Appalachian Ohio, Athens GA, Atlanta, Berkeley, Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Columbia MO, Des Moines, Durham & Chapel Hill, Fredericksburgh VA, Houston, Los Angeles, Muncie IN, New York City, NYU, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Richmond VA, San Francisco, Tucson, Twin Cities
Sadly this was in 2003, shortly before I had a cell phone, and definitely before I had a camera phone, so I don’t have pictures of the perps, but I LOVE this website, and I felt it was worth sharing the story because I made a huge scene and embarrassed the s*** out of a couple of creeps who street harassed me.
So: Back in summer of 2003, I was walking to get lunch in the middle of a workday – so about 1 pm, broad daylight, and in the middle of Harvard Square – and I walk by a couple of guys sitting on some steps with their shirts off drinking tall boys out of paper bags. A little unusual for the demographic of Harvard Square, but whatever. They weren’t doing anything more creepy than that, and I kind of think open container laws are pointless anyway, so I went on my way. Then one of the dudes comes after me and says “Hey, uh, my friend over there wants to make babies, and he was wondering if you wanted to make babies with him.”
I looked at the guy and said, in a very pissed off voice, “Really? Which friend is this?” And the guy is like “Uh, no, uh, never mind…I probably shouldn’t have…uh…” So I say “No, let’s go meet this friend of yours RIGHT NOW” and march over to where the other guy is sitting and start yelling at him. I forget exactly what I said but I do remember calling them both disgusting classless creeps, and then he was like “Come on, it wasn’t a big deal, relax, we were just joking around!” At which point I really blew my stack and start yelling “REALLY? IT WASN’T A BIG DEAL? YOU JUST SAID A COMPLETELY DISGUSTING THING TO A STRANGER BECAUSE YOU LIKE TO LOOK AT MY BREASTS AND IT’S NOT A BIG DEAL? LET’S PULL ASIDE SOME OF THESE NICE PEOPLE GOING TO LUNCH AND SEE WHETHER THEY AGREE WITH ME THAT YOU’RE A DISGUSTING CREEP, SHALL WE?” So I start pulling strangers over and saying things like “Excuse me, may I take a moment of your time? This gentleman just said a disgusting thing to me and now I’d like to share it with you.” They finally start begging me to stop, saying things like “Come on, don’t make a scene, you’re embarrassing me,” things like that, and I told them maybe they should have thought of that BEFORE they sexually harassed me, and that they should think of me and the world of pain I, and thousands of other women like me, would be only too happy to unleash whenever they thought of acting like pieces of slime in the future. Then I said I was going to get a goddamn sandwich before they ruined any more of my lunch break but if I saw them on the steps when I came back I was calling the cops and reporting them for open containers, sexual harassment, and being generally lousy people. When I came back, they were gone. To this day I am 100% certain I did the right thing by publicly humiliating them, and I would do it again in a heartbeat, though this time I’d want a videophone handy and I’d use it to file a police report.
The weirdest thing about this story, though, and the one that bugs me most, is that I told my (supposedly liberal/progressive) boss about this when I came back (leaving out the profanity for obvious reasons), and explaining that I was feeling a little shaken up but thought I’d dealt with it responsibly, and he reacted by becoming VERY uncomfortable and treating me like some sort of hysterical loose cannon for the rest of the week – it’s like my standing up for myself made him more uncomfortable than the fact that I’d been a victim of gender-based violence and was feeling pretty gross and shaken up about it. I guess this shouldn’t surprise me because he had some serious issues with women (including stuff like giving men offices and women cubes despite the fact that they were in parallel positions?), but it still really gets to me – how many people react with discomfort at angry responses to harassment and would just rather that we ignored it and remained silent. Thanks but no thanks.
Submitted by Diana
Like every other woman, I have been harassed countless times, but this particular instance really creeped me out. I was on a fairly full L train headed to Brooklyn when I noticed this old guy sitting across staring very intently at me. There’s a lot of creepy guys out there, but this one, I kid you not, looked like he would be a creep from a movie. I have never seen a more disturbing looking individual with burning, glazed over, angry-drunken eyes in my life.
So as the train pulls into the next stop, he gets up and sits down right next to me. This would be the day that I actually don’t have my iPod with me. Then, he says “You’re very pretty.” I ignore him, and he escalates it louder, “I SAID, you’re VERY PRETTY.” Again, I ignore him. At this point, he is leering right up in my face and follows with, “What do you SAY WHEN SOMEONE GIVES YOU A COMPLIMENT? HUH? ANSWER ME!”
