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I was walking home from work one day, it takes me about 20 minutes and I have to go through a small neighborhood to my job. I was a little over ten feet from my work, dressed in regular work clothes. Just slacks and a polo. I also have straight across bangs. A group of five guys in a car decided to yell at me saying they “like my fortune cookies” and as they drove past, say I have a sexy ass and hoot at me. I sped walk, heart racing… Two feet away from my job.
I haven’t read all of the stories on this website, so maybe someone like me has already shared a similar experience. (Also, I’m disappointed there isn’t a Hollaback in DC.)
I live in the Columbia Heights neighborhood in Washington, DC, which is very diverse – a lot of white, black, and Latino residents–but not many Asian residents. There aren’t many Asians in DC to begin with, as they mostly live in the MD and VA suburbs. I am Asian American and female, and I believe the street harassment I experience is not only sexist, but also racist.
One time last summer, after a friend and I had drinks at a local bar, I walked home by myself around 1:00am. The neighborhood is pretty safe, though mostly deserted. I passed by a man parallel-parking his car and he yelled out the window, “You’d make a great concubine!” It was bad enough that he would yell anything at me to begin with, but I know I never would have gotten the “concubine” comment if I weren’t Asian. How am I supposed to respond to that?
I kept walking and ignored him, but I felt so angry that 1) he did that to me and 2) more importantly, I couldn’t do anything about it. I wish there were laws on the books about street harassment, particularly in DC, where it is rampant, so that I could have taken down the guy’s license plate and reported him to the police and he could have been fined or something. But no such laws exist. Yet…?
Another incidence of street harassment happened a few days ago. I was passing a construction site on the way to a meeting, and one of the construction workers tried to say hi to me and get my attention. I just ignored him because he said it in a way that I could tell he was trying to flirt or otherwise sexually/inappropriately harass me. But because I chose to ignore him and keep walking, he yelled after me, “What, you don’t understand English?!” Again, had I not been Asian, I would not have received such a comment about not understanding English. Does that mean if I could understand English I would automatically be willing to respond to him??? How does that logic make any sense? Again, I felt furious that there was nothing I could do in response.
Exiting the train on the #6 train platform a few minutes before 8:29PM on Friday night, May 9, 2014, a middle-aged man stepped on my shoe three times and reached near my back pocket to take my smart phone. When I turned around, he said “F*ck you, you b*tch. “You f**king Asian B*tch, I’ll punch you.” I was shocked so I followed him to take photos. He turned around and repeatedly said he would hit me.
At 8:29PM, I took a photo of his back while exiting near the 14th Street exit escalators leading up to The Food Emporium, Union Square location. And another riding up the escalators.
At the crosswalk, outside Panera Bread, I tried to take a photo of his face with the flash when he turned around and lunged at me, trying to punch me in the face and seize my phone. Three people who took the train with me saw what had happened and blocked him from coming at me. The man then tried to go around the two young males and throw a punch. The two males said to stop and kept side-stepping/blocking him to make sure he couldn’t successfully land a hit. They told him they would get the cops if he didn’t stop and he finally backed down.
The attacker was wearing a long-sleeved gray knit shirt under a black zip-up vest, with dark blue jeans folded at the hems, with tan work boots.
A skinny male, age 21-28 with glasses leaning against the Panera Bread had witnessed the attack. I had told him I was trying to take a photo of that man because he tried to rob/grope me on the 6 train. I mentioned him because I wonder if he took a video of what happened.
I was walking back to my office from the deli after picking up my lunch when some cretin walked by me in the opposite direction, leered and me and yelled, “Me love you long time.” (Obviously a racist and sexually harassing comment which also indicates that he watches way too much pornography objectifying Asian women).
He was wearing a red sweatshirt that had a Business logo on the back, which indicates that he is part of a local crew here. (He should have thrown himself out with the garbage).
I was going to turn around and follow him to take photos but then I realized I had left my phone in my office. I really wish I had my phone on me to take photos because I would have gotten him reprimanded or fired from his job.
And last week, I had two incidents. One guy yelled, “Wow, I never seen a Chinese girl looking like that!”
And another yelled, “Hi China! Shake that thang!”
Not enough people take action on this type of despicable behavior, which is why it persists. Enough is enough.
I was outside of a bar with two of my girl friends. For context, I am black and they are white. An older man walks up and starts taking to us. We are polite and try to ignore him. He then turns to one of my friends and says “you know, black and white go real good together.” While this is happening, a group of men surround us and one yells to me “you know black and black go even better together! shit, I’m looking right at you girl.” We just walk away while they talk about us.
I knew that working in India as a single, light-skinned woman who did not speak a word of any Indian languages would not be a walk in the park. However, I was not expecting the onslaught and veritable inundation of street harassment. I live in Goa, which is known to be one of India’s most liberal, progressive provinces. But stepping outside my home near my job, I would never know it.
At first, I thought the constant calls of “Hello, beautiful!” and “Be my girlfriend!”or “Give me your number!” were just harmless fun, trying to grab the attention of an obvious tourist. I had a rude awakening of that when a man outside my apartment complex told me he loved me. I laughed it off as he reached out to shake my hand. When I gave it to him to shake, he wouldn’t let go, and took my hand and attempted to shove it down his pants. I managed to get away and ran back into my apartment, where my roommate, a Ghanian man, was as shocked about the ordeal as I was.
