I've Got Your Back, Shared Stories

“What? You’re fair game.” | Brandie’s Story

I waited months to see some of my favorite bands perform this past Spring at Boston Calling. The last thing I thought would happen was to be groped in front of a sea of people with out anyone backing me up or acknowledging it even happened.

Let’s just say his name was Mike. I decided to attend the event alone and I spent the day drinking and having a nice day taking myself on a date.

We chatted for a bit after finding out we were both alone, pleasant enough, not creepy.

My favorite singer came on, Jenny Lewis, and I started singing along and confessed I had a celebrity crush on her.

Me: “She is such a babe!”
Him: “Oh….are you gay?”
Me: “I’m queer, I’m attracted to people.”
Him: “Oh, so you wouldn’t mind if I did this…”

And he groped me. Full palm on my left breast. I hissed, “Don’t touch me!” and he replied, “What? You’re fair game.”

As someone who identifies as not straight he assumed my body is public space and I was alone, surrounded by a large crowd, which made me less likely to report him because it would be basically impossible to tell event staff what he did.

After, I pretended like it didn’t happen. No way was I going to let this ruin the rest of my day, I still had three hours left of show. I sent a bunch of texts to my partner who supported me and made sure to let me know it wasn’t my fault and Mike was a piece of shit.

For the umpteenth time a man has made me feel uncomfortable, threatened and violated in public. What gives them the right to dominate every space they’re a part of? Why are they so entitled to women’s bodies? How can they not connect seeing us (women)as objects restricts our ability to experiencing bodily autonomy and respect?


I've got your back!
11+

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I've Got Your Back, Shared Stories

HOLLA On the Go: “He had his genitals in his hand.”

I was on the metro rail and I noticed a man staring at me. I turned away and looked at my phone. I see out of the corner of my eye that he is still looking. And when I turned to look at him he had his genitals in his hand, masturbating. I got up and moved to a different cart.

I've got your back!
5+

HOLLA On the Go posts are those submitted through Hollaback!’s mobile apps – learn more here!

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I've Got Your Back, Shared Stories

“Be nice to your neighbors, right?” | Rebecca’s Story

Me (pushing the stroller, wearing a pretty dress, enjoying the sunshine on my way to meet some other moms) — ::smile::

Random Street Guy– Hey, lemme ask you something, lemme ask you something!

Me — ::ignore instinct and reluctantly pause six feet away:: Yes?

RSG — You want another one? ::gestures to the baby::

Me — (relieved this is a pretty usual question) Oh, someday. She’s enough to handle right now!

RSG — Hehe, I didn’t mean from me!

Me — I … didn’t … what…

RSG — Hey listen, listen. ::sidles up to shake my hand:: I’m Philip.

Me — ::shake his hand even though I don’t want to – be nice to your neighbors, right?:: ::feel gross emotionally and physically::

Philip — I make the ladies feel good in all the ways, you know?

Me — Have a good one. ::walk away as he continues to blather and entreat me to come back::

::sincerely wish I had shut him down with any kind of self-assertion instead of meekly leaving::

I've got your back!
8+

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I've Got Your Back, Shared Stories

HOLLA On the Go: “Three separate men stared and made comments.”

Walking the 500 feet from my car to a restaurant 3 separate men stared and made comments about me and my outfit. All were at least double my age.

I've got your back!
7+

HOLLA On the Go posts are those submitted through Hollaback!’s mobile apps – learn more here!

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I've Got Your Back, Shared Stories

“Being harassed when I’m just trying to do my job shook me up.” | Linda’s Story

On June 23 around 9 p.m., I was at my job supervising an outdoor volleyball game on campus. When I was on my way back to the game after taking a bathroom break, I had to go through an alley to get to the other side of the street. A man said hi to me as I was exiting that alley. I was nervous because he seemed sketchy, but I quickly replied hi to avoid a nasty response, and kept walking. He then asked me where I was from, and when I ignored him and crossed the street he kept shouting at me trying to guess. Then he mumbled something I couldn’t make out. I normally feel very safe on my campus, even at night. However being harassed near a dark alley when I’m just trying to do my job and mind my own business shook me up. Even though I know harassment isn’t acceptable not matter what a woman’s appearance, I certainly didn’t expect to be harassed while I was wearing my uniform.

I've got your back!
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I've Got Your Back, Shared Stories

“She was saying that I was ‘dressed up like a man’ and that I was a whore and trash.” | JL’s Story

I was heading home from a party last night and entered the T stop in Davis Square. I saw a woman with a headset look right at me and start to speak. I couldn’t hear her over the train leaving the station and thought she wanted directions or otherwise needed help from me, so I walked closer.

