Appalachian Ohio, Athens GA, Atlanta, Berkeley, Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Columbia MO, Des Moines, Fredericksburgh VA, Jacksonville NC, Los Angeles, New York City, NYU, Philadelphia, Palo Alto, Portland ME, Richmond VA, Rutgers University, San Francisco
Twice in the past month I’ve been harassed by cab drivers.
The first time I was with my girlfriend, and the driver kept saying he’d give us a deal on our fare because we were two beautiful girls. He kept going on about how women love him and how he was doing us such a favor by doing his job. He even made some homophobic comments which leads me to believe he had no idea we were together, and who knows what he would have said if he had known. Obviously we didn’t mention it.
The second time, I was alone, it was late, I was tired, I just needed a quick ride. The driver called me beautiful girl, pretty lady, multiple times, while still talking to someone on his phone. Call me crazy but I don’t find managing multiple distractions while driving too alluring.
While the harassment in these two situations may not have been the worst, the fact that these two men were literally in the driver’s seat of the situation is what makes them so alarming to me. They had total control over the situation, I couldn’t walk away. Thankfully they took me to my destination, but they could have taken me anywhere.
I’m walking south on Broad tonight, on my usual 20-minute walk home from work. It’s 5:30 and it’s already dark out. Typically I take the subway when it’s dark, but since it’s so early, I don’t expect anything too crazy to happen. Plus I’m thoroughly bundled – got my long coat on, with my hood pulled up over my hat – so nobody can see enough of me to want to engage in any interaction. Right?
Oh, except my ass is swaying in the most tantalizing way under my coat.
So you roll up behind me on your bike and give me a firm WHACK. Not hard enough to knock me over, but hard enough that I can still feel it an hour later. You don’t say anything, and neither do I, because I’m too disoriented to come up with anything good. I’m too mad to even describe my anger, but I know how angry I am by all the violence I wish upon you as I watch you ride away.
You’re bundled up too, so I don’t know anything about you, except that you ride a bike and grab strangers’ asses. And your disregard for my sense of personal safety helps me understand why our neighbors are so ready to kill one another.
A woman after our own hearts! After enduring a rather violent episode of street harassment, Rachel speaks out about the need for male allies to stand beside us, and ways bystanders can get involved, even if they wait for the harasser to leave before getting involved. We’re sorry you had to experience that harassment, Rachel, but thank you so much for contributing to the discourse about street harassment, and what we need to do about the current permissible culture surrounding street harassment and violence against women.
An excerpt is below, but the entire post is more than worth the read (and, a share if you are as compelled as we were)!
Women can’t fix this alone. We can get angry, we can defend ourselves. But if the problem is a category of men who at their core believe that we are not equal- to the point where they freely victimize us on the street- how can we expect to reason with them? How can we expect them to take us seriously? Believe me, it’s slightly difficult for me to concede to this as a liberal, feminist woman, but we aren’t going to accomplish anything without men on our side helping us. You don’t even have to campaign or crusade with us. You just have to stop being passive.
Sexual harassment against women is a man’s issue, much more than it’s a woman’s. A woman didn’t harass me. A man did. And other men watched.
So please, men. Good, secure men. Help us with this. Because it’s 2012 and this is getting exhausting.
…Let them know that what just happened was wrong. Ask them if they are okay. Talk to your friends about what you witnessed. Simple actions are significant.
Until men challenge each other, and the ways they define masculinity, gender-based violence advocates will be fighting a significantly more difficult battle than if we all stood together. Stand beside your sisters, daughters, friends, mothers – help us create a world where we are as free as you are to walk outside without being belittled and objectified and violated just because of our genders.
Everyday on my way to work I walk past the same cart that sells umbrellas, hats, water bottles, and other miscellaneous items. A little over a year ago, the man who owns that cart said, “Good morning!” with a smile, and I made the mistake of smiling back a “Good morning” of my own. Immediately, he took two large strides, got right behind me, so close I felt his breath on my neck as he said, quickly, with almost no pause between the words, “I love you I love you I love you beautiful lady.” I still feel his breath on my neck on the days he looks at me as I walk past him.
