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I went on a date with this boy in high school. I decided I’d rather be friends after the date, I was uncomfortable. I told him I didn’t like him like that, but he continued to pursue me. He told all my friends/ family we were together. I explained over & over I did not want to be his girlfriend, but he refused to take no for an answer. Now 5 years later I was at Rensfest with my bf, and the same guy came up to me and expected me to be all affectionate and hug him. It makes me so uneasy…
So I was on a casual bus ride back from Whole Foods with my friend on the 3, a popular bus route for students of Drake University like myself. At the Walmart stop, a group of 5 young (high school aged) boys got on the bus and sat around us. They started pestering us asking our names, where we went to school, etc. They then proceeded to talk about how they were going to rape us, saying things along the lines of, “Haha I’m totally going to rape them,” or “Wait till we tell (so and so) that we raped those girls on the bus.” In between these remarks, they made several homophobic comments, referenced incest and pedophilia, and jokes about sexual assault of elders. Overall it was a miserable experience. I guess it just goes to show that you can’t even go buy organic produce without being verbally harassed…
I’m female, middle-aged, and have been tolerating this crap for years. It’s rare that I can walk to the store without individuals leaning out their windows and yelling filthy words and remarks at me. They all appear to be in their late teens or early twenties. While I don’t know whether or not they’re students, it’s always occurred within a couple of blocks from Lincoln High School.
Walking on a crosswalk and got yelled at by a stopped car.
Des Moines, Iowa—Hollaback! Des Moines, a grassroots volunteer organization, has launched a new campaign in partnership with RAYGUN to raise community awareness against street harassment.
“Street harassment is unwanted attention in public spaces, often based on gender expression or perceived sexuality, and it is treated as a given by many women, girls and LGBT individuals. Meanwhile, most people who are not harassed do not realize how much it happens,” said Becca Lee, director of Hollaback! Des Moines.
The movement encourages community members to take a public stance against street harassment, such as catcalling, unwanted sexual comments and disparaging remarks, through sharing stories and creative activism. This month, individuals can purchase a RAYGUN t-shirt, with 50 percent of proceeds benefiting Hollaback! Des Moines.
“There are countless t-shirts that promote sexual harassment, but very few that call out harassing behaviors. We’re proud to partner with RAYGUN to use smart t-shirt humor to put the joke back on the harasser instead of the target,” Lee said.
“People who harassingly shout at others from a distance may be under the impression that’s the best way to communicate. We wanted to have a small part in dissuading that behavior,” said Mike Draper, owner and founder of RAYGUN.
Lee says she founded the Hollaback! Des Moines chapter in 2011 after years of experiencing street harassment as a college student.
“There was a week where I couldn’t go outside my apartment building without hearing a harasser yell something vulgar at me,” says Lee. “The guy knew where I lived, what kind of car I drove, and I felt very unsafe to go about my daily life.”
Hollaback! encourages people to speak out about harassment and see the connection between harassment on the street and sexual assault and other forms of violence.
“Harassment is a gateway crime in that it isn’t illegal, but it creates a cultural environment where gender-based violence and rape is taken less seriously,” says Jessica Staskal, communications specialist at the Iowa Coalition Against Sexual Assault. “By working to bring awareness and an end to street harassment, we hope to create a safer, more welcoming community for all.”
Hollaback! Des Moines is among more than 79 teams across 26 countries who are using grassroots organizing and mobile technology to end street harassment. The movement provides a free mobile app for reporting street harassment safely and anonymously. The app is available in nine languages for iPhone and Droid.
Hollaback! is an international movement dedicated to ending street harassment using mobile technology. By collecting stories from women and LGBTQ individuals in a safe and share-able way, Hollaback! is creating a crowd-sourced initiative to end street harassment.Share your story at desmoines.ihollaback.org, find us on Facebook at facebook.com/HollabackDSM or follow us on Twitter at @Hollaback_DSM.
A man who works in Fairfield, Iowa is a street harasser and abuser. He is short and bald and yells from his apartment window on Broadway.
My runs are typically in the early morning, but this guy I’m seeing always run in the evening. He was telling just how magical neighborhoods can look in the dark and recommended that I should try it (helps that it’s usually cooler at night). I was running down Ingersoll at a pretty slow pace when I heard two men whistle at me. One shouted, “You can’t do this to us! Shame on you!” And that’s exactly what I felt: shame. Shame for being a woman. Shame for having breasts. Shame for being a sexual person. I flicked these men off and shouted “Fuck you!” I realized then that I could be putting myself in very real danger– quickly ditching my light jog for a sprint. I very much considered stopping two women enjoying a drink outside a restaurant in hopes that they would validate my reaction.
I had gotten off work and was waiting for my bus to arrive just up the street. I had my headphones on, listening to music. I saw these two guys across the road, just staring at me, walking slowly. I could hear them whistling and cat calling, but I pretended I was oblivious. They made there way over to where I was just as I got on the bus. They said some inappropriate stuff, and it was obvious they were following me, so the bus driver didn’t let them on!