That’s another way we’ve been harassed here in Goa. As we’re living together (we’re colleagues and work at the same NGO), my Ghanian roommate and I go out to eat rather frequently. I’ve grown to accept that people will stare at the two of us when we’re together or when we’re alone, but people will also say very racist things to the both of us and constantly take pictures of us, with or without our consent. Again, at first I didn’t mind this and attributed it to the fact that we were a novelty. However, as people continued to treat us like we were some toy to be played with, I became a little less happy with the situation. This experience was epitomized by one night when my roommate and I went out to a club. People were constantly asking for our pictures, and finally, wanting to have a good night and not pose for photos the whole time, we started saying no. Instead of accepting that answer, locals would grab us by the arm, leg, and (I can’t say they did this to him, but they definitely did it to me) butt, and drag us into pictures and dances. Men kept taking my drinks from me, drinking out of them, and throwing them on the floor. I started to flip off the camera or do the “WoW” symbol with my face every time they forced me into pictures with them unwillingly, so if you see any of those on the internet, know that I didn’t want them taken and those people are not my friends – in fact, from the way they treated us, I sort of doubt that they considered my roommate and I as particularly human. After about two hours of being paraded around as some sort of carnival freaks merely because of the color of our skin, a security guard noticed and escorted US out, saying we were causing too much of a stir – doing nothing about the others. All of this happened at the biggest (and perhaps most touristy) club in Baga – Tito’s Beach Club.
In the town that I live, I’ve been followed down streets, photographed without my consent, chased after, grabbed, and groped. Men have tried to pay me for sex constantly, offering 400 rupees (about $8) if I’ll have sex with them, and not relenting until I start yelling. In perhaps what was the scariest instance while I’ve been here, I took a wrong turn on the way back from work. I’d been working late, so it was dark, and I was alone. First, a security guard tried to force me to come into an apartment complex, saying that it was where I lived. Because I am not an idiot, I knew was not mine. Luckily enough, a cab was nearby and I hopped inside. My fears were not quelled as the driver took me on some roundabout, clearly incorrect way of getting to the place that I was going. As I knew where we were and were going into a much less populated area, I demanded he let me out of the car. He wouldn’t, but when I opened my window and made a scene he started to drive directly towards my apartment. There, he wouldn’t let me out of the cab, insisting we go get coffee or that he let me inside. I wouldn’t do it, and was struggling to find the lock for the door when the security guard from my apartment complex came over and asked what was happening. After a conversation with the cabbie in the local language, the cabbie demanded my phone number and he said he would leave, if I would go to get coffee with him tomorrow. I didn’t see that I had any choice, so I gave him my number. Since then, he has called or texted me saying he loves me every single day, trying to meet up. It’s been 2 weeks. I’ve blocked his number, but he keeps calling on friends’ phones or getting friends to call me and ask me if I’m still in Goa. At this point, since he knows where I live, I’m actually pretty worried he’s going to show up outside my apartment. I really wish I’d gotten his license plate.
I knew that working in India as a white female wouldn’t be easy. But really, it would be a breeze if the harassment would stop.
My friend called this black guy a n*gger.
I was walking to work this Sunday morning at around 7:45AM and a man comes up to me sayng “hey, hey, hey” trying to get my attention. Well I ignored him cause this has happened so many times I can’t even count anymore and I find that if I look at the person or respond they persist futher. So anyways I tried the unreponsive method and it just made him angry cause then he starts saying just awful comments (sexual in nature) and also racist things. I tried hard to not listen cause it was garbage he was spewing but they got really violent in nature(something about he hopes I choke giving a guy a blowjob) and I was so scared all I could do was walk faster but he was relentless and followed me. Nobody was on the street except a woman who was walking a bit ahead of me but she either didn’t hear or didn’t care( a typical response in every encounter I have had, sigh) . He didn’t leave until I got to a busy intersection where a couple of other people were and he left thank goodness. He was such a coward I knew it but at the same time, as much as I wanted to tell him off because he was the lowest person I have ever met, I couldn’t because I was worried he would get violent. I hate these feelings of humiliation, disgust but mostly fear. I should be able to walk in public without being afraid for my life. Street harassment needs to end! Thank you for listening I feel better now.
I was walking to work this Sunday morning at around 7:45AM and a man comes up to me sayng “hey, hey, hey” trying to get my attention. Well I ignored him cause this has happened so many times I can’t even count anymore and I find that if I look at the person or respond they persist futher. So anyways I tried the unreponsive method and it just made him angry cause then he starts saying just awful comments (sexual in nature) and also racist things. Not about my race (I am white and so was he) but about sterotypes about white women and black men. I tried hard to not listen cause it was garbage he was spewing but they got really violent in nature (something about he hopes I choke giving a guy a blowjob) and I was so scared all I could do was walk faster but he was relentless and followed me. Nobody was on the street except a woman who was walking a bit ahead of me but she either didn’t hear or didn’t care( a typical response in every encounter I have had, sigh) . He didn’t leave until I got to a busy intersection where a couple of other people were and he left thank goodness. He was such a coward I knew it but at the same time, as much as I wanted to tell him off because he was the lowest person I have ever met, I couldn’t because I was worried he would get violent. I hate these feelings of humiliation, disgust but mostly fear. I should be able to walk in public without being afraid for my life. Street harassment needs to end! Thank you for listening I feel better now.
This happened a while ago (in 2005). At that time I lived next to the university campus which was rather a safe place. That evening on my way home from the nearby grocery store, I was carrying a heavy bag of groceries and another bag of papers and books from school. I was walking along in my own muse when I saw a guy in mid-20s on his bike coming towards me. I didn’t think twice about it. But then as he got closer I found him staring at me. As he passed me by, he yelled, “Too bad you are not white.” I have been catcalled many times before and since then on three different continents. But I am always caught by surprise and disgusted by it. This time though, I was just too perplexed by the comment to even figure out the meaning right away.
Later when I told my roommate and a couple of white friends about it, they said it was perhaps meant as a compliment on my good looks. Right, an unsolicited “compliment” on my appearance while putting my skin color down.