Verbal

Kate’s story: a run cut short by fear

Last month, on a Friday after work I decided to go for a run, it was a cool evening and it was starting to rain, which quickly turned to sleet and then light snow. I was less than a 1/4 mile into my run when I heard yelling — my iPod was between songs, otherwise I might have missed the specifics of it. There was a guy (I am assuming high school age) leaning out the window of a car on the other side of the street who screamed out, “Nice ass………WHORE!!!!!!!!!” I have to be honest, it wasn’t just the words that upset me, it was also how he said it — there was anger in his tone, and it felt threatening.

I tried to shake it off as just a bunch of immature kids with poor judgment and kept running.

Maybe a mile later I was on Beacon St in Cambridge when the same car drove by me again with this guy again hanging out the window screaming at me — I had my iPod cranked up so I don’t know what he said but the tone was, again, unmistakably angry & threatening. I was freaked out that this was the 2nd time they’d driven by me, and I was getting into less residential neighborhoods where there were fewer people on the streets — I had visions of the next time they drove past me, what if they pulled over? got out of the car? pulled me into the car?? I decided to listen to my gut, cut my run short, and turn around & head back for more populated streets & home.

Unfortunately I was not wearing my glasses & did not get the license plate #. I am getting over this but had an anxiety dream about it Friday night that involved me being cornered by a large man and calling for help that never came. I remain disturbed by the fact that at some point in their lives, the boys/men in that car learned that harassing & threatening a woman in this way is somehow ok.

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groping, Nonverbal Harassment, Verbal

ARW’s Story: The power dynamics of a man

This seems to be a fortnightly occurrence and I am unable to escape it.
Thank you perverts!

Women are just as much to blame; the social power dynamics have shifted and while employment may be regulated by male approaches dating definitely has a blurred line.

I seem to fairly often be a victim of somebody grabbing or slapping my behind, I have had my testicles cupped and on many occasions experienced inappropriate contact and remarks.

This weekend a young lady pinched my behind while I stood at the bar in the Victoria pub, Birmingham, I turn around and give her a filthy look and ask her to stop but as I turn back to the bar she decided to grab me again; this time when I turn all of her friends are staring at me and making remarks like ‘hey handsome’ or ‘hello cute ass’

Unfortunately as a man I have little support so when I open my mouth to criticize I am immediately set upon by the eyes of every person in the room and offered tokens of aggression by some woman and men who stand up, but why?
Because the power dynamics of a 6″3 athletic man standing over four much smaller females dictates that indeed I should be the aggressor.
So I am oppressed twice simply for buying a drink and standing up for myself.

Power dynamics exist in many facets and social normality, especially for the socially responsible, is damaged when certain power dynamics are ignored; the main reason I wrote this.
The truth is a lot of this is about social molding and in my experience, women can be just as bad as men because they realize how strong the social power dynamic is in supporting them.

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Verbal

Zoë’s Story: From beautiful to ugly in a matter of seconds

Because I’m always late to work, and I always like to wear lipstick, I often find myself applying makeup on the bus en route to my job. Usually I just get a few glares for primping in public, but last week, it got nasty. I was sitting on the bus (22 outbound) and two middle-aged men sat down near me – one across from me, one in the seat beside mine – and immediately began harassing me. “You look real good tonight, honey” said one. The other: “That’s some sexy red lipstick.” I turned to him and calmly said, “please don’t talk to me” while making eye contact.

Immediately their tone changed. “Ugly bitch!” “My sister told me pretty girls know how to take a compliment and only the ugly ones don’t!” I responded, “It’s funny how as soon as I speak up, I go from being beautiful to ugly.” One scoffed and said “Oh, you’re trying to be funny, bitch? Shut up.” I just kept glaring and eventually they moved but were still within earshot and continued complaining to each other and other passengers about how “rude” and “ungrateful” I was. It really rattled me and I had to call a friend to calm down, but once I got off the bus I felt really good that I had spoken up. Thanks Hollaback!

