Story

Taylor’s Story: “There are some boundaries that need to be respected”

When you’re dressed up as Snow white, you should simply expect some (unwanted) attention because you kind of stick out. Like, when I was waiting for my dad to pick me up and a car slowed down and stopped to make a little joke (“Hey, can we be your dwarfs?”). But not on a themed party where most people are dressed up, right? All right, I can take a one-liner (“Still looking for a prince?”) but there are some boundaries that need to be respected. So yeah, I didn’t like it when that one guy lifted my skirt or when that other guy stroked my hair or when that whole ‘gang’ of guys were just blatantly staring and smirking at me, or when that other guy just grabbed me and said ‘Snow white’ in the most perverted tone you can imagine. God, that last one still sends shivers down my spine, especially the way his fingers stroked my belly when I pushed him away. But yeah, when you’re dressed up as Snow white, I guess you should simply expect some (unwanted) attention in our sexist society.

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Story

Rachel’s Story: Harassment at age 13

I was walking down a hill to get to my friend’s house when I was about 13 or 14 years old. There was an intersection and a man (at least 10 years older than me) stopped, even though there were no other cars passing through, wound down his window and, as I walked by him, he said ‘You’re amazing’. I walked faster and when I got down to the bottom of the hill there was another intersection and a man stopped for me to pass in front of his car, but I could see he was obviously staring at me and continued to do so until I was out of sight.

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CE’s Story: “Not what I needed and not cool at all”

Walking along the street towards universities on my way to an exam, it’s pouring with rain. Pavement is quite narrow and there was a group of 4-5 guys standing around, so I have to walk quite close to them.
As I get close one of them loudly says “hey you should try smiling sometime”. I ignore and keep walking. As I’m past the group a couple of them shout after me “oooooh SHIT”.

Felt so annoyed, I was already drenched from the heavy rain, and on my way to a stressful and difficult final exam at the end of my degree. Not what I needed and not cool at all.

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Anonymous Story: High School harassment

When I was a freshman in high school, there was a guy that I had a crush on. My friends always told me he was staring at my butt, but that always made me uncomfortable. The first time he grabbed my butt was in PE and he told me that his friends pushed him into me. I convinced myself this was only a mistake. The second time I could hear him loudly talking about how my butt looked so nice and then he grabbed me again. I never did say anything to him about it, and I never told anyone what happened.

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HOLLA ON THE GO: Rape is not a joke

I was walking home from a friends house alone on a Friday night at 1:40 am and I had to pass by two obviously intoxicated guys and one of the tells me I’m going to get raped and I shake my head and keep walking. He says it again so I say that’s not something you joke about and he says it’s just a joke and I say rape isn’t funny and then he says dude it was just a joke. I kept walking the whole time. He also kept saying something along the lines if come back to hear the joke.

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Caroline’s Story: “I managed to hold my calm … but I started bawling once I was on my way home”

I was waiting my turn at a gas station, and was about to pull up to the pump, when an older (late fifties, sixties) man in a truck pulled up in front of me and blocked my way. He and his friend started acting like something was funny, pointing at me, waving in a mocking sort of way. I signaled them to please move, but they kept on acting like the whole thing was a joke. I held eye contact with the man and kept my finger pointing in the direction he needed to go. He finally pulled away, and as he did so he rolled down his window and yelled “Nice smile, bitch!”.
I managed to hold my calm as I pumped gas, but I started bawling once I was on my way home.

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Story, Verbal

HOLLA ON THE GO: “Because I holla back”

So, I was waiting for my daughters’ bus, and a guy in a red SUV honked at me, slowed down, and looked like it was going to pick me up. I flipped him off, and turned around. Because I holla back.

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16+

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Story, Verbal

Elizabeth’s Story: Bystander shouts down “Smile more”

Last night I did a little bit of grocery shopping. I’m a chubby middle aged lady now, so I’m not as often the target of harassment as I used to be. When I was checking out, there was a young male employee bagging groceries and an attractive young woman cashiering. As I was putting my groceries on the conveyor belt, I couldn’t help but overhear the bagger repeatedly exhorting the cashier that she should, “Smile more,” because she’s “So much prettier when she smiles.” Because, of course, the whole purpose of this young woman being employed by the grocery store is for his personal benefit. Well, that annoyed me a little bit, but it didn’t seem like an appropriate thing for me to interject myself into, so I kept quiet.

