Stalking, Verbal

“He started screaming insults at me…” – Cassia’s story

Tried to walk the short distance between the lightrail stop and my bank- as I was walking the first few steps I noticed a woman quickly running or almost jogging across the intersection towards me. She didn’t make eye contact or anything but I noticed a guy watching her from the direction she came from so before continuing onward I crossed to the other side of the street. Almost immediately the guy started yelling out to me but I kept walking ahead and ignoring him. Then he continued yelling and walking at my pace across the street. As I continued to ignore him he started screaming insults at me and was walking on the curb of his side of the street like he might cross. Luckily then I was able to duck inside my bank and made sure that he was gone and more people were out and about before heading back to the lightrail.

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Verbal

Men who feel entitled to yell at you in public.

I was walking down this street, a car drove by slowly since the light had only just turned green, and the guy driving said “You sexy as hell.” I yelled at the top of my lungs “Fuck you asshole, that’s street harassment!” It totally interrupted my good mood. Then my heart started racing as I approached the next light, hoping it would turn green before I had to walk past that same car again. I was bracing myself for a confrontation. In my experience men who feel entitled to yell a judgement on your fuckability at you in public will also get super aggro if you don’t take it as a compliment (as if). Luckily it turned green and he drove off before I approached, but I still felt paranoid all the way to work, that maybe he would circle the block and come back to yell something or throw something at me.

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Verbal

“He started propositioning her” – Jefferson’s story

A friend of mine wanted to meet up for an after work beer and discuss something on his mind. I get to the bar and he hadn’t arrived yet. I decided to sit at the bar, order a beer, and wait for him. Now, I do notice attractive people but I don’t stare, fawn, or flirt at random especially if they are serving me a beverage or a meal.

There is this guy sitting two stools down from me who had obviously been drinking all afternoon. He tried to engage me in light conversation and I was politely accommodating. Then he leaned over to me and asked, “What do you think of the bartender?”

“Seems like a nice person, why?” I replied.

“I think she’s sexy, I’d totally bang her.” He smarmly answered.

“Well,” I said, “she does have a rather visible engagement ring on.”

At that moment he started propositioning her from the bar and then my friend walked in and we moved to a table. I quietly observed from our table and eventually the drunkard left. As I was leaving, I went over the bartender and asked if that guy was giving her a hard time. She smiled and said: “My manager has banned him from this bar for life; thanks for asking.”

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Verbal

“I don’t appreciate being called a ‘fag’ ” – Jefferson’s story

Ok, I am a straight artistic male with a more European fashion sense. I prefer to wear “skinny” jeans and more “alternative” apparel (e.g. a nice t-shirt and a blazer). I’m not a wearer of athletic apparel, baseball caps, flipflops, or shorts when it is below 60 degrees. However, knowing that I probably stand out in my neighborhood, I don’t appreciate being called a “fag,” or a “homo” while simply walking down the street minding my own business. Perhaps the bars up and down Cross Street in Federal Hill should try to cater to a more polite crowd or enforce some manners. For example, if one of their patrons is overly drunk, cut them off. It’s shameful that this has to happen in 2014.

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Groping, Leering, Verbal

Harassed by the Security Guards – Chelsea’s story

I was with two of my friends [ed. note: at a club] and one of my friends happened to be in the cross-fire of an absurd amount of harassment, about 5 incidents over the course of the night. The first few incidences of harassment came from the [venue's] security guards, who inappropriately touched and grabbed my friend’s body, and told her to “smile.” She responded that him asking her smile made her feel unsafe- and his job as a security guard is to ensure safety. He said “I just asked you to smile”, and she repeated herself, and he then left without any apology.

We all noticed the guards checking out women as they passed and touching women inappropriately as they moved through the [bar]. A tap on the shoulder is more than sufficient if a guard needs a patron to move- unwanted and unnecessary grabbing of a woman’s waist, etc., (We did not observe any such touching towards men) is inappropriate, uncomfortable, unsafe, and upsetting.

This dynamic is particularly troubling as it is coming from the security guards- people who could be instrumental in dealing with harassment between patrons in the space. Since the guards are harassing women in the space, harassment towards women becomes permissible and acceptable for all. This is deeply troubling, especially when harassment between patrons is already troubling enough!


Usually when harassment happens to me or someone near me I feel powerless to it. Though I have developed tactics over time (asking women if they need help if someone is harassing them, talking back to my own harassers), more often than not I’m left feeling that my actions were never enough. As a bystander to the harassment that happened (that night), I felt that my words couldn’t adequately address the pain and anger my friend experienced, and frustration towards the situation as a whole. I immediately thought of Hollaback’s Safer Spaces campaign in this situation because it so clearly was a case of misogyny upheld through an organizational structure. That structure is one that the Safer Spaces campaign addresses through holistic staff training that focuses on harassment as part of a larger, systemic problem instead of an individual misbehavior. The security guards and patrons harassed my friend that night because they wanted to exercise their dominance and control over her as men. In a patriarchal society, this behavior is normalized to the point that it is ignored at best, lauded at worst. The Safer Spaces Campaign is an important tool to disrupt this behavior. In a small city like Baltimore, there is a special opportunity to change the culture around harassment and sexism by spreading new knowledge and implementing new structures to hold people and organizations we care about accountable.

 

 

Note from the site leaders: While we cannot legally show specific business names on this site that people submit in their stories, we have already reached out to this business in order to give them the chance to sign up for our Safer Spaces Campaign. We will be sure that all staff are trained in full. If you are ever harassed inside of a venue, please share your story on this site. You can also tweet using #saferspacesbmore

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Stalking, Verbal

“I was being followed…” – Ana’s story

I was walking downtown Baltimore wearing a long dress for a convention and 3 people in a row began saying crude things…I realized I was being followed a few minutes later so I sat down at the nearest bench and called a friend to feel safe and calm down.

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Verbal

I’m Yawning Because Your Harassment is Tired.

Walking down the street to catch a bite, I yawned and then I heard some hero yell from his truck, “Yeah, girl”. Thanks dude! Almost forgot straight guys find women attractive! Silly me for just wanting to mind my own business.

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4+

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Lewd Behavior, Public Masturbation, Verbal

“The Police Made Me Feel Naive” – Punky’s story

I was jogging on the trail in broad daylight and there were lots of men, women, and children on the trail and nearby streets. Walking in the opposite direction was a boy of about 11 years and half my size. He muttered “big butt” as I jogged past him. As I continued to jog, I looked behind me and saw that the boy had turned around and had started walking in my direction. When I turned around again, I saw that the boy had undone his pants and was walking toward me with his genitals in his hands. I scolded him and he froze in his tracks before walking away. I then ran to the nearest bystander for help, but he said that “these things happen.” The police later chided me for: 1) jogging alone; 2) yelling at the child; 3) asking bystanders for help. The bystander made me feel hysterical, and the police made me feel naive.

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