Appalachian Ohio, Athens GA, Atlanta, Berkeley, Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, Columbia MO, Columbus, Des Moines, Durham & Chapel Hill, East Lansing, Fredericksburgh VA, Houston, Los Angeles, Muncie IN, New York City, NYU, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Plattsburgh, Richmond VA, San Francisco, Tucson, Twin Cities
I’m an intern with an organisation near botanic avenue, and a local education institute have recently commissioned a construction co. to do some work on the houses at the bottom of the street. It was my birthday at the end of August and I left work with a colleague to go for a celebratory lunch. Given the minimal amount of sunshine it was the perfect opportunity for a bunch of the builders to group together outside and, shocker, mutter/whistle as my friend and I walked past. I stopped – something I rarely do – said excuse me, asked who whistled. Cue sniggering, smirking, shrugging, no actual verbal response.
I asked again and suddenly the entire building they were sitting outside of erupted with jeers and whistles – really loudly, out of nowhere, most of the men not even visible. I just about managed “Hey, that’s street harassment, well done” before walking on, followed by the laughter and jeering the ENTIRE way down the street. There was no swearing, nothing overtly sexual, but I felt extremely intimidated in an area where I usually feel safe and, to be honest, a bit stupid for trying to say anything at all. Especially since even the slightest attempt to challenge/question/communicate makes it ten times worse. And, as is often the case with this sort of thing, the harassers get to go straight back to their day while you’re left slinking down the street feeling like a scared fourteen year old, wondering if YOU could have handled the situation any better.
I honestly don’t mean to tar all men in the construction trade with the same brush – in fact I’m sure there are many who’re decent enough to NOT be on board with the casual harassment of passing women – but I also wish the vast majority wouldn’t live up to such a shitty, sexist stereotype almost every time I come into contact with them.
My friend and I were in a shop on the Ormeau Road last Wednesday, 4 June at around 6-7pm. We had queued to pay for our items when we heard a conversation behind us that a boy and girl (probably in late teens/ early twenties) were having. Neither of us heard the exact details, but both of us heard the boy ask the girl very loudly “Is that a man or a woman?” about my friend. We both turned around to look at them incredulously, only to have the girl laugh in our faces. We were both taken off guard. We paid for out items and then left. We were angry and amazed at what had just happened, and both regretted not speaking up, as we were aware of Hollaback.
There was no doubt they were speaking loudly to elicit a reaction, and to shame my friend on her appearance.
Myself and my partner were walking down Chapel Lane towards Bank Street and a group of drunk men started yelling at us. They thought we were two gay men, and one of the guys started running towards us, shouting after us. Luckily the street was busy, so we walked quickly towards the bar to get away from them.
A woman walking towards us said “They’re assholes”, which was nice to hear that someone was on our side. It shook us both, and it was eye opening because previously I have only been harassed as a “dyke”. This is the first time I’ve had harassment because myself and my partner were perceived as gay men.
I was waiting in line at a shop when the couple behind me had a full blown conversation about whether I was a boy or girl. Felt really shocked. Wish I had said something but was too stunned and ended up just giving them a surprised look – which at least shut them up.
I sat down with Kerilee and Sam from Insolence clothing a few weeks ago. Branded as clothes you can “run about in” & “ladies designing badass clothing for ladies” these women ooze drive and ambition. They both love identifying as Tomboys, which to them means at the very core, not being a pushover, and standing up for the right things. While Kerilee and Sam had wanted to do something like this for years, to rectify the lack of tomboy clothing for women in Belfast, it wasn’t until last year, over a cup of coffee that they decided to band together and make it happen.
Sam told me “I like to shop in the boys department, but I don’t feel welcome in those shops.” Insolence aims then to give fellow Tomboys both a place to go to shop as well as inspiration to be who they are. “If you feel like you’re not naturally brave, or you find it harder to stand out, we want this brand to be a network of women standing together, to create a community. We’re creating our own identity. We want to build a network of people who actually give a fuck.”
They had a chance to prove this attitude during a photoshoot. While getting ready to start shooting, a car full of men drove up and shouted homophobic abuse at them. Not willing to stand for any of that, Sam, Kerilee, the models and the photographer all went together – reported it to the police and fought back! Read about the whole incident over on their blog.
Sam and Kerilee have experienced a lot of street harassment over the years, and understand how it can lead to people living their lives quieter. When it came to the homophobic harassment, they proved their worth and now describe it as one of the most positive things that could have happened. It opened up the conversation on homophobia, on harassment and how powerful they felt doing something about it. Kerilee said “We get it now. These women weren’t going to take this… why should I?” Knowing how hard it can be to do anything about harassment when you’re on your own, Sam & Kerilee look at what happened as proof that no matter how you handle harassment – you can always take some power back.
Check out their Q&A video below and their Kickstarter! They are aiming to raise £2000 by June 20th!
I was walking home after a night at my friends house. As I was walking down the Lisburn Road there was two men walking towards me. I thought nothing of it but as they got closer one of them walked right up into my face and screamed “DYKE!!!!” in my face. I was really shocked as I wasn’t expecting it so really sure how to react for the first few seconds. As the guys walked on I asked myself was shouting back the best option as there was no one about and I was out numbered but my anger took over and I must have shouted every expletive I knew. That experience has me watching my back every time I am walking about at night but that’s probably a wise thing to be doing anyway.
I was walking home around 8pm from a work event, at which the local sex trade was discussed. A car full of guys rode up beside me and asked ‘here, love, how much do you cost?’. I was too scared and baffled at the irony of the situation to answer.
Not that I really could have, verbally. The thing is when it’s several vs one and you can’t talk down a moving car, it feels like you’ve been robbed of voice & dignity.
I was out with friends on a Saturday night, at a strip of bars and clubs called Northbridge, in Perth, Western Australia. We went to get a late night feed at a local kebab joint.
I like to dress up – nice makeup and hair, pretty dress, high shoes. I looked good that night. I was not out to attract or solicit sexual offers.
I ordered my food. After I had paid the cashier, he asked me “Where is your boyfriend?”
At the time, my long term partner was working on a offshore gas platform. I simply replied, “He’s at work.”
The cashier then said “Because I would like to fuck you.”
Disbelieving, I flatly parroted his words back to him “You would like to fuck me?”
“Yes, I would like to fuck you.”
I decided that cold, dignified dismissal was my best course of action. “How about you take my money and make me my food?”
I think my icy intent must have come across because he did look somewhat abashed.
Standing with my friends afterwards, I furiously repeated the exchange.
A male acquaintance said to me “Well you are very good looking.”
To my mind, that was the worst thing said to me that night. It was my fault I was propositioned while buying food. I should be flattered. I’m not allowed to be upset. I should expect unwanted sexual advances, because I like to look nice.