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I thought I’d submit this because it happened a few days ago and I’m still pissed off about it. I wish I knew what I could have done to make it better. I don’t know if you’ll be able to use this or not, but here goes.
My three roommates and I are coming back from a wonderful late dinner. We’re all girls in our early twenties. I keep writing defensive sentences about our appearance (“we weren’t dressed as clubgoers, we’re all pretty average schlumpy nerds actually”) and I really hate that I feel the need to do that, but anyway. As one of us is getting out her keys to get into the building, some scrawny young dude in a white t-shirt walks up to us, alone. “Hey. Hey. Hi. Hi. Hello, girls. Hi.”
There goes the residual happiness from our awesome dinner out! We all do the classic ‘oh fuck’ maneuver of putting our heads down, turning away, ignoring every word and hoping the unwanted stranger goes away. A sick feeling of tension spreads through the group because we are awkward and afraid. I get so ANGRY, though. I am FURIOUS. If we’d had even one guy with us, I bet this scrawny fuck wouldn’t be talking shit because he’d be scared, but a group of four girls is nothing, right? (Even though we could so take him. I bet we could so take him.) But to him we’re nothing, and the fact that there is zero conceivable reason that four young women would want to communicate with some random strange guy at midnight on the Upper East Side just hasn’t penetrated this fellow’s thick cranium. What the hell doesn’t he get? Why does he think this is okay? Does he get off on knowing he frightens and alarms us? (Yeah, probably.)
And this always happens. You always shut up because you don’t want to say anything just in case you’re talking to some crazy dangerous guy who’ll flip out. You don’t want to cause a scene, you don’t want to embarrass anybody, you don’t want your attempt at defending yourself to backfire. You want to close your eyes and for the issue to go away and then later you think, “I wish I would have said something. I could have said something.”
Well FUCK THAT. I’m so SICK of shutting up all the time, and I want him to know that his actions are bloody unwelcome, so I DO say something. “It is midnight, and we are trying to get into our apartment. Nobody wants to talk to you. Go away,” I snap at him furiously. My friends are all still quiet as the one roommate fumbles her keys in her nervousness. No one backs me up.
“Aw, now how you gonna talk to me like that? What if I was crazy and had a gun or a knife? What if I was one of them crazy guys that would just go all crazy on you?”
So many responses spring to mind (“Yeah, you wanna be crazy around the corner from a packed bar? You wanna act crazy in the middle of the street? You wanna watch me dial three crazy numbers on my crazy cell phone, idiot? Yeah, if you had that shit, wouldn’t you have used it by now?”), but the tension is so thick and sour in my throat. I don’t want to give credence to this fool’s statement by engaging him in conversation. He isn’t worth any of my time. He’s obviously not there for any reasonable reason. No debate will register with this one, no argument will work. I don’t want to act sweet or nice. I want to be that one mean-faced Bronx bitch you don’t fuck with ’cause she’s obviously crazy (read: can and will defend herself). But the roommate finally gets the keys to work, and we pile inside, shutting the door behind his insipid questions and implicit threats.
None of us bring this up ever again. It was our last night at the apartment, by the way, and our last dinner as a group, because the lease expired and we were going our separate ways. And it was one of the girl’s birthdays, to boot. She turned 20. I still wish I could have said or done something that shut his cravenly, smug face up and make him rethink EVER harassing ANY female EVER again. FUCK him.
Submitted by Nathalie
I was walking to the office, minding my own business, and two guys from the other side of the street look at me. One of them yells, “Hey there lady!”
They were out of sight by the time I pulled out my camera.
Submitted by K.
This happened to me when I went high school on the lower east side. I must have been about 13 or 14 and had a habit of wearing very short skirts to school with some striped or sparkly stockings and a t-shirt. At school, it didn’t seem like a big deal because many students wore crazy outfits and I always felt confident and happy in my ensembles. One day after school I was walking along 14th street around 6th avenue in an extremely short denim skirt. It’s not a skirt I would ever wear now, but at the time my pre-pubescent stick like body made the skirt more fashionable than sexy. Or so I thought. This tall man came right up to me as I walked past him and whispered very softly in my ear, “I like your skirt.” It was so quiet and abrupt and awful. It made me feel disgusting and sad. How had he gotten close enough to whisper in my ear? I hadn’t given the skirt a second thought and all of a sudden it felt dirty. That experience scarred me for a long time. I don’t remember exactly, but I doubt I wore that skirt again. Whispering dirty comments to a 13 year old on the street, good job street harasser!
