demonstration, Story

Melissa’s Story: #harassmentis response

Hi. I am a pre-op transsexual woman living in West Hartford, Connecticut. I shared my story in 2011 and shared a follow up story this year (2013).

I was reading Hollaback’s #HarassmentIs and felt inspired to share more experiences.

Ableism-

I was pumping gas at a local gas station when a young man pumping gas in front of me read that I looked like I didn’t work. He turned to another young man, whom he did not know, who was at a different pump and said, loudly, “How was work?” To which the other young man replied, sarcastically, “Oh, It was great.”

I was at the local post office and accidentally, momentarily, messed my transaction up while there were several people waiting. While my transaction resolved itself, two men, at least one of them younger, who were behind me in line, were able to finish before me. When I got back to my car, someone had put an additional 4 quarters in my parking meter. Evidently, they somehow knew which car was mine, which felt creepy, because they had to be watching or keeping track of me getting out of my car, which is bizarre, because who does that?

Classism –

In #HarassmentIs only one page was devoted to street harassment based on class, and it only talked about people who are, or are perceived to be wealthy, harassing people who are, or who are perceived to be poor.

I look like I have money and I have received a tremendous amount of verbal abuse (in a predominantly wealthy area), for being perceived to have wealth.

Two weeks ago, I made a trip to West Hartford center on a Monday mid-afternoon. It is a place where wealthy appearing women will occasionally walk around. I got out of my car, put a couple of quarters in my meter and began walking toward Starbucks. I had not planned to go inside and was going to walk by and, eventually, cross the street. Less than halfway to Starbucks I came upon a man who was already harassing a woman because she had a nice car (black Lexus? SUV). She was responding to him, it seemed she was trying to comfort him. When I encountered him he was saying to her in a very loud and angry tone of voice “thousand dollar a month car!” Then he saw me and his eyes went to my shoes, which were nice booties and he became even more angry the moment he looked at my shoes. He turned back to her and said, even louder. “Thousand dollar a month car payment, thousand dollar a month (unintelligible)! You’ve got car insurance, health insurance, while the rest of us are eating popcorn. By this time I was pretty distant, and he called after me – “Yeah, keep walking!” Needless to say my trip to West Hartford center was very short. Just before I got into my car I saw him sitting himself down angrily outside Starbucks.

In 2010 I was at the cafe at Barnes and Noble and I sat down in the back of the cafe to read. As soon as I sat down, a man who was seated diagonally across from me, who was talking with a woman, bristled. He was looking at me and he said, loudly, “Spain. Yeah Spain’s got problems. My mother in law is from Spain.” He kept talking and getting louder and I had to leave the cafe.

Also in 2010 I had three separate experiences which were so similar they were shocking. In May, I was in West Hartford center and a young man who was with another  man said loudly to me “That’s not real!” In August I was at the DMV in a neighboring town and a young woman who was with her male partner said, as she passed me, “That’s unreal.” Lastly, sometime later in the fall, a young man working at Whole Foods, said to me as he saw me “Is that real?”

– to clarify – Yes. It’s real.

I was in Blue Back Square on a Sunday recently and I sat down on an out of the way bench. A car of young boys drove by and I heard one of them shout “It looks like you have a secret life!” And then drive on.

Earlier this year I was at the Barnes and Noble cafe (which I do not go to any longer) and an unstable woman had an outburst. She perceived me to be gay (which I’m not), and started asking an employee if he was going to be a “Boy Scout troop leader?” He played along with her and offered “Did I tell you that I’m rich?”

– I think what is interesting about the harassment based on classism is that a few years ago I blended right in, wearing some of the same clothes. Everyone here looked like they had money (whether they actually did or not) and no one ever bothered me for looking like I had money. Recently I’ve received a tremendous amount of flak for at least appearing to be wealthy. So it was understandable that when I read the #HarassmentIs booklet that Hollaback depicted examples of wealthy people harassing poorer people, however, it ran completely contrary to my experiences. I have never harassed someone verbally, for any reason.

Gender Identity Photo-Op –

As I said, I am a pre-op transsexual woman, so I dress the part. I have a wonderful wardrobe with lots of shoes, beautiful dresses, a fair amount of jewelry and plenty of color.

I have had my photo taken, with my knowledge (but without my consent), 5 different times.

One was a photo taken by a young teenage girl from a car that she asked her friend to slow down as I walked down the street.

A second was a young twenty-something taking my photo as I sat near a statue in West Hartford Center.

A third was another young twenty-something taking my picture as I sat on a bench in West Hartford center.

A fourth was, yet another young twenty-something, taking my photo at the same spot as the previous.

