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
This little man apparently wanted to have a measuring contest with my horse. He lost.
Submitted by Kit
This guy (in camo) has pulled out his penis twice & displayed it to our sidewalk sale and children.
Submitted via cell phone
July 16th. Sat in the park on the grass. Man came up and sat behind me and pulled his penis out and stared at me. I responded by yelling at him and leaving.
July 16th. Going into my apartment, man blocked my path and asked me if I was looking to get pregnant tonight. I told him, “No, I’m looking to walk down the street with some amount of dignity. Do you have a problem with that?” Man responded that “Obama is president.” I responded, “ Say something to me when a black woman is president. And then I ranted about rape and harassment. “ Man responded, “I wasn’t trying to start a rap off, I was just playing, sorry. “ Friends stood laughing looking kind of surprised at me.”
July 17th: Man followed me around the good will licking his lips at me. I finally turned to him and yelled “ What?” He did not respond but gave one last gross lip licking look up and down and then left.
July 18th: I sat with a friend at a table outside a café eating a salad. An older Russian man with a cane walked by and stopped in front of my table. He turned to face me, pointed at me then to himself and in broken English said, “ You like to me. I like to you.” I did not respond in anyway. He repeated himself once, louder, and pointed to me and himself again, in case I did not understand. I still did not respond. Then he smiled and waived and kept walking. (I admit, this is not really “sexual harassment.” This is just odd.)
July 19th. Walking down the street. Young man clicks his tongue at me like I am a small animal, says in a very sexual voice, come here cuttie, holds his hand out as I pass in front of him repeating, come here, come here, come here sexy, in high pitched tones…like I am a small animal.
Submitted by Chavisa
Well, this post is about 30 yrs too late, but it was a supreme case of harassment. And nowadays, I’d probably be cited.
I was pregnant with my son at the time taking my alcoholic aunt who had a massive hangover into Manhattan to work. We were at the Borough Hall Station waiting for the train when I had this feeling behind me. Sure as hell, there was this moronic creep exposing and stroking his personals.
My profession at the time was a dancer in the wild and wooly world of topless/bottomless, so this was not a new sight. However, due to the dangerous times we lived in then, before the city got glitzified , to this end I used to carry a small can of red spray paint, along with a few other necessities to ward off overly confident morons who might follow me home after work. Reaching into my coat pocket, I turned around and sprayed this clown’s action, chased him down the platform screaming at him as he jumped on a train going the other way.
The T.A. guy thought it was hilarious, but warned me not to do that again as I might get hurt in response. I was so freaking pissed off. I used the spray paint as it was a good way to identify predators and a bitch to get off or explain. The City was so much more fun then. I miss it.
Submitted by M
One guy on the R Train has a subway map and pretends to be lost. He asked my friend I for directions and we both noticed his fly was down and he was exposing himself. We first thought it was accidental. We told him we didn’t know how to get to where he was asking, so he then stood across from us leaning on the car doors and still exposing himself. Our stop was next and we got off. We were too appalled to snap a picture and we both were hoping it was an accident and he wasn’t a perv.
A couple weeks after this I was on the R Train by myself. I got up to get off at my stop and as I was stepping out I saw out of the corner of my eye the same guy in the next train doing the same gig with the map. I reached for my phone and went over to the car he was in, but I wasn’t quick enough. I’m basically on a mission to catch this creep. Both times I saw him on the R train it was in the evening.
Submitted by Danielle