Another point I wanted to mention is that although I only get harassed occasionally, seeing the women around get harassed perpetually makes me so angry. I often can’t contain myself and end up flipping them the bird or saying something like, “Have some respect!”. I always feel bad about flipping the bird, but the, “Have some respect!” line seems to make me feel better.
Submitted by Eve
I was walking to my office when I passed a man sitting on the side of a pedestrian bridge. He seemed to be talking to himself. Then as soon as I passed, he said, “Want some dick?” I ignored him and kept walking, then he got louder: “Come on!” The further I walked, the less I heard, but he didn’t stop.
I filed a police report.
Submitted by K.
The other night I was walking into town and got beeped at 3 times within the space of a few seconds, one of them shouting out ‘YOU’RE GETTING FUCKED UP THE ASS TONIGHT!’
I actually burst into tears of anger.
Submitted by Nicky
I’ve been reading Hollaback and I’ve been holla-ing back daily at harassers for over a year now, but this is the first time I’ve written to tell my own experience.
Every morning on my way to work, I cut through the J. Hood Wright park on 173rd and Haven Ave to walk up to the GW Bridge to catch the bus. This morning, I was walking to work minding my own business through a mostly empty park, when two jerks sitting on a bench started yelling at me, “Hey baby, lookin good this morning” (or something to that effect). Without stopping, I shouted, “Don’t call me baby, asshole,” and continued walking through the park. The guys then started screaming things back at me such as, “You ugly bitch, fuck you! You need to go get fucked you stupid fucking bitch!” I never turned around, but gave it right back to them as I kept walking, telling them to F off.
I was coming home from work at 5PM, and I saw a large group of guys sitting on the same bench. Since I had never turned around this morning to look at the jerks, I couldn’t tell if they were the same guys. I was really, really hoping that they hadn’t actually sat on the bench all day, waiting for me to come back. But when I walked by, I heard one say, “I’m gonna fuck that bitch in the face,” but again I was just hoping they weren’t referring to me. Then after I left the park and was walking down 173rd street, I hear, “Hey bitch!” behind me. I turned around and this guy had followed me out of the park and was yelling, “Fuck you, bitch! If you ever disrespect me and my friend again, I’m gonna fuck you up!” I walked right up to him and took the photo below with my camera (sorry such bad quality – I have a really old phone so I had to take a picture of my phone with my boyfriend’s iPhone to get it on my computer). He then proceeded to say “Oh yeah? Why don’t you take a picture of this, bitch?” at which point he pulled his pants down, bent over, and mooned me.
At this point, I was beyond furious. I was so disgusted, I actually thought I might vomit. I had luckily seen a police van across the street, so I walked as fast as I could to get them. There were 3 cops (2 women and 1 man), who told me to get in the van, and drove me back to the park. We walked past the bench and around the area a little, but of course, the asshole was nowhere to be found. The cops were so amazingly understanding – they even drove me around the neighborhood for about 15 minutes looking for him. They told me if I saw him again, I could call 911 and he would be arrested. They drove me back to my apartment a few blocks away, and even walked me inside my building. I’m so thankful that they took me seriously and made sure I got home safely.
This experience today has left me very shaken up. Even though I know I can get him arrested if I see him, what if I don’t have that chance? What if he attacks me first? Street harassment is absolutely about exerting power over people. When I denied his advances this morning, this guy felt the need to wait for me all day long so that he could make sure I knew that he still had control over me. I can only hope that if his friends tell him that I came back to the park with the police, he will be scared enough not to mess with me again, instead of pissed off enough to mess with me even more.
Thank you so much, Hollaback, for providing this forum for us to tell our stories.
Submitted by Marianne
A friend and I went to the Pratt art store (Clinton Hill) to buy canvas and there was a well dressed man standing right in the middle of the store. I needed help and he looked like he worked there.
me: Sir do you work here?
creep: No, but I still want to talk to you
me: No, thanks.
