Appalachian Ohio, Athens GA, Atlanta, Baltimore, Chicago, Cleveland, Columbia MO, Columbus, Denver, Des Moines, Durham & Chapel Hill, East Lansing, Fredericksburgh VA, Houston, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Lubbock TX, Manhattan KS, Muncie IN, New Orleans, New York City, NYU, Pittsburgh, Plattsburgh, Richmond VA, San Fernando Valley, San Francisco, SUNY Oneonta, Tucson, Twin Cities
It seems unreal but as a woman your day really does revolve around where can I go, what can I wear, can I run in these if I have too, look down don’t make eye contact, always be prepared to run, keep your head on the swivel. It feels like 70’s sometimes! I had gone away to college and in my few years there I’d been chased, followed, groped, sexually harassed and intimidated and I was at the end of my rope. I was young and didn’t understand so I began to blame myself. What am I doing, what am I wearing, how am presenting myself to make men think they can treat me this way? In your own mind you know you’re a person, a human being, you are your own but as a woman you’re constantly being told the contrary.
A few weeks ago a friend’s girlfriend was savagely knocked unconscious and raped on the side walk on her way home from class. That day my friend and I were biking to our school building when a guy screams out as us ‘Bitch I got something for you!’ and whips his penis out as us. We looked away and biked faster, the rapist that attacked my friend’s girlfriend was never found. When class ended I was headed home alone and I see this guy coming up to me, at first I look down trying not to catch his attention but still I hear him say ‘Ooohh shit..’ and he starts coming up to me making whispering noises. I remembered earlier that day and I remembered my friend’s girlfriend and I get angry and I’m tired of this. I’m tired of the constant fear and look up right in his face as he gets closer to me. ‘Look, I don’t deserve this! I’m just trying to get home like everybody else and I have a right to do that.’
He gets kind of startled like he was shocked I could actually speak, like you would if your shoe rack suddenly yelled at you for putting your shoes on it. ‘Don’t deserve what?’ he starts looking confused and cautious. ‘I don’t deserve this! This is sexual harassment, I don’t deserve you running up on me when I’m just trying to get home!’ He gets this weird look on his face at the word ‘sexual harassment’ and actually has the nerve to sound righteous, ‘How do you know I was hollering at you?’ I look around stunned. ‘We’re the only two people here! You have a mother, you might have a sister, would you really want someone running up on them when they’re all by themselves talking all threateningly to them like this?’ He throws the righteous game out the window when he’s called out and just goes straight to anger.
He sticks his chest out like he’s getting ready to hit me and gets even closer, I stand my ground and look straight back, I’m not running anymore if he beats me up he beats me up. ‘Bitch you wouldn’t get it if you weren’t advertising! You advertising!’ He might as well have hit me for how it felt. I didn’t really have a reply because I wasn’t advertising anything, whatever he actually meant by advertising but I had an idea. That’s when it all made sense, the surprise when I had the audacity to speak, the righteousness when I dared to spurn his threatening advances and the anger when I continued to assert myself. It had nothing to do with what I was wearing, what I was doing, how I looked, or me at all.
Because I wasn’t a person. I was a hole, an object, a shoe rack with no vocal chords, no face, no wants, no right to itself. I was a shoe rack and how dare I object to having shoes placed on me. Is that not why I was created? Is that not my singular purpose in life? The law doesn’t apply to shoe racks, what rights does a pile of wood and rubber have? There was nothing I could say to him, because where I was arguing about my right to be treated as an equal and he was arguing the legitimacy of my very humanity. I biked home as fast as I could and still heard him yelling after me ‘You adverting! You advertising!’ I got home, shut my self in my room, and sobbed for the rest of the day. I wasn’t a person, I wasn’t a survivor or a victim, I was just a woman and that’s practically nothing. I had thought maybe the sexually harassment stemmed from men not knowing women find it threatening and demeaning. Maybe if I stood my ground and let them know I hated it, maybe the surprise and shame would stop it. It never really occurred to me that they simply don’t care if we hate it because they don’t even think about it.
Another instance, a few years later I was walking down the crowded main street of down town San Diego in the afternoon. Four men are walking towards me on the side walk, I look down and side step but the biggest one follows me. I’m about to just run when he grabs me by the arm and pulls me into him. I yell ‘NO!’ and ‘STOP!’ and trying to get away but his friends just laugh and he starts grinding his groin into me in broad daylight in the middle of a busy sidewalk. People actually have to walk around us as I’m struggling. No one does anything, they just look down and keep walking and at last I’m able to shove my way out of his grip. He and his friends keep laughing and making kissing noises and cat calls. I start crying on the street on no one stops. It was witnessed by everybody, men, women, police, children. It just didn’t matter. Its the worst feeling in the world of something to seem so devastating to you but matter so incredibly little to everybody else. If it doesn’t matter to anyone then does it really even matter at all? It matters. It means everything! I want every woman and girl to know that we deserve better! We deserve the right to safety, life, happiness.
