My two friends and i were waiting for a bus to get back to my apartment, and a guy sitting next to us starting talk to us, he started out asking normal questions then went right into asking if we were single, and we politely said no (at this point with the way we responded it’s clear we didn’t want him to talk to us again, however he was relentless) He proceeded to ask if we were lesbians, we replied no, then as we stood up for our bus he says “damn you girls look good standing up!” then my outspoken friend says “look that’s enough, stop” he says it again, and my friend then says “no really stop, you’re crossing the line” and by the time we got on the bus he sat all the way in the back while we sat in the front. It just goes to show you can’t be afraid to put creeps in their place when they’re harassing you. I know that if i was without that friend of mine i would have stayed speechless and allowed the man to continue harassing me.
Submitted by Marissa
For some reason I thought that starting a Hollaback! in Baltimore (launching later this month!) would make me invisible to street harassment. Like, for the greater good, karma would do me a favor and let me pass. Well, I was wrong. A young-20’s guy looked me over and said “sexy” right as we passed shoulder to shoulder on the street- while I was FLYERING FOR THE HOLLABACK BMORE! LAUNCH PARTY. Ugh. I change it up, but my first response this time was a forceful “Shut Up!”. Then he says, “you shut up, bitch!”, then I say “let me take a picture of you so I can show everyone what an asshole is..(silence while walking away)…don’t worry, I got it” (my phone sucks, so I didn’t get it, but I made the gesture anyway). I felt ok about the whole thing b/c Hollaback has given me the confidence that the streets are mine just as much as they are his, but then later I passed by a bank security guard who saw the incident. He asked exactly what the guy said and made sure I was ok, which I thought was pretty cool, but then he gave me that same old, “you gotta watch what you say to people so you don’t get hurt”. I’m not an idiot, it was the middle of the day with plenty of people around and I’ve taken a self-defense class. If the situation escalated and someone did get hurt, it would absolutely be the HARASSER’S fault, not mine. Really tired of the victim-blaming mentality. Perhaps if the other two women on the street and that security guy had all responded to that jerks rude behavior, then HE would have to worry about what he said to people, not me.
Submitted by Shawna
I’m 22, and this happened to me when I was 12 and traveling with a group in London, but it still haunts me. So it was midnight and I was on the tube with a group of teens and two chaperones, but we were all spread out because it was so crowded. I was standing there looking at the floor when I felt this guy to my right watching me. I looked up and made eye contact, and I swear his eye got wider in a really creepy way. I looked away, but he didn’t stop staring. I kept glancing at him, and the only time within maybe five minutes when he broke his stare was to scratch his nose…and then he went right back to staring at me. Finally, the tube stopped and my group started getting off.
As soon as I started to move to get off, this creep started following me. That’s when I REALLY panicked, as in my fight-or-flight instinct kicked in. Despite the crowd, I ran. He ran after me and actually reached out to grab me. Without thinking, I grabbed some lady’s sweater, yanked on it, and hurled myself off the tube. And just after I jumped off, with him right behind me, the tube doors closed on his face. I turned around to look, and the last I saw of him, he had his face and hands mashed up against the door windows, still staring at me, and looking VERY pissed off. I told a chaperone what had happened (don’t know if they believed me), but they let me hold one of their hands all the way back to the hotel.
It sounds like something out of a psychological thriller or horror movie, I know, but it was real and to date, the scariest time of my life. I can’t stand to think what might have happened if that creep had gotten hold of me. I’m still afraid to ride trains alone.
Submitted by Rebecca
I was in 8th grade and walking home from school. I didn’t live more than three or four short blocks from my school, I was on a street I’d walked for years, and it was the middle of the afternoon. I suddenly felt like there was someone staring at me. When I turned I saw a man, probably old enough to be my father, cruising slowly next to me and leaning out his car window. As soon as I looked at him he said in this slow, skeezy voice, “My oh my.” I pretty much ran home.
I’ve always felt really confused about the whole thing. I was immensely creeped out, but a part of me was kind of flattered by it, and because of that I was ashamed of myself.
I still don’t know how to handle catcallers. I have a nice body that I feel good about and I like to dress up in clothes that often attract attention, so if I’m called at and I tell a friend about it they get a look on their face like I had it coming. I shouldn’t have to feel guilty or ashamed about wanting to look nice, and I certainly don’t dress up for the creeps of the world.
Submitted by Jax
While riding the A train home and reading my book, I notice the guy sitting across from me looking at me. I am so tired and am very close to telling him to stop looking at me, but I don’t. As my stop approaches, I start getting up and he leans over and says: “Sweetie, I study heritage. What heritage are you?” I stand up, look at him, and say: “What makes you think you can call me ‘sweetie’?” He replies with “It’s a polite thing to say,” to which I reply, “I’m not your sweetie.” Then he says “You’ve got a bad attitude.” I tell him “Fuck you” (I know that isn’t the most constructive response), and he tells me “fuck you” right back. Lovely way to end the day.
