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Walking alone at night, and a dude says, “Hola mami, estas bella.”
A girl was with a group of friends at a large bar. Her friends all went up to the bar, leaving her to guard their table. An older man, who had been leering at several of my friends and myself but had not approached us, sat in the booth with and started talking to her. She was clearly uncomfortable, but trying to be nice/tolerant to avoid an altercation. I noticed and, despite my boyfriend’s request not to get involved, asked her if she would like to leave the table and join our group of friends talking. She quickly said yes, got up and stood near some of the guys in our group. The man glared at me, but went back to his booth without any more interaction.
I don’t have a car and often have to walk alone at night. When I’m harassed I am usually too afraid to talk back – I’m usually just silent. It’s inspiring to know that others do talk back, and one day I hope to be able to do that.
I am harassed several times per day. I live in Boston to go to school and I am from the Bronx, which is not the best area of New York. I am barely ever harassed in New York. That’s why Boston is so disgusting to me.
There was one time in particular that really scared me. I was in CVS on the corner of Washington and Boylston, and I was looking in the makeup section. All of a sudden, two men approached me on either side, and asked where I’m from, told me that I’m pretty, asked if I did “favors,” etc. I got myself out of the corner that they tracked me to and found my guy friend–thankfully he was there–and I walked to the cash register with him. He saw the men and told them to back off, and they did. Now, I never go down Boylston to CVS alone. I am a proud, independent feminist, and I do not want to be threatened right by my school. I do not want to fear and imagine horrible things, but after that day, I just kept thinking about it.
That is only one example of the harassment I get in Boston. I was harassed once while I was on the phone with my grandmother. Another time, I passed through the Common–in broad daylight–and was followed to the intersection of Tremont and Boylston, with constant cat calls and derogatory phrasing. When I ignore them, they curse at me. When my mother came to visit me, she got harassed and saw me get harassed. She stated that she has never seen anything like this, and she has lived in the Bronx her entire life.
This is absolutely horrible and needs to be stopped. Let’s show them who’s boss.
She’s been talking to other locals, too, and shared the resulting video on her blog recently. Check it out!
How do you handle street harassment?
video credit: Susannah Blair
If you, like me, haven’t had much time for reading the internet this week, the rest of the Hollaback! Boston team highly recommends you check out the following to round out your Friday:
What else is worth a look as we look back on the week?
This happened a year and a half ago. I was visiting a friend in Central, and left to go home. This sketchy middle aged man was eyeing me, and I chose to ignore it. When I switched to the Green line, waiting for the B, I noticed he had followed me. I shrugged it off, but started feeling really creeped out. I got on the train and sat down at a seat. He followed me and stood in front of me. I really started freaking out, because he was objectifying me and looking at me like a piece of meat. As the train pulled up to Kenmore, I realized it was my last chance to get off and report it to someone at a physical station. I didn’t because I had hoped he would just get off and it would be some misunderstanding. Instead, he chose to sit directly across from me. A couple got on, and he started eyeing this girl (she was a very pretty Asian girl, I am also Asian, so I had considered that he had some Asian fetish or something). She stood 2 seats-ish down from me with her boyfriend and her boyfriend seemed aware of the guy’s creepiness. I guess I seemed like a more vulnerable target, being alone, because the next thing he did was he got up and acted drunk and would continuously fall on me, trying to grope me. I pushed him off several times before the woman sitting next to me told him off for his behavior, and he mouthed off at her and stood up, staring me down. I was really afraid at this point, and tried to move to the front to talk to the driver/conductor. No one would let me through, and people were acting as if they couldn’t see what was going on. One person even said I should just wait until people left (they were literally standing within earshot of all of this happening, and I was horrified that they wouldn’t even let me through to speak to the driver). I tried calling my friend, who lived near where I lived so I could meet up with her when I got off the train, and got no answer. I frantically texted, and got nothing. At this point my blood went cold and I was freaking out. Eventually we got to my stop, and I ran home. At the time, I lived very close to the intersection at Harvard Ave, so naturally, it scared me that he followed me off. He just stood there at the intersection, watching me. I ran to my apartment, peered out the window, hyperventilating, and called three of my friends. My best friend was dorming at Northeastern with no car, so he couldn’t do much of anything. My friend that I had just visited took a taxi to my apartment to make sure I was okay, and the third friend came with her boyfriend to make sure this scumbag would fuck off. At this point, I’m sobbing incoherently on the phone in the dark in my bedroom. He’s gone by the time these three arrived. I slept over with one of them, but at this point in the incident, I’m terrified of being at home because my roommate was gone for the summer. I lived with my friend for two weeks before feeling comfortable enough to go back to my apartment.
