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I was in Paris for Easter. It was early afternoon, I was walking back to my hotel, which was in a very posh neighborhood, a group of two boys and two girls were walking in the opposite direction of the same sidewalk. They were about 13 to 14 years old. The idea of any harassment wouldn’t have crossed my mind at all, I barely paid attention to them, which made it even worse. As I was about to pass them, one of the boys grabbed me out of nothing in between my legs, the other one slapped my butt. After that, they just casually proceeded in their walk while screaming laughing, including the two girls.
As an adult, who thinks of herself as a strong woman, I was caught off guard, not knowing what to do, hating myself for not doing anything, at least a slap might have done after all. Even though I already got used to whistling, being hauled, forced into conversations, etc. I was defenseless at this point, kept wondering what made them do it, and was alarmed by the fact that a kid might be a possible threat to me. However, I mostly regretted all those women around these two boys, be it their sisters, mothers, friends or future girlfriends and wives.
I don’t have a single story. I have tons of stories. Growing up I learned not to take walks, to never acknowledge people, and pretend to talk on the phone (with 911 already dialed).
I began riding a bike for exercise, as I receive less comments and gestures, although they still happen.
The most recent was when a car came up right alongside me, a man leaned out and seemed to try and grab me while yelling “HEY B****!!!” I wasn’t sure what to do, so I kept going and thankfully another car came up, so he had to go back in his lane.
I’ve had people make offers for me to sell my body, as if I were on auction. I’ve had people call me names, whistle, etc. In one walk I could have four incidents. I stopped walking to church, because it got too uncomfortable and someone would follow me consistently.
When I go out with my male friend, it is so NICE not to have the comments or be on guard as much. I was shocked the first time walking around the city with him how NO ONE tired anything. It makes me want to have an escort all the time. Which is extremely sad.
I’ve become to expect the harassment, and am pleasantly surprised when I don’t receive any. However, most of the time I get at least some. I don’t even bring up all the incidents to people, cause I know they will think they aren’t a big deal, but they ARE a big deal.
I wish I knew of a SAFE way of telling the jerks that it is NOT okay. However, I try not to engage, because I don’t want it to escalate.
While I was exploring BaoBao Bakery in Chinatown in broad daylight with friends, a middle-aged elderly man groped my butt twice in the middle of the store, first as a “tester” brush to see how I would react and then a later, stronger touch when my confusion at the first contact did not result in negative consequences. At the time, I was not sure whether the crowdedness of the store was what had caused the touches and whether they had been honest mistakes. Looking back, though, I realized the man could have easily grabbed the breads without touching my butt the way he did.
Instead of suffering in silence, I have decided to Hollaback! by posting this story. I had not taken a picture of my harasser but wish I did. This incident happened in Boston Chinatown, and I am not sure if the man spoke English. I don’t think potential language barriers should prevent women from hollering back – in whatever language they choose – and publicly denouncing their harassers for their behavior. If anything like this happens again, I will not hesitate to Hollaback!
Note: BaoBao Bakery does not deserve special blame. It merely was the location I was in at the time of this incident.
I was maybe eleven or twelve? Either way I was very young and very innocent. I hadn’t properly hit puberty yet and I wasn’t in any way old for my age. In short, I was just a kid. I was walking home by the local shops, right in front of Mcdonalds when a man (35? 40?)hissed “You’re looking great, sweetie, I want you” or words to that effect. I freaked out and ran home, crying, where some friends saw me in the park. I cried and explained what had happened and my girlfriends soothed me and organised a lift home for me. That was upsetting, but not as upsetting as the reaction the next few days. People would come up to me, curiously asking if I had been raped, because that was what they had heard from a friend who heard from a friend who said they were there. Some boys came up to me, teasing me about my older lover. I saw the man again, a few weeks later, and he smirked at me and wiggled his finger for me to come closer. Thankfully I was with a friend and we kept walking until we were out of sight, where I called the police. It was probably the scariest encounter with street harassment in my life, maybe because of my age.
I was walking into the Target on the corner with two friends. I was wearing a dress. I heard a male voice behind me say that he loved the dress and I ignored him. He followed my friends and I further into the store and kept saying “hey you in the dress,” but I ignored him. Finally I without looking told him to fuck off. He started being like “fuck off, all I wanted to do was compliment you!!!” I turned around at that and he looked physically threatening so I walked with my friends further into the store. The store was crowded, there were employees everywhere but no one said a thing.
