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We got a mention in yesterday’s Observer magazine! Columnist Eva Wiseman asks ‘Is street harassment the next feminist hurdle?’
You can check out the whole article here.
Site hits rah-rah-rocketed to 384 unique visitors, from 40 the previous day. Hello, or indeed Holla! to our new readers.
I usually take the random comments and sexual gestures from men desperate to prove their virility in their stride, but this one really shook me up in October 2010. Maybe I should have reported it, but I didn’t.
I was walking back to the station from an interview nearby in broad daylight. A boy (maybe 15 or 16) turned the corner coming the opposite way. As we came closer to passing, I saw him doing something with his trousers – I thought he was going to get a knife out and mug me, and tried to walk quickly and look straight ahead, realising as I did so in my peripheral vision that he was waving his penis at me. He muttered something disgusting, along the lines of “Wanna suck it?”
I think what surprised me about this, freaked me out to be honest, was that he seemed very confident, aggressive etc. despite me being ten years older than him and wearing a suit. I really feel like if it had been dark, or he was a bit older (which obviously he will be soon), it wouldn’t have been a harmless flash. I’m from London, I’m streetwise, and I know when something feels really, really wrong.
We came across this rad new submission-based Tumblr - Microaggressions.
Like Hollaback, it’s a safe online space for people to recount their everyday interactions and discuss how that made them feel.
The term ‘Microaggression’ was originally coined in reference to interactions around race, but the interactions on the Tumblr speak to every kind of socially constructed identity (e.g. sexuality, class, religion, or education level.)
It was founded by David Zhou and Vivian Lu, students at Columbia University. Their powerful intro sums up the project well:
“This project is a response to “it’s not a big deal” – “it” is a big deal. ”it” is in the everyday. ”it” is shoved in your face when you are least expecting it. ”it” happens when you expect it the most. ”it” is a reminder of your difference. ”it” enforces difference. ”it” can be painful. ”it” can be laughed off. ”it” can slide unnoticed by either the speaker, listener or both. ”it” can silence people. ”it” reminds us of the ways in which we and people like us continue to be excluded and oppressed. ”it” matters because these relate to a bigger “it”: a society where social difference has systematic consequences for the “others.”
but “it” can create or force moments of dialogue.”
That moment of dialogue is what we’re all after. Many forms of street harassment can be viewed as an instance of microaggression, off the cuff, everyday comments that are inversely proportionate to the outrage and anger they cause in the person on the recieving end of another wolf whistle, another instruction to ‘Smile!’ Check it out here.
Monday morning on my way to work, some builders started tooting at me and shouting so I gave them a mild piece of my mind with a one finger salute and went on my way. They waited for me around the corner and attempted to hit me off my bike by opening their car door as I rode past…sadly didn’t get their registration details but just shows how quickly perpetrators of street harrassment can become violent.
This incident will not, however, stop me responding to street harrassment with a swift emotionless “fuck you” occassionally followed by a “you disgust me”….the fight goes on ladies x
New submission from Kateos
Was accosted by an inebriated pensioner while travelling on the central line between Holborn and Liverpool Street. The old fossil, who was with his two adult sons, collapsed onto the seat next to me and leaning in, aimed his booze-laden breath in my direction: “smile love”.
He repeated this as the tube edged eastwards. Just before we arrived at Liverpool Street, he whispered that he was getting off at this stop and broadcasted to the whole train that he’d like to go home with me. His sons stood there laughing the whole time, amused that their father was trying it on with a woman 40 years his junior.
They all staggered off at the next stop and I continued on to Bethnal Green, where I took the train back to Liverpool Street just to avoid running into them again.
Submitted by Siobhan
Submitted by AG
The event occurred 13 year ago when I was 14. I was at a party and was talking to a guy who was 19 and seemed pleasant enough but with hindsight seemed keen to fill up my drink. I know now I shouldn’t have been drinking vodka at that age but was just having fun with the girls.
He offered to take me to the shop as I think we had run out of mixers or whatever and I trusted him.
I got in the car and asked him why he was going in a different direction to the shop… He then pulled over in an isolated layby and sexually assaulted me.
I recall crying and saying ‘no’ over and over. He only gave up trying to have full sex with me because I struggled and made such a fuss. I asked him to take me back to the party so I could find my friends and when I got back they had all given up on me and left.
I went to the loo to sort myself out and get my head together and another guy followed me in and tried it on. I screamed at him to get out and meanwhile a nice guy who knew me was trying to sort me a lift out. He didn’t know what had happened but could see I was upset. He got me a lift but unfortunately with the guy who had taken me in his car in the first place. I begged the nice guy I knew to come with us – didn’t explain why, just said I needed to get home and needed him to make sure I got to my friend’s safely.
