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Two young guys on a train in Boston, MA. They’re probably drunk, we’re probably heading from the same baseball game. They’ve been hitting on/sexually harassing some college-age girls on the same train car as me without getting any responses.
Next they start glancing over towards me, a butch woman with short hair, and I overhear one of them mutter about my haircut. The other speculates whether I’m a man or a woman. Then the first starts asking “are you a lesbian” first quietly, then a little louder and again, a little louder. Like he’s trying to poke me, force me to react.
I stay silent and plan what to do or say next. I estimate how drunk they are, how heavy they look, and whether I could shove one enough to knock him down if I needed to. My heart’s pounding and I realize this is the third time in as many weeks I’ve faced harassment or derogatory speech for being visibly gay. At the next stop, the guys get off the train and I am relieved, but still angry. I decide that when I get home, I will post this on Hollaback and hopefully my story might help others, or at least make me feel less helpless.
We’ve been sending personal responses to all our donors thanking them, and this reply really struck a cord with us. The writer anonymously agreed to share it with us.
Thank YOU for everything you do. I only wish I could contribute more. I live in New York City and when I was working in an office I would get harassed almost every day going to or from work. Now I’m a freelance writer and I work from home so I encounter it less on the street but have started experiencing truly frightening things in bars. In the last few weeks, I had a man walk in on me in a bathroom stall (the lock was apparently broken) in an empty women’s bathroom, and just stand there and stare at me for a good ten seconds. He didn’t say anything or act surprised that he’d walked in on me or that he was in the wrong bathroom, and then he just calmly left. A week later, I was at another bar with all male friends and a guy who was alone at the bar, only about five feet away from me, was turning around to look at me every 30 seconds. Sometimes he’d turn his chair around completely and stare for a solid five minutes and listen to what I was saying as though he was in the conversation. When I took my phone out at one point to check my texts and Facebook and such, he took his phone out and pointed it directly at mine, so that it was only like two feet away, and then immediately spun his chair back around as soon as I put my phone away. (That was one of the strangest things and really scared me.) He was completely undeterred by me and all of my friends and my very angry boyfriend giving him nasty looks, and he did all of this for over an hour until I was so uncomfortable that I had stopped talking completely because I didn’t want him listening to me and didn’t want to leave the bar for fear of him following me anywhere, even if I was with other people. I’ve lived in cities before, but have never experienced anything like this, or the level and frequency of street harassment that occurs in New York. I lived in Baltimore for college for four years. I was harassed on the street ONCE, and another man sitting near him got up and started yelling at him, “How dare you speak to her that way?! Have some respect!” So it actually ended up being a rather endearing experience. I’m constantly harassed in New York, always in front of plenty of people, and no one has ever come to my defense here. Not that I can’t fight my own battles, but the acknowledgment of others who witness it that it is not okay would be nice. (What a cruel joke it is that I pay SO much more money to live here than other places and I’m not even treated like a human being when I walk around the city.)
Sorry for venting all of this to you completely unsolicited. I just really hope you know how important this is to so many of us. If you ever have those days that are frustrating or hopeless, we appreciate what you do so much.
A guy in a white car: The ubiquitous ‘hey baby,’ something else I couldn’t make out, a jacking off gesture.
To show Susannah you’ve got her back, please make a generous donation to our “I’ve Got Your Back” campaign. Only 5 days until the campaign ends! And your donation will be matched by our generous board of directors.
This happened a long time ago. I grew up in a pretty, quiet middle-class neighborhood in the middle of the Bible belt. My mom was always watchful. My best friend and I rarely played in our front yard, but this one day we took our dolls out front like this once in our whole childhood. Usually my mom wouldn’t let us play alone out front. A jeep drove up with a slightly built youngish white guy who asked us if we’d seen his puppy, and if we wanted to go help him find it. We were terrified and right away ran into the house. But DEAR GOD!!!! He could have put his car in park and thrown one of us into the back seat, but luckily, he sped off. We never saw him again. That’s one brush with a rapist that I hope I never have again.
The second creepy incident happened at a park with my mom. My mom was walking the track around the small park as me and the same friend played. This was a very hot summer day. We noticed a guy get out of his car, and smoke. He stared at us intently and he was wearing a thick black coat, and black boots. And it was hot outside. He smoked a few cigarettes. He had dark sunglasses on. He watched us. My mom noticed and decided to sit in her car, which was next to hers, and she started it. He had no children with him. He left as soon as my mom got in her car. He left.
Third story. And these are all true, and luckily for us end happily. This SAME friend and I were at her house and went to a park. Alone. Her mom let us go. Stupid, don’t let your kids go to parks alone. These boys that were 12 or so said really gross sexual things to us, but never attacked us physically. We escaped, mostly unscathed.
I just don’t get it. Why are there so many creepy, evil and sick men out there???????? WHAT THE FUCK? It’s so sad. It makes me so angry. So women let’s get angry, fight back and shame the assholes!!!
