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On November 5, 2012 at roughly 11:50AM in Washington, D.C., I experienced street harassment. I was on my way to my local US post office in downtown (Gallery Place) to return my absentee voting ballot. A man was staring at me and leeringly said, “Pretty girl,” as he passed. Given the fact that we could have been the same age (29 or early thirties), somehow it felt particularly demeaning, intrusive, and uncalled for. I said “Stop talking to me,” but probably did not say it loud or assertively enough for him to have heard since he was already on his way.
Today when a car pulled up next to me with the window down, the passenger said, “You need a new bike, baby.”
First of all, my bike IS new. Secondly, I don’t even let my husband call me baby. Ugh.
Once, when I was walking home from school. This guy about the same age as me, offered me five dollars to suck his dick. I was stunned.
While my friend walks to class sometimes (more often than once) young male employees of the University who ride around campus on golf carts have holla’d at both her and other girls walking around campus while going to their destination. She says she thinks nothing of it, but the fact that it has happened on more than one occasion and to multiple girls, ESPECIALLY on University equipment by (probable) student employees is unacceptable. It is unprofessional, and it makes the girls who are holla’d at uncomfortable.
So leaving the Central Library, I encountered this dude who I said nothing to and as I headed to street behind the library where I parked he hollered several remarks about my “ass” which I ignored completely. I pulled my car around and photographed him harassing two other women. He began a slew of “bitch” this and that and as he threatened to kick my ass for taking his picture and said he would see me again. I assured him that he would. “I don’t give a **** about no police…blah blah blah.” Apparently, he does, since he brought up police; not I. Thought immediately of Hollaback!
My boyfriend and I were out in Charlotte’s NoDA district, walking to the car after dinner. Someone behind us started calling out “hey baby” and a few other things, then he asked something like “is that your girl” to my boyfriend.
I turned around angrily to face him. He approached, told me his name and some other crap I don’t remember, and asked me my name. I told him that I don’t give out my name, and that I was trying (emphasis on trying) to enjoy a night out with my boyfriend. I had a pretty strong sense that he would respect that I had a boyfriend more than he would respect that I on my own was not interested in him, and aside from that, I wanted to have a nice night out with my partner, and he was ruining our good time.
As expected, he respected that I had a boyfriend more than he acknowledged that what he did was harassment. He shook my boyfriend’s hand, said a few things, and left.
I moved from the suburbs of Maryland into the lovely city of Washington D.C. but I seem to never be able to enjoy this beautiful city because my head is constantly down. I’ve been a victim of street harassment since I had on a training bra but never to this extent. I went from driving everywhere easily getting to point A to point B to walking and biking everywhere and experiencing catcalls constantly. I’ve recently become more invovled in the issue of street harassment and have a true burning passion to try to put an end to it. I believe there is a way to stand up to these perpentrators without escalating the situation. After being harassed on my way to tutor at an Elementary School around the corner from my house, I, for possibly the first time ever, looked the guy in the eye and told him to not “fucking” speak to women that way and he laughed at me. While the word “fucking” should not have been used, but nevertheless when I passed him on the way back he didn’t dare even look up at me. I got home and thought more about what happened. I realised that it’s important to keep your composure to effectively get your point through to the harasser. I also realised that there it’s almost impossible to do that by yelling something back, or giving the person the finger. So I sat down at my computer and typed up some words which eventually led me to making a flyer to hand to the street harasser. What I do is I fold the piece of paper up very small , so perhaps when I hand it to them they think I’m giving them my number. I look them in the eye but with no emotion. The time it takes for them to un-fold the piece of paper gives me enough time to distance myself from the person, possibly be out of sight. I wouldn’t do this on a train, bus or at night when no one’s around but most of the time I’m harassed is in daylight on the street. I’ve been to many city’s and I’ve never seen harassment so intense as it is in D.C. I think it’s important to put information directly in the perpetrators face. Yes, there’s the street harassment ad campaign in D.C. which I appreciate, but you cannot make someone read those signs. You can make a website dedicated to to end up street harassment but you also cannot make anyone read that. So with the flyer, maybe they read it or maybe they crumble it up, spit and stomp on it. But the point is that they see it and maybe some of these people will just think about it for a moment. I could go on an on about this as I’m sure a lot of people could, but I’ll stop here. Thanks
