Appalachian Ohio, Athens GA, Atlanta, Berkeley, Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Columbia MO, Des Moines, Durham & Chapel Hill, Fredericksburgh VA, Houston, Los Angeles, Muncie IN, New York City, NYU, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Richmond VA, San Francisco, Tucson, Twin Cities
Last night, a beautiful and ordinary fall Monday night, my roommate and I were walking home from dinner on Flatbush Avenue in Prospect Heights. We picked up ice cream and chocolate sauce to make sundaes at home since a favorite dessert at the restaurant we had dinner was sold out. So our plan was to make our own at home. As we turned on to Sterling Place from Vanderbilt Avenue, conversing, commenting on the little old ladies walking their little old dogs, and enjoying the walk home down a well lit, brown-stone line street, at almost 11 pm on a chilly, but otherwise beautiful night.
Shortly after turning on to Sterling Place, we heard a group of four individuals – what we believe were 3 young men and 1 woman – shouting aggressively. Initially, we thought at one another. So we kept walking. A few paces later, I realized they were shouting, hurling malicious insults and threats at me, tall and wearing a red overcoat.
I’ve lived in the neighborhood and NYC for years and have a nonresponse policy to cat-calling, as tempting at it may be. It happens regularly from the bros on the block in between Washington and Underhill Avenues on St. John’s Place and in Prospect Heights. Usually: headphones in, volume up, keep walking, keys in fist if late at night. I know it makes the blood boil of this group of men (ranging in age from early teens to late middle age) that I don’t respond to their verbal sexual harassment, which often eggs them on even more. The harassment has escalated significantly in the past couple of weeks – I’m a “fucking whore” for not responding to their comments about what they want to do my lanky frame and my ass. Or I’m a “ugly bitch who thinks she owns the neighborhood” because I can’t be provoked in to giving response to vile advances and “my walk.” The headphones may be in, but the volume can never be loud enough. A few years ago I “deserved to be raped” and “needed to be taught a lesson about respect as a white girl who doesn’t belong in the neighborhood.” That one was reported to the police, who helplessly told me there wasn’t much they could do after the fact, since I didn’t know the man’s name and could only give a description.
Last night was different.
When my roommate and I realized they were targeting me – I want to say, but can’t know for certain, because the harassment has escalated dramatically in the past couple of weeks, because I stay the course and don’t respond to the hateful catcalling – my roommate screamed at them to LEAVE US ALONE. STOP! LEAVE US ALONE. I’m CALLING THE POLICE RIGHT NOW.
It didn’t do any good. They quickened their pace behind us to catch up with more threats. Close to Sterling Place and Underhill Avenue they started shouting OH BITCH’S TURING RIGHT ON UNDERHILL NEXT. THE RED FUCKING COAT. I’M ON STERLING PLACE AND UNDERHILL’S NEXT. IMA FUCK YOUR GIRL IN THE RED DRESS. THE RED COAT. IMA FUCK YOU UP. They know where me (and my roommate) live and were stalking us. As a young-ish, tall woman, I stand out. This group of harassers has known who I am in the neighborhood since they day I moved in a handful of years ago. There was a fire in my building in April of this year – that didn’t compel me to move. This shouldn’t either, but the degree of ferocity of the abuse has escalated at an alarming rate in a few short weeks sickens and angers me and frustrates me. I love the neighborhood and the people in my building. It’s a great community to be a part of. It is my home. I am not helpless. I am not weak. But I don’t know what to do anymore. The harassment has never been this ferocious or malicious and it’s an unsettling realization that they know what part of my street I live on and are willing to follow me there. It’s not just verbal sexual harassment anymore, it’s stalking and the verbal threats are malicious. Last night is seared in to my eardrums: I FUCKED YOUR GIRL IN THE RED DRESS. I FUCKED THAT BITCH. THAT WHORE. THAT FUCKING BITCH IN THE RED COAT ON STERLING PLACE RIGHT NOW. IMA FUCK HER FUCK YOU UP. YOU’RE TURNING RIGHT ON TO UNDERHILL NEXT!