To stop his banter I finally say “Thank you.” I’m looking around the train and everyone is just staring, and watching this all take place without, of course, doing anything. The guy is getting more enraged by the minute, and I am trying to hide my physical shaking. He continues bantering me with “I GAVE YOU A COMPLIMENT! YOU COULDN’T EVEN SAY THANK YOU, YOU FUCKING BITCH! YOU GONNA TALK TO ME? YOU GONNA TALK TO ME?” This man is shouting in my face. I was torn as to whether it was safe for me to even get up and move to the next car, since he was getting increasingly irate but I just couldn’t take it and got up a ran off the train when it pulled to the next stop, and as I look back he’s still screaming at me and running to try and follow me, but luckily the doors had just shut.
Like I said, I’ve been harassed plenty of times before, and I’ve been chased for a short distance, but never have I been so frightened like I was in this incident.
Submitted by Leah
I parked my car 2 blocks from Miami’s opera house. I was walking along the street, in a knee-length dress with long sleeves. Miami is among the worst places I’ve ever been for street harassment but I figured guys saved it for women in revealing clothing.
The guy on the hot-shot motorcycle revved his engine as he came up to the stoplight. I was almost at the intersection when I heard his lecherous voice, “Hey baby, you’re looking so good tonight! What a beautiful woman!” I looked up and was glad to see a police officer in the intersection just ten feet away, directing traffic. He motioned me forward, holding the cars to wait while I crossed the street. I was so relieved: here was a cop to restore my sense of safety in front of the motorcycle-creep. I’m halfway across the street when the cop say, “Wow, you are really tall!”
And at that moment, the comment was not innocuous. Commenting on my physical body made me feel like an object, when I’d just been objectified 30 seconds earlier. In that moment, I was something to be evaluated and assessed, something to be critiqued and hopefully fucked.
I’m going to HOLLA BACK — both when it happens and here online — when it happens. Because yes, I am tall and blonde and fit many stereotypical notions of “beauty,” but that does NOT give any man the right to comment on my body.
Submitted by Tricia
My two girlfriends and I were walking toward the Hotel Rivington on Friday night. We passed by a group of three guys who were catcalling at us and one of them grabbed my arm as I walked by. I said, “Ew” and shook him off. When we walked away, one of them shouted, “Go study for your SATs fucking Chinese bitch.”
I marched up to him and his friends and told them not to call me a bitch. The one who called me a Chinese bitch, who was probably about 6’2″ and over 200 pounds (I am just over 100 pounds) shoved me two or three times – hard. I was yelling things like, “Oh, you’re going to push me? You’re going to push a girl?” He kept threatening to hit me, and he threatened to sic his professional boxer friend on me who he said would basically beat me to a pulp.
Then he spat in my face and bolted.
My biggest regret is not getting his name or photo.
Submitted by Andrea
I was walking to the subway, down U Street NW, and a man stared at my chest and made kissy-noises at me. I was so disgusted, I lost my head. I looked at him in disgust and said loudly, “Fuck you.”. I’m sure everyone around us heard and he just kept walking.
Submitted by Lauren, Washington DC
I was walking my lovely German Shepherd Obama with a friend of mine who is from Mexico. We were walking along the street where I live when a man started yelling at me through the window of the house we were passing. At first his words were too muffled for me to hear, but with incredible shock I made out the n-word as well as the f-word (the homosexual one) and the c-word. Then he began berated my friend using many racist words which I am not willing to repeat to anyone. This man looked completely crazy and with unkempt hair and stubble. I am not sure what to do now as I was terrified by the encounter and have not been walking my dog since then.
Submitted by S.D.
My friend and I were walking from class to my apartment one afternoon when we experienced a disturbing case of street harassment. We were about 50 feet from my building when a homeless man nonchalantly said, “hey girls, my daughters are 25 and 28 years old, so you can imagine I haven’t had pussy in a long time. Will you please give me some pussy!” Not only was this sexually explicit, but the man was probably in his late sixties and hadn’t seen a shower in months. My friend and I looked at each other in shock and quickly sought the safe haven of my building. The man parked his ass on the dumpster next to our building, which made us hesitant to leave the rest of the evening, not knowing whether he had left the vicinity.
