Athens GA, Atlanta, Baltimore, Chicago, Cleveland, Columbia MO, Columbus, Denver, Des Moines, Duke University, NC, Durham & Chapel Hill, East Lansing, Flagstaff, AZ, Houston, Iowa City, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Lubbock TX, Manhattan KS, Muncie IN, New Orleans, New York City, Oneonta, Pittsburgh, Plattsburgh, Providence, Richmond VA, San Fernando Valley, San Francisco, Twin Cities, West Georgia (University)
(excert taken from my blog post – https://prker.wordpress.com/2015/12/16/how-to-combat-online-sexism/)
– On Valentines Day 2015, I was subject to the new craze of a generation, falling victim of a Youtube “Prank” Video. Now, contrary to popular belief, I am a feminist who actually has a great sense of humour, unfortunately this “prank” was no more funny than a pap smear, and instead was horribly degrading, offensive and for me, incredibly scary.
I was sitting eating lunch by myself on my break at work on a near empty street in central London, when this man in a suit approached me holding a box. I was 18 at the time, and my instincts for dick heads was already pretty heightened. So when this man approached me I was ready to do the usual completely ignore routine, because in London, a stranger doesn’t just casually approach you unless they want something, unfortunately for me, he just wanted Youtube views and a heightened sense of entitlement – at all costs. He promptly began to spout about how I had been cheating on him, and how he was dumping me. I’m not stupid and instantly thought this was some Sam Pepper bullshit, so I said, “Sorry, this isn’t funny can you just go.” at this point Sam Pepper would have apologised, done some stupid laugh and run off to try kiss some girls, or whatever it is he even does anymore. So when this guy began instead to throw the contents of his box at me, I didn’t think he was joking anymore.
Growing up, I lived in two small towns which both, in their own way, were very affected by drug abuse. So the only logical reason that I could think of for this guy’s behaviour was that he was going through some sort of drug induced mental snap, when in reality he is just a misogynistic asshole. So, as he is throwing dildos and knickers at me, saying things like “I use to like these, I use to like this smell!” and “You’ll never bang this cock again” my only response was “I don’t know you! Can you please just fuck off? I don’t know you!” – at this point I was standing and yelling in this guys face, hoping that he would leave. When that didn’t help, I asked for help from a group of people walking by. As I was yelling “Can you please help me, I don’t know this man?!” , the best I got was one man, holding his arms in the air, shaking his head, obviously not wanting to get involved because this guy had said he was my boyfriend, so there for no man could get involved in another man’s deal. No matter what was happening to the girl.
Disgusting right? Me, a young woman, 5’3”, screaming that I don’t know this man throwing sex toys at me on the street – who is about 27 and like 6’2” – screaming for help out the front of a full café and no one would help me, because no one wanted to get involved with someone’s personal issues. The best part was that I couldn’t stop it. Like so many other instances of harassment to women, I had to sit down and wait for it to be over, for him to grab his things and leave me there, with no explanation.
When I had finally stopped shaking and finished my cigarette, I got up from the table to return to work. Fuming, I eyed down all the staring faces from the gold fish bowl windows of the café and stomped off back to work. To make things better, as I turner the corner I saw him. And he smiled at me. He smiled like it was a fucking joke. That’s when I realised, it was. The rage of a thousand suns filled me and I let him have it. After he began to explain how it was actually a “Social experiment” and that it was for Youtube, and I called him every curse word I could think of, I told him not to put me in the damn video and him, being the spineless worm he is, said he wouldn’t.
When I saw the video it was a week later, his channel had over 600 thousand Subscribers, the video of me had 80 thousand views in counting, and there were 2000+ comments from random men telling me how I deserved be to raped, how they were going to rape me, and that how, me being a feminist was not only the reason the I should be raped, but a justification of why I deserved to be raped – to be taught a “lesson”.
It took me three days to call the police, and I was crying so much that I made someone else do it for me. Calling the police wasn’t even my idea; it was my boyfriends. I really didn’t think there was anything to do about it, because he had made me feel that there was nothing that I could do. I was embarrassed talking to police too, not just because of what had happened, but because it felt so stupid to be upset by something that other people thought was funny. But do you know what the funniest thing was, that the police took it seriously. Although they didn’t really know how to deal with it, they were glad I had come forward, they even knew who the bloody guy was! They said that no-one feels that they can do anything because people like him have this online presence, this “power” that seems justified by numbers.
Now lets fast-forward 8 months, I’m sitting in London Magistrates court. I haven’t really slept for a few days, it’s incredibly hot in the ‘Witness Care’ room and I’m still wearing my coat. In my hands is the balled up photocopy of my witness statement that makes me sick to look at. The door bursts open, it’s my legal aid and the witness care guy, my legal aid looks at me, and she says, “He’s pleaded guilty in front of the judge. You won.”
