Last year, I was completing my year of study in Japan. My american friend Laura and I were in Tokyo for a week. She and her family (her father being Japanese) had come and invited me up to Tokyo to stay with them in the hotel so we could bond and I could act as their translator. One day, her parents decided that they were going to go to a temple and told us we would be left on our own. Now, the part of Tokyo we were in was near Roppongi, which is… a very shady part of the town (we didn`t find out how shady till too late), the hotel was a block away from the Russian Embassy.
We hung around the hotel for a while until we decided we would go out to eat. We were NOT dressed slutty in ANYWAY. I am a Muslim so I always wear my head shawl and a dozen layers of clothing. Not to mention it was wet and rainy so we had heavy jackets on. As we walked down the street we talked and tried to figure out what we were going to eat. As we passed by a McDonalds I heard someone say “Hi!”. I hadn`t heard English spoken in such a long time that I stopped, turned and looked at two men who were grinning at me and Laura. Laura and I exchanged a look, we had never seen either of these two men before, so we continued walking.
Then we heard “Hey! Wait up!” and the two men came out of the McDonalds after us. Instantly we panicked and took off running. The men FOLLOWED US. Laura, the faster runner, made it into the department store a block down while I was grabbed by the short One. The tall One went into the department store after Laura and dragged her back out. They started asking us questions, wanting to know if we would come with them to their apartment. They asked us if we would get in a car with them. They asked us if we wanted to “have some fun” with them. Now, mind you, Laura and I are 18 years old, in a foreign country, being forcibly held by two guys and no one is doing a thing to help us.
We try to get away but they just hold tighter onto us. The short guy was holding so tight onto my arm that it left a bruise. They kept feeling us up and asking us crude questions. We kept telling them that we had to leave and that we were going to go get something to eat. So they took us into a subway and bought us sandwhiches. They then managed to sit us against the wall so we couldn`t dash out.
They then literally made us eat the sandwiches, saying it was cute to watch us eat. It turned my stomach, especially as the short guy started to touch my thigh. After what was an eternity, a friend of theirs` walked in and they stood up to talk to them. I think they were high or something because their eyes were blood shot and the tall One was twitching alot.
Anyways, Laura and I then took the opportunity to escape, we ran out of there, literally knocking a few chairs over in our escape. Once out of the store we ran all the way back to the Russian Embassy to the safety of the security guards (who WERE armed, yay!). They watched out for the two men as we caught our breath, we then hurried back to our hotel where we asked the Manager to call the police. We filled out a police report and spent the last day of our trip in Tokyo hidden in the hotel room because we were too afraid to leave.
I have never felt so scared and threatened before in my life. I wanted nothing more than to escape from those two. If their friend hadn`t come in when she did I don`t know what would have happened to us.
Tonight around 10 PM, on a train back to her apartment in Williamsburg, a hooded man seated next to my best friend, a 22 year old woman, whispered in her ear “I am going to follow you when you get up.” He did follow her, just a step behind, up the subway steps of her stop and out onto the street. With great clarity in a life-threatening moment, she stepped inside a bodega, while he stood outside, waiting for her, and was fortunate to find a couple who were willing to walk her the few steps from the market to her apartment door. When they exited the bodega, the hooded man was still there, waiting for his (potential) victim. Unfortunately, it took the help of two people–a woman to make her feel safe, and a man to protect her– to allow this woman to arrive home unharmed.
The most important part of this is that my friend is safe, but I feel such anger and rage that men like this, who derive such a false, disgusting sense of power from physically and sexually threatening women in public (or private), can make strong, smart, powerful women like my friend doubt their decision to live alone if they choose, to live free and independent lives, or to merely live at all. I am completely disgusted, and concerned for my friend.
Submitted by R.P.
I was at Burger King at Main St. and Roosevelt Ave in Flushing with some friends, hanging out. We were about to leave when this guy (who had previously asked for money) sitting next to us goes “Hey, you, whats up? I want to suck you.” I looked at him, disgusted, and replied “you’re fucking gross.” He then proceeds to get up and follow us out while wiggling his tongue at me. He said “I want to suck your pussy”, and would have probably stuck his tongue in my ear had I not moved away. My friend and I told him he was a fucking pervert and he followed us to the corner. Ugh.
Submitted by Cheer
My girl and I were walking down the street yesterday. As with every day when we/she/I walk down the street, some jerk in a prettied-up car decided it was his business to violate our space by sticking his head out of the window and assaulting us with a list of sleazy, misogynistic, homophobic and idiotic comments. He seemed to think that we wanted to know all about the fact that hot lesbians were part of his heterosexual male fantasy… he was wrong.
In response to his violent penetration of our personal space, my girlfriend and I screamed a list of obsenities at him, telling him exactly what he could do with his fantasy, his over-inflated ego, and his fucked up attitude. Apparently, women getting angry at his harassment was not a response he was used to, so he stuck his head back out the window to let us know that we were “fucked up bitches” and “crazy fucking psychos”. Shit, why hadn’t we noticed? Clearly we were the psychos, considering we were the ones cruising around town and looking to assault vulnerable individuals.
