Verbal

"Too good to talk to me, bitch?"

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!

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Stalking, Verbal

Smith Street Stalker


This guy walked after me and kept saying how sexy I was. Corner of Bergen/Smith in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn.

Submitted by Elsa

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Verbal

Harassment on Wheels

Shouted at every woman he passed on the street. [This is my] first hollaback despite being verbally intruded upon all day, every day.

Submitted by A.

This took place at the W. 23rd St. and 9th Ave bus stop.

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Verbal

An Open Letter to Men

Dear Men:

It may come as quite a surprise to you to hear this. It may even sting a little. It shouldn’t.

There are some places where I fully expect to be hit on (for example, at the bar). I put up with it. Sometimes, I may even enjoy it. I consider the free drinks you buy me payment for the annoyance I deal with. I will (almost) always accept a free drink. Your efforts, while usually not reciprocated, have not gone unnoticed.

However, putting up with getting hit on at a bar is quite different from being harassed in other places. You should be aware that just because I’m female and have boobs doesn’t mean that you are allowed to harass me and annoy the fuck out of me wherever I am, and no matter what I am doing. There are some things that should remain sacred.

I know it may be difficult to resist making comments to me while I’m running. I’m sure there’s just something about a young woman drenched from head to toe in sweat, hair dripping, breathing heavily and with a face the color of a ripe tomato that you find irresistible. I can only imagine how hard it is for you to hold back when you see me running past in an over-sized sweat stained t-shirt. I sympathize. I really do.

Please, men. I put up with your shit at work. I put up with it at school. I put up with it when I’m driving, and when I’m eating, and when I buy my coffee. I have learned to be prepared when I go to the bar to be approached at least once, usually more. At this point, I pretty much expect it. All women do. But for the LOVE OF GOD, please leave me the fuck alone when I’m running.

Love,
Me

P.S. The next guy who harasses me when I’m running is getting kicked in the balls. Consider that your warning.

Reposted from Save Your Wetlands blog.

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Verbal

"Compliments" aren’t part of your job description, buddy.

I walk through what I call “the gauntlet” every day to and from work. It’s a stretch of Canal Street from the Canal Street N/Q stop West to the river. At night, it’s clogged with vendors hocking all manner of counterfeit goods and tourists getting duped. In the morning, it’s an eight block march of cat callers, each seemingly less original than the one before. I never wear headphones through this walk, since I’m constantly on alert for something that could constitute a threat. One morning, I was walking the gauntlet behind a very young woman apparently on her way to work, as she was dressed in a smart business suit. We reached the half way point, when a group of men who constantly give me trouble, started to yell out to her and move toward her on the sidewalk in a threatening manner. She put her head down and continued walking, but I stopped as I pulled up to them. I looked the ring leader in the eye, a older man, late 40’s, early 50’s around the same age as my father. And told him “have a little respect for her and for yourself. That’s not how you treat women.” He told me to “take a compliment” and that I was just jealous because I’m fat (which, for the record, I’m a size 8). I told him that despite his complete disrespect for women, I hoped his daughter and wife didn’t have to live with the daily fear of being sexually harassed by strangers on their way to work, or the movies or a date. I also explained that “it being part of the job” of a construction worker wouldn’t fly, considering my father is a construction worker and would fire and then beat the ass of any of his employees that behaved that way. His cohorts remained silent, but as I walked away, I could hear them all making fun of him by mocking me. I’ve never seen the men since and I always wondered if the woman in front of me called their employer.

no comments 
Stalking, Verbal

Money can’t buy you everything, Mr. Cadillac.

A few months ago, I was riding my bike from my boyfriend’s house at the time in Bushwick, to my apartment in South Park Slope. We’d been packing up things in his place and it was during one of the first heat waves of the summer, so I was dripping with sweat by the time I finally climbed on my bike and headed back. It was still light out, as I won’t ride through that area at night by myself. I was pulling onto Franklin Avenue and noticed a black Cadillac SUV in front of me – all shiny and chrome and clearly not cheap. The street is wide, so I was able to pull ahead of it while it stopped for a red light and noticed two 30-ish men in the front seat. The light turned green and the SUV pulled in front. I then noticed the driver sticking his hand out of the window with a camera pointed at me. The flash flickered a few times in rapid succession while I tried to hide my face. The SUV hit another red light and I allowed my handlebars to scrape that beautiful, shiny chrome bumper while telling the drivers to “get f*cked.” The pair just laughed as I sprinted passed them and turned the corner.