I go to The University of Texas in Austin and it’s hella expensive to park your car on campus. Usually I just park my car across 35 and take the shuttle back to campus, but I had just gotten back to town and it was a Sunday, so the shuttle wasn’t running a full schedule. Because the next bus wouldn’t arrive for another 45 minutes (and because it was early March and 30 degrees outside), I decided to walk back to campus rather than wait.
I was walking down MLK, having almost made it back to my dorm without incident, when a silver PT cruiser sped past me. Some guy stuck his head out the window and yelled “SLUT,” started laughing, and pulled his head back into the car.
They turned onto the same street as my dorm and I tried to chase after them, but they were gone by the time I turned the corner.
The guy in the photo below decided that he wanted to talk to me at the cafe that both of us happen to be at twenty minutes ago so he said hi. I ignored him, he said hi again then a few more times. I ignored him & stayed focused on the book I was reading. He said, “ok,” then started waving he hand in my face to get my attention. I still ignored him. Then he touched me on the shoulder while laughing & said ok. I then said, “Fuck you.” Then I walked to the barista and complained. She said, “he’s a regular, he’s here all the time but I’m sorry that that happened & I’ll tell the guys (that work there). And I took his photo & said that this is for Hollaback. He left the establishment.
At around 8:30 am while waiting for the downtown J train at Bowery I was followed and watched by a man who began masturbating. He stood about 20 feet away from me on the same platform. He looked right into my eyes. Thankfully, my train arrived soon after. I called 311 but was on the line for 15 minutes with no response so I gave up. Unfortunately, I was too shocked and disgusted to give this sexist pig a big FUCK YOU. Thank you, you fucking jerkoff, for ruining my Saturday.
He appears at my work every single day.
Criticizing the women I work with, including me, he reaches a topic that is a personal and gender-based insecurity to every woman, sex. The way women look and dress is always a sexual concern in the publicity of men, which he makes apparent.
Questioning the way my co-workers and I present ourselves, he makes comments like, “So when are you going to make a sex tape?” “You look tense, you should purchase a vibrator”, and, “When am I going to see you as the center-fold for Playboy?” These questions do not contribute to women as an individual, but as sexual fixations, enabling us to believe that being a sexual object for men is the purpose of women’s existence.
He does not pass up the opportunity to lower one’s mental health; he attacks even men as well. Commenting on a man’s hopes and aspirations, he belies, “You’re a beatnik and will never amount to anything.” For men, not “amounting to anything” results in a gender-based insecurity of failure. Men value their work ethic and aspirations as a reflection of their selves, because essentially men are taught that they will be relied on later in life. If someone doubts their accomplishments or determination, they take it as a personal threat of their inability to provide for others in life.
He doesn’t need to know someone as a person, only how to make generalized comments towards their gender. The University of Oregon recognizes this behavior as gender harassment, defining it as, “Generalized sexist statements and behavior that covey insulting or degrading attitudes about women [or men]” (University Counseling & Testing Center, 2010).
Making note of his appearance and the way he confidently fabricates his life as successful, this explains why he must mentally flagellate those around him. He struggles with his own heightened insecurities and belittling others creates the illusion that he feels superior; by recognizing that others have insecurities of their own. He heightens his perception of his own self-worth when verbalizing false statements to those around him.
The use of harassment in the workplace causes my co-workers and me to develop effects of drop in work performance due to stress, decrease in job satisfaction, depression, self-consciousness, frustration, and unfavorable work conditions. The comments that he makes cause psychological damage and sustain us from not performing our best while at work.
A lot of victims hide in terror and denial from their harassers, unable to tell anyone or change the outcome. Victims may feel powerless; an imbalance of power between the harasser and the victim is just a disconnected form of reality. When in actuality, the harasser holds no more power over the victim. In this case, he has no greater power over me or my co-workers.
A few days ago I was walking down the street after having lunch with my friends alone, singing some corny Lion King song and wearing an old sweatshirt and jeans that had not seen a washing machine in a long time. Some man with a beard hollered at me from his car, with immense aggression in his voice, “Let’s see those titties! Show them to me, you bitch!” the street was completely empty, and he had his head completely out the window staring at me. I totally would’ve started screaming and telling him to leave me alone, but he was not extremely rational, and I didn’t want to provoke him into coming after me. I am fourteen. I was singing Lion King and eating a giant sundae. Why do people think that because you’re outside you’re somehow part of the porn movie of their life?! Keep it in your pants, homies.