But then, the bagger felt the need to comment on some of my groceries in a suggestive way! When he said, “So juicy and delicious” when he was bagging my grapefruit, I initially thought it was an innocent comment because the grapefruit did in fact look particularly juicy and delicious. But then I saw that he was leering at the cashier when he said it. Then he got to my turbinado sugar – the store had only the brand called, “Sugar in the Raw.” So Mr. Poobrain BaggerBoy saw fit to say, “Sugar in the Raaaaaaaw,” in the most suggestive way possible. That was it for me. I pulled myself to my full 5’3″, squared my shoulders, set my jaw, and said something to the effect of, “Hey. You are being a jerk, and the fact that you think your comments are acceptable does not make you less of a jerk. This young lady has not been placed here by divine providence for your amusement, and I am not purchasing these groceries for the benefit of your comments. You had better wise up right here and right now. Now, I will finish bagging my own groceries. Go and reflect on your behavior!”

Ha! He did NOT expect to be called out, let alone scolded and basically given a time out by a customer! Well, I don’t think I changed his behavior permanently – but maybe I had some tiny impact on his future behavior.

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63+

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Story, Verbal

HOLLA ON THE GO: “I was 15 at the time, and going for a run”

I was 15 at the time, and going for a run. A man of around 40 was stopped at a street corner at a red light. He saw me, leaned out his window, made eye contact with me, and gave a long whistle. I made my run about a half mile longer to avoid going the same way as that car.

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Story, Verbal

Paulien’s Story: “I felt forced to thank him”

So I didn’t want to share this story at first because I felt like I would be overreacting by calling this street harassment, but yeah…

In september my first year at university started and during the week I live in an apartment in the city so I can just go to class by foot. Now, there’s a restaurant in the same street and I have to walk past it to get to my class or to get to the park with my dog. When the weather is nice and the place hasn’t opened yet or they’re taking a break or whatever, the guys who own the place sits outside.

As the friendly person I am, eager to befriend my neighbors, I smile at them every time I pass. There’s one of them who sits outside more often than the others and one time he responded to my smile with a ‘ciao bella’ to which I didn’t really react as I was just about to cross the street. One evening, as I had to walk my dog, the guy that sits outside the most often was there again, so I gave him a very quick smile (the ‘ciao bella’ incident had made me a little uneasy) and was planning to walk past quickly but he started talking to me. At first, the conversation went… all right, I guess.

He asked me if I lived in the apartment a little further down the street as he apparently had seen me inside (yes, inside, as in I-saw-you-through-the-window-inside), if I was a student and what I was studying (English – Spanish) so we started talking about languages and he kind of started to switch languages as he spoke, from Dutch to Italian to Spanish to Dutch to French to Dutch to French and so on. Now, In this region in Belgium, you’re supposed to be able to speak Dutch fluently and well, you should understand French as well. As the conversation went on, he told me I was pretty in French a couple of times and how it always lightens up his day when he sees me, which made me feel even less comfortable but I felt forced to thank him for his compliments. He also asked, jokingly I hope but I’m far from sure, if he could go with me to my place for a cup of coffee. (I responded truthfully that my brother was staying over, which was “such a shame” according to him) He also said something in French which I didn’t quite understand, but I thought it was just another “you’re pretty” so I – shudder – thanked him again.

When I got home, I looked it up, because the way he had looked at me when he had said it, had been a bit… predatory? So yeah, I forgot what it was exactly, but I still remember what the website had said: “don’t ever say this to a woman in France as she will (rightfully) slap you and call the police” A couple of days later, I got the courage to tell my brother about it all (though it was a softened version, because I didn’t want him to tell my parents) and he told me about another route to get to the park. So from then on, I have to go through some dark streets and a parking lot a couple of times a day. I haven’t really seen him anymore (he once waved at me from inside the restaurant, but that’s about it I think) but I don’t know what to do or think about the whole case. Honestly, I think he is in fact a rather sweet guy and that he really just doesn’t see any wrong in his ‘compliments’ however sexual and out of bounds they may be. I’m way too scared to teach him about standard etiquette and street harassment though.

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