Monthly Archives: April 2010

Groups of Men

On Columbia Rd NW, just west of the intersection with Georgia Ave, I have been harassed multiple times by a group of men on the sidewalk or on the lawn and porch of a house on the north side of the road. 10-20 of them seem to be there at all hours of the day and night, and those on the street always have something to say when I’m walking by myself. Usually, it’s something like “Hey beautiful,” “hey sexy,” or “hey, you’re looking sexy,” and once I even heard “hey yeah why don’t you come and get with me.” I always feel their eyes on me when I walk past, and I try to keep my head down or walk to the other side of the street to avoid them. It intimidates me because there are so many of them, even in the daylight. I’m a smoker, and if they see me smoking, that is the surest way of attracting unwanted attention.

Submitted by S on 4/30/2010

Location: Columbia Rd NW

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

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Tonight: Speak Up, Speak Out! Holla Back DC!

Exactly one year ago today, we celebrated the official launch of Holla Back DC! at Cafe Citron. Tonight, we celebrate the accomplishments of our community and one year of fighting public sexual harassment in DC.

Join us tonight for Speak Up,  Speak Out! Holla Back DC!

The event will feature an open mic speak out against public sexual harassment and assault. There will be stand up comedy, drumming, and poetry reading/spoken word.  There is still time  to Speak Up and Speak Out against sexual harassment and assault Email us at dchollaback@gmail.com and let us know what you’d like to do or just show up tonight.

See you tonight, Thursday, April 29th from 6:30pm-8:30pm in the basement of one our fav neighborhood hangouts, Cafe Collage. Cafe Collage is located at 1346 T Street, NW.

Speak Up, Speak Out will include:
A collaborative art project
A Raffle with cool giveaways like tickets to a Nats game, gift certificates for mani/pedis, books, and more!
Lots of inspiration and fun

There will be a donation box and a suggested  donation $5 to attend the event. All funds raised from this event will go towards our mural project!

See you soon!

Standing Up to Teenage Boys

Photo by dbking via flickr

I was on my way to Eastern Market Station after a particularly stressful day at work around 5pm. On my way to the metro stop, I was listening to my ipod and smoking a cigarette when I crossed paths with a group of 5-6 teenage boys. As I was approaching them, instinctively I knew that there may be some type of rude exchange, but I kept walking forward, not letting them deter me on my way to the metro.

One of the kids, he must have been maybe 15, asked me for a cigarette as I walked by. I pretended not to hear and kept walking. As I passed, I heard the same kid say “Bitch, give me a god damn cigarette”. I spun around and said, nicely and politely, “Excuse me, I find that language offensive” he then responded with “Fuck you, bitch” and I said, “That language is extremely rude and you shouldn’t speak to women–let alone strangers–that way. I’m sure your parents would be disappointed knowing you speak to people that way”. He stomped off, while the rest of his posse looked shocked that someone had actually spoken back to them. One of the group actually apologized for his friend’s behavior.

I’m not sure why that kid chose to single me out, maybe it was because I was by myself, maybe it was because he thought I looked like an easy target for verbal abuse. I suppose it’s a part of that ‘male-bonding teen angst” mentality and wanting to ‘look cool’, but I’m sick of that being an excuse for such stupid and rude behavior. Normally, I would’ve probably just kept on walking, but after being made aware of and reading Holla Back DC!, I felt braver and more convinced that it was the right thing to do.

Submitted by anonymous on 4/26/2010

Location: Eastern Market Metro

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


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“Let me ask you one more question…”

Photo by filtran via flickr

I was leaving a work function to get on my scooter when a middle aged man came up to me and said hello and asked me about my scooter. I’m used to getting a lot of comments and questions about the scooter, so I didn’t immediately tell him to back off. I started the process of unchaining my wheel, getting my helmet out, and securing my bag. While I was doing that the guy said, “I’m __(Chad or Chas or something), what’s your name?” and took my hand to shake it. I told him my first name and shook his hand, while trying to get the rest of my stuff together as quickly as possible.

When I finally jumped on my scooter, he took the opportunity to sidle up a little closer to me and asked if I wanted to go out sometime. I said no, I’m married and started to put my helmet on. He asked how long I’d been married and why I got married. I gave short answers, because I didn’t want to turn it into a confrontation before I could safely get away on my scooter.

A s I finally started my engine, I said, “I have to go.” He said, “Wait let me ask you one more question,” and grabbed my handlebar, “if a person is married–” I said, “No really, I am leaving. Now.” “Wait, wait, I just have one question. If a person is married–” At that point, I opened the throttle and swerved around him to get away. I have no idea what that question was going to be, but I was happy to be out of there before I found out.

Submitted by G.C. on 4/25/2010

Location: near Metro Center

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


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ENOUGH!