When I did that, I could see that she appeared to be speaking – more like snarling, really – into the headset and her facial expression was angry. I could also hear what she was saying. She was saying that I was “dressed up like a man” and that I was a whore and trash. I walked away from her and sat down on one of the benches. She walked over to me and stood in front of me, continuing to rant angrily about me and how I was a whore and trash into the headset. I ignored her and started reading. She continued to furiously narrate what I was doing. “She’s crossing her legs in front of me. She’s reading a book, but I doubt it’s the Bible.” After what felt like forever but was probably only another 30 seconds or so, she went away, still ranting.

A friend of mine has said that my description of the woman’s behavior fits the description of a woman who harassed a long-haired male friend of hers for gender nonconformity in the same T station. So I guess she hangs around there sometimes and does this to people.

This is the third time in the last week that I’ve been street-harassed for gender nonconformity while walking in the Boston area, and also the most upsetting of the three times. It’s funny, sometimes people assume that I don’t have to worry about street harassment because my presentation is more butch/masculine-of-center.

I've got your back!
11+

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I've Got Your Back, Shared Stories

“I hate that it is a constant internal conversation of whether I should run or not, what I should wear, and how loud I should play my music.” | Stacey’s Story

I frequently use running as a way to clear my head and process through what happened during my day or my week. I frequently experience harassment while out for my runs and am usually able to shake it off, ignore it, or confront the person(s) who is harassing me. I am also thankful for my headphones because I am certain that I miss much of the more subtle or quiet forms of verbal harassment because of them.

Today, I went for a run in Franklin Park and was so upset by the time I was done. When I started, there was a man who was walking the opposite way that I was running. When he saw me, he stopped, turned sideways, and then continued to clap/shout/and stare at me the entire time as I ran up to and then past him. It was incredibly uncomfortable and unnerving. I didn’t say anything because we happened to be the only two people in that area of the park.

I wanted to quit running after that but decided not to let this one person ruin my run. As I continued, I had multiple golfers stop their game and either look or shout at me as I ran by and other walkers interrupt my run as well.

It was probably one of the least productive runs that I have had in a long while. I hate that it is a constant internal conversation of whether I should run or not, what I should wear, and how loud I should play my music. I want to be able to run for me and for what I need.

I've got your back!
11+

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I've Got Your Back, Shared Stories

“I know too many people who have been hurt by someone who used an offer of “help” to get them alone.” | Delia’s Story

I was walking home, completely soaked by rain when someone said “It’s wet. Wanna get out of the rain for a while?” I looked up and saw a man in a doorway, and hurried past. No way in hell was I going in a strange building alone with a stranger who is bigger and stronger than me. He probably meant to be helpful, and probably thought I was rude for not answering, instead looking down and running past. But I know too many people who have been hurt by someone who used an offer of “help” to get them alone. I’m sure most people wouldn’t think of this as harassment, but I think it’s an example of someone who feels safe in society not realizing how things that seem benign or even helpful to them can be seen as threatening by other, more vulnerable populations.

I've got your back!
10+

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I've Got Your Back, Shared Stories

“I wonder if I should have just stuck to my leggings and spit up-covered tank tops.” | Britni’s Story

For one of the first times since I had a baby 6 weeks ago, I left the house feeling awesome. I put on a new outfit (jeans and a loose shirt), threw my baby in her car seat, and drove off to be a productive member of society.

I stood at the gas station, pumping gas into my car. There was a man at a pump kitty corner to mine who was engaged in a conversation with another customer. When his conversation partner drove away, he turned to face me. I avoided eye contact and hoped that he wouldn’t come over. The next thing I know, he’s sauntering over to me with a huge smile on his face.

HIM: “Can I ask you a question?”
ME (hesitantly): “Sure.”
HIM: “Will you marry me? RIGHT NOW!”
ME (unsure of how to handle it): “Um… I’m already married.” *shows ring*
HIM (cutting me off): “HAHAHAHAHA. I JUST *HAD* TO GET THAT OUT THERE. YOU HAVE A NICE DAY NOW!”

Yes, he just *had* to go out of his way to come over and make a random female uncomfortable by making weirdly aggressive yet “joking” come ons in the gas station parking lot. I wonder if I should have just stuck to my leggings and spit up-covered tank tops.

I've got your back!
20+

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I've Got Your Back, Shared Stories

“He turned towards me so that I could see he was masturbating.” | Sarah’s Story

I was sitting at the picnic tables outside the Boston Children’s Museum one evening, enjoying the view of the city and the water. I saw a young man also around, a ways away past the museum. I was messing around on my phone and when I looked up he was much closer to me, again I looked down, and when I looked up he was maybe 20 feet away from me. He said, “Hello,” to which I responded, “Hello, how are you?” He said “Good” and then turned towards me so that I could see he was masturbating. I said something like, “You’ve got to be fucking kidding me?” I was mad – I couldn’t believe this guy thought he had the right to do this in front of me. I got up and quickly walked away. He called after me saying, “Wait, I’m sorry.” I looked back later to see him walking off in the opposite direction – but for the rest of the night I was anxious I would see him again.

I've got your back!
14+

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