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Everyday and everywhere women get harassed.
I would like to share three stories that happened to me on a daily basis:
1. I got out of the subway and went up the stairs that guide you to the street exit. While I was climbing up the stairs a 40′ year old man was going down, passed right next to me and touched slightly my buttock. I look behind to see his face and kept on going thinking to myself “it’s not worth it to say anything right now…just keep going”. A minute later, I felt a finger pressing between my legs and I saw him (so he came back, climbed up and touched me again!) I pushed him hard and screamed: “What the f**k man!” really angry! He looked at me and I saw a glimpse of a smile. At that moment I felt powerless and went away quickly.
2. I was walking down a street with a friend to school some years ago when I was still in high school. We saw a man walking in the opposite way, towards us. There was nothing suspicious about the guy until the exact moment when we crossed he came close to my ear and whispered “I would lick all of you baby, you’re so fine”. Again I felt powerless because I felt that I couldn’t even reply and defend myself even in a verbal way because he could attack us or hurt us…it’s frustrating
3. Me and two girlfriends were having a great picnic in a park next to the river. We were having such a great time eating our snacks and talking until we realised there was an old man sitting in the nearest park seat touching himself on his baggy shorts, clearly jerking off, looking our way! We decided to pack our stuff and go away. At that time I couldn’t help myself and started screaming so that everyone in the park would look at him and see what was going on instead of just passing by without saying a word. I screamed “What the f**k are you doing! go home! that’s disgusting! people look at this man, he is touching himself! don’t you have a daughter, a grandchild? go home! you’re disgusting!”
We live in a country where the freedom of speech is guaranteed but in the streets we don’t feel that. We have to shut up, put our earplugs, walk quickly, look behind each street corner and don’t reply on any comment.
A man rushed up behind me on the car park escalator and ejaculated all over the back of my dress then disappeared . I wandered the streets in shock.
Two weeks later a woman was abducted from the same location and driven to bush land raped multiple times then her throat was slit and she was left to die. She is still alive today.
I regret not reporting my incident as it may have prevented what happened to this woman.
BY EMILY MAY AND CATHERINE FAVORITE
Today Gawker featured the story of a woman who witnessed public masturbation on the subway – and the pictures she took in response. While we are happy to see Gawker highlighting the issue of street harassment, their analysis was off. Way off.
“Obviously, there’s no proof of lewd behavior in these pictures, just one woman’s story so, who knows, this guy could be innocent [emphasis added].
What is it with the media’s insistence that women’s reports of sexual violence are untrustworthy? It’s an old myth that stands in the way of progress. The FBI says that “unfounded” rape claims stand at 8%. But that tiny little 8% gives the media enough ammo to question all reports of sexual violence. Articles like Gawker’s tend to have a silencing effect on the rest of us, which is perhaps why 75-95% of rapes go unreported, making rape the “most under-reported crime” according to the American Medical Association. But why stop at questioning the victim? Gawker also offered the victim a little advice:
Also, it’s probably wise to contact the police before reaching out to a gossip blog when a crime has occurred.
Oh, Gawker. We know you’re DC-based so let’s fill you in on how this goes down. If you tell the NYPD, they might ignore you. If they don’t, you have to sit in front of a big black book of all the sexual offenders in the subway. If you don’t get totally freaked out and run screaming, you *might* find your guy. And then what? It’s a long, painful court process. No wonder victims turn to the internet for reprieve. And no wonder we have a robust “no coulda woulda shoulda” policy. Victims of sexual violence deserve to have whatever response makes sense to them most, because after all, it wasn’t their fault.
So Gawker, next time someone shares their experience of street harassment with you, perhaps you could politely suggest that gentlemen of the world refrain from public masturbation? It seems like good advice to us.
