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Last Sunday, my boyfriend and I pulled up to the Shell station on Soquel Ave. after a relaxing day at Twin Lakes State Beach in Santa Cruz. He, in the driver’s seat, sat in the parked car while I stepped out to pump gas. As soon as I shut my door, I immediately heard “daaaaammmn, girl!” and lewd noises from a car parked diagonally across from us. I glared up at the two men standing there. When I made eye contact they burst into laughter, and I angrily shouted at them, “That was EXTREMELY disrespectful!” with all the fire and disapproval I could muster. One man looked up at me and shot back, “I didn’t say nothin.” They grinned and nudged each other and looked generally dismissive. I spent the next ten minutes absolutely seething: one, for the fact that they didn’t even appear to register any surprise or concern when I confronted them; two, for the fact that it made ME feel so vulnerable and angry; and three, that they had the nerve to harass me with my boyfriend sitting in the car! He only saw my angry outburst, and when he asked what happened, it took an enormous effort to not burst into tears while I recounted the story.
Just thinking about it makes my face feel hot all over again.
I was in my art class at school and a few boys at my table were talking about later playing the “hey, girl!” game. I wasn’t exactly sure what that was, but I had a pretty good idea, and they were *kind* enough to explain that they drive around neighborhoods and, when passing a girl (or woman), yelling to them from the car as they drove by. I calmly explained to them that that qualifies as harassment and is not okay, but they seemed not to understand. I looked to some of the other girls at the table for help in backing this up, but all of them had awkwardly averted their eyes, trying to avoid conflict. I don’t know whether they listened to me. I don’t know if they continued to go out and verbally assault women from the safety of a moving car, or if they took to heart what I said. But thank you, girls in my class, for being afraid to hollaback, for failing to potentially prevent other women from being verbally assaulted.
Today I was playing frisbee with my boyfriend at the beach. This man’s son had been stalking me in the water for about 25 minutes, but I had ignored it. When my boyfriend and I moved to play frisbee on the sand, I turned around and noticed a little girl holding a phone. Apparently, the father had sent his kids over to take photos of me without my knowledge. My boyfriend said something to him and the man said “It’s just a picture.” I felt so hurt and violated. I didn’t let my boyfriend handle the situation because I felt that I owed it to myself to take care of it. I reported them to the police. That was all I could do.
It was Halloween 2011 and I was in a cat suit. It wasn’t too controversial or anything, just sleek black, not even that “sexy”. I was walking with a friend past a group of guys and my tail was tugged at and said something offensively sexual. They were all just smiling at me as if I was glad they grabbed my tail or like if I was amused.
I felt helpless and I didn’t know what else to do other then to give them a nasty stare. I think I said “no” as well.
It was a situation I keep going back to and wishing I could of done something else. I felt weak.
December 6, 2011, I was traveling via Nepal Yatayat from Shantinagar to Baluwatar along with my friends. My get off at Baluwatar. I have already paid the rent. But the conductor, asked me rent again. The witnessed also supported me . But he didn’t listen and verbally abused me very badly. I tried to get on and denied to pay twice. Then he assaulted me. Meanwhile, the driver also back the bus and supported to conductor. Immediately, I took the bus number and run away from there. I talked with member of transport association and directly went to the traffic police office. I filed the case. The police arrested driver, conductor immediately.Next day, police invited me and have negotiation.they asked for forgive and released from custody.
I left my office building to cross the road to take a bus ride home. From the building in which my office is located came out a man. I saw him coming and he also looked at me. It was a usual, nothing out of the blue kind of a glance. But just as I turned to cross the road after making sure that there are no vehicles around, I felt a finger go through the whole of my ass line with a sensual touch. I could not see who it was, since it was done so quickly. Just as I turned to my side after being taken unaware, I saw that very same man passing by me.
I could not believe what he had just done in Karachi, Pakistan, in front of the whole busy lane and in an area full of traffic. By his looks, he seemed to be a thug and he could very well be amongst those people who harass women and get away with it. His ability to put his finger in my ass line and run it through so quick showed how perfectly he had mastered his skills at this. I was ashamed myself and did not want to provoke any confrontation with him in such a public place. I said nothing and went my own way to avoid any attention to what had occurred.
Tuesday, May 8 at 5:30pm on while crossing the street at Pine and 4th downtown Seattle I was verbally harassed. It was a busy intersection and I was in a hurry to get to a meeting. A middle aged man with shoulder length hair leaned in and said “Nice Nipples.” Before I fully registered what had happened he had kept walking away. If I wasn’t in a hurry I would’ve gone after him to take a picture. I was so taken off guard b/c I was dressed professionally and it was so out of the blue.
Could we have a new location for Hollaback be Seattle, WA?
