Monthly Archives: October 2009

How Do You Respond?

 

Photo by Stefan Baudy via flickr

 

This post is more of a question for this blogging community in general. I have struggled with the question of whether to ignore harassers or address them.

On the one hand, a reaction may be desired by the harasser so ignoring them would clearly be best. I have also heard that even eye contact alone is recognized in the brain as a “reward” and I certainly don’t want to add to such a reward cycle in street harassers by looking at them when they try to engage me.

However, I am also done with handing over my power and rights to be comfortable in public to disrespectful men misusing their own power. They shouldn’t have the ability to entertain themselves at my expense with no repercussions.

At the risk of sounding like a crazy person, I’ll share a couple ways I have responded. Some days I get so angry at the lusty, oppressive leers from men on sidewalks that I glare a look of death at them while I approach, as I pass them, and I turn my head to keep glaring directly at them until they look away. In almost all cases, these men have looked away- and most rather uncomfortably. This might work only because I had been so angry as to actually be daring them to say something in my head or because the men may have thought I was actually crazy. I’m not sure if its an entirely constructive approach, but I felt better by reclaiming my space.

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Help Hollaback NYC and vote for Hollaback 2.0!

A few weeks ago we posted about the Hollaback 2.o project Hollaback NYC is creating. In order to get the project off the ground they need our help! If you have voted yet, register and vote now by rating Hollaback 2.0! Remember, a vote for Hollaback NYC is also a vote for HollaBack DC because  if they get this funding, they will make Hollaback 2.0 a reality and eventually we will bring Hollaback 2.o to DC! Wouldn’t that be amazing?!?

From Hollaback NYC:

We are currently rated #2 out of 243 applications. A #1 ranking will help us secure the funds to make this initiative happen. HOLLABACK against street harassment! Vote now, here.

14th St. Harasser

Last Thursday, around 8:30pm,  I was walking up 14th Street (A.K.A Harassment Hill) in order to go to my boyfriend’s house.  Around Florida and 14th a man who I have been harassed by before as well as witness him harass other women started yelling at me from the opposite side of the street.  This kept up for a few blocks, all the way until I reached Clifton where my boyfriend lives. At this point I have no choice but to cross the street or walk past my boyfriends house. Since I am feeling unsafe and want to get to his house as quickly as possible I decide to wait at for the light to change so I could cross. When this man realized that I stopped, he stopped too and started yelling things like, “hey sexy” , “come here beautiful”and making crude gestures.

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An Ally Speaks Up!

Photo by IntangibleArts via Flickr

Let it be known that I am the biggest male cheerleader (no pun intended) for this blog, and I fully support its aims. I read it regularly and find it to be empowering not just to women, but for the community at-large. We want to create a culture of community that practices full inclusion and equality, and there’s no better way to actively practice what we preach than by using this blog as a virtual meeting place to share our ideals. That’s why I’m ready to speak up and tell my story as an ally, in the hopes that it encourages more men to do their part in this fight.

This past Thursday night, I joined a group of friends at the Wonderland Ballroom in Columbia Heights, which is our local neighborhood bar. A few of us got hungry and decided to make a trip to the pupusa place next door for a quick bite, but when we got there, we saw that it was closed. Right as we were ready to turn around and head back to the bar, we saw a female about our age come stumbling out of the door. She was visibly drunk, and would have made an easy target for street crime.

Being a staunch male feminist/ally, I knew I needed to approach this woman in a way that didn’t freak her out — I know it’s still uncommon for women to find true feminist ideals in men these days, as sad as that sounds. So, I called out to my friends when she got close, “Hey y’all, it looks like this girl needs some help getting home.” One of my female friends heard this, saw the drunk woman, and immediately was like, “Hey love, do you want us to help get you home?” The bar patron was grateful to our kindness, and so about five of us joined her on her walk home down 11th Street NW.

Then, we saw a homeless man who called himself “Blelvis” and he began to walk beside us. He saw the girl in our group that was stumbling, and started to direct his attention toward her.

“You know what she needs, don’t you,” the man asked of me.

“She needs some of this.” He then proceeded to drop down to his knees and make a lewd movement with his tongue. I snapped back and told the man that he needed to get up off the floor and move along. Unfortunately, me speaking up right then didn’t exactly deter him.

“Blelvis” continued to follow us until we got to the young woman’s home, and as we waited for her to unlock her door safely, he dropped down to his knees again with the lewd tongue gyrations.

That’s when I finally reached my boiling point.

“Dude, what the fuck is wrong with you?” I let him know I was pissed at this point. “You don’t fucking do that in the presence of a woman you don’t even know.”

