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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9+

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Groping

Innappropriate “Hello” – Laura’s story

Me: 26 year old woman

Him: 50ish year old man – a work supervisor in outdoor work setting, informal relationship setting

He: sideways hugs around, with a butt tap as a ‘nice hello’…

I: stepped away and said “No thank you.”

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4+

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Groping

NOT OK – Yuby’s story

I was at a party/club and I was surrounded by my (female) cousins and friends and a man came up behind me and grabbed my ass, walked away quickly, but then looked back to smile at me as if it was OK….which it wasn’t.

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3+

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Groping

“I was lucky. So many women, and men, aren’t.” – Emma’s story

It’s Halloween weekend in Baltimore. My friends and I put in our time at the restaurant we served at, enjoyed some libations at the bar we frequented, and were walking to 711 for some good old fashioned convenience store treats. There were four of us, all women, enroute when all of a sudden I felt my skirt raise and someone place their hands on both butt cheeks and did what I could only say is juggled them. I, stunned, pulled my skirt down and slowly turned around. The man who did this was running in the direction he came from and never turned around as one of my friends yelled obscenities at him.

I stood there in a daze wondering what it was that I did to invoke such behavior. Was I targeted because I was fat and in the back, an easy target. Was I targeted because of my skirt? I mean, it was my uniform. I had to wear a black, above the knee tight skirt. Was it because of my clown accessories; striped socks, rainbow suspenders, and over sized glasses? We continued to the store talking about the incident and what would compel someone to do such a thing.

My friend, the one yelling obscenities to the man who groped me, approached Captain America, remember it was Halloween, at the coffee bar asking where he was when the assault happened. He replied,” look at what she’s wearing.” I don’t remember the rest because I was utterly shocked to hear this come out of someone’s mouth. I thought it myself but to hear it out loud was mind bending. My friends and I eventually started making light of the situation calling the assaulter “The Butt Juggler” and laughing at the ridiculousness of it all. This was just over a year ago and it wasn’t until I stumbled upon this movement that i realized what I experienced was assault. Who knows what would’ve happened if I was alone. What if he didn’t run away but further his assault? I was lucky. So many women, and men, aren’t.

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1+

(Originally posted on the main Hollaback! site December 14th, 2013)

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Assault, Blocking Path, Groping, Homophobic, Leering, Lewd Behavior, Positive Thinking, Public Masturbation, Racist, Stalking, Transphobic, Verbal

Free of Suggestion – guest post

by Madeleine Buck, who recently created and donated a quilt square to FORCE’s Monument Quilt project.

 

Every city dweller periodically finds themselves wondering whether they’ll
be able to go out in public without having to deal with a stranger’s commentary,
and the common solution is to barely acknowledge or ignore any unsolicited
appraisals of your person in the hopes that the interaction will end there. People
too often misrepresent the implications of street harassment as just part of living
in a city, or being a woman, or wearing a short skirt, or any number of variables.
However, it’s probably the most visible manifestation of how so many men are
taught from a young age that in order to be viewed as powerful and masculine,
they must hide their feelings behind false bravado and entitlement. In contributing
to FORCE’s Monument Quilt, which will eventually expand to cover the length of
the Washington Mall as a memorial to survivors of rape and sexual assault, I
wanted to bring attention to a shared experience which stems from the same
misappropriation of power.

monumentquilt

I decided to borrow the opening lines from Fugazi’s song “Suggestion”,
partly because of an abiding love of their music, and partly because it’s a
powerful statement against rape culture. In singing from a female perspective in
“Suggestion”, Ian MacKaye voices the frustration of both genders in dealing with
distorted ideas of masculinity, namely the pressure women feel to silently “suffer
your interpretation of what it is to be a man”. This song served as a realization for
my teenage self that feminism could be more inclusive than I’d been led to
believe, an experience that has no doubt been replicated countless times in the
twenty five years since Fugazi released “Suggestion”. The fact that one of the
album’s strongest tracks deals with sexual harassment from a woman’s
perspective speaks to the importance of art as a cultural catalyst, and that of
male allies in aiding female empowerment. Those who see irony in quoting a
song recorded by an all-male band are missing the point–the medium through
which people engage with a positive message is, in this case, not nearly as
relevant as the expanded consciousness they adopt as a result.

Street harassment is often presumed to be an isolated incident and
therefore something you shouldn’t dwell on, although it’s routinely on the back of
most people’s minds, regardless of gender, when choosing how to behave in
public. Educating people about how to respond to unwanted attention on the
street–or, alternately, the value in not verbalizing your feelings about a stranger’s
anatomy–is an important step in bringing awareness to the broader effort of
female empowerment.