To help build a world where street harassment is unacceptable behavior, donate to our “I’ve Got Your Back” campaign. Only 8 days to go!
There are many more instances that I can speak of, but this one is what I always think of first. I was in Virginia Beach for a cheerleading competition, and I was walking down the main road with my father. I was on crutches with an air cast on one foot, wearing gym shorts & a tank top. As my father and I were crossing the street, a young man drove by and screamed, “I wanna have your babies!” My father was horrified and asked me if that man really just asked that. I didn’t know what to say- all I could say was yes, and changed the subject. I’ve put up with a lot of things being yelled at me in my life, but in front of my father that was just humiliating and I felt awful that he had to witness his “little girl” verbally abused like that.
I’ve been yelled at with sexual things by men my age (19) all the way to old men that look like they’re in their eighties. It’s disgusting and disrespectful, and it ruins things for those few good men out there. I’ve been in situations in which guys are really just trying to be friendly or helpful, but I expect the worst at first because of past experiences.
This is a wonderful campaign and I truly hope it makes a difference.
To help build a world without street harassment, donate to our “I’ve Got Your Back” campaign today.
I’m a fairly traditional southern woman, raised and homeschooled by extremely conservative parents, and sheltered from the world. Or at least I was. I started college at Tarleton State in the fall of ’09, and a lot of things change. I’ve learned a lot about harassment, first hand, that I hope none of my friends never have to learn. I could write about getting groped on my way to a club/bar, or screamed at by some idiot in a truck on my way home, or even a more violent incident that happened later that year, but I won’t. Instead I give you this little jewel, the incident that truly showed me how comfortable these ‘normal’ men were with their behavior, and just how acceptable it really was. I was attending a womens volleyball game with some friends, supporting our school in the regionals I think. Some guys behind us started harassing the opposing team and screaming some very vulgar things at them. A male friend took offense to that behavior, and warned them to quiet down. When they started being rude to him, I piped up. I don’t remember what I said but it must have made an impression. They were quieter for the rest of the match, and we watched in peace. Afterwards, I refused a ride home and decided to walk, because my dorm was less than half a mile away and the night was beautiful. I didn’t even think twice about my decision. I tried to call my boyfriend of the time who lived out of town, to enjoy a walk and talk under the stars. Just as I heard the busy tone, I began to hear yelling. It was three of the drunk men from before, trying to get my attention. I tried to ignore them, they were being just as vulgar as before. I was terrified. They were large men, and at 5’2″, i’m rather not. They continued to follow me as I asked them to leave me alone, and fought off tears. I could smell the alcohol from 5 feet away. I finally snapped when they asked my name again, and told them “It’s get the fuck away from me”. They just laughed and asked if it was “mexican”. They followed me to the door before losing interest. There were half a dozen other people in the parking lot when they started harassing me. Talk about turning a blind eye.
If you want a world where no one EVER turns a blind eye to verbal or physical violence, donate to the “I’ve got your back” campaign. We’ve trying to raise another $15,000 in the next 8 days and we need your help.
Every day I take the Metrobus to and from my college campus in Austin, Texas. Our neighborhood is pretty far away and my stop is the very last stop that bus takes, and I have to change buses three times to get to and from school. One Wednesday afternoon, around four o’clock, I transferred from the second to the last bus. I had been waiting at the bus stop for a good twenty minutes, but when I got on, some guy appeared out of nowhere and got on with me.
He was in his mid to late forties, it seemed. He tried to sit next to me even though there were tons of other empty seats, but I shook him off. Instead he sat in a seat across from me, and attempted to talk to me in Spanish. I just gave him a look and pointedly avoided his gaze, though I could see that he kept staring at me throughout the fifteen-minute ride. I was infuriated.
He finally got off at the bus stop before mine, where a tiny subdivision is located. I breathed a sigh of relief and got off at my stop, located at a tax building across the street from my neighborhood. I crossed the street and got to the entrance, when I noticed a car that was driving very slowly into the neighborhood. When I approached, I stared into the car, heart beating faster as I slowly came to realize that it was the same man from the bus earlier.
He only drove a little ways into the neighborhood, then pulled a u-turn and drove out of the same entrance. I was walking in, and I looked into the driver’s side and it was the same man, giving me the creepiest smile I’ve ever witnessed in my entire life. I had never known blood could literally run cold, but mine did that day.
He waved at me and pulled out of the neighborhood. I walked down the street backwards, watching his car. To my dismay, he was turning around at a stop-light and coming back my way. Horrified, I sprinted like mad to my house, thankfully fast enough so that he didn’t know where I lived. Nobody was home, and I hovered nervously next to the window. As I stared, the exact same car drove slowly around the street– He had been circling the neighborhood, looking for me.