About 10 years ago (~2001) while I was living in Alexandria, VA, a friend and I decided to hit the Target store. I drove, and after parking we walked through the parking lot towards the store. As we neared the store, a car coming from our right slowed and stopped as we approached it I thought, “how nice, he’s stopping to let us pass in front of him.” How wrong I was. As we stepped in front of his car, I looked over to see the male driver with his penis out, masturbating madly with a huge grin on his face. I was still holding my keys in my hand, and I was so angry I acted without thinking. I jammed my keys into his car hood as we walked past, leaving a huge gouge in the paint all the way across. He didn’t do a thing…didn’t yell, didn’t honk, didn’t say a word, and we continued into a store. I still have fantasies about what I could have done with a can of pepper spray, given that his window was open!
I saw this man’s boner on my way home from work.
I noticed him touching himself in front of me on a crowded train (the Brooklyn-bound F around 6:50pm 6/27/11, between Jay St & 4th Ave.) and looked down to see his pants unzipped, with the shape of his hard penis sheathed in nothing but gray boxer briefs. He kept trying (unsuccessfully) to pull his shirt down over his “situation.”
I was shaking too much to say anything. All I could do was snap a photo. I regretted not speaking up the minute I got off the train. I even contemplated darting back on and yelling “Attention women on this train! This man has his pants unzipped and cannot keep his hand off his dick!”
As a woman, it’s an internal battle of wanting to call the asshole out while also not wanting to put yourself in danger. Clearly a man who’s deranged enough to touch himself in public is capable of worse.
At this point, all I can do is hope that he gets the exposure he deserves, someone braver than me recognizes him, and gives him a swift knee to the balls.
[UPDATE: This story has gone viral and was covered by the Village Voice!]
My 2 friends and I were sitting and talking at the Manorhaven Pool in Port Washington, NY …..The 3 of us are all Chinese-American with our kids nearby in the pool…A tall 6’4” drunk man came over and started harassing my friend who had earlier reprimanded him for trying to smoke in the pool area which is forbidden….He started asking about her ethnic origin: “Are you Korean? Are you Japanese, etc.?” and then he started to imply that if she was an illegal immigrant that he could possibly turn her in because he had “the power” and that she was someone “without power”…He flashed a badge and said that he was a Federal agent of some kind. My other friend and I watched him and waited for him to get bored and walk away ….meanwhile, I held up my cameraphone to him and took his photo (Thanks, Emily for making me feel fearless and quietly confident!)….
Later, he went away (he was there with his 2 daughters and maid and her daughter)…and started talking with the lifeguard….While he was chatting up the lifeguard, I went to the front desk and reported him…and they said they were aware and getting ready to close in on him…..
Thank you, Emily…I think in the past I would have felt more afraid and alone and embarrassed…. and somehow felt maybe I didn’t belong there and that maybe I had done something to bring this upon myself….It felt empowering to have my friends there at my side and all the other moms and their kids there….and knowing that I was not alone….There is safety in numbers…even if they weren’t all there, just knowing that what he was doing was called “harassment” and that he was the one in the wrong….and that other people would have reported him in the same situation was enormously comforting….. I will try to e-mail you his photo….
I was going to a friend’s birthday one night in a decent neighborhood and got a little turned around when I got off the subway. I walked around, trying to get my bearings and figure out where I was going. There wasn’t anyone around that I could see. As I was walking around, two guys were walking along the sidewalk towards me, obviously drunk. They started to talk to me, asking me nonsensical questions. (Nothing sexual, just weird, like “Do you like mermaids?”) When I wouldn’t respond, the one grabbed me by the arms and asked the question again. I looked him in the eyes and said, “DON’T you touch me!” He immediately let go, and they staggered off laughing.
I was so shaken up and taken aback by the whole incident. More than anything, though, I was proud of my gut reaction and forceful hollaback to let these guys know that what they did is totally and completely unacceptable.
I still do not remember how old I was, somewhere between 6 and 9. I felt safe; I was in a card store with my mom at the mall that I had been going to for years. It was familiar and I felt safe. A man and another person, I cannot remember if it was male or female, squeezed passed us as they were exiting the store while we were at the register. The man touched my genitals, I believe, without looking at me, probably to avoid detection. I didn’t even understand what was happening, let alone know what to do. I was holding my mother’s hand but she did not see and I never told anyone.
