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I was out for a run this morning with my two young children (3 and 1) in the jogging stroller. A man in a truck slowed down, honked, and yelled disgusting things out the window as he drove past. Yelled them in front of my children.
(Not So) Blurred Lines
This song was one of my favorites this summer. I loved the beat. Sure, I had read the lyrics. I completely understood what the song was saying. A girl was saying ‘no’ to a guy’s sexual advances. However, because she was dancing with him and wanted to ‘hug’ him, the song says the girl is giving mixed signals–blurred lines. She’s a good girl, you see. Yet she’s an ‘animal’ and it’s in her ‘nature.’ Right. The lyrics proceed as this:
I know you want it. You’re a good girl. Can’t let it get past me. Gotta have it.
I even saw the video of the naked models being surrounded by predatory men, who are fully clothed, dancing. Robin Thicke, the singer, blows smoke into the model’s face and brushes her hair. You know, because, women are not really human. They are objects to be had and abused.
Okay, so I worked out to this song. It’s on my phone. I liked the beat. I laughed off the meaning because, well, I had never been in the situation. At least, I hadn’t been in that situation in a VERY long time. Anytime a man became too friendly, ‘no’ was usually enough for them to leave me alone. If not, I would call over a male friend and that would take care of the problem. This has not happened to me in such a long time, that I had lost a bit of my edge. I even listened to a song that I wouldn’t normally listen to because I had become complacent. I’m not a raging feminist (or maybe I am?) but I am not for women being treated solely as objects of a man’s sexual desires. All the women I have ever met, seen or known have been breathing, comprehending human beings.
Then I moved to the big city of Madrid and everything changed. If this can happen to me in a relatively ‘safe’ city, it can happen anywhere to anyone.I have had some very scary incidents since being here. None of them were because I was being careless or not aware of my surroundings. Nor did I do anything to provoke them yet I found myself in tense situations because of these so called ‘blurred lines’.
I will explain two that have happened to me personally. Let me also make the readers aware that these incidents happened in broad daylight with many people around; I guess you are never truly safe.
I was meeting some friends for drinks one day. It was a warm day and we all agreed it would be nice to share some sangria and tapas. So, I went to meet them. I went to the main metro station in Madrid called Sol. This is by far the busiest metro in Madrid. There were people everywhere, all scurrying to catch the next train. I walked down to Line 3 to catch the train myself. I was on the escalator down when a man on the escalators coming up waved at me and said, ‘Hello beautiful!’ in Spanish. The way he said it made me think he was familiar with me. When I glanced up, I didn’t know him. I thought he had mistaken me for a friend of his or someone he knew. So, I went on down to wait for the metro. Then I feel a tap on my shoulder. I turn around. It’s the man. I was standing against the wall and he proceeds to put a hand on either side of my head, pinning me to the wall. ‘Hello, my name is Juan. I like you a lot. You’re beautiful. Your body drives me crazy. Let’s go get a drink.’ He said this in quick succession, trying to grab my hand.
‘No, I am meeting friends and I have a boyfriend. I am not interested. Thanks,’ I replied. He shook his head.
‘You don’t understand, I like you VERY MUCH. Let’s get a drink.’
‘No, I don’t want to. Like I said, I have a boyfriend and am meeting friends.’ I had to lie about having a partner as I thought this would make him leave me alone. He grabs my arm and people are now starting to notice what is happening. My heart is beating quickly and I can feel the panic in the back of my throat. This man was around 6’3 and at least 220 pounds of muscle. I had to think quickly, so I blurted out, ‘I am going out tonight, let me take your number and I’ll call you and we will go out.’ If someone is crazy enough to pin me in broad daylight with hundreds of people walking about, I didn’t know what else he was capable of. He says, ‘Okay! Here…’ and tells me his number. I show him I am saving it. He bends down to try to kiss me. I duck. Mercifully, the train comes at that moment. I look around me and there are curious faces looking at me as if to ask, ‘What is going on?’ I jump on board quickly and mutter to myself, ‘Thanks for helping guys.’ Needless to say, I never called him and deleted the number. I was still shaky when I met up with my friends.
