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Upon realizing that I had just missed the bus I had hoped to take and that I would have to walk through a darkly lit stretch of sidewalk to get to my destination, I cursed in frustration. It wasn’t a long walk, but it was still one that I was trying to avoid having to take. My partner said to me, “You don’t need to be taking the bus anyway. It’s a beautiful walk through the park!”
I looked at him and sighed. I was a little exasperated that I had to explain this to him AGAIN. “It’s late. And I’m female.”
It’s not his fault that he is an able-bodied cismale who has the privilege of not having to fear walking in dark places alone at night. And part of that privilege is not having to think about the fact that that privilege exists. It means that he never has to think about where he can and can’t walk and what the safest route for him to take will be, but also that he doesn’t even have to be aware of the fact that he doesn’t have to do that. Unfortunately, I don’t share that privilege. I should, of course. Everyone should. But as a female-bodied person, I am denied that luxury by society.
Not only do I fear walking alone at night because something could happen to me, but I also fear the reaction I would get from people if something did happen to me under those circumstances. “Well, you shouldn’t have been walking through there at night by yourself,” the victim-blaming rhetoric would go. I should have known better. Why would I put myself in that situation? What was I even doing walking in that neighborhood alone? All of these things would inevitably be thought by other people, if not vocalized by them.
And that’s one of the differences between the way I live my life and the way my partner is able to live his. Where he sees a beautiful walk through the park, I see potential danger. That’s what we talk about when we talk about privilege. That’s what we talk about when we talk about rape culture. And that’s what I’m hoping to change by doing the work that I do.
Cross Posted from boston.ihollaback.org
Occasionally we get inspiring success stories about justice being served. This is one of them. The original hollaback is posted below the update.
UPDATE: I received a call form the Manhattan District Attorney’s office on 4/12, notifying me that the perpetrator will be arraigned in court on May 6th, and asking if I’d be willing to verify the statement I made to the police. I should be receiving a copy of my statement in the mail. I am going to call the DA’s office back, as I really feel it is important for me to be present at the arraignment, although my presence is not required. (I am starting a new semester at school that week, so if the arraignment would cause me to miss an entire class session, I might not be able to go – I am praying that’s not going to be the case). I’m not sure whether I’ll be able to make a brief statement to the judge, but if it is allowed, I plan to do so.
Re-posted from April 8.
I was headed home to Brooklyn for the day at about 2:30 p.m. after finishing a final exam at school in Manhattan. I was listening to a podcast and briefly closed my eyes between Rector and Whitehall. When I opened my eyes, there was a man sitting directly across from me (no other passengers were seated in this section of the train) masturbating with his genitals completely outside of his pants. His eyes were nearly closed. I got up and got loud, shouting, “What the are you doing jerking off in front of me?! That’s disgusting!” He got up and headed to the door at the other end of the car. I was so glad that a large, middle-aged man near where I had walked to in the car looked at me and said he had seen what happened. I told the man I didn’t want to let the guy get away, and he offered to help me. We walked to where the perpetrator was standing and stood right behind him. As soon as the doors opened at Whitehall, the perp bolted, and the fellow commuter and I flew after him.
I reached the perp first and grabbed the sleeve of his sweatshirt, bringing him down on the stairs. Three men helped me detain him on the stairs until the transit cop FINALLY came 10 minutes later. During that 10 minutes, the perp pleaded with me to let him go and to think of his family, he also kept trying to get away, but he knew he was too outnumbered to really make a run for it. Once the cop came, the other men departed. After a few minutes, the perp tried to get away from the cop by jumping the turnstile. I ran after him and grabbed him from behind by the belt, bringing him down to the ground. He resisted arrest, but the cop was finally able to handcuff him and he was arrested and taken into custody for public drunkenness and lewdness and I gave a formal statement to the police at the nearest substation.
I felt so good about not just keeping my mouth shut and letting this pervert get away with it. Even if nothing much happens to him, I feel happy with my decision to take action. On a side note, it was completely ridiculous to have to wait for 10 minutes for the transit cop to arrive. I also had to clearly state to the cops that I wanted to press charges against the guy, rather than them just giving him a warning.
Mario Valdiviant, the man literally caught with his pants down (with a condom on, to boot?), will serve time in jail. Hey look! That whole “can’t masturbate or show your ding dong in public” law thing is being enforced! Way to go, New York City! A long overdue HIP HIP HOORAY!
Check out the warning Hollaback gives to other would-be flashers on tonight’s ABC Eyewitness News. And then find us on Facebook and share your thoughts on the city’s response to this incident.
The New York Post reports that last week a brave Brooklyn student named Annie Jiang helped to catch a guy who was masturbating against her on a crowded train by taking his photo with her cell phone camera. “I tried to take a picture of him because I didn’t want to scream on the train,” Jiang said. “It was blurry, but I got it.”
