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For years I was continually getting “flashed”—in parking lots, libraries, through a window I happened to pass! This happened every couple years from the time I was 14 or 15. My typical response was shock, shame, disgust, and humiliation. I’d bury my face in my hands and walk quickly away.
At one point I’d had enough. I was in my 30’s (pathetic that it took so long, I know) walking down the street of my home town (to a therapy appointment no less) and this guy across the street in an alley was standing naked holding his overcoat wide open. This time a rush of rage and a power that made me feel like the Medusa welled up in me and I started yelling at the top of my lungs: “How dare you do that to me, you stupid shit! You are sick! For heaven’s sake GO GET HELP!!” He shut up his coat in a flash, spun around, and walked away as fast as he could. I was breathless and shaken when I got to my therapists office and he didn’t seem to understand why I was so upset. I should have called him a stupid shit.
The weird thing: I was NEVER “flashed” again.
This 58 year old loves your website advocating hollering back–and is so heartened to see young women get pissed. Yell your heads off girls!
Submitted by Barbra
On the day before thanksgiving, a man walks up the window of the shop where my sister works and exposes his erect penis. She is traumatized by this event and we discuss the incident last night over drinks at our local bar. As we’re leaving the bar, the SAME pervert walks by and exposes himself again to her (and me and a few of our friends). It’s around 1am, but this is a busy street in Brooklyn and there are several other people around. We shout and yell at him that he’s a worthless piece of s*@t and make a huge scene but he just walks away backwards and nonchalantly with his erect penis out. None of the other witnesses (all male) say or do anything.
Submitted by Shannon
Ug. I can’t believe it. I got on the red line at Park Street and noticed this mentally ill older man right across from me. I noted how he was talking to himself, pounding his library book on his lap and shaking his head. At MGH a young woman got on our train car in a jean skirt with no tights (brrrrrrrrrr!) and he just became fixated on the poor woman. Staring at her. I drifted into my own world. As we are pulling into Central Square I see that he’s held his book up over his crotch and is fidgeting with something. I was shocked. When I stood up to get off (thankfully this was my stop), I confirmed that he had unzipped his pants. I didn’t look long enough to see what he was doing down there. I totally admire that woman in NYC. I talk back to cat callers and never hesitate to speak my mind, but I was literally paralyzed. Maybe if it hadn’t been my stop I could have gotten myself together enough to call him out in the same way or get a photo, but I am happy to have just gotten away from the situation right away. His mental instability was a bit scary too. Now I’m left feeling utterly disgusted and violated. Man…
Submitted by Anna
This morning I was waiting at the bus stop, on my way to work, when a skeezy looking dude sat near me. Out of the corner of my eye I could see that SOMETHING was going on. When I looked, he had everything out and was, shall we say, choking the chicken. I was the only person around. For a moment I was just shocked and didn’t know what to do, but then I remembered reading about street harassment and how important it is to react. So I did. I yelled and caused a scene. Sadly, no one else witnessed my brilliant display of swearing and gesticulating, but anyway, he left. I only wish I had said something clever about his pathetic willy.
I have had people yell out of car windows, make comments while walking next to me (‘do you like wearing g-strings?’ – I held eye contact and didn’t say a word until he freaked out and crossed the road) and all the rest of it happen to me, but I’ve never seen someone actually whip it out and give it a tug. Truly, what the hell?
Submitted by Sarah
I’ve been reading Hollaback and I’ve been holla-ing back daily at harassers for over a year now, but this is the first time I’ve written to tell my own experience.
Every morning on my way to work, I cut through the J. Hood Wright park on 173rd and Haven Ave to walk up to the GW Bridge to catch the bus. This morning, I was walking to work minding my own business through a mostly empty park, when two jerks sitting on a bench started yelling at me, “Hey baby, lookin good this morning” (or something to that effect). Without stopping, I shouted, “Don’t call me baby, asshole,” and continued walking through the park. The guys then started screaming things back at me such as, “You ugly bitch, fuck you! You need to go get fucked you stupid fucking bitch!” I never turned around, but gave it right back to them as I kept walking, telling them to F off.
I was coming home from work at 5PM, and I saw a large group of guys sitting on the same bench. Since I had never turned around this morning to look at the jerks, I couldn’t tell if they were the same guys. I was really, really hoping that they hadn’t actually sat on the bench all day, waiting for me to come back. But when I walked by, I heard one say, “I’m gonna fuck that bitch in the face,” but again I was just hoping they weren’t referring to me. Then after I left the park and was walking down 173rd street, I hear, “Hey bitch!” behind me. I turned around and this guy had followed me out of the park and was yelling, “Fuck you, bitch! If you ever disrespect me and my friend again, I’m gonna fuck you up!” I walked right up to him and took the photo below with my camera (sorry such bad quality – I have a really old phone so I had to take a picture of my phone with my boyfriend’s iPhone to get it on my computer). He then proceeded to say “Oh yeah? Why don’t you take a picture of this, bitch?” at which point he pulled his pants down, bent over, and mooned me.