Instructions for contributing a blanket to FORCE’s Monument Quilt can be found
at: http://upsettingrapeculture.com/quilt_instructions.pdf

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bVDmFm0FxmM

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Assault, Blocking Path, Groping, Homophobic, Leering, Lewd Behavior, Positive Thinking, Public Masturbation, Racist, Stalking, Transphobic, Verbal

HOLLAween: No Shame, No Blame

It’s Halloween! From spooky to sexy, there are so many ways for all ghouls to celebrate, and there’s something in this holiday for everyone. However, for a lot of us, Halloween means harassment—on the streets, at parties, just walking outside in costume. We’re expected to look sexy, even if that’s not our thing, and we see a lot of costumes that steal from other cultures and races for the sake of creativity.

hollaween bmore

We think there should be an alternative. This year, we’re launching #HOLLAween— where you can dress up and feel free to be who- or whatever you’ve chosen this year. #HOLLAween is now a HOLLAday free from victim blaming, slut shaming, and cultural appropriation. That means that if you want to be a “sexy nurse,” by all means, strut your stuff! If “scary nurse” is more your thing, don’t be pressured to squeeze into something skintight. If you’re thinking that a “sexy geisha” or “scary genie” might be up your alley, you may want to reconsider.

We need you to help us spread the word that that #HOLLAween in Baltimore is not about having to dress sexy or characterizing a culture. We can do better! YOUR MISSION: share, email, post, or tweet us your awesome costumes this year. Whether they are fun, scary, sexy, spooky, feminist, historical, fantastical, creepy, political – whatever! Just make sure you feel comfortable and empowered in it (and not at the expense of anyone else).  Of course, if you are street harassed while in costume, we want to hear about that, too!

If you’re unfamiliar with cultural appropriation and why it’s uncool, that’s okay—but this season is the time to learn! Here are some links about what it is and why it’s particularly problematic at Halloween-time:

http://youtu.be/TN2WaZAUY2U

Dressing up can be fun, safe AND empowering—bring on #HOLLAween!

This was originally posted on the Hollaback! Boston site. They’re hosting an awesome event to throw down for HOLLAween, so if you know anyone over their way, tell them to RSVP to the party!

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Groping, Positive Thinking, Verbal

Listening for the Dissonance of Harassment

Guest post by Hollaback! Baltimore volunteer, Matt

If every person walking down the street could be considered a musician, their existence adding a new melody line to the symphony of a city, then a convention with cosplayers is a unique piece of music to experience. Characters from eastern and western animation, video game heroes, and gender-swapped action movie stars all combine to create a very textured song. All of these unique instrumental lines flowing around each other, with a street vendor through a megaphone chanting the lyrics of “Ice cold water, and it’s just one dollar!”

What should have been a day of enjoying interacting harmonies instead turned into an exercise in listening for the dissonance of harassment. As a person with an orchestra of privilege, it is very easy to tune out these unruly notes, ignoring the sounds that grate on so many unwilling ears. I went to Otakon with the Hollaback! Baltimore group to show support for the right of convention-goers and passersby to go about their activities unharassed and unmolested. Listening to multiple recounts and hearing first-hand the come-ons, ridicule, and shaming, wakes you up to pay attention to those trying to sour the soundscape.

“I support the patriarchy.” One line that was yelled at the Hollaback! team while holding our anti-harrasment signs. My initial thought was he was just a person trying to get a reaction as I doubt most harassers would have that kind of vocabulary. But I also realize he’s probably telling the truth; someone who is capable of saying that would probably be at minimum a silent witness to street harassment. I politely responded with what I thought of his declaration.

I start trying to watch for less obvious signals. I notice a man taking pictures without first asking for permission. With all the activity it’s hard to focus on him, but it seems he may just be taking pictures of women in revealing costumes. Before I’m able to determine a pattern, I lose track of him.

I’m talking with a group of conventioneers when my co-awareness raiser asks me if I just heard a comment. A man walked right by her and said “Grow a pair.” In true Hollaback attitude, she responded without missing a beat “Maybe I would if I wasn’t being groped all the time.”

 

Otakon attendees on the left and center, our volunteer Matt on the right

Otakon attendees on the left and center, and that’s our volunteer Matt on the right – trying to stay out of the picture.

 

We talk with another group who tells us that they don’t receive harassment due to traveling with their male companions. We hand out fliers on good ally etiquette and encourage them to stand up to harassment directed at people who may not be in their group. It also makes me wonder how much more harassment the Hollaback! crew would have encountered if I was not standing with them.

