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My two friends and i were waiting for a bus to get back to my apartment, and a guy sitting next to us starting talk to us, he started out asking normal questions then went right into asking if we were single, and we politely said no (at this point with the way we responded it’s clear we didn’t want him to talk to us again, however he was relentless) He proceeded to ask if we were lesbians, we replied no, then as we stood up for our bus he says “damn you girls look good standing up!” then my outspoken friend says “look that’s enough, stop” he says it again, and my friend then says “no really stop, you’re crossing the line” and by the time we got on the bus he sat all the way in the back while we sat in the front. It just goes to show you can’t be afraid to put creeps in their place when they’re harassing you. I know that if i was without that friend of mine i would have stayed speechless and allowed the man to continue harassing me.
Submitted by Marissa
For some reason I thought that starting a Hollaback! in Baltimore (launching later this month!) would make me invisible to street harassment. Like, for the greater good, karma would do me a favor and let me pass. Well, I was wrong. A young-20′s guy looked me over and said “sexy” right as we passed shoulder to shoulder on the street- while I was FLYERING FOR THE HOLLABACK BMORE! LAUNCH PARTY. Ugh. I change it up, but my first response this time was a forceful “Shut Up!”. Then he says, “you shut up, bitch!”, then I say “let me take a picture of you so I can show everyone what an asshole is..(silence while walking away)…don’t worry, I got it” (my phone sucks, so I didn’t get it, but I made the gesture anyway). I felt ok about the whole thing b/c Hollaback has given me the confidence that the streets are mine just as much as they are his, but then later I passed by a bank security guard who saw the incident. He asked exactly what the guy said and made sure I was ok, which I thought was pretty cool, but then he gave me that same old, “you gotta watch what you say to people so you don’t get hurt”. I’m not an idiot, it was the middle of the day with plenty of people around and I’ve taken a self-defense class. If the situation escalated and someone did get hurt, it would absolutely be the HARASSER’S fault, not mine. Really tired of the victim-blaming mentality. Perhaps if the other two women on the street and that security guy had all responded to that jerks rude behavior, then HE would have to worry about what he said to people, not me.
Submitted by Shawna
My neighborhood in Astoria is quiet, mostly. It’s safe, mostly. And for the most part its residents have never given me any kind of trouble.
One day I was walking home from my friend’s apartment along 31st street. It was summer so I was wearing cut-off jean shorts and a tank. I know that my outfit had nothing to do with it, but for a while I stopped wearing tank tops in public thinking this was the cause.
It was the middle of the day so the street was almost empty except for a largish (5+) group of young teens sitting outside an apartment building. Now, I try not to profile, but in my experience groups of teenage boys are trouble, and I am usually right. I put on my sunglasses and walked past them, avoiding eye contact.
Well, to my surprise I made it past them without any trouble when I heard that sound that will make the hairs on most women’s arms stand on end. The kissy noise. What happened next you could say was my fault, I should have kept walking, but I had had it. Here was a group of kids almost half my age with the nerve to make that awful sound at me. So I turned around and said, “are you f*cking serious? How old are you?” To which the larger of the group said “Old enough to f*ck you like a grown man”. At this point one of his friends says, “Girl I am gonna f*ck you with some chopsticks”. I’m half-Chinese, and was appalled that this brat had added racism onto the growing pile of sexual harassment. Various other insults followed, “skinny b*tch”, “dumb c*nt”, etc. I always wonder why, if I’m such a dumb etc., etc. why they tried to “holla at” me in the first place…
There were over five of them, and just one of me, so I decided to walk away. I called the police and told them a group of young men had verbally assaulted me and threatened me with sexual abuse. The officer offered his condolences but told me that since they had not physically assaulted me there was nothing he could do. While I agree that the police probably do not have the resources to investigate every instance of harassment, it made me feel alone, weak, and even slutty. I felt that because I was wearing a thin tank top I had somehow brought this onto myself.
When did it become okay for young boys to talk to older women this way? To threaten them in their own neighborhoods with this kind of sexualized, and sometimes racialized, violence? I was so disgusted, so horrified. And honestly to this day I have not walked down that street again.
Submitted by Jen
So here I am, a 17 year old girl, black (it matters) in her school uniform, just going to the mall to get some stuff, and I hear it.
“Hey-o, pretty girl, lemme holla! Why the long face? I got some stuff to make you smile!”
I was actually about to spin around and tell him to pop off, but when I looked at him, I saw he ran one of the vendors selling lotions in the hallways of the mall.
Why is it cool to act this way towards me? I watched this guy ask other women “Hey, miss, would you like to buy some lotions?” But as soon as a black girl walks by you switch up your game? And you don’t even care that she’s obviously underage? FUCK YOU AND THE HORSE YOU RODE IN ON.
I just wanted to the MAC counter and get out, so I gave him the dirtiest look that I save especially for scumbags like him and kept walking.
Submitted by Mariel
I was in 8th grade and walking home from school. I didn’t live more than three or four short blocks from my school, I was on a street I’d walked for years, and it was the middle of the afternoon. I suddenly felt like there was someone staring at me. When I turned I saw a man, probably old enough to be my father, cruising slowly next to me and leaning out his car window. As soon as I looked at him he said in this slow, skeezy voice, “My oh my.” I pretty much ran home.