I grabbed my roommate’s arm and said we’re going to go for a walk. We’re not going home yet. Feet from Underhill Avenue, we saw one of the tenants from one of the gray brick buildings with a high black fence and shrubs standing outside for a smoke. My roommate quickly asked if she could let us wait in the entryway of our building, explaining we were being followed and I was being threatened and we didn’t feel safe going home yet. She let us in immediately, not just in her building’s entryway, but we went in to her apartment on the first floor and waited for them to pass. The police were called, the address of this woman’s building was given, as was my roommate and my home address where we intended to return to eat our ice cream. The police said they’d come to the address on Sterling Place in 10 minutes. We waited 30 minutes. The police never showed up. While waiting my roommate and the woman who gave us safe haven sat in disbelief at something so violent, threatening intense could happen on that block, in this neighborhood. I sat nervously and scared, but quietly said I wasn’t surprised. Then we waited a bit longer for the police. Realizing they weren’t coming, my roommate and I thanked this woman, exchanged contact information quickly, and left.
The walk from Underhill Avenue to St. John’s Place was quiet – the mob of harassers was nowhere to be seen or heard. The harassment has never been that frightening or intense. And the stalking was an alarming first, especially that the realization they know where I live. I have such deep gratitude that tenant who was in the right place at the right time to briefly open her home to me and my roommate. It is heartbreaking to not have the police show up after waiting 30 minutes.
There were two uniformed officers on the corner of Sterling Place and Underhill Avenue this morning. But what will tonight be like? What will tomorrow be like?
Malicious street harassment, whether it’s verbal or physical, sexual or physical assault, was, is, and never will be acceptable, and yet it persists and escalates. Once is much too much and many times more than that? Shame on the system that lacks resources for help and response. I’m weary and afraid of not if, but when, there’s a next time. Christine C. Quinn got it. Bill de Blasio, Joe Lhota, NYPD/Ray Kelly, pay attention. What are you doing about it? There should be strength in numbers, right?
Hollaback!’s 8th Birthday Party is coming up and we want to celebrate with you!
Join us and Girls Pint Out at the Brooklyn Brewery on October 21st at 7:30 for an unforgettable birthday celebration!
Girls Pint Out is a beer appreciation group for women in an industry that underindexes women [some estimates say women represent ~37% of craft drinkers and ~29% of craft volume]. They strive to hold monthly educational and social events for and by women interested in craft beer, often with a non profit beneficiary.
Girls Pint Out has got your back, and together with Hollaback!, they are throwing an amazing birthday party and inaugural beer tasting event. The party will feature women (and their beers) in craft around The City, including ladies from Sixpoint Brewery, KelSo Beer, 508 GastroBrewery, and Long Island newcomer Moutstache Brewing Co. Brooklyn’s own Mary Wiles, QC director and 30-year industry veteran, will be pouring for the brewery.
There will be beer tasting, celebration, and birthday cake – what more could you ask for?
Tickets are $35 and proceeds will go to Hollaback!. We hope you’ll join us for an excellent 8th birthday party! Pick you your tickets here!
This makes me mad, and shocked. This morning while coming up the subway station, there was a man urinating on top of the staircase. The urine drip down like a rain right into my hand and another person that was coming up. I shout at the man. Why did you pee? His answer, he had to go!! I should take his picture, but I was in shock. He was wearing a light checker button shirt (light blue and white) and jeans. If you guys had seen him this morning or notice this man, call the police. This incident happened at 9:35 AM, at Broadway-Lafayette Subway Station F train. Near Houston St and Crosby. He is a male about 5ft 10, around 190-200 lbs, blue jeans- white/blue checker button down shirt.
On October 19th, 2013, hundreds are taking to Brooklyn stoops for Suzanne Lacy’s first public art event in New York, “Between the Door and the Street“. Lacy’s participatory artwork will bring together New York based feminists and activists to participate in live, unscripted dialogues on Brooklyn’s most iconic architectural feature – the stoop.
The public art project will feature folks from a cross-section of ages, backgrounds, and perspectives engaging in conversations around gender politics and feminism. Suzanne Lacy invites you to wander among the groups, talk with the organizations, and form your own opinions.
Hollaback! will be one of the groups represented and we’ll be talking about street harassment, bystander awareness, and movement building. Come on by and chat with us.
