Appalachian Ohio, Athens GA, Atlanta, Berkeley, Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Columbia MO, Des Moines, Durham & Chapel Hill, Fredericksburgh VA, Houston, Los Angeles, Muncie IN, New York City, NYU, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Richmond VA, San Francisco, Tucson, Twin Cities
I used to be really into running but don’t do so as much any more- over the years I have had countless incidents of whistles, shouted comments about my body and yells from cars going past when I’m just trying to exercise.
Anyway one particular incident happened in my small village when I was fifteen, I’m eighteen now.
I had just finished a run and decided to check out the Abbey in my village before heading home- the entrance to which is manned by an older gentleman. As I walked in I called into his little shed if it was okay for me to go in, just in case I needed to pay. He could have just said “yes” from where he was but he walked out, looked me up and down very obviously and commented “looking like that sweetheart, you can go anywhere you want” and stared at my chest openly. I was sweaty, tired and only fifteen years old and was totally shocked and embarrassed- also acutely aware that though I was not isolated (a few steps would bring me back onto the street) I felt very intimidated and threatened. I think it was very clear that I was not even the age of consent, not that it would make it justifiable, whilst he was at least sixty and I didn’t let him away with it. He got introduced to my middle finger and told his comments were not welcome but I was very shaken by it and ran home fast. Think I started running at about thirteen and even then I got toots from cars and yells which unsettled me, especially due to my age and that where I live is mostly country lanes I run down on my own.
Where to start!
1.When I was 13, a friend of mine and I decided to take a walk around the block. The sun was starting to set so we cut through the back parking lot of a strip mall by my dad’s house (the quickest way home). We passed a stationary blue car, not noticing there was someone in it. When we were about ten feet away, a man in the car started yelling at us to come touch his penis. We turned back around and kept walking. My friend looked back, and a second later grabbed me by the arm and dragged me into the trees lining my street. When I looked back, the guy’s car was right where we had been walking about 3 seconds before, and he was still yelling at us.
2. Fast forward 1 year. I was out walking my dog in the same neighborhood in the middle of the afternoon. A car with a group of three or four 20-something-year old guys pulls up beside me on the road. The driver asks if I want a ride and his friends sit winking at me in the back seat. I tell him no thank you and he moves right along. He comes back around a few minutes later and asks again. I keep walking, ignoring him, and he follows me in his car for a few minutes before finally taking off.
3. My freshman year of high school, I was a skinny, flat-chested, frizzy-haired, obviously underage girl walking home from school one afternoon. I pass by the same parking lot I had almost been run over in (though I didn’t go through it-I’d learned my lesson on that one.) Nevertheless, a man who was no less than 35 years old comes out FROM BEHIND A TREE to ask me if I’m 18 and single. He kept talking to me and wouldn’t let me leave for about ten minutes, and I was looking over my shoulder the whole way home.
4. My junior year of high school, walking home from my boyfriend’s house after dark (around 8:30): again, a man pulls up and says, “Would you like a ride? I think it’s going to rain soon.” I told him, “No thanks, I’m almost home.” “Are you sure? I don’t mind…” “No, it’s okay.” He drove off. I kept walking. AGAIN, several minutes later he comes back from the SAME direction (meaning he had circled around on a side street in order to talk to me again) and pulled up and said, “I thought you were almost home. So how ’bout that ride?”
5. I have been pulled aside at work SEVERAL times by women telling me that a man is watching me from behind a rack, or following me around.
6. When working at the fitting room at Walmart I had a guy come up to me no less than 4 or 5 times in one hour, pestering me to add him on facebook, give him my number, go out with him, ect. There was a woman whose daughter was trying a lot of things on (and who was therefore present each time he came back) who asked if I’d like her to stay there and walk me out to my car that night. The last time the guy came back to ask me one last time (and get one last no), he told me as he walked away, “That’s okay. I know where to find you when you change your mind.” Not IF I change it. WHEN I change it. As if it’s inevitable. I got security to follow him around the rest of the time he was in the store. The same guy used to follow me around apparel whenever he came in after that (thankfully, I think he finally gave up or doesn’t remember me-I got pretty good at avoiding him).
