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I live in southern Colorado and until recently have not had to deal with much street harassment. I generally commute using my personal vehicle and therefore am not on on the streets very often. However, recently a friend and I have taken up jogging at the Riverwalk, a very pretty newer development to our downtown area. In the last couple of weeks, we have been honked at and whistled at by people driving past, which happens so quickly there’s no chance to respond. Yesterday though, I finally got a chance. We had just started our run when a group of about 6 boys standing around with their bicycles (yes, boys, maybe around 12-13 years old) began yelling at us from across the river. They were shouting to get our attention and doing the classic “my friend wants your number!” and other things I didn’t quite catch. My friend and I initially kept going, but then it suddenly dawned on me that I had my phone. So I stopped dead in my tracks and walked back over. I pulled my phone out and told them I wanted to take their picture. They got nervous looks on their faces and asked why. I started yelling back that shouting at women (my friend and I are in our 20s) was not appropriate and I was going to tell their parents what they were doing. They quickly ran behind some trees so I couldn’t get their picture. I then yelled at them, asking them if they were so big and tough to holler at women in public why were they hiding now? They got pretty quiet then and my friend and I continued our run. I didn’t feel threatened at all, but I did want to embarrass them by loudly calling attention to their inappropriate behavior to all the other pedestrians around. It must have worked, because we did not see them anywhere around again as we finished our run. One thing that did bother me, though, was that immediately afterward I felt like I needed reassurance that I had not overreacted. My friend was very supportive, which helped. But it wasn’t until I told the story to my husband and he agreed that my reaction was okay that I felt better about it. I knew in my head that I did the right thing in calling out harassing behavior, but it was uncomfortable to realize that the social pressure to stay quiet, not make a scene, etc. is still so ingrained. I don’t think this one incident will change the behavior of those boys overnight, but I hope that next time they will think twice and be nervous that their target will react like I did and not let them get away with it. I only wish I could have actually talked to their parents. Unfortunately, I suspect that as long as I continue jogging in public (which I fully intend to do) I will have plenty of opportunities to continue to hollaback.
I used to work in downtown San Francisco. As anyone who has lived or visited here knows, having a car is generally more trouble than its worth. I take the bus or walk everywhere. A big part of my commute every day was the 38L bus. This particular line is massively overcrowded during commute hours. I was on my way home from work and the bus was so crowded everyone standing was pressed up against each other. All the sudden I felt something rubbing up and down on my thigh. It took me a second to realize that this big guy standing behind me was slowly humping me. I started to move back further on the bus and try to get away from him. He followed me and started doing it again. I finally managed to slip off the bus at the next stop and waited for the next one. I’m lucky he didn’t follow me off the bus. To this day, I refuse to get on a bus that crowded if I can help it. I will wait for the next one if I can. When I have to take it no matter how crowded, I am hyper aware of everything going on around me and have had minor anxiety attacks until I can get off the bus.
I’m submitting this because I just remembered it when someone else’s story triggered it. I can’t believe I forgot it- I guess I think I tried to repress it because I couldn’t understand it.
It was 2004, and I was eleven years old. It was Christmastime, and my mom was taking me to Crocker Park, a large and very popular shopping center in our area. I became separated from her and was soon very lost in the crowds.
Then I saw a group of frat boys from a nearby college- they were all wearing sweatshirts with some Greek letter on it. I didn’t realize they were following me until the barking started. Now, six months before, I had become extremely sick, to the point of near-death. I was emaciated- you could see my heart beating through my clothes- and my face was swollen from Prednizone. I looked awful, and I knew it. So there I was, a prepubescent, very ill, and very lost girl, being followed and barked at by a group of very large frat boys. It was not so much frightening as humiliating. I tried to ignore them but started to cry a little bit- they finally got tired of their “game” and wandered off. When I at last found my mom, I wiped my face and didn’t say anything. I just tried to forget it.
I can’t imagine how those boys got off on hounding a little girl. I can’t imagine how I managed to repress that memory. But I’m glad that Hollaback exists so that I can get it off my chest.
One morning in August of last year, I was walking from the bus stop to my job when I’m about to pass this guy. Since I am harassed in some form almost on a daily basis, I’m a bit leery of him, so I walk across this parking lot in a nearby strip mall in order to get away from him. So he calls out to me, “Hey, baby!” I ignore him and keep walking and the asshole continues running his mouth, saying, “With them big-ass titties!” I continue walking with my head up high and my nose in the air and say nothing. I don’t even look at him. And he STILL runs his mouth, “OK, I’ll see you next time, baby!” I was so infuriated and felt so violated I wanted to bash his skull in, but I kept my cool and did not give him what he wanted: attention.
Street harassed 3 times
The first time I experienced harassment was 4 months ago, I it was summer time at about 8.45pm on my way back from the supermarket as I was waiting on the side of the road for the traffic to clear I saw this weird looking guy approach me, wanting to touch me — I had to put my shopping bag down and push him out to stop him from touching me and kept saying to him to Please go away and to leave me alone while I am waiting for the road to clear. I managed to cross the road and I was in tears because of the thing that just struck me. Ever since I’m becoming more aware of the street and to always look at my surrounding whenever I am walking alone. Just as the uneasy feelings started to go away the 2nd harassment happened about a month ago. I was walking home from my bus stop to my apartment at about 7pm when a guy from across the the street started yelling at me for no reason.. I try to ignore him and kept on walking until this crazy guy crossed the road and started to follow me home. Being aware that someone followed me, I started to run and luckily there was a car coming and it had slowed him down and I managed to get into my apartment building just in time.
