Verbal

Race and Harassment: What do you think?

So up until a few moments ago I was having a very good day. Today was my first day at a new job which I love and this morning I spoke with someone regarding some freelance work that might be in my near future. So you would think that after all that I would be a good mood…guess again. I got harassed on my way home from my great, wonderful day. I walked by this man with his friend and he said “Lovely” to me. I as usual told him to go fuck himself. Now many my not think that the word lovely isn’t all that offensive but I don’t need hear constant compliments on my looks to validate who I am just because I am a woman. Now in response he got very upset told me to “get out of the hood”. Now this brings me to something that I have always wondered about: why does street harassment seem unusually high in the “hood”? And why is it a practice that is becoming increasingly popular among young black men? It has been in my entire life’s experience that 95% of the men to harass me have been black and most of those experiences have happened in poorer black communities. Its entirely safe to say that although I run a risk of being harassed everywhere and most women are I feel safer in Park Slope or Williamsburg as oppose to Bed-Stuy where I currently reside. I even dress a little different knowing that I wont get harassed. I know that whenever race gets brought up it can be a rather touchy subject but I cant help but wonder if more women in the NYC area other myself have noticed this trend or if it is at all significant to bring it up. Should race be tackled in the “Stop Street Harassment” movement? Should it be addressed? The problem that I think this blog is trying to resolve is to get women talking to realize that it happens to women everywhere and with that realization women can stop internalizing. But I wonder if it would serve a better purpose to speak of the harassers. Who are they are and why do they do this. The way I have rationalized my own experiences has been thinking of the black men who do this as an exercise in a power struggle in which they feel as though they are losing. Is it simply one oppressed group trying to oppress another? What that guy said to me resonated because it seemed like he was saying that in the “hood” things are done a certain way and how dare I challenge it by talking back to him. I may be over thinking this it was though he was trying to make some sort of comment on gentrification. I do look like an outsider in my neighborhood and even though I am perceived as minority myself being Hispanic, its obvious by how I dress that I am probably part of the gentrification movement that is slowly but inevitably affecting Bed-Stuy. Are these men noticing this trend and is this a source of anger? I hope this will inspire some feedback because either rude black men are just what I am attracting or this might have some larger significance.

– E.

NOTE: Hollaback! believes that street harassment stems from a culture of violence against women, but we don’t believe it stems from anyone’s culture in particular. Our blog shows that men of all races harass women, and our work shows that it happens in all countries. Still, E. isn’t the only one who has asked this question. What do you think?

6 comments 
Verbal

Portland Potty-mouth

Portland, OR is a place where I actually encountered little sexual harassment on the street! Is it ironic that I am grateful I was able to exist in public without visual appraisal? After a few weeks I stopped expecting it. Then one day, as I was walking my bike down a fairly unpopulated sidewalk in the middle of the afternoon, a man who had been walking behind me caught up and said,

“Not to be disrespectful, but that is a very pretty backside.” UGH. As I biked by him on the way up the block, I yelled back, “it IS disrespectful!!” and I could hear him murmur, “well, it’s still pretty.”

Submitted by Esther

one comment 
No Zen for me Verbal

No Zen for me

I was walking home from yoga when I heard “I want to fuck the shit out of you.”

no comments 
Assault, Stalking, Verbal

A strong woman + a lifetime of harassment = a powerful Hollaback.

I’m so glad this site exists, so people can share there experiences and realise they’re not the only ones – well done guys!!! I’ve had many unfortunately, but I will just mention a few. My city has no official blog yet.

As a introverted and shy teenager, I was carrying 2 heavy bags of shopping (and looking pretty rough, old jean and sweatshirt) in, A circle of at least 10 drunk guys surrounded me, blocking me and not letting me walk off. They were wearing novelty costumes (a stag night, maybe). I felt so intimidated that a froze. The “ring leader” came forward, and said, “we won’t let you go until you give us all a kiss”. I was still frozen. He started to move his face closer to mine, it was so disgusting. I squeaked, “I have a boyfriend” (I didn’t) and pushed past them. And they were all laughing, I felt so humiliated and sick for the rest of the evening.