Then, this past week, when I was walking to pick up a Western Union transfer from my local post office (Correos), I came across two men seated on a bench. They made some typical remark ‘Hey beautiful! How are YOU doing today?’ I wasn’t feeling well because I had bronchitis and thus, I ignored them. This time, I had a fake wedding band on my hand. As I am walking, I hear footsteps and a bit of shuffling and whispering behind me. I hold my purse tighter and keep my head up. It’s broad daylight, again, with lots of people walking the streets. I glance behind me and it is the two guys from the bench. ‘Hey, gorgeous, come here. Talk with us!’ I keep walking. I think in my head ‘This cannot be happening again. I don’t even look nice and I’m sick.’ It was all I could do to get out of bed. Then as I stop to cross the street, the one named ‘Johnny’ came up to me. ‘I like you! You’re gorgeous. I love your body, honestly. You’re driving me wild. What’s your name? Where are you from?’ I say flatly, ‘I am married,’ and show my ring, ‘and I am not interested. Please leave me alone.’ He shakes his head and smiles, ‘No pasa nada, linda, I am married too! I still want to get to know you.’ I walk. His friend disappears but Johnny keeps walking along side of me, stating all the reasons I should get to know him. He’s a good guy, he works here legally, he’s a good lover, etc. I say nothing other than ‘I am not interested, leave me alone. I am meeting friends. I have a husband.’ Because I was going to pick up money, I start to become frightened again. This man will not leave me alone. I, again, have to think quickly. I see a cafe and had told him I was meeting friends. A lie, but I couldn’t tell him I was going to pick up money. I say to him, ‘Fine, Johnny, go to that cafe and get a pen and paper. I will take your number.’ He does so, leaving me with precious minutes to devise a plan. I walk up to a table of friendly people and explain my situation. They tell me not to worry, they will pretend to be my friends and they will make sure this man goes away. Johnny comes back with his piece of paper and I say, ‘These are my friends. I’m staying here.’ The people look at him without smiling. He smiles a bit and says, ‘Okay, see you later! Please call me beautiful!’
We watch him as he leaves. The one girl, Ana Rosa, tells me when has finally left and gives me a hug. She tells me I can stay with them if I want and drink a coffee. I stay and chit-chat with them, and eventually exchange numbers with the two girls. I tell them thank you so much for saving me and am on my way. I take the bus on the way back, so I don’t have to walk by those guys again.
These are two very real incidents that have happened to me. In both examples, I have clearly said ‘no.’ It wouldn’t matter if I was dressed in a dress cut down to my navel, if I said ‘no’, I mean ‘no.’ There are no blurred lines when it comes to a woman saying ‘no.’ If we do not want to your advances, pushing them will not do you any good. Anything that is not consensual is wrong. Sex without consent is rape. Pinning a scared woman against a wall is perverse and horrid. So, I disagree with blurred lines. The only way to know if she ‘wants it’ is to ask. She is not an ‘animal’ she is a human being. She is to be respected, not to be had. If she says ‘no’ then she means no. Needless to say, I no longer find the ‘Blurred Lines’ song by Robin Thicke funny or even entertaining. It is a degradation to all women who have been put in these types of situations.
This was from my personal travel blog: www.bridgetswanderlust.wordpress.com
Please check it the post and share on twitter, tumblr or on Facebook so we raise awareness and stop the harassment.
I was walking from class home when these two guys yelled at me from the car. something about wanting to “break me”. I just gave them a dirty look and kept walking. By the time they had circled back I was livid. When they yelled more obscenities at me I flipped them off. That’s when they threw the bottle at me. I was so shocked at being hit and worried about the broken glass when it hit the concrete that I didn’t get the license plate number. It pisses me off that they got away with it.
