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“Hey, baby,” he said, as I rode my bike down an idyllic block in Brooklyn on a hot July day. Of course, I ignored him. I dare assume that most women have heard this or something similar as they attempted to go about the mundane. For me, this was the 5th “Hey,:: insert something I don’t want anyone but my boyfriend or grandmother to call me::”, in only about ten minutes into my first bike ride of the summer. I swerved past him and around his car and continued on riding down the block, hoping that he understood the look on my face and my tensed body to mean that I didn’t want to talk, I didn’t enjoy being hit on, and I just wanted this to end.
Instead for him, he was turned on by my ignoring him and eventually peeved that I wasn’t responding. His comments, during the 3 block span of time that he FOLLOWED ME [I know he was following me because his car was poised to make a right, and instead upon my arrival and his lascivious comments, he decided to go straight. He later made a u-turn back to wherever else he was going,] ranged from, “Don’t you hear me talking to you, girl,” [don’t ever call me girl. I was now not only scared but pissed] to “Ride that bike like you need to ride my dick,” [I see you’ve mastered the English language, you fuck] to “I’m gonna make that ass fold over my face just like that,” [I hope you burn in a fiery single-car crash on your way home tonight, you asshole.] Increasingly violent and verbal, he had his bumper literally inches away from my tire. I considered slowing down, turning around and saying, “why are you doing this?” when images of old “Unsolved Mysteries” episodes flashed through my head— I didn’t want to be the girl who went missing because she was dumb enough righteous enough/smart enough/fearless enough to try to defend herself. Instead, I shut up and shoved my rising tears deep down inside of me along with the feeling that I needed to take a shower, bow my head, and hide in a corner of my dark room. I kept riding until I found a block that was person free and stopped, took out my phone and called my boyfriend.
There are few things in this world as demoralizing and frightening as sexual harassment. It’s a mental, emotional and often, a physical violation. I cannot name the amount of times that someone has grabbed my arm walking down a block, or felt up my sister’s ass “accidentally” on the train, or touched my best friend’s shoulder or hair. The worst and most common of these offenders, get confrontational when we say, “Stop.” Must be nice. Male privilege, that is.
I’m sick and tired of going to the gym/ /buying tampons and Midol/going to the doctor’s office/reading a book/bumping to my iPod and GETTING HIT ON HARRASSED. I’m tired of wearing my best dresses to parties and getting the expected uncalled for touches and comments but then going out in sweats, drool, and head wraps and still getting the “psssst” and the “yo.”
Men: Do you randomly approach, touch, and threaten other men? Do you say things like “I will loosen dat ass up” to other dudes? How does it make you feel to know that you scared someone so much that they had to stop on a corner and take a breather? I bet it feels really powerful. Do you gaze so hard at other men that it makes them feel like you can see through their flesh and bones into their souls? Do you get livid when other men ignore your “compliments’ on the street? Do you wonder why [insert generalizations: black women] always look “stank”? It’s probably because she just walked down a block and every fool between the ages of 12 and 92 said something [looks can talk, too] offensive. Probably not. If you have done these things to women, it’s because you’re a sexual harasser. A sexist. A predator. I beseech you:
LEAVE US ALONE.
When I’m on the treadmill at The Y – it’s not an invitation for you to tap my shoulders and chat me up. When I’m carrying groceries it’s not an invitation for you to make some sort of gross innuendo [they always find a way, don’t they?] These are not compliments and it isn’t chivalry and we aren’t stupid: they aren’t benign offers. Go ahead and call me a man- basher and a “feminist” [you know, implying that being a feminist is bad]. Go ahead and tell me to wear something else, or that I’m being overly sensitive, or that women need to learn to take a “compliment.” All I want is to be left alone to live and exist—and the issue isn’t with me, it’s with you [men]. I needn’t my female- bodiedness to be a scarlet letter. I just want to live and not think twice about whether my mini is too short, or if my hair frames my face too well, or if my jeans accentuate too well. I don’t want to weigh sides of the streets to determine which side I should cross to in order to avoid the most men. I don’t want to walk with my head down and my headphones blaring to protect myself from nonsense. I don’t want to judge all male-kind and be afraid for my future daughters, my mother, my 4 sisters, and my best friends. I do not need for a man to tell me to “smile” as I walk down the street with my only weapon in this war, my scowl. You have no rights to this body [also, you don’t know me.]