3rd harassment happened today, I came out from work at 5pm walking on the CBD street with 4 friends and somehow this guy came out from nowhere and growled at me…
At this point I feel very vulnerable and I keep wondering why is this happening to me? what would the best way to prevent this from happening in the near future? sometimes the thought of what if it gets worse compared to all of the experiences I had above freak me out .. I always dress down and avoid to making eye contact with strangers and yet it doesn’t seem to work. However, sharing this story makes me feel slightly better.
This happened when I was 13, and the memory’s stayed with me since. I was at my school camp, taking canoe lessons with the rest of the class. The canoe instructor, who was next to me, kept leering and saying things like, “You’re so pretty, what’s your name?” Being 13 and painfully shy, the only way I knew how to deal with it was ignore him.
I thought he’d just go away. Instead, he said, “Come on, I’m not going to bite you,” and grabbed my left arm and actually bit me. It wasn’t a deep bite but it was repulsive. He then proceeded to, what I now understand in retrospect, hump his canoe.
When I told my teacher about this, she brushed me off and said, “Oh, they’re just fooling around. Don’t take it so seriously.” Well, it was frightening, disgusting, and even now, 8 years later, those feelings are still with me.
People should never brush off sexual harassment just because it’s too troublesome to deal with it, or just because nothing seriously illegal was involved!
This happened a few years ago, and it still bothers me.
My cousin and I were walking down the street, sure it was dark, but not really that late. Not that it matters. We’re walking down a pretty residential street, and are literally 2 houses down from her front door. We had been out to get a bottle of wine for a big family dinner, and they all were waiting on us inside. This guy walking towards us goes right between us, bends down and grabs both of our crotches. And then just keeps on walking like nothing happened. He might have even been whistling. We were speechless, and before we walked through the front door, agreed to not say anything. Her parents would have flipped, and we just wanted to get over it. I still feel pretty violated when I think of it, and can’t believe that it even happened. What made him think it was okay to do that? How many other women has he done this to? So disgusting.
I had been a Peace Corps Volunteer in rural Morocco for about nine months and had been putting up with all kinds of harassment: groping, cat-calls, even a stalker. Once a man asked me, in Arabic, “how much?” as I walked past him, thinking I wouldn’t understand. Everyone I talked to about it kept telling me to ignore it, but this was easier said than done.
One afternoon, while walking home from work at the youth center, I heard smooching and kissing noises waft toward me from across the street. I looked up to see a skinny punk kid, maybe 15-years-old, smiling at me, then continuing to make the noises.
I don’t know what it was about this PARTICULAR incident, but I lost it. Before I knew what I was doing, I had stormed across the street and was in his face yelling at him in Arabic. “Why do you do that? Do you think I like it? What would your mother say? I’m a nice girl and you’ve never even met me.”
The kid was so bewildered, he just kept saying “I’m sorry” over and over again. At the moment I felt like I had done some good in making at least one kid understand that this kind of behavior isn’t okay, but it just wasn’t enough. I eventually left Morocco under severe stress from constant harassment.
Yesterday (Sunday, June 5th 2011) I was at a party at the Angelic Pretty store in San Francisco. Angelic Pretty is a brand of Japanese “lolita style” clothing–basically, frilly dresses worn with lavish accessories and cute shoes and bags. Periodically they have parties for their loyal customers. There were about 25 girls and women ranging in age from 14 to 47 wearing frilly dresses playing party games like Old Maid and candy toss, drinking tea and lemonade and eating pancakes with fruit. Sounds pretty innocent right?
Yet some creep came up to the front door of the store and stared at us, then started taking pictures of us without asking. I unfortunately don’t have a pic to go with this story because my bag was halfway across the room and when he saw that we had noticed him, he ran off, but the girl sitting next to me, one of the girls he snapped, was FOURTEEN. What a creep. I didn’t let it ruin my day, but it’s always a great experience to be having a fun time with other women and be reminded that there are people in the world who view us as consumables. He’s lucky my parasol wasn’t in reach by the time I got to the door.
Unfortunately this is an all too regular occurrence here in Spain. On my way to work this morning, a taxi driver in a registered city cab slowed down to practically kerb crawl the pavement I was walking on and spout inappropriate sexual noises and comments at me. The street was ‘one way’ so I walked behind the cab, crossed the road and continued walking. He was going in the direction I was so he then waited higher up the road on a corner, stopping the cab to ogle me.
I showed him the middle finger as I passed behind his car again and continued with my journey walking away from him. He started shouting “Fea, fea!” (Ugly, ugly) out of his window and across the street at me. In the space of a minute I had gone from ‘sexy and gorgeous’ to ‘ugly’ in his eyes.
I shouted back that he was disgusting and had no respect.
This type of bullshit happens on pretty much a daily basis out here in Madrid and it usually comes from a generation above mine (40-60 year old men). In the last few months, I have decided to “hollaback”; inspired by the movement after an American friend of mine out here told me about it.
The last time I holla’d back before today I got called a c***. It seems you are expected to take this crap but should you even have the ‘audacity’ to respond negatively to these creeps, you get verbally abused.
I wished I had taken his photo and will do so the next time it happens. I will also report such events in the future.