I then get approached by a man dressed in regular street clothes inquiring about what we are doing. I describe our purpose here and the larger goals of the group. He informs me that he is part of the military. He seems to start complaining about the new requirements of sitting through anti-harassment training, especially with the new increased opportunities for women in the military. After he describes the hours of videos and lectures he’s had to sit through, he tells me how glad he is that the military is conducting this training. He knows how difficult his job is and wants to support anyone who would want to be in the same vocation, regardless of gender. It is the best moment of my day.

Overall I notice the pattern of women who eagerly share stories of harassment and support for our mission, and men who come up and ask about the group and our purpose here. They seem to express doubt as to the necessity of the group. They need to start opening their ears and hearing the dissonance. Listening to the lyrics of women and LGBTQ people is a good place to start.

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Groping

Gropescape? Nopescape! – phone app submission

I was checking out the arcade room at Gamescape (Artscape). The room was dark other than the light emitted from arcade machines. I was holding my 14 month old daughter when I was groped from behind. The room was dark and I was so taken aback I didn’t think to accost the young men behind me. My husband who was with me at the time reported the incident to campus police.

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Assault, Groping

Very Humiliating – Ross’s story

This was around Midnight last Friday, when usually I make a point to avoid most of mankind. But I needed something to eat so I drive to the Uni mini on Charles street, get my girlfriend and myself sandwiches, start walking back to my car. By no means is the area deserted but my half of Preston (by OK Foods) is, except for one man. He passes me. He says hello, but not a stranger’s hello. I am looking at my feet as always. After a few seconds I turn around, thinking maybe I’ve just ignored a friend. He walks back towards me, and as he comes closer I realize I don’t know him at all- he’s just a young guy with a ponytail. He comes very close to me and makes like to ask me a question. “What’s up?” I ask him. He grabs my testicles, not painfully but suddenly, then starts feeling me up, then begins to say something about living just down the street – very little time really elapses, and I pull away, and the most damning thing I can say is “Hey, hey hey hey” before bolting to my car and driving home.

Very humiliating. Am not as angry as I would like to be.

I've got your back!
13+

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Blocking Path, Groping, Leering, Lewd Behavior, Stalking, Transphobic, Verbal

May is National Biking Month!

bike

 

The weather is nice, your tires are pumped, and you’re ready to enjoy the city that is suddenly so green and inviting. Then, the inevitable the horrible the unthinkable the most annoying thing it happens. You hear “Hey faggot!” or “Pump those legs, girl” or “You’re not fast enough for me.”  Or they honk a horn and startle you (newsflash: that is dangerous!) or reach an arm out and try to cop a feel.

WE ALL DESERVE TO RIDE A BIKE IN PEACE. So let Baltimore street harassers know they need to leave bikers alone by sharing your story. Let them know you will holla back, and teach bystanders to take it more seriously. Tell your story.

And before we hate on Bmore too much, here’s an excerpt from a biking story from our sister site in Brussels, Belgium, because people love bikes and hate street harassment EVERYWHERE. Read Angelika’s story:

One day, I was on my way back from university. I was riding my bike, it was perhaps 6:30 pm. I rode on the cycleway when I noticed a group of men on the sidewalk nearby, roughly 200 metres away. Suddenly, one of them stepped on the cycleway and spread his arms. He clearly wanted to stop me from continuing my ride. I accelerated. The same thing (but with a single, drunk man) had happened to me the day before, and finally the man had stepped out of my way. But this one wouldn’t – he stood there, laughing, his friends applauding him. I had thought he might move in the last second – he didn’t. And so I bumped into him. I didn’t fall down, but I suddenly felt the anger welling up in me. This was the second time this happened to me in two days. Just because some “men” thought it was funny to stop me from cycling, just for the sake of doing it, just in order to make me feel weak, for getting the approval of their mates and showing me who was the boss on the street. I was furious. And I didn’t even think much about it – I just started yelling, loudly – and in German. I had had the experience before that I felt even weaker when I tried to argue with harassers in French, because this is not my mother tongue. So I just fell back upon my native German, which, in the first place already sounds a bit aggressive – and secondly I could say whatever I wanted to, because anyway no one would understand. So I stood there, shouting, screaming, not even thinking about what I was saying. I felt nothing but anger. First they tried to mock at me, but I concentrated on the one who had stood in my way. He yelled back, but I didn’t even listen. I just kept going. And after some time (I wouldn’t be able to say how long it took) – he stopped. He looked at me. I must have had the must furious expression one can imagine. What I saw in his eyes was – fear.

I got on my bike and rode home. Some men mumbled at me something I didn’t understand when I drove past them on my way – clearly they had heard me shouting and perhaps wanted to “punish” me for doing so. I just responded with something in German – I was too weak to engage in another confrontation. When I was in my flat I realized my hands were trembling. I sat down and called a friend to tell her what had happened. I couldn’t get myself to think about anything else for some hours, it kept coming back again and again.

 

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