This past Tuesday morning, I was walking to work behind a man wearing headphones as we both walked past this man and his cart. He said nothing to that man in front of me, but as I approached, he said, “Good morning. You’re beautiful. Second beautiful woman this morning.” I wasn’t looking at him, I didn’t slow to talk to him, and I did nothing to intimate to him I had any interest in talking to him. He clearly didn’t care, as he was intrusive about valuing my body, and letting me know he’s comparing me to all the women who walk past him, and letting me, a total stranger who gives zero fucks about his opinion of my appearance, know where I fall into that comparison. It might seem innocuous, but who knows what he would have done had I responded, given his behavior last time I made eye contact with him? And, who knows how it would affect my body image or self-esteem knowing that STRANGERS are comparing me to OTHER STRANGERS, and telling me about it like I should care AT ALL about what he thinks.
As I kept walking past him, now totally pissed off, I noticed again the man with the headphones in both ears. If only I could drown out the world, and not hear the harassment – but then, I wouldn’t feel safe not being able to hear if people were approaching me from outside my peripheral vision.
It must be nice, feeling safe enough to wear headphones and listen to your favorite beats as you walk down the street without a care in the world! And, how unfair that I resent you for your luxury of just walking down the street listening to music through headphones!
Originally published by Hollaback Des Moines on November 13,2012 at 8:00 am.
Harasser’s all like:
So then I go:
But on the inside, I’m really like:
But because I didn’t go all
when I tell someone about it, they’re just like:
…it must have not have been that bad.
And then I actually go:
I was walking down the steps of the 15th Street Septa station last night, and there was a guy standing by the bottom step. When I reached him, he said in a low, quiet voice, “Yeahh, I’m nasty too.” At the moment, I was in a hurry and thinking about a thousand other things, so I just brushed it off his suggestion that I’m a visibly “nasty” person and walked past. But the more I think about it, the more it makes me angry.
This is a must read post from our friends over at Beauty Redefined on ways people are silenced and how to respond. If you don’t know much about Beauty Redefined, their mission is to literally redefine beauty, aiming to help ”girls and women recognize and reject harmful messages about their bodies and what “beauty” means and looks like”. They are out there talking about body image, using media literacy to help improve body image in women, and challenging our ideas of beauty.
A lot of the issues they address, and obstacles they face, are ones we face here at HollabackPHILLY. Specifically, they recently posted about ways people attempt to shut them down with comments “you’re just trying to make yourself feel better for being fat or ugly”, or “you’re so pretty, how would you know what it’s like”? At HollabackPHILLY, what we hear are “you’re too ugly to be harassed”, or “you’re beautiful, enjoy the attention, it’s a compliment”. What comments like those do are shut down the very real, necessary discussion that needs to happen about street harassment, why people harass, and the lasting effects the harassment has on the people being harassed. And, also, how the continued, unchallenged behavior of the harasser empowers him to continue harassing.
An excerpt from the piece is below, but we encourage you to check out the entire piece!
My automatic first response is the same as many girls and women: shut down the compliment. Dismiss it as an exaggeration or untrue (“No, really, I swear I’m not thin.”). … That derails the discussion and again, keeps it focused on my looks. Instead, I thanked her for the compliments and told her everyone’s perception of our looks is different, and we face both sides of that coin, which leads me to sharing with her (and everyone) my most important point of all: When we dismiss someone’s words due to our assessment of their appearance, we’re minimizing them to their body. We have got to stop that. One of Beauty Redefined’s most important mottos is “You are capable of much more than being looked at.” We focus on teaching women that they are not defined by what they look like, and teaching everyone to view and value women as more than a collection of body parts.
What we do is SO unbelievably far from telling people, “It’s OK if you’re ugly.” We’re showing people how their ideas of “ugly” and “beautiful” are distorted by profit-driven messages that are holding us all back from health, happiness and fulfilling relationships, and then teaching people how to redefine those ideas for themselves.
Cross-posted from Hollaback Des Moines‘s “Month of HOLLAday GIFs” series, originally posted on November 9,2012 at 10:00 am.
Cross-posted from Hollaback Des Moines‘s “Month of HOLLAday GIFs” series, originally posted on November 8,2012 at 10:10 am.
What he might expect me to do:
What I actually do:
Cross-posted from Hollaback Des Moines‘s “Month of HOLLAday GIFs” series, originally posted on November 7,2012 at 9:30 pm.
What he expects me to do:
What I actually do: