At the end of every year, I like to look back, document and reflect on everything that has transpired in the global movement to end street harassment and assault. Yesterday I wrote about 10 of Stop Street Harassment’s achievements. Today, I’m posting a five-part series about the highlights of ALL activism that happened this year (PDF format). WHAT A YEAR!
Post 1: New anti-street harassment campaigns, new initiatives within existing campaigns, and protests.
Post 2: Creative anti-street harassment initiatives.
Post 3: Government initiatives/collaborations
Post 4: New studies, reports, and significant news articles.
Post 5 (this one): Stories about 25 people who stood up to street harassers this year.
1. In Seattle, Washington, as a woman walked down the street she heard a man shout, “Hey baby, hey baby…” from across the street. When she ignored him, he ran across the street and started following her shouting, “Hey what’s wrong with you, you prejudice? You’re prejudice aren’t you…” (she was white and he was black). She got mad and shouted, “Yes I’m prejudice,” and he looked shocked. Then she said, “I’m prejudiced against men who stand on street corners shouting at women!” His shocked expression changed to one of thoughtfulness and as he turned away he said, “I’m going to think about what you just said.”
2. When a man groped Dawn as she walked to her bus stop in London, she pulled her headphones out and screamed “HOW DARE YOU GROPE ME, YOU DISGUSTING MAN!” A man two metres in front heard her and shouted at the groper, “What are you doing? How would you feel if it was your sister?” The groper looked shocked and ran off.
3. JR was at a gas station payphone in Memphis, Tennessee, when she said a guy getting gas started cat calling her. She was enraged and yelled back at him, “Are you f-ing kidding me?? Has that EVER really worked for you???” He jumped in his truck and left.”
4. When Maureen was at Home Depot in Maryland, she heard a voice behind her say, “Looking good, little mama.” She whipped my head around and without hesitation responded, “Excuse me? I’m not your little mama, don’t think you can speak to me that way. Move along.” He was obviously shocked that she called him out and embarrassed, because everyone else in the isle turned around and stared at him.
5. After observing men at a construction site in London harassing women day after day, Jen filled out a comment card and emailed the company. She received this message from the Head of External Communications, “Dear Jen, I want to let you know that the investigation has begun and whilst we carry out the investigation, the individual is not currently working at our site… thank you for bringing this to our attention. Our Project Director and I would be more than happy to meet with you if you wish.”
6. A woman riding the CalTrain leaving San Francisco, California, was told by a man who’d been leering at her, “Nice legs, very sexy.” She give him a death stare and he turned around, but then leers at her a few more times. When she got up to leave the train, she stood by him and calmly but firmly and loudly said, “The reason I did not respond to you is because what you said to me was sexually aggressive and made me feel threatened…” He apologized and seemed really ashamed and she felt better.
7. Priscilla Dang was running in Vancouver, Washington, when two teenage boys bicycled past her and one of them groped her. She knows kung-fu and she “pushed one of the teenagers to the ground and made him apologize. When the second teenager called her a derogatory term, Dang says she snapped, hitting him in the face several times while simultaneously dodging his punches. According to The Columbian, when he pulled out a knife she used his bike as a shield until a passerby showed up and called 911…The 18-year-old suspect is now facing fourth-degree assault charges, while the 16-year-old will be judged by a juvenile prosecutor.”
8. When a construction worker in Melbourne, Australia, looked HD up and down and told her she looked hot, she replied loudly “I don’t know who you are. We’re not friends.” all without breaking stride.
9. A man on a bicycle sexually assaulted Liz Gorman was sexually assaulted in Washington, DC’s Dupont Circle. She reported the incident to the Metropolitan Police Department and wrote about her experience on the blog of Collective Action for Safe Spaces. Within days, the post had set off a viral reaction, both locally and nationally. It was republished by The Washington Post, Jezebel and Fem2.0. It has been reported on by The Washington Post Local (front page Metro section!), WJLA, WTTG FOX, DCist, DCblogs and the Washington City Paper. The police were eventually able to find her assailant and he admitted to assaulting numerous other women.
DC Breaking Local News Weather Sports FOX 5 WTTG
10. Jackie in Savannah, Georgia: “I was walking home from school and a car followed alongside me for about 10 minutes, constantly asking me if I wanted a ride several times. The last time he asked I looked him in the eye and said, “You’re obviously not going any faster than I am, so why would I want a ride?” He sped away.”
11. In Manhattan, Athena told a harasser he had “bad manners” after he yelled, “I love you and that ass too,” at another woman who had just passed by him.