Not too long after that, another woman I didn’t know and I were walking down a narrow street with scaffolding in the pouring rain and wolf whistles started from the builders. We both turned around and one went “No, not you, you train wreck” I don’t know which of us the attention was aimed at, but again this made my day just a little worse.

Another time drunk guy in club maneuvered me into a corner and wouldn’t let me go until I gave him my (fake) number.

To top this off, I went abroad to a certain foreign country (religiously conservative and by some standards 3rd world) for study reasons, where street harassment is the norm. In fact sexual responsibility and “sin” falls almost entirely on the women’s side. Women are belittled, some are not allowed out on their own, and stared at constantly even if they are dressed extremely modestly (as I was). Some women particularly of minority ethnic origins, have stones thrown at them (I think since I was taller than most of the men, they didn’t dare with me). Also if a man is staring at you, they won’t stop staring even if you make eye contact – they think they have the right. They would talk to me, even though it is meant to be unacceptable to talk to women they do not know.

Yes, I was aware of this behavior before I went, I am aware it is a different culture and values and I am a guest in their country etc etc but it still made me feel sick and it doesn’t make it right – I talked to many women who lived there and they all hated the harassment too, but they felt powerless about it. I felt under siege. Another sent flowers to my school and tried to negotiate with the school principal to marry me. Urghh. At a tourist festival, all the local men were photographing US, western women, more than we were photographing the festival itself. The one time that was almost funny was when I was visiting a local landmark and a rich looking man started filming us even though he was with his family! Then his wife saw and smacked him hard across the head and a torrent of verbal abuse was aimed at him by the women. Hah! That showed him!

It got more serious though. There was one incident where I felt my life was genuinely threatened, when I was stranded due to circumstances beyond my control. A man I didn’t know (whose unwanted attentions and sexual threats I had rejected) accelerated his taxi at me, almost running me down while I was alone on a dark night and deliberately intimidating me, then drove off in the night. In that moment my brain flashed to the attacks that’s had happened in South Africa, where a gang ran women down with cars to disable and rape them. I was so scared and numb. I stood for 10 minutes in the dark in the pouring rain, waiting to get in through the gate to my house (gatekeeper was in the toilet), all the time thinking he was coming back. The feral (and sometimes rabid) dogs prowling about added a nice atmospheric touch.

After 2 months of this, the effect on me, in addition to my other experiences, was profound. I’m sorry if this sounds cliche but I would be lying if I said I didn’t feel tears pricking at my eyes as I typed the previous paragraph. Since I’ve returned home I’m very sensitive to street harassment.

When I go out, I tend to wear hoodies and jeans, and don’t call attention to myself. I walk tall and confident and with purpose, but I don’t feel that way, even though I’m 5’7 and reasonably attractive. I keep my face blank, carry keys or perfume in my pockets (for defence if needs be) and my phone in other. I tend to be hyper-vigilant and I get really angry, mostly inside, at street harassment, particularly by drunks. My body language becomes very defensive even if a man is being respectful and friendly in showing interest in me, I blank them and turn my head away.

Even now in my mid twenties I feel vulnerable going out alone wearing skirts and dresses (although I will with a group of friends, rarely, in house parties or places I feel safe), even though I love girly dresses, especially retro ones. I want to go out and feel beautiful within myself and respected, and you know what, one day I want to meet the right guy, get married and be happy – but if keep acting this way I worry I’ll never get that close to a guy again. Its sad but I think I have had more negative contact from guys in my life than positive.

Things are getting a little better now, I feel happier and more confident than I have in years although the emotional distance is still there. I have travelled alone to many countries, made new friends, skydived, climbed mountains. If you met me in a social situation you would probably never guess any of it – I would come across a pretty, friendly girl, not a wallflower.

But I have to say this – Guys, please be considerate. Try not to be obnoxious assholes who stare and and yell and grope. I’m a nice, funny, person and although I try to be strong, I have a thin skin and these things still hurt me. And it has been these little incidents, the harassment which guys don’t even seem to think about, and which still happen to me occasionally, which make it worse.