Luckily that is the only time I ever experienced physical sexual harassment. However, this is a lesson to parents that it does not matter the age of your child. They need to know that there are bad people that could hurt them and what to do in such a situation as the one I experienced. Just because you love your child unconditionally does not mean everyone else will keep your child from harm. Bad things CAN happen to them. Had my mother explained to me that if someone touches you in any way that you should scream or tell someone immediately, perhaps this pervert could have been caught and been stopped from hurting other children. That is something I still think about today. Are there other victims that he hurt in the same or even worse ways? Children need to know what to do! Otherwise perverts will continue to go undetected, able to hurt others, perhaps someone you love and cherish.
This is the first time I’ve ever had such an incident, although this occurred close to last winter, I am still weary of shopping near City Hall.
Some background info, I am 18 but look way younger than I am, I can still pass for 14 if I wanted to. What happened was, I was coming out of a store from shopping alone and was waiting at a corner to cross the street to get to another store, a 40-something year old man at the corner stared at me for a while an mumbled something about the weather, I smiled and thought nothing of it. He then turned to me to make even more small talk and then asked me if he could walk with me. At that point I got the bad feeling but since I was in a busy part of city hall an was heading into a store, I didn’t think to find help. In the store he kept on asking me questions and talking about himself, apparently he “works for google” and had just gotten a haircut down the street. After leaving the store, I headed towards a even busier street just in case, and he kept following me for 2 blocks after that, asking me more questions like “where are you from”, “where do you live”, “is your family here?”, “how many siblings do you have” eventually he asked if I had a boyfriend to which I said yes and he still had the nerve to ask for my number. After saying no, he finally left me alone.
Although my situation is nowhere as bad as the others, the key points that makes this not an innocent situation either is that this guy was obviously old and he did not know my age, I could have been 14 years old for all he cares and he would have still persisted in attempting to get my number. Any decent human being would know how suspicious it looks to follow a young girl around trying to get their number. Not to mention the specific questions he asked seemed to be trying to determine whether I was one of those Asian international students attending a school in NY on my own or not. He was the epitome of those creepers that try to take advantage of foreign students.
I was traveling for work and grabbing a drink at the bar next to my hotel. I was alone, so I was making conversation with a couple next to me for a while and everything was fine, then they left to go catch a concert. When the couple left, a man who had been next to us for a while started to talk to me. He seemed friendly enough but within 15 minutes he was grabbing my thigh and arm and trying to get me to go back to my hotel with him. I clearly told him I was married and NOT interested. I pushed his hand away and quickly got the bartender to get my check. While waiting for my check, he grabbed my leg and thigh again. I pushed him away he actually said “your husband doesn’t have to know, you’re in the big city now” Was this guy joking? I had pepper spray primed for action in my pocket. I paid and left the bar looking over my shoulder and ran into my hotel and told the hotel staff that I thought someone was following me and that I wasn’t expecting guests so not to call my room or anything if this guy had followed me. The worst part is that this man claimed he was a former NYC police officer working private security for some other company now. I was very distraught, I’ve never been harassed like that in NYC and I travel there for work all of the time.
I work in midtown east on certain days. I tend to walk around in the area to find a place to sit and have lunch late afternoons, most likely walking down 2nd ave in the 40′s. Today, as I round the corner of 40th and 2nd, there is a construction crew with some of the men up on a scaffold and a guy on the ground with a flag, warning people about the construction as they walk by. As I approach them, flag guy, already having spotted me and locking his sights on me from a few yards away, begins making loud, lewd comments directed at me as I walk towards them. It’s raining and I have my umbrella, so I turn my umbrella sideways to block his view of me as I walk by him. He, not knowing what to do then, actually shuts up. By this one action, I actually shut him down for a few seconds. My action was very pointed and very obvious. It confused him and threw him off his game. Ha! I’m sure most women just grit their teeth and bear it from him. Well, not today.