I am a transgendered female. I understand that many people feel some confusion or ambiguity about my gender expression but that is their issue, not mine. Trying to get by in the world is mine, and it’s a big one, thank you very much; I don’t have time or inclination to own someone else’s problem. “If you’re curious, ask. If you’re polite, I’ll probably answer” has been a standing policy with me for some time now, and I’ve had some good moments because of it. Strange looks and odd things muttered to the people they are with are commonplace around me, so much so that I mostly just tune it out. But this went above and beyond:

Today, at Wheaton Metro, in the tunnel near the bus bays, a group of five or six young men was loitering near the wall of the tunnel entrance. Always being alert to safety issues, I was keeping an eye on them, but they weren’t gearing up to move or anything, so I wasn’t too worried. Just as my daughter and I passed, one of them said loudly, to his peers, “Is that a man, or a woman, y’all?”

I weighed the pros and cons of answering, and decided not to; their superior numbers, the astonishing regularity of violence against transfolk, and the fact that I could not and would not rely on any Metro staff or strangers to help me, had me just continue on like I’d not heard it. But my daughter and I were both angered and hurt.

Look, I realize that a lot of people don’t “get” gender-identity issues. I didn’t, for a long time, until it became clear that it *was* my issue. And I realize that I am not an attractive woman, very much. Fair enough. But comments like that are just rude and dehumanizing. Underneath the sometimes-confusing appearance of a transperson (particularly a new one), is a person who is undergoing some heavy-duty struggles; don’t make it worse, okay? I don’t ask that anyone accept my decision to transition, or endorse it in any way–just give me the respect that is due to any adult human.

Thanks, Holla Back DC!, for creating a place where it’s safe to say, “Don’t do that, please!” It’s empowering, and it’s been good to read the stories of others who have said ENOUGH!

Submitted by DRB on 4/24/2010

Location: Wheaton Metro

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

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Yuppie Harasser – Power Play

Cross posted from Stop Street Harassment Blog:

Today, a 20 to 30-something male in a business suit harassed me near the corner of 14th and T Streets NW in Washington DC at about 9 A.M. He was clearly going to work and was in a hurry. The man decided to cut the corner and walk in front of me and my dog. At the same time, my dog saw a bird behind the man and walked towards the man. I stopped my dog, but my dog’s first reaction to walk towards the man caused the man to have to pause. Apparently stopping was too much of an inconvenience for the man. He glared at me and came closer to me. I apologized for my dog and told him I was working on the dog’s behavior around birds. Then, the man kept walking the other way, towards his destination, and after he was about 10 steps away, he yelled back at me at the top of his lungs, “There’s something else you can do. Control your dog!”

First I felt humiliated but then I felt angry, helpless, and disgusted. There was nothing I could do to tell him that his behavior was inappropriate and infuriating. I also became very aware of the power differential between us. He’s a male and I’m a female. He was wearing a business suit (a sign of his higher class status) and I was wearing workout clothes which did not necessarily reveal anything about my class status. I thought for a split second that if I were a male in a business suit I would have followed after him and told him that he was a coward for yelling at me while he walked away. I was shaky and unsteady on the inside. Then, I tried to focus on my dog. My dog had sat down politely and was waiting for my next cue. I thought about how I wanted to enjoy the nice morning and spring air with my dog and didn’t want the harasser to ruin my morning. I took some deep breaths, tried to acknowledge my anger and move on. I suppose I partially succeeded for the r est of my walk, but I am still feel angry enough that I immediately came home and looked for this website to share my story.

Submitted by E on 4/12/2010

Location: 14th and T NW

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


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Attack in McPherson Square Metro

Photo by a loves dc via flickr

Josef*, thank you for the work you are doing with Holla Back!…you are amazing. There have been many instances of sexual harassment that I have seen and been a victim of in D.C., but one stands out more than others. I have wanted to get this off my chest for a while.

I was walking down 14th st to the McPhearson Square Metro with another female friend of mine after a nice evening in U Street from an office social at around 10:30 PM on a Thursday night…we were on our way to babysit a sculpture in front of the Capitol Building (activist/protest art that the government couldn’t deem a bomb and destroy if there were people around it at all times). We had had some beers with our pizza, but were not drunk. That nightclub, The Park, was having it’s grand opening party and the street was filled with people, as well as a few police cruisers. Right before we reached the crowd, a huge black SUV rolled up next to us on the sleep and these guys started yellin g “hey baby” at us. At first we ignored them, but they kept yelling and I flicked them off. My friend told me to stop, that she had a bad feeling, and sure enough, the “hey baby” turned into “FUCK YOU BITCH”.

We started walking faster, passed the crowd of people and were right in front of the I+14th Metro entrance….all of a sudden the SUV pulled up and two men got out and started running toward me and my girl. I ran toward the Metro, looked behind me and couldn’t see my friend or the guy who came after me….I peeked around the corner of the elevator, terrified that they had grabbed her and pulled her into the car, when the guy who ran after me saw me and started walking toward me, yelling obscenities…I raised my hands, palm up and said…”I’m really sorry, I just need to find my friend.” He picked up a trashcan and threw it into my body. After I fell down, not feeling anything from the adrenaline racing through my body, I bounced right back up and said the same thing, p alms still upturned. He walked toward me, screamed “BITCH” and slapped me across the face.

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