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I was walking down Broadway between 145th and 144th today at around 1:30 pm when I saw two guys walking my way. I knew immediately from the lecherous expressions on their face that they were preparing to catcall me, so I braced myself for it. Sure enough, out come the “Heeeey seeeexy” and “You look good in that dress” comments and the lewd, full-body eye scans. I immediately stopped in my tracks and put my hand up to signal “stop.” They were so surprised that they actually jumped back! I told them they were being really disrespectful and that I didn’t solicit or appreciate their comments. They responded predictably, with one going on the defensive (“I just said you look nice in that dress. What’s wrong with that?”) and the other continuing to make sexual comments to me all the while. I started off on my way again, repeating for a final time that they should learn to treat women with more respect and dignity.
I crossed 144th and about 3 seconds later was confronted AGAIN by ANOTHER catcaller. This guy was handing out flyers for some business. I waved my hand to refuse the flyer (I wish I had taken a copy, though, because it would be good to let his employer know about his bad behavior) and as I did he began making lewd comments. Again I stopped and told him he was being disrespectful and that I didn’t appreciate his comments. I hadn’t even finished my sentence before he blew up, yelling, “You best walk away! I just got outta prison! I’ll smack you across the street!” He moved closer to get in my face, continuing to issue his barrage of threats and altering his stance to try to make himself look more dangerous, but I held my ground and called him out on his phony threats, pointing out that we were in broad daylight, so even if he did try anything stupid it would lead him straight back into prison. He said he didn’t care, and I replied, “Well then I’m sad for you. That’s a sad life you’re leading if you really want to go back to prison that badly.” He continued making threats as I walked away, and I yelled back, “Women are people too!” and “What would your mother think?!?”. After I finished my lunch I came back out, with my iPhone ready, and I took these snapshots of him.
Submitted by Carey, who also submitted My Chat with some CatCallers
This audio/video was taken on 143rd street in Manhattan, and features a conversations between a harassed woman and her harassers. It’s an incredible hollaback and nothing short of inspirational. In it, she discusses with the harassers all the things we want to say, but oftentimes don’t:
I was on my way to the bank and was walking down 15th Street in Park Slope, Brooklyn, between 5th and 6th Aves. Two guys working construction were getting something out of a van. I had my earbuds in so I didn’t hear them, but they definitely stopped what they were doing to stop, watch me walk by, and say something. Then I realized I forgot something so had to turn around and walk past them again, and again they said something I didn’t hear while leering at me as I walked by. When I got the thing I had forgotten, I went around the corner and took the long way to the bank just to avoid them.
Submitted by Blue
Walking west to doctor appointment, pervert stopped to ogle my body as I wondered what could be up with my crazy cramps. Then the beginnings of something perverted beginning with “fuck” trickled out of his mouth but I didn’t wait to hear his poetic vision because I turned so abruptly around to face him and so loudly and angrily shouted HEY! MIND YOUR OWN FUCKING BUSINESS PERVERT! that passersby on the other side of the street stopped to watch and the man jumped. I heard him shouting “bitch” after he gathered his senses as I continued on. A real comedian, too, in addition to being a poet, I guess, because most people would find it funny that someone who just muttered obscenities to a stranger in the street with two young children standing nearby would get angry for being called out on his shit but what do I know. I apologized to the mother of the two young children but the look on her face told me she understood and she just laughed and said don’t worry don’t worry I know. For such a high powered incident I was almost amazed my heart wasn’t racing afterwards but I’m coming to realize that it only races when I walk on and don’t say something to the street turds who harass. When I turn around, confront them, and let them know what’s up I feel pretty good.
Submitted by Ursula
“I want to fuck the shit out of you.”
Where is all the shanti in the world when you need it?
Submitted by Emily
This is my first time writing Hollaback! I’m writing to you as a passive, introverted, fed-up, woman. I’m 24 years old, and I’ve lived in NYC since I was 20. Okay, I get it. Men are going to cat-call me, and it makes me feel….well, you know exactly how it feels. A couple of months ago one of those sketchy $1 pizza places opened up on 38th & 8th and EVERY SINGLE DAY one of the guys who works there whistles SO loud at me- then all of the other workers stare. I’ve seen him do it to other women too, and it is even more annoying because it’s SO busy on that corner and the loud whistle gets the attention of everyone on the block. I’ve googled the business, but I’ve found no corporate or franchise info. However, I absolutely needed to write an angry email to someone… lucky you! Is there anything I can do to regain my dignity at 8:30am every weekday morning? Or do I have to walk out of my way down another block to feel like a decent individual again?
Submitted by Jennifer
“You’re beautiful” he said, running towards me from his concrete truck on my block. Once he stopped running and I stopped worrying that it was going to escalate, I thought to myself: “hell yes I am!” but I’m also smart, loving, and passionate. Why don’t people yell those things at me?
Oh right, I forgot.
All the world is a stage. Unless you’re a woman, in which case it’s a pageant.
The silver car in front of the bus was a symphony of kissy. When will these frogs learn that you’ll never be a ladies prince if you keep making random kissy noises at them on the street?
Introduce yourself. Learn my name. Ask me on a date. I’ll tell you I have a boyfriend, but will admire your chivalry and refer you to my friend. Go on a date with her. Ask her what she thinks about life, politics, love. Play your cards right and then maybe you’ll be able to make some real awesome kissy noises.
Submitted by Emily May
I can’t remember the twists of fate that led me to your website within the past month. I read about your work and the testimonies of many brave women in NYC and around the world.
Your message apparently sank in and yesterday evening on my way home from gamelan practice, I sat down in an S-Bahn station next to three young men who proceeded to wolf-whistle twice at women who walked by. I confronted them about their behavior — told them that women don’t appreciate such attention, that it is not a compliment (as they tried to insist), rather a burden. When they tried in their mediocre way to debate the issue, another woman stepped in and told them if they didn’t agree they were free to leave the station — she’d be happy to call the police to escort them out if they preferred.
We have allies everywhere!
Thanks for helping me to find my voice, and helping me speak out for others who aren’t in a position to do so.
Submitted by Hilary
I just saw this take place — sadly it happened too quickly for me to snap a pic.
I was walking on 11th between 1st and A, when I saw in front of me what appeared to be the start of a street brawl. These two massive dudes were screaming fighting words down the street at someone or something I couldn’t make out, whom I assumed to be another group of equally fired-up guys. “WHO THE F**K DO YOU THINK YOU ARE” and “HOLD ME BACK” and “F**K YOU” came from this one guy as his equally giant/terrifying friend sort of half-assedly tried to “hold him back.” I walked around them, trying to keep my distance but also keep an eye on the seemingly epic street fight that was about to take place. It was at exactly that moment that this guy, now red-faced and sweaty, shouted “IT WAS A F**KING COMPLIMENT!”
Something clicked. I finally see who he’s yelling at. It’s a young woman who cannot be more than 5’2″, who now has her head down and is clearly terrified. She was gone around the corner before I could fully fathom what I was seeing — a grown man screaming at a woman, who had clearly just responded negatively to his street-advances, as though he were in a bar fight in Jersey City. The very slim silver lining was that he was being theatrical (read: horrifying) enough that it attracted a lot of attention on the street. Men and women alike seemed really shocked by what was happening, so maybe, maybe someone who didn’t realize the abusive nature of street harassment which lies just under the thin veil of charm/banter learned something today. Who knows.
To that young woman, red-haired, I believe with dreadlocks, I’m sorry that happened to you, and that dude deserves to be castrated.
Submitted by Arianna