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Due to my working late, and smoking habit that I can’t seem to drop, I am kind of the de facto neighborhood watch. It is a relatively safe neighborhood, but I’ve heard some weird stuff here and there. I’ve called 911 before when I heard a woman screaming. It turned out to be a drunken domestic dispute (but happening in the middle of the street). I do have a bit of hyper-vigilance, so I tend to mistake the sounds of drunken carousing with something much worse at times, but I figure embarrassment is better than serious danger.
I called the police again 2 nights ago. I saw a woman, who was screaming, be picked up by two men. I ran inside, grabbed my phone, and by the time I got a hold of someone, they were gone. I went close to the area that they were at, but there weren’t any signs of where they had gone, and I was reluctant to investigate it too much, because I didn’t want to get surprised if they were in a spot where they could see me. I also didn’t know if they were armed.
The police came in about 10 minutes, and checked the area. I have no idea if they found anything. I also have no idea of what I saw. It was dark, far away, maybe this was drunken carousing, maybe I gave her time and space to get away if it was as bad as it looked.
In short, between running to where they were to directly see what was happening and help, and grabbing my phone to call the police, I chose the second option. This has left me with very little information, and a sickening feeling that I am a coward and should have done more. I hope that everything worked out, or it wasn’t what it looked like, but I’ll never know.
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BY NICOLA BRIGGS
It’s amazing (shocking, really), the types of things you’ll see if you observe carefully. Much of the time, when you start to become more alert to seeing things going down, you’ll be unable to do anything about it. Here’s an example: When you’re on the subway train, and you witness overtly aggressive behavior, seemingly out of the blue. A young man is shoving an older, conservatively dressed man out of his way as he exits the car. Most people look up just in time from fiddling with their smart phone, the book they’re falling asleep reading, their children pawing at them, whatever, and think “What the hell?” But what they didn’t see was the older man’s briefcase, heavy as a boulder with law briefs, knocking into this poor guy’s knees over and over again as he sat there in front of him. Each time the car swayed, whack! and not even a “sorry” for this young man that had already said, “Dude, watch your bag, you’re hitting my knees!” And what none of them on that car could possibly know was that exactly eighteen minutes before, that young man had just gotten fired from his second job in three months. So the fuse had been lit, but nobody was the wiser, until the older guy was given a shove, which later, when he took off his shirt at the end of the day, resulted in a nasty black-and-blue mark on his shoulder.
So that’s an example of an unpremeditated violent situation, which could have been avoided. Not to say the older man deserved what he got, because there really isn’t an excuse for reacting to behavior which was not intentional in a violent manner, not in a civilized society. The younger man probably should have (a) realized he was in an emotionally impaired state, and checked himself, and (b) gotten up and changed seats, realizing that the other man wasn’t going to stop his insensitive behavior. And of course, if the man hadn’t used his briefcase as a meat tenderizer, the whole thing wouldn’t have happened anyway. But the point is that, much of the time, we may actually be able to “see it coming” so to speak, and stop the train wreck before it happens. Next week, we’ll take a look at the more malevolent expression of violence, the predator-prey relationship. Until then, be safe out there! You never know what is going on in the lives of people standing or sitting right next to you in public.
We’ve only got 9 days to go and over $15,000 more to raise to reach our goal! We need your help to make sure that no one ever has to Hollaback alone. Support our campaign here, and check out the ABC article here!
My girlfriend and I were waiting for a bus, and some guy kept standing really close and trying to chat up a woman. She was in a wheelchair, and the street was crowded, so when she was trying to inch away from him, he had a significant edge on maneuvering around, and kept getting close. I stepped in between, and asked him why he had to make people uncomfortable. He was more confused than confrontational, and I couldn’t really tell if he was on something or maybe didn’t have good English, but he didn’t really give any reasonable reply. Just some quiet mutterings. I kept myself between him and the wheelchair using woman (as well as my girlfriend) until we got on the bus. He got on after us (without paying), and was more towards the front than us, so it was basically done then. He got off a couple of stops later dragging his arm across a woman’s chest along the way.
I didn’t know if he was planning on following the wheelchair using woman after her bus ride or not, but I was extremely troubled that no one else took a stance as things were happening. And maybe I helped stop something terrible. It’s impossible to know. I was happy that I made someone feel (and maybe be) safer, but it’s pretty disheartening to think that this guy has an opportunity to harass people without much response.
Shouldn’t every story of harassment end just like this one? It’s possible, we just have to teach people how to do it and celebrate it when they do. Donate to the “I’ve got your back” campaign. Only 10 days to go!