7. At a concert with a friend of mine, I was wearing shorts because it was an all-day, outdoor concert in mid-July. I got fingered (in both holes) several times by random men in the crowd. I don’t even know who did it because it was so crowded. I got hands up my pants everywhere I went, it didn’t matter if I moved somewhere else. I have never worn shorts/skirts to a concert since, regardless of heat.
8. My freshmen year of college I had a class that went from 7:00pm-9:45pm. The class usually walked out as a group because we all parked in the same lot. On this night, however, I had forgotten my laptop and had to double back to get it before the doors were locked. By the time I got back out to the parking lot, everyone was gone-except for about 15 huge basketball players that were all being rowdy and drunk on someone’s tailgate. They had been loud and laughing before they saw me. As I came into view, they got dead silent, just staring me down all the way to my car. I knew I’d never be able to outrun them or fight them off and there was no one to hear me scream. They didn’t do anything but stare. But it was the longest 100 feet I have ever walked in my life.
9. I’ve had people slap my ass or pinch my nipples while out in public, buying groceries or just walking down the street. They always hurry off before I can even process what happened.
10. (My favorite): Back when I had red hair, I used to get random guys come up to me to ask “Hey sexy, does the carpet match the drapes?” I mean, seriously??? Are you REALLY asking me what color my pubes are??? REALLY?!?!?
11. When I was working at the jewelry counter in Walmart, I had a guy come over and ask me if I’d marry him if he bought me a certain ring in the case. I told him (politely-he said it flirtatiously, not harassingly)no, I was already engaged (even showed him the ring). He kept at it for over ten minutes, trying to get me to go out with him, telling me how pretty I was, insinuating that my fiance was probably a loser anyway, and why won’t I give him a shot?
12. I’ve had random men ask me if I’m pregnant if they’re within earshot when I say I’m tired or don’t feel good (as if that’s the only plausible explanation for a woman not feeling good).
13. I’ve been honked, whistled, and shouted at more times than I could possible count from men in gas stations, grocery stores, or driving by on the road.
14. On my graduation night (high school), I had to go to the CVS pharmacy down the street to get a prescription for my fiance’s mother who had cancer. In line, I got into a friendly conversation with the man behind me, who was probably in his mid-fifties. After checking out, I got into my car. At a red light, the man pulled up next to me and signaled at me to roll my window down. Thinking I must have forgotten something at the counter, I obliged, only to have him start hitting on me now that we were out of earshot of the cashier on a deserted road at 10 o’clock at night. The light turned green before I could respond and I gratefully turned left. A minute later, however, I saw the guy’s car following behind me. I sped up-so did he. I turned-so did he. When I finally thought I had lost him, I sped home as fast as I could. As soon as I pulled into the driveway, he pulled up on the street. He eyed me for a minute and drove away. Watching from the window when I entered the house, I saw his car drive by again about 6 times within the hour.
IT IS NOT FLATTERING. IT IS NOT OKAY.
When men do this type of thing to women, or yell crude comments about their breasts or ass or legs or thighs, it is not a compliment in our eyes. YOUR INTENTION IS IRRELEVANT. The woman you are “conversing” with does not know what your intentions are. But I can guaran-goddamn-tee you that she knows what they MIGHT be. And THAT is what matters.
I have been groped, touched, insulted, intimidated, followed, and propositioned more times than I can count, in more places than I can name. I have been harassed in broad daylight and at night. It’s happened in busy stores and on deserted streets. It’s happened when I’ve looked my best, hair straightened and form-fitting clothes, and when I’ve looked my worst, hair a mess, in jeans and a baggy sweater with no make-up. It happens so often that I sometimes get upset even when someone is trying to pay me a genuine compliment. A LOT of men do these things, thinking that they are flattering a woman, when in reality, you are probably just scaring her or pissing her off. If you want to flatter a girl, smile, tell her she’s beautiful (NOTE: not “nice tits!” “Wanna fuck?” or “DAMN, girl!”) and move on.