I’ve always felt really confused about the whole thing. I was immensely creeped out, but a part of me was kind of flattered by it, and because of that I was ashamed of myself.
I still don’t know how to handle catcallers. I have a nice body that I feel good about and I like to dress up in clothes that often attract attention, so if I’m called at and I tell a friend about it they get a look on their face like I had it coming. I shouldn’t have to feel guilty or ashamed about wanting to look nice, and I certainly don’t dress up for the creeps of the world.
Submitted by Jax
While riding the A train home and reading my book, I notice the guy sitting across from me looking at me. I am so tired and am very close to telling him to stop looking at me, but I don’t. As my stop approaches, I start getting up and he leans over and says: “Sweetie, I study heritage. What heritage are you?” I stand up, look at him, and say: “What makes you think you can call me ‘sweetie’?” He replies with “It’s a polite thing to say,” to which I reply, “I’m not your sweetie.” Then he says “You’ve got a bad attitude.” I tell him “Fuck you” (I know that isn’t the most constructive response), and he tells me “fuck you” right back. Lovely way to end the day.
Submitted by Diane
We’re 18 years old. It’s our first college break and my friend’s mother sent us to get some pumpkins from a church fair. We’re laughing and I’m making fun of my friend who in the few short months she’s been in Montreal has already adapted an accent.
We’re at a light, laughing hysterically. A fifty something year old man in a middle age crisis sports car at the red light rolls down his window. My heart sinks and I clench my hands. I know what’s coming next. The man yells “Hey baby, lose some weight and shake that ass!” when the light turns green and he speeds off.
“Dickface!” I yell, my face flaming. My friend also yells at the man, cursing him out.
I doubt he heard us. I doubt he cares.
Submitted by Emma
In middle school I used to walk home by myself. Normally this was a complete non-issue, and I wasn’t nervous about it for the longest time. Then one day when I was 12 a red pickup truck full of grown men slowed as they passed, and wolf whistled at me. Shocked and a little disturbed, I froze as they passed, but then regained control of myself and flipped them the finger as I continued walking. Not even a teenager yet, I was already starting to ‘develop’ in a noticeable way and probably looked about 15. However, that is not an excuse. It is just as inappropriate to leer in such a degrading manner at women of ANY age, and it is something I have continued to face throughout my life. Men have continued to leer at me in public (and private!) places, and I am very nervous to go anywhere alone except in the very brightest daylight. It sometimes makes me wish I could trade in my body for something less noticeable, simply to escape the stares and catcalls. I am not even particularly good looking, and I DO NOT dress in a provocative manner. In fact I typically wear jeans a zippered sweatshirt everywhere I go. I feel angry and violated when strangers feel like it is their right to comment on my body in such a disrespectful way, but no catcall has ever been worse than that first time. There is no reason for children to need to be afraid just because they were born female.
Submitted by Jade
I was leaving Cosi when a young man (probably in his mid 20s) approached me. He said, “nice pussy” and reached out to grab mine. I simply blocked his hand and stared him down until he broke eye contact. I continued on my way, and looked back to see that he was still standing there. I guess he didn’t get the reaction he anticipated.
I didn’t speak to him, but if I could, here’s what I would say:
“Damn right, I have a nice pussy. But you will never get anywhere near it.”
Submitted by Kate
I was riding the train with my then-partner on the way to see a movie in town, when this happened. As we boarded the train, a conductor went up to these four kids, and warned them for disruptive behaviour. My partner and I took seats near them (which looking back seems like the first mistake) and settled for the short journey. We were sitting talking, and randomly poking each other, which is usual for us, and the four kids continued shouting and messing around.
One of the girls sat behind us and asked my partner for some gum. She said she didn’t have any, though the girl remained where she sat. She then asked if we were together. My partner and I, having nothing to hide or be ashamed of, replied that we were. The one boy in the group asked if we were in love, and my partner replied the affirmative.
It descended from there. The boy joined the girl behind us and kept asking for us to kiss for him. He kept pushing, and nearly begging for us to. My partner replied no, first jokingly, and then she eventually snapped “If you want to see two girls kissing, watch porn!”.
He whined that he had seen porn and he wanted to see it in real life – I continued to remain silent. The coach we were in was not nearly empty, and I was somewhat horrified that no one had thought to do anything but look away awkwardly. Thankfully, the next stop was ours. We stood, and I followed my partner to the door. The group followed us, and as we were waiting, they kept pushing on each other, and therefore me. Once the doors opened, a lot of people got out, while this group practically pushed me off the train. My partner took my hand and while I set off at a fast pace to get away, she slowed me down.
The boy continued to follow us, and kept on with his incessant begging. My partner and I ignored him, and spoke only to each other, until he peeled off to join the girls of his group. We were left alone after that.
I am ashamed that I didn’t speak up, and that my partner was the one to deal with this harassment. I remember this incident clearly, and feel scared by it, but it was almost laughable how this boy was clearly obsessed about seeing us kiss.
Get it through your heads – we do not exist for your amusement. We are not objects to stare at, or to entertain yourself with. We are humans, with hearts and souls and feelings, and I will not be dehumanised by your fetishisms. I refuse.
Submitted by Emma