Appalachian Ohio, Athens GA, Atlanta, Berkeley, Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, Columbia MO, Columbus, Des Moines, Durham & Chapel Hill, East Lansing, Fredericksburgh VA, Houston, Los Angeles, Muncie IN, New York City, NYU, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Plattsburgh, Richmond VA, San Francisco, Tucson, Twin Cities
I work at a little gas station down the street from my house, and all of these incidents took place while I was working.
1) A customer that we regularly had trouble with trying to get free beer and cigarettes from one of the other employees came in and not seeing my coworker there started harassing me to give him free stuff. I had been told by my manager that this was not acceptable, and to tell him to leave if it happened again. I did as I was told and the customer started smiling to me. He told me I was cute when I was angry and asked if I was married. I told him that I was, and he told me that he was going to break into my house and steal me away from my husband. I told him again to get out, and he asked to take my hand. I refused, staying back from the counter. He set something on the counter, covering it with his hand, and assured me it was money for his purchase. Since my coworker had not come out of the back room (where the camera equipment was, he was watching the entire exchange from the office) and I had been assured several times that this particular customer, a regular in the store, was “harmless” I moved towards the counter to take the money and ring up the purchase. At that point he grabbed me by the hand and started pulling me over the counter. Finally, my coworker came out of the office and told the customer to leave. I was horribly shaken up by the experience, and told my manager and the owner that I was not comfortable with this kind of behavior, and asked specifically that this particular customer be barred from the property (a common practice when customers get out of hand). I was told that he was to be prevented from entering the store, but when he came back in a few weeks later and I told him to leave repeatedly, my coworker (the same one who’d been hiding in the back room during the actual event) waved him over and continued ringing him up several times in the same day, each time after I had asked the customer to leave. When I discussed this with the owner of the store, I was told that the individual was a “good customer” who came in often, so he was to be allowed into the store again. I expressed concern over having to serve him and the possibility of a similar incident, but the only answer I got was that my coworker wasn’t allowed to give him free beer and cigarettes anymore, but I am still expected to serve him when he comes into the store. This individual comes to the store several times a day, so I have to wait on him at least two or three times a shift, and my discomfort with him is constantly shrugged off.
2) At the same store, another regular who comes in several times a day has a habit of thrusting his hand over the counter towards me as I’m leaning over and handing him his change in attempt to grope at my chest. It’s another issue that I’ve brought up to superiors, and been shrugged off as “that’s just how he is, ignore it”. Apparently this is something he does to all of the female cashiers where I work, and is apparently just accepted as part of the job. Ick.
3) Another regular customer that comes in, and again, I have to wait on him several times each shift, regularly asks me if I’m married. When I tell him that I am, he appears to get angry at the information, insisting that I should leave my husband to be with him, asking for my phone number, etc, and once when I flat out told him I wasn’t interested he yelled at me, called me a stuck up bitch, and again insisted that I should leave my husband for him. Honestly, of the three, this is the one that most often appears to be truly a matter of a man deciding that women are all just property to be claimed with no rights or voice of their own, and the one that makes me the most uncomfortable (the other two, when stared at for the duration of their time in the store back down fairly quickly). Again though, when bringing it up to my superiors, it’s shrugged off as just something that “comes with the territory”, and something that I’ll just have to get used to. I’d rather not. I’m looking for another job already.
Submitted by Equalist
I was an exchange student in Spain for 9 months and toward the end of those 9 months I went to spend a week on the beach at Salou with a group of friends.
One afternoon I was walking the 2 blocks from our hotel to the beach by myself when I heard a man calling out to me. I glanced at him, then looked away. I noticed him running after me. I sped up. He grabbed me and attempted to kiss me. I twisted out of his arms, looked him dead in the eye, and said firmly, in English, “I don’t understand any Spanish.” Which, by the way, was an utter lie. But I assumed that he would be put off by a person who spoke no Spanish.
I walked swiftly and decidedly on toward the beach. Thankfully, he left me alone, although behind me I heard him say, in Spanish, something like, “You don’t have to know any Spanish!”
