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I have a pair of thigh high boots that I love. They make me feel like a superheroine, these boots. I put them on and I instantly feel kickass. It’s such an awesome feeling. Some days, these boots are my shield against all the terrible, shitty things in the world. They’re my reminder that I have the power to make a difference just by being me.
They also attract a lot of negative comments.
One day, I was getting on the bus when an older man started muttering to himself about how I was dressed. You know the drill – hooker, streetwalker, skank, whore, slut. For a few moments I felt utterly paralysed. This guy was old enough to be my grandfather. What was the play here? What should I do?
I turned around, I looked at him, and I asked, “I’m sorry, did you have something to say?”
He couldn’t even look me in the eye. He turned away, muttered something about me minding my own business and shut up.
It was the greatest feeling in the world.
I’ve experienced a lot of street harassment no matter how I’ve been dressed. But that one time, on that one day, I was able to stand up and do something about it. I was in a safe space (a bus full of people in broad daylight going down a very busy main street) and I was able to say something that disarmed the person harassing me. And goddamn, it felt so good.
I’m sharing this story in the hope that people will read it and feel like when the time is right, they can stand up and say something too. You don’t have to endure people’s rude comments – you totally have the right to holla back! And when you’re able to do it, it feels so great.
In the middle of the afternoon I took my puppy outside to relieve himself. An SUV with a male driver and at least one male passenger was driving down Avent Ferry toward me. As the vehicle passed, the male in the passenger seat yelled, “Suck my dick!” The SUV sped off too fast for me to take note of any idenfiying details without my glasses on. I’ve been hollered at by men in vehicles plenty of times before (especially in college), but I found this time particularly demeaning. No one even witnessed it, but that didn’t stop me from feeling humiliated and ashamed. I felt completely helpless, and that’s just not the type of woman I am.
I was in town for a conference and was walking back to the hotel by myself after lunch. I passed a man standing on the corner with a cardboard sign. He told me to have a nice day, so I said, “You, too,” to be polite. Then as I stood with my back to him while waiting for the light to change, he said, twice, “How about you and me meet up later.” And when I didn’t respond, he followed with, “You go, you never go back.”
It certainly could have been worse; he didn’t follow me, nor did I think he would. But it still marred my otherwise lovely spring afternoon and made me wonder what I could have said in response that would have made a difference in how he treats people in the future.
Hi. I waved and smiled to thank you for letting me pass your truck. As you drove by you casually called me a “fag”. Next time I’ll be sure to extinguish my cigarette in your eyeball! Coward. Hollaback!
I was just coming home from a friend’s house, having had a great day, when this truck rolls by and some guy is hanging out the window yelling at me “hey, sexy!” I turned as he passed, and several yards up the road he still had his whole torso out the window, looking back at me. I flipped him off and he flipped back and shouted “Yeah, I won!” as though my “fuck you” was a real invitation. I was just trying to enjoy my walk.
Back in the early 2000’s when I was in secondary school I was very shy, quiet and known as the class “square” and one of the “popular” guys who I’ll call “M” especially made my life hell, he once announced loudly that one day if I was lucky, I might get raped, in assembly he once got all the classmates between him and I to pass on a message to me that he thought I was “hot” so I had to endure them all sniggering and laughing at me while he sat back full of smug pride.
He used to try and gear the teachers towards yelling at me for any tiny excuse he could find, once he stole my pe kit and made a show of sniffing the bag and refusing to return it. He started several pass-around surverys during classtimes titled “is Lydia the class prostitute?” and also “do u think Lydia wears thongs?”
During a school play when it was my turn to sing he wooped really loudly and made a growling sound which everyone laughed at. I refuse to believe it was from attraction, I feel it was because I was an easy target who would never dare to answer back.
I always look back on my secondary school time with strong bitter hatred and embarrassment, I don’t think I could ever forgive him for how he treated me.
I do feel however that my ordeal has made me into the stronger person I am today, now I always make a point of confronting my harassers and standing up for myself.
…I do just hope one day I might run into M, who for the record is now balding, pot bellied and very different from the athletic cocky “bad boy” who tormented me in school…. and give him a punch.
Someone driving in a truck whistled at me as I was walking out of the gym. I yelled, “I didn’t need that” as they drove away. I immediately felt uncomfortable and unsafe.
It’s happened several times in Old Town Pasadena. Mostly by men handing out advertisements, I’ve experienced such things as “damn those are some nice pants” and stare downs by several men. It’s severely embarrassing when there’s hundreds of others around you in this shopping area. The ridicules are obnoxious and I wish the verbal harassers who work in these stores would receive some kind of discipline or punishment for this slander. There’s no respect for women here.
I was sitting outside when a guy I knew stopped by to chat with his girlfriend. A man was passing by and stopped and told my friend that his girlfriend was “hot” and that he was lucky. He said “damn!” then turned and looked me up and down and said “How YOU doing? and stared at me as he walked away. It was wholly inappropriate.
I’m a university student studying abroad in Kunming, Yunnan Province, China.
It was 10am on a bright, sunny day. The street was empty except for me and another woman who was ahead of me and walking the same way. I was on my way to the airporter bus, so I had my luggage rolling behind me.
This creep walking the other way sees us coming. Despite the empty street and the sidewalk so wide you could park a bus in the width, he get’s that small, leery smile and sneering eyes as he squares his shoulders and intercepts out path. Both me and the other woman veer sharply out of the way. My suitcase, however, catches him in the ankle with the wheel.
Made me feel a bit better.
Another time, I was reading on my campus grounds at around 11pm. A really drunk guy comes up and starts asking if I have a boyfriend, where I’m from, if I spoke Chinese, etc. When I don’t understand some of what he says, he touches my crotch. When I go to walk away, he makes a grab for my boob.
It’s made me a little leery when random men sit next to me just to speak English.
I told my roommate this. She said that some men once came to her and told her that she should be cheaper because she was small. My other roommate had a 40-year-old-ish guy kiss her on the lips after she had been nice enough to give him directions someplace.