Submitted by Erin

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Verbal

17.

So this happened to me a couple of years ago, but it still bothers me so I felt like I should submit it. I was 17 at the time and walking down the street in my own neighborhood when two men in their mid thirties early forties pass by me and stop me. This was on a fairly crowded street during the daytime so I was a taken aback but not really scared. One of the men asks me how old I am, and without thinking I answer truthfully because I was so flustered by them stopping me. He then proceeds to say, “Oh man in a couple of months…” leers at me and walks away chuckling to his sidekick. I wish I had responded to him, and hadn’t treated it like a joke when I told people about it later. I had no clue what to do, I mean what did he think? That if I was 18 that I would magically be interested in him, go somewhere with him? Sleep with him? How is it that he thought it was acceptable to treat me like on object just because I walked by him? No one should treat another human being that way let alone someone who stated they were underage. I don’t walk on the streets for your pleasure, or dress for you, I don’t live for you so don’t interrupt my life because you feel you have the right to. If anything like that ever happens again to me that is what I hope I will say, followed by “You’re an asshole.”

Submitted by Shannon

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Nonverbal Harassment, Verbal

Small NJ town, big scary turd, and me (the quiet heroine)

I was walking to my car from my apartment to pick up my little sister and I’m halfway across the lawn when I get a “Hey! Hey!” There is a group of guys loitering on the stoop of my neighbor the drug-dealer’s apartment that I haven’t noticed (how do I know he’s a drug dealer? because his girlfriend welcomed me to the neighborhood about a month before this incident by telling me if I needed anything to just knock on their door). I pause, turn and realize it’s not someone I know, turn back, and continue walking. I hear something along the lines of a “How are you doin?” and pause again to say “Fine.” I am going to continue to my car but then they invite me inside the leering doorway “Hey! Come over here! Come in here!” I stammer something about I can’t, I have to pick up my sister, goodbye. Is my Achilles heel the fact that I am pretty much always polite? I’m an introvert, quiet and timid with low self-esteem and know nothing of your website yet. I’ve been harassed before by men, usually in cars, and normally just put my head down and keep walking. But these are my neighbors–or at least friends/clients of them.Your neighbors know where you live, what car you and your mom drive, when your little sister gets off the schoolbus. I am afraid of retribution if I am rude. I just turned 18 a week ago.

So I get to my car and put my purse and cellphone on the passenger seat when one of the men RUNS up to the passenger-side window. He’s in baggy street-clothes and is mentioning me to roll my window down. I consider driving off but I second-guess myself and roll the window about 3/4s of the way to see what he wants. I am not totally paralyzed with fear until he sticks his head and arm INTO MY CAR. I want to drive away but that might decapitate him and then I will be held responsible for murder. I feel claustrophobic. There’s a big, scary, man, late 30s-mid 40s, in my car, and if he wanted to, could reach out and touch my face (which is stuck in an obviously frightened and pained smile, throughout our conversation).

His name is Jafar. I ask him if he is my neighbor. He says yes. He says he’s surprised that I didn’t just drive off (indicating he’s done this to others before, great…). He wants my phone #. I tell him I’m late, I have to get my little sister. But he wants my phone #. He is a fast talker, it’s scary. I tell him I have a boyfriend. I tell him that my boyfriend doesn’t want me giving out my #. He says that that “doesn’t matter.” He wants me to give him my #. I try to make an excuse about not having a phone but it’s right on the passenger seat. He’s staring at me. My brain is cloudy with fear, I don’t know what to do. I put his number in my phone instead. This has worked at parties with guys who I don’t want to bother me anymore. I tell him I’ll call him. He says to call him right then. An obvious “no minutes” excuse slips my mind. I call him and shit, now he has my phone #. His phone # has a strange area code, so I ask him about it (since I know he has my # and knows where I live, I want to get as much info as I can on him). A sketchy answer–that you could pick any area code you wanted at the cell phone store…so he picked an out-of-state one? I ask him again if he is my neighbor. He says no this time, that he’s just visiting. I can feel the blood in my veins. I guess he finally takes pity on me and extracts himself from my window, letting me go.

