“Need a ride?”

May 31, 2010

I was repeatedly yelled, bonked, barked and whistled at while running (for exercise, not for my life). I was also asked 2 or 3 times if I needed a ride. All of the people were men.

– A. Brown

Share your street harassment story today and help raise awareness about the problem. Include your location and it will be added to the Street Harassment Map.

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Harassment is a health hazard

May 29, 2010

I’m with my partner visiting his grandparents in a very rural area of Virginia. This morning when I was running, men in a white truck felt the need to whistle a few times at my retreating figure as I turned off the road they were driving on. I was wearing a bright orange, oversized t-shirt from a race and blue running shorts, I was dripping in sweat in the southern heat and humidity. In short, I was the picture of stunning beauty so I bear them no ill will for their uncontrollable need to harass me while I was on what was otherwise a peaceful run.

Sike.

I have every right to go for a run without being harassed. That includes whistling, honking, sexual comments, and stalking. Twice in my life I stopped running outside for a while because I was getting harassed so much each time I went running and that was exhausting. Additionally, I’ve had the most vulgar comments made to me on my runs and I’ve been followed by men twice while running (= very scary).

I am not alone. In an informal survey for my forthcoming book, I found that one in four women exercise inside on at least a weekly or monthly basis because of actual or feared interactions with strangers in public, meaning because of street harassment by men or their fear of being attacked.

Since mentioning this fact in an Oregonian op-ed, I’ve done a few interviews in the last two weeks specifically on exercising and harassment, because this reality is striking a nerve.

In response to the AOL article I posted on my Stop Street Harassment Facebook group, one woman wrote, “So sad and so true. My boyfriend suggested I could save money by running outside instead of using the gym. I replied, ‘I can’t. I’ve got big tits.’

Imagine how many more women would exercise if they could do so outside safely and without harassment  since running outside offers a lot more flexibility and affordability compared to exercising at a gym. And we know that exercise is something we all need to be healthy. So, men harassing women is a health hazard. Seriously, think about it.

Anyway, I want to know, do you get harassed while exercising? If so, what impact has it had on your life? How do you deal with it? Do you have any suggestions?


“Unleash your Inner Death Metal Singer! Holla Back!”

May 28, 2010

One day, several years ago, I thought my boyfriend was whistling at me outside of our apartment, I turned around and made eye contact with the actual man who whistled at me, a stranger. I noticed he seemed shocked and uncomfortable that I acknowledged him. I realized no one really says anything back to these men and I really wanted to start letting them know that not all women will pretend it didn’t happen. I wanted to humiliate them by acknowledging his ridiculous behavior.

A few years later I was walking in Eugene, OR on 5th and Blair with a female friend of mine when a man stopped at a light whistled at us. Fed up with men treating my friends and me like shit, I turned around, and in my best death metal voice yelled “FUCK OFF!!” The light turned green and the man followed us slowly down the street. I kept my phone in my hand in case we needed to call for help. We approached a one way street and walked the wrong way so he couldn’t follow us anymore.

I felt scared that this man might retaliate against me for standing up for myself. But mostly I felt proud of myself and hoped that I could make a dent in the frequency in which men treat women like this. I am so fucking sick of feeling confined to my home in hopes of avoiding this kind of intimidation! Unleash your inner “death metal singer” and Holla Back!

– anonymous

Location: Eugene, OR

Share your street harassment story today and help raise awareness about the problem. Include your location and it will be added to the Street Harassment Map.


DC metro assault

May 27, 2010

I live in Washington, DC and got on the metro at Farragut North and was headed to Gallery Place/Chinatown. I saw a man staring at me in the metro station and it was extremely crowded. He would not take his eyes off me and I started to feel really uncomfortable. When I reached Gallery Place/Chinatown Metro Stop he saw me getting off and decided to get off the train as well. I was pretty certain that was not his stop.

He grabbed my right arm tightly and flung me against the wall as soon as I got off the metro. He started saying very inappropriate things about what he wanted to do to me, how gorgeous he thought I was, and how he could help me with my career. He told me to get out my phone and save his phone number and he was still grabbing my arm very tightly. Finally he let me go and just stared at me as I ran up the escalator. I couldn’t believe that among all of the hundreds of people in the metro station, not one person stopped to see if I was o kay, when I clearly looked uncomfortable, upset, and scared.