This house is located in between my house and where I work as well as mine and my boyfriend’s houses. For the past 4 days, every time I pass this house after 3pm the young men sitting on it’s porch have yelled a combination of phrases involving how “illegal” my “pussy” is. It infuriates me. I think I am going to buy a cheap camcorder and ask them their name and what they said to me next time…. I’ll keep you posted!
Hi, I’m German and I’d like to tell you my bad harassment experience on vacation. I know the story is very long, but I really try to describe only the things to understand. I would be very, very grateful if you could share this..
“I was on holiday with my girlfriend in March 2012 in Indonesia (Southeast Asia). We had some problems in our relationship, so we tried to share some good time together on vacation.
We were first in Bali. We behaved “discreetly” to each other, like holding hands.
We traveled to the island Gili Air, Lombok is part of the island group. It was low season and there were few people on the island.
The days before we felt comfortable in Bali, so we “dared” to come closer. We were kissing on the beach or embracing each other, but we made sure that we were not right in the middle of sight of other people! We have behaved discreetly.
Someday we met a tourist information guide called Balgiaz. He was welcoming, informed us well in English and invited us to a bonfire on the beach with other people. It was a nice evening with other tourist, playing guitar, singing in the night. It was midnight when I was tired and went back to the hotel, while my girlfriend stayed longer.
The next morning she told me that Balgiaz made her an offer. He could take us out to sea with his boat and we could snorkel. We would only have to pay the fuel for the boat. Me, as a half Indonesian, I usually know that I should always ask after the actual price! Because I trusted my girlfriend however and I didn’t want to question her actions (which have always been a point of contention…), we made that small snorkeling tour.
In the evening after the tour, back to the island, my girlfriend ask for the price for the fuel. He said he had never told that we just pay the fuel! and wanted a different price, which was at least 7 times higher. That wasn’t the deal… He was very angry, and we just went away, because he still had to pick up other customers.
We went to a kinda security guy and told our story. His opinion was neutral and he said we should wait and then try to clarify the misunderstanding and find a solution for both parties.
On the way back to the hotel (it was dark), Balgiaz came towards us with some other man and point his flashlight directly on our face. He wanted the money immediately and there was nothing to discuss. We tried to stay as calm as possible and asked him to come along, where there was light. We wanted to go to that security guy. During the way he already started to harass us with phrases like “f**k you, you liar!”.
When we arrived, Balgiaz and the security guy spoke in Indonesian with Gili dialect I could not understand. The man was very calm, Balgiaz however was very furious and started swearing in Gili-Indonesian.
No matter how much we asked Balgiaz not to insult, or we tried to explain how we understand the situation, or we would be willing to pay half of the unfair price (he would still make profit), he became more aggressive:
“F**k off! You are liars! You are so sick! I swear that I am right! Tomorrow we go to the police station and I swear, when I tell them the truth, they will punish you! Because you are sick! ”
We tried to remain calm and explain ourselves.
He threw his phone on the floor and threatened us: “I already smashed a tourist, because he did not want to pay. You are lucky you’re woman. I do not hit women, but if you were men, I’d smash you!”
The “security man” watched motionless, then said quietly, “you better pay”. I stood there with my girlfriend and just repeat her words. Then he reached for another object, just about to throw that object at us. I was emotionally overwhelmed, my blood froze in my veins and I could not move at the moment. Then my girlfriend lifted her hands in front of him and said that she was willing to pay the full price he wanted.
As Balgiaz took the money and disappeared, the security man turned to us and said we better should forget this incident and try our to best to enjoy our holidays. We asked him why Balgiaz was that furious and why he was not even agreeing for a compromise. Then he told us, Balgiaz went to the hotel we stayed overnight and the owner told him that we’re lesbians. We said nothing and went back to the hotel.
We locked the door and tried to sleep. I tried to calm down my girlfriend and hugged her. I said, “I’m here for you no matter what happens.” She pushed me away with the words “This is exactly the problem…”
The next day we traveled to Lombok, the incident still weighed heavily on our shoulders. The mentality of people in Lombok are more aggressive than in Bali, every day we experienced at least one traffic accident. To our relief, we met a Spanish couple and we traveled together as a group. Whenever we talk to Lombok people they behaved more kindly to the guy in our group, than to us women who are traveling alone (we often got asked if we have a husband or where is our husband). Anyway, it was nice to travel with the couple, supporting each other, sharing joy, but soon our ways parted and we had to return back to Germany. Me and my girlfriend arrived in Germany very exhausted…
The end of our holiday was unfortunately the end of our relationship … ”
Thank you for listening… I hope I can make a difference with my story… I’m glad I’m home again… but I’m still in sorrow…
I wrote this for a class, as a way to make visible the daily harassment that goes on at my school. These are accounts of my experiences, written in the second person.
Men Who Whistle and Howl Like Dogs
The Men Who Dwell In Dark Basements:
While at a house party with your friends, you decide to walk downstairs to the basement to grab a beer. On your way down, someone grabs your ass. You turn around to say something, but the basement’s too damn dark and crowded to make one person out from another.