Submitted by A.J.
I just read an article about the Hollaback organization and its founder in the NYtimes.com tonight. How timely an article it is for me. Recently, I was able to get a restraining order against a neighbor who had been harassing me off and on since the summer of 2009. It was typical street harassment. I’d walk past one of the two entrances to my building to hear him call out something in the familiar donkey bray I’d come to hate as other men with too much time on their hands stood around and watched. I (unfortunately) live in Denver now, but I am a NYC woman who has dealt with this kind of harassment for most of my life. I knew that eventually, I’d end it. When I complained to the building manager and she told me that there was nothing she could do because “it happened on the street” and not on the property. Was annoyed, but I was convinced I’d get even. Stay tuned, because I did.
Well, one day (Feb 2010), it happened on the property and in a witness-environment. So, I took the chance when I had it. I hobble-walked (I had had foot surgery and was walking assisted by a cane) over to my harasser, confronted him eyeball to eyeball and told him with much repetition that it was going to stop here and now. I told his male onlookers that they were my witnesses and I took names (they scattered like roaches under bright light).
Fast forward to September 2010. My harasser saw me in the lobby and thought he would apologize. I wasn’t having it. Long story short, he got angry and came at me. That really made me mad! I called the Police and repeated to them one of the things that this fool had said – that the “Police won’t do anything to me” . That night he got a visit from two police officers. Two days later the Sherrif served him with a temporary restraining order. Two weeks later he was standing before a judge. One month later, he was standing before that same judge breathing heavily as the judge informed him that he had stalked me and that he would have a permanent (a second for him) restraining order placed against him. Another week later he was visited by his parole officer (conviction – felony assault on an individual he drugged). Two months later, I am still trying to get him evicted.
I can’t help but wonder how strong of a correlation there is between prior criminal behavior and harassment of women. Or, if the man has no criminal history, is it a predictor of criminal behavior, although I understand that harassment is criminal in itself.
I think that this behavior will only stop when men make each other stop, but in the meantime, I will continue to hollaback as I have done for years.
I have even devised a cure for men who like to expose their penises. Dying to try it on some poor Denver fool, but have not had the chance. It will turn the table on the man so that he crawls off in total humiliation, just by hollering back.
Submitted by H.H.
The summer 2005 was the happiest summer of my life. Little did I know it would be the LAST happy summer in my life.
I had dressed into hippie clothes, long green skirt and a flowery sequined shirt. I went to the library to lend a DVD and then to the shop to buy candy to accompany it, and I saw this man with a ponytail (take note; if you see an old scruffy man with a ponytail, it basically screams STAY AWAY FROM HIM!) but I paid no attention to him.
Later when returning from the library, I walked past him when he was sitting on a park bench. He glared at me angrily and grunted: “Nice tits.”
I was horrified, but I could not do anything else than flip him off. He flipped me off with both of his hands, called me a “fucking asshole” and started cursing with his face up to the sky that all women are whores.
Result? I was traumatized so much (and it was not the first and last time when I get harassed) that I became suicidal, and later I was taken to a mental hospital (where I was still harassed). I have been in the loony bin three times and I have been diagnosed with schizophrenia, bipolar and mid- severe depression. I still take medication for it, and every single fucking day I hear his voice, and all the other dude’s who have made my life hell.
Who said men are the superior sex? They’re the nothing but the things they describe women: attention whores.
Submitted by Miia (Pardon my English)
I was about to cross the street when I saw a scooter coming down the street pretty quickly, so I waited, thinking he would pass. But then he started waving his hand, motioning for me to go ahead and cross. He was still travelling at a high speed, though, and I didn’t trust he would slow down in time, so I continued to wait. Finally he stopped, with his front tire in the cross walk and I had to walk around him. But as I passed him, I heard him start to make “smooch” noises and I looked back to see him looking directly at me whilst continuing to “kiss.” Appalled and disgusted, I just glared at him and said, “Don’t do that.” Then he zoomed off. I felt like I immediately needed a shower. After the fact, I wish I had said or done something more aggressive. But not being a UK citizen (I’m an American student), I didn’t know what I was legally able to get away with. After telling my own boyfriend about it, he said he thought girls like getting catcalled. I really don’t understand how a guy can think girls like that or will respond in a positive manner. I’m revolted and dumbfounded.
Submitted by Emily