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I was standing on a street corner in Soho, at noon on a Tuesday, talking on the phone to my friend and trying to direct him to where I was. It was 80 degrees outside, so I took my cardigan off. As I was doing so, a guy that was walking by said, “Yeah baby, take it off, take it all off.” I didn’t even have time to respond before he continued on his way.
I was on the 6 train visiting New York and a short man ran onto my car right as the doors were closing. The train was very crowded and he pressed himself behind me which I thought was an accident. I felt something touching my butt and I thought maybe it was someone’s bag. When I moved the man moved with me and the touching did not stop. I then thought the man was pressing his hand against my butt and started to panic because I have never experienced any harassment and did not know what to do. I tried to move around again but there was no room and he kept saying “Sorry, sorry.” At the next stop he quickly ran off the train and I turned to my mom and said “was that man touching my butt?” She responded saying that she could see his hands but he was pressing up against me strangely and moving when I moved. When we got off and started to walk my mom told me that it looked like my tampon had leaked and it was on my dress so I went to the bathroom to change my tampon and looked at the mark closer only to realize that there was semen on my dress and I man was not touching me with his hand but his penis. I did not know what to do and I am still shocked, confused and horrified.
This amazing woman I met on the subway spoke of an unbelievable situation she endured. She was at a club and a man was going around sticking his hand up women’s skirts – grabbing their butts and cooters. When he stuck his hand up this gutsy woman’s skirt, she punched him square in the face! The nasty pervert flew backwards and landed on the floor, howling in pain. Did the club bouncers bother to find out why this woman exerted herself? No. They kicked her out of the club for violent behavior. When she demanded to be let back in because her actions were for self-defense, they refused. So she called the cops. Good idea, right? Well… when she told the cops what happened, their main concern: Have you been drinking? In the end, the cops did not bother to retrieve the man who had been sexually violating women, but sent our heroine home. I asked her how she managed to find the courage to act like she did. She told me she works with emotionally disturbed teens in Manhattan. I hope this story inspires women to defend themselves, because even if the police don’t believe you, we will
I was walking down 5th ave in Union Square with my girlfriend at 1pm on a Sunday, and we were harassed TWO times within three blocks. These were separate incidents, as I’m pretty certain the two men didn’t see each other. We were holding hands while walking and were completely absorbed in a conversation, so we weren’t looking around. Also, while this happens pretty often at night, I didn’t expect it in broad daylight on the weekend in one of the most crowded places in Manhattan. I suddenly noticed a man a few feet ahead of us who was staring very intensely and was following us with his eyes. I turned away for a second and then when I looked back he suddenly jumped towards us just as we were passing him. He didn’t say anything, but he came close enough to hitting me that my girlfriend had to pull me away. We were both so shocked that we didn’t have a chance to respond. Plus, my girlfriend’s immediate reaction was just to get us away as quickly as possible. A block later, when we were still in shock over the fact that someone had just leapt at me, another man screamed, “two hos together…that’s bullshit!” from just a few feet away. Again, I was too surprised (and scared) to respond. I am so angry that these men thought they could get away with harassing us like that, and even angrier that I didn’t think fast enough to respond and make them realize how inappropriate they were.
I was having the most awful commute in the world. It was 2am and I was waiting for the 4 train on the 59th Street and Lexington Avenue station and had just missed my train by a second. As I was waiting, I was already uncomfortable because there was no one on the platform and the few people that were waiting were all men.
I suddenly hear this guy saying “I like white women.” I ignore it as usual because there are always crazy people saying all kinds of things in the subway. I wasn’t sure if it was directed towards me. Then I hear it again and noticed that a guy is looking straight at me and saying this and is coming closer. He finally says, “I don’t like your kind..” (FYI, I’m brown). Being a temperamental New Yorker, I wanted to deck him in the face for being racist. However, I held back and before I could take out my cell phone to record this (a tip I learned from Hollaback!). He stopped and then started back again. Fearing that it might escalate (although I stayed calm and just didn’t pay him any attention hoping he would go away) I decided to just cab it home. My safety is worth more than a $25 cab ride.
What was really scary has been the hate crimes against brown people after 9/11. I was panicking what if this guy pushes me onto the tracks because I’m brown (which happened a few months ago and the victim died). This sort of behavior is unacceptable. I wish I took a picture, but I will be more prepared if this happens to me again. Just in case, he was an older man wearing a denim cap and a plaid jacket. His skin was light brown and he had light brown eyes. Probably in his 50s.
It’s 8 or 9 pm. I’m walking down one of the promenades in Union Square. One other guys is on a park bench. A middle aged man with a bicycle is walking towards me. As we approach each other, I hear him say, “are you tired?” I ignore him as I move to the right to pass him. He moves his bike to block my way, forcing me to move farther to the right, close to the rails of the park. He says: “hey can I talk to you for a minute?” I reply, firmly, “no.” As I squeeze past, he puts two fingers on my arm as if that will convince me to linger.
I have headphones in, but not on loudly. When I get to the other side of Union Square, he is suddenly behind my left, on his bike. He says, not angrily, with some mock-amazement: “you are such a bitch!”
Me, loudly: “Fuck off. What did you touch me for?”
“Hey I didn’t touch your pussy!”
