Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Perv in the Mission

My friend and I were walking from the 16th/Mission Bart to Slim's to buy tickets to a show last weekend and as I am walking I feel my hand brush against someone behind me. At first I thought I was just not paying attention so I turned around to say sorry to find this asshole ogling us. We told him to fuck off and he just kept laughing and saying stuff that we couldn't understand, but that was obviously sexual. We slowed way down because we didn't want him behind us anymore and he promptly dropped his pants halfway down his thighs while still chuckling so we had to stare at his nasty ass for the rest of the block.

Why do some men find this funny? Do they really think its going to get them anywhere? Gross.

~Submitted by Karen in SF.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Tattoo Trouble in the South Bay

Body modification, it’s my passion; however it has also become a point of pain lately. During the winter months I always seem to add hours and hours of work to my ever growing collection of body mods. This winter I completed my sleeves and started a leg piece. Since my leg piece just finished healing a month or so ago, during this past heat wave, I figured I would be safe to wear a skirt. Apparently, despite my tattoo being healed, I was far from safe.

I should have learned, while working on my sleeves, that my tattoos open me to a whole field of different sort of harassment. People seem to believe since I am so open and proud of my body modifications that I am just trying to put myself on display. They seem to mistake me as some sort of hands on art display. While working on my sleeves I had men on a daily that would come up and grab my arms and start looking over my tattoos. Or they would rub their hands down my arms and ask “Are those real?” Ugh, absolutely no respect for personal space.

Anyway, during this heat wave that just passed us in San Jose, I decided it was great skirt weather. So, I busted out a comfortable skirt that I hadn’t seen since last summer (not at all revealing, or risqué, it went to my kneecaps). I went to pick my brother up from work (Wal-Mart, the one on Story Rd), and got their a little early. I decided to do a little bit of shopping around in the mean time.  As I was shopping, an older gentleman walks up to me and begins to comment on my tattoos. This is nothing new; I smile and politely thank him for all the compliments, and even give him a business card for my tattoo artist. Since time was running short, and I was lingering much too long around the fishing hooks, I politely excused myself back to my shopping, and assumed the gentleman would walk away. Wrong!! Next thing I know I feel a light tugging up of my skirt, and quickly twirl around. The man I had just been talking to is squatted down, his face about buttock level, and was tugging up my skirt trying to see the rest of my tattoo. I resisted the urge to knee him in the face, and asked him “What the hell are you doing?!?!” He responded he was just trying to get a better look at my tattoo, and if I could turn back around so he could keep looking. Very adamantly told him no, and could he please leave me alone. He tried to back pedal and attempted to compliment me on the beauty of my tattoos, and how new they looked, and how well taken care of they were. At this point, I had begun to back down the aisle, and was scanning around for a staff member. I was about to reach for my cell phone to call or text message my brother and let him know that this guy would not leave me alone, when suddenly he got the hint and just walked off. Eagerly I grabbed my items and made my way to the front of the store. I checked out through my brother’s line and told him what happened and that I would be waiting out in the car. As I was leaving, another gentleman grabbed me by my elbow as I passed. “Beautiful lotus on beautiful legs…” He said, I yanked my arm away and eagerly left the store.

Makes me nervous to wear a skirt this summer. I am not a thin girl, I am not a run way model, I am your typical thick chick. I carry myself confidently, I carry myself with pride, but my tattoos seem to make me a target at times, and don’t get me started on my surface piercings. Women are polite; they will point them out and make a comment, and then carry on with their day. However men in the area seem to think that my mods make it ok to touch, grab, or wonder beyond the boundaries of politeness. I’m sure I could write in on a daily about the looks, the grabs, the comments, the requests I receive about my tattoos and piercings. “Do you have anymore I could see?” or how about this one “Are there any you wouldn’t tell your parents about?” Ugh! What’s wrong with these men? Why do they think this is a good way to approach a woman? Do they really think I will respond to their rude advances? Just leave me alone!

