We are proud today to share the third annual blog list of 16 memorable stories of women dealing with street harassment which has been kindly compiled by Holly Kearl, Founder of Stop Street Harassment and one of our 16 Female Role Models of 2010.
Almost 100% of women and girls experience street harassment in their lifetimes ranging from the uncomfortable to the downright dangerous. Holly receives many stories of women fighting back against street harassment by themselves or with the help of friends, family and bystanders which is shared on the Stop Street Harassment website and Facebook page 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 ones for women.
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
Empowering Response #1: When a man began openly staring at EM’s friend’s breasts, she said really loudly to him as they passed him on the New Jersey street, “You should look where you’re going or you might fall.” He looked at her and she repeated, “Look where you’re walking.” Her friend laughed and he looked embarrassed.
Empowering Response #2: Photographer and Yale School of Art MFA student Hannah Price made international news this year with her series of stunning photos of the men who harassed her on the streets of Philadelphia, turning the lens and attention on them instead of her.
Empowering Response #3: Phillip in San Francisco, California, observed a man harassing every woman in the area. A few construction workers suggested the man stop, but he didn’t. So Philip got in his space and began making remarks about that man’s body and returned his misogyny. He said the harasser took off, almost running, while the construction workers high-fived Philip!
Empowering Response #4: Penelope lives in Sydney, Australia, and when construction for a new apartment building began next to where she lived, the constant harassment by the workers made her feel ill. She tried lots of tactics to avoid harassment but finally, she wrote a letter to the development company. It worked. She said, “I was stopped by the foreman and he politely let me know that he spoke to the men and have them stop the harassment and that if it happens again to seek him out or contact the company again.”
Empowering Response #5: Nayana was walking down a very busy road in Delhi, India. Suddenly, she felt a man “feeling up her front” with his hand. She said she was shocked! When she saw him smirking because he felt he was going to get away it, she grabbed hold of his collar and screamed at the top of her voice, “Police! Police! Help!” People gathered around her to help. The police arrived and she reported him. He ended up spending the night in jail.
Empowering Response #6: A woman was at the Metro in Virginia when she saw two guards harassing another woman. That woman cringed and walked quickly away. One of the guards then told the woman who observed it, “Let me see a SMILE on that pretty face.” She made eye contact and told him firmly, “Mind your business.” He giggled nervously and shut up.
Empowering Response #7: One day Irem was riding a city bus with her sister in Izmir, Turkey. A man would not stop staring at them. She stared back to try to make him feel uncomfortable and stop, but he just kept staring. So then Irem stood up and said to him, “Do you know us from somewhere else because you’ve been looking at us for ten minutes.” She said he was very embarrassed and that the other passengers, especially the women, laughed at him. He looked down at the floor for the rest of the ride.
Empowering Response #8: Emily pulled up beside a pickup truck at a traffic light in Sarasota, Florida. Her windows were rolled down and the two men in the truck whistled at her, 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 apologized saying, “I’m sorry, ma’am. I’ll stop tonight.”
Empowering Response #9: A woman was harassed by a man in an SUV while she wanted to cross the street in Minnesota, and then he drove away before she could respond, she wrote an open letter to him in the “Missed Connections” section of Craigstlist.com. Her amazing letter was shared all over the Internet and it ended with this good advice: “If you really find a woman beautiful, don’t choose the juvenile selfish route that makes her feel weird and you look like an asshole. Just take a deep breath, commit the image to memory, and get on with your life. Or, if it’s really that great of an ass that you can’t possibly survive without commenting on it, post about it on CL missed connections after the fact and let her decide what to do about it.”
Empowering Response #10: Sarah was visiting a friend in Buffalo, New York. As she walked through a parking garage to meet her friend, two men sitting in a truck rolled down their windows and shouted inappropriate sexual remarks at her. She turned around and walked up to the window, looked them both in the eye and calmly said, “I just wanted to let you know it is really rude to shout at someone like that, and most women do not appreciate it.” They apologized to her and said they were just trying to be nice and say hi. She told them how that behavior can be perceived as threatening. She says she “walked away feeling so positive and empowered, and I hope what I said had some impact on those men and their future behavior.”
Empowering Response #11: Robyn lives in Portland, Oregon. She was walking home from the grocery store with her seven-year-old stepson and her infant daughter when a man slowed down in his car to talk to her through his window. She felt hesitant to confront him with her kids there. Instead of driving away, the man followed and then paced his car alongside her and her kids. “How are you doing?” he asked. She stopped and said, “I’d be a whole lot better if you weren’t doing this.” He said, “I understand,” and drove away.
Empowering Response #12: A woman in Harrogate, UK, was harassed in the morning by a fundraiser. It bothered her all day that he’d done this and when she went home that evening, she confronted him. She wrote, “He turned out to be a very nice guy who was very apologetic- he hadn’t realised how intimidating his behaviour was and was glad that I had gone back to speak to him. Being the older brother of 4 sisters he was keen to express his abhorrence of men that harass women. I was pleasantly surprised at his attitude- he was happy to listen and learn. It gave me hope!
Empowering Response #13: Each time Maria’s sister walked from the bus stop to her home in Colombia, a man across the street yelled sexual comments at her. His harassment upset her a lot. Maria was worried that since the man knew where she and her sister lived, it could be unsafe for her to talk to him, so she talked to her sister’s boyfriend and he said we would talk to him. The boyfriend asked the man to please show respect for the women walking on the streets and to consider their safety. His admonition worked and the man never harassed Maria’s sister again.
Empowering Response #14: Christine was at a nightclub with a friend in Maynooth, Ireland, when a man groped her friend’s breast, then smiled as he walked away. Her friend froze in shock, but Christine “saw red.” She ran after him, matched his pace, and then reached around and grabbed his balls. She said, “He doubled over and I held on as I leaned in and spoke directly into his ear: ‘It’s not so nice when someone touches you without your permission, is it?’” She said she walked away and when she turned back, he looked very confused and uncomfortable.
Empowering Response #15: When D was street harassed by two different men in a short distance, she said, “No!” loudly to them each. A woman nearby saw both interactions and said, “Thank god for you!” and said something about how more people need to speak up against this. “I have to,” I said. “It [street harassment] is ridiculous.” D wrote, “I didn’t get a chance to thank her for supporting me in standing up against harassment. Usually when people see me standing up to harassers they either ignore it, think it’s funny, or tell me that I bring this stuff upon myself for taking harassment too seriously. So when I do encounter people who support standing up against street harassment, it feels great to know that there are people who think that this is a problem.”
Empowering Response #16: Fern was dressed up for an interview when two men on the street commented about her looks. She ignored them and one of them yelled, “What, you can say thank you?” She felt angry that a man expected her to thank him for his unsolicited and unwanted comments and asked him, “Why do I need to thank you? Did you do me a favor? Did you help me?” He was surprised and told her not to be uptight. She said, “I didn’t ask you to look at me. In fact, I wish you wouldn’t.” She then left.