Suzanne Lacy will be giving a talk about “Between the Door and the Street” at 2pm on October 12th at the Brooklyn Museum. The event will take place on October 19th in Park Place, Brooklyn (Between Underhill and Vanderbilt Avenues).
If you want to join in, check out our Facebook Event Page for more information!
You can find out more about the event and Suzanne Lacy’s work on the Creative Time website.
Tonight I had one of those journeys home where my vulnerability as a single woman in the city really hit home. First, a homeless man on the train used physical intimidation (punching the bar my head was resting on) to get my attention and try to scare me into giving him something. Then a random guy on the sidewalk grabbed my arm as he walked by me, because apparently he thought this was a good way to hit on a woman on the sidewalk after dark. Then, as I walked to the laundromat, already upset about the previous two incidents, I got catcalled at least three times.
I just don’t understand. I don’t understand why these men think I’m theirs. Theirs to abuse, theirs to touch, theirs to admire or jeer at. What gives them the right? Why don’t they see that I’m just a person, trying to get home without incident like anybody else?
I’m so angry. Angry that these men think it’s okay to treat me this way, and that they have the power to scare me. I’m angry that I’m vulnerable to them, that I can’t run a simple errand without exposing myself to this kind of behavior. I’m angry that there is nothing I can do, nothing I can say, to stop them from doing it again, to me or to others.
I don’t want this anger to consume me, but I don’t know how to get past it.
Walking home in a hoodie and loose cargo pants, and I still got whistled at. There may have been more to it, but my Spanish isn’t that great.
I work everyday and street or subway harassment is absolutely unavoidable. Not too long ago on my way back from work, as I was waiting for the train to arrive, I was harassed verbally by a guy who was flashing himself to me. When I tried to report this to a woman cop, I was shocked to find out that she didn’t even want to know hear me out!!!! Unnerving, I would say!
I was in Astoria Queens on 31st ave between 21st st and 23rd st when a man on a bicycle rode close to me and grabbed my ass. He then rode off so all I saw was a grey hoodie. I yelled loudly so a few people stopped to help but he was already gone. Another lady said she recognized him because once he whispered something creepy in her ear. This happened at 6:45 AM on Friday September 20, 2013. I want it reported in case it is a habit.
Last night I had a really terrible night. I had a really long day at the office and I ended up getting home around ten. I live in Brooklyn, Sunset Park. The train is on 4th Avenue; it’s a fairly busy street even at that time. There is a bar on the corner of 33rd and 4th, and it shares space next door to a men’s barber shop. This combination of establishments next to each other lends itself to lots of men. Men are hanging around outside, inside, smoking, drinking, clogging up that little piece of sidewalk. Sometimes there are women; I always hope there is at least one.
I get harassed outside of these two establishments several times a week. Walking home, walking to the office, running to the bodega to get a soda. Once, I had to use the ATM at night so I could pay my cab driver. I actually asked him to get out of the car and come with me to the ATM, 20 feet away. He was an enormous man and I felt like I needed that to stay harassment-free. While I am still glad that I did that, the fact that I did still bothers me. Women will understand why. The dichotomy of needing a man to stay safe from other men, and being an independent woman in 2013 don’t necessarily mesh, resulting in a myriad of psychological and emotional disorders. But that’s another thing entirely.
Walking home last night, alone, and I cringe. I see men. Lots of them. No women. This drunk man in a tank top and shorts gets in my face and says something along the lines of, “Oh, brunettes, just like I like them”.
I don’t give a shit how you like them. They don’t like you.
“SHUT THE FUCK UP!”
“What the fuck bitch? You shut the fuck up!”
There were around 5 other men around him, outside this shop. Any normal woman would fear for her safety and keep rapid-walking home, glancing behind her every few paces to ensure she wasn’t being followed; her keys would have already been in her hand as a defense, each key clutched Wolverine-style between each knuckle and ready to strike at any potential attack.
So you know what I did. I started screaming at this man at the top of my lungs. I started screaming at the people around him. I started screaming and yelling and cursing while they berated and belittled me for daring to not take their bullshit and stand up for myself against street harassment. Street harassment in my own neighborhood on the same street I have to walk home on every day.