Submitted by Olivia
11/27/2010, around 1pm. I was walking with my friend V. on Broadway in uptown Manhattan (just past Nagle Avenue, along the wall of Fort Tryon Park) when we encountered four young men, around 13 or 14, perched on the wall and benches hanging out. One kid yelled out at us, saying “your girlfriend’s cute!” The others laughed and chimed in, yelling at V., and started asking “is she your sister or girlfriend?”
Feeling a bit defensive and reckless (I honestly wanted to answer “both” just to see their reactions) I lied and said yes, and they all started hooting “tap that ass!” and “kiss, kiss, kiss.” They shouted at us down the rest of the block; it was awkward, but we both took it in good humor. I would hope that they’re just being reckless young kids and they’ll grow out of that kind of behavior soon.
Submitted by Ronan
This took place today in LA. I was waiting on my bike to cross at an intersection and there were three random guys standing around trying to scalp tickets to a football game. One says, “Hey, gorgeous, how you doin?” I was completely bundled up, wearing a long coat and a scarf. I was also wearing flip flops (it’s LA after all). Another one says “Hey girl, you got beautiful feet. You got beautiful feet.” I didn’t really know what to do so I just rode off on my bike.
Just because I’m wearing flip flops doesn’t mean you can appraise the attractiveness of my feet. Though it did kind of make me laugh that that was the only thing the guy could think of to say, since I had no other skin showing (although even if I had, it wouldn’t give him the right to comment on it).
I pray that these guys find something better to do with their lives than stand on street corners trying to scalp tickets and harass women.
Submitted by Amanda
It is common to get cat called or whistled at when walking in the streets of Mexico City. Personally, I could say that I get verbally harassed about three times a week in different areas where I transit about.
I would like to mention the latest event of this type. I had just hopped off the Metrobus and was walking by a magazine stand when a young man, probably a salesman I had never seen before starts walking beside me and tells me “que guapa amiga… eh?” (I could translate it as “you are cute my friend, hey?”)
I continued walking and ignored him with a straight face so he kept on walking by my side and in an angry tone asked me if I was going to be mad at him or what,…as if I had the obligation to answer back at him. He eventually left my side as I went closer to a restaurant. Since then I take a detour from that area whenever I can. Policemen usually favor the ambulant salesmen who often bribe them to be able to sell their goods in the street….so there is no use nor safety in reporting directly to them. Sadly.
Submitted by Amancaya
A middle-aged man was passing out flyers while I was on my way to the library. I was passing him by when he complimented me and said, “You’re so beautiful.” I said thank you and tried to keep on walking when I realized that he kept following me and repeating it over and over again. “Don’t you speak English?” he said. “I SAID YOU’RE BEAUTIFUL.” I told him, “I do speak English and I said thanks,” trying to get away. Finally, after about ten minutes, he stopped following me. What I really wanted to do was curse him out and tell him I am a freaking English major and that he had no right to expect some sort of gratitude from me just because of a compliment, not to mention STALK me when I didn’t engage in a conversation with him. Just because you pay me a compliment does not mean I am obligated to go on my hands and knees to thank you or get to know you. Don’t accuse me of not knowing how to speak in English just because I don’t speak your language of creeperism.
Submitted by S.A.
On a half empty subway train with empty seats this guy was sitting next to women who were sitting in the window seat trapping them in next to him. Then he would start hitting on them. I noticed this happening from the other side of the train, he did not do it to me, and it didn’t really piss me off until one lady, obviously uninterested, asked to get up so she could move away from this guy. He just barely shifted his weight, and did not move out of the way. The woman rolled her eyes and was forced to slide her body over his to get out. She was forced to make physical contact. He got this smug little smile when he made her do this. I lost it. I waited till he sat down next to yet another girl and got up in his face and took a photo. “THAT’S ENOUGH OF THAT. You are being creepy!” I said to him. I told him exactly what he was doing and that he needed to stop. I told him no one was interested and he was not “smooth” making girls touch him who did not want to. He got offended and said he was just “talking to them” and yelled at me for a minute but stopped his harassment. He stood by the doors till I got off. I walked right past him and wished him a blessed day.
Submitted by Caitlin
It’s hard for me to tell this story because I was so shamed and distressed by it, but it’s good too, to share.