Tattoos… look but don’t touch!

Submitted by Linda in San Jose.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Bay to Breakers

This morning at around 10:15 near the halfway point of Bay to Breakers at Fell and Cole, while taking pictures to send back home to my Dad, as I have done in previous years, I was grabbed by a short man who, for lack of a better description, began rubbing his crotch against my leg while he yelled, "Aw, yeah baby, dry hump Olympics!!!!" His cohorts surrounded us and laughed. After about fifteen seconds, the shock wore off, and I told him to get the fuck away from me before I kicked his ass. "Aww, we're just trying to have some fun, I can't believe it..." he said, or something like that, and then the insult to injury: one of his buddies held up a cardboard sign and said "five point seven". Because they were rating the looks of the women they assaulted (or how we reacted???), on a scale of one to ten, for the "Dry Hump Olympics" and had corresponding numbered scorecards. Get it? OMG, like, how totally hilarious! I just LOVE being assaulted, demeaned, and degraded - it's so much fun!!!

Thanks for ruining my day, dickheads. On a scale of one to ten for humanity, I give you a zero. As far as douchebags go, you're fucking exemplars, totally off the scale. We're talking unchartered territory.

Photo by Kellie Parker.

Submitted by Allyson in San Francisco.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

News Flash: Jezebel Calls Out Catcall Season

Check out's take on sexual harassment "season" in this article:

The author of the post brings up good points about whether or not street harassment usually leads to something more, but the quote by Kimberly Fairchild sums up our editor's take on it...

"[Catcalling] encourages women to look at themselves as body parts instead of as full, whole, intelligent human beings. When a man catcalls you, you don't know if it will end at that point, or if it could escalate to assault."

They mention Holly's Thesis, her CNN interview and the Hollaback project.

Check it out and leave your thoughts!

Hollaback Thesis on CNN

Holly Kearl, a Women's Studies and Public Policy major at George Washington University, wrote her thesis on street harassment.  She interviewed members of Hollaback teams all over the country, check out what she had to say about it to CNN:

Thanks for bringing awareness out in the media Holly!

~Hollaback-SF Editor

Beer Festival Harasser

I worked the International Beer Festival in San Francisco a few weeks ago. My spouse came with me and we poured our product all night long for free. The crowd seemed to really enjoy it and we had a great time but I noticed that people were getting super intoxicated. I mentioned my anxiety to my spouse and we decided to pack up a a little early to avoid all the drunks that would be trying to drive or possibly starting fights with people, etc.
 So we were pulling out of the parking lot and as we passed a group of three guys one yells out "SLUT"! I immediately stuck my head out the window and asked him "what the fuck did you just say to me?" He instantly put his head down as if I wouldn't realize he was the one that said it and he said " I was talking to him" pointing at one of his friends. I was so angry I said back to him " that is what I thought fucker." My spouse told me "Geez, I didn't even have to say anything." We laughed about it then, but when I look back at it, who was that person? Would he talk to his mother or sister like that? I would think not. Then what gives him the right to treat me, a perfect stranger, like that?  I have a really hard time keeping my mouth shut when someone disrespects me or anyone in front of me. I also think  one time, what if I say something, and the guy decides to try and assault me. Then what? It is unacceptable that woman have to be concerned about being harmed by men physically or emotionally. On a side note I want to thank all the men out there that respect, take care, and love woman. Thanks for watching out.
Submitted by S.Baker in San Francisco

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

News Flash: College Senior Fights Back

This story was posted on today, about a journalist who told her story of assault.
Excerpts from that posting are below:

"Melissa Bruen, the outgoing editor-in-chief of the UConn Daily Campus decided to write a first-person essay about her sexual assault as her last act as EIC. In late April, UConn had its annual spring weekend — a drunken rite that occurs at most colleges during the hazy end of spring semester. Bruen was walking home from parties at off-campus apartments on a path affectionately known to Huskies as "rape trail." She decided to make a phone call, and, as she was leaning against a telephone pole, a large man shoved her against the pole and "dry humped" her. Bruen, who had been assaulted before, decided to take action. She pushed him away, and when she had him pinned to the ground, punched him smack in the face. A group of men who had been watching this all go down eventually pulled Bruen off her assailant, who ran off. She started screaming, "He just assaulted me," and that's when one of the violence voyeurs said to her, "You think that was assault?", pulled down her shirt, and grabbed her breasts.