I just want to live and be treated with equality and respect. I want to be viewed as human—with emotions and purpose—rather than some lifeless museum exhibit for your petting and leering pleasure. I want to not feel threatened in my everyday life. I want to not think twice about my body or whether it’s my fault that I get catcalled. I’m happy that I live in a place where being a woman means I can work and have kids or do neither of those things, and that I can vote, and walk around [in theory] without a chaperone. But, I need to live in a world where I am not touched against my will, where I am not labeled a crazy bitch for complaining about inappropriate behavior, and where people see me as more than my ass and my breasts. I haven’t surveyed all the women in the world but I can say confidently that very few of “us” enjoy this kind of attention. So stop it. We are fed up.
To my girls: START SAYING SOMETHING.
I’m not going to blame us. We have strength and presence as victims but as with every other ill in the world, nothing gets changed with silence. The more often we ride our bikes off onto empty streets and call our boyfriends, the more often we pull down our skirts and tie sweaters around our waists, the more often we “laugh it off” when our bosses lean too close, the more often these people will do what they do because we’ve taught them that it’s okay. Silence is allowance. Your body is your own and no one has any physical, mental, or emotional rights to it. I refuse to remain silent. I refuse to feel dirty and used and ashamed because someone else doesn’t understand limits and because some male- bodied person takes advantage of, dismisses and underestimates the value of me being female- bodied. I refuse to be a second- class citizen in regards to race, economics, disability, and age but for far too long, I’ve done nothing about my second- class standing as a woman. This… this is my protest—the voice I didn’t have earlier today. This is the kick that, I hope for you, will be the catalyst.
We will be empowered and fearless. This stops today.
I appreciate a good compliment every now and again. “Sis, you are beautiful,” “I like your unique style,” “You have a nice smile.” I’m not a grinch and I’m not impossible. But I need for the invasion of the female form to cease and I need for the boundaries, respect, sensibility, and the humanity to be put in its place.
The stinker of today is that as I rode my bike on the sidewalk [instead of the street] to avoid the weirdoes in cars following me [there’s something about people saying threatening things in a stronger, faster vehicle that added a whole new layer to this experience] I was stopped by a googley- eyed, ambulated policeman who ticketed me for riding my bike on the sidewalk. No, my protests of “I’ve never done this before” [I really have never ridden a bike on the sidewalk before] did not get me out of a ticket. Nor did, “I was trying to avoid the men who were harassing me” work. The man had a job to do but if that doesn’t say something about society I don’t know what does.
Submitted by A.E.
Thank you, passengers on the Kings Highway-bound F train at around 5:45 this evening, for your stunning demonstration of bystander effect when you all silently watched a man grind against me muttering about what he was going to do to my pussy and then, when I told him to get away from me, continued to silently watch as he screamed in my face, calling me a fucking bitch and asking if I thought I owned the world, grabbed my wrist and raised his hand to me, “How about if I smack you, bitch?” Thank you for absolutely not intervening while I stood there frozen like a mouse in a snake cage unable to do anything but say, “Get away from me!” while a stranger put his hands on me and threatened to hurt me. Thank you further for continuing to stare disapprovingly at me, not at him, the rest of the way while I fought back tears, except for one older lady- and thank you especially, ma’am, for approaching me not to see if I was all right or if you could help me find a police officer, but to compliment me on my hair. I hope you all forget to turn off your ovens tonight.
Submitted by Lucy
p.s. thank you also Dad, for not only insisting when I told you about this incident that it was MY fault for not walking away (even though I told you we were on a moving train and that the dude HAD HIS HANDS ON ME) and for insisting that there wasn’t anything anyone could have done to help me and that at least the lady said SOMETHING to me, but also for slut-shaming me on account of the outfit I was wearing today and then getting upset with ME because I didn’t appreciate being lectured on what I should have done when I was visibly traumatized. I’m so glad I have such a supportive and aware male parental figure in my life, you know, to whom I feel safe relating these kinds of horrible experiences.