12. A group of young men harassed a 50-year-old woman named Anne as she walked into a grocery store in Lindsay, Ontario, Canada. The manager of the store refused to do anything about it, so she decided to stop giving him her business and he lost her as a customer.
13. In Boston, a young woman would not let a public masturbator intimidate her during her trolley ride home from work. Instead she went into “She-Hulk” mode and lunged at him as he tried to run away. She called the police and he was arrested under the charge of “open and gross lewdness” and was ordered to stay off the public transportation system in the future.
14. In Brooklyn, New York, Kendalle was harassed by a construction worker who made graphic and disgusting noises and motions at her and commented on her legs. She told him, “That’s disgusting. Keep it to yourself” and kept on walking.
15. A man in Austin, Texas, asked to see a woman’s breasts when she approached her car, parked on the road. She paused and then said, “Actually that’s not okay because what you just said is harassment.” He claimed he was flirting and she said, “No, that’s not flirting, because you just made me into a sexual object and that is not okay.” They argued back and forth for a bit and then she said, “Just because I am a woman alone on the street doesn’t mean you can talk to me like that.” He said, “Well if that’s how you’re going to look at this then I can’t win…” She concluded by saying, “That’s how I’m looking at it.”
16. “A bus driver who used to tease female passengers by passing lewd comments and playing vulgar songs learnt the lesson of his life when he was beaten blue and black by two female passengers at [the] Bhatinda bus stop [in India].”
17. A woman was at a nightclub in Vancouver when a man approached her and engaged her in small talk. She politely responded back but then he said, “Nice tits.” She was shocked but looked him right in the eyes, and said, “Yours are pretty nice too.” Once he comprehended what she said, he was surprised, left her alone and then left the club altogether.
18. When she was on her way to meet a female friend, a woman was harassed by a man on a bus in Edinburgh, Scotland. The woman ignored him. When she and her friend came across him later, he harassed her again, so the friend confronted him. She told him that was he did was street harassment and that he shouldn’t harass women. As she said this, she pointed her finger at him “like he was a naughty child” and kept her voice steady despite her nerves. He stopped and walked away.
19. Yvonne likes to tell her harassers, “I don’t exist for you!” Once when she said this to a man harassing her at the bus stop, he was dumbfounded and walked away.
20. As “Rat Girl” walked through her neighborhood in Brooklyn, New York, an older man walking toward her waved his hand in her face as he passed by and said, “Good evening to you, with your sexy ass.” She stopped, turned around and said in a very loud voice, “That is incredibly rude!” He yelled at her as he walked away but she simply shouted back, “Don’t harass women on the street anymore!”
21. After a group of men started to cat-call a male ally’s friend, he noticed that she was feeling deeply uncomfortable. He asked her if he could do anything to help. She said yes. So he asked the harassers, “Who here respects women?” They looked around confused. He said, “It was quite a wonderful sight to see a group of harassers vexed about the answer to an easy question of respect.”
22. DG is an officer in the Navy and as she walked to an event in uniform in San Diego, California, a man asked her for money. When she turned him down, he told her she “had a tight ass and nice tits, and [she] could give him those.” Another man on the street said, “She doesn’t deserve that. She is an officer in the US Navy and she has given enough.” She thanked him.
23. A group of people were sitting outside a pizza place in Launceston, Tasmania, and as women walked by, the men in the group harassed them. DM observed them harassing other women and then was harassed by them, too. Once she got to safety, she called a friend, got the phone number for the pizza place and reported the men to the owner. She was pleased with his response: “I have been keeping an eye on them and it has been worrying me. Thank you for calling – that’s it, I will tell them to leave. Thank you for talking to us about it.” And she now goes out of her way to eat there since the establishment supports ending street harassment.
24. Emily was driving with the windows down in Sarasota, Florida, and she pulled up beside a pickup truck at a stop light. The two men inside the truck began whistling at her and laughing. She turned off her radio, turned to them and said, “You know, it’s really offensive when men whistle at a woman like she’s an animal. I don’t appreciate that. What you’re doing is called street harassment and it is unacceptable.” The driver said, “I’m sorry ma’am. I’ll stop tonight.”
25. Lauren Bravo in London put on her cape and became a street harassment crusader who used the “fake friend” tactic when she saw a man harassing a woman on a busy road one evening. She said, “I caught the girl’s eye and mouthed, “Are you ok?” to which she shook her head…“There you are!” I cried, launching myself on her.“Hi!” she faked, as I dragged her away. Then we stood together on the pavement miming friendly chat like a couple of am-dram actors, while Slug Man stared, lingered, and eventually slithered off back to his cabbage patch.”Share on Facebook