I was verbally harassed and ogled on Patrick St. in Old Town, Alexandria, VA by a man in a black t-shirt, green shorts, short hair, wearing headphones. He stated, “lookin’ good. There she goes with her fine self.” He was waking into the Henry St. parking lot from Patrick St. while I was exiting.
If you want to live in a world where you dress to look good for you, not for some man on the street, donate now to our “I’ve Got Your Back” campaign.
I have to walk and take buses every day to work, run errands, etc. and
just about every day, some asshole has to honk his horn at me when
driving by. I usually ignore this, thinking I’m not going to give them
the attention they want but I’m sick of just doing nothing so lately
I’ve been flipping the bird at them. What do these jerks get out of honking
at women, anyway? And it especially pisses me off when I’m just
walking down the street, lost in my own thoughts and then,
“BEEEEEEEEEP!!!” and it startles the bejesus out of me. It’s like I
have no fucking right to leave my apartment and walk down the street
in peace. And it’s NOT what I’m wearing because I’ll be heading to
work wearing my boring, loose-fitting, conservative work
clothes…pants, long skirts, all topped off by a baggy hoodie to
cover my ample chest when I’m out and about since I HAVE had comments
made about my breasts by total strangers. With all the unwanted
attention I get, I feel like I’m stark-naked and spread-eagle in the
middle of the sidewalk with a huge neon sign above my head saying “DO
ME!” If you are a man who harasses women on the street, FUCK YOU! I
don’t walk down the street or wait at the bus stop for your approval
or commentary. I have work to go to and shit to get done. And thanks,
Hollaback! What an awesome way to get this off my chest and to know I
am not alone.
La Diablita isn’t alone! And you should be either. Donate to the “I’ve got your back” campaign to make this dream a reality.
He was staring me down, making faces like he wanted to eat me and then I crossed the street and walked the opposite of him. Trying to hail a cab and I turn around and he was right in back of me!! Totally disrespecting me the way he was staring at me and making motions with his tongue. Very disturbing and uncomfortable.
Chances are Dinah wasn’t alone with this happened. Someone should have had her back and offered to help. But no one did. To change this terrifying dynamic, donate to the “I’ve Got Your Back” campaign today.
BY KATE reposted from Kate Runs.
I woke up this morning with summer weighing heavily on my mind – thoughts of camping, hiking, biking, running, beaches, lakes, kayaking and general frolicking have me distracted. Today was a perfect summer morning, with bright sunlight and a slight breeze, forecasted highs in the low 80′s. I’m ready for next week’s break (Jack and I both have the week off), even if it means insanity today and tomorrow trying to tie up loose ends ahead of my absence.
I wasn’t quite ready to write about yesterday’s run when I returned. The run itself was a lovely, 68-degree 5.5 miles around the Greenway and the Esplanade (isn’t that view such an improvement from this?), and started out innocuously enough with my pondering once again the reasons some object to slower runners in their midst; perhaps I’ll share some additional theories here at a later date.
The infuriating part of my lunchtime run yesterday came in the form of several unrelated catcalling incidents.
Men of the World: STOP IT.
“Mami,” “Baby,” “Honey,” “Wow,” “Damn,” “That’s the stuff,” “Why you jogging? Keep that ass!” and “Oh, shit!” are all unacceptable ways to address me, or my backside as I pass you. Do not whistle. Do not hiss. Do not pull up alongside me and ask me for my number.
None of these things are compliments. They are not funny. They are not acceptable, and certainly they are not endearing. I do not run for your amusement or your approval, and I did not ask for your feedback. It is insulting, it is threatening, it is exhausting to ignore and it is harassment.
I should mention that this is not an isolated or unusual occurrence, and certainly not something that impacts only me. Some days, I find myself almost amused; almost always, I find the behavior pathetic. Yesterday, I was not in the mood, and found myself particularly enraged.
To those who will suggest that I run in a different neighborhood – I certainly wish that I could say that running in my tiny hometown in rural PA (or, as yesterday, along the Esplanade) didn’t involve similar perils.
To those who will argue that short shorts and sports bras are bound to attract attention (what kind of blame-the-victim pig are you?), I will note that I, firstly, don’t believe that that should make it acceptable to comment at will on a stranger’s physical appearance, and secondly that I seldom run in anything above the knee or with bare shoulders (let alone midriff), for personal comfort and sun protection reasons.