As Bruen tells it:

More men started to cheer. It didn't matter to the drunken mob that my breasts were being shown or fondled against my will. They were happy to see a topless girl all the same. I punched him in the face, and someone shoved me into a throng of others. I was surrounded, but I kept swinging and hitting until I was able to break free of the circle they had formed.

Melissa McEwan at Shakesville says that Bruen's story shows that teaching women self-defense alone is not going to fix the rape problem. "Addressing the issues of the men who assaulted her, and the larger culture that facilitates that kind of behavior and the attitudes underlying it, needs to be a part of comprehensive rape prevention," McEwan argues. "Self-defense doesn't stop rapists from being created in the first place."

Read Bruen's original article here: My Spring Weekend Nightmare

And check out the full post on Jezebel here: College Senior Is Sexually Assaulted While Group of Guys Cheer.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Verbal Harassment at the Ferry Plaza.

*Ed. note: while we make it a policy to not include race in our postings here at Hollaback-SF, this particular story is an example of how race does play a role in harassment at times. The race of the author and of the person harassing her is an important part of this story. Please feel free to comment on any aspect of this post.

Yesterday, I went to the Ferry Building to run some errands. I was walking through the plaza reading Nothin' But Good Times Ahead when I heard a call behind me.

"Hey, beautiful!"

It wasn't coming from someone right behind me, so I ignored it. It sounded like he was ten feet away or so, and whatever–it's not worth my time to face off with some jackass catcaller. It was just one comment, and maybe that would be it.

"Do you love me?"

The passive response of ignoring him clearly isn't working. I was irritated at the first comment and I'm growing angry, but I tell myself that maybe he's not yelling at me. Maybe he's yelling at
someone else, not that it would make the situation any better–by not facing him and not calling him out on his verbal harassment, whether it's me or someone else he's catcalling, I implicitly condone him harassing a woman because she's a woman and she dares to walk outside in the city. Dares to exist and live in public spaces.

"You don't love me."

Okay, I'm angry now. I don't like sexist jackasses who yell indiscriminately at women and feel entitled to sexually harass women and think of women as sex objects for their viewing pleasure rather than as people and make women feel unsafe, unwelcome, and afraid in public spaces. I'm thinking about facing him and calling him on his shit.

"Fine. Go back to China!"

Ok, that's it. That is absolutely it and I'm not taking racist shit from anyone. Sexual harassment is bad enough, but the combination of racism and sexism makes me see red. I stop, whip around, and see that I'm the only stereotypically "Chinese" woman in the vicinity, so there's no question that he's been yelling at me the whole time. I see one man in the area, an African-American man lugging a suitcase.* I yell, "Excuse me, are you talking to me?"

He looks at me. "Yeah."

I'm furious. Livid. Sexual harassment simply for being a woman is run of the mill for me–I don't like it and I'm increasingly likely to not tolerate it, but the racist comment just broke my restraint. I yell at him, "What the hell makes you think it's okay to yell at random women
and harass them, you asshole?"

He sulkily replies, "You harass us all the time."

I see red. I yell at him, "I've never harassed you in my life, and it is not acceptable to harass random women. Fuck you!"

I've never seen this man in my life. I've never harassed an African-American person in my life. I've never harassed anyone for racist or sexist reasons in my life. His bullshit attempt to use
anti-African-American racism as a justification for anti-Asian racism and anti-woman sexism is complete bullshit. If anything, having experienced racism himself should have taught him that racism is wrong, period, and it's poisonous to everyone. Using it himself is hypocritical and it makes him petty, vindictive, and immature. I learned in kindergarten that two wrongs don't make a right, and his attempt to use racism to justify racism and sexism is simply nothing more than perpetuating the system.

