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But Mario Valdivia clearly doesn’t. The 51 year old Queens subway flasher picked the wrong tree, and after footage of his illegal adventure was captured by a bystander and published to YouTube, this monkey got busted. The video went viral, and Mr. Valdivia has been charged with forcible touching, public lewdness, and sex abuse. Insert slow clap with loud, strong, rising crescendo applause and hour-long standing ovation here.
HollaHERO, hear us ROAR. This story has several heros, and let us thank them for their good work: the amazing woman, who has become a voice for all that is HollaFabulous, the quick and timely investigative work on the part of the bystanders (and the cameraman’s request to ‘hey man, let me see your penis!’), and finally and very importantly, the serious NYPD action.
We hope all instances of sexual assault and abuse such as this one won’t require a viral video and subsequent prime time television coverage in order to be taken seriously, but we can celebrate a good thing when we see it.
Happy Thanksgiving to all. Enjoy the CBS report here:
My two girlfriends and I were walking toward the Hotel Rivington on Friday night. We passed by a group of three guys who were catcalling at us and one of them grabbed my arm as I walked by. I said, “Ew” and shook him off. When we walked away, one of them shouted, “Go study for your SATs fucking Chinese bitch.”
I marched up to him and his friends and told them not to call me a bitch. The one who called me a Chinese bitch, who was probably about 6’2″ and over 200 pounds (I am just over 100 pounds) shoved me two or three times – hard. I was yelling things like, “Oh, you’re going to push me? You’re going to push a girl?” He kept threatening to hit me, and he threatened to sic his professional boxer friend on me who he said would basically beat me to a pulp.
Then he spat in my face and bolted.
My biggest regret is not getting his name or photo.
Submitted by Andrea
I was celebrating my birthday at a bar with friends, and over the course of the night many people unknown to me would come up to say hello or to wish me a happy birthday. Near the end of the night, I was sitting in a booth with a male friend when some guy came over to our table. He eyed me and leaned forward, and since his lips were moving I thought he was trying to talk and I couldn’t hear him because of the loud noise in the bar. I also leaned forward, with my finger to my ear, when he reached over, climbing over my friend, and started kissing me, using his free hand to move my face so he could make out with me. I pushed him away and said “no”, but he leaned in again, making kissing gestures. The next time I said “no”, I put my hand in his face. My friend inched closer to me and put his arm around me, hoping to give the guy a hint, but the guy just kept leaning over me. I again put my hand in his face and shouted “no”. He said, “What’s wrong? Do you think I’m a fag? Are you calling me a fag?” I told him he needed to leave, to get away from our table. He got angry and put both hands on our table, and my friend started to get up to confront the guy. One of the bartenders came over just then, and although I couldn’t hear their conversation, I’m pretty sure she had words with him, because a couple minutes later the guy was gone. I was a bit shaken up, and while I appreciate that my friend wanted to defend me, I’m glad I was able to clearly and effectively state “no” for myself.
Submitted by Andrea
In a follow up to her “New Phone Apps Aim to Combat Harassment” article published in the NYT on Monday, reporter and now HollaHERO Karen Zraick publishes her own personal hollaback in today’s City Room blog.
As if we couldn’t have guessed, within hours, there are 47 comments all containing one, two, three, and sometimes more, horrifying stories of women’s own personal experiences with street harassment. And it isn’t over yet. NOW THAT IS ONE HELLUVA HOLLABACK!
“It’s infuriating to see this described as a ‘quality of life issue’, writes one woman. “This isn’t a ‘quality of life’ issue, okay? It’s not my neighbors having a loud party, or a dog barking next door!”
At Hollaback, we couldn’t have said it better.
Now this is one holla the city will NOT be able to ignore. Read Karen’s story and the accompanying comments here.
If I had a dollar for every NYT reporter who has come forward with her own hollaback…well, I wouldn’t have very much money. But if I had $5 from every woman who read this story, including you, now I might have something to talk about…raise us $5?
First, THANK YOU for initiating this movement. I have experienced street attacks on multiple occasions ranging from the words “queer” and “dyke” to having golf balls thrown at me.
I have also experienced a gang attack where people wrote phrases and pictures all over my body while others watched — this was in a home and was never prosecuted. The pictures involved drawings of penises, breasts, and words such as “eat me,” “cunt,” and “enter here.” This evening also involved a rape.
Although this happened in a home and not on the street I bring this up because a) it was unprosecuted suggesting that it is that much more imperative that “we the people” take our streets back, b) it involved bystanders who did nothing, so your movement to get others involved with doing the right thing is encouraging.
I am an activist in my community in Lansing, Michigan — wearing many hats working with teens who are homeless, teens who are bullied (and inactive bystanders), and LGBTIQ youth.
Submitted by Veronica
If verbal harassment is okay, then groping is okay. If groping is okay then violence is okay…where is your boundary? IT ISN’T FREE SPEECH IF SOMEONE IS GETTING HURT. Help us today, show your support with a $5 donation. Thank you.