I hope that by sharing this, if you see harassment on a train, you will help the other person and not pretend nothing is going on. This kind of harassment is traumatizing, and no one, man or woman, should have to undergo this kind of experience. Things like this have happened to me since then, though not to this extreme, and I hope everyone knows this is absolutely unacceptable. The worst part is, everyone seems to be affected by the bystander effect where they believe that someone else will take care of the problem, and they don’t need to. This shouldn’t be the case. Everyone should be able to feel safe.
A few weeks ago I made the trip to Providence for Rhode Island Comic Con! This was my first Comic Con doing Hollaback! Boston work on my own and overall I think it was a great success!
I arrived around 1:30 and was surprised at the size of the crowd that was waiting outside in line, so many people were dressed in awesome cosplay costumes, I was getting giddy with anticipation! When I finally got inside I looked for Science Fiction Saturday Night (SFSN), who I had met at my last Con. While at Granite State Comic Con, I had my first podcast interview with SFSN. I was really nervous about being video taped, but think I managed well considering it was my first real interview! After the interview they asked if I would be making it down to Rhode Island Comic Con, and to look for them so I could put some Hollaback! Boston literature on their table. Which was so very very awesome, considering SFSN is the official podcast of RI Comic Con, Granite State Comic Con AND Boston Comic Con!
After putting a few things out at the SFSN table I decided it was time to walk around, sign in hand, to start the conversation on Cosplay =/= Consent.
I made only a few laps around the main function room and then the nods, smiles and thumbs up headed my way! I spoke with a few women who hadn’t experienced harassment personally, but had heard of harassment incidents through their cosplay circles. They were happy to sign the petition Hollaback! Philly had created for Cons to have anti-harassment units at each Con to support those who have been harassed while in cosplay and create a comprehensive plan to be sure their staff is equipped to appropriately respond to to reports of harassment. One woman spoke to me about a time when she and her friends were being filmed inappropriately, without their knowledge, while they were posing for pictures. When she confronted the man it was a long process for security at the event to take her seriously and eventually asked the man to delete the video from his phone. I will be reaching out to her, so she can submit her story on harassment while in Cosplay. She was very glad that I was there and spreading the message and supporting those who have been harassed.
After walking around for about an hour, I noticed a “free table” that some people had left, score! So I set up our cards, flyers, Hollaback! Philly’s comic books that we had for sale, balloons and candy I had left over from HOLLAween, and had a seat.
Something about having a table, makes people want to talk to you that much more. Person after person came up, inquired about what the sign said, if they didn’t know, or the were super excited to see Hollaback! Boston making a difference in their community. At one point there was a small line forming of people who wanted to look at the comic book, sign the petition, look at the bystander intervention flyers, and just chat about cosplaying.
In total I got 30 signatures, took some great pictures, sold a comic book, handed out 40 Hollaback! Boston flyers, spread the word of Cosplay =/= Consent and had a great time in Providence! Thanks to all who stopped by, shared their stories, and took pictures! Your participation means we are that much closer to ending harassment while in Cosplay! You can see more photos from RI Comic Con (and my cosplay experience as Susie from Rugrats) on Facebook.
image credits: Brandie Skorker