At this point, I was beyond furious. I was so disgusted, I actually thought I might vomit. I had luckily seen a police van across the street, so I walked as fast as I could to get them. There were 3 cops (2 women and 1 man), who told me to get in the van, and drove me back to the park. We walked past the bench and around the area a little, but of course, the asshole was nowhere to be found. The cops were so amazingly understanding – they even drove me around the neighborhood for about 15 minutes looking for him. They told me if I saw him again, I could call 911 and he would be arrested. They drove me back to my apartment a few blocks away, and even walked me inside my building. I’m so thankful that they took me seriously and made sure I got home safely.
This experience today has left me very shaken up. Even though I know I can get him arrested if I see him, what if I don’t have that chance? What if he attacks me first? Street harassment is absolutely about exerting power over people. When I denied his advances this morning, this guy felt the need to wait for me all day long so that he could make sure I knew that he still had control over me. I can only hope that if his friends tell him that I came back to the park with the police, he will be scared enough not to mess with me again, instead of pissed off enough to mess with me even more.
Thank you so much, Hollaback, for providing this forum for us to tell our stories.
Submitted by Marianne
My friend and I were riding the 6 train downtown together. As we’re chatting, I feel something brush on my backside. I thought that someone was bumping into me cause the subway conductor was breaking every two seconds and people kept falling over and losing their balance. But, there was something about this that was different. It was really low on my backside and it was warm. I look and the guy behind me has a fucking ERECTION. It was right up against me. I freak out inside, but I’m trying to remain calm. I look at him, he had his head turned away from me
I was in the middle of talking when this all happened. I immediately stop what I was saying and turn to my friend and said (loud enough for the guy to hear) “can we SWITCH POSITIONS?” my friend switches with me, so now my friend is next to this guy. The guy gets off at the very next stop, and my friend asks me why I look so nervous. I whisper to him what happened and he was disgusted and angry, not to mention really weirded out. We both noticed that the man was wearing these blue shorts that had “pockets” but instead of fabric is was just a hole that showed his skin, and the man was clearly not wearing underwear.
I’m cat-called every day of my life. I take it as a part of living in this city. I literally cannot go out by myself without getting lewd looks or comments, most of the time by men who are old enough to be my father. What is saddening is that I am used to this. I should not have to “get used to this”, because men should never be doing this to begin with. This was my first ever physical encounter with one of these creeps. In the end I felt like I needed to take a shower.
Submitted by Susanna
Dear HollaBack and all you women who like to chill in Central Park this summer,
I want to warn you about a wanker I encountered this past weekend:
On Saturday afternoon, I went back to a really lovely spot on the shore of the lake just a few paths in from the West 77th Street entrance — plenty of rocks to climb and sit upon to read or watch the water. There’s an area at water-level where I sat down to read — people were nearby on other rocks and plenty of rowboats were out on the lake, but people kept coming and going in my immediate vicinity. After awhile, this dude sat down a couple rocks away from me and took out an electronic device — this didn’t seem weird to me, since I’d noticed plenty of people come and go with cameras, take some photos of the lake, and leave, but I couldn’t figure out if this device was a camera or not. The dude set it in his lap and stayed there for a while, and then moved to a rock right next to me slightly higher up and straddled it, with the device still in his lap. I gave him a dirty look and shifted a little farther away from him when one of his legs was only a few inches away from my head, but otherwise stayed where I was — why should I have to be the one to move? I was there first, and I was absorbed in my book, so I ignored him, figuring he was just trying to find the most comfortable place to get settled, as I had done when I’d first arrived.
After a few more minutes, he moved again, this time to a rock a few feet away, kitty-corner to mine. I thought it was weird that he sat down facing me instead of facing the lake, but again I didn’t say anything, because he wasn’t actively bothering me and I just wanted to keep reading my book. Still, I was trying to figure out what his device was, because I’m paranoid about strangers taking photos of me without my knowledge, so I wanted to be sure it didn’t have a camera — but every time I looked up, I accidentally caught his eyes through his sunglasses, and he just stared creepily back at me. Of course, that part was not a new experience — dudes staring creepily — but I was physically comfortable where I was, relaxing into my first days of summer . . . so despite the slightly uneasy feeling I got, I just chalked it up to him being an awkward dude, your usual guy on the street/subway/wherever who stares but at least doesn’t say or do anything about it.