Some d-bag walked by me (I had headphones on) and he said “I wanna eat your p*ssy”. Guess he didn’t think I could hear him but don’t worry, I did. And I. Lit. Him. Up. I shouted a large array of expletives at the guy, flipped him off, generally tried to cause him to suffer incredible embarrassment. It pisses me off when people tell me I shouldn’t have said anything and that I compromised my safety (even though it was noon on a Tuesday). My safety was already compromised by the fact that a loser piece of sh*t thought he could TRY to intimidate me. I don’t think so, bub.
Every year my college has an event where students go to the beach and build elaborate sand sculptures. I have macromastia so unfortunately I get a lot of unwanted attention whenever I wear a bathing suit. There were a few very uncomfortable instances.
1) While my team and I were building our sandcastle a guy came up and started snapping pictures with a cellphone camera. At that point I had been working on a minor detail and was away from the main piece. He kept pointing his camera in my direction so I used the sand mound I had built to hide my chest. He finally gives up and leaves.
2) There was another creepy photographer who was also trying to take photos of me when I was trying to fly a kite and enjoy the ocean. I turned away from him (hopefully in time). I’ve seen albums and photos on flickr and reddit where people have snapped photos of other people and included them in their “personal collection.” I’m scared that someone did take a photo of me.
3) When I had gotten out of the water numerous men and women openly stared at my breasts and made me feel very uncomfortable.
4) One woman said “I don’t envy you.” I suppose this comment was made in regards to my breasts, but I don’t even know. I hadn’t gestured to her or made any sort of indication that I thought she envied me. I wasn’t being show off-y or anything. Even if I was, what gives her the right to comment on my body?
TL;DR: My day at the beach was ruined because people are creepy assholes and believe that they are entitled to take photos of or make rude comments about people’s bodies.
Once when I was 12 years old I was walking home from a piano lesson. I could hear a man yelling angrily behind me and no one was responding, but being so young and in a public space, I assumed I was being paranoid and that he was yelling at someone on the phone. This is especially in light of the fact that it was winter and I was short and wearing thick winter clothes. Either way, I was definitely creeped out, so I crossed the street and took a different route home. As I was approaching my block, I could hear increasingly aggressive yelling coming from down my street, in the same direction from which I had been coming. I panicked and prayed that it wasn’t some maniac with a gun, and ran inside my house. Shortly afterwards, the doorbell rang, and since it was dark out I couldn’t see through the peephole. I was home alone and I thought maybe my mom had forgotten her keys, and opened the door. A tall man with a nondescript plastic bag was standing there (it didn’t even look like anything was in the bag), and he said “Uh I have a delivery for this address.” I told him “we” hadn’t ordered anything, and he said “but I have your address here” and clearly didn’t have any address written down and was not dressed like a delivery man, nor did he have a bicycle or vehicle. I quickly apologized and closed the door on him, and locked it, but I could see that he was still standing on my porch for a while. I grabbed a knife and went back to my room, but fortunately my mom came home and nothing happened. I was very much shaken by the experience, especially when I saw they arrested the man in the local newspaper for stalking and raping/groping young women.
I was walking out of Starbucks and two college-age looking guys yelled “faggot” at me. I am a transgender woman and I have no problem with people noticing that I am a transgender woman. I am very offended when people call me things that I am not. I was so angry that I threw my coffee to the ground and just got in my car and left.
Today I was stalked by an older man, when I was walking to the park with my toddler. I felt something off when I passed him on the street. After I had been at the playground for 10 minutes, the guy rides up on his bike. What I had suspected was confirmed. He approaches me, as I am playing with my young son, and asks my name. I tell him a fake one, then he asks if I am married. When I tell him “yes”, he says, “Oh, sorry about that.” Then he rides off.
