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I’m a fairly traditional southern woman, raised and homeschooled by extremely conservative parents, and sheltered from the world. Or at least I was. I started college at Tarleton State in the fall of ’09, and a lot of things change. I’ve learned a lot about harassment, first hand, that I hope none of my friends never have to learn. I could write about getting groped on my way to a club/bar, or screamed at by some idiot in a truck on my way home, or even a more violent incident that happened later that year, but I won’t. Instead I give you this little jewel, the incident that truly showed me how comfortable these ‘normal’ men were with their behavior, and just how acceptable it really was. I was attending a womens volleyball game with some friends, supporting our school in the regionals I think. Some guys behind us started harassing the opposing team and screaming some very vulgar things at them. A male friend took offense to that behavior, and warned them to quiet down. When they started being rude to him, I piped up. I don’t remember what I said but it must have made an impression. They were quieter for the rest of the match, and we watched in peace. Afterwards, I refused a ride home and decided to walk, because my dorm was less than half a mile away and the night was beautiful. I didn’t even think twice about my decision. I tried to call my boyfriend of the time who lived out of town, to enjoy a walk and talk under the stars. Just as I heard the busy tone, I began to hear yelling. It was three of the drunk men from before, trying to get my attention. I tried to ignore them, they were being just as vulgar as before. I was terrified. They were large men, and at 5’2″, i’m rather not. They continued to follow me as I asked them to leave me alone, and fought off tears. I could smell the alcohol from 5 feet away. I finally snapped when they asked my name again, and told them “It’s get the fuck away from me”. They just laughed and asked if it was “mexican”. They followed me to the door before losing interest. There were half a dozen other people in the parking lot when they started harassing me. Talk about turning a blind eye.
If you want a world where no one EVER turns a blind eye to verbal or physical violence, donate to the “I’ve got your back” campaign. We’ve trying to raise another $15,000 in the next 8 days and we need your help.
I’m usually the person targeted for harassment, since I’m tall and multiracial (and confident), and therefore the most visible woman on any given block. But just now I witnessed an egregious harassment of another woman, and I followed up with the harasser, as I would hope others would do for me (but have NEVER done.)
A big man (at least 6’2″, maybe more, and maybe 220 lbs or more) lurched out of an alcove at a small woman (at most 5’4″ and 120 lbs, maybe 25 y/o or less) who was walking down the sidewalk. He went at her fast, but slowly enough that she could get out of his way. But, since he held his arms out in front of and behind her, she could only get out of his way by going sideways. He pushed her across the sidewalk and into a car, where she ducked under his arm and kept walking. She bumped into me because she was busy looking behind her at the man, who was leaning into the car, laughing at her.
This all happened too fast for me to react to it. Now, as you can tell from the photo and video I’ve included, the man is poorly dressed and dirty, clearly down and out, possibly a drug addict. I do understand the rage and the invisibility of men like this, especially when you add on the racial component and the pressure and invisibility that comes with that.
HOWEVER, it is NOT OKAY for an oppressed man to take out his rage on a woman, or on anyone who is more vulnerable than he is, or on whom he can become violent.
I had a few seconds to decide what to do. He was still lingering just a few steps ahead of me, adjusting himself to the success of his harassment. At moments like this, I have to figure out if I’m going to be harassed myself. If I see a potential harasser up ahead, I’ll generally cross the street to avoid them. But this time, I decided to take the initiative, because I was so angry about what he did to that woman.
I stood still on the sidewalk as I thought about it. During this time, a family of two women and two little girls came down the sidewalk and the man lurched out amongst them, although I’m not sure this time if he intended to scare them or if he was just substance-addled. But that was the last straw for me.
I pulled out my phone, switched to camera mode, and walked past him, glaring at him as I went. As I expected, he started to follow me, saying something to me (I don’t know what, I had my headphones on until I turned my camera to video mode.) I started snapping pictures of him and, as soon as he saw me doing it, he walked away from me. He kept ducking into the building alcove, hoping I’d walk past. I tried that one time, but he just came back out and continued following me, so I continued snapping pictures.
Then he turned down a street to get away from me. Unfortunately for him, I’d remembered my video camera and switched to video. I turned the corner and did a little interview with him, which you can see in the video. Of course, he denied it all. Too bad I didn’t get pictures of the harassment.