I was walking down Broadway between 145th and 144th today at around 1:30 pm when I saw two guys walking my way. I knew immediately from the lecherous expressions on their face that they were preparing to catcall me, so I braced myself for it. Sure enough, out come the “Heeeey seeeexy” and “You look good in that dress” comments and the lewd, full-body eye scans. I immediately stopped in my tracks and put my hand up to signal “stop.” They were so surprised that they actually jumped back! I told them they were being really disrespectful and that I didn’t solicit or appreciate their comments. They responded predictably, with one going on the defensive (“I just said you look nice in that dress. What’s wrong with that?”) and the other continuing to make sexual comments to me all the while. I started off on my way again, repeating for a final time that they should learn to treat women with more respect and dignity.
I crossed 144th and about 3 seconds later was confronted AGAIN by ANOTHER catcaller. This guy was handing out flyers for some business. I waved my hand to refuse the flyer (I wish I had taken a copy, though, because it would be good to let his employer know about his bad behavior) and as I did he began making lewd comments. Again I stopped and told him he was being disrespectful and that I didn’t appreciate his comments. I hadn’t even finished my sentence before he blew up, yelling, “You best walk away! I just got outta prison! I’ll smack you across the street!” He moved closer to get in my face, continuing to issue his barrage of threats and altering his stance to try to make himself look more dangerous, but I held my ground and called him out on his phony threats, pointing out that we were in broad daylight, so even if he did try anything stupid it would lead him straight back into prison. He said he didn’t care, and I replied, “Well then I’m sad for you. That’s a sad life you’re leading if you really want to go back to prison that badly.” He continued making threats as I walked away, and I yelled back, “Women are people too!” and “What would your mother think?!?”. After I finished my lunch I came back out, with my iPhone ready, and I took these snapshots of him.
Submitted by Carey, who also submitted My Chat with some CatCallers
Well, Hollaback, here is my story.
I was inside my car, so not sure if this qualifies as street harassment, but it was incredibly scary and some of it was sexual, so I thought I would share. I don’t have pictures because I was driving and wanted to get where it was safe. At that point I whipped out my phone and called 911. Supposedly they sent someone there to deal with the mob.
I was driving home from a late night roller derby practice and went through a student-heavy area of town to get home. This isn’t my normal route, but of course after roller skating for two hours I needed ice cream. So I ended up on Green Street. I forgot about the Stanley Cup since I’m not a hockey fan, but started noticing throngs of people in hockey jerseys and realized what was going on.
Then I got to a mob of at least fifty people, almost entirely men, cheering on one man as he hoisted a young woman over his shoulder and ran her across the street. I couldn’t tell if it was consensual and they were joking around; it seemed consensual but I know that women are good at looking like they are going along with something when afraid for their lives as a defense mechanism. A burly man in a Harley was waiting at the stop light ahead of me and we watched the mob.
When the light turned green, the mob rushed out at us. They tried to make a tunnel for the motorcyclist, who just slowly and carefully picked his way past them. They didn’t give him a lot of trouble, and he looked like he could have kicked their scrawny college asses. But then my tiny 2001 Honda Civic came along, with a woman driving and a baby seat in the back.
Instead of parting out of the way, the mob swarmed me. At least twenty of them surrounded my car, cheering and screaming at me, putting their faces in the windows, hitting my car, spitting on it and throwing beer at it. One man was videotaping the whole thing from his phone, slowly walking in front of me and leering. Another man jumped in front of my car and kept pretending to be hit by it, and then to additional cheers started fondling his package and dancing in front of my car. I was petrified I was going to accidentally hit one of them and hurt them, even as another part of me was so angry that I wanted to hurt them. I tried not to make eye contact with anyone, had one hand partially obscuring my face, and drove very, very slowly looking straight ahead, until I was clear of them.
Once I was a safe distance away, I called the police. Then I drove home, shaking all the way. I have no idea what I could have done differently and suspect any other behavior would have only made them crazier. I am so glad I happened to have all my doors locked and windows up. Who knows what would have happened if one of them had been able to get in my car (I couldn’t tell from the thumping whether they were trying the doors or not). Not only was that one of the scariest experiences of my life, I am disgusted that the Champaign Police weren’t already dealing with the mob, since by all appearances they had been harassing individuals and drivers for some time. Further, all of the men looked very young and I wouldn’t be surprised if a number of them were below drinking age.
Thank you for creating a space to share stories of street harassment. I guess it turns out that even professors can be harassed by their own students.
