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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.
My boyfriend and I just moved to Wichita, KS from a small town in New England so that I can earn my graduate degree. The street harassment that I’ve experienced since moving is completely unreal, and continues to boggle my mind. The worst incident occurred this past Friday in a thrift store while we were furniture shopping. My boyfriend and I were at opposite ends of the store because we decided to look at clothing when I noticed a man following me. I was wearing a dress that stopped about an inch above the knee and that was slightly form-fitting because it’s very windy here and wearing flawy dresses without flashing everyone is difficult and annoying. Anyways, I noticed a creepy man following me through the women’s section of this particular store, so I decided to move closer to the mens section and look at blazers. I moved quickly, and thought I had left him behind until I looked behind me and saw him crouched behind me on the floor looking up my skirt. I felt disgusted, humiliated and shocked. Not knowing what else to do I ran across the store to tell my boyfriend what had happened. The man promptly left. I felt numb and hollow for the rest of the day. I wish I had said something to him, I wish I had screamed at him, I wish I’d alerted the clerk, but I did none of these things and I feel like a coward. I have always liked to think of myself as the sort of person that would fight back against street harassment, but I find myself ignoring my harasses or refusing to leave the house alone. Usually, if I am with my boyfriend I experience no issues, but I wish I felt safe walking my dog by myself, or running to the gas station down the street.
My friend and I are walking back a few minutes after midnight to our dorm from the club *car rolls down window* *wolf whistles* FUCK OFF *window rolls back up* *car drives away*
I needed to walk two blocks away from my house to the gas station to get a drink. It was ten pm-ish on a friday night. I had been wearing an open back dress all day that showed a lot of skin. I figured since it was late i’d dress down a bit, to attract less attention to myself. jeans and a t-shirt.
I walked down the street and it all went downhill from there. one block away from my house a man crossed the street, walking towards me and aggressively yelled “where you fixin to go, ho1?” ( REALLY!? HOW IS THIS ANYWAY TO TALK TO SOMEBODY! HAS THAT EVER WORKED? SERIOUSLY. I AM SHOCKED.)I kept walking but turned around and yelled “excuse me?!” end of that. I walked another block and into the gas station. Behind me in line was a seemingly inebriated older man. I bought cigarettes. Then I realized, after I paid, that I needed a lighter. I bought a lighter and the man behind me started screaming at me in front of everyone about how I was going too slow. I was taking up time on purpose. And some comment about how I was a racist? which made absolutely no sense at all…I looked around because this stranger was yelling at me in front of 5 or 6 people. No one did anything. I just looked at the guy behind the counter and he kind of just shrugged at me. WHAT. I just start yelling back “this is the 2nd time in 5 minutes that i’ve been harassed by a man! (I think I also starting shaking my finger..it got weird) this is not ok. it’s not ok for you to do this.” I started crying a little so I left quickly.
As I was power-walking home I actually started crying. 1 block left. I can see my house. There are several men in the street. One stands in front of me on the sidewalk as I try to pass and say’s “can I talk to you for a second baby?” and i walk past him. I’m crying a lot at this point. I start walking up my front steps and a car stops at the stop sign right next to my house and a man yells at me from the car, “damn girl! nice legs!” I cry hysterically….I’m not crying because I’m scared or sad. I am so angry that this is “normal.” I get harassed everyday. It happens to everyone. And nobody is doing anything about it. I can’t even take a five minute walk without having four harassing encounters with men. This is not ok. This should not be normal. The worst part about this is that before I went on my journey to the store, I changed my clothes. I took off my dress and I put on something more “decent.” We live in a victim blaming, rape-culture and for that one moment, they even fooled me. They fooled me into changing my clothes and thinking that I could to something about it.
I had just had a baby 2 weeks earlier. I needed to get some groceries and went to the local grocery store. While waiting my turn at the deli counter some older scroungy guy walked behind me and said “Nice tits! “. I was speechless and so embarrassed! I couldn’t look at anyone and no one could look at me! They guy behind the counter looked panicked at having to take my order but that was okay because I was so upset I left.