When we’re harassed, there’s not always time to respond or maybe we feel too unsafe or frozen to do so. And that’s okay. But what about when we do have time and feel safe enough to respond?
Here are 20 stories where women shared how they stood up to their harasser successfully.
Maybe one of their tactics will come in handy for YOU some day!
Do you have a story? Share yours today!
1. “You got great legs baby!” a 43-year-old man told Brittney, a 15-year-old girl, as she waited for the subway on her way to school in NYC. In response, she said, “Excuse me, you probably have a daughter older than me.” Unconcerned by that thought he said, “Sorry you just look so sexy in that schoolgirl outfit I couldn’t help it and you do have great legs.” Undeterred, Brittney said, “Sexual harassment is a crime, leave me alone or I will report you,” and the harasser hurried away. At the end of her story she wrote, “I count that as a win for me because I hear things like that all the time and I finally stood up for myself and said something.”
2. Allison in Massachusetts confronted a street harasser for the first time. A man said, “Smile beautiful,” as she waited for a bus. After freezing initially, she followed him and said, “Just so you know, it doesn’t make women feel good when you tell them to smile. Sometimes people have shitty days and they don’t feel like smiling. It’s offensive to just tell them to smile.” He apologized.
3. Beckie Weinheimer in South Beach, FL, built up the courage to stand up to men who harassed her several days in a row and she also reported them. The next day they were gone from their usual spot!
4. Elizabeth Owens in Washington, DC, fought back against men who were harassing her and her friends by yelling, “EWWWW” and making hand gestures. The men were surprised and silenced.
5. JT in Turin, Italy, announced to the whole bus what her harasser had just asked her (for a pair of her panties) and he got off the bus at the next stop in embarrassment.
6. Jen M. in San Francisco, CA, wouldn’t let a harasser bully her into “giving him a smile” and he left the bus stop.
7. Anonymous in Jakarta, Indonesia, told the harassers in her new neighborhood that she did not like that kind of treatment and that she would report them to their bosses if they continued. They apologized and have never harassed her again.
8. Anonymous in Brooklyn, NY, confronted her harasser, asking for his name and why he felt it was acceptable to degrade women. He covered his work badge and left, yelling an apology.
9. After a man grabbed her rear at a pub, Jen in London said to the group of men near her, “I’m a feminist activist, so whoever just touched my arse just made a really stupid mistake.” The men were horrified and later one of them apologized.
10. 22-year old college student Shyane DeJesus attacked, berated, and snapped a cell phone picture of a man who groped her on a subway platform in New York City. A few days later she picked him out of a line-up of suspects. She advises women, “Don’t let them scare you. They’re cowards.”
11. Bossy HBIC in Atlantic City, NJ, yelled and chased a man who purposely touched her rear.
12. Cate Burlington in Seattle, WA, told a man on the street who called her sweetie to not call her that and he apologized.
13. RDH in Tennessee was walking home after dark and a car started creeping behind her. The driver lowered the car window and asked if he could “hollar” at her. RDH was scared, but she still stood up to him. She asked him how he would like it if his mother or sister was walking and some random stranger came creeping up behind them. She ended up getting an apology.
14. LH in Lyon, France, advised women to give harassers “an angry look, a loud ” no!” or just a hiss; every reaction helps. They will never understand if we don’t express ourselves.”
15. Anonymous in Washington, D.C. said, “Stop harassing women” to a man who was harassing every woman walking by him as he stood outside Union Station. Her directive silenced him.
16. Tired of Being Harassed in Arlington, VA, stood up to a group of men who called her inappropriate names as she walked to work.
17. Tired of dealing with street harassers, anonymous in North Carolina (USA) decided to retort back when a man sitting on a bench outside the library told her she was “So Beautiful.” She turned and looked into his eyes and told him, “You’re not.” She wrote, “Commenting on a strange woman’s physical appearance is rude and insensitive – it is ugly. I don’t care if people look at me, but no one has the right to speak to me, touch me or approach me.”
18. Anne was at a McDonald’s in Vermont with a friend when she noticed a young man two tables over was leering at them. Then she noticed he was masturbating. She said, “Stop that right now! That is not okay!” He denied doing anything so she notified the manager on duty, and called the police.
19. After years of street harassment experiences, when a man groped Kate Spencer on a subway platform in New York City, she wrote, “Without thinking I turned around and hit him as hard as I possibly could. I didn’t even stop walking, nor did I say anything. I did turn around to look at him as I hit him, and his face was one of shock but not of surprise. He knew why I had hit him; he just couldn’t believe he hadn’t gotten away with it.”
20. On the ACLU’s blog, Robyn Shepherd recounted how a man whacked her butt when she was walking to work one morning. She ran after him. When she caught up to him she demanded, “You think that shit is funny? You like hitting women, huh? You think that’s the correct way to act? Whatsamatterwithyou?” and he said, “Ma’am I don’t know what you’re talking about.” She retorted with, “”You know goddamn well what I’m talking about. YOU DON’T HIT WOMEN, ASSHOLE.” Robyn ended up calling the police and four officers came to help her though he was gone by the time they arrived. At the end of her story, she notes, “I know what happened to me could have been a lot, lot worse. But someone doesn’t have to be raped to be humiliated, violated and hurt. Sometimes, all it takes is a smack on the ass.”