demonstration

AG’s Story: “In order to pay my bills, I have to be subjected to this patron for the rest of the season.”

I was on post at my job when an middle-aged gentleman proceeded to take his rolled up race program and slap my left buttcheek with it.  Earlier in the day, he grabbed my wrist to look at my tattoo but I thought nothing of it at the time. I just dismissed him as another drunk patron.

But after the newspaper incident, I immediately reported him to my supervisor who took over 40 minutes to return with a security guard. The guard went over to the man (who was kicking back, drinking beer in his lawn chair next to his wife) and asked him his side of the story. I then watched the security guard and the man exchange laughter/guffaws while looking in my direction.

I took my break to calm down and came back to my post to hear from my co-worker that the gentleman in question came over to apologize to me. He also informed my co-worker that he was an off-duty police officer.

I had to let him through my turnstile for the rest of my shift whilst being subjected to his leers. We don’t have HR on site where we work, so my complaint is lost in translation with our NYC office. In order to pay my bills, I have to be subjected to this patron for the rest of the season.

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demonstration

Jackie’s Story: “What gives them the right to make me feel uncomfortable just because I’m a girl?”

My friend and I went to the U2 concert. At the concert there was an inner ring that was pretty crowded and sort of like a mosh pit. My friend and I, being the stupid 16 year olds we are, decide that we just wanted to walk through from one end to the other to see if it was worth standing in there. It was really crowded and we quickly decided that once we found our way out of the ring we would not come back. But as we were walking through we pushed past three boys that were probably about 17. My friend was walking first so she didn’t see it but all three of the boys stared at us in a really creepy way that made me feel uneasy. Then as I was getting past the last boy he grabbed his crotch and gave me this look as I stared at him in repulsion. Needless to say I pushed my friend a little faster and said KEEP GOING when she tried to stop right after we passed them. The three boys heard me say this and started laughing like it was all some big joke. I felt like crying. What gives them the right to make me feel uncomfortable just because I’m a girl? I wish someone would have seen and done something. I wish I would have done something. Because that was no joke and it was not okay.

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Nikki’s Story: Harassment turned into an opportunity

I was walking from my car to campus with two friends when I saw about 4 men fixing a roof nearby. Not long after, we began hearing things like, “hey ladies”, “Heeeey mama!” and the like. I used it as an opportunity to tell my friends about Hollaback! (they hadn’t heard of it). It was a great way to avoid the situation AND educate a few more people about this amazing site.

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Kitty’s Story: “It would have been bad enough alone, but I was with my little girl”

Walking back home through the park at 6pm, with my 2 year old daughter, a group of men between 20 and 40- 4 in total sat drinking on a bench. One waved at me, then they began to shout at me ‘Slag’, ‘Slut’, ‘fat bitch’, ‘fucking slut’ etc. It would have been bad enough alone, but I was with my little girl. I didn’t respond, just ushered her out of the park with a heart heavy with the knowledge that this will no doubt happen to her some time in the future.

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Momo’s Story: “I was so embarrassed and humiliated because no one around me did anything”

This is the worst that has happened to me, (I seem to be a constant target of catcalls, and I don’t even dress sexy, like that should matter, just a shirt and jeans) and this happened to me 2 yrs ago at a bus stop. My car was not working at the time and was taking the bus. A drunk was walking towards the bus stop and I saw his lips move as trying to say something and I of course ignored him as I always do (since I have my headphones on) but this time this man had the audacity to stop in front of me to continue to try and talk to me while he touched & massaged his “baggage.” I had a long coat on, sunglasses, and headphones. Shocked and disgusted as he was only 2 feet away from me I immediately shoved him with the umbrella I was carrying as there was a possibility of rain that day…Looking back I wished I would have pushed him harder onto the street to make him fall onto oncoming traffic or hit his “baggage” with the umbrella to make him fall into fetal position. I was so embarrassed and humiliated because no one around me did anything and the one lady that was also waiting for the bus just 6ft away from me look up and down on me as if I did something wrong.

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Jovi’s Story: “I still feel like the real winner”

Okay so I’m a 14 year old girl from Washington and I just recently took a trip to New York for the FIRST time with my cousins & their friends. So it was my first day in New York and I was SO excited to go site seeing and to take a ride on the subway.  So as I was waiting for the subway this 30-something year old man kept staring at my cousins & her friends but then he stopped his wandering eye on me & started looking me up and down. It made me feel sick because that’s never really happened to me…I’m not saying that it doesn’t happen in Washington but I’ve never really noticed I guess. Well he stopped looking me up & down but then started staring at my legs & licking his lips, which I thought was hillarous because he kept trying to look to see if he could look up my dress which he obviously couldn’t cause I made sure I kept my legs crossed and I never really wear short revealing dresses. Anyway his friends were on the other side of the room so he walked right in front of me trying to look down my dress and still looking at my legs.  As he walked back in front of me with his friends he then said “Hey sexy!” and did a little shy wave knowing that my Aunt was near by. At that moment I felt so sick I didn’t know what to say or what to do because this had never happened to me!  Then it happened like it was fate my cousin stretched her legs out while he was walking & he was to busy staring at me like I was a piece of meat so then he FELL! I couldn’t help but laugh not from his pain but from the fact that my cousin had done this accidentally while I was tongue tied thinking what to say.  IT WAS DEFINITELY FATE.  He was so embarrassed even though he still stared at me and made gross remarks I still felt like the real winner as he left for his subway!

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Courtney’s Story: I don’t want a ride from you.