Submitted by A.

2 comments 
Verbal

A strong woman + a lifetime of harassment = a powerful Hollaback.

I’m so glad this site exists, so people can share there experiences and realise they’re not the only ones – well done guys!!! I’ve had many unfortunately, but I will just mention a few. My city has no official blog yet.

As a introverted and shy teenager, I was carrying 2 heavy bags of shopping (and looking pretty rough, old jean and sweatshirt) in, A circle of at least 10 drunk guys surrounded me, blocking me and not letting me walk off. They were wearing novelty costumes (a stag night, maybe). I felt so intimidated that a froze. The “ring leader” came forward, and said, “we won’t let you go until you give us all a kiss”. I was still frozen. He started to move his face closer to mine, it was so disgusting. I squeaked, “I have a boyfriend” (I didn’t) and pushed past them. And they were all laughing, I felt so humiliated and sick for the rest of the evening.

Not too long after that, another woman I didn’t know and I were walking down a narrow street with scaffolding in the pouring rain and wolf whistles started from the builders. We both turned around and one went “No, not you, you train wreck” I don’t know which of us the attention was aimed at, but again this made my day just a little worse.

Another time drunk guy in club maneuvered me into a corner and wouldn’t let me go until I gave him my (fake) number.

To top this off, I went abroad to a certain foreign country (religiously conservative and by some standards 3rd world) for study reasons, where street harassment is the norm. In fact sexual responsibility and “sin” falls almost entirely on the women’s side. Women are belittled, some are not allowed out on their own, and stared at constantly even if they are dressed extremely modestly (as I was). Some women particularly of minority ethnic origins, have stones thrown at them (I think since I was taller than most of the men, they didn’t dare with me). Also if a man is staring at you, they won’t stop staring even if you make eye contact – they think they have the right. They would talk to me, even though it is meant to be unacceptable to talk to women they do not know.

Yes, I was aware of this behavior before I went, I am aware it is a different culture and values and I am a guest in their country etc etc but it still made me feel sick and it doesn’t make it right – I talked to many women who lived there and they all hated the harassment too, but they felt powerless about it. I felt under siege. Another sent flowers to my school and tried to negotiate with the school principal to marry me. Urghh. At a tourist festival, all the local men were photographing US, western women, more than we were photographing the festival itself. The one time that was almost funny was when I was visiting a local landmark and a rich looking man started filming us even though he was with his family! Then his wife saw and smacked him hard across the head and a torrent of verbal abuse was aimed at him by the women. Hah! That showed him!

It got more serious though. There was one incident where I felt my life was genuinely threatened, when I was stranded due to circumstances beyond my control. A man I didn’t know (whose unwanted attentions and sexual threats I had rejected) accelerated his taxi at me, almost running me down while I was alone on a dark night and deliberately intimidating me, then drove off in the night. In that moment my brain flashed to the attacks that’s had happened in South Africa, where a gang ran women down with cars to disable and rape them. I was so scared and numb. I stood for 10 minutes in the dark in the pouring rain, waiting to get in through the gate to my house (gatekeeper was in the toilet), all the time thinking he was coming back. The feral (and sometimes rabid) dogs prowling about added a nice atmospheric touch.

After 2 months of this, the effect on me, in addition to my other experiences, was profound. I’m sorry if this sounds cliche but I would be lying if I said I didn’t feel tears pricking at my eyes as I typed the previous paragraph. Since I’ve returned home I’m very sensitive to street harassment.

When I go out, I tend to wear hoodies and jeans, and don’t call attention to myself. I walk tall and confident and with purpose, but I don’t feel that way, even though I’m 5’7 and reasonably attractive. I keep my face blank, carry keys or perfume in my pockets (for defence if needs be) and my phone in other. I tend to be hyper-vigilant and I get really angry, mostly inside, at street harassment, particularly by drunks. My body language becomes very defensive even if a man is being respectful and friendly in showing interest in me, I blank them and turn my head away.