His car paused at a set of lights, and he continued to scream at us, throwing his fist around and piling every swear word he knew into discriptions of us. Fed up, my spunky girlfriend shot a massive glob of spit onto his beautifully painted car. Inspired by her actions, I too walked up to his car, and kicked the back of it as hard as I could. This sent him into a frenzy, and he jumped out of his car to further yell abuse at us. We pointed out that the police were sitting across at the next set of lights, so he backed off, but continued to scream at us as he drove away.
Now, some might think it was a bit of an overreaction to kick someone’s property in response to a “compliment”. I’d like to tell those people to take their ignorant, sexist agendas and shove it up their arses. As a woman and as a lesbian, I spend every day of my life confined by the consequences of men’s belief that it is perfectly acceptable to verbally, physically and sexually assualt, harass, and intimidate me. I spend each day fighting off unwanted physical advances, being powerless to respond to drive-by sexual advances, having to shut up and ignore the endless streams of catcalls and wolf whistles, watching program after program representing women as sexual/domestic play objects for men, and battling with both men and women to convince them that yes, it is important to be aware of the the power issues that surround gender relations. I spend nights crying as a result of the sexual abuse I have experienced, days altering my routes so I can feel safe when walking home, and endless hours being overwhelmed by how much work is yet to be done in order to create a world which is safe, equal and free from violence and intimidation.
That kick to the back of the prettied-up car, therefore, was a kick for every man who has ever intimidated, objectfied, assaulted, abused, taken advantage of, raped, or hit a woman. It was for every catcall, wolf whistle, and unwanted comment any woman has ever received since becoming old enough to be violated. It was also a warning to each individual who thinks it is ok to harass women, whether in public or in private.
And fuck, it felt good.
Watch out world… I’ve discovered the power to holla back, and holla back I will.
Submitted by Sandra
I’m only twelve, so I get grossed out pretty easy.
As I was walking home from school one day, a man A LOT older than me stops walking as I walk past. He tries to grab me but I speed up so he misses. “I love your ass!” he calls after me.
Submitted by Fiona
(A special note from the Hollaback team: GO VOTE! Let’s make this world a better place together. New Yorkers: got voting questions? Get them answered here.)
Tom: Can I go in with you?
Me: I don’t think so dude.
Me: (shaking head) No.
Tom: I won’t look. What are you scared I’m going to see something? I won’t look. I’ll pee in the shower.
The door opens and I slip in. As the door shuts behind me he forces it back open and thrusts himself into the bathroom. Next thing I know he’s standing next to me. With reflexes that were must more impressive than my zombie costume might have suggested, I pushed him backwards as hard as I could. He fell outside of the bathroom and I locked the door.
Adrenaline still pumping, I got my boyfriend to take this picture of him. As I stood there shaken and scared, he was dancing.
Submitted by Emily
My dad gave my best friend and I his afternoon tickets for the 9/16 game RED SOX VS YANKEES. We sat for about ½ the game when this guy from behind us started making jokes about “southies” and how much the red sox suck (not to mention they were almost done selling beer and the Yankees were getting spanked). We ignored him for a pretty long time and hoped he would just shut up. Everyone in our section (mostly other season ticket holders) were also getting annoyed by his loud drunken stupidity. We jokingly asked him if he was from Jersey to which he answered “how did you know?” and then continued to call us nasty names. He called us everything in the book including assuming we were there “together” even though we both had our wedding rings prominently displayed. Finally when we had just about had enough he started to throw things at us. It was horrible. My friend was turning bright red. Being that we are both Scorpios you can imagine it was hard for us to sit there so long and listen to this without shouting back at him. Finally my friend turned around and told him to shut up which, admittedly, only made things worse. He screamed louder and louder and splashed beer in our direction, asking us if we liked to be humiliated. I am a military veteran with overseas time we even turned around and told him he was ruining one of my last few days before deployment (which has since been canceled) and even that didn’t shut him up. At one point in time I think he spit on us. At this point even his friends were looking pretty embarrassed but still weren’t attempting to shut him down. We got up and moved (to better seats no less) and enjoyed the rest of our day there—but since I had heard about this site on NPR, I had to snap some pictures of him. Here he is, in the white shirt with blue stripes and glasses on his head.
Submitted by Nicki and Corinne
After meeting with a co-founder of HollaBack I was walking home and ecstatically explaining to a friend on my cell phone how well my interview went and how excited I was to get involved in the group. While deeply engaged in this phone conversation, this guy finds it appropriate to ask, or tell me “Hey baby, come hang out with us”, ignoring the fact that I look 14 and he looks 70. While I’ve heard much more disturbing comments and usually blow this nonsense off, this guys body language was enough on its own as he tried stopping me in my tracks, literally. Quickly I said to my friend I’ll call you back, knowing that I needed to get this pigs picture. Getting my camera ready, I turned back towards this guy and his friend and politely said “Just let me take your picture” to which he happily responded with this pose. “Thanks”, I said, “HollaBack, H-o-l-l-a BACK. Check out your face on the website!” To this he sarcastically responded “Well come back so I can give you a better picture”. I kept walking and with a smile and confidence this time for I knew he was confused and nervous, most likely wondering where his face was being posted and who would see it. Living in New York for more than five years and experiencing the most disturbing acts of harassment, I always walked away pissed off with the feeling of being violated and helpless or tried blowing it off while thinking to myself, ‘don’t let this guy get to you’. Now I don’t have to! Now I can HOLLA BACK! and rightly so.
Submitted by Lisa (our newest member!)
Submitted by Nica