I went to Warped Tour in 2010 wearing shorts and a tank top (because it was July and super-hot out!) and I was incredibly excited to see Sum 41 perform. During their performance, I was enjoying the music, jumping up and down, hands in the air, singing along when I heard a low, growling voice in my right ear say “Yeah, keep jumping.” I was immediately petrified. I stopped jumping and moved away from my cousin, the only person I was with, to try and disappear into the crowd and lose this man who had spoken to me. I was too scared to turn around and look at him, so I have no idea who he was or anything about him other than the fact that he was a total creep. He ruined that show for me, and I felt so ashamed that I didn’t even tell my cousin about it later. It’s absolutely unacceptable that I shouldn’t be allowed to fully immerse myself in a performance of one of my favorite musical artists because I have to worry about some dude watching me enjoy it in an unquestionably sinister way, and its completely ridiculous that I should feel ashamed of letting loose and jumping up and down.
Hi. I am a pre-op transsexual woman living in West Hartford, Connecticut. I shared my story in 2011 and shared a follow up story this year (2013).
I was reading Hollaback’s #HarassmentIs and felt inspired to share more experiences.
I was pumping gas at a local gas station when a young man pumping gas in front of me read that I looked like I didn’t work. He turned to another young man, whom he did not know, who was at a different pump and said, loudly, “How was work?” To which the other young man replied, sarcastically, “Oh, It was great.”
I was at the local post office and accidentally, momentarily, messed my transaction up while there were several people waiting. While my transaction resolved itself, two men, at least one of them younger, who were behind me in line, were able to finish before me. When I got back to my car, someone had put an additional 4 quarters in my parking meter. Evidently, they somehow knew which car was mine, which felt creepy, because they had to be watching or keeping track of me getting out of my car, which is bizarre, because who does that?
In #HarassmentIs only one page was devoted to street harassment based on class, and it only talked about people who are, or are perceived to be wealthy, harassing people who are, or who are perceived to be poor.
I look like I have money and I have received a tremendous amount of verbal abuse (in a predominantly wealthy area), for being perceived to have wealth.
Two weeks ago, I made a trip to West Hartford center on a Monday mid-afternoon. It is a place where wealthy appearing women will occasionally walk around. I got out of my car, put a couple of quarters in my meter and began walking toward Starbucks. I had not planned to go inside and was going to walk by and, eventually, cross the street. Less than halfway to Starbucks I came upon a man who was already harassing a woman because she had a nice car (black Lexus? SUV). She was responding to him, it seemed she was trying to comfort him. When I encountered him he was saying to her in a very loud and angry tone of voice “thousand dollar a month car!” Then he saw me and his eyes went to my shoes, which were nice booties and he became even more angry the moment he looked at my shoes. He turned back to her and said, even louder. “Thousand dollar a month car payment, thousand dollar a month (unintelligible)! You’ve got car insurance, health insurance, while the rest of us are eating popcorn. By this time I was pretty distant, and he called after me – “Yeah, keep walking!” Needless to say my trip to West Hartford center was very short. Just before I got into my car I saw him sitting himself down angrily outside Starbucks.
In 2010 I was at the cafe at Barnes and Noble and I sat down in the back of the cafe to read. As soon as I sat down, a man who was seated diagonally across from me, who was talking with a woman, bristled. He was looking at me and he said, loudly, “Spain. Yeah Spain’s got problems. My mother in law is from Spain.” He kept talking and getting louder and I had to leave the cafe.
Also in 2010 I had three separate experiences which were so similar they were shocking. In May, I was in West Hartford center and a young man who was with another man said loudly to me “That’s not real!” In August I was at the DMV in a neighboring town and a young woman who was with her male partner said, as she passed me, “That’s unreal.” Lastly, sometime later in the fall, a young man working at Whole Foods, said to me as he saw me “Is that real?”
- to clarify – Yes. It’s real.
I was in Blue Back Square on a Sunday recently and I sat down on an out of the way bench. A car of young boys drove by and I heard one of them shout “It looks like you have a secret life!” And then drive on.
Earlier this year I was at the Barnes and Noble cafe (which I do not go to any longer) and an unstable woman had an outburst. She perceived me to be gay (which I’m not), and started asking an employee if he was going to be a “Boy Scout troop leader?” He played along with her and offered “Did I tell you that I’m rich?”