With those few words came a tidal wave of relief and fulfilment. The justification that – even though I had people telling me that nothing would happen, that I was being stupid and should be raped, that this man had more “power” and that I was nothing more than an object to be utilized for profit or will – my emotions and reasons for speaking out and doing something about it, although extremely tough, were real, and that feeling was like nothing I could define. Although it does suck that I had to take a man to court to show him that you can’t use women as tools for an egotistical self-gratification, and that I would not stand for it, I still did it. I even won!
The one thing I have learnt is that we need to remember to be strong, even if we don’t think we can. Being strong for one another, listening to each others stories and building ourselves into powerful women, and powerful men, who look after one another with respect, equality and an understanding is more powerful that Youtube views. We can’t be expected to stand alone in the face of inequality, sexism and the stupid bloody patriarchy, online or offline. You can always do something. You can always change something. You can win.”
After leaving an event with the girls we were walking back to the bus stop linking arms when I felt a hand brush up my skirt and touch my pants. Didn’t even realise he had creeped up until I felt his rough hand against my bare arse. My skirt was not an inappropriate length but that doesn’t matter, just as it doesn’t matter than you were old as fuck and smelled like you hadn’t showered in a fortnight. You could have been my type and I could have been in a bikini and it wouldn’t matter, you still touched me without my consent. The most haunting part of this whole thing is that you premeditated it with such engagement you managed to creep up behind three sharp women and do this. I will never forget running home and showering so intensely but not being able to remove the feel of your hand up my skirt. Thank you to everyone on Hollaback for inspiring my university project.
[Title: Not expecting this man to say anything but he did]
Walking back home from the near by bus stop and walked past a black male, possibly around 40 who was on the phone, stopped to say to me: “morning gorgeous, you alright?”. I completely ignored him with a blank expression on my face, looked straight on and carried walking on. This is the third time and second in a week an incident of street harassment has been done to me.
[Title: Parked car, man horned at me]
As I walked on this road with my headphones in, I hear a car horn behind me on the adjacent side of the road. I turn around and see a much older mixed race man smiling creepily at me. I felt I had to reroute my short journey home all because of this guy. This was the second of three incidents and the first on this road.
[Title: Street harassment quickly turned into Instagram harassment]
First of 3 incidents within four weeks. December 11th. Street harassment was never an issue for me in Colindale before and I am beginning to feel unsafe in my neighbourhood as these incidents are taking place in very close proximity to my home. I have been harassed on social media by someone I do not know who was trying to get my attention from his car while I was making my short journey home. I have no idea how he knows me or how he was able to spot me on the street and he was convinced I apparently knew him. I ignored his attempts to try and get me to come over to his car while he was in the drive thru at McDonalds. When I reached home I received a direct message from him. I had no idea who he was or how he was able to search me on Instagram just by seeing me from the street. He sent a photo of him in his car at that moment in the drive thru and asked why I didn’t come to his car. I asked him how he knew me and he refused to tell me, only saying I would’ve found out if I came to his car when summons. I asked him who he was and he kept telling me I would’ve found if i came to his car and spoke with him. We had no mutual followers on Instagram nor do I recognize him from his photos. I blocked and reported him on Instagram and I am now paranoid he may know where I live since he knows my name through my social media profile.
[Title: Unwanted attention]
Walking out of my house around 10am I get shouted at by men up some scaffolding. Two of them take turns yelling ‘hey! hey baby, how are you?’ and make kissing noises.
This is their truck and company.
A man sat next to me on the bus (even though there were plenty of other empty seats elsewhere on the bus) he sat very close to me getting closer and closer as the journey went on rubbing his leg up against mine, I moved my leg away from him, shuffled closer to the window made obvious physical gestures to make him aware I didn’t want him to touch me at one point moving his leg away from mine with my hand but he persisted rubbing his leg against mine. I ended up putting my bag in between us which meant he was no longer touching me but he was still extremely close and when I went to get off the bus he refused to move I asked him clearly to move his legs so I could get past and he still didn’t move I ended up having to slide across him. it doesn’t sound much but it upset me.
Last night for the second time in my life a man exposed himself to me on the Bakerloo Line, London Underground and proceeded to masturbate.
It was just me and this ill excuse of a man present on the carriage.
I felt violated, scared and damn right angry.
The last time this happened I reported the incident to the police to raise awareness that this type of thing is happening.
It is a heavily under-reported crime: TfL research suggests around 90 to 95 per cent of cases don’t get reported.
When giving evidence I was asked questions like “What was you wearing?”
“Did you do something to provoke him?”
Despite this insulting experience with the police, I will be reporting this incident. Studies have proven that those who commit such acts are likely to commit more serious crimes and assaults in the future
Mostly I will not contribute to a culture of silence.