Even now in my mid twenties I feel vulnerable going out alone wearing skirts and dresses (although I will with a group of friends, rarely, in house parties or places I feel safe), even though I love girly dresses, especially retro ones. I want to go out and feel beautiful within myself and respected, and you know what, one day I want to meet the right guy, get married and be happy – but if keep acting this way I worry I’ll never get that close to a guy again. Its sad but I think I have had more negative contact from guys in my life than positive.

Things are getting a little better now, I feel happier and more confident than I have in years although the emotional distance is still there. I have travelled alone to many countries, made new friends, skydived, climbed mountains. If you met me in a social situation you would probably never guess any of it – I would come across a pretty, friendly girl, not a wallflower.

But I have to say this – Guys, please be considerate. Try not to be obnoxious assholes who stare and and yell and grope. I’m a nice, funny, person and although I try to be strong, I have a thin skin and these things still hurt me. And it has been these little incidents, the harassment which guys don’t even seem to think about, and which still happen to me occasionally, which make it worse.

Submitted by A.

no comments 
Verbal

Marilyn Monroe I am not


Got another one for you: Yesterday evening I was running some errands on Broadway in SoHo, dressed in a flowy skirt and my running sneakers, when out of nowhere a storm suddenly moved in and a strong wind started blowing. I moved quickly toward the nearest subway entrance to escape the storm, but as the wind blew harder and harder, I struggled with both hands to hold my skirt down while still attempting to walk and carry my bags. Marilyn Monroe I am not, and I had already been having a really terrible day, so having to deal with sudden wind gusts possibly exposing my underwear to the world was bringing me very close to the end of my rope. It was just then, of course, that a disgusting man who looked to be in his late 50s (older than my father!) turned around and started stalking behind me, shouting, “Blow wind, blow!” and, “Show me some of that ass!” along with other obscenities. Humiliated, creeped out, angry, and on the verge of tears, I found myself wishing so hard that I had a third hand available so that I could punch the perv right in the face. Alas, had to weather his harassment all the way down the block, and there was nothing I could do to stop him. I still feel gross thinking about it.

Submitted by Carey

no comments 
Verbal

I want to "train you"????

I went for a run this morning. I was walking to the park when two men in a van start yelling at me out their window. They were stopped at a light. They were yelling about my ass and how much they liked it. They were also saying something about how they wanted to “train me”. I have no idea what they meant but whatever it was, it was disgusting. They were really hollering and honking at me for quite a while, and I turned to look at them twice. When I did, they just cheered and yelled more. It was awful. I wanted to yell at them but was far too upset and felt powerless. I mean, I’ve been catcalled before- but they couldn’t even have defended these comments as compliments. They were just plain crude and perverse. I want to “train you”???? I am not a dog or your slave. I am a woman who deserves respect just like every other human being and animal on this planet. They thought they could yell at me because they were in a large moving vehicle and there were two of them. I wish I’d looked to see if it was a company vehicle, but I was way too upset.

Anyway, I felt like I wanted to cry, but I just kept walking on. I pass this fellow planting a tree outside an apartment building. He says, “Good morning pretty girl”. So immediately I turn around and start telling him off. He turned out to be actually an okay guy. So I ended up apologizing for snapping at him, but still told him to reconsider his catcalling ways. I told him that women don’t appreciate it, no matter how much of a compliment it is, and that he should think about what it’s like to be a woman, namely: scary and disempowered. To drive the point home I told him what the ASSHOLES said about “training me”, which made me immediately burst out crying. So then I ran off crying.

Great. Just how I want to spend one of my only mornings off from work.

Thank you Hollaback for being such an incredible organization.

Submitted by Eve

one comment 
Verbal

Video of harassers in Kensington, Brooklyn

 

Guy street harassing me from Sarah Liz on Vimeo.

This creep and his friends have been bugging me for years. Calling the cops every time it happened worked briefly. I thought videotaping it would deter them, but clearly it didn’t.

