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I’ve been a fan of Hollaback for about a year now, and I finally decided to share a story. There are so many experiences of harassers getting away with their words and/or actions, and leaving the victim feeling powerless and trapped. However, I am happy to say that this is a success story!
I work in an industrial neighborhood in the East Bay, California. Every morning, I take a walk in about a one-mile radius from my workplace. There is a tow-truck company whose trucks frequent the area quite often, as their headquarters are nearby.
Beginning around October of last year, there was one particular driver for the company who, everytime he saw me walking, would blare his horn. A shrill, jarring, airhorn-like sound. Truck horns are designed to startle someone in an urgent situation, and naturally when this first started occurring, I would immediately look towards the sound to see what was happening. When I looked, the driver would have this grin across his face that felt so… Invasive. Sometimes he would wave, as well. My standard reaction was to flip him off, but that wasn’t satisfying the need to make him feel the way that he made me feel. Cornered, on display. I should throw in that this would always happen when he was driving by (in motion), and never when he was stopped. Big surprise, I know.
A few months later, another driver for the company started honking, grinning, waving, etc. as he passed. This happened several times. Everytime an instance occurred with this company, it was one of those two drivers. They were always in separate vehicles, never together at the same time.
So, I began to recognize my options. I thought about notifying the police, but I then realized that harassment in the workplace is taken much more seriously, internally speaking. If a company discovers that one of their employees is harassing others inside or outside of the workplace, there are often serious repercussions. I decided to call the company.
I immediately- but non-confrontationally- asked to speak to a manager. I told the receptionist that I had been experiencing harassment from two of their employees for approximately four months, and that I was fairly confident the company was unaware that this was happening. The woman I spoke to seemed to understand the urgency, and transferred me to the manager’s phone line. He was not in the office, but I did seize the opportunity to leave an in-depth message. I addressed everything that had happened with the honking and smiling, and let him know how these actions affected my feelings and sense of safety. I noted the times that these instances occurred, and the drivers’ appearances.
I never did receive a phone call back from the company, but I am ecstatic to say that not one single harassment incident, from either driver, has occurred since. I still see the same drivers when I go for a walk, and they will look, but will not say or do a thing. In fact, the majority of the time, they can’t even look me in the eye anymore.
People need to know that they CAN make a difference. They DO have the power to change things. They need not be afraid to use their voice and take action. The harassers do not have any more power than those who are harassed, and this story proves that those who choose to victimize others will endure justified consequences, if we speak up!
The guy in the photo below decided that he wanted to talk to me at the cafe that both of us happen to be at twenty minutes ago so he said hi. I ignored him, he said hi again then a few more times. I ignored him & stayed focused on the book I was reading. He said, “ok,” then started waving he hand in my face to get my attention. I still ignored him. Then he touched me on the shoulder while laughing & said ok. I then said, “Fuck you.” Then I walked to the barista and complained. She said, “he’s a regular, he’s here all the time but I’m sorry that that happened & I’ll tell the guys (that work there). And I took his photo & said that this is for Hollaback. He left the establishment.
I have experienced everything from whistling to someone aggressively forcing a conversation on me while I was walking somewhere.
The worst had to be the time I was walking to the grocery store. I was in work out gear and had head phones in when a car horn blares scaring the living daylights out of me. I look up and see some young guy hanging his head out of his friends car. We make eye contact for a split second and then he spit at me before the car drove off.
I was so caught off guard by the whole interaction. The only thing I could do was laugh, but nothing about the experience was funny. No one deserves to be degraded and made to feel scared.
My friends and I (a group of four 15 year old girls) were in the city (Perth, Australia) for literally 30 seconds before we saw a group of guys ahead leaning against pay phones staring at us and smiling in this malicious way. We got closer to them and they turned their heads to stare and smirk and made comments to each other. When they were behind us, I turned around and they were STILL staring!
The rest of the day went by without incident until we had to walk home from the train station at around 6pm. A car of men slowed down slightly as it passed us and a man said ‘heyyyyyyy’. As it drove away, i yelled ‘Yuck! Disgusting!’ loud enough for them to hear (it was a quiet street). I said to my friends ‘I hate that they do that’ and to my surprise one of my friends said ‘no, when I get a car I’m going to do that’. I was upset that she, who had only 30 seconds ago been harassed, would do this to other people. I tried to explain why it was wrong but she didn’t change her mind.
When I walk around in the streets of Kingston, Jamaica, I often hear men and boys say “Pssssssssssst” I usually keep walking and try not to look at them but once my friend had shouted, “Are you losing air?”
I was walking to class when I reached the 12th and Jefferson bus stop. Two men were blockig the sidewalk behind the bus stop shelter, and there was a crowd of people in front of it. I walked by and they immediately started looking me up and down, whistling, making gross kissing noises, and catcalling. No one said anything. I looked at them and said “don’t talk to me.” One started to follow me to class and I called the campus public safety. I was victim-blamed for being “a beautiful woman.”
While jogging, I was video tapped, cat called and followed for about 10 minutes. Infuriating!!
I was pumping gas at the local Chevron station when I heard someone say “Do you work out?” Then I heard someone else say, “Yeah, she works out.” I turned around and saw two men in their 30’s I’d say, leaning out of their windows staring at me and smiling and laughing.
I said, “Are you talking to me?” they said “Yes,” and I said, “Don’t talk to women like that, it’s disrespectful,” and they said, “No, it’s not,” and I said, “I’m sorry that your socialized masculinity has robbed you of your humanity,” and they said, “We’re just being guys,” and I said “I know, that’s what I said, you’re so busy being a ‘man’ you forgot to be human,” and one of the guys ACTUALLY STARTED BARKING AT ME LIKE A DOG.
I guess the point was that I was being a “bitch” by daring to question their right to harass me freely. Or that they were lusting animals. Then the other guy said, “Were just being men and you’re a women,” and I said, “I’m just being human and you’re not.” They drove off laughing. As I type this, I’m STILL SHAKING WITH RAGE. The entitlement of these men was so insulting. Even more heartbreaking is the way they slandered all males with their “boys will be boys” excuse for their bad manners and entitlement. Males like that give “men” a bad name.
I was taking an hour-long walk and enjoying the long overdue sunshine. It was a really zen and beautiful moment for me. I got close to a hawk that was on a low branch on my college campus and thought about how much I love animals because they generally don’t bother people. I’d been honked at already by three male drivers I’d mistakenly made eye contact with. It startled me and made me angry every time.
I was halfway back to my apartment when a guy started revving up his motorcycle at the sight of me. I rolled my eyes while crossing the intersection and he yelled, “Tryin’ to get raped?!”
He continued yelling things at me until the light changed. Blood was rushing too loud in my ears for me or hear the rest. All I keep thinking is that I hope his fragile ego overtakes him and he dies in a wreck of his own causing.
On my 12 minute walk to and from work, I get 5 honks per day on average. It’s a frustrating experience, and a horrible way to start and/or end my day. I wish I could tell which cars they come from when traffic is heavy so I could tell them how disrespectful and disgusting it is.