- I think what is interesting about the harassment based on classism is that a few years ago I blended right in, wearing some of the same clothes. Everyone here looked like they had money (whether they actually did or not) and no one ever bothered me for looking like I had money. Recently I’ve received a tremendous amount of flak for at least appearing to be wealthy. So it was understandable that when I read the #HarassmentIs booklet that Hollaback depicted examples of wealthy people harassing poorer people, however, it ran completely contrary to my experiences. I have never harassed someone verbally, for any reason.
Gender Identity Photo-Op -
As I said, I am a pre-op transsexual woman, so I dress the part. I have a wonderful wardrobe with lots of shoes, beautiful dresses, a fair amount of jewelry and plenty of color.
I have had my photo taken, with my knowledge (but without my consent), 5 different times.
One was a photo taken by a young teenage girl from a car that she asked her friend to slow down as I walked down the street.
A second was a young twenty-something taking my photo as I sat near a statue in West Hartford Center.
A third was another young twenty-something taking my picture as I sat on a bench in West Hartford center.
A fourth was, yet another young twenty-something, taking my photo at the same spot as the previous.
Lastly, this Sunday a grown, middle-aged woman snapped a photo with flash in Blue Back Square. She was with her family. (I hear it’s a great way to teach the kids).
- It is interesting to note that all of the people who took my photo (over the last 3 years) were women, and four of them were twenty-something or younger.
I must be a Facebook celebrity, but I don’t know it.
I wanted to write these things because that is what came to mind after reading #HarassmentIs. I think that our current culture is about punishment and critical judgement of others. When a person doesn’t fit in to generalized norms, they are immediately criticized, judged and then punished.
Speaking for myself, I am just trying to relax.
It does not matter where you are or what you are trying to do, you shouldn’t be punished for it, unless it causes avoidable harm to others.
I am very sorry for my length, and I hope you can include this on your website. Once again, thank you for providing a place to express these things.
I feel their eyes leering at me as I walk by…
targeting me for their next attack.
my eyes looking straight ahead
thoughts racing through my mind
heart beating a little faster,
hoping they won’t say anything to me
I heard ruthless comments directed at me…
Catcalling me as if I was an object
I heard them laughing…
making sexual comments about my body
and grunting at me like animals
I hear this and don’t dare look back…
a huge rush of emotions flooded my body
My heart aches for the day
street harassment will be no longer,
where I, along with everyone else, can walk around
without fear, doubt, or worry
My body is not public property.
I am a woman who demands respect.
I just moved to Las Vegas about a month ago to pursue a performance career, I am a fire dancer.
I finished my shift at Paris casino (handing out voucher tickets for the Eiffel Tower experience), and was walking back to the MGM where I parked my car. For those who don’t know what the Vegas strip is like, 11am is no quiet time. Every part is brightly lit up and there are hundreds of people.
As I’m walking, this tall man comes right off my left side behind me and says, “Hey girl, how are you? What are you up to?”
I give him that “oh haha yeah you think I’m cute thanks I’m gonna keep walking bye now smile” and move away from him. I’m sure you ladies know which smile I’m talking about.
He says, “What, you afraid of guys? You afraid of me? You don’t wanna talk to me?”
And, in the same ‘aha yeah sorry I’m just on my way please excuse my rudeness’ fashion, I say, “Sorry, I just don’t talk to random guys I don’t know”. I’m doing that dismissive smiling thing because I’m conditioned to brush guys off gently, to not anger people, to make it seem like I’M the rude person for not responding.
He starts screaming at me at the top of his longs, chasing me for about a block as I try to get away from him as fast as I can.
“FUCK YOU YOU FUCKING GOD DAMN UGLY SLUT, FUCK YOU!!! FUCK YOU!! YOU FUCKING UGLY CUNT WHORE, I’M GONNA KILL YOU, YOU FUCKING UGLY GOD DAMN SLUT! FAGGOT! FAGGOT! YOU’RE GONNA GET RAPED, I HOPE SOMEONE RAPES YOUR FUCKING UGLY ASS, YOU FUCKING DISGUSTING SLUT! FUCK YOU! FUCK YOU! FAGGOT, FUCK YOU!!!!!!”