He took off down the street and I followed him for a block and a half. He kept looking back to see if I was following. I stopped taking pictures, but I kept my phone held up. Finally, he walked down an alley to get away from me and I let him go. I wonder if that’s the first time in his life he’s had the tables turned on him like that. He sure didn’t like being harassed or followed.
Let me emphasize here, though, that it was the middle of the day, there were lots of people around, and I’m pretty tall and imposing-looking. I don’t necessarily recommend that other, smaller women turn the tables quite so thoroughly on a big man who was willing to get physical with a woman. It could be dangerous.
To ensure that every bystander is as amazing as Claire, donate to the “I’ve Got Your Back” campaign. Claire has already donated, as if she wasn’t already badass enough.
Every day I take the Metrobus to and from my college campus in Austin, Texas. Our neighborhood is pretty far away and my stop is the very last stop that bus takes, and I have to change buses three times to get to and from school. One Wednesday afternoon, around four o’clock, I transferred from the second to the last bus. I had been waiting at the bus stop for a good twenty minutes, but when I got on, some guy appeared out of nowhere and got on with me.
He was in his mid to late forties, it seemed. He tried to sit next to me even though there were tons of other empty seats, but I shook him off. Instead he sat in a seat across from me, and attempted to talk to me in Spanish. I just gave him a look and pointedly avoided his gaze, though I could see that he kept staring at me throughout the fifteen-minute ride. I was infuriated.
He finally got off at the bus stop before mine, where a tiny subdivision is located. I breathed a sigh of relief and got off at my stop, located at a tax building across the street from my neighborhood. I crossed the street and got to the entrance, when I noticed a car that was driving very slowly into the neighborhood. When I approached, I stared into the car, heart beating faster as I slowly came to realize that it was the same man from the bus earlier.
He only drove a little ways into the neighborhood, then pulled a u-turn and drove out of the same entrance. I was walking in, and I looked into the driver’s side and it was the same man, giving me the creepiest smile I’ve ever witnessed in my entire life. I had never known blood could literally run cold, but mine did that day.
He waved at me and pulled out of the neighborhood. I walked down the street backwards, watching his car. To my dismay, he was turning around at a stop-light and coming back my way. Horrified, I sprinted like mad to my house, thankfully fast enough so that he didn’t know where I lived. Nobody was home, and I hovered nervously next to the window. As I stared, the exact same car drove slowly around the street– He had been circling the neighborhood, looking for me.
I have never felt this outraged, violated, and humiliated. Knowing that he is practically my neighbor, that he would even try such a thing on a nineteen year old girl by herself absolutely infuriates me. That was a little over a few weeks ago, but I am still paranoid and I check that tiny neighborhood for his car every time I pass by, since I know he must live there.
Stories like this should never happen to anyone. Especially not 19 year olds. Help build a world without street harassment by donating to the “I’ve Got Your Back” campaign. The campaign ends July 7th, so act quickly!
It was just gone half past ten at night, a Monday evening in Bristol and I was standing alone at the bus stop waiting for my bus home. I was texting on my phone. A drunk man approached from behind me – I don’t know how long he had been there but I’d been there about ten minutes. He called me “lovely phone lady” and tried to engage me in conversation. When I calmly gave him the brush-off he asked if I was a criminal lawyer (huh?) so I told him no, but actually I live with one – hoping to intimidate him but of course feeding his sense of entitlement to converse. After that I didn’t give him any conversation but he carried on regardless. He asked if I had a boyfriend and then he explained to me that I shouldn’t be out alone, that if I was going to get a taxi or a bus home alone it wasn’t safe, that anything could happen to me and that he would wait with me. I said firmly that I was perfectly fine and he should leave. He repeatedly asked me to tell him where I live. He asked me whether I watch “Midsomer Murders”. Perhaps he wanted to spook me or perhaps he is a bit-part actor in it. He refused to leave, told me he had sisters and he would never ‘let’ them travel alone at night. At this point the bus arrived and I told him again to go. Instead, he stood just by the doors as I got on the bus. I wasn’t going to ask the driver for my destination with him listening, so I stood there waiting for him to go away. He then shouted to the driver “Look after her” and “I love her”. I just stood there with my back to him. Then the driver asked, “Is he your boyfriend?” at which point I said no, he is a creep who I have never met before in my life. Only then did the driver close the doors and I could ask for my ticket.
This man invaded my personal space and my privacy. He assumed he had the right to do this – and to tell me not to go out alone at night. I happened to think he was a prick, but he had no way of knowing that I wouldn’t be very scared by him.
