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Tonight I was walking home with a friend from a wonderful dinner/girls’ night out in D.C. Normally she would have just taken a cab and I would have walked home, since the restaurant was in my neighborhood.
But she was concerned about my safety (which I thought was silly, because that’s how I am) and we were engrossed in a good conversation. A few blocks from the restaurant, a completely trashed guy came up behind us and started walking along side us/just behind us, speaking loudly. “So, where you ladies been? Was it nice? Where you off to next?” I ignored him and kept walking, while my friend gave very abrupt, short answers.
Eventually, when it appeared he wasn’t going to back off, I stopped with my friend and told the guy to go on. He turned around and muttered something about us “being like that” and moved along. The entire thing was so jarring, a firm reminder of how vulnerable we were on that street. I couldn’t help but feel at once relieved that he hadn’t been more agressive and threatened by the idea that I could have been alone. I couldn’t help but wonder how that might have altered his behavior and I felt like a complete moron for thinking previously that I could walk home alone–clearly a luxurious privilege to which I am not entitled as a woman.
While I’m fairly sure he was just a drunk asshole and that either way it would have been fine, the entire thing was a reminder of how free men feel to violate women’s personal space and to continue doing so, even when it is very clear that they’re uncomfortable and not at all interested in pursuing the conversation.
It also pissed me off. I’m a grown woman. I shouldn’t have to feel stupid for considering walking home alone for five blocks in my own neighborhood. I also shouldn’t have to feel that I need to take a cab everywhere in the city not because I’m too lazy to walk, but because I’m afraid of the insensitive and unpredictable predators that I might find along the way.
When I got home, I found this blog by accident through Blogger’s Blogs of Note. I’m just sad it didn’t occur to me to take a picture, but next time, I’ll certainly try. This is a wonderful idea and means to give voice to the small disturbances and demeaning experiences women face all the time, and pretty much accept as part of their daily lives.
Dude, if you’re out there and reading this, you should be ashamed of yourself. I’m ashamed for you.
The first real incidence was when I was 12 or so, kneeling down looking at books in a bookstore. There was a man in sweats reading a book at the same section. I get totally absorbed when I read but he kept moving closer and closer. Next thing I know hes about 2 feet away and has a giant boner sticking out of his sweatpants. I quickly got up and went to a different part of the store (It disturbs me to this day that I didn’t do anything, perhaps because that man has or is molesting a child, and I could have done something to prevent that. I would like nothing better then to go back in time and change my reaction).
The second time it happened I was interning in DC. A man sat down next to me in the metro and proceeded to start asking me all sorts of questions. Did I like to party? What kind of partying? Do I like to have sex? How much do I like to have sex? The metro was extremely crowded and I was afraid of making a scene. I would have made a scene had it happened to me now. Then he started to try and touch my breasts. I jumped up and got the hell out of there. While I probably was in no actual danger, I felt disgusting and shaken.
The third time was a few weeks later when I was in London. My friends and I were in a large group because the premiere of The Last Samurai was in town and we were trying to get a glimpse of tom cruise. There were so many people and we were all crushed up against one another. All of a sudden, I realize that there is someone behind me trying to grab my breasts again, with one hand on my ass. I couldn’t believe it. I couldn’t even tell which person it was, but I freaked out and got out of there quick.
These three accounts don’t even begin to describe all the catcalls and obnoxious words I have heard on the street while just minding my own business, trying to get to or from work up and down Third Avenue. It doesn’t take into account the hundreds of times I have seen men do it to women other then myself. The above stories were simply the most terrifying and disgusting.
I kept running away. Well, I am sick and tired of running away. Hollaback NYC has given me back what was brutally taken from me, and that is my respect and my power. It sickens me to think that these men think they have a right to demean a woman like that. What sickens me more is that I let them up until now. Who teaches them that such a thing is an acceptable way to treat an other human? It is just another example of how, in this world, women very often are not considered human. I have my camera ready to show them next time that not only am I human, but one who is able to Hollaback. As Eleanor Roosevelt said, no one can make you feel inferior without your consent, and I am not giving mine any longer by being a passive observer of abuse.