Submitted by Sarah Liz

no comments 
Verbal

Sometimes, no where is safe: One man’s story of street harasssment

Although our site focuses on women and LGBTQ folks experiences of street harassment, the reverberations of street harassment impact us all. Hollaback! was co-founded by three men (and four women) and over the years we have seen some tremendous contributions to the movement on behalf of men. This is one of them.

My name is Tom; I am 30 and a Staff Sergeant in the U.S. Air Force. I grew up in Phoenix and have been stationed in Texas, Utah, and New Mexico. I have had a few uncomfortable confirmations with strangers over the years, but nothing like what you see on this site, until…

My boss and I went to a conference in Reston VA, a small suburb of Washington D.C. The conference lasted only two days, so we had one night to see the town and enjoy ourselves. The only thing to see in Reston is the Town Center; a nice, but small, outdoor shopping/commercial district.

After dinner and a little shopping, I recommended that we find a grocery store so we could buy a few snacks and some bottled water. We walked about 1 mile north of the Town Center to the nearest Harris Teeter’s. On the way we took some shortcuts through bushes and side streets. My boss said that she was worried because there was no one around and it was late at night in strange city.

I told her that of all the places I had been, sober or drunk, I had never felt safer. We did our shopping at the grocery store. It was one of the nicest grocery stores I have been to, by south Texas standards, and I felt completely safe waiting out front for the hotel shuttle.

Everyone we had seen up until this point had been well dressed and friendly. While we were waiting in front of the grocery store, a man between 25 and 35, wearing dirty clothes and a two day old bread walked by us and said “hey beautiful!” to my boss.

While she is one of the nicest and open people I have ever met, she is very uncomfortable around strangers. I could feel her awkwardness. We said nothing. As he continued to walk towards the store entrance he said “What, too good to talk to me?”

At this point I was a little shaken, but the incident seemed to be over, so we continued to wait for the hotel shuttle. About 15 minutes later he came back out of the grocery store with a 12 pack of beer in a bag.

I am 6’ 3” and 260 lbs, people rarely mess with me; but I hate confrontation, and I am terrified of strangers. When I saw him coming towards us I was afraid he would say something else. As he started walking by us he turned towards my boss and said “Hi, I’m Bill” and held out his hand towards my boss. She looked away and I said “We don’t want any trouble, please keep walking”. He said “I just want to say hi, who are you, her boyfriend?” He was not being friendly. I did not know what to do.

I felt that, as the man, I had to defend my boss. I know that sounds sexist, and until that moment I had never thought that way. I knew she was as scared as I was and I felt a sudden need to protect her.

Directly to our right was a large pet shop. I said: “look we’ll just go in here and wait until our bus comes” pointing towards the pet shop. As we started to get our bags together to walk inside, he backed off and just walked away.

I have told this story many times, and it always gets a lot of laughs because just minutes after I say “this is the safest place I have been, nothing will happen to us” we have a confrontation.

This was 2 years ago, and I have always felt ashamed that I did not stand up enough for myself and my boss. I feel that I backed down when I should have been in his face, and threatened to kick his ass. I am much bigger than he was and could have easily taken him, but that is just not who I am. In the end, nothing happened and I should be proud, but still I am ashamed because I let him make me feel fear.

Submitted by Tom

no comments 
Verbal

"Ignore it:" The world’s worst street harassment advice

I live in Richmond,Indiana. My name is Shannon Harding and people in cars love to shout,honk and even pretend to try to hit me with cars a couple of times.

I already have an anxiety disorder and this treatment is just causing me to feel lots of anxiety and anger.

Just yesterday, I was walking to the corner convenience store. A guy leans out a white truck and yells “I want to kiss you on your ****”(I didn’t hear the last word)

I flipped him off.

The vehicles mostly drive so fast I can’t get license numbers or anything else. I do not dress in a way that could be rationalized as ‘the reason to yell’ I often wear glasses and no make-up. I don’t know what to do- I keep being told to ‘Ignore it’

Yet the whole situation is just causing me so much stress and anger.

Submitted by Shannon

one comment 
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