To this day, I regret not reporting this incident but at the time, I totally blamed myself. It took me a year to realise it wasn’t my fault – didn’t help that my friends didn’t understand what I was telling them. They just thought I was pissed.
I wish I had told someone and will always wonder what if. However, some wicked person who takes advantage of young teenage girls isn’t going to ruin my life.
I used to work front of house for a quirky South-London club, where I encountered all kinds of harassment situations on a weekly basis. Some of them I laughed off, some of them I didn’t. I was very good friends with the head of security, who used to take very good care of us and deal with anyone who made us uncomfortable. He had a friend who used to come in on a regular basis, and, although I’d never spoken to the guy, I knew who he was. About a year ago, I finished my shift and went to join the big party that was happening inside.
This guy (the friend of the security guard) was also there, and at various intervals throughout the evening found his way to groping my ass as I was walking past him. As I said, I’d never spoken to him, but knowing he was a friend of a friend, I decided to ignore it (usually I’m pretty confrontational in these situations!). By the 4th time, I was pissed off, so I went to my friend’s girlfriend and told her to have a word with the guy, before I caused a scene, because I didn’t want to put my friend in the position of having to mediate between the two of us. He didn’t try it again.
Several months later, my friend came to me and told me that this guy had asked whether I was single, as he’d like to ask me out. I said that if he wanted to say anything to me, the first words out of his mouth had better be an apology, and explained to my friend what had happened several months earlier. He was shocked and said that he’d had no idea and would have a word.
A week later, I was sitting at the front door when this guy came in. My friend took him to one side and told him what had happened. He then came to me, mortally embarassed, and said that he had no recollection of what he’d done because he’d had too much to drink, but that there was no excuse for his appalling behaviour and that he was sincerely sorry for offending me. He told me that he’d understand if I said I never wanted to see him again, but that if I would let him, he’d like to take me out to dinner to apologise. I have the utmost respect for anyone who is man enough to swallow their pride, look someone in the eye and offer a sincere apology, so I agreed to go to dinner. He apologised profusely again when we went out and we subsequently dated for a few months. I can honestly say that he is one of the sweetest, most genuine and respectful men I have ever had the pleasure of knowing.
So sometimes hollering back has pleasantly surprising consequences! Who would have thought?
Years ago I was flyering outside of a bar in Soho fairly late at night. I was making small talk with the bouncer to pass the time while handing out flyers to the bar patrons going in and out. The small talk was fairly normal, but started to turn sexual in a seriously creepy and scary way. The bouncer began talking to me about how he really liked to hit women because of the way it made him feel, and how he loved to stick his toes in women’s vaginas. He then told me that he would love to “kick me in the cunt” to get his toes inside me. He said this all with a look of sheer pleasure on his face; his eyes kind of glazed over at the thought of it all. It made me super uncomfortable, but I didn’t say anything at the time because I was about 16 years old (it was eight years ago or so) and scared more than anything. It didn’t help that he was absolutely massive. 24-year-old me would love to tell him exactly what I think now, though!
10.30 in the evening, Monday night, man loitering around my front door, when I put my key in the lock, he started to approach me, calling me a “Dirty ho”. I Really shouldn’t feel the need to justify myself, but was covered head to toe, winter coat, trousers etc… Felt threatened going into my house as worried he would push in after me, took my key out of the lock and tried to get past man, he started yelling that i was “Good enough to fuck” and tried to grab me, put my hands up and he punched me heavily in the face. In shock I bolted towards him grabbed his shoulder and screamed for help, he was spooked and ran off, terrifying. Reported to police. Young black guy wearing beanie hat, short hair, puffa jacket, stocky. Still shaking….
About 2 months ago as I was promoting my club night at a club which I also work at this guy groped me quite heavily as I walked past him. I turned around just in time to see him withdraw his hand and went up to ask what the fuck he was doing. He was quite drunk (I was completely sober) and just looked at me stupidly and said something on the lines of “What no it wasnt me” at the same time as he was laughing, I was seriously furious so I went to get the bouncers to get him kicked out.
He has been back in the club a couple of times since then and I haven’t really done anything about it although it has made me feel very uncomfortable, so last week as I was attending my friends night he was there again and I asked the bouncer to throw him out. The thing is that I feel bad about doing that, I feel like I was making a scene and that it was maybe unnecessary because he was drunk etc, it’s kind of ridiculous that I, being the harassed one should feel sorry for him, being a drunken moron… the social attitude towards harassment really needs changing, I really shouldn’t have to feel bad and like I am making a dramatic scene when he is the creepy scumbag perpetrator.