Submitted by Katie
My latest incident happened on Saturday, Dec. 30th, passing by construction site on 3rd Ave. and 10th St. I felt “the leer”, and gave the worker the benefit of the doubt by simply nodding, and looking away.
He proceeded to say creepily, “Oh, fuck, that’s a pretty pussy. Do you take it in the ass?” I just kept walking and shaking my head. I’ve lived in New York for 6 years, and I’m just tired. I live around the block, and now avoid the construction site. I’m angry at myself for feeling like it’s my fault, but most of all that he can get away with it.
Just found your website, and from now on, I’m going to have my phone in hand. Why do men have to be such a dissapointment sometimes? It makes me appreciate the good ones.
Submitted by S.
I had my cell phone clutched in my hand the whole time, unfortunately it didn’t have a camera so I couldn’t take a picture of the jerk’s face. I’m 17 years old and even though I’ve been told I look 18 or 19, it’s still no justification to hit on someone who is thirty years younger than you. It was just plain creepy and it left me completely shaken. I ended up in tears for the two hours that followed because I was totally unnerved and I lost all sense of safety. This incident was made worse by the fact that the night before I had a group of guys shouting “I want some of that pussy” at me while I was walking down the 42 street train station stairs. I’m use to comments of “hey beautiful” and such and I’ve learned to ignore those, but the vulgarity of what those guys were shouting surprised me and left me a bit nervous. But it certainly compared nothing to how violated I felt last night.
Submitted by C.C.
So I’m walking to the dorms and talking to my mother on my cell phone, when I see this guy in military fatigues sitting in a car. He glares at me until I get close enough (where I intended to walk right past him) and he says, “Hey! I want your number! I want your number!” Creeped out, I stop, glare back, and say loudly into the phone, “Ew, mom. This gross guy I don’t know just asked for my number. Some guys are so pathetic.” Of course, he didn’t look too thrilled.
Sorry dude, I understand it’s been a while, but you really shouldn’t expect women to take “do it for your country” so literally…
Submitted by Emily
I was at Burger King at Main St. and Roosevelt Ave in Flushing with some friends, hanging out. We were about to leave when this guy (who had previously asked for money) sitting next to us goes “Hey, you, whats up? I want to suck you.” I looked at him, disgusted, and replied “you’re fucking gross.” He then proceeds to get up and follow us out while wiggling his tongue at me. He said “I want to suck your pussy”, and would have probably stuck his tongue in my ear had I not moved away. My friend and I told him he was a fucking pervert and he followed us to the corner. Ugh.
Submitted by Cheer
My girl and I were walking down the street yesterday. As with every day when we/she/I walk down the street, some jerk in a prettied-up car decided it was his business to violate our space by sticking his head out of the window and assaulting us with a list of sleazy, misogynistic, homophobic and idiotic comments. He seemed to think that we wanted to know all about the fact that hot lesbians were part of his heterosexual male fantasy… he was wrong.
In response to his violent penetration of our personal space, my girlfriend and I screamed a list of obsenities at him, telling him exactly what he could do with his fantasy, his over-inflated ego, and his fucked up attitude. Apparently, women getting angry at his harassment was not a response he was used to, so he stuck his head back out the window to let us know that we were “fucked up bitches” and “crazy fucking psychos”. Shit, why hadn’t we noticed? Clearly we were the psychos, considering we were the ones cruising around town and looking to assault vulnerable individuals.
His car paused at a set of lights, and he continued to scream at us, throwing his fist around and piling every swear word he knew into discriptions of us. Fed up, my spunky girlfriend shot a massive glob of spit onto his beautifully painted car. Inspired by her actions, I too walked up to his car, and kicked the back of it as hard as I could. This sent him into a frenzy, and he jumped out of his car to further yell abuse at us. We pointed out that the police were sitting across at the next set of lights, so he backed off, but continued to scream at us as he drove away.