Well dressed young man, for no apparent reason assaulted me as I was leaving the subway train this a.m. shortly after telling me “you aren’t in Oklahoma anymore.” He had given me the finger while I was on the train, and I had asked him why, he never answered. I was peaceful, and didn’t leave after the gesture, because the train was crowded. When we got to my stop (Fulton street/ Broadway Nassau on the A train)I gestured for him to go in front of me, he refused, and then I walked in front of him to exit the train, at which point he shoved me. I still do not understand the reason for the attack, but it may have been racially motivated.
Submitted by Guelda
In honor of the first-ever NYC Council hearing on street harassment, we are posting the testimonies of high school students who couldn’t be there (the hearing is at 1pm) but were impassioned enough about the issue to submit written testimony.
Hello, my name is Taylor, I’ m a junior in high school and I’ d like to thank you for taking time out to host this hearing. This summer I was sexually harassed by a young man who eventually pulled a gun out on me when I rejected him. I was with two friends, both bigger than I, when he started hitting on me, saying things like “ Hey ma, what’ s good with you?”
My friends and I ignored him, but he continued to try, saying, “ Yo Shorty I’ m talking to you!” At one point I look so scared that my friend (a boy) intervened and told the man to “ Chill out, she’ s not interested.” The man then decided to yell at my friend and curse him out, screaming “ Yo who the f* * * are you? I’ m talking to her!” at which point he punched my friend. After me and my other friend (a girl) started freaking out and getting my friend away, we hear the guys friends go “ Yo, are you stupid what are you doing!?” When my friend and I turn around the guy was pointing a gun at me, while his friend was talking him out of doing anything too rash, at which point me and my friends ran away.
I do not expect the government to be able to stop things like this from happening, I do, however wish that they would pay more attention when women tell them a guy sexually harassed them because the man who harassed me could have done the same thing to someone else hours earlier. All I want to see happen is the government take action when someone comes in with a sexual harassment case, and for the people in our society to stand up for someone who they see is being sexually harassed.
The scene: an extremely crowded G-train shuttle bus on a Saturday afternoon. Everyone was packed onto the train, everyone’s bodies were touching each other, but I was surprised to feel someone’s hand squeezing my ass. I looked behind me and saw a man’s hand poised there behind his back–still in a cupped position as if he felt no shame or need to hide his covert grope. I was completely enraged and I turned around, grabbed him by the shoulder, and shouted “Did you just grab my ass? Because you totally just did!”
For the first instant he looked shocked but he suddenly became angry and yelled back (though much quieter than me), “Shut the fuck up, you ugly bitch, or I’ll smack the shit out of you.” Now, the bus was very crowded, and I knew he wasn’t going to hit me, though I wish he would have so I could have beaten the hell out of him. So I replied, “You’re going to hit me because you groped me on a crowded subway shuttle and I noticed? Are you kidding me?” at which point he turns around and starts ignoring me. I turn to the friend I’m with and say as loudly as I can “That douchebag just grabbed my ass,” she responds “What a fucking freak,” etc., and I stand close to him glaring the rest of the ride.
I handled the incident just like I always hoped I would, but that doesn’t mean it didn’t make me feel shaken and violated. It was absolutely horrible. From this incident onward (about 4.5 months ago), I tell street harassers to fuck off on a regular basis–even if they say “You look gorgeous” or “God bless you.” It feels good, but it doesn’t come close to completely counteracting the feelings of victimization, rage and sadness that come along with being harassed on a daily basis for being a woman.
Submitted by Rachel
I’m so glad this site exists, so people can share there experiences and realise they’re not the only ones – well done guys!!! I’ve had many unfortunately, but I will just mention a few. My city has no official blog yet.
As a introverted and shy teenager, I was carrying 2 heavy bags of shopping (and looking pretty rough, old jean and sweatshirt) in, A circle of at least 10 drunk guys surrounded me, blocking me and not letting me walk off. They were wearing novelty costumes (a stag night, maybe). I felt so intimidated that a froze. The “ring leader” came forward, and said, “we won’t let you go until you give us all a kiss”. I was still frozen. He started to move his face closer to mine, it was so disgusting. I squeaked, “I have a boyfriend” (I didn’t) and pushed past them. And they were all laughing, I felt so humiliated and sick for the rest of the evening.
Not too long after that, another woman I didn’t know and I were walking down a narrow street with scaffolding in the pouring rain and wolf whistles started from the builders. We both turned around and one went “No, not you, you train wreck” I don’t know which of us the attention was aimed at, but again this made my day just a little worse.
Another time drunk guy in club maneuvered me into a corner and wouldn’t let me go until I gave him my (fake) number.
To top this off, I went abroad to a certain foreign country (religiously conservative and by some standards 3rd world) for study reasons, where street harassment is the norm. In fact sexual responsibility and “sin” falls almost entirely on the women’s side. Women are belittled, some are not allowed out on their own, and stared at constantly even if they are dressed extremely modestly (as I was). Some women particularly of minority ethnic origins, have stones thrown at them (I think since I was taller than most of the men, they didn’t dare with me). Also if a man is staring at you, they won’t stop staring even if you make eye contact – they think they have the right. They would talk to me, even though it is meant to be unacceptable to talk to women they do not know.