“Get the fuck away from me!” I shout.
There are plenty of people around this intersection, some people crossing the street towards us make eye contact with me. Despite feeling stalked and surprise attacked, I feel much better, more visible, here than in the park.
“Hey, I just asked the time!” He says to my back as I’m fast walking away. I’m suddenly confused. Was the first thing he said: “do you have the time?” not “are you tired?” Did I mishear him? Would I have responded differently if he were asking for the time? I would have but nothing that happened after was excusable. You can’t try to block a woman from passing and touch her arm for not giving you the time.
I continue my errands, adrenalin rushing and trying to be pleasant with the lady at the check out in the drug store, then am remote/tired/busy in the subway ride, then very alert on the walk home from the subway. I feel schizophrenic by the time I get in the door.
I was sitting on the 2 train going from Brooklyn to the UWS this morning and quietly writing in my journal. I noticed an older man get up from the end of the car, look at the subway map, then take a seat adjacent from me. It’s always a red flag for me when men move closer to me on the train, so I kind of read him, but didn’t see him as a threat, probably because of his age. Yet, something in my gut felt weird.
I continued to write, and didn’t see that he moved directly across from me. For some reason, I looked up and noticed a weird tattoo on his leg, not really dawning on me that he had moved again, and then it occurred to me that he was wearing shorts and kind of weird stocking like things. That’s when I noticed that his erect penis was completely out. I had to do a double take, didn’t know what to do, then quickly moved to the other side of the train. We were just at my stop, so adrenalin pumping, I just left.
That’s when the guilt set in. As I got off the train, I realized that he was going to do this to someone else, and if I had said something, I could have perhaps stopped him. I live my life according to feminist values, and yet, when I’m confronted with this kind of sexual–I want to call it violation–I am totally speechless. Now I feel kind of sick and I can’t get the image or the feeling of being a pawn for his perversion out of my head.
Part of me feels stupid, b/c he didn’t touch me or say anything, so why do I feel like I was assaulted?
I’m grateful for a place like this just to write about this, b/c I don’t know what to do with these feelings right now. It makes me so pissed off that women and gay people have to deal with this so much more than straight men do, and I’m pissed at myself for not having a voice.
I took the train home today feeling hyper vigilant and worried, not to mention nauseated. I just hope that if this ever happens again, I will be well armed to say something, and I hope the feelings of guilt go away. Thanks to all the people out there who have shared their voices and stories- I hope to take strength from you.
Being a single mother in her late thirties, I feel that no girl has
been spared from being a victim of street harassment and I’m sick and
tired of it. Specially in my town, Dover, New Jersey.
I have recently moved to this small town and it’s lovely the people
are friendly – but the men sometimes are overtly sexist and I’m sick
As these events seem to occur on a daily basis to me in my hometown of
Dover New Jersey I am compelled to write them out and share them with
I have a few stories of my own, where I have actually HOLLABACKed at
them. and the look on their faces is really one of astonishment and I
plan on answering right back at them so they can feel a little ashamed
One day, apparently I had woken up on the wrong side of the bed,
because I was snapping at everyone- including my 15 year old son!( who
was with me at the time of the incident). I was crossing the street
and so was this man (looked about mid 30′s) he was crossing the street
and slowed his pace to look at my behind. I looked at him in the eyes
and said “Apparently you’ve never seen a woman in your entire life-
WTF!!”. He didn’t notice my son was coming behind me a few feet away.
My girlfriend said I screamed at him and that his reaction was that of
a person who didn’t expect to be screamed at. My son saw how mad I was
and did not say a thing. Let it be known my son is way taller than
me, he’s 6’3″ and Im 5’10″. So the guy just got into his car and
I was walking with a girlfriend of mine and she has pretty boobies.
She was not showing any cleavage whatsoever, she was decently covered
up. This man turns the corner and without being discreet starts
staring at her boobies. As he walks pasts us, I say out loud
“you should look where you’re walking or you might fall”. He looked
back and I was staring and motioned to him in a funny way “look where
your walking” and my girlfriend started laughing out loud. We both
could tell he felt embarrassed.
A man who works at the building where I live did not even bother to be
discreet and was staring at my girlfriend’s boobs so I say really loud
too “You should be discreet about staring at a woman’s boobs” and I
closed the door on him in his face, because if I left the door open he
would follow his vulgar staring all the way up the stairs. - that
reaction turned positive as the next days he would greet me but with
Another recent account,
I was paying a parking meter and a guy passes
by in a bike and says to me “hey baby you’re beautiful” and I answered
back so quickly “and you’re so freakishly ugly– dammm you ugly” and I
made a puking face. He looked back again, as he thought he might get
another glimpse at my behind and I was staring at him with the same
puking face “uuueeww you’re ugly”. He disappeared.
Its like the men have no respect for the women that pass by on the
sidewalks everyday. Girls are never spared in the streets or
I am so sick and tired of having to face these men .
A vulgar stare, a lingering look at a vulnerable time, a
sleasy comment, a sly whistle, a wink, cheap gestures, passing by in
slow moving cars blasting loud music with many eyes inside measuring
you up … all these are typical examples of such sexual harassment
and I tired of bumping into these types of men in this town.
I will start to document every account from now on, as I have noticed
I have so many accounts to tell.