The man retorted something back and feigned like I had offended him — you know, like he wasn’t taking me very seriously.

“No, fuck that. It’s respect, dude. You need to have some fucking respect for women as people,” I tossed back. I then proceeded to spell out street harassment to him and why what he did was wrong.

Eventually, this guy got the hint and left us alone, but not before calling me out on my masculinity or something. I really didn’t care what he said about me, but I did care that he was continuing the cycle of oppression in the way he had complete disregard for women.

I’ve retold this story to several of my friends throughout the past weekend, and one of them encouraged me to post it to this blog. I wasn’t sure if I should post it here since I’m not a woman and I can’t even begin to relate what it must be like to be a woman enduring this heteronormative patriarchal society, but I want everyone out there to know that there are men like me who are standing up, speaking out, and doing something to holla back.

Submitted by Josef on 10/26/2009

Location: 11th and Lamont Streets NW

Do you have a personal experience with gender-based public sexual harassment you would like to submit? Just click here and fill out the online submission form. All submissions are posted anonymously unless you specify.

“Hey, baby, need a lift?”

 

Photo by Thomas R. Stegelmann via Flickr

Yesterday I was crossing the street coming home from the drugstore, and this guy in a van was trying to be slick and run a red light by creeping up slowly. This is the street I was trying to cross so I could’ve been hit. I shook my finger at him and started yelling “No, no, no, no, NO!” while pointing at the red light. He took this as a sign that I was interested in him. He laughs then says, “Hey, baby, need a lift?” He was old enough to be my father…ew! “No! But you need to pay attention to the damn traffic lights!” I replied. Man!

Submitted by Anonymous on 10/24/2009

Location: Wilson Blvd & N. Veitch St

Do you have a personal experience with gender-based public sexual harassment you would like to submit? Just click here and fill out the online submission form. All submissions are posted anonymously unless you specify.

Gust of Wind


Photo by Katherine Squier via Flickr

I had just gotten off the metro and was starting my walk home. I was wearing a knee length shirt dress with a full skirt that dropped from the waist. As a gust of wind blew up, I made a quick move to hold the skirt part down so that it wouldn’t fly up and reveal my underwear to a crowded intersection.

At the same moment, an older teenage boy (appeared about 17-19) about 25 ft. away shouted to me through the crowd “Don’t do that, baby! You don’t need to hold that skirt down. Let me see it!” as several people nearby turned to look at me and I fumbled to keep my composure.

Having lived in Columbia Heights for 5 years now, I thought I’d seen & heard it all. I’d gotten used to ignoring or shaking my head “no” at the dirty old men muttering their “sweet nothings” as I walked by, had my run-ins with grabby teens showing off to friends, become immune to the wolf whistles, meows, and kissy sounds. It seemed easier to brush it all off when I was the only witness (apart from the harasser/accomplices).

So thanks a bunch, kiddo. You took it to an entirely new level when you managed to embarrass me in front of thirty plus people on a Friday after work.

Submitted by MS on 10/24/2009

Location: 14th & Irving St NW

Do you have a personal experience with gender-based public sexual harassment you would like to submit? Just click here and fill out the online submission form. All submissions are posted anonymously unless you specify.

Even in the Suburbs

Photo by TheTruthAbout...via flickr

Photo by TheTruthAbout...via flickr

I know this isn’t technically DC, but I was driving on 234 in Manassas early in the morning to get to the commuter lot for the Manassas-DC bus. Waiting at a light, a pick-up truck with 3 workers pulled up next to me on the left. I had my window open because I was smoking, and they opened their windows and began staring at me, leaning out and saying things, trying to engage me. The light takes about 2-3 minutes to change, and they were not giving up. It made me so uncomfortable, and since no one was around, I backed up my car and got in their lane behind them so they couldn’t see me or try to follow me.

It’s sad harassment is such a problem in the suburbs because many people move there to escape it. For the past 15 years I have lived in either Fairfax County or Manassas and encountered just as much street harassment as I do every day in DC. I cannot go to the gas station closest to my house in Manassas, especially at night, because the men out front always harass me – even when my boyfriend is with me – and it’s very scary. Waiting near the commuter bus stop in the early morning or late evening when it’s dark is also bad, and I am harassed almost every time I stand there.

Submitted by Anonymous on 10/23/2009

Location: 234 and Irongate Way

Do you have a personal experience with gender-based public sexual harassment you would like to submit? Just click here and fill out the online submission form. All submissions are posted anonymously unless you specify.