Submitted by Kathryn
Thanks for all the work you are doing in the city. I sent you a story a while back and wanted to relay another disgusting event to you.
I live in Queens and I was going home a little late getting on the 7 at Grand Central and this guy in a suit was like walking really close down the stairs behind me. So I stopped right at the bottom of the stairs where the train pulls up and he walked to my left like 20 feet away and I could tell the perv was staring at me. It took a long time for the train to get there and he was staring at me the whole time. So the train pulls up and all the sudden he is like RIGHT on my ass like pushing me in. I got in and there was a corner seat by the connecting door open so I sat there thinking he couldn’t rub up on me there. So he comes and stands right in front of me and is looking right down my top.
He was like 35, 6 feet, really good looking, wavy black hair with a wedding ring on. If you guys see him watch out. So I see that his hand is moving in his right pocket and he starts flicking his tongue at me. I was fuckin repulsed and like no one could even see him cause he had me in the corner. I am like 5’1″ and I was scared so I didn’t do anything but pretend he wasn’t there.
I could see his hard on and him rubbing it in his pants. He was like mumbling stuff too. I know one time he said o so u like that huh? It was so obvious. He was also like tapping my shoe with his foot like HEY look up at me jerking off and staring at you. My stop was 2 stops away but when the next stop came up I got up and got off. He purposely blocked me and groped my boob on the way out. I was scared and pissed too. This was on Monday and I havent seen him since. I cant wait to get the phone app you are putting out. I tried to get a pic but the train pulled away as I was trying to get his picture. You can share this story because I think it might help anyone else on that line at night.
Thanks for all your help.
Submitted by Krista
Something bizarre and scary happened to me yesterday. I’ve spoken to the police, but there’s nothing they can do. I feel like people need to know that this happened so that, if it happens again, perhaps they’ll think more quickly than me and someone can catch the person who hurt me.
On Sunday, May 2, somewhere between 11 and 11:15 am, I was walking up the steps to the 7 train subway platform on 46th Street in Sunnyside, Queens. I noticed a man who I felt was walking too close to me, but didn’t think much of it.
I then felt a burning and a thick dripping on the back of my right thigh. This is gross, but the only way I can explain it is it felt like I’d shat my pants and it was aflame somehow. I reached back and felt that my jeans were not wet but had become partially solid. I know that doesn’t make a lot of sense, and it didn’t make sense to me either. All I could think was “someone threw hot wax on me” or “could something in my jeans have spontaneously melted?” I looked for the man who had been too close, but he was gone. I was alarmed, but mostly confused.. I can’t really explain what it felt like, but all I kept thinking was “why did someone throw wax on me?” and wondering how they could have done that, short of carrying around a lit candle.
I was traveling to the LIRR station at Woodside to commute to work on Long Island so I couldn’t go home to change my pants. I was extremely uncomfortable the entire ride and when I got to work I told a friend what had happened. He pointed out that if my jeans had a polyester content, a flame or acid could have caused them to melt and solidify. His first guess was that someone had held a lighter or cigarette to my pants. When I took off my pants I found two raised singe/burn marks on the back of my leg. There was no hole in my jeans. I believe that someone threw a chemical on me which burned me through my pants and also caused my pants to melt/solidify where the chemical had been.
I didn’t get back to the city until around 11 pm and so couldn’t call 311 until this morning. When I told them what happened they forwarded me to 911 who sent two officers to my apartment. The policemen agreed that it seemed like I’d been attacked with a chemical. They said that I was welcome to file a report but that since I didn’t actually see anything it didn’t make a lot of sense. They said what they usually do in such a situation is spread the word through their precinct so that people will keep their eyes and ears open.
Much as I wish they’d taken my pants to forensics or something, I do agree that filing a report is kind of pointless beyond recording that it happened, and I’m frustrated and confused. All I can think to do to make myself feel better is to spread the word myself. Maybe if another woman feels a strange burning through her clothes, she’ll think faster than I did. It was just such a strange thing (whose pants burn and solidify as they walk down the street?) that I couldn’t even process that this was any sort of attack until I was able to remove my pants and check my skin.. but unfortunately, by that time it was hours later and I was in another county.