Lastly, this Sunday a grown, middle-aged woman snapped a photo with flash in Blue Back Square. She was with her family. (I hear it’s a great way to teach the kids).

– It is interesting to note that all of the people who took my photo (over the last 3 years) were women, and four of them were twenty-something or younger.

I must be a Facebook celebrity, but I don’t know it.

I wanted to write these things because that is what came to mind after reading #HarassmentIs. I think that our current culture is about punishment and critical judgement of others. When a person doesn’t fit in to generalized norms, they are immediately criticized, judged and then punished.

Speaking for myself, I am just trying to relax.

It does not matter where you are or what you are trying to do, you shouldn’t be punished for it, unless it causes avoidable harm to others.

I am very sorry for my length, and I hope you can include this on your website. Once again, thank you for providing a place to express these things.

Melissa

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Story

HOLLA ON THE GO: Drive-by harassment

Group of guys shouted at me from their car as they drove by.

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Story

Ada’s Story: You have the right to wear shorts!

Last week, I stopped at the local Starbucks to buy a cappuccino, when I noticed an older man sitting alone at a table who seemed to be staring at me. Let me just say that I’m a freshman in high school, and I wasn’t wearing anything ridiculous, just a t-shirt and shorts. The man seemed to be at least fifty years old, and when I turned around to pay for my drink, I realized that he was staring at my butt. Not even trying to hide it, or at least having the decency to look ashamed when I turned around. I was thoroughly creeped out, and since I was just by myself (I was meeting a friend), I was too scared to sit down alone, in case he approached me. I was so uncomfortable I just took my coffee and left. Later when I told my friend about it, I said, “I guess my shorts are kind of short.” She stopped me right there, saying “You have the right to wear shorts, it’s hot out! That doesn’t mean he has the right to look at you like that!” I realized that she was right. That random man made me feel unsafe and uncomfortable in my own neighborhood, blocks from my house, and it’s just as bad in other places. it isn’t fair, it wasn’t my fault, and it has to stop.

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Story

Bristolian’s Story: He refused to leave her alone

This man followed me around the boot sale, leering at me and trying to catch my attention. When I told him to leave me alone he started calling me “fat cow”. This was in front of my mum, boyfriend and several other people. I then took a photo of him, and as a response he flicked me with a hose and called me “piggy”.


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Story, Uncategorized, Verbal

HOLLA ON THE GO: “Pride in the Park is a day we all should be able to enjoy”

Pride in the Park is a day we all should be able to enjoy.
Some out of state people showed up to prance around with signs and verbally attack Pride-goers.
One man, bible in hand decided me and my friend looked homosexual and proceeded to keep asking why we look as we do. “WHY ARE YOU DRESSED LIKE THAT?!? ARE YOU A HOMOSEXUAL?!?”
They harassed many people present and even brought a bullhorn. So you travel states just spread hate in the name of your god? Logical…

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demonstration, Stalking, Story, Verbal

Glenda’s Story: “Of course it was terrifying”

I just moved to Las Vegas about a month ago to pursue a performance career, I am a fire dancer.

I finished my shift at Paris casino (handing out voucher tickets for the Eiffel Tower experience), and was walking back to the MGM where I parked my car. For those who don’t know what the Vegas strip is like, 11am is no quiet time. Every part is brightly lit up and there are hundreds of people.

As I’m walking, this tall man comes right off my left side behind me and says, “Hey girl, how are you? What are you up to?”

I give him that “oh haha yeah you think I’m cute thanks I’m gonna keep walking bye now smile” and move away from him. I’m sure you ladies know which smile I’m talking about.

He says, “What, you afraid of guys? You afraid of me? You don’t wanna talk to me?”

And, in the same ‘aha yeah sorry I’m just on my way please excuse my rudeness’ fashion, I say, “Sorry, I just don’t talk to random guys I don’t know”. I’m doing that dismissive smiling thing because I’m conditioned to brush guys off gently, to not anger people, to make it seem like I’M the rude person for not responding.

He snaps.

He starts screaming at me at the top of his longs, chasing me for about a block as I try to get away from him as fast as I can.

“FUCK YOU YOU FUCKING GOD DAMN UGLY SLUT, FUCK YOU!!! FUCK YOU!! YOU FUCKING UGLY CUNT WHORE, I’M GONNA KILL YOU, YOU FUCKING UGLY GOD DAMN SLUT! FAGGOT! FAGGOT! YOU’RE GONNA GET RAPED, I HOPE SOMEONE RAPES YOUR FUCKING UGLY ASS, YOU FUCKING DISGUSTING SLUT! FUCK YOU! FUCK YOU! FAGGOT, FUCK YOU!!!!!!”

