I've Got Your Back, Shared Stories

“It wasn’t a compliment. It humiliated me, and I replayed the incident in my mind all day.” | Devon’s Story

Sometimes I’m walking down the street at the same time someone is heading towards me, and I jut get this gut feeling that I’m about to experience street harassment. I can feel it coming from a block away, and I brace myself, thinking, maybe I should quickly cross the street or step into this store so I avoid the potential confrontation. I hate that I have to think about this and have to consider (and often do) alter my route out of fear of harassment!

Well, this past weekend it happened; I got that gut feeling I get when I see a man who I’m about to cross paths with. We made eye contact briefly, and I decide not to change my walking path or go out of my way to avoid him because I shouldn’t have to. Sure enough, I can tell he’s staring at me as we get closer to passing one another, and he yells out, “Hey! You’ve got a beautiful frame!” And he moves his arms as if outlining a woman’s body. Gross. He snickers at me, I give him the DIRTIEST look I’ve probably ever given someone, and he quickly takes a defensive tone and shouts, “It’s a compliment you know! Jesus!”

But it wasn’t a compliment. It humiliated me, and I replayed the incident in my mind all day wishing I had responded better than just a dirty look, or at least told him it’s not a compliment.

Ugh.

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I've Got Your Back, Shared Stories

“I am even more pissed because I have to wonder if I am going to be out to lunch with my own daughter in fifteen years and have to have the same scenario played out.” | Stefanie’s Story

Director’s Note: Stefanie’s experience was originally published on her personal blog on August 26, 2014; we’ve cross-posted it here with her permission, and are so grateful for her story! -Kate

I have a memory in my late teens of eating at a local pizza place in Reno with my Mom when two men sat down next to us and started staring, leering and uttering that oh-so-charming “pssssttt” at us. As a feminist (riot grrl identified, thankyouverymuch) it made every sense in the world to me to look them directly in the eye and tell them to FUCK OFF, Kathleen Hanna style. My Mom was equal parts impressed but also worried; what if they retaliated? What if they got physical? My thoughts: let them try. Hell, bring it on, assholes; I will be happy to take you on or get you arrested for assaulting two women just trying to have a mother daughter lunch together.

Many years and one move to one of the country’s most progressive cities and I am steal dealing with the same shit, and I am still as pissed off as ever. Actually, I am even more pissed because I have to wonder if I am going to be out to lunch with my own daughter in fifteen years and have to have the same scenario played out.

Today I had to make a run from my office over to one of the sites that I manage. I like to cut through an area by the local news station and as I was doing so I saw a local anchor, over whom my husband and I have an inside joke (he did the same tri as Matty and Matty beat his running time so we like to call him out on it). As I pulled out my phone to text Matty a young guy (definitely younger than me) walked by me and said “yo, whassup”, which I just ignored because I was trying to text my husband. He got a little farther past me and stopped, turned around and yelled, “hey, girl, whassup?”. This time I stopped, turned to face him and said in a very neutral tone “please stop. I do not like being harassed.”. His response: “harassed? Bitch, please”.

Right, because I am the bitch for making someone feel uncomfortable, threatened and overall bummed out.

I was livid. I still am livid. And as I walked back to my office next the the police station that is also right there, I almost lost my shit when another man, this time much older, yelled at me, did the “pssst” and then waved when I finally looked up. He got the middle finger wave right back, as I was too shocked to have this happen AGAIN in just a fifteen minute span.

I am a prime target for street harassment. I am tall, noticeably tattooed and a runner, which is like wearing a sign that says “please, honk at me and scare me and make me fear that I am going to be raped in the pre-dawn hours because I choose to train for marathons while my toddler is still asleep in her bed”. My tattoos give people an excuse to talk about my body and assume that I had these put on to welcome unwelcome stares and comments. Being a tall woman means my long legs are visible when I wear dresses and skirts, which obviously makes me a slut for showing so much skin. THIS ENRAGES ME.

I try and be active against this behavior; I am quick to respond to men who behave like this with a middle finger or a shout to “please don’t harass me”. Sometimes I even let them know that I don’t like to feel like a rape target in my own neighborhood, or that I am hurrying down the street because I am excited to get home to my husband and toddler and do they have a daughter or a wife?