As I walk away he grabs my arm and starts caressing it!! I pulled away.
me: DON’T TOUCH ME!!
creep: Oh so it’s like that??!!
me: I dont like being touched by strangers!!
creep: Go back to where you came from!! Go back to f*cking Eastern Europe you b*tch, get the f*ck out of here.
(I am from Moscow but I have been here since I was 9 and have had my citizenship for 10 years now.) He kept saying nasty things and I was terrified. So I went to get the store security guard. When we walked over to the racist creep the security guard asked him if there was a problem… creep: “there is no problem, I was just trying to shop and she was talking me up and touching me!!!!”
me:no, you just sexually and racially harassed me.
creep:you don’t know what harassment is.. go back to f*cking Eastrern Europe! ect..”
A manager came over and I told her what happened, I was very upset and scared and I couldn’t help it when I started to cry. She told me and my friend to wait behind the isles on the other side of the store while she took care of it. My friend who was with me the whole time was very scared too and didn’t say much the whole time.
The creep by now was yelling at everyone, saying that “can only Eastern European b*tches shop here???!!” and other nasty things. The manager told him she’s going to call the police and he was yelling “yeah call them” Then when she walked away to call the cops he ran out.
The manager was very nice and sympathetic and took my ID to file a report and then let us out the back door. This happened almost a week ago, the first couple of days I didn’t think about it because I think I was in shock but now I can’t get it out of my head. The store filed a report but I doubt anything will be done about it. I am terrified now because I live 5 minutes away from the store and if I run into him again there will be no security guards to protect me. I decided to go to the police today and file a report. The store has cameras and I’m sure they got the creep on tape.
Hopefully I can get the surveillance video of the creep and post it as well.
Submitted by Tais
And report this shit..
Spent less than 10 minutes tracking down the distribution company that works for a pet food company whose drivers were unloading goods to the pet store today on 6th Ave. Took a snapshot in case I needed the truck number but it wasn’t even necessary because my quick description of the gentleman whose obscenities interrupted my peaceful and much deserved lunch break yielded a quick and easy identification of the donkey dong. His supervisor said “Yeah I know who that was…he’s not right in the head” and thanked me sincerely for calling in to report him. I said I hoped he could understand that workers such as this one are not only harmful to everyone who comes into contact with them throughout the course of their days but also to the pet food company, the pet store, and and most of all, the distributors–the ones who hired the turd. He said “Absolutely, our name is on the truck.”
Not only will Mr. Poop Brains get a scolding, and the supervisor schooled a little bit in the importance of hiring humans versus animals, but the pet food company now knows that the distributor hires turds, and one more phone call will ensure that the pet store knows that the distributor hires turds. That’s a looooot of people who just got HOLLAed at.
Submitted by Beth
So here I am in Boston, 17 years old, not at all expecting harassment as I’ve lived in a small Midwestern town with a population of 8,000 my entire life. I stayed out late in the city with friends and then had to take the train out to the end of the line, and then a bus back to the North Shore. SO I get off the train, walk up to the (completely deserted) bus stop by the highway in the dark, and there’s this young, very greasy-haired guy standing up there, and as I walk past him he starts going all, “Hi sweetie, hi baby, come over and sit by me. What, you won’t talk to me? Too good to talk to me, bitch?” and so on and so forth. I tried to stand as far away from him as I could, but I couldn’t leave the stop because it was the last bus and I certainly didn’t want to miss it and be stuck out on the highway all night. He kept muttering and cursing at me until finally some other passengers showed up, and he kind of melted back into the parking lot behind the stop.
I got home, really shaken up. There was no one here to talk to, so I got on the internet and just typed “street harassment” into the search engine, and found Hollaback. I didn’t take a picture, I was so stunned by being harassed for the first time ever that I didn’t even tell him to fuck off; besides, I didn’t want to make him angry. But I felt so dirty the whole way home, and so shaken, and it feels a little better to send this off into a cyber-void having gotten it off my chest to people who will care.
Submitted by Katherine
Note: Hollaback accepts posts from around the world in places where other Hollabacks do not exist. BUT! We are so happy to announce that it looks like HollabackBOSTON will be restarting in the next month or so. Stay tuned!
Submitted by Elsa