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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 into the Target on the corner with two friends. I was wearing a dress. I heard a male voice behind me say that he loved the dress and I ignored him. He followed my friends and I further into the store and kept saying “hey you in the dress,” but I ignored him. Finally I without looking told him to fuck off. He started being like “fuck off, all I wanted to do was compliment you!!!” I turned around at that and he looked physically threatening so I walked with my friends further into the store. The store was crowded, there were employees everywhere but no one said a thing.
The guy in the photo below decided that he wanted to talk to me at the cafe that both of us happen to be at twenty minutes ago so he said hi. I ignored him, he said hi again then a few more times. I ignored him & stayed focused on the book I was reading. He said, “ok,” then started waving he hand in my face to get my attention. I still ignored him. Then he touched me on the shoulder while laughing & said ok. I then said, “Fuck you.” Then I walked to the barista and complained. She said, “he’s a regular, he’s here all the time but I’m sorry that that happened & I’ll tell the guys (that work there). And I took his photo & said that this is for Hollaback. He left the establishment.
At around 8:30 am while waiting for the downtown J train at Bowery I was followed and watched by a man who began masturbating. He stood about 20 feet away from me on the same platform. He looked right into my eyes. Thankfully, my train arrived soon after. I called 311 but was on the line for 15 minutes with no response so I gave up. Unfortunately, I was too shocked and disgusted to give this sexist pig a big FUCK YOU. Thank you, you fucking jerkoff, for ruining my Saturday.
He appears at my work every single day.
Criticizing the women I work with, including me, he reaches a topic that is a personal and gender-based insecurity to every woman, sex. The way women look and dress is always a sexual concern in the publicity of men, which he makes apparent.
Questioning the way my co-workers and I present ourselves, he makes comments like, “So when are you going to make a sex tape?” “You look tense, you should purchase a vibrator”, and, “When am I going to see you as the center-fold for Playboy?” These questions do not contribute to women as an individual, but as sexual fixations, enabling us to believe that being a sexual object for men is the purpose of women’s existence.
He does not pass up the opportunity to lower one’s mental health; he attacks even men as well. Commenting on a man’s hopes and aspirations, he belies, “You’re a beatnik and will never amount to anything.” For men, not “amounting to anything” results in a gender-based insecurity of failure. Men value their work ethic and aspirations as a reflection of their selves, because essentially men are taught that they will be relied on later in life. If someone doubts their accomplishments or determination, they take it as a personal threat of their inability to provide for others in life.
He doesn’t need to know someone as a person, only how to make generalized comments towards their gender. The University of Oregon recognizes this behavior as gender harassment, defining it as, “Generalized sexist statements and behavior that covey insulting or degrading attitudes about women [or men]” (University Counseling & Testing Center, 2010).
Making note of his appearance and the way he confidently fabricates his life as successful, this explains why he must mentally flagellate those around him. He struggles with his own heightened insecurities and belittling others creates the illusion that he feels superior; by recognizing that others have insecurities of their own. He heightens his perception of his own self-worth when verbalizing false statements to those around him.
The use of harassment in the workplace causes my co-workers and me to develop effects of drop in work performance due to stress, decrease in job satisfaction, depression, self-consciousness, frustration, and unfavorable work conditions. The comments that he makes cause psychological damage and sustain us from not performing our best while at work.
A lot of victims hide in terror and denial from their harassers, unable to tell anyone or change the outcome. Victims may feel powerless; an imbalance of power between the harasser and the victim is just a disconnected form of reality. When in actuality, the harasser holds no more power over the victim. In this case, he has no greater power over me or my co-workers.
A few days ago I was walking down the street after having lunch with my friends alone, singing some corny Lion King song and wearing an old sweatshirt and jeans that had not seen a washing machine in a long time. Some man with a beard hollered at me from his car, with immense aggression in his voice, “Let’s see those titties! Show them to me, you bitch!” the street was completely empty, and he had his head completely out the window staring at me. I totally would’ve started screaming and telling him to leave me alone, but he was not extremely rational, and I didn’t want to provoke him into coming after me. I am fourteen. I was singing Lion King and eating a giant sundae. Why do people think that because you’re outside you’re somehow part of the porn movie of their life?! Keep it in your pants, homies.
I am a rather conservatively dressed person. And yet today I heard the comment – ”you’re beautiful”. A nice thing to hear, but I know where this could lead – no stranger says this for no reason. So I ignored and tried to walk on. Looking down as to not engage in unwanted eye contact, my wrist was suddenly grabbed by this man. I felt anger more than fear. I hoisted my hand away and walked away quickly down the long empty street. This was in broad day light. I was sober – he seemed sober.
Comments I can ignore – but unwanted physical contact – why does this still occur in a ”civilised city”?
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.
Last week in the early morning, as I’m walking in the street, two men were passing by on the opposite pavement. One of them asked me “Hey cousin, do you have any lighter?” I just answered that I did not when this one started to insult my mum and cross the road nervously to beat me up!