I have yet to have anyone apologize and am usually just called a bitch for advocating for myself, but I will keep doing it. I will tell men over and over and over that just by virtue of me being outside of the house I am not a willing participant in their bullshit. I will SCREAM it from the rooftop that my running in a tank top down a busy street is not for their enjoyment but because I do not want to sweat to death as I knock off as many miles as I can before going to work, taking care of my kiddo, or spending time with my husband.

This is two thousand fucking fourteen and it was time to stop this shit A LONG TIME AGO.

Please, men and women alike, if you see someone being street harassed, do something. There is a wonderful organization out there called Hollaback that has these awesome tips for bystanders, as well as tips for when you are being harassed yourself (men or women, as I am very aware both genders are victims).

This is a very real problem that affects every woman you know, whether you think it does or not.

Please, please put this into your conscious and help.

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I've Got Your Back, Shared Stories

HOLLA On the Go: “I despise that they made us feel ashamed and unsafe in our own neighborhood.”

I was walking with my friend and my dog on the road near my house when a car full of boys drove by. One of the yelled “Fuck you, you sluts!” and the others cheered and laughed. It happened so fast and then they were gone. I despise that these boys made my friend and I feel ashamed and unsafe in our own neighborhood.

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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

“He had made his way into a very narrow alleyway behind my apartment and parked himself outside of my bedroom window.” | Cait’s Story

Sunday morning I encountered a peeping tom lurking around my apartment complex. The man had made his way into a very narrow alleyway behind my apartment and parked himself outside of my bedroom window, peering in while I showered and got ready for the day. Upon my noticing him, he promptly ran away, so I didn’t get a good look. He was younger, maybe in his 30’s with dark hair. I notified the police and my apartment management company, but he hasn’t been located yet.

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I've Got Your Back, Shared Stories

“In the end I still feel the same. Just gross and sick.” | Judy’s Story

I was skating (or rather struggling to even stand up) a black SUV slowly passed. A man in the car (with his friends) shouted towards me “fuck her in the pussy”. I began to curse at them and yelled that they were sexist pigs. They were shocked when I responded with a “fuck you” to their catcall and told me to “calm down”. They started to call me a “bitch” and continued yelling at me while I was drowning out their words by screaming at them for their misogyny. In the past when strangers would catcall at me I never said anything and tried to ignore it and I always felt terrible. I’ve learned to stand my ground and yell at and scold my harassers but in the end I still feel the same. Just gross and sick.

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I've Got Your Back, Shared Stories

HOLLA On the Go: “I’m tired of feeling like I can’t look at anywhere but down when I’m out in public.”

I’m sitting at the bus stop and I look up to see a man sitting in traffic staring at me. He sticks his tongue out and licks his lips. This happens to me on a regular basis. I’m tired of feeling like I can’t look at anywhere but down when I’m out in public.

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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

“Hey you sexy fucking thing.” | Madison’s Story

I was walking through the gas station near the corner of Mass Ave and Tremont Street on my way to work. As I walked through the gas station lot, I heard a man say to me, “hey you sexy fucking thing.” His aggressive tone of voice, coupled with the fact that he was only a few feet of away from me, immediately took me off guard. I kept walking but looked at him and told him to leave me alone. As soon as I said this, he started screaming horrible, vulgar things at me- calling me a dirty bitch, commenting about what I was wearing, etc. I kept walking, and so did he. A person parked at the gas station asked if I was ok, and I paused at their vehicle as the man continued to yell at me. As soon as he was far enough away, I quickly walked into my workplace. I was shaking and close to tears. I’ve been cat called before, but never to the point where I was scared like this. Because the shirt I was wearing displayed the name of the place I worked, I spent the rest of the night on edge that he would show up or walk by. Thankfully, I didn’t see him again, but this incident really shook me to the core.

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

HOLLA On the Go: “He just walked right over and grabbed my butt without even saying a word.”

I was at a bar one night with a group of friends, standing up, wearing a dress. Some guy who had to have been at least ten years older than me just walked right over and grabbed my butt without even saying a word. I turned around and he was smiling. I let him know that he just ruined my night by making me feel like less of a human and more like an object.

I've got your back!
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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

“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?


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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.

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

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