I will not walk around and up 5th Avenue. I will walk up the quickest and simplest way home and I will not let a man, or even five of them, determine where I walk.
Nothing was resolved, as screaming never resolves anything, and I walked away screaming SUCK MY DICK.
I know. I’m mature.
I came home, dropped all of my bags on my floor, tore off my jacket, collapsed on the couch, took one bite of the pasta my husband had made for me and immediately collapsed into hysterical sobbing.
I can go on about how it’s not fair that women get harassed, about how I shouldn’t have to walk a different route home, about how if I was with a man it wouldn’t have happened and how THAT isn’t fair, about why men don’t connect all women with any of the women they value and respect in their lives, about how we fear, hate, resent, how we run and avert our eyes, quicken our steps and don’t start a scene because we could be punched, raped, murdered, beaten, mutilated, worse.
But I won’t. I cried and cried and pleaded with my husband to tell me what to do. What do I do? What do we do? What can we do? What should we do? What are the answers?
I drank a lot of whiskey, and went to bed early. My eyes were still puffy from the tears when I woke up this morning. I decided it wasn’t worth it to spend any more time thinking about it. It was draining, and these men (I am not sure they deserve the title of men. Animals, maybe.) did not merit so much of my thought and concern. I put it aside and continued on my day.
Walking home, around 9 tonight. Not thinking about the incident too much at all until the Bar and the barber shop come into view as my husband and I cross onto 34th Street. I can see men up ahead.
Please don’t be the same ones from last night. Please.
I walk straight ahead. My husband and I keep up the conversation we have going and I laugh with him and we are about to walk past the men.
“Yo is that the same bitch that started shit last night?!”
“Yeah, you wanna fucking fight again?” I turned on my heel and walked over to him immediately, getting in his face, lightly pushing my husband away and hoping he got the message to stay out of it.
There is a lot of yelling. This man is very upset that I did not validate him. He decides it is my fault for not just quietly taking his “compliment” (his words) and walking away. I asked him if I was supposed to stay silent. “Exactly.”
He thinks it’s rude I told him to shut the fuck up. I think it’s rude he got in my face and told me what he liked, because I certainly did not like anything about him.
His friend gets in my face and, get this, literally goes to me, “You think I won’t just PUNCH YOU RIGHT IN THE FACE?”
A man who is probably 6ft tall just threated to punch me in the face, on the sidewalk, in front of witnesses, because I was arguing with his friend.
I won’t go into how the male mind works enough to escalate a heated sidewalk discussion into fisticuffs.
I whipped off my (adorable) cloche hat. I walked right up and got in his face. He backed up just a little bit.
“Yeah? You want to punch me in the face? Go ahead. I dare you. GO AHEAD.”
He said, you think I won’t?
I didn’t think he would, BUT, on the off chance that the did, guess what happens when a man punches a woman (or anyone?) in the face? Oh, the police. I was happy to take a black eye, a broken tooth or even unconsciousness plus all of the above in order to prove my point that men are horrible. Wait. Just kidding. That’s not my point. My point is that calling the police would have been AWESOME.
He didn’t punch me in the face.
A second later (can’t recall exactly how it happened- adrenaline) we were introducing ourselves; his name is Gus. We’re friends now.
I met Gus, Joseph, Mike, and another chap in a baseball cap whose name I don’t remember. Joseph and Mike were not involved directly with me, but Mike had words to say to Bryan about “knocking him around”, but went away for a bit then came back with a different outlook on the situation. Not sure why. They smoked their cigarettes after I introduced myself. The baseball cap one told me, quite nicely, that I should be used to it, since it happens a lot. I told him, I’ll never get used to it. It happens too many times a day. I told baseball cap to think about the fact that any woman who walks by has probably been harassed on every block she has walked that day. I hope baseball cap keeps that in mind. I told him it was very tedious and tiresome, and that we just wanted to be left alone. He smiled and shrugged. He said he gets it, but that it’s still going to happen. Baby steps.
Joseph agreed in silence. Fine.
The asshole who has been screaming at me is screaming at my husband, is screaming at me. I try to have a conversation. It isn’t working. Clearly we aren’t getting anywhere. I am backhandedly complimenting him, insulting him in front of his bros, and they are smiling, shaking their heads.