I go into a pizza place nearby, have my lunch and then exit. As I approach the construction crew on the return trip, flag guy sees me coming and is already warming up that loud mouth of his. As I pass I again turn my umbrella sideways blocking his view of me. This pisses him off. He says “Bitch!! Blocking me!! Fuckin’ bitch! All day long, baby! All day long!!!” I just continue on my way, but you know… I’m happy to have pissed him off and to have come up with just the thing to put a “dent” in his routine, even if only for a few moments.
I will take my camera with me to work next week and walk the same route again at lunchtime. If he is there and starts with the loud catcalling, which I’m sure he will, I am snapping a pic of him and will let him know that I’ll be posting it on a sexual harassment website. I fight these guys daily, and here is the next one on the list…. will keep you all posted.
I’ve lived in New York for several years, and am no foreigner to cat calls and general verbal harassment that follows me down the street often. One time, however, really sticks out in my mind. I was on the 1 train heading down towards Lincoln Center in the spring. I was going to try and rush tickets for the opera. I sat down on the subway in one of the seats that is only next to one other seat. As we passed each stop the seats were filling more and more, and eventually a man slumped into the seat next to me. He wasn’t a huge man or anything, but it was clear that he was taking up a lot of room- more room than necessary. What’s more, he was holding a pile of coats and jackets in his arms, which made him take up even more room. A few of the sleeves and edges of the jackets were spilling off of his lap and onto the edge of mine. I’m generally not a very controversial person- I usually would rather have myself experience a little discomfort than cause a confrontation, so I didn’t say anything to this man about his coats or the fact that he was taking up a little extra room on the seat. As I sat there, counting down the stops until I got to Lincoln Center, I thought for a moment that I felt something touch my leg- under my leg, under my thigh. I shifted uncomfortably, and wondered if I had imagined it. A minute or so passed, and again I felt something touching under my thigh, near my butt. This time I was sure there was something there. I turned to the man and simply yelled “HEY!” and he feigned confusion, but retracted his fingers and the coat edges that were on my lap, which I now realize were there to provide a cover for his hand moving underneath them. I remember sitting there next to that man seething with fury. I felt more angry in that moment than I ever have. Eventually I turned to him and said: What you are doing is ILLEGAL. He said: I don’t understand! I replied: AGAINST THE LAW. People were staring at us. I continued to sit in fury, and when the train came to a stop I stood up and got off even though it wasn’t Lincoln Center. I was close enough that I ended up walking the rest of the way, in a blind rage. By the time I got to Lincoln Center I was about 10 minutes too late in line, and I had no chance of getting tickets- this was really the salt in the wound. I’ve thought about that incident many times since and wondered what I should have done. I know am ready- if anyone ever is encroaching on my space I will not hesitate to say something. If someone ever gropes me on the subway again I will alert the conductor and ask that they call ahead for the police.
One of the worst parts about the incident was realizing that this man was planning it- He set out that day with an unnecessary number of coats, came onto the car, found a girl sitting by herself, and attacked. He has probably done this any number of times, and probably continues to do it to this day. Next time I’m fighting back by calling the police.
Once I found Hollaback, I started thinking of my experiences and found quite a few. There was one that I didn’t even see as harassment but now I see it has always stayed with me in the most negative of ways. This was very long ago but I feel this is the perfect way to talk about it. I was about 10 years old and was sent to a nearby store to get something needed to cook. As I walked, this guy on a bike stopped me and asked if I knew where a certain street was, I said “No, sorry” and continued on. He did this about 4 more times until I reached the store. Once I got out I took a different route home because of the fear he might catch up with me again–I felt very uncomfortable. Once I was pretty close to my house I thought I was free but he called out once again and said “Hey, look at this…” I looked toward him and realized he was flashing me—I couldn’t move, I felt horrible and though he did not approach me further I felt dirty. I finally got home and didn’t even know what to do–I knew something was wrong. I hated how he made me feel and now I hate that he specifically targeted me and went out of his way to make me feel that way. It has been 10 years since it happened but I still feel glad I found somewhere safe to say, “FUCK YOU!!…Hollaback.