I was walking home today and an unpleasant thing happened. It made me kinda angry and I felt like doing something about it. So here is my short story, fueled by my desire to end street harassment:
I live in Queensland, Australia in a respectful, middle-class, and reasonably safe suburb of Brisbane. It is currently 1.26pm on a Tuesday afternoon. I’d say the temperature was a warm 25 degrees Celsius. For this reason, I chose to wear a singlet, shorts, and runners to my morning at university. When I was walking home, an unpleasant thing happened. A car full of young men drove past and yelled out to me. This has happened many times before, which is a sad fact in itself. I’d been previously been yelled to “show us ya tits”, “gimme a piece of that”, or just simply “nice ass”. Each time this has happened it leaves me feeling insecure, unhappy, and a little bit guilty for something. I’ve wondered whether I should dress the way I do, if maybe a longer skirt would have prevented it, or if I’d walked down a side-street instead of the highway things might have been better. But now I’ve realised I shouldn’t have to think these things. I shouldn’t have to adjust my lifestyle to accommodate for sexual harassment.
The big thing is, I’ve never known what to do in these situations. I’m not good at thinking up witty retorts and even if I was, maybe something worse would happen if I yelled back. Its incredibly frustrating to feel so powerless against something you detest. However, I’ve discovered the Hollaback! campaign after being particularly enraged this afternoon.
When a car full of young men drove past me this afternoon, they yelled at me to “get in the car” and drove away laughing. As usual, I didn’t understand the point of this (what did they hope to achieve? Did they think it was funny? Did they actually want me to get in the car and do… what exactly?). But this remark was more offensive than any I had experienced before. This is because abduction, particularly towards young women, is a serious problem and cracking jokes about it is something I just can’t understand or appreciate. I’m sick and tired of being on the receiving end of these comments. If these actions are becoming normalised and accepted as part of everyday life, I won’t be able to feel safe, secure, or happy whenever I leave the house.
The Hollaback! campaign has my full support to end street harassment.
Hopefully one day I can wear a pair of shorts, a singlet, a skirt, or whatever I want without the fear of being harassed. Maybe one day someone will yell to me “I love your dress!”. I’d be ok with that.
These guys on the bus are threatening a young woman on the bus for seemingly no reason.
I studied abroad in Spain last summer (I am originally from the U.S.). While in Segovia, a relatively safe and suburban city, my roommate and I experienced daily street harassment, in the form of a greeting typical to Spain: “Hola, guapa” or “Hello, beautiful”. At the beginning, we found it charming; it was always in the middle of the day, they kept their distance, it was very non-threatening behavior, and it is just a custom of that region. Towards the end of the trip, however, our impressions began to change. We were there during festival seasons, and everyone seemed to be much rowdier. We are both very chesty girls, so that was the focus of all the harassment – once a man came up to us and just said “pechos” (“breasts” – oh, how well spotted). One evening, around 8pm, we were walking down the streets and talking about how we were growing tired of the male behavior (this was just after a man older than our grandfathers passed us on the street and gave us the lingering “up-down” glance while licking his lips). We saw a young man walking towards us with a shit-eating grin on his face, we knew he was going to be inappropriate, so we just ignored him and continued talking to one another. As he got closer, he continued to smile and began gesturing to his chest. In my head I thought “ha-ha yes, we have breasts, thanks for pointing out the obvious”. We were both very pointedly ignoring him, but right as he passed us he said, in English “really big tits” and kept walking. My friend and I both stopped immediately in our tracks and our jaws dropped. We were both so mad we actually could not move for a few moments, by which time he had already moved on. I loved Spain and would go back in a second, but it kills me that this experience, as well as the other street harassment moments are the ones that I remember most vividly.