I felt sick, and wanted to cry. My beautiful spring day at the park with my toddler was ruined. What kind of sick person stalks and pervs a young mother? I was scared for myself and for my son. More than anything, I was angry. I am angry. This is not okay!
My friend came home tonight terrified and told me that she had just run home after being pursued by a man who tried to get her in his car. I thought the community of Lacey, WA and Olympia, WA should know about this so we can catch the guy who tried to take her.
“Walking home from work at 11PM. Guy tries to get me into his car. He was parked in a dark parking lot. He yelled at me when I walked by, ‘Hey! Come here! Come here!’ I yelled ‘No!’ and ran. As I’m running he drove alongside me and yelled “Get in! Come here!”. I screamed at the top of my lungs ‘NO!’ and he drove off. Probably scared that I was making loud noises near some businesses/houses.
I ran home, scared out of my mind, until I couldn’t breathe anymore. Thankfully made it, hands are still shaking, still can’t breathe.
This is the 5th time in my life—from my childhood till now—Someone has tried to kidnap me. Apparently I can’t even walk a quarter of a fucking mile without being harassed.”
Hollaback community, keep your eyes out for a small, white compact vehicle in the Lacey area loitering around in any dark spots in parking lots for a long time. From what she could see of the driver in the dark, he was wearing a backward baseball cap and had dark hair and spoke with a light accent. Keep aware and if something seems off, say something. The number for Oly police is 360.704.2740.
Hi. My name is Melissa, I am a transsexual woman, and I wrote my story here to Hollaback! on April 16th, 2011.
I just wanted to share that my story is improving. Since I live in a large suburb, people have come to know me. I have socialized with alot of the neighbors where I walk and run, and I socialize at the places I go. I find that talking to people helps bring me out of the street harassment I was experiencing, and still experience. Yesterday I was finishing a walk and I noticed out of the corner of my eye that a vehicle was exiting its parking space very slowly. I knew it was not a conflict with me and I could tell that it was not in conflict with anyone else, so, immediately I looked inside, and there was a man driving and he was staring at me. He moved his car very slowly and watched me as I walked by. It was creepy and disappointing. So, the harassment is still there, but I feel more positive, and an experience like that, I just brush off. I have had far more scary experiences, like a man following me in his oversize, raised-wheel white pickup truck. He singled me out and followed me in my car for at least a mile to my destination, waiting in the parking lot of the place I was going, and then followed me back almost to my home. We got separated at a light, and I later used the separation to get away from him. I arrived home safely.
I experience these things less now than I did when I wrote in 2011. They are fewer and farther between. I am not sure if it is because I make smarter choices, or because I feel more positive, or if it is because the world around me has changed just enough that people don’t bother me as much. I really don’t know. I do feel better, though.
I cannot imagine living in a city. Reading some of the stories here, I would feel very uncomfortable and very vulnerable in a city. People say a place like New York City you can be whomever you want, but my guess is that the people would eat me alive.
I have had the experience, since writing, of a young man stopping me on the street and shouting at me. I just talked back. I have also had the experience of a very edgy, scary young man shouting at me from across the street. I shouted back. I never saw him again. I have also shared some of these experiences with people where I live and they have shared experiences with me that they have had over the years and so it goes..
I officially changed my name to Melissa about three weeks ago, and have completed every facet of transition that I am capable. I look better than I ever have looked, I feel better than I have felt over the past several years and I am very grateful for your website because I think it should be possible to (dare I say it) – walk down the street without getting harassed.
A few weeks ago, a car full of men followed my car for 15 minutes in stop and go traffic. I didn’t think to snap a pic, so last night when the same thing happened, I got this. This car had 3 men in it with a woman driving. They stared at me while at a red light, then started screaming at me and holding up pictures of women in lingerie or less.