Verbal

Three years of powerlessness, reclaimed today

This story isn’t recent, but three years later I am still annoyed and disgusted thinking about it. I wish Hollaback had been around then, so I would have thought to get a photo of the jerk who verbally harassed me or in some way react to the guy rather than just letting it happen. I can’t go back, but I can at least share my story and think about how I’ll respond next time.

In 2007, I worked for a big company in northwest Washington, DC. I lived in Arlington, Virginia and commuted every day by walking, through a pretty nice residential neighborhood to the metro.

One morning, about 7:30 AM, I was taking my usual walk to the metro near the Court House station (orange line). I was dressed in pretty formal business attire, with a heavy coat on over my clothes because it was spring and still cold. I had huge sunglasses on that seriously took up most of my face. Nothing was tight-fitting, hell, I barely had any color on. I was pretty much dressed in all black with my black peacoat and black slacks on. That, the fact that it was broad daylight, or that the sun had barely been up an hour, or that I was walking through a nice family neighborhood and right next to an elementary school, didn’t stop some jerk from harassing me. (But we’re always “asking for attention,” or these things wouldn’t happen, right? Ugh.)

Just a few blocks from the metro, a guy pulled up next to me in a red pickup truck. He slowed down, rolled down his window, and proceeded to whistle, hoot and holler at me. “Hey baby! What you doing? Hey baby! Looking good!” [Smooch noises, kissy faces.] I just looked straight on and kept walking. He kept at it another minute, then revved his engine and drove off. I flicked him off and kept walking to the metro.

It bothered me all morning. I felt angry, violated, confused, embarrassed. It was so unexpected that early in the morning and in the kind of setting I was in when it happened. I felt completely caught off guard and like I was powerless to stop it. If I felt all that just from some creep yelling at me from his vehicle, I can’t imagine how violated other people must feel when men choose to actually physically violate them, flash them or direct hateful slurs at them.

Submitted by Angelina

one comment 
Stalking, Verbal

Target: Woman with child. Profile: sick.

Last summer I was at the park by Valley River Center (the local mall) babysitting my two year old nephew. I was pushing him in a stroller when a man on a bike started to coast right next to me. I tried to speed up my walking, but since he was on his bike there was no way to lose him. He was asking me all sorts of questions about the child I was with, such as his name and if we lived nearby. Finally he asked me if he could touch my boobs and I instinctively stopped and said no. In less than a second he grabbed my breast and rode off. It was so fast that I had very little time to react.

Obviously I wasn’t physically injured, but the fact that he had asked me before groping me is sicking. He was getting off on the non-consensual aspect of it, and that is terrifying. It was also terrifying because I was with my two year old nephew. He had specifically targeted a woman with a baby.

Submitted by Barbara Ann

no comments 
Verbal

When harassment escalates

I was inspired by the woman featured on Jezebel, but frankly as a feminist I’m sorry to say that I regret standing up for myself.

I was in the car, my ID badge from work still on, then a young Latino teenager (I mention his ethnicity for a reason) asked me a question and started reaching into his pants and pulling out shoplifted objects. I walked away to the other side of the car. He yelled extremely vulgar insults across the car – “SIERRA CUNT WAS A WHORE IN HIGH SCHOOL! SHE SUCKS DICK!” making hand gestures. I thought to myself “Hey, if that girl can stand up to harassment so can I!” I ran towards him and said, in a very classy and calm, though strong voice “You can not speak to any woman that way! I’m going to follow you. This is harassment. I’m going to tell the police and the conductor” To which he replied “It’s free speech. I’m an American. You don’t even belong in this country, bitch” (I’m visibly Indian American). No one did anything. He continued to hurl insults at me for quite a while, then when he got off the train, I followed him.

Only to have him run back into the train as the doors closed, laughing and yelling “HAHA HAHA YOU FUCKING BITCH!”

My biggest fear, besides not saving face, is that I will be a total FAIL viral video. Worse, no one did anything. I really wish John Quinones from ‘What Would You Do?’ burst in to show everyone how their complacency sucks.

Worse, I blame myself. Why was the girl on the train with the flasher successful and I wasn’t? What could I have done, changed trains (I’ve never done it/am afraid to). I yelled to the conductor as the train went away but he just stared at me.

I don’t know what I should have done. PS – I’ve always stuck up for myself from ‘Eve teasers’, living in South Asia for two years. I feel as though I give off some pheromone that tells these creeps that they can mess with me and that they will ultimately feel dominant with their successful taunts.

Submitted by Saira

9 comments 
Verbal

Prepare for public humiliation, turd.

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

2 comments 
Verbal

To all the haters who say “it’s just a compliment,” the proof is in the pudding with this story

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

no comments 
Verbal

I figured guys saved it for women in revealing clothing. Wrong.

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.

Wrong.

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

3 comments 
Assault, racial discrimination, Verbal

“Go study for your SATs fucking Chinese bitch.”

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

6 comments 
Verbal

You are a frog. And with behavior like that you’ll never be a prince.

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

one comment 
Verbal

The N- word, the F- word, and the C- word.

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.

one comment 
Verbal

Incest and harassment. A scary duo.

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.

5 comments 
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