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I was aggressively propositioned by a man twice my age at a suburban gas station – he was surrounded by work colleagues who acted like it weren’t no thang.
I walked to the outdoor payphone at a very busy gas station at 8:30 on a Thursday. (Hello, 1999!) The payphone was on the front side of the building, within view of the gas pumps. An SUV was parked next to the car. A dude in the back seat had opened his car door and said, “Hi.” He was late 40s, I’m in my mid-twenties. He said,” How are you?” “Good.” Then aggressively, ” What are you doing?” “Living my Life, Man.” There were 4 other men in the car, dressed to go to work. Their t-shirts indicated they worked for an event company.
I had to go in the store and get more change. I came back out. He had the door closed, watched me walk up to the phone, opened the door and said, “Hey, Hey” I glare over at him. “I’ll pay you.” I started yelling at him, ” Did you just proposition me with prostitution? Shut the FUCK up. I’m going to call the fucking cops, right now. Don’t you DARE talk to me like that. Fuck you.”
He looked me in the eye, then lowered his head, and finally shut the door. None of the other men made eye contact with me, or apologized. I made a point of writing down their license plate & calling the event company.
HollaBack, keep it up!
Just to put this story in context, I am an Asian woman and this happened in broad daylight with a lot of people around. I was walking home alone from a workshop (about street harrassment, no less!!) when I noticed this man barrel through a few other people so that he’s walking in front of everyone else on the sidewalk. He kind of looked back at me and at some other Asian girls walking behind me and looked disdainful and irritated. I thought it was weird but I gave him the benefit of the doubt- maybe he was looking at something else entirely, or that was just how his face looked. After all of us crossed the street, the man paused on the street corner and shouted “Thickass yellow gook bitches!”, presumably at me and the girls walking behind me. All of us kept walking and I checked in with the girls behind me and exchanged a glance with one of them. Thankfully, we were able to keep walking without incident and the girls behind me were mostly bewildered and amused that this happened. I’m still shocked and weirded out, and the irony of this happening literally ten minutes after my sexual harrassment workshop ended is not lost on me. Harrassment can happen everywhere, at any time.
I got on BART by myself on my way back to Berkeley. As I sat down in a nearly empty train, I noticed an older man (at least 50 years old) behind me had leaned up in his seat. I thought it was kind of suspicious, but I didn’t think anything of it until he started saying “excuse me”. He started asking questions about my black hair and my ethnicity, and at first I didn’t think *that* much of it because he almost reminded me of my grandfather and I assumed he was awkward but harmless. He then started making comments on how nice my hair was, and after he tried to initiate conversation with me a couple times (with me ignoring him/facing forward in my seat) he says “excuse me” again and makes a grab for my hair and asks if he can play with it. At that point I got REALLY scared and moved away immediately- I got up to the door of the train and immediately got off at the next stop, then I walked down the station stairs until the train left. I was disgusted for a long time afterwards and irritated that in the moment I didn’t yell at the man or make a scene. I keep going back and thinking about all the things that I could’ve done better but in the end I’m just glad I was able to get out of there safely and get home. It was a nearly empty train and I did what I could in that situation. Still wish I’d been able to snap a picture though!
I was walking to San Leandro Bart in a short dress. I’m 16. A man, of at least 50, leaned out of his car and said “hey baby. I like the way you walk”. I was so gross and I wanted to barf because it’s not okay to hit on random 16 year old girls walking down the street. It’s not okay to try to hit on anyone walking down the street.
I was walking to the bus stop and noticed the man in front of me harassing the woman walking towards us. She ignored him, but I couldn’t. He slowed down and as I passed him he started in on me. I stopped, used my height to my advantage (I was a foot taller than he was), and told him that what he was doing is called street harassment. That’s all it took. He took off. I can only guess that because he was well-dressed (given the area, perhaps a paralegal?) that he felt entitled to treat women on the street that way.
I was waiting at the Downtown Berkeley BART station late one night, sitting on one of the benches and reading a book. I was one of only a few people there. This guy comes and sits down next to me and starts telling me how hot my ass is, and how he’s going to go home and jerk off thinking about my ass. It goes on for awhile. When his train comes, he says, “thank you for this, you’re so hot” and walks away. It was so awful. I just froze. I wish I would have had the presence of mind to say something to him, to tell him to shut up, to even get up and move, but I completely froze. I find myself thinking about where I’m going and when to try and avoid being harassed. For awhile I was wearing baggy clothing, but that didn’t really stop it.
I was just walking home by myself from having lunch with a friend near Unit 2 when some older man was taking pictures/doing something with a device on a tripod facing the sidewalk. As I was walking he was shouting at me to stop. He didn’t look like he worked for the city or anything, there were no barricades up so I was just like whatever I’m a pedestrian I have a right to walk here. Then as I kept walking he kept shouting at me then came up to me and grabbed my shoulder to move me and started yelling at me for being stupid and not knowing English. I just pulled away and told him I’m a pedestrian and I have a right to walk and got out of there as he kept shouting at me. I don’t even understand what just happened. I was upset afterwards for not being more aggressive and emphasizing that he had zero business putting his hands on me. I would have taken a picture but of course my phone was dead.
I used to believe I was the one with the problem. However, thanks to Hollaback, I realize I’m not the only one. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been harrassed by men off all races and ages. This has happened not only in the streets, but at school, social reunions, even at my church. I even left my job last summer because of I was constantly being harrassed by male customers. Since then, I have a hard time trusting me on the streets. However, enough is enough. No matter what I wear, men still keep on approaching me in a certain way that’s NOT okay. Like today, I was walking alone down the street wearing a nice, bright blue bussiness shirt to a graduate forum. When I’m walking, I see this fat, sweaty-ass older man who parks his motorcycle on the sidewalk a few feet in front of me. When this creep sees me, he gives me this nasty leer (by then, I was doing my best to avoid eye contact, looking straight ahead). All of sudden, he shouts at me, “Hey!” then he whistles and shouts again, “Excuse me! Excuse me! I got a question! Ma’am! MA’AM!!!!!!!!” The whole time, I ignored him. But I have to admit, I was scared as hell that he would run up to me an try to grab me or something. It was over, thankfully, but it still made me upset for the rest of the day.
I mean, just because I walk alone in the streets, that does NOT mean I’m an approachable person. Just because I wear a nice blouse or shirt, that does NOT mean that I’ll be nice to you. And just because I’m young, that does NOT mean I am naive or that I can be easily manipulated. I’m not sure if I did the right think by ignoring this guy; I’ve been taught by my mom and friends that I should just “brush it off” because men do it just to bother you. But I don’t think by constantly ignoring what men say will make the problem or situation go away. To be honest, I wish I could’ve said something like, “Excuse me! I don’t want to talk to you. So leave me alone.” But then again, I don’t know if my responce would have been an ‘invitation’ for him to keep on talking to me…I usually dress “ugly”(baggy jeans and a heavy hoodie) so men would leave me alone. But I realized that it doesn’t work. Whatever I wear has nothing to do with how men treat me. But it’s sad that when I do dress nice guys still come at me. I just wish I can have more support, but I’m glad for this website. Here, I do feel safe.