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Verbal

Sara’s Story: A conversation with the harasser

You think studying in the middle of a common study area wouldn’t turn guys on.

I had my face buried in a book, studying for my finals in two weeks. (I had read your website some weeks before, so I was ready!) He walked in front of me and when he was just out of range, I heard, “Girl, you gorgeous.” I was sure it was for me because there was no one behind me, or on either side. I was so surprised and indignant at his remark I blurted out “Excuse me?!”. Then I realised I had just started something I might not be able to finish. He turned around and I got a good look at his face.  He was 25-30 years old, 5’6″? We exchanged in somewhat-friendly conversation, and I told him that he didn’t know me and shouldn’t call me gorgeous. No heated argument, but what surprised me was that I was studying… With 5-10 people in the same room! Why was it his business to tell me I was good-looking? Or to interrupt my studying?

What was the thing that made him pick on me? Was it my shirt? my hair? my face? Not cool creeper!! I don’t think he’ll pull another stunt like this after our conversation.

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demonstration, Verbal

Kaitlin’s story from St. Louis: High-school horror boys

It was a chilly St Louis Sunday evening in March and I had just finished up a meeting with some local LGBT activists at my favorite cafe, Coffee Cartel. One of the people I had met with offered me a lift home, but I said I was ok walking since my apartment was just a couple blocks away.

As I was crossing Lindell, a car full of high-school-age boys pulled up to the intersection and I heard them yell “Hey, whore! How much?” Since I’m unfortunately used to being holla’d at, I flipped them the bird and kept walking, but they just shouted “Yeah, whore! Stick that finger up my butt!”

I was too shocked to look back at them, so I never got their license plate number, but next time something like that happens, I’ll be sure to report them.

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demonstration, Verbal

Sarah’s story from the bike trails: A bathing suit, a towel, and some harassment

I was nine or ten. It was summer and a friend who lived behind my house had called to invite me to go to the pool with her family. I changed into my bathing suit (a one piece), put a towel and a few things in a backpack, and set off for their house. In order to get their I had to run down one hill, across a creek and some bike trails, and up another. There was a group of men on a bridge, luckily I didn’t have to go on it, but they saw me. They began yelling things like “Come on over here girl” among others. I ran to my friends house. I’d never run up that hill so hard. My friend’s mom (who saw it and made sure I was safe) reminded me that I needed to be careful, that because I looked older people didn’t realize how young I was. She called my mom that night and told her. When my asked me about it I cried half in anger, half in shame. I told my mom I wanted two really big dogs that would go with me everywhere, one on either side, so no one would ever mess with me again. I didn’t know I could HOLLABACK.

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homophobic, Verbal

Lia’s story from South Dakota: Small town harassment

I was about 11 years old and I was walking with my mother to a store called Prarie Market in Rapid City SD to get some groceries. It was a winter, so we were bulked up in puffy winter jackets. We lived about 4 blocks away, and this was a typical thing to do. Anyway, about a block from the store a speeding truck with about 4-5 men started screaming obscenities at us. They were initially screaming “faggots” but once they got closer, and realized we were women, they began screaming “maggots” and other worse words. We ignored them and fortunately it lasted about 20 seconds at best. It happened so quickly and out of nowhere; we were too shocked to say anything.

Although on other occasions, while using a phone near to this same store I had rocks thrown at me by a group of drunken men. Again, walking home from school past this same area some men shouted racist insults at me.

Yeah, it’s a small town, but haven’t they got something better to do than frighten women and children?

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demonstration, Verbal

Andrea’s story from Dallas: Facebook post deleted & she reposted it

I live in one of Dallas few truly walkable neighborhoods, which I love. Near my house is a pizza parlor, Zini’s Pizza, where the delivery guys hang out in the side alley between drop-offs. I walked by midday to head over to the convenience store, and the guys (two of them) whistled at me, thrust their pelvises in my direction, and made sexually suggestive remarks. I complained to management on their Facebook page wall (after all, if my body is up for public discussion, surely I’m within my rights to post on their wall rather than telephone a manager) and they deleted it almost immediately. So I reposted it. I intend to keep doing so until I get a response.