I’ve been holla’d at several times in the street. It’s not new to me. Quite the opposite, actually. But the two instances that stick out to me I will recap for you.
The first one was when I was in eighth grade and walking home from school. I was crossing a busy road at an intersection, and as I was halfway across the street a black truck pulled up behind me. The cab was full of rowdy teenage boys. The boys started screaming at me to “get in the car little girl!” because “we have candy and puppies!”. This shocked me. At the time I did not consider myself a little girl. I look back on it now, and yes, I was young. I have a sister in seventh grade and she seems like a little girl to me, too. But the fact that these teenage boys thought it was funny to harass some strange little girl, it angers me. If they had tried that on me at this age, I probably would’ve screamed at them.
The second time was just last year for me. My bus stop was on an almost busy road. It was usually quiet there, and this bicycle path we call a “Ravine” opened up on either side of the road. Every day at about the same time this old man would drive by on his moped giving me this creepy “I’m so undressing you with my eyes and damn, I’d tap that!” look. It was unnerving, but not much I could do. After maybe two or three months my bus stop was transferred to the other side of the road and it would come a little bit earlier. I didn’t see the old man for a while after that. But I did see him once more. Me and some friends were walking down another street. The two boys of the group decided to remove their shirts and see who had the biggest manboobs (They were incredibly fit, abs and everything, so there wasn’t much to compare) and the old man drove by again. Not only did he check me out, but he oggled my guys friends as well. Needless to say, I did not enjoy being looked at by a seventy-something old creep.
It really sucks when people start doing this and you feel you can’t speak up. We need to put a stop to this. And thanks to these stories, I’m able to make up some good comebacks to certain holla’s. I’m creating my own arsenal of rude comments for those special “friends” of ours. We should all Hollaback!
To help build a world where everyone has the right to feel safe and confident in their own neighborhood, learn more and donate to the “I’ve got your back” campaign.
I decided to go on a run one night along the well-lit path beside Campbell Avenue, so I put on my usual running outfit (shorts and one of my “Legalize Gay” shirts). It was a nice night, and plenty of other runners and bikers were out enjoying the warm weather. About 15 minutes into my run, two bikers came up beside me and matched my pace. I smiled at them as they got closer to me, and I noticed them talking though I couldn’t hear them over the traffic. Once they were beside me, I could hear, “Hey bitch, slow down.” I sped up and moved away from the street. They continued to follow me to the end of the block, repeating, “Get back here, whore!” I was coming up on a gravely hill that I planned on detouring to in order to avoid their bikes, and they continued: “Fucking dyke, maybe if you suck my dick, you won’t be so stupid.” I finally got to the hill and began sprinting, and one of them threw a bottle that hit my head. They didn’t follow me any longer as I made my way back to the emergency room.
If this story makes you as angry as it makes us, consider being productive with your anger and donating to the “I’ve got your back” campaign.
After spending a half an hour or so reading the stories on the Holla Back website and watching the videos (“and that’s why I Holla Back”) earlier today, my boyfriend and I went to the park. We were sitting on a blanket in the grass reading our respective books and eating food. I was laying down on the blanket wearing a knee-length summer dress when my boyfriend moved over and asked me to switch sides of the blanket with him. He whispered that the man eating his food about ten feet away from us was staring at me and he wanted to block the guy’s view. I thought he was exaggerating a little, but I felt relieved when the man left. Another 20-30 minutes later, he came back. He was wearing a backpack and had stringy blondish hair. I felt him looking at me, but kept my head down and continued reading. When I got up and walked across the park to get some water from the water fountain and walked back to the blanket, I realized he never took his eyes off of me. He even changed his seating positions to get a better view of me. It was enough, I told my boyfriend that I felt uncomfortable and he agreed that it was time to go, but I couldn’t stop thinking about this website. I stood up and looked him right in the eyes. “Will you please stop staring at me?!” I purposely said it in a loud voice so the couple sitting on the blanket near us and the mothers playing with their children nearby could hear me. He said “I wasn’t staring at you.” My boyfriend and I packed up our stuff to go, but before we left I turned around and told the creep “There’s a whole fucking park, stare somewhere else!” My boyfriend flicked him off and the jerk yelled back “Stop being so self-conscious!” I was being self-conscious? He was way more conscious of my ‘self’ than I was. As we left, a man laying on the grass said “Don’t worry about him, he’s always here. He doesn’t mean anything by it.”