I wish I had been paying more attention to the guy (not that I can say for sure it was him, but I don’t know who else could have done it..), or snapped him with my camera, or something.. he was almost completely nondescript: mid-height, mid-weight, probably in his 30s, wearing a red shirt. I’ve attached pictures of my jeans, and also one of my burn (which has proven virtually impossible to photograph.. the attached photo is after I removed my bandaid).
Thank you so much for helping me warn other women!
Submitted by Shoshanna
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.
Around 5:30p.m on Saint Patrick’s Day, I was on the 5 train to meet up with my sister after work. The train was pretty empty but had (mostly men) around 10 people spread out, sitting down. These two boys get on, I say ‘boys’ because they seemed to be around the ages 16-19, both had hoodies on, both were African American with short black hair. They sit across from me and immediately say loudly, “Why do you have green nails for?” (my nails were painted a dark green), I ignore them and mess with my phone. This obviously pissed them off because then they start saying, “Why she wearing so much makeup? That’s too much makeup.” Well then, mascara and concealer must make me a whore. At this point, my whorish self, couldn’t take it anymore and I said, “I’m not deaf and I don’t like to be disrespected.” This seemed to shut them up for about 10 seconds, that’s when the insults started pouring out. I was called a, “white bitch”, “racist”, “ugly bitch”, etc. I ignored these while trying to swallow my increasing anger. The one guy then thought it would be fun to rap about me and how I should, “suck big black dicks.” They both laughed, but one of the boys got up, walked towards me and tried to touch me. Good thing I saw this coming and was able to push him away before he laid a finger on me. This was the last straw, so I took out my phone to take a picture of them. That’s when the big, tough boys showed their true colors…they cowered behind their hoodies. While doing this they proceeded to call me a ‘bitch’ and tell me to, ‘fuck off’. I got some words in by saying, “What’s the matter? Are you scared of having your picture taken? You sure didn’t seem scared of harassing me?” Both of the boys got up, while covering their faces, to get off the train and I kept my phone pointing towards them. But, before getting off the train one of them spit at me and they both ran off. Luckily, it missed me by 10 miles.
What really upsets me about the situation is that no one on the train did or said anything. And most of the people on the train were older males. They literally just stared at me as I felt anger, sad, and humiliated. These boys didn’t know me nor did I do anything to deserve such treatment. I wanted to cry after what happened and felt so ashamed that I got off of my train so I can switch to another 5, just so the people who witnessed what happened wouldn’t see me anymore.
Submitted by Kat
Reposted from Gothamist:
A man attacked and possibly raped a pediatric nurse in a bathroom stall in the midtown bar Social, police said. The perp fractured the 30-year-old woman’s skull, and broke her eye socket and nose after she reportedly refused to dance with him in the three-story Eighth Avenue bar and lounge.
According to the Times, the attack occurred at around 2:30 this morning when the Connecticut woman declined to dance with the perp. After “she rebuffed his advances,” the attacker followed the woman into the ladies bathroom, kicked open a bathroom stall door and assaulted her. Law enforcement sources believe she might have been raped because her pants were partially off when she was found.
One of the nurse’s girlfriends discovered the victim unconscious in the bathroom stall. She was taken to New York-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center, where according to ABC, she underwent surgery. Police are trying to find video of the man entering or leaving the bar.
Reprinted from Metro New York, written by HOLLAhero Amy Zimmer:
Georgia Warren felt “disgusted” with what she witnessed on a Brooklyn-bound N train as it pulled into Pacific Street around 8:45 p.m. on Feb. 1: A man shoved his crotch against a woman and touched her shoulder. The man then walked toward Warren, but she shouted, “Don’t you f—ing touch me, you pervert.”
She alerted the conductor as two “good Samaritans” blocked the man from boarding another train. Police arrived 20 minutes later but said they couldn’t do anything because the man was “crazy,” Warren said. Despite subway PSAs encouraging riders to report lewd behavior, they didn’t take a report, she said. The victim left before police arrived, but Warren and another witness were willing to give statements.
“I just wanted to make sure this guy is not still out there touching people,” Warren, 24, said. “They released him — even as he fondled himself in front of them.”
Warren said the incident was reported to the Civilian Complaint Review Board.
The NYPD’s Transit Bureau chief last year said subway sexual harassment is the “No. 1 quality of life offense on the subway” and officers are required to take reports. The NYPD did not respond to requests for comment.