16 Memorable Stories of Standing Up to Street Harassment 2017

The Pixel Project is pleased to share the seventh annual blog list of 16 memorable stories of women dealing with street harassment, which has been kindly compiled by Holly Kearl, Founder of our partner Stop Street Harassment and one of our 16 Female Role Models of 2010.

Through Facebook and her Stop Street Harassment website, Holly receives and shares stories of women fighting back against street harassment. She shares these stories to help raise awareness of this particular type of violence against women as well as provide inspiration and ideas for everyone on making public places and spaces safe for women. Almost 100% of women and girls experience street harassment in their lifetimes, ranging from the uncomfortable to the downright dangerous.

This list provides a starting point for all to learn about and discuss the impact of street harassment. We hope it’ll inspire you to take action.

It’s time to stop violence against women. Together.

– Regina Yau, Founder and President, The Pixel Project

Holly’s picture is courtesy of Stop Street Harassment.

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Empowering Response #1: Street Harasser Selfies – Amsterdam, The Netherlands

For a month, 20-year-old Noa Jansma, a student from Amsterdam, took selfies with every man who catcalled her to show how often it happens. Her 30 photos taken with men who willingly stood with her and didn’t seem to understand that their behavior was inappropriate or wrong went viral. Her project was covered by every major media outlet, bringing lots of attention to the topic. Only one man even asked her why she wanted the photo. She was harassed more than the 30 times, but other times felt too unsafe to ask for the photo or the man was already gone.

Empowering Response #2: Reporting an Upskirting Creep – Washington D.C., USA

A woman riding an escalator at a Metro station in Washington, D.C. felt a man’s hand go up under her skirt. She later filed a report at www.wmata.com/harassment and when the transit police reviewed the CCTV footage, they saw the young man had taken an upskirt photo of her. They also saw him do it to other women across that day at the same location. Later, thanks to her initial report, they were able to arrest him.

Empowering Response #3: Publicly Humiliating A Harasser – Chicago, Illinois, USA

CG was walking her dog in Chicago when a man in a work uniform knelt down to pet her dog. When he got up to walk away, he slapped CG’s ass. At first, she was stunned, but then she followed him for 10 minutes yelling that, “THIS GUY JUST ASSAULTED ME WITHOUT MY CONSENT” and “THIS GUY’S A PERVERT.” When he turned around and yelled that CG was “crazy” and “should go home and act like a lady,” she really let him have it. She said, “I’ll bet he thinks twice before he assaults someone again.” She suggests to others: “Calling them out on it. LOUDLY. And if you’re on the street and someone is calling a harasser out, go to her and ask if she needs help. Just be there in case the asshole tries to retaliate.”

Empowering Response #4: Publicly Humiliating A Harasser – Los Angeles, California, USA

Anonymous was getting onto a bus in Los Angeles and her husband and friends were boarding behind her. As she looked for a seat, a man stood up and pulled her onto a seat next to him and said, “You’re sitting HERE!” When she tried to get up, he pushed her back down. Anonymous said that’s when she lost her temper and yelled at him and pointed out that she wasn’t alone. When the guy turned to look, she stood up and shoved him across the aisle. His instinct was to look at her husband and worry he was going to hurt him, but the husband laughed and said it looked like his wife could take care of herself.

Everyone on the bus laughed at him then and the guy went to the front of the bus and waited to get off at the next stop. The bus driver yelled at him when he exited, “Don’t ever come back and leave women alone!” Anonymous said, “That was when I finally stood up for myself…I stopped tolerating harassment a lot after that.”

Empowering Response #5: Shutting Down A Pervert – Anonymous

One day as FM was waiting for the bus with a friend, a car driven by an old man stopped near them and he asked for information about a street. She gave him this information, and then he questioned her, “Do you enjoy sex?” She was very embarrassed and didn’t know what to say. Then he asked several other questions about sex before she asked pointedly, “Do I have to call the police?” and he left.

Empowering Response #6: Making Street Harassment A Crime – France

France’s secretary of state for gender equality, Marlène Schiappa, who has experienced street harassment directly, has spent the past few weeks working to make street harassment a national crime. Her efforts have raised a lot of important conversations about street harassment in the country.

Empowering Response #7: Cream Cakes Against Harassers – Scotland

FL was walking along a busy street in broad daylight in a town in Scotland. She was 14-years-old. A man who was part of a group of men walking behind her came up to her and stuck his hand up her skirt and groped her. She turned around, shocked and saw that they were all laughing. She immediately took the cream cake she was eating and smacked it in her assailant’s face.

Empowering Response #8: Calling Out A Pest – Texas, USA

Sarah in Texas was walking from her office to the bus stop when a man kept pestering her, following her and trying to get her attention. She said that finally, after another “just want to talk to you” comment from him, she turned to him and very loudly said, “I don’t want to talk to you!” He got the message and walked away.

