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TALKING TO THEM “WORKED”
As I was leaving a grueling and wonderful dance class, a group of four construction workers nearby whistled and catcalled. I was dripping sweat and still in my leotard and jazz pants. I decided to challenge their ignorance, and said, “Listen, I’m an athlete; I’ve been knocking myself out for almost 2 hours perfecting something that’s really difficult. Show some respect and stop that!”. They applauded and one guy said “Right on”, and shook my hand.
To this day, I don’t know if it was the right thing to do, or if it made them think seriously about their behavior, but I was glad I’d done it.
The institute where I study is about ten minutes away from my house. I’ve been attending that institute for two months with no problems until two weeks ago. A couple of weeks ago a building started to be constructed near by my house and institute, so every morning when I leave (about 7:45am) I meet with the men that are working in the site. The harassment started with a man calling me beautiful, it may not be offensive, but I was alone and they were in a group, he is a man in his late forties and I’m a nineteen-year-old girl. I started seeing the men every morning, and it went from being an uncomfortable situation to me becoming frightened when this same guy came close to my face one day and whispered ”she is so beautiful”. I felt scared and disgusted and couldn’t concentrate in my classes for the rest of the day. I told my mom about it, trying not to make it sound like a big deal and said that I was simply going to change routes. She agreed and asked me to text her when I arrived. The day that I changed routes, I thought I had finally found the solution and as I was entering the institute, someone from across the street yelled at me ”Hey Beautiful”, it was him again. I texted my mom, and after she talked with my father, he drives me every day to school now. My parents said they wanted me to and could tell the police I was being harassed daily by the same guy. The problem is I never had the guts to look at his face.
I pulled up to the gas station on the corner of Dundonald and Smythe streets in Fredericton, NB, Canada. I realized that the pump I was at was debit-only, so I returned to my car. While I was bent down looking for my debit card, I heard a man yell from a passing car “Yeah bitch you bend over!” It happened so fast I have no idea what the man looked like.
I am an employee of a school district, and I frequently travel between all the schools in the district. One day, I was driving from the high school to an elementary school in a residential neighborhood. It was warm, so my windows were down. As I drove past an older man (probably in his 50s), hey shouted “Hey”. I ignored him and kept driving. He started to chase after my car until I stopped at a stop sign a few feet ahead of him. He started to scream “Hey bitch, who the hell do you think you are ignoring me? I just wanted to tell you that you’re hot”. I immediately put up my windows and continued driving to the school. I ran inside, just in case he saw where I parked (the elementary school was visible from where this took place). I also haven’t driven in that area with my windows down since, and I get very nervous traveling to that particular elementary school now, where as before I didn’t.
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.