tried to hand me his card despite me telling him “no thank you” repeatedly.
Well I guess the best way to start this is from the beginning. On my walk from work to the train, which is about 4 city blocks, I came across a man sitting on the ground staring very intently at every woman who walked by. After a double take and further investigation, I noticed the man sitting on the ground, in front of the Starbucks bay window, was furiously masturbating under his t-shirt.
To avoid any and all contact with the man, I approached a group of women and asked them to call the local police because my phone is an out of state number and wouldn’t call Seattle police. After explaining to them why they should call the police, one of the women laughed, replying,”Sorry you had to see that, sweetheart, but the police won’t do anything about it.” About 30 yards away from the man I spotted a cop and explained to him the situation. He cut me off mid sentence and continued on his way.
Whether or not the man was apprehended or if the cop made it to the man before ejaculation is unknown. But what is absolutely astounding to me is the complete and utter disregard for something so disgusting. It was lucky that no children were in the immediate vicinity, or I would have had to do something to stop it.
At the mothership, Executive Director Emily May met with New Moon Girls to discuss ways to teach young girls about street harassment. Emily also met with the NYPD to discuss ways in which the city of New York could work together to cut down on street harassment in public transportation. A busy badass, that Emily.
Also, if you’re in the area and haven’t already, sign up to march with Hollaback! NYC at the NYC Pride Parade this weekend. It’s pretty much guaranteed that we’ll be the most fabulous group there so come join in on fun! Info can be found here!
Here’s what HOLLAs all over the world have been up to:
Hollaback! Bahamas presented at Sugar + Spice, a one day event for girls 8-13, teaching them about
empowerment. Hollaback! Bahamas discussed feminism and street harassment with 50+ girls and earned some cools points with the kids with their awesome presentation. Swell job, guys!
Hollaback! LA marched at the Los Angles Pride Parade!
! Berlin is hosting a super rad event, My Name is not Baby!, with street artist and Hollaback favorite, Tatyana Fazlalizadeh, about street harassment tonight. If you’re in the Berlin area, definitely make sure to check it out!
There you have it, folks. Til next week-
Holla and out!
-The Hollaback! Team
After experiencing street-harassment on a daily basis, and heavily researching it throughout the day, I’ve been feeling pretty inspired to speak up. I have another success story to share from this afternoon.
The past two days have seemed laden with honking, whistling, smiling, and other unwanted invasions of my personal and mental space. I work in an industrial neighborhood in Hayward, CA, and sometimes I could swear it’s a breeding ground for this.
And just because I feel that it needs to be stated and emphasized, I can personally confirm that IT DOES NOT MATTER WHAT YOU ARE WEARING. YOU ARE NEVER “ASKING” TO BE HARASSED. Yesterday’s weather was stormy and cloudy. I was in a jacket all day, and still was harassed on the street. Today was warm and sunny. I was in a blouse, and was still harassed on the street. THERE IS NOTHING “WRONG” WITH WHAT YOU CHOOSE TO WEAR. THE HARASSERS ARE THE PROBLEM, NOT YOU.
I take a walk every day during my lunchtime, all in the same neighborhood, on the same route. Today included the usual startling honks, hollers, etc. that cause me to feel tense about every single car and human that passes by. It’s a feeling of bracing myself for impact. That’s really what it is. You never know when it’s coming, how long it will last, and how frequently it will happen during one “round” of walking outside of four walls, into public.
With all of the harassers being in passing vehicles, it was difficult to do anything other than give them the finger, or yell obscenities back. I don’t usually shout back, but I was feeling overly frustrated and objectified today. I even ran after a truck when the driver was stopped at a light, to write down the plate number. Enough is enough.
For the past month or so, there have been a group of men working in the gravel yard of a metal-structuring company. There are always massive metal beams that are being loaded onto truck beds, by the use of cranes and forklifts. These men have stared at me every time I’ve passed by since they’ve begun working there. I’ve walked by this place for over two years, with no incidents until now. They will literally stop what they’re doing and freeze, their eyes boring into me like fucking lasers, I tell you. And that smiiiile. I’m sure you know the one.
Today was different, because I got fed up with it. They’ve been saying things to me in Spanish (“Hola, bebe,” for example), and then pretending that they’re conversing with the other men when I look at them. They don’t know that I can understand them, and it’s hilarious.
I don’t remember what it was they were saying at me today. All I see are gums flapping at this point, to be honest. As I was approaching, I counted three of those smiles, and I couldn’t count the stares. One of the men driving the forklift closest to me said something as I passed, so I slowed my pace and stared back at them. Two of them continued to stare and smile, even looking through the gaps in the metal beams when I was out of sight for one split second. Since they continued to stare and talk at me, I decided to video-record them with my phone. I wasn’t actually recording anything, but they didn’t know that. The one in the forklift asked, “Oh you want a video?” To which I replied, “Yep!” and held the phone pointed at him. HE was now the focus. HE was the one being watched while he was simply minding his own business. He laughed nervously, looked away, and went back to his work. Not another word to or about me. For one second, I WAS INVISIBLE TO HIM.
Once I returned to my workplace, I called the company that the men work for. The receptionist listened intently to the problem I was reporting, and I could swear she sounded happy that a woman chose to speak up. I was then connected to the manager, who was incredibly understanding. It blew me away. He said, “Wow. Those guys work for me, so I’ll be sure to talk to them about this.” He even gave me his name and cell-phone number, and told me to call him immediately if this ever happens again. He apologized that this was happening to me, and truly seemed disgusted at these people.
Neither the receptionist nor the manager seemed aware in any way that this was happening. And that’s part of the problem. Workplace harassment happens out-of-sight of authority. These men knew that the manager couldn’t see or hear them, and they’ve had a field day with it. It’s a game of power-play that I chose to end.
I was walking to Starbucks, trying to cross the road and a car of guys started yelling at me to fuck off, that I need to die and that I was a whore.
I just left my gym class at 7:30am and was walking to work. A man walking towards me started coming close to me and speaking in another language with a gross look on his face. He started making those kissy sounds (over and over) and then kept talking. I wanted to punch him in the face. But I didn’t. Because he was bigger then me and because what if he was crazy? Who gave him the right?