Yes, he was only looking at me. Yes, it’s a public place and he is allowed to be there just as much as I am. But my gender is not an invitation to stare, to evaluate, to fantasize, to fetishize, to stare at my body. As we left the park, my boyfriend told me to stop talking about the incident, not to let that pervert ruin my whole day. But I said no. I want to talk about it, I want to discuss how to deal with a situation like the one we experienced. Is it better to ignore the harasser, allowing them to continue their creepy little game but not giving them the attention they so desperately want? Or is it better to do what I did, calling out their inappropriate behavior to bystanders but giving them more attention than they actually deserve? This website has taught me that the calling them out is more empowering, more influential, it proves that we are not the passive objects that these street harassers think we are. And the fact that he’s ALWAYS there? The fact that the women walking their dogs and little girls running through the water park area in their bathing suits in this park every day are doing so under the watchful eye of a strange staring man DOES NOT make me feel better. It doesn’t make me feel better. It doesn’t make me stop worrying. It makes me want to do more. So thank you, considerate bystander. Thank you for doing nothing, and for proving to me that I must do twice as much, ten times as much, because I live in a world where the only way to stop street harassment is to Holla Back!
To help build a world where the may laying in the grass would have said, “I’m so sorry that happened to you, is there anything I can do?” instead of minimizing the situation by saying, “he didn’t mean anything by it,” donate to the “I’ve got your back” campaign today. We’ve only got 11 days to go!
I was uptown alone, waiting in front of a movie theatre for a movie to start, when I noticed an old man staring at me. This continued for a few moment, so I decided to walk past him in order to walk to a nearby store. When I passed, he touched my shoulder and said that I looked pretty, in what seemed to be the creepiest voice he could muster. I decided to ignore him and walk away.
He followed me down the street to the store I was going to, and he waited outside while I browsed. I ended up calling a friend to come to the store and walk out with me, so I wouldn’t pass by him alone.
I hope it doesn’t happen again.
To help build a world where this truly doesn’t happen again, donate to the “I’ve got your back” campaign. Only 11 days to go!
I was in the bedding aisle of Target when a large, tall man starting coming down the aisle. I moved my cart so he could pass by and as he did I heard him say something. The only word I can make out was “attractive”. I said, “Excuse me?” and he, unabashedly yet creepily, repeated himself, “You are a VERY attractive woman”. I responded, “I find that VERY offensive”. He began to apologize as he shuffled down the aisle (it was apparent he was not actually shopping for anything), and I decided to give him more of a piece of my mind. I told him that women don’t appreciate those comments, that my husband wouldn’t either, and that it was highly inappropriate. I quickly walked away and found a Target employee who, thankfully, responded quickly and sympathized with my distress. He called a security officer. The verified that the man left the store and offered to stay with me while I shopped and to walk me to my car.
What enraged me about this is that men are able to shop without being approached or made to feel uncomfortable. But because I am a woman, I cannot shop in peace.
To help build a world where more stories end with bystanders as supportive as this Target employee, donate to the “I’ve got your back” campaign. Only 11 days to go!
My story is not as traumatic as some of the others, but it affected me greatly in two ways. First, we live in a small town, where, mostly, people are friendly and polite. More importantly, my young daughters and their friend witnessed it – not the way I want them to know the world.
We often ride bikes to a local convenience store to get some exercise and a frozen drink. The girls (ages 10 and 13) and I like to sit in front of the store to rest and watch cars go by. We each pick a color of a car and count the passing cars to see who tallies the most. Innocent summer evening fun. Since it’s a friendly community, the girls often wave to cars and vice versa.
One day the girls waved to a pickup truck with a young couple inside. The male driver yelled “Slut” at them. The girls looked at me and asked what he said. I told them he yelled “Squirt”, but they didn’t believe me.
The incident came up quite a few times over the next week. They don’t understand why somebody could say something so hurtful to them. I said that he was probably hurtful and rude to many people. My youngest daughter said “he wouldn’t have yelled at a boy. And if he did, if we were boys, he would have picked a different word. Boys can’t be sluts.”
It upset me that in this crucial phase when they are learning what it will mean to be a young woman, instead of a little girl, that they already have encountered a man who is disrespectful to women.
To help build a world where being a woman isn’t defined by being yelled some rude thing by some drive-by creep, donate to the “I’ve got your back” campaign.