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I’ve been a fan of Hollaback for about a year now, and I finally decided to share a story. There are so many experiences of harassers getting away with their words and/or actions, and leaving the victim feeling powerless and trapped. However, I am happy to say that this is a success story!
I work in an industrial neighborhood in the East Bay, California. Every morning, I take a walk in about a one-mile radius from my workplace. There is a tow-truck company whose trucks frequent the area quite often, as their headquarters are nearby.
Beginning around October of last year, there was one particular driver for the company who, everytime he saw me walking, would blare his horn. A shrill, jarring, airhorn-like sound. Truck horns are designed to startle someone in an urgent situation, and naturally when this first started occurring, I would immediately look towards the sound to see what was happening. When I looked, the driver would have this grin across his face that felt so… Invasive. Sometimes he would wave, as well. My standard reaction was to flip him off, but that wasn’t satisfying the need to make him feel the way that he made me feel. Cornered, on display. I should throw in that this would always happen when he was driving by (in motion), and never when he was stopped. Big surprise, I know.
A few months later, another driver for the company started honking, grinning, waving, etc. as he passed. This happened several times. Everytime an instance occurred with this company, it was one of those two drivers. They were always in separate vehicles, never together at the same time.
So, I began to recognize my options. I thought about notifying the police, but I then realized that harassment in the workplace is taken much more seriously, internally speaking. If a company discovers that one of their employees is harassing others inside or outside of the workplace, there are often serious repercussions. I decided to call the company.
I immediately- but non-confrontationally- asked to speak to a manager. I told the receptionist that I had been experiencing harassment from two of their employees for approximately four months, and that I was fairly confident the company was unaware that this was happening. The woman I spoke to seemed to understand the urgency, and transferred me to the manager’s phone line. He was not in the office, but I did seize the opportunity to leave an in-depth message. I addressed everything that had happened with the honking and smiling, and let him know how these actions affected my feelings and sense of safety. I noted the times that these instances occurred, and the drivers’ appearances.
I never did receive a phone call back from the company, but I am ecstatic to say that not one single harassment incident, from either driver, has occurred since. I still see the same drivers when I go for a walk, and they will look, but will not say or do a thing. In fact, the majority of the time, they can’t even look me in the eye anymore.
People need to know that they CAN make a difference. They DO have the power to change things. They need not be afraid to use their voice and take action. The harassers do not have any more power than those who are harassed, and this story proves that those who choose to victimize others will endure justified consequences, if we speak up!
I was walking to my school’s student union when a man who appeared to be another student accompanied by his friend started following me and yelling things at me like “Ay yo gurl, lemme lick your butt.” And they both laughed at me when I would turn back to look at them.
I didn’t know how to respond so I didn’t say anything and kept walking til I got inside. It made me mad that I couldn’t feel comfortable on my own campus.
saturday 17 march 2014
A man came to me and proposed to me a bag of candy. He had a scary face. I didn’t accept it because the man was strange . I walked and he follow me but I went into a coffee shop and ordered a drink and saw the man in the window
I was very afraid to be in the street alone at night.
I was on the tube when I noticed a man eyeing me up, he was attractive so I didn’t mind. I got off the tube and noticed him following me. Later I noticed him playing with himself from afar. I walked faster until I couldn’t see him anymore but not being familiar with the area meant that he had cornered me to say “stop teasing me.”
I heard a lady asking if I knew this man. I told her “no” and watched her expertly tell him to leave me alone and said she was not going to let him get away with this harassment and saw him run away with fear as she stood her ground.
Funnily enough I already knew of Ana Maddock. I knew she was well educated, had a career she kept private from her online life, she was friends with a semi-famous crowd. I already wanted to be like her before she saved me. She saved a complete stranger from being harassed and went on with her day to day life and I think that’s astonishing.
Thank you Ana Karina Maddock.
You did what I could only dream of doing.
I was walking into a grocery store near a Starbucks with my friend (we were later gonna have coffee at Starbucks with my voice teacher), and these two guys pass me by, give me the elevator eyes and said, “Hey girl! Where’s the party at?”
I responded with, “In my pants, but you’re not invited.” And they shut up and left me alone.
(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 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.
There was standing room only when I got on the bus, so when it cleared, I took the nearest empty seat as soon as it was available. Unfortunately it was next to a man who I quickly realized was staring unapologetically straight at me. After giving him a few seconds and the benefit of doubt, I turned to face him, looked him in the eye, and asked if he was staring at me. He just continued to stare. I stared back, but then decided it would be wise to move out of arm’s reach. Again, he continued to stare directly at me. I stared him down again from across the aisle and asked him to stop staring at me. He pretended to not be able to hear me because he had headphones in. I decided to whip out my phone and take a few pictures in case I might need them as evidence later. By the time I had taken the pictures, I got off the bus and notified the driver. He asked why I hadn’t said anything to him earlier. I thought he had heard me talking to the guy, but I guess not. If it happens again, I will take the pictures right away, notify the driver, and contact DC Metro police to file a harassment report. Here’s a pic of the asshole.
As a study abroad student in Angers, France I experienced quite a bit of street harassment, however, one incident stuck with me more than the others…probably due to how much it scared me.
I was walking down the street by myself going back to my bike to head home (probably not a good call at night, but I thought since it was the street the university was off of it would be fairly safe…). I suddenly had one of the people who I did not know, and had maybe said “hello” to when my friends and I were out because he asked me my name but didn’t have much of a conversation with otherwise, run up to me from down the street trying to convince me to go with him (where exactly wasn’t stated).
When I refused and said I really needed to go he tried to convince me to just “talk” with him in the alley. That was definitely a red flag for me so I kept walking. After that, I turned back to see a huge group of about 10 guys (I came to realize they were his friends when I saw him running to meet up with them) all yelling at me to come with them. I just started walking quickly away, getting more and more nervous seeing as, despite my lack of response to all their calls, they were continuing to follow me and getting closer and closer.
I started to panic and run, and luckily ran into this bar whose owner had been one of the people I had had an extended conversation with already in the town, and came to understand that his bar was where most of the foreign exchange students would come on weekends. Being able to speak French pretty well, I explained my situation. He looked out the door and, after having seen the rowdy, intoxicated group of guys calling out at me, said in a concerned voice “stay here, my sister will come and take you home, this isn’t safe.” His sister (with a baby carriage in the back of her car, which seemed promising) then came and picked me up from the bar where I had been waiting safely. I was so happy for the kindness of a family I had just barely met, and also so grateful I had escaped this situation in which I was VASTLY outnumbered.
I came to learn that this street wasn’t known for being safe at all, despite its extremely close proximity to the school, that that’s no excuse for harassment being allowed to take place.
I said “no.” That should have been the end of that conversation. When that wasn’t respected, it was clear to me that they didn’t care about my opinion on the matter, even thought it was ME they were trying to get to come with them. Not okay.
I went on a walk with my dog wearing long running shorts, an old, baggy t-shirt. A car full of high school boys was at a stop sign while I was a block ahead. They hung halfway out the windows and whistled and yelled at me. It wasn’t much but I was a 13 year old, innocent young girl and it scared the hell out of me. I felt ashamed, embarrassed for there were other cars in the intersection, and I felt like I did something wrong. I started running because I was afraid they would circle the block. I’ve been timid of walking alone ever since (it was a year ago), but finding Hollaback has given me the courage to know that I’m not alone and that I can stand up for myself.