“Cultural machismo in Latino communities”

March 30, 2011

I would grow frustrated and nervous to walk to and from school as a high schooler, in the early 2000s. I would best describe myself, then, as a very conservatively dressed and studious Latina usually wearing a large backpack, casual jeans, my hair tied in a pony tail, and a baggy sweater to hide my large breasts. On a daily basis I would get cat-calls at least twice a day by much older Latino men who took the time to role down their driver’s side window, slow down street traffic, hang out of their truck or car, just to whistle or say, “Hey, mamasita!” All I wanted to do was flash my middle finger, but I was honestly too scared to do such a thing, not knowing what that man may do to me and also because I would usually walk by myself.

What disgusted me the most was the fact that a Latino man, that could have been my father’s age, felt the urge to address me in such a way that was abusive and clearly lacking any human dignity or respect. Because of my experience with constant verbal abuse in public spaces I felt certain that I would one day get kidnapped and raped. Fortunately, that never happened to me.

I am happy that today I no longer live in Southeast Los Angeles, specifically in the city of Cudahy, but I fear for those young girls and women who continue to interface (and some who accept) c

The questions I would pose to all those Latino boys and men are: Why do you think it is okay to cat-call or whistle at a female? Would you do that to your sister, mother, tia, grandmother or family friend?

– Anonymous

Location: Clara Street, Cudahy, CA

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Constant harassment in San Francisco

May 12, 2010

I’ve been living in San Francisco, CA, for a couple of years. I’ve been harassed a few times and I have heard a lot of stories from female friends who have been harassed on the streets of SF.

The first two times, I was visiting SF. I was harassed twice a few days apart. The creeps must have seen that I was a tourist, and figured that I was easy prey. The first guy was standing next to me at a stop light and said he liked my outfit. I said “thank you” and then I ignored him. Next he said that my outfit was “sexy” and when I got peeved he said that I “must want to be looked or I wouldn’t dress like that” and that “I should go hang out with the rest of the whores”.

Afterwards, I felt both shocked and vulnerable and I never wore the same outfit again, even though it wasn’t revealing at all.

The next time, some creep asked me if I needed directions and when I replied, “No, thanks. I’m fine,” he got really irritated and began mocking me.

The third time, a guy saw me reading a map and he was very adamant about giving me a ride in his car to where he was going. He seemed very friendly, but thankfully, I had the common sense of saying no.

The train can be scary, because you can’t easily get away from a guy who, for e.g., says you look good in your leggings or whatever and then gets peeved when you give him the cold shoulder.

Once, on the train, a guy was standing right next to me, it was very crowded, and I had to pretend the whole time that I couldn’t hear him talking to his friend about what my “p***y” must look like.

Another time the train was extremely crowded, and the guy behind me was “bouncing” more than the train was, and I felt something hard on my thigh.

Countless times, I have been hollared at on the street and stared at very inappropriately.

I wish there was something to do, besides ignore these guys, but I feel like there is a long way to go before women can feel safe and respected on the streets here, regardless of their age, looks, outfit etc.

– K.

Location: San Francisco, CA

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.


“He had no right to touch me”

January 22, 2010

Some dude grabbed my butt when I was getting food late last night. There was plenty of room for him to walk and I gave him a wide berth, but he walked very close to me and touched my butt very deliberately, then walked off all cool like. I gave him disgusted and annoyed looks from across the room but he ignored me and kept talking with his friends, even talking about following his female friend home to “make sure she’s safe.” He sounds like a stalker-rapist and he had no right to touch me!!

– Heina

Location: Albatros in Mission Viejo, CA

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.


If You Don’t Engage, You’re “Racist”

October 9, 2009

Macarthur BART station via Yelp.com

Macarthur BART station via Yelp.com

I’m a 20 year old South Asian woman living in Berkeley, CA, USA. I was riding the 18 bus to Macarthur BART station in Oakland around 8.45 at night. I was sitting near the front of the bus reading a book and listening to music. There was a black man in his 30s sitting in front of me, who turned all the way around in his seat and staring at me. I managed to ignore him for a while, but when I took one earbud out of my ear to adjust it, he took that as an invitation to tell me I had beautiful hair. I smiled very slightly but didn’t say anything and went back to my music and book.

He kept talking to me, in a raised voice so as to be heard even above my music. Finally I took my earbud out again and said very quietly, “If you don’t mind I would just like to read, thanks”.

He proceeded to get very angry and began calling me an “uppity bitch”, a “fat ho”, and a “racist Indian cunt” who thought I was “too good to talk to a black man”.

I kept my eyes down because I really didn’t want to give him any more reason to follow me off the bus and he eventually stopped cursing at me and walked to the back of the bus.

I’ve lived in Berkeley for three years now and I’ve been catcalled, whistled at, had my appearance remarked upon multiple times but this was the first time I was actually worried I was in danger. Sometimes I hate living in this area.

– anonymous

Location: Berkeley, California

[editor’s note: see this blog post for how common this man’s reaction is.]

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.


Serial groper along “the View”

September 2, 2009

Via WorldWidePhotoWalk

Echo Park, via WorldWidePhotoWalk

In separate incidents, police say an unidentified man grabbed three young girls from behind and groped them as they walked on streets around Belmont and Bellevue streets (“the View”), overlooking Echo Park in Los Angeles, CA. In two of the incidents a lone girl was walking to school along a pedestrian walkway. In a third incident, he groped a 12-year-old girl walking with her mother. Chances are he’s groped other girls who haven’t reported him.

From ABC News in Los Angeles, CA:

“The suspect is described as a Hispanic man with a dark complexion, between 18 and 30-years-old, about 5’4″ tall, around 150 pounds.  He has short black hair, a mustache, and acne.  Anyone with any information is asked to call Rampart Division detectives at (213) 484-3624.”