To those who will insist that I am a humorless crank who can’t take a joke or a compliment, I suggest you pay a bit more attention to your surroundings the next time you’re out with your girlfriend, your daughter or your sister. Behavior like this is certainly not aimed solely at runners – it just happens to be the time when I find it most frustrating. (I’m sweaty. I’m salt-stained. I smell a little. I’m panting and focusing on my stride and trying to finish my last mile and I would like very much not to hear from you.) Keep your eyes and ears open, and see if you don’t find yourself appalled.
Most importantly, if you happen to be reading this and thinking that any of those tactics I listed above sound like good fun and why didn’t you think of that – STOP IT. If you wouldn’t say it to your mother, don’t say it to me when you eat my dust.
SUBMITTED BY BRITTANY, reposted from Service Women’s Action Network.
Every day, I walk 8 blocks down Fifth Avenue to work and then back again. Now that the weather is getting nicer in New York, I especially look forward to these walks when I can sip on my latte, do some window shopping, and bask in the sun before August rolls around and the hot air suffocates so much that it is unpleasant to be outside for a minute, let alone walk ten to work. However, there are often days that—weather problems aside— this walk turns from a pleasant moment of serenity to a time that ranges from annoying to scary. Sexual harassment is what I’m talking about, and there have been times when I’ve been harassed by five different men in the course of 10 minutes, or these 8 blocks to and from work. The type of harassment and specific remarks or actions vary—sometimes men whisper things like “sexy legs” or “nice ass” as we’re passing each other on the street. Other times the harassment is more threatening. I’ve had men follow me a few blocks before, and once even saw a man masturbating in his car while staring at me and saying things to get me to look over at him. While some of these incidents are obviously more dangerous than others, the collective effect makes me feel degraded, objectified, and many times, straight up scared. Even in my own neighborhood oftentimes in the middle of the day, my feelings range from annoyed at best to extremely fearful at worst. After these incidents occur, I find myself wishing I could disappear, that I could walk up and down Fifth Avenue completely unnoticed. But this thought itself is enraging—shouldn’t I have a fundamental right to walk to and from work without the constant fear of physical or verbal sexual assault?
The title of this post is something that male sexual harassers often say to women—“Hey baby, let me see a smile!” or some related version. Men say this to me, and to many of my colleagues and friends, as we’re going about our business—walking to work, waiting in line at the grocery store, on the subway. I don’t know about you, but I rarely have a smile plastered to my face at all times while I’m just living my daily life. Men seem to expect me to, however, and this expectation undoubtedly is related to their view of women and their gender roles. Women exist for men’s pleasure and use, whether it is functional, aesthetic, or sexual. Related, some men feel entitled to expect and demand women to act a certain way, and think nothing of trying to enforce these roles via sexually explicit suggestions, remarks, or gestures. This dynamic is pervasive, and can just as easily happen on Fifth Avenue as in a work environment.
Fortunately, as a civilian I am protected by equal opportunity policies and anti-sexual harassment laws that permit me to sue my employer for sexual harassment and have access to other forms of redress should this kind of thing happen in the workplace. I can also choose to leave my job, to quit at the drop of the hat. Many women are not afforded this luxury, however, if quitting a job because of sexual harassment means descending into poverty. Yet, despite how imperfect civilian workplace sexual harassment policies may be, they provide a lot more protections and forms of redress than the sexual harassment and equal opportunity policies in the U.S. military. Rape and sexual assault survivors in the military also find themselves in precarious positions, and are often left vulnerable and hopeless. Imagine being raped by your commander (boss/employer) and then being forced to work with him, in close, intimate quarters, every day! While I can easily choose to avoid Fifth Avenue or even duck into a public place for refuge, military women are forced to walk the equivalent of Fifth Avenue every day. And forget privacy protections—even though in recent years the military introduced a “restricted” reporting option that allows sexual assault survivors to receive healthcare and treatment without having to name their assailant, anonymity is unlikely to be preserved in practice. In fact, the DOD recently found that over half of sexual assault survivors who didn’t report the incident chose not to because of fear of retaliation or reprisal.
SWAN has been instrumental in persuading members of Congress to introduce legislation that would fill some of these gaps in military policy and ensure survivors of rape and sexual assault in the military are protected. Hopefully one day soon servicemen and women will have the same options I have to escape and address rape, sexual assault, and sexual harassment. But the underlying cause of sexual violence—an infectious combination of power, misogyny, and sexism—needs to be eradicated before women in both the civilian and military worlds can walk to work without fearing physical or verbal sexual assault.