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Sooo… Sexual harassment was something I experienced since I was 13 years old. Leering, stupid comments, guys trying to hit on me (“Where do you live?”..wtf dude?), public masturbation, men who rub against me in the bus, licking their lips and making kissy noises at me, staring at my body…
Anyways, I was once in Paris visiting my father. We went to a big furniture store where you could have lunch. I got a salad and the salad sauce tube didn’t work, so I asked an employee for help. He took another employee with him to get a new one and they came over and helped me to push the sauce out…well, the sauce was white and of course, one of them turned to me and said, “Well you have to squeeze with passion to make the sauce come out!” And they started laughing in a dirty way. Maybe it wasn’t a big deal, but I felt embarrassed. I don’t think it’s okay to make sexist jokes to a seventeen year old girl.
15 years ago, when I was 15 years old, I got off my school bus and was walking home with my saxophone case in one hand. A young adult man came up from behind me and lifted my school uniform skirt. He looked me in the eyes to see my reaction, and when I started to chase him he started running. I had no chance to catch up to him, but I still ran for blocks. It was humiliating. People around me stared.
Later that year I was walking home from school. An older gardener man came up from behind me in his bike and grabbed my butt and sped off. I had no chance to even react. I felt muted.
It was a beautiful sunny day in my beach town of Isla Vista, CA, and I decided to go tanning with my boyfriend at Sands Beach, which is a decent walk from our apartment and not actually a part of the town. The beach was nearly deserted, so we walked up into one of the secluded sand dunes to go tanning as we usually do. I took my top off because I hate tan lines and there were hardly any people in sight; also it is impossible for anyone walking on the beach to see what is happening up in the dunes.
After an hour or so of peacefully lying there, my boyfriend looked up to see a scary looking man in his 40s crouching in a bush in a nearby dune and taking pictures of me. He immediately sprung up and chased after the creep, who ran away but was finally caught up to. He claimed to be the neighborhood watch (there is no such thing in Isla Vista) and said he was taking pictures to collect “evidence” of my apparent crime of being topless (a common occurrence at Sands Beach) and when my boyfriend demanded he delete the pictures, the guy made hollow threats to call the cops, tried to run away, threatened my boyfriend, etc.
Finally, my boyfriend had intimidated this sicko enough to convince him to delete the pictures off the camera while he watched, so luckily I don’t have to worry about them showing up anywhere. This occurrence is especially unsettling to me after the tragic events that happened here last weekend, and as a women especially, I have never felt less safe in Isla Vista. I hope things get better here soon.
Last Thursday night I was waiting at the bus exchange at Government Square in Cincinnati. A red sports car pulled up to the stop light right by the bus stop. A man in the back seat opened the door and gestured to me and the young woman sitting next to me to get in the car. He never said anything, just gestured. We both ignored him.
I was walking to work this morning, when I saw a guy sitting on a stoop smoking a cigarette watching me walk in his direction. I live and work in the city so I didn’t think anything of it, and continued walking like a normal person. As I got closer to him and was about to pass, he started whistling at me. So, without hesitation, I let out my best obnoxious bird call, “CAW-CAW!! CAW-CAW!!” to give him a taste of his own medicine. I doubt he’ll ever whistle at me again.
On a 12 minute walk, 3 men – all in separate cars – honked their horns at me, and a group of men on the back of a truck continuously commented on my physical appearance, referring to me as mango, pie, and yellow.
I was shopping for stationary in WHSmith and a male approached near to where I was. The magazine rack was just behind. He picked up a copy of Zoo magazine and browsed through the entire magazine stopping to focus on the topless women from time to time before placing the magazine back on the shelf and leaving the shop. He was only interested in the porn. Unwanted exposure to pornography is sexual harassment and this could be raised as such by the staff in this store under UK employment law
Driving home from work in my car, guys pull up next to me at the lights and begin yelling out the window (no actual words that I could hear, just loud noises, but intimidating). I stared straight ahead, not moving, not changing my expression, nothing. No reaction. So they began waving their arms at me, revving their engine and screaming ‘filthy slut’, among other things, for about a minute until the lights changed. They then sped off, screeching around the corner out of control, across two lanes.
Apparently can’t even drive my own vehicle now without being harassed with such anger and venom behind it. Btw, not that it should matter but I was wearing jeans/jumper. Goes to show harassment seems to happen purely because we’re female, no other reason. Clothing, time, place, doesn’t even matter. I’m sick of not feeling safe, absolutely everywhere.
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.