My heart is racing and I want to puke. I cry on the way to getting my sister. I warn her about the neighbors and park in the back of the building. In order to tell my mother about this I would have to wake her up. My mother works night shifts and needs her sleep. Plus this would make her worry even more about us. I cry and call my boyfriend and my boyfriend tells his mom and his mom says I should call the police. But by now this incident has happened hours ago. Jafar is no longer outside. Plus, what would they do, arrest him? For what? Isn’t it my fault, since I stupidly rolled down my window? I still feel frightened though. I double check all the locks and windows. I have trouble falling asleep the next few nights.

I still have Jafar’s # in my phone, so that I can choose to not answer it if he ever calls. He hasn’t. It’s been about 3 months. I not scared anymore but I still mostly park in the back. I don’t want any attention from my neighbors, ever again.

I question why I didn’t just drive off, leave him in the dirt. (The meek will never inherit the earth.) I question alot of things–how he came to have such audacity to invade my personal space–either his complete and utter ignorance of my frightened eyes and smile, or his selfishness as he brushed my feelings of safety away to make room for his own desires. I question women’s gender role in society, to be submissive and pandering and timid and accepting. I question past wrongs: “Titties!” screamed out a car window, numerous car-honkings and tongue-flickerings from vehicles zooming past, a manager at the fast-food joint I worked at who took a plastic toy into the break room and rubbed it between my 14-year-old breasts.

Many, many questions, and I think I’ve come to a conclusion for one of them. I let Jafar psychologically screw with me because I was afraid that, if I stood up for myself, I would come back and he’d still be there, pissed and waiting for revenge. That I’d walk past him and be yelled at, or rushed at and chased after, or the door to my apartment would be scribbled with obscenities, the window cracked, the lock broken. I don’t know if this is an irrational thought or not, if I am just paranoid. I know it’s the coward’s way out (is this victim-blaming?). It’s not noble to do nothing, but I felt–and feel, remembering this–trapped. I want to stand up for myself, but when it’s so close to home, it’s not just big anonymous you. It’s your family, too. I don’t want anything happening to me or my sister or mother. In another apartment complex my little sister was raped. I don’t want it to happen ever again.

Submitted by Gianna

Editor’s Note: Sometimes staying quiet in the moment is the best, most noble defense that we have. It’s doesn’t mean that we’re weak. Street harassment oftentimes leaves us with very few defenses in the moment, but that’s why holla’ing back is so important. Gianna could of just stood up for herself in front of her harasser, but instead she’s standing up for herself on a much bigger platform: the thousands of you that are reading this right now. What’s more heroic than that?

no comments 
Verbal

"You aren’t a normal girl"

I wasn’t sure if I should submit this story, because it involved me losing my temper which I don’t think was the most productive response, but…

I live in Astoria, Queens. One morning I was heading to work, walking along 23rd Ave to the train. I was just about to put my headphones on to listen to my iPod when I heard a low, drawn-out catcall from one of two guys sitting on chairs outside a barber shop as I walked past.

“Very nice.”

me: “What did you say?”
him: “I said you look very nice”

me: “You fucking pedophile, you’re old enough to be my father!”
him: “What? It’s a compliment!”
his friend: “What are you talking about, he’s only 30″

me: “Well he doesn’t look like he’s 30. And it’s not a compliment, no girl wants to hear some random stranger say that stuff to her, it’s rude”
him: “I’m giving you a compliment”
me: “no girl wants to hear your ‘compliment’, I guarantee it!”
him: “you aren’t a normal girl then”
me: “no, NO GIRL who is just walking to the subway to go to work wants to hear about you checking her out. you save those kind of compliments for a girl you’re dating, don’t harass women on the street”
him: “I have a girlfriend”
me: “I bet she loves the fact that you harass women on the street”

He kept insisting that I was a rare species of female, the only girl who did not enjoy his creepy, leering remarks! That every other girl appreciated the ‘compliment’! This made me angrier than the initial remarks themselves.