This incident happened when I was about 12 years old (I am 20 now) and I was in a park with a friend. We had spent the entire day at the pool and we were laying on the playground asphalt sunbathing and waiting for my mom to come pick us up (the park was right next to the pool). We definitely weren’t alone in the park since there were mothers and children all around us, houses across the street and lifeguards at the pool next door. All of a sudden, a man with very short shorts came up to the park and leaned up against the trash can with his leg pushed up against the can (his package was very obviously hanging out of his tiny shorts). I saw what was going on but I didn’t really understand it, so I ignored it. The mothers automatically caught on and left, without saying anything to my friend and I. All of a sudden we were in the park by ourselves, with the man. He then walked down to a park bench in a shaded area. I looked over at him and he had his entire penis out of his shorts and he was aggressively masturbating while looking directly at us. Being 12 years old and very naive, I was totally confused and didn’t know what to do until my friend saw what was going on and grabbed my arm and ran with me to the entrance of the pool. Thankfully my mom arrived as we were walking up to the entrance and being the fierce mama-bear she is, searched the park for him, screaming for him, but couldn’t find him. We called the police and made a report and they came to my house with mugshots, hoping to catch the guy (apparently he’s been caught doing this before) but they never did catch him. The really sad part is that this happened in a very wealthy and nice part of town where there were plenty of people around. I also don’t understand why those mothers did not warn my friend and I. Now that I look back on it, I wasn’t scared when it was going on.. just confused. I didn’t understand why a man would want to do something like that to little girls and I was never taught to look out for things like that.. especially at the playground. Now that I am adult, I am always on the look out but it terrifies me to think that there are young girls, and boys, who are just as naive as what I was.
Until street harassment and sexual violence ends, we need to have each other’s backs. To make sure Tara’s story never happens again and to build a world where everyone can sit in a park safely, donate today.
I was drunk and fell asleep on the bus and missed my stop. I live in a really residential quiet area. On my walk home, I walk down the street and I see a person. I keep walking and then I start screaming. I apoligize to the guy, because I think that I’m just overreacting. And then he grabs me and is jerking off. I scream, “don’t fucking touch me,” and run towards my apartment. I don’t think he’s followed me, but I just feel so stupid and scared. Like I walked into his private moment and it was opportunitistic. But at the same time, I should be able to walk home in peace.
I was driving home the morning after a really fantastic party at a girlfriend’s house. On my trip a cute guy in a truck passed me. We made eye contact and both smiled and started sort of interacting on the highway. We pulled over and said hello and he more or less asked me to hook up with him. I was completely offended, rejected him outright, got back in my car, and drove away. He quickly caught up with me. I couldn’t lose him. He mouthed words and gestured to let me know he was masturbating. It was disgusting the way he was leering at me while stalking me down the road. It still makes my skin crawl; I can’t remember what he looked like but I remember clearly the way he looked, if that makes sense.
This morning, I took the L train. I had just come from having a wonderful cup of coffee at cute bakery near my boyfriend’s apartment. I was happy when I headed home, though I was mildly annoyed by the ever-jarring automated voice that narrates subway travel.
I was almost home when we stopped at the Lorimer stop and the train doors opened. I saw a man standing on the platform turn around and pull his penis out. He smiled at me and waved it in my direction.
The ever-jarring voice then became my savior. “Stand clear of the closing doors, please,” it said it in it’s non-change human-esque manner.
The man put his “personals” back in and stepped back quickly and creepily smiled at me.
He was lucky that time.
This is the second time I’ve been flashed this year. I’ve been licked by strangers, verbally assualted, holla’ed at, and groped by countless people.