Now, some might think it was a bit of an overreaction to kick someone’s property in response to a “compliment”. I’d like to tell those people to take their ignorant, sexist agendas and shove it up their arses. As a woman and as a lesbian, I spend every day of my life confined by the consequences of men’s belief that it is perfectly acceptable to verbally, physically and sexually assualt, harass, and intimidate me. I spend each day fighting off unwanted physical advances, being powerless to respond to drive-by sexual advances, having to shut up and ignore the endless streams of catcalls and wolf whistles, watching program after program representing women as sexual/domestic play objects for men, and battling with both men and women to convince them that yes, it is important to be aware of the the power issues that surround gender relations. I spend nights crying as a result of the sexual abuse I have experienced, days altering my routes so I can feel safe when walking home, and endless hours being overwhelmed by how much work is yet to be done in order to create a world which is safe, equal and free from violence and intimidation.
That kick to the back of the prettied-up car, therefore, was a kick for every man who has ever intimidated, objectfied, assaulted, abused, taken advantage of, raped, or hit a woman. It was for every catcall, wolf whistle, and unwanted comment any woman has ever received since becoming old enough to be violated. It was also a warning to each individual who thinks it is ok to harass women, whether in public or in private.
And fuck, it felt good.
Watch out world… I’ve discovered the power to holla back, and holla back I will.
Submitted by Sandra
Last night I was rushing to catch the subway at 34th Street. I was rushing down the stairs to the D platform and this little man with a rockin’ mullet, who looked like he has just walked out of Michael Jackson’s “Beat It” Video, stopped, turned around, looked at me, and had the audacity to say “I lick a lot of pussy.” Eww! I have never been so upset in my life that my phone was off so I didn’t get a picture of this creep. As I was in a hurry I only had time to roll my eyes, give him a disgusted look, and flip him off.
Submitted by Rachel
No I will not take off my shirt or show you my ass for your polaroids. Skeevy asshole. I’m so happy to go back to San Francisco and say goodbye to the Bowery’s poetry scene… Where they knowingly tolerate blatant sexual harassers in their scene.
I talked smack right back at you and played along to hear more of the bullshit. And then pointed out to you that craigslist would be a better place to find women for your polaroid exploits. Put up your ad and get the fuck out of poetry.
Dear women in the Bowery Scene and people there who aren’t misogynist fuckheads, I feel sorry for you that you have to put up with that kind of thing. Why do you?
Dear woman with the shaved head who tonight at the poetry club took off your shirt for this dude in the bathroom, did you feel all empowered when this guy went on to harass other people and show your photo in his book and to boast that he likes the authentically dykey ones the best, next to the trannies?
Dear MC dude of the Urbana slam team, nice job of laughing off sexual harassment to my face. Also thanks for letting me know that “that guy hangs out here every single day at the poetry club.” That makes it all better! I’m sure everyone just thinks he’s SO funny and such a character!
Dear guy working the door… I thought you were laughing with me and were complicit in my fool-baiting. “Thanks” for then when I confronted the dude about his fucked-upedness, then acting like you didn’t hear anything wrong… And for saying that you didn’t hear anything hostile. Because we all know that asking all the women in a cafe, or a poetry reading at a bar, to take off their clothes for a camera and if they have any “intimate” piercings or tattoos is just totally FRIENDLY… It makes women feel all appreciated and welcome and stuff…
Oh also? The tempting offer of a free copy of your poetry book in exchange for the polaroids of my naked body… not tempting at all.
Submitted by Liz Henry
Passing by the local supermarket this morning on my way to work, one of the stock guys from the market (he was wearing his smock/uniform) got altogether too close to me and called me “chula.” [HB NOTE: For you nonspanish speakers, chula means sexy or hottie]. I told him to shut up, that he should concentrate on his job instead of bothering people. He just stood there and laughed. So I got out my cell phone and aimed. This guy must have some experience dodging cameras because he immediately threw his hood over his head, covered his face with one arm, and started desperately twirling around, looking for his shopping cart, trying to get away from me with his eyes covered up, keeping his face hidden. He looked like such a fool. So, I only got a lousy shot of the back of his head, but at least I got the satisfaction of watching him run and hide, like the cockroach he is.
Submitted by Nancy