The Pixel Project is pleased to share the sixth 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
All visuals courtesy of Stop Street Harassment.
Empowering Response #1:
23-year-old Ruhi Rahman was riding the train in Newcastle, England, when a man started making racially threatening comments toward her. A woman sitting next to her jumped up to help her. After she intervened, most of the other passengers also spoke up and forced the man to leave.
Empowering Response #2:
Mercedes in Washington, D.C. faces a lot of catcalls during her early morning commute to work. One morning, men in a truck kept following and harassing her (“Good morning, sexy!” etc). She said, “Normally I would ignore situations like this because men tend to be bold because they’re in their vehicle, a confined space where they feel safe enough to make unflattering remarks. Ironic. I couldn’t keep walking this time, I was so fed up. I snapped and said, ‘Shut-up. Just shut the f*** up!’. Silence. They didn’t say anything else to me. I felt good about speaking up for myself …. Ever since I snapped a lot of the catcalling I normally experience in the morning and leaving work has declined tremendously.”
Empowering Response #3:
In October after the release of a 2005 recording of American president-elect Donald J. Trump engaging in what he calls “locker room banter” about forcing himself on women, many people spoke out against his behavior. The most visible response was on Twitter.
That night, author Kelly Oxford tweeted, “Women: tweet me your first assaults. They aren’t just stats. I’ll go first: Old man on city bus grabs my ‘pussy’ and smiles at me, I’m 12.” By the next morning, as many as 50 women tweeted their stories per minute of first-person accounts of sexual violence with the hashtag #notokay. Less than three days later, nearly 27 million people had responded or visited Oxford’s Twitter page.
Empowering Response #4:
Deanna Carter called out and shamed a man on the NYC subway who tried to masturbate in front of her. She said, “Rubbing your dick? What the f*ck are you doing? Do it again and I’m getting’ up out of this chair and I’m gonna bust your f*ckin ass on this train.” Then she told him to get off the subway at the next stop – and he did.
Empowering Response #5:
Illustrator Shehzil Malik in Pakistan became so fed up with street harassment that she created a series of images she called #WomenInPublicSpaces to “symbolise the struggle of Pakistani women who feel harassed in public spaces.”
Empowering Response #6:
Thanks to the hard work of activists in Nottingham, UK, the police force began classifying street harassment and other forms of misogyny as a hate crime and police began recording and monitoring it so they can look for trends.
Empowering Response #7:
A woman in Buenos Aires, Argentina, grew sick and tired of men harassing her during her work commute. One day a man on the street made kissy sounds at her. She turned around and told him to “stop harassing women” and “I don’t want to hear any more of your bullshit opinions about my body.” He smiled and started to harass her again. She said “I saw red, took the top off my coffee and threw the full thing in his face!” As she walked away, he called her a “Crazy, dumb bitch” but everyone around them laughed at him.
Empowering Response #8:
Milwaukee bus driver Sharon Chambers saw a girl waving in her direction. When she stopped for her, she saw that she was crying. The girl said a man had been following and harassing her. Chambers told her to get on the bus and that “no one was going to mess with her on my bus.” Chambers called the bus dispatch who notified the police. While they waited for the girl’s grandmother and the police, Chambers said, “Don’t worry about it. You are safe. I will fight for you; no one is going to hurt you.”
Empowering Response #9:
After a passenger made a lewd comment to an Alaska Airlines flight attendant as she demonstrated how to use a safety vest, she told him to be respectful. When he disagreed, she talked to other staff, and someone came and escorted him off the plane!
Empowering Response #10
A woman was walking home from work when she encountered two men walking toward her. “Hey girl, you look sexy,” said one. She turned toward him and yelled, “Mind your own business!” She said he got the point.
Empowering Response #11:
MJ is a light-skinned Hispanic woman who was at a California fair with her friends when two Hispanic men talked about grabbing her ass in Spanish, not realiaing she could understand them. She turned and screamed, “Go ahead and try!” They literally ran away.
Empowering Response #12:
A man in Florida liked to start talking to women in stores by asking innocent questions and then escalating quickly to inappropriate and sexually graphic remarks and questions. He filmed the women as he did so. After he did it to a woman for a second time in a few years, she recognised him and remembered his strategy and she began filming him and questioning him and ended up chasing him out of the store. He fled in his car but the police pulled him over and arrested him for reckless driving. He was then charged with video voyeurism too. Many other women came forward to report similar experiences.
Empowering Response #13:
Sarah in Denver, Colorado, was walking across the parking lot to go to work when she saw two boys across the street. One said, “I wanna lick your poop chute” and did an obscene tongue motion. His friend laughed. She noticed no cars on the street and rocks nearby and in a split second decided to cross the street and pick up a rock and threw it near him. He dodged it and ran away screaming, “You’re crazy!” She retorted, “Come back you coward! Come back and say something else to me!”
Empowering Response #14:
S.A. in India was going to meet her tutor when she noticed an ATM guard staring at her in a vulgar way. She was afraid at first but then “gathered courage.” She said, “Stop staring at me that way. It’s inappropriate.” She even threatened to hit him. “He felt quite guilty about what he did,” she wrote.
Empowering Response #15
A woman in Poughkeepsie, NY, was walking to work when two men working on the roof of a building started “hooting and hollering” at her. She stopped and yelled back, “I hope you fall off that building and are crippled for life because you’re already crippled in the head.” That shut them up completely.
Lucé Tomlin-Brenner said, “I’ve been verbally, emotionally and sexually harassed by men I don’t know for more than half my life. It’s happened while walking down the street, riding on public transportation, working retail/service industry jobs, on college campuses, and while performing on stage. It’s happened in every city I’ve ever lived, visited, or worked in. It’s happened at punk shows that are supposed to be my safe places. These are not compliments, they are violations. They are threats to my mental and physical safety.” In response, artist Olivia Britz-Wheat designed a “Not Your Baby” tattoo for her at Blacklist Tattoo in Portland, Oregon