I have never felt this outraged, violated, and humiliated. Knowing that he is practically my neighbor, that he would even try such a thing on a nineteen year old girl by herself absolutely infuriates me. That was a little over a few weeks ago, but I am still paranoid and I check that tiny neighborhood for his car every time I pass by, since I know he must live there.
Stories like this should never happen to anyone. Especially not 19 year olds. Help build a world without street harassment by donating to the “I’ve Got Your Back” campaign. The campaign ends July 7th, so act quickly!
It was just gone half past ten at night, a Monday evening in Bristol and I was standing alone at the bus stop waiting for my bus home. I was texting on my phone. A drunk man approached from behind me – I don’t know how long he had been there but I’d been there about ten minutes. He called me “lovely phone lady” and tried to engage me in conversation. When I calmly gave him the brush-off he asked if I was a criminal lawyer (huh?) so I told him no, but actually I live with one – hoping to intimidate him but of course feeding his sense of entitlement to converse. After that I didn’t give him any conversation but he carried on regardless. He asked if I had a boyfriend and then he explained to me that I shouldn’t be out alone, that if I was going to get a taxi or a bus home alone it wasn’t safe, that anything could happen to me and that he would wait with me. I said firmly that I was perfectly fine and he should leave. He repeatedly asked me to tell him where I live. He asked me whether I watch “Midsomer Murders”. Perhaps he wanted to spook me or perhaps he is a bit-part actor in it. He refused to leave, told me he had sisters and he would never ‘let’ them travel alone at night. At this point the bus arrived and I told him again to go. Instead, he stood just by the doors as I got on the bus. I wasn’t going to ask the driver for my destination with him listening, so I stood there waiting for him to go away. He then shouted to the driver “Look after her” and “I love her”. I just stood there with my back to him. Then the driver asked, “Is he your boyfriend?” at which point I said no, he is a creep who I have never met before in my life. Only then did the driver close the doors and I could ask for my ticket.
This man invaded my personal space and my privacy. He assumed he had the right to do this – and to tell me not to go out alone at night. I happened to think he was a prick, but he had no way of knowing that I wouldn’t be very scared by him.
I’ve been holla’d at several times in the street. It’s not new to me. Quite the opposite, actually. But the two instances that stick out to me I will recap for you.
The first one was when I was in eighth grade and walking home from school. I was crossing a busy road at an intersection, and as I was halfway across the street a black truck pulled up behind me. The cab was full of rowdy teenage boys. The boys started screaming at me to “get in the car little girl!” because “we have candy and puppies!”. This shocked me. At the time I did not consider myself a little girl. I look back on it now, and yes, I was young. I have a sister in seventh grade and she seems like a little girl to me, too. But the fact that these teenage boys thought it was funny to harass some strange little girl, it angers me. If they had tried that on me at this age, I probably would’ve screamed at them.
The second time was just last year for me. My bus stop was on an almost busy road. It was usually quiet there, and this bicycle path we call a “Ravine” opened up on either side of the road. Every day at about the same time this old man would drive by on his moped giving me this creepy “I’m so undressing you with my eyes and damn, I’d tap that!” look. It was unnerving, but not much I could do. After maybe two or three months my bus stop was transferred to the other side of the road and it would come a little bit earlier. I didn’t see the old man for a while after that. But I did see him once more. Me and some friends were walking down another street. The two boys of the group decided to remove their shirts and see who had the biggest manboobs (They were incredibly fit, abs and everything, so there wasn’t much to compare) and the old man drove by again. Not only did he check me out, but he oggled my guys friends as well. Needless to say, I did not enjoy being looked at by a seventy-something old creep.
It really sucks when people start doing this and you feel you can’t speak up. We need to put a stop to this. And thanks to these stories, I’m able to make up some good comebacks to certain holla’s. I’m creating my own arsenal of rude comments for those special “friends” of ours. We should all Hollaback!
To help build a world where everyone has the right to feel safe and confident in their own neighborhood, learn more and donate to the “I’ve got your back” campaign.
I decided to go on a run one night along the well-lit path beside Campbell Avenue, so I put on my usual running outfit (shorts and one of my “Legalize Gay” shirts). It was a nice night, and plenty of other runners and bikers were out enjoying the warm weather. About 15 minutes into my run, two bikers came up beside me and matched my pace. I smiled at them as they got closer to me, and I noticed them talking though I couldn’t hear them over the traffic. Once they were beside me, I could hear, “Hey bitch, slow down.” I sped up and moved away from the street. They continued to follow me to the end of the block, repeating, “Get back here, whore!” I was coming up on a gravely hill that I planned on detouring to in order to avoid their bikes, and they continued: “Fucking dyke, maybe if you suck my dick, you won’t be so stupid.” I finally got to the hill and began sprinting, and one of them threw a bottle that hit my head. They didn’t follow me any longer as I made my way back to the emergency room.
If this story makes you as angry as it makes us, consider being productive with your anger and donating to the “I’ve got your back” campaign.