The story reminds me of the inspiring story of Thao Nygun, who almost five years ago exactly photographed restaurant owner Dan Hoyt with her cell phone camera while he was masturbating on the train. Thao said, “I knew I would feel terrible afterwards if I didn’t do anything.” Thao’s brave act inspired us to launch Hollaback! and today she’s a member of our board.
Two incredible women taking bold actions for a better world. Now that something to HOLLA about!
I thought I was wearing a particularly unflattering outfit to work that day, but apparently Mr. S. didn’t agree. He was sitting on a bench on the subway platform and slapped my ass as I walked past him on the subway platform. When I yelled at him, he jumped up and started screaming at me and saying he was going to throw me in front of the next train. All the men on the platform started to surround him, one woman grabbed me and pulled me back, and other passengers got two police officers. He was chasing after me screaming about how he was going to kill me when the police approached him from behind. He told the cops I was lying – why would he touch a woman he doesn’t even know? That’s a fantastic question, Mr. S.
This man will be going to the Criminal Court of the City of New York on charges of Forcible Touching (PL130.52), Sexual Abuse in the 3rd Degree (PL130.55) and Unlawful Possession of Marijuana (PL221.05).
Reposted from Gothamist:
Horrible story: The Post reports two men were arrested for allegedly “raping an unconscious woman on a West Village park bench. A witness told cops the victim was out cold in Jackson Square Park on West Fourth Street at about 11:35 a.m. Monday when the men approached her. She was lying face-down on the bench when one man allegedly got on top of her and took off her pants.” The witness called the police and both men, Anthony Torres (who has a previous arrest for rape) and Stanley Drayton, were charged with rape.
According the Post, a man is accused raping his ex-girlfriend at the Fulton Street Station on November 13th. The ex-con allegedly pulled her hair, punched her in the face, ripped her pants off and raped her.
As station booths close and the number of underground police are on the decline, it is no accident that subway crimes have risen. Subway stations have become safe havens for violence against women.
We deserve better. Join us at New Yorkers for Safe Transit to make a difference.
By now the story of Cyan Brown, the 16 year old who fatally stabbed a man on Thursday, has been heard around the city. Chased by “seven or eight” men who were trying to drag her off the train and sexually assault her, Cyan had two options: fight back or get hurt.
Like all of us, Cyan had probably been harassed and maybe even assaulted before. She knew what it meant to have lewd comments made about her body. Perhaps she had been stalked before, or been the unwilling witness to public masturbation. Like all of us, Cyan knew very well what the long term emotional impact of harassment and assault felt like, and this time she wanted a different ending.
When we ask our readers why the ‘hollaback,’ the most frequent response is that they were tired of “doing nothing.” This makes sense. Harassment and assault are on a spectrum of violence against women. A study of rape victims found that the ones that fought back – even if they were unsuccessful – were less likely to be depressed or have PTSD afterwards. Fighting back, it seems, is good for you. The problem is – we shouldn’t have to.
While we at HollabackNYC do not support violence in any form, Cyan had no other options. When violence is the only answer, something is terribly, terribly wrong with our city.
We stand in solidarity with Cyan and her family during this difficult time.
In today’s AMNY: Transit cop charged with raping teen. Thanks to Heather Haddon, one of our HOLLAheroes, for reporting this awful crime. When station booth attendants are being cut left and right, every man counts.
“A 29-year-old transit cop charged with raping an 18-year-old woman is scheduled to face a judge on Wednesday.
Shawqi Ahmed, an officer since January 2006, was arrested by the NYPD Friday. Ahmed allegedly met the woman at a Brooklyn club on Thanksgiving and raped her in an apartment later that night, according to published reports. The NYPD would not confirm the details of the incident yesterday.
“It’s particularly a travesty considering this was someone people depend on to keep them safe,” said Emily May of Holla Back, a Web site documenting harassment and sexual abuse in New York City.
The case will go to a grand jury at Kings County Criminal Court, a DA spokesman said.”
Sunday December 6, 2009 6:28 PM By Heather Haddon
Reposted from the New York Post:
An ex-con is back behind bars for groping a young woman in broad daylight as she walked into her SoHo apartment building, police sources said yesterday.
José Marrero, 32, allegedly stalked the 23-year-old victim for three blocks on Oct. 4 while saying, “Hey beautiful, come with me, let’s go somewhere.”
The suspect, who has done time for drug charges, pounced as she stepped into the lobby of her building on Varick Street near Broome streets at 8:30 a.m., sources said.
The victim tried to fight off the attacker, but Marrero allegedly threw her to the ground, rubbed his body against hers and molested her.
Two witnesses stumbled upon the attack, prompting the suspect to dash off, but the victim picked Marrero out of a photo array.
The suspect was arrested last Wednesday and charged with burglary and sexual abuse.