I lost my temper here… I made some insulting remarks about the size of his genitalia, told him to go home and pleasure his girlfriend with his inadequate genitalia and leave everyone on the street alone, and then picked up the coffee cup (nearly empty, unfortunately) which was sitting next to his friend’s chair and flung the contents at the two of them before walking quickly down the sidewalk towards the subway.

They yelled violent threats at me as I walked away, but didn’t move to act upon them. I realized of course that throwing the coffee cup at them had been a dumb move, but I was livid. The phrase he had said that upset me the most and that haunted me more then the catcall itself was “You aren’t a normal girl”. Like he wanted me to think I was a freak for being offended and upset by his gross leering comment. And the fact that maybe he really believes that – that it’s okay to say those things because “most girls” appreciate it. And that he’ll probably keep doing it because he thinks it’s okay, even though one crazy girl threw a cup of coffee at him for it.

Submitted by Anonymous

no comments 
Verbal

The only thing I’ve done in response to street harassment that actually made me feel less like a victim, and more like a human being.


This is about two incidents, the photo goes with the second one.

About two weeks ago, I experienced one of the worst incidents of street harassment in my entire 14 years of living in New York City, in which five men surrounded me on a sidewalk in the middle of the afternoon and proceeded to verbally harass me while not allowing me to continue down the sidewalk. There was no one else around, and I was truly terrified, because I was so outnumbered, and there was nothing I could have done to defend myself against so many if they had chosen to do worse than verbally harass. After a minute (that felt like an hour) I managed to dart around them and get away. Once I was far enough away that I felt a bit safer, I reached for my phone to take their photo (yes, I was scared, but I was also so angry at being treated like that!) and I realized I didn’t have my phone with me. I was so, so, disappointed.

I was still trembling by the time I got back to work, but I called the business these men were employees of to complain. The managers I spoke with surprisingly took the incident very seriously, stating that they did not accept this type of behavior from their employees, and would speak with the men involved.

But still, as I’ve processed the incident since then, the biggest regret I’ve had is that I didn’t have my phone with me to take a picture of them. I’m glad that they probably got in trouble with their bosses, but the immediate impact of having their victim take a photo of them – I’ve done it before, and it really does have an affect. The bottom line is, when you do this, you’re taking the power back from the harasser. And that’s what street harassment is really about – the power. Holla-ing back with my camera phone is the only thing I’ve done in response to street harassment that actually made me feel less like a victim, and more like a human being.

Well, this morning I witnessed an incident of street harassment directed at another woman. She was walking a few feet in front of me, and a man was walking in the opposite direction (towards us). The sidewalks on this block are very narrow, and under the best of circumstances, it’s difficult for to people to pass each other. When the woman in front of me got to the point where she had to squeeze by the man, he stopped, staring really hard at her, and turned his body into her as she passed. There was less than an inch of space between them, and he was doing his best to make it even smaller. She ignored him and kept going, but I guess he didn’t like that, because then he called out to her “I am going to bite you.” I was so grossed out, but also scared he would turn his attention to me as I passed. So, I took advantage of the fact that he was still staring at her as she walked away to get past him myself. As soon as I was past him, I grabbed my phone out of my purse. After a few moments of fumbling to get to the camera feature, I turned back, and saw he was going down a flight of stairs. With my camera in position, I realized I would only get the back of his head, so I said “Hey!” He turned, and I snapped a perfect photo.

Him: Why did you take my picture?
Me: I’m putting it on the internet, with other perverts who harass women on the streets.
Him: What? Come here. [motioning with his fingers] Why did you take my picture, bitch?
Me: [starting to walk away] It’s too late! It’s done! It’s a good picture, too, it shows your face real good!

He did not look happy. But me? I felt … empowered.

Submitted by Nancy

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