The next time I glanced up, though, I saw that HE HAD HIS DICK OUT. His pants were all the way open, and he was hard and jerking off fast. What. The. Fuck! It was so unexpected and repulsive, all I could do was make a horrified/disgusted face, grab my things, and get the hell away from there as quickly as possible. I was extremely shaken up, so freaked out that I couldn’t even scream at him or tell anyone else nearby what was happening. I just left the park as quickly as possible, called a couple of friends to calm me down, and didn’t stop walking until I’d walked dozens of blocks back to my apartment. How long had he been doing that and I hadn’t even noticed? What kind of person thinks that is remotely okay to do? I felt disgustingly violated, and still wish I could get the nauseating image of his face and his dick out of my head. Part of me started blaming myself for not moving the hell away from there from the moment I noticed that he was sitting on rocks closer to me than any polite person would, and then another part of me has been trying to shut that voice up ever since: There is no excuse for what that dude did. I had every right to be where I was, quietly reading in my own personal space, and he had no right whatsoever to take my presence as a woman as invitation to pull his dick out and wank in front of me.
I just hope that letting other women know about him will prevent this dude from violating anyone else. Assuming that he frequents the park to do this (which of course I have no way of knowing), I hope that somebody will catch him at it and have the power to do something about it. He was a tall, white, brunette, thirtysomething dude in shorts, wearing sunglasses and carrying an Insignia DVD Player (which I finally figured out did not have a camera), if that helps at all. If a dude sits near you when obviously there are other places to sit, I hope you have the voice I didn’t to tell him to move the fuck away. I assumed the best in this dude — that he was just an awkward guy trying to get comfortable on a nice day in the park — when really there are way more creeps who actually think it’s okay to pull their dicks out and do this in public, in front of or even on women. I know there are decent men in this world, but (from my own experiences and from reading other infuriating HollaBack posts here) this city keeps trying to prove me wrong.
Thank you so much for this forum to share my experience, even if you don’t end up posting it on the site, although I really hope you will. (I know it’s kind of long, but I couldn’t figure out how to write about it all more succinctly!)
Submitted by Sarah
Two days ago, I was walking to my car after work. A man was walking down the sidewalk in parallel, and I noticed him because he was staring at me intently. I didn’t feel comfortable, so I waited for him to pass before I continued to the parking lot. When I reached my car, I saw he had stopped at the parking lot entrance, unzipped his pants, and was shaking his penis at me, making sure I was watching.
Frankly, I’ve seen this enough times in my life that it doesn’t shock me anymore. And I’ve found it’s better not to react – men who do this seem to revel in the attention (although one time when it happened in a safe public place, I did yell out to people nearby to check out the man with the small penis – that shamed him pretty quickly! I would not recommend this in all situations, but boy, was it satisfying).
So I got in my car, followed him down the street, then slowed down long enough to take the attached picture. I didn’t really care if I got a clear shot; I just wanted him to think I did. In fact, I never thought I would even look at the photo again.
But now I can do something with this photo. Even if it’s never posted, it’s heartening to know there are people who take this seriously and are doing something about it. So thank you. Please keep doing what you’re doing!
Submitted by Erin
Reprinted from Metro New York, written by HOLLAhero Amy Zimmer:
Georgia Warren felt “disgusted” with what she witnessed on a Brooklyn-bound N train as it pulled into Pacific Street around 8:45 p.m. on Feb. 1: A man shoved his crotch against a woman and touched her shoulder. The man then walked toward Warren, but she shouted, “Don’t you f—ing touch me, you pervert.”
She alerted the conductor as two “good Samaritans” blocked the man from boarding another train. Police arrived 20 minutes later but said they couldn’t do anything because the man was “crazy,” Warren said. Despite subway PSAs encouraging riders to report lewd behavior, they didn’t take a report, she said. The victim left before police arrived, but Warren and another witness were willing to give statements.
“I just wanted to make sure this guy is not still out there touching people,” Warren, 24, said. “They released him — even as he fondled himself in front of them.”
Warren said the incident was reported to the Civilian Complaint Review Board.
The NYPD’s Transit Bureau chief last year said subway sexual harassment is the “No. 1 quality of life offense on the subway” and officers are required to take reports. The NYPD did not respond to requests for comment.
I was on the 7 train going into Manhattan a few weeks ago. The car I was in wasn’t very crowded, and there was plenty of room for people to sit, or at least not have to crowd each other while standing. I was sitting on the train playing on my iPhone when we suddenly went underground so I put my phone down and decided to look around the car and people watch. When I looked to my left, I noticed a man in his 30s standing in front of a girl who was sitting on the train. At first I didn’t think much of it, but when I looked a second time I noticed his sweatpants were pulled tight against his crotch. I looked again and saw that he was purposefully standing in front of the girl, pulling his pants tight against his erection. She was trying to look down at her phone to avoid looking at his thingy. I regret not taking his photo because I’m sure he’s done this to others.
Submitted by Alexandra