Submitted by Diane
We’re 18 years old. It’s our first college break and my friend’s mother sent us to get some pumpkins from a church fair. We’re laughing and I’m making fun of my friend who in the few short months she’s been in Montreal has already adapted an accent.
We’re at a light, laughing hysterically. A fifty something year old man in a middle age crisis sports car at the red light rolls down his window. My heart sinks and I clench my hands. I know what’s coming next. The man yells “Hey baby, lose some weight and shake that ass!” when the light turns green and he speeds off.
“Dickface!” I yell, my face flaming. My friend also yells at the man, cursing him out.
I doubt he heard us. I doubt he cares.
Submitted by Emma
In middle school I used to walk home by myself. Normally this was a complete non-issue, and I wasn’t nervous about it for the longest time. Then one day when I was 12 a red pickup truck full of grown men slowed as they passed, and wolf whistled at me. Shocked and a little disturbed, I froze as they passed, but then regained control of myself and flipped them the finger as I continued walking. Not even a teenager yet, I was already starting to ‘develop’ in a noticeable way and probably looked about 15. However, that is not an excuse. It is just as inappropriate to leer in such a degrading manner at women of ANY age, and it is something I have continued to face throughout my life. Men have continued to leer at me in public (and private!) places, and I am very nervous to go anywhere alone except in the very brightest daylight. It sometimes makes me wish I could trade in my body for something less noticeable, simply to escape the stares and catcalls. I am not even particularly good looking, and I DO NOT dress in a provocative manner. In fact I typically wear jeans a zippered sweatshirt everywhere I go. I feel angry and violated when strangers feel like it is their right to comment on my body in such a disrespectful way, but no catcall has ever been worse than that first time. There is no reason for children to need to be afraid just because they were born female.
Submitted by Jade
Sexism on yelp? When I logged into my account, this was enough to make me think that some of the comments may not be random.
I don’t want to sound crazy, but here is what I saw (screenshot included) When I logged into my account on yelp, I saw the banner overhead greeting me with a very personal and creepy message, “Looking good, Raven.” Somehow, it struck me. I did not understand why at the time, but this next message confirmed it: When I clicked to go to my profile, I was greeted with what you see below. Now, pretty is not an adjective that would be used to describe a man. I can’t help but think that the selection process for greetings at yelp isn’t as arbitrary as people would think and that you’re privacy may not be as protected. Even in the world of online, as a woman, you want to be valued for yourself as a complex human being and not appraised as a sex object with no right and/or feelings. I can’t help but feel that something – and I am highly intuitive – is not right with this. I have contacted management and I am looking forward to seeing what they have to say. I’ll keep you informed.
I was fifteen or so when my grandfather died, though I looked more like thirteen. At his wake, which my sister and I attended all that evening, we took a break and walked to the local Dunkin’ Donuts to get a bite to eat with a girlfriend. On the way back, a group of guys (whose faces I couldn’t see in the dark) in huge SUVs honked their horns and wolf-whistled at us. I was absolutely terrified, as this was the first instance of sexual harassment I’d ever experienced. They made comments about our bodies and how “hot” we were, dressed in funeral clothes. I hung my head down and moved faster, trying to avoid causing any “trouble.” I was well-read enough to understand what groups of men + darkness + young girls equaled, even if I hadn’t experienced before or really been talked t about it, and I didn’t want anything like that to happen to me, my sister or my friend. I wish I’d been brave enough at the time to have said something, but I didn’t. We managed to get out of there unmolested, though a few of the guys seemed to have been following us right up to the funeral home. When I told my mother about it, my sister said she was happy that they’d found us attractive, while I just felt ashamed. We’ve both learned our lessons about verbal harassment now and don’t stand for things like this anymore, but sometimes I wish I had a time machine and could go back and tell my younger self to yell at them to back off. Long after that incident, I noticed how many of my male “friends” said similar things under the guise of “compliments.” Now I say what I wished I’d said back then, “Stop commenting about my body and get lost.”
Submitted by Rachel
This was a few years ago when I first moved to NYC. I lived in the East Village was walking to Union Square like I did every morning. A guy walking towards me sidled up beside me as I was walking by and said “I can see your pussy” under his breath and really close to my ear…I was horrified. This never happened to me when I was living in Boston. I was actually shaking after it happened, but I continued on my way. BTW – I was wearing capri pants, a large tank top and sneakers – hardly a revealing outfit. Strangely, the guys that do this to me in Union Square were always sidling up to me and saying “tsst” “tsst” “tsst” – it is so gross. They get so close to you that you FEEL like you’re being assaulted.
Submitted by Alie