He walks away and I storm off, mind awhirl with anger, loathing, fear, and adrenaline. Facing a harasser always results in the volatile emotional cocktail of the flight or fight response. While I'm fighting, the anger burns away almost all of the fear, but as soon as it's over, I'm left shaking and the fear lurches back. Women are told not to respond to harassers because as soon as they know you're paying attention, they'll ramp it up. They might grow violent. And so we have
to endure the verbal and physical attacks on our persons and let them go on, because if we don't, something worse might happen. I'm not listening anymore to that passive endorsement of harassment and a patriarchal society where women are advised to endure harassment because they can't expect anything better.

Behind every "Hey, beautiful!" is the notion that I, a woman, exist for the harasser's viewing pleasure. I'm walking along the sidewalk so harassers can stare at me and remind me that because I'm a woman, I don't deserve respect. Because I'm a woman, I don't deserve to feel
safe outside. Because I'm a woman, I'm a sex object and I shouldn't be outside running errands, jogging, working, or living. Because I'm a woman, I deserve to be catcalled and intimidated.

Insults and catcalls aren't just words. First of all, words have power. They're the predominant form of communication between humans and they're used to cajole, placate, threaten, thrill, and more. Words matter. Second, behind every catcall, every reminder that in the harasser's sexist worldview, women exist for men and women are inferior to men and he's entitled to treat me as lesser, is the reality that one in every six women is raped at least once and far
more women are sexually assaulted. I turned around and yelled at my harasser, but the entire time, I was thinking about how he was larger than I was and quite capable of assaulting me. If someone thinks it's okay to act sexist and racist, that person might not have qualms about
attacking someone perceived as inferior for sexist and racist reasons. The entire time I was in the Ferry Building, I was scanning the crowd, looking for him so that I'd be prepared if he tried to grab, grope, shove, bump, or hit me. This alertness and fear is part of being a woman, even in liberal, progressive San Francisco.

I faced the harasser and stood up for myself. It's my way of challenging every sexist harasser who thinks it's okay to objectify me–to break out of the box they put me in and say, fuck you. Fuck you and your attempts to make me a passive object who'll succumb to your oh so charming insults and swoon before you, or a victim who'll stoically endure your fucking insults. I am a person, an individual, a woman, and I am active. I deserve respect, civility, and safety by
virtue of being a human being, but if you think you can take those away from me because I'm a woman, I'll take them for myself.


* I only note his race because it's relevant to his pathetic justification for his sexual and racist harassment. As pocochina says, I don't give a flying fuck if a man harassing me is white, black,
yellow, brown, or any other color. He's harassing me and that's what matters to me; his ethnicity is irrelevant.

Submitted by Pizza D. in San Francisco.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Torta Trouble

So, I was sitting there eating my torta when some guy asked to see my glasses, expecting me to pleasantly give up MY EYES so that he could fuck around with my black frames on his ugly, drunk-ass face. any who. i said, fifty bucks in my hand would give him a try at my glasses (a.k.a. my eyes). being a stubborn asshole, he kept trying to bargain/be clever... both of which were nauseating... and all I wanted to do was eat. And he kept bothering me.

I realize that this isn't sexual harassment and it wasn't violent or dangerous, but I do think it speaks to the way that men expect women to participate and entertain their banter (and stupidity). We as women, are expected to respond and not reject such harassment, especially when it is this kind of harassment that has no obvious harm, and when we do, were seen as anal, prude, uptight bitches.

Anyways, just thought I would email this because a woman saw all this happening and then gave me the little card with the website on it. Being a feminist, womens studies major who is already critical of such gendered power dynamics, I wanted to say thank you because I think you guys are doing great work and opening up an important space of dialogue.

Submitted by Mai in San Francisco.