Yes, I was aware of this behavior before I went, I am aware it is a different culture and values and I am a guest in their country etc etc but it still made me feel sick and it doesn’t make it right – I talked to many women who lived there and they all hated the harassment too, but they felt powerless about it. I felt under siege. Another sent flowers to my school and tried to negotiate with the school principal to marry me. Urghh. At a tourist festival, all the local men were photographing US, western women, more than we were photographing the festival itself. The one time that was almost funny was when I was visiting a local landmark and a rich looking man started filming us even though he was with his family! Then his wife saw and smacked him hard across the head and a torrent of verbal abuse was aimed at him by the women. Hah! That showed him!
It got more serious though. There was one incident where I felt my life was genuinely threatened, when I was stranded due to circumstances beyond my control. A man I didn’t know (whose unwanted attentions and sexual threats I had rejected) accelerated his taxi at me, almost running me down while I was alone on a dark night and deliberately intimidating me, then drove off in the night. In that moment my brain flashed to the attacks that’s had happened in South Africa, where a gang ran women down with cars to disable and rape them. I was so scared and numb. I stood for 10 minutes in the dark in the pouring rain, waiting to get in through the gate to my house (gatekeeper was in the toilet), all the time thinking he was coming back. The feral (and sometimes rabid) dogs prowling about added a nice atmospheric touch.
After 2 months of this, the effect on me, in addition to my other experiences, was profound. I’m sorry if this sounds cliche but I would be lying if I said I didn’t feel tears pricking at my eyes as I typed the previous paragraph. Since I’ve returned home I’m very sensitive to street harassment.
When I go out, I tend to wear hoodies and jeans, and don’t call attention to myself. I walk tall and confident and with purpose, but I don’t feel that way, even though I’m 5’7 and reasonably attractive. I keep my face blank, carry keys or perfume in my pockets (for defence if needs be) and my phone in other. I tend to be hyper-vigilant and I get really angry, mostly inside, at street harassment, particularly by drunks. My body language becomes very defensive even if a man is being respectful and friendly in showing interest in me, I blank them and turn my head away.
Even now in my mid twenties I feel vulnerable going out alone wearing skirts and dresses (although I will with a group of friends, rarely, in house parties or places I feel safe), even though I love girly dresses, especially retro ones. I want to go out and feel beautiful within myself and respected, and you know what, one day I want to meet the right guy, get married and be happy – but if keep acting this way I worry I’ll never get that close to a guy again. Its sad but I think I have had more negative contact from guys in my life than positive.
Things are getting a little better now, I feel happier and more confident than I have in years although the emotional distance is still there. I have travelled alone to many countries, made new friends, skydived, climbed mountains. If you met me in a social situation you would probably never guess any of it – I would come across a pretty, friendly girl, not a wallflower.
But I have to say this – Guys, please be considerate. Try not to be obnoxious assholes who stare and and yell and grope. I’m a nice, funny, person and although I try to be strong, I have a thin skin and these things still hurt me. And it has been these little incidents, the harassment which guys don’t even seem to think about, and which still happen to me occasionally, which make it worse.
Submitted by A.
A friend and I went to the Pratt art store (Clinton Hill) to buy canvas and there was a well dressed man standing right in the middle of the store. I needed help and he looked like he worked there.
me: Sir do you work here?
creep: No, but I still want to talk to you
me: No, thanks.
As I walk away he grabs my arm and starts caressing it!! I pulled away.
me: DON’T TOUCH ME!!
creep: Oh so it’s like that??!!
me: I dont like being touched by strangers!!
creep: Go back to where you came from!! Go back to f*cking Eastern Europe you b*tch, get the f*ck out of here.
(I am from Moscow but I have been here since I was 9 and have had my citizenship for 10 years now.) He kept saying nasty things and I was terrified. So I went to get the store security guard. When we walked over to the racist creep the security guard asked him if there was a problem… creep: “there is no problem, I was just trying to shop and she was talking me up and touching me!!!!”
me:no, you just sexually and racially harassed me.
creep:you don’t know what harassment is.. go back to f*cking Eastrern Europe! ect..”
A manager came over and I told her what happened, I was very upset and scared and I couldn’t help it when I started to cry. She told me and my friend to wait behind the isles on the other side of the store while she took care of it. My friend who was with me the whole time was very scared too and didn’t say much the whole time.
The creep by now was yelling at everyone, saying that “can only Eastern European b*tches shop here???!!” and other nasty things. The manager told him she’s going to call the police and he was yelling “yeah call them” Then when she walked away to call the cops he ran out.
The manager was very nice and sympathetic and took my ID to file a report and then let us out the back door. This happened almost a week ago, the first couple of days I didn’t think about it because I think I was in shock but now I can’t get it out of my head. The store filed a report but I doubt anything will be done about it. I am terrified now because I live 5 minutes away from the store and if I run into him again there will be no security guards to protect me. I decided to go to the police today and file a report. The store has cameras and I’m sure they got the creep on tape.
Hopefully I can get the surveillance video of the creep and post it as well.
Submitted by Tais