….and so forth and it just got more angry and colorful from there.

As I’m getting away as fast as I can I’m shouting “Leave me alone! Get away from me!”

I dive off into a food court and hide as soon as I feel like I have enough distance, but I don’t know how far behind me he is because he was screaming so loud I couldn’t gauge the distance very well.

Thankfully there was a police officer in the food court and he was kind enough to call in a couple of security guards to escort me to my car.

I was shaking and crying and I felt ready to puke. Of course it was terrifying. I didn’t know if this was gonna be the one guy that instead of responding with the usual, “Whatever, you’re ugly anyway” that happens when I refuse public advances, he was going to be the one that had a knife or a gun. Because YES that happens to women and YES women have died when they refuse cat call advances.

This is the outfit I was wearing.
Yes I’m flipping off the camera in the photo. I’m angry. I’m angry that this person felt he could treat me this way for simply NOT WANTING TO TALK TO HIM. I’m angry that this is not an isolated incident, that women all over the world experience this every day.

I’m tired of being scared outside. I want to feel safe and free. HOLLABACK.

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Story

Ashley’s Story: Car Creeper

The other night, I was standing on my porch when a man stopped his car in front of my building. He said something that I couldn’t make out so I asked him to repeat it. When he said it the second time, it sounded like he said “Please tell me your middle name.” Confused, I asked “You want to know my middle name?” He shook his head and replied “No. Please tell me you are good in bed. Like, you ain’t got a boyfriend or nothin?” I told him that I do, in fact, have a boyfriend. He sat there for a few seconds and then sped off in his car.

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Stalking, Story, Verbal

Kk’s Story: “The last thing I wanted was for the situation to turn violent”

I was traveling in Paris, making my way to the Eiffel Tower one bright afternoon. I was looking around, trying to make sure I was going the right way, and, as a result, I made eye contact with a man that was walking past me on the sidewalk.

A few minutes later, he had turned around and caught up to me. He followed me. I was nervous, trying to be polite yet distant while he tried to engage me in conversation. On the way back to the underground, he grabbed my hand and tried to kiss me.

I moved away from him, told him to stop, but he just laughed and kept walking beside me. We were in a part of the park that was virtually empty, so, even though I told him to leave, I didn’t want to stay where I was, with no one else around, until he did.

All the way back to the underground, he continued to try to touch me. I tried to push him away, but didn’t want to strike him. The last thing I wanted was for the situation to turn violent.

Finally, I made it back to one of the main stations, walked over to the police booth and stayed there until he left. Some people have said I should have expected it, traveling alone… Like the unacceptable behavior was mine. But what makes it okay for him to harass me, touch me, stalk me? Why does walking somewhere on my own in broad daylight mean he’s not to blame?

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Story

Rose’s Story: “…even then I was aware that catcalling was wrong.”

i live in florida and go to the beach frequently. earlier this year i went with my aunt’s friend and her two children, aged 4 and 7. we were on a stretch of sand next to the highway so we could leave the spring breakers alone because it was too crowded on the beaches further down the island. some young, college aged men came driving down the highway in their car with penises drawn all over their car and honked at me and my aunt’s friend, yelling things like “nice asses” i was 15 at the time, and even then i was aware that catcalling was wrong. i wanted to say something but they drove away too quickly

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Stalking, Story

Alison’s Story: “There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that they had bad intentions.”

I was taking a long walk for exercise one night, and was returning home on the sidewalk alongside Lick Mill Road, heading for Tasman Blvd when I noticed a car had slowed down behind me. I looked over my shoulder as the car stopped right behind me, with at least three people in it from what I could see through the windows at night.

I continued walking, at my usual brisk pace when exercising, and the car pulled out again and passed me slowly, then stopped in a driveway cutout just ahead of me. I responded by simply walking across the street (Lick Mill has a planted divider with turnouts once each hundred yards or so). The car zoomed down the street and around a curve in the road, and assuming the possibility that they would make a U-turn at the next turnout, I crossed back to my original side and sure enough, they had turned around. As they zoomed to the other turnout behind me, I crossed the street again.

When they got back to the spot where they had originally begun stalking me, they saw me across the street, and again zoomed around the curve to head for the turnout to make another U-turn. This time instead of dashing across the street, I ducked behind some bushes and watched as the car slowly crawled along where they had last seen me. Then they did what I had hoped they would do, they assumed I had gone into the walled parking lot that my hiding place was in front of.

After they drove into the parking lot, I ran around the curve and didn’t stop running until I was around the corner on Tasman. It is my sincere hope that they spent the next hour of their lives scouring that parking lot for me and hopefully getting reported for prowling. There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that they had bad intentions.

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