This happened a long time ago, but I think it’s helpful because it shows how this sort of harassment can hurt for a long time.
When I was 12 I was at the Winter Fair at Landsdowne Park in Ottawa with my 6th grade class. We were all running around being silly, having escaped teacher supervision. At that age I had already developed as a woman. As I was running past this old man who looked like a farmer, he yelled at me, “Nice tits!”. I felt like I had been punched in the stomach. It scared me and I still feel scared as I type this. The rest of the day was blur, except when he yelled it at me again, about 20 minutes later. That night I went to a family gathering at my Grandma’s and I felt depressed, anxious, withdrawn, dirty, moody and ashamed. I honestly felt like I would never feel safe and comfortable with my body or my self again. It took time but I healed from this; however, my body still feels the fear and shame today when I think of this.
I was sensitive as a pre-teen about my sexuality and it’s taken me a long time to become confident in it; it’s something I’m still working on at age 31.
I don’t know why a man would need to say something like that to a young girl, but anything we can do to stop this sort of action is important and valuable. I want the world to be a place where people feel good, confident, safe and respected. Thanks for creating this site!!
Submitted by Charlotte
1. I was 17, well before cell phones. Walking down the street in Cambridge with two girlfriends. A car slowed behind us, rolled along for a short while. There was a bar up ahead and we thought perhaps they were going there. The car pulled into a parking spot in front of the bar and two men got out and began walking behind us. “Hey, what’s your name? Where are you going? Hey pretty…” non-stop, though we brushed them off. Crossed the street, they did too. Soon we realized we were headed towards the Charles River, not a good place to have two creepy men follow you at night.
Kept crossing streets, turning, picking up speed, and they just kept up with us, calling after us. We came across a cab at a streetlight and dove into the back, asking the driver to drive anywhere.
2. Walking to school in London, 8am. A van pulls up at a traffic light and a man opens the side door, “hey beautiful, get in!” “No.” “You ugly bitch, get in the van.” “Fuck off.” “Awwww, c’mon pretty. Don’t you want to go for a ride?” My cross light turned, they were stuck at the light, I managed to slip away.
3. Also walking to school in London. Pass by a buss stop with a group of middle school boys waiting at it. “Hey gorgeous, nice legs.” Are you kidding me? A child!? I asked him where his mother was, which shut him up.
4. Late night London, two men in a car pull up as a friend and I are walking to the bus. They say all sorts of nasty things and try to coerce us into the car. Follow us along for blocks until we found an open kebab shop to duck into. One followed us in. We watched our bus stop and made a run for it when the bus pulled up.
5. Also was followed home in London, no comments, just followed and then he banged on the door of the apartment building for awhile. After that every time we were followed (not uncommon) we kept walking up the street to a night club where we knew the bouncer.
6. Seattle: Waiting outside a bar for a friend. A man walking down the street swerves towards me, comes right up in my face and hisses: “pull my panties off with your teeth…” Ugh.
7. Seattle: Walking to the bus (again!). Man standing on street: “Hey, are you a guy or a girl?” I opt not to respond. As I get closer, “oh look, a girl. Hey, you’re really pretty.” I stay silent, keep walking. As I pass him, “Hey, you should grow your hair out.” Keep walking; hear from a distance as I go, “hey, you should gain some weight though.” Thanks man.
8. Seattle: A man is standing talking to a another man, who I know. I give them a look as I pass by them as I caught them talking about someone being cute. As I pass the man says to my acquaintance, “she’s cute too.” My acquaintance says, “yeah she is. She’s married though.” (Thanks. I love being talked about like I’m not even there.)
9. Seattle: A man starts hitting on a friend outside a club. Won’t take no for an answer. Grabs her arm and tries to pull her into a cab. I jumped in, pulled him off her, yelled, and the two of us retreated back inside. A crowd of people watched this, including a bouncer. No one said anything.
10. Bonus, San Francisco style: Walking with my husband. A man says “hey, why you with that guy? Why don’t you give this a try?” My husband thought that was pretty rude. I wrote it off as yet another day where I left my house.
And those are just a start. Reading this site I am flooded with memories over the past 20 years and how angry, vulnerable, and diminished it always makes me feel.
Submitted by KM
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