A very sweet girl in a cap comes and tells me to ignore him, to come inside and talk to the managers of the barber shop. She knows all these guys since she was 16. She told me to not to pay him any mind; she tells me, that he is not “all there”, if I know what she means.
I do. Thank you, very sweet girl. I very much like you and appreciate what you’re saying and how you are trying to help me. Thank you! But, I still feel I have business to accomplish here. And because I stayed, Gus and I are friends.
Asshole, whose name I never got, but who doesn’t deserve the humanizing concept of endearment by naming anyway, is yelling. He repeats the same things over and over and over and over again. I am clearly making no progress here.
Mike comes back, lights up a cigarette and told us to just go, to call a spade and spade and ignore him. I wish I could.
I told asshole we could agree to disagree, and that we were going home.
He then decides that “You are not all that anywhere. You’re like a dime a dozen. Look at that ratty ass bag. You think cause you shop at a thrift store you all that. Look at those boots.”
Asshole is clearly upset that I did not validate him, and has lashed out by trying to break me down; he hit on me last night, but now that not only have I shown zero interest, I have insulted him and/or his manhood, and I must be taken down. Men are not rejected! Men are not yelled at and bullied, looked down upon or spat upon!
I asked him why he tried to hit on me last night if my bag was so ratty.
“Ah, you didn’t have that bag last night, no you didn’t!”
I asked him why he memorized what bag I was carrying; that was weird.
The men smiled and laughed. I am pretty sure they agreed that that was weird.
If I’m so hipster, ratty, not all that, a dime dozen, why are you still yelling at me. Why do you know what bag I had? I didn’t even remember his face when I came upon them tonight. Because I genuinely didn’t care. He, genuinely, did, somehow.
Mike walked with us to the corner, as I told asshole he seemed like a very nice chap and that we should agree to disagree. I told Mike that I refused to walk another way home.
He apologized for the nonsense going on outside of his cousin’s shop. His cousin apparently owns it. He told my husband and I that he is usually there from 9am to midnight every day, otherwise at the Bar. He invited me to come speak with him like an adult if I ever felt like a conversation needed to be had. The asshole wasn’t friends with him but lives right on the block is related to some other people there. I told him I get harassed almost daily right outside there and he apologized again, and said he would speak to some people, that he was always available, and that those men are not at all affiliated with the business. He was kind and understood the stress and harassment. He even told me that sexual harassment is a crime. Last night, my husband read up on the laws regarding street harassment and found out that if I get repeatedly harassed by the same person, that I can file a complaint with the police. I am not sure what good that would do, but it’s interesting.
Gus had walked over to us. We shook hands, did handshake thing, hugged, kissed on the cheek, and high fived. He had been drinking and apologized, as we shook. “Gus, thank you. Please don’t ever threaten to punch anyone in the face again.”
He shook his head and solemnly said that he was sorry, that he said something just to say something. He confessed that he had three sisters and that if anyone ever said anything like that, he would not appreciate it at all. He mentioned his mother. I almost teared up, but I had to keep it together, so I thanked him profusely for saying that. I thanked him for turning the situation around. I appreciated that he had said that and that he had connected me with the women that he values and respects in his life.
Me and Gus are friends.
That asshole may bother me again, tomorrow night, Saturday, anytime. But maybe I won over the other guys. I won a champion in Mike and his cousin at the barber shop. I may have had a small victory in how the more silent men view women and street harassment. And I almost got punched in the face.
If I can build a relationship with Gus, Mike, Joseph, baseball cap, the very lovely girl, build roots, a friendship, at the very least respect, I will have a team. A team that will look out for me and my family and protect us in the best ways that they can. Maybe this experience will now embed me into a neighborhood that I haven’t felt a part of since I moved here.
Or asshole guy will stab me on the way home some night. Either way.
Just outside the Fulton entrance of the G train a middle-aged man loudly commented on how “beautiful” I am and called me “baby.” I ignored him & he didn’t persist. Coincidentally, shortly thereafter, I got a text message from the utility worker who had just come to my house down the street, which read as follows: “Just had to say how beautiful you are.” I told him it was not appropriate to use my # for such communications, considering I’d given it to his company strictly for business.