Empowering Response #9: Flipping Off A Catcaller – Wokingham, United Kingdom

Heather in Wokingham, UK, said she was cat called by a man who sat in the passenger seat of a white van when she was walking to her car after work. She noticed there was a girl’s school very nearby and she worried whether he did that, or worse, to the girls. She gave him a withering look, turned around and showed him her middle finger before taking down the license plate of the van and reporting it to the police.

Empowering Response #10: Butts Are Not For Leering At  – Alaska, USA

When anonymous was 16-years-old and in a store in Alaska with her mom, an older man let them pass by him. Then he said, “I let you go in front of me so that I can watch you from behind. Oh, I’m sorry, that was a compliment, you should take it as one.” Anonymous said she felt scared, embarrassed and disgusting, but her mom turned to him and told him off.

Empowering Response #11: Preganant Woman Pushes Back  – Anonymous

Anonymous was walking down the street in Washington while 35 weeks pregnant. She noticed a white unmarked van driving very slowly behind her. Once the van was alongside her, the driver leaned out the window leering at her. He then said, “Oh yeah baby, daaamn.” She told him that she thought he was disgusting.

Empowering Response #12: Bus Driver Takes Action  – Manchester, United Kingdom

RP was 17-years-old and riding a bus with a friend in Manchester, UK, from school to band practice.  An older man in his 40s kept leering at her and smiling creepily. When the girls got off at their stop, he got off too. RP and her friend got on different buses at that point and the man got on RP’s bus. The bus was pretty empty, and yet he followed her and sat right by her. She got up and ran to the bus driver and told him she thought the man was following her. Her stop was coming up and it was in a remote area and she worried what he’d do next. Thankfully, the bus driver believed her and when she got off the bus, he didn’t allow the man to get off at that stop. Some of the other passengers assisted the driver. RP made it to her destination safely. She wrote, “All I can say is thank you to that bus driver and fellow passengers who stopped him following me inside the primary school. I’m also thankful I wasn’t headed home as he doesn’t know where I live.”

Empowering Response #13: Hauling Up The Police – Quezon City, The Philippines

When a 21-year-old woman experienced catcalling at the hands of police in Quezon City, The Philippines, she filed a police report. Street harassment is illegal in the city under a 2016 ordinance. The two men were charged with violating the ordinance and while they wait for sentencing, they have been put on leave from their jobs. This is the first case filed under the new ordinance.

Empowering Response #14: A Comforting Hand  – Rome, Italy

A man grabbed AC and he kept trying to pull her toward him on the street in Rome. When she broke free, she ran across the street into traffic to escape. She said when she reached the other side, “An elderly woman gave me a kind smile and patted my arm without saying anything. That gesture did so much to comfort me and helped me know that I’m not invisible.”

Empowering Response #15: Intervention With Luggage  – San Francisco, California, USA

When AH was riding the train in San Francisco, she noticed a man standing too close to a woman. She stuck her luggage between them and he moved and found a new target. AH kept trying to get his attention, but he ignored her, so she tapped the young woman on the shoulder and pointed out what was happening. He got angry and shoved AH’s bag, but he did exit the train. AH wrote, “I was very shaken up. I had never called someone out for harassing another person before, but I felt very protective of other women in that moment. People came up to me afterwards and said I did the right thing and they would have backed me up. The first girl also thanked me because she wasn’t sure what had happened until she saw him do it to someone else. I hope that my choice to step out will cause others to be aware of their surroundings and to speak up if they see someone being harassed.”

Empowering Response #16: Male Ally Does Good  – Texas, USA

Kensa was walking in Texas when a man on a motorcycle pulled up next to her and began paying her “compliments.” At first, she said thank you to appease him, but then he kept demanding she get on his bike and take a ride with him. He got angry when she refused and repeatedly pestered her until a man nearby intervened, saying, “You can clearly see that she is not interested. You’re scaring this poor girl.” This did not deter the motorcyclist at first and he kept telling her to get on, but the bystander stayed with Kensa and kept telling the man, “She’s not interested.” Finally, the motorcyclist left.

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Photo Credits:

  1. Picture 1 – From Dear Catcallers (https://www.instagram.com/p/BZeIQuoF6CZ/)
  2. Picture 2 – From ‘France considers tough new laws to fight sexual harassment and abuse’ (The Guardian/PDN/Sipa/Rex/Shutterstock)
  3. Picture 3 – Courtesy of Stop Street Harassment (www.stopstreetharassment.org)
  4. Picture 4 – From ‘2 cops lose smirk in QC’s 1st case vs catcalling’ (Inquirer.net)

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