We deserve more than to live our lives on the perpetual Rape Clock! Its up to us to demand more and demand more for those that aren’t able to do it themselves yet. It’s not about hating men or villainizing men because the people we want better for are the daughters, mothers, sisters, girlfriends, and wives of men. No father should constantly have to tell his daughter to be safe every time she leaves the house and worry until she comes back because this shouldn’t be a world where the contrary would cross his mind. As women we need to support each other because we all know what it was like to be beaten down and dehumanized and left to deal with the aftermath all alone. I also want to thank HollaBack for making it easier for us to reach out to each other and share out stories and our support.
We were standing in Times Square when we had lost our friend. We decided to stay where we were in hopes she would see us. So we were standing there trying to find her when a guy in Spiderman costume came up to us. He asked us if we needed help and we said no. He kept coming closer as we kept trying to telling to go away. He kept going on about how he could help us. As I held my bag closer to me, I had never felt so scared for my life.
Invasive pat downs are always in the back of my mind when I fly. I can’t relax until I hear the engines start up.
So, going through PDX security alone and having a TSA agent stop me by the first class lane, look at my id and boarding pass, and ask “You first class or just beautiful?” scared me. I was kinda shocked and said “What?” maybe a little sharper than I needed to. He quickly handed me back my boarding pass and id and waved me over to the line I’d been heading for to begin with without saying anything else.
I was terrified I’d be subjected to a pat down (groped) because I’d been snippy with him and maybe embarrassed him. It’s a miracle I didn’t look suspicious to someone just because I was scared of that happening.
I was on a 7:50am bus to a watersports course I was taking one Saturday morning. There was only myself and about three other passengers on the bus, a girl about mid-twenties sitting in front of me, a middle aged man in the aisle opposite, and a middle aged lady in the seat behind me. I had just caught the bus in a rush so was still quite bleary eyed and tired. About 5 minutes after I got on the bus a young man, about mid-twenties, got on. He walked passed the lady sitting in front of me before stopping in the aisle beside me, and saying in a very loud assertive voice to me “You! You were out last night.” In shock I mumbled “no”, before he continued. “You, you! I can tell by your face you were out last night. You’re a bad girl.” And he continued walking down to the back of the bus.
This may not sound like the most offensive comments in the world, but his sheer ignorance and nerve to shout about on a young girl’s appearance (bearing in mind I’m a twenty year old student, who was sitting alone on the bus) to a whole bus. I was tired from preparing for my course, but even if I had been on a night out, who was he to berate me for this, as if a woman doesn’t have the right to go on a night out. I sat in shocked silence trying to convince myself to go and confront him, but decided that as I was alone with loads of bags, the risk of him getting off at the same stop as me and harassing me further was not worth it. He got off at the stop before me, not before he passed me and sneeringly stopped to say “Goodbye now”. Before the bus pulled away, he stopped at the window where I was sitting, knocking and gesturing, what I’m not sure as I was to intimidated to look directly at him. I decided the least I could do was express some of my disgust, as there was now the safety of a window between us, and swiftly flipped him off before the bus pulled away.
This guy in front of me on the bus in Minneapolis loudly, repeatedly demanded attention from a lady across from us – then aggressively hit on her. She very politely declined to talk with him, so he called her a lesbian – and poor, because “rich women like me.”
I was walking my dog at approximately 11:36 am on a Thursday. A man in his mid twenties approached in a red sedan and whistled quite obnoxiously. It frightened my dog and startled me. I proceeded walking on my route and from another street I could see him circling. He passed me three times. I eventually picked up my dog and ran home.
I was walking home from school. As I was walking past a church parking lot that was a block from my house a guy pulls in the lot and says “Hey Beautiful.” I look over and walk away with stern body language. As I was walking away and I heard him shouting things at me. Only to make out ” Come here ,I got the money .” He was probably trying to imply that I was a prostitute. I was dressed in normal school clothes, carrying a binder. Why are men so sick? I’m scared to walk home now.
In order to get home I have to walk across a pedestrian bridge and then walk through a local park in my town. I do this walk multiple times a day. Going to and from school, work, and anything else that might get me out of the house. Almost everyday I get catcalled at. My most recent incident: Around midnight I was coming home from an SF Giants baseball game and I had to drop off my rental car then walk home. I braced myself with my pepper spray and wrapped a huge blanket around my shoulders hoping to prevent anyone from talking to me. Some guy in his twenties comes up to me and says, “What’s up beautiful?” I didn’t reply. “A little cold there?” I just kept walking and ignored him. But him and other people who have called out to me when I am walking alone make me so angry. Do they not realize how scared they are making me? Is it a power trip for them? Is it funny for them? I am so afraid of walking to and from my house even during the day. If a man is walking up behind me I immediately tense up and grab my pepper spray, no matter the time of day. I’m angry that the most I can do is ignore them for fear of them doing something worse. I’m angry that they make me so powerless with just a couple words. I hate feeling this way.
Again at the 500. Block of Main Street. Group of older males loitering- as I passed one said “I’ve been watching you a long time.”
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.