….and so forth and it just got more angry and colorful from there.
As I’m getting away as fast as I can I’m shouting “Leave me alone! Get away from me!”
I dive off into a food court and hide as soon as I feel like I have enough distance, but I don’t know how far behind me he is because he was screaming so loud I couldn’t gauge the distance very well.
Thankfully there was a police officer in the food court and he was kind enough to call in a couple of security guards to escort me to my car.
I was shaking and crying and I felt ready to puke. Of course it was terrifying. I didn’t know if this was gonna be the one guy that instead of responding with the usual, “Whatever, you’re ugly anyway” that happens when I refuse public advances, he was going to be the one that had a knife or a gun. Because YES that happens to women and YES women have died when they refuse cat call advances.
This is the outfit I was wearing.
Yes I’m flipping off the camera in the photo. I’m angry. I’m angry that this person felt he could treat me this way for simply NOT WANTING TO TALK TO HIM. I’m angry that this is not an isolated incident, that women all over the world experience this every day.
I’m tired of being scared outside. I want to feel safe and free. HOLLABACK.
The first time someone catcalled me I was 12. I always considered myself as fat and ugly, back then was no exception.
I was wearing my school’s uniform (a shapeless dress that helps my self-esteem by making me look even more fat than usual) and a big jacket. I was walking. Near my house, some guys were reconstructing one of my neighbors’ house. When I walked next to them they started to whistle and say things like “damn, can I play your guitar?” (I had a guitar with me). It was the first time anyone ever said something like that to me, I was confused because I didn’t understand why would they say that to a 12 year old and someone who looked like me, also I felt distressed, scared that they would do something to me and since I told my dad to pick me up from school.
Now this year, at the age of 14, I constantly get catcalled by old, desperate men. They disgust me, saying things like “you shouldn’t be walking alone girl, lot of bad people out there” or implying that they want to take me. The last time I directly stared at the man and said “excuse me?” with a raised eyebrow. He froze and didn’t say anything else. I’m ready to give the finger or laugh at the face of the next man who does this. Lately I miraculously haven’t been harassed, something I find great, and I hope it won’t happen again but in a world like this I can’t think it will stop.
I was a cocktail waitress in a rock and roll bar for a number of years when I was in college. The bar was always crowded and the clientele had to rely on the wait staff to deliver the drinks as the crowd around the bar was pretty impenetrable. There was one night when one of the wait staff a friend of mine had a drink poured over her head by a guy because she didn’t get it to him fast enough. So I was already pissed off. Then as I was making my way thru the crowd to take orders without a huge tray of drinks and some guy grabbed me in the crotch and gave me a “hey baby”. Really? Without much thought I turned on the asshole, channeled my inner wonder woman, grabbed him by the front of the shirt and slammed him against the wall. I remember yelling something about “don’t you ever” with my finger in his face, and I don’t know who was more surprised- him, me or his friends. Felt good, and a little bit scary.
I was out at a bar with my best friends, having a girls night. I went up to the bar to get another drink and because I am around 5’2″ I had to kneel on the barstool to be seen by the bartender! Apparently, a guy sitting next to me thought that this was invitation and proceeded to put his arm around my waist, grope my butt, and ask “Hey girl, whatchya drinkin’ tonight.” I quickly removed his arm for him and said “Don’t touch me.” However, he was not quickly deterred and he grabbed my waist again and said “I’m sorry baby, let me buy you a drink.” At this point I THREW his arm off of me and got right in his face and said “I said don’t touch me, don’t make me tell you again.” But it didn’t stop there. The guy, realizing that I actually meant business, said “Alright, I’m sorry can I buy you a drink?” To which I responded: “Are you (bleeping) serious?!” After that he got the hint and left the bar but not without making a point buy saying “Ok, bitch.” I was proud of myself for sticking up for myself, but I don’t understand why guys think they can just put their hands on girls whenever they want to. And of course when we don’t take kindly to their tacky form we are bitches. I shouldn’t have to be on guard and defending myself at every turn. Society needs a wake-up call.