I never reported it and then about a week later I was in Starbucks and I hear a man behind me say, “SURPRISE!” It was the same man that harassed me in the metro station and I cannot even explain to you how startled I was. He said, “Look, I want to apologize, I think we got off on the wrong foot last time we met.”

Every emotion flew through my body at that very moment and I screamed at him and told him how inappropriate he was and how he should know better than to grab a woman like that. I told him he had no right to do what he did and he had no business following me into Starbucks. I told him I had no interest in speaking with him and I think every person getting coffee that morning heard as well. He tried to explain that he was a “professional” and why couldn’t we just have a “professional” conversation. He said he was offended that I thought so poorly of him.

Honestly, the whole situation was unbelievable. You always have to be careful because you never know who can be watching you or following you. That man clearly knew my route to work and followed me into the Starbucks that I go to every morning. Don’t be afraid to speak out and let people know when they do something that violates you and is absolutely UNACCEPTABLE.

– ZK

Location: Washington, DC

Share your street harassment story today and help raise awareness about the problem. Include your location and it will be added to the Street Harassment Map.


Train bridge harasser

May 27, 2010

I recently graduated high school. One day I was headed to lunch with some friends and I passed under the train bridge. I made the mistake of locking eyes with some guy coming in the opposite direction. I quickly averted my eyes, but after we had passed he circled back.

“Is your name Sarah? Are you a junior at __ High School?”

I told him I wasn’t Sarah and I wasn’t a junior. My friends and I tried to walk off. He walked with us. Still assuming I was under 18, he asked for my phone number. I turned him down and we walked off very quickly.

– anonymous

Share your street harassment story today and help raise awareness about the problem. Include your location and it will be added to the Street Harassment Map.


Two year anniversary book winner!

May 26, 2010

Chandni Parekh is the winner of tonight’s random drawing for a signed copy of my book Stop Street Harassment: Making Public Places Safe & Welcoming for Women (out Aug. 30) to celebrate the two year anniversary of my blog. Thanks everyone who entered and I’ll do another drawing on Aug. 30. to celebrate the book release. So stay tuned!

My housemates helped w/the drawing 🙂


It just felt good to fight back finally

May 26, 2010

There has been a union protest going on near my building for the past couple of months. Generally two men at a time stand on the sidewalk in front of the building they are protesting, all except one are always polite and stand at opposite sides of the sidewalk in order to let pedestrians get on with their business. This one I have had the displeasure of dealing with several times.

This stretch of sidewalk is on my way to the grocery store, so you can imagine how often I have to go down it. I always wear my full Goth regalia to the store because homeless live around the grocery store and sometimes try to mug people- I have found from past experience they are afraid of Goths. Mind you, I am completely covered from the neck down, so it’s not like this guy has much reason to bother me in the first place. Well, each time I would walk past he would try to pick me up.

“Hey baby, where you goin’ in those big ass boots?”
“Hey puss in boots!”
“Hey sexy dom girl!”

I finally had it one day and had already been rehearsing some choice responses in my head. The older gentleman that was standing with the offender had seen this guy harass me before, and upon seeing my approaching turned to the offender and said “Dude, just don’t. She’s not interested.”

This did not deter him of course, since it’s obvious that he is an idiot. He opened his mouth and had the gall to ask, “Can I have your number, babe?”

I turned heel, the first time I had actually stopped in front of him, and yelled, “No! Would you fuck off?”

He laughed and then said “Oh, yeah, well…I have bigger boots than yours at home!”

I turned and started walking away as the older gentleman shook his head, his hand over his eyes in disgust. I called over my shoulder, “I’m sure you do, we all need to compensate for something, don’t we?”

Thankfully I haven’t seen him since. I’m sure the older gentleman reported this idiot to the union and they somehow had him removed. It just felt good to fight back finally.

– anonymous

Share your street harassment story today and help raise awareness about the problem. Include your location and it will be added to the Street Harassment Map.