As an eleventh grader I waited at a bus stop on a busy street in full daylight. I saw a pickup drive in front of me and then, as the driver saw me sitting alone in my uniform, slam on its brakes. The truck pulled into an alley next to me and the driver hurried over to me, offering me a ride. He insisted it would be faster than the bus.

I was instantly amazed that this was happening to me. Did he think I was that stupid? I was terrified that someone with obviously harmful intentions was approaching me so brazenly. It was amazing, though, how simple his ploy was, and how he anxiously repeated the offer as if repetition would change my mind.

I pointed to the bus, now thankfully in sight, and told him no, over and over. He kept insisting. Finally I ignored him, since I had no pepper spray. The worst part was that I was afraid to reach for my cell phone to call for help. What if he had been armed, and decided he couldn’t risk help coming for me? Finally, as the bus pulled up, he gave up, hurried into his truck and drove away.

I can’t believe that this happened to me in broad daylight, in such a public location. Although nothing so frightening has happened to me since, the incident convinced me that none of us are ever quite safe.

I got some pepper spray and now carry it at all times.

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Ciara’s Story: “These creeps walk around with impunity, harassing and intimidating and victimizing people, yet confronting them means preparing for violence.”

I was on my way to the bus station today, walking behind a woman on her cell phone, when I heard a man say in a leering voice, “Well, hello, beautiful.”

The woman in front of me ignored him. She didn’t seem to notice that she was the target of his attentions.

“Hey!” He yelled, growing belligerent and glaring at her. “I’m talking to you!” She glanced over, fearful, and kept talking on her cell phone, trying to continue ignoring him.

Apparently satisfied with her reaction, the man snickered loudly and walked ahead of us. I was filled with rage and wanted to step in, yell at him to leave her alone (as I often wish someone would do for me), but I realized that I was one small woman in a secluded road behind the post office, and he was a large man who already didn’t care about women’s boundaries. For safety’s sake, I didn’t intervene, but I felt sick, sad and ashamed for my entire bus ride home.

I am normally on the receiving end of these encounters more than once a week. This time, I was not actually the target of sexual harassment, but seeing it happen to someone else was just as bad. What I wouldn’t give to be able to DO something without endangering my own life. These creeps walk around with impunity, harassing and intimidating and victimizing people, yet confronting them means preparing for violence. I hate to give them even more power by not stepping in, but what can I do?

The man met up with some of his buddies at the bus station. I snapped a photo from behind.

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Amy’s Story: Harassed at eight years old

After reading all of the stories here and realizing that this happens to other people, every day, I decided I might as well write down my own first experience.

About nine years ago I went on a trip out with my family to Ribchester – it was all good, we went to the museum etc etc. This part doesn’t really have much bearing on the story, it’s just a bit of context. Anyway, we stopped at a playground for a while because it was a sunny day. When I went through the gates into the playground, a group of about three or four boys stared me up and down – they can only have been about ten years old. One of them took it upon himself to tell me that I had “nice tits”. That was it for me, the day was spoiled. I continued to think it was my fault for wearing a vest – now I think about it, it was the heat of summer. It was really, really hot. And I have just as much a right as anybody else to wear what I like.

I was eight years old and these sorts of comments have been directed towards me constantly since then. It isn’t a compliment, it isn’t something I should be grateful for. It is sexual harassment and I am not going to take this shit any more.

Oh, and if I could go back to that point when I was eight and experienced my first harassment, I would tell that prick exactly what he could do. Age is no excuse.

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Anna’s Story: “[Harassment] doesn’t stop, it only gets worse.”

I live in Guatemala City and I cannot walk down the street alone without getting stares and comments. When I walk with my boyfriend, nobody ever says anything. But alone, every 2 or 3 men I pass on the street feels he has the right to call out to me, and it makes me angry and scared. Angry because it’s so disrespectful and they don’t have the right, and scared because as a woman walking alone, it could be so much worse than an obnoxious comment. I want to react, to call them out, but though I speak Spanish well (I’m from the States), I’m not so comfortable as to be able to challenge a random stranger on the street, especially since I can’t predict the way he’ll react. That feeling of powerlessness to call them out on their behavior puts me in an even worse mood. I tend to walk around on the street now *trying* to look angry enough to do some real damage in the hopes that it will scare some of them off. Today I finally lost my patience. I screamed the only Spanish-language obscenity I know at an employee of a fancy restaurant who called to me from the door, “Hola amor, where are you going?” (in English) It’s not the worst thing I’ve heard, but it’s what I get so many times a day it’s like a broken record. I’m not sure he heard, but the man on the street certainly did, which I felt a little bad about – it was not directed at him. And then not even 20 seconds later, a man on a motorcycle stopped at a light tried to get my attention with “ch ch! ch ch!” (The sound is used to get people’s attention here, and I cannot begin to fathom how many times I have heard it).   Still fuming from the last guy, I flipped him off as I walked by, and then when he sped by he yelled something angry at me. I know that my reactions were immature and probably not the best way to deal with it, but I actually felt a little better afterward. I don’t have the energy or the responsibility to explain to every man who catcalls me why it’s inappropriate and offensive. And most of them probably already know it anyway. I get so frustrated not being able to react, and today, I *was* able to react. I’ll work in better responses, but I’m proud of myself for not feeling helpless in today.

Reading the entries on this site have made me so angry about street harassment, and given mine more context, but it has also helped me feel stronger to do something about it. Ignoring it doesn’t work. It doesn’t stop, it only gets worse, and the people who do it will just keep doing it if nobody tells them off. If they think will get away with it, there’s no incentive not to catcall somebody. Even if you just scream something at them, they know at least that it’s not appreciated nor tolerated by their target and maybe, eventually, they start to think about that… hopefully.

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