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demonstration, Verbal

CS’s story: Creepy creeps get called out

It was a mix of verbal and stalking it seemed, though it was not a prolonged stalking… just a creeper van with two creeper creeps inside parked nearbye saying stuff like “hey honey, come closer- want to have a good time?”, sounding like the usual potential rapists many of us have encountered in our walks to work, drives home, and even from acquaintances.

I was dumbfounded at first. It brought up memories of being approached at ages as young as twelve (at least when i had begun being aware of what this sort of attention was), and made me feel ill, sick and just downright disturbed- but then it clicked, I was angry, and almost amazed at how blatantly rude this was and that no one, not any women, girl, boy, or man deserves this form of disrespect.

I stopped and waited for a second to confirm that they were really addressing me (dangerous I know, but I just needed to know) and as soon as it was certain that I was the only person near bye, in creepy talking range, I said clearly, without yelling or shaking (i was surprised that it was possible), as if just stating an indisputable fact, “You are disgusting” made eye contact and everything- even laughed and smiled at them in a you are incredibly pathetic sort of way.

They didn’t say anything back. Maybe they’re not used to someone they are sexually harassing sticking up for their own right to walk without feeling like they may be killed or raped.

I quickly ducked back into a store I was in before to make sure it wouldn’t escalate to violence since people being that creepy cannot be trusted. I waited a bit and they were gone. On the drive home I kept kicking myself saying I should have said “you sound like a rapist” and “does your mom know you are a creep to women?” but really, all I really wanted to do was kick them.

And you know what if it hadn’t been directed at me, I would have said that they are creeps too. This should never go unresponded to. It doesn’t matter who it is directed at.

These comments are unwarranted and verbally abusive. I just wish they weren’t so *&$#in’ normal and seen as the *&^%in’ status quo. If we are vigilant in our abilities to speak up for ourselves and for others then maybe, just maybe, we can make some real social progress. I only hope it can be achieved sooner rather than later (though it should have never been an issue to begin with).

I mean we are taught to be respectful to human beings right? (at least I was) Are women not people to some men?

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demonstration, The Movement, Verbal

Pen’s story from Sydney: Not taking any shit this train ride!

I was taking the train from my hometown to Sydney (a 2 hr ride), having a nice chat with a friend and enjoying having my feet up in the quite empty carriage. At the first stop after I boarded, a man came down into my carriage and stood in front of me, gesturing wordlessly that he wanted me to move my feet so he could flip the seat over, sit in front of me and put his feet up instead (in New South Wales we have seats on trains that flip so you can change the direction you’re facing or create a four-seater.)

I hesitated, not wanting to move my feet just for the benefit of his but yielded I guess more out of habit of giving in to men than anything else. As I did, I said “oh, so you want me to move my feet so you can put yours up?” and as he sat down he said to me “that’s how it goes.” I was infuriated and responded at a normal volume “f–king male privilege.”

This must really have pushed his buttons because he then rose out of his seat, turned around to face me with his hands on the back of the seat in front, leaned right in over me in a truly threatening stance and was about to express his misogynist mind but never had the chance. As soon as he towered over me I put my head back, made myself tall in my seat and at the top of my voice but controlled and firmly and with pointed finger I said “HOW DARE YOU STAND OVER ME LIKE THAT! SIT DOWN! DON’T YOU THREATEN ME! YOU HAVE NO RIGHT…” I continued until he shrunk away and sat down.

It was a victory for me and I’m thrilled that I instinctively got my hackles up and stood my ground with emotional control. I was very shaken and quite upset that no one else in the carriage wanted to assist me but ultimately the threat was gone. He remained in that seat for the duration of the trip and when it came time to alight in Sydney I was ready with a piercing stare but he avoided my gaze completely. I had properly shamed him out.

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