Beer in hand, you make your way back up the stairs only to have your ass grabbed again. You turn around and this time find yourself face to face with two greasy muscle heads. They both smirk as one steps closer towards you—you can smell the alcohol on his breath. “Yo baby, we wer’ just tryin’ to be friendly,” he says as he looks you up and down. You step forward and try to move through them, telling them to get the hell out of your way, but it’s like trying to move a mountain. The one on your right starts grabbing at you with his coarse hands, the other one stands back and commentates, “Oh yeah, you like that don’t you. Don’t you.” Your whole body clenches up in fear as you push yourself against the wall, trying to escape his desperate pawing. Fortunately, only about a minute goes by (although it feels like forever), before a friend comes bounding down the stairs and pulls you to safety. The grease heads scurry away. You can hear them chuckle like two little schoolgirls as they head back downstairs to the basement. You sigh in relief, but leave the party with your friends feeling angry and violated.
The Man Who Followed Me Home:
It’s early in the morning and you desperately need a cup of coffee. There’s a Dunkin Donuts down the street from you. Pulling on a sweatshirt, and shoving your long hair into a wool-knit hat, you sleepily shuffle out the door and down the street to your coffee haven.
The styrofoam cup warms your hands and you savor every blissful sip of the hot liquid as you make your way back home. You notice that there’s an older looking man walking towards you. Instinctively you look at your feet and quickly walk past him, hoping he won’t say anything. You hear him whistle and smack his lips together. Your heart drops. “Hey mami! Com’ here!” You keep walking, but you can feel him following you. “Mami!” he calls again. He smacks his lips together, making kissing noises and whistles loudly. Your heart starts beating faster—it’s broad daylight, but there isn’t anyone else on the street as far as you can see, and that makes you nervous. The man keeps smacking his lips and whistling. As you walk faster his whistles get louder and louder. You reassure yourself that nothing is going to happen, but doubt is starting to form in the back of your mind. After what feels like forever, you finally reach the corner, making a right toward your house. The yelling and whistling stop. You look behind you and let out a long sigh of relief. He’s nowhere to be seen. You take a long gulp of coffee and walk up the steps and into your house. Your hand shakes as you place the key into the lock.
The Man Who Has No Manners:
You’re walking quickly, because you’re running late for class. Past the flower shop, past the convenience store where you buy your eggs, past the shady bar on the corner that you know you’ll never go to; all these things you don’t notice, because you’re in a hurry. You’re frantic, because this will be the third time you’ve shown up late to that class and all you can think of is how you’re going to be late, going to be late, going to be so god damn late—“Hey you!” You look up, startled out of your trance. There’s a tall, thin man working on his car at the side of the street looking in your direction. You realize he’s talking to you. You walk by, not acknowledging his glances. He yells after you, “Heyyo! Com’ here! Hey, hey you know I’ve fucked girls uglier than you, damn I’d totally fuck you right now. Come back here girl! C’mon, come back!” His words are harsh and shocking against the background of the quiet street. Your heart thumps wildly inside your chest, heat rising to your face. You want to yell back, but nothing comes out when you open your mouth. Fuming, you keep walking, forcing your thoughts to fall back onto your upcoming class and inevitable tardiness.
The Men Who Will Never Get Laid:
It’s late and you’re tired. You didn’t want to go out tonight, but you lost the latest battle against peer pressure so here you are. You’re trying not to be cranky as your friend drags you down the street, rambling on about some boy that she has a crush on. It’s just past ten and you sigh, knowing that you have to stay out until at least midnight so as to not receive backlash from any of your girlfriends. You ask your friend where you’re headed. “The frat house on the corner,” she says. You groan and make a fuss, whining about how you are not in the mood to deal with vagina-hungry party boys. She chuckles and rolls her eyes, mistaking your concern for humor. Nearly to the corner, you give yourself a pep-talk: just smile and stop being such a downer, this will be fu…You and some guy bump shoulders, and you’re thrown off track. You turn around to apologize but before you can open your mouth to say anything, he looks you up and down saying, “Damn girl, I’d lease you out for the night.” It takes you a quick second to register what he has just said. Your face flushes with anger, but before you have time to react, your friend yanks you away. You wonder how people can be so disrespectful. Your friends tell you to relax, that it was just some drunk guy being stupid. You tell them that, no, it’s not just some drunk guy—that it happens all the time and that you’re tired of being so passive about it and that nobody should be able to talk to you like you’re some used up sex doll. You realize that you’ve once again become the downer of the group; you decide not to care. Your friends pull you down the rest of the street to the house and as you’re about to walk up the stairs some guys stops you. “Hey I’ve got some condoms in my wallet, let’s go.” In all your sophistication and glory, you smile and politely tell him to go f**k himself.