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I was walking up Yates street and swerved to avoid a group of guys. They seemed to be between the age of 30-40, and I got the impression they had been drinking because I could smell booze and they were talking really loudly. The guy closest to me whistled at me, and I glared at him. He then yelled out “spicy dyke!” once I had my back turned.
I was walking home from an appointment when a man started commenting on these two young women who I happened to be walking near. He was only about a foot behind them and said something like “Hey, I really like this!” while pointing at the backs of their skirts, and “You two don’t mind if I do this, right?” while very obviously staring at their bodies. I was really worried that he would try to physically assault them as he was very close to them. The two women said nothing, but began to walk faster. He tried to say something else and they stopped walking started looking at their phones; it seemed very clear to me that they were trying to make him go away by ignoring him.
I could feel my heart racing because I knew I was going to say something. I said, “Hey, I don’t think they’re interested in talking to you”. He replied “Oohhh, I’m sorry” in a very serious tone. He seemed to suddenly be taking me seriously, even though he had ignored their obvious attempts to get him to leave them alone. He then proceeded to try and defend his actions and one of the women looked at me, smiled, and said quite loudly “Thank you”.
They stayed together and me and the guy kept going in the same direction. There were fewer shops open and I was looking for some safety in case I needed to duck in somewhere. Eventually he said, “I wasn’t trying to do anything”. I didn’t feel safe enough to challenge him but what I wanted to say was, “Dude, it doesn’t matter what you think your intentions were. Those two women were just walking down the street. NO ONE WANTS YOUR OPINION”. Instead I just said, “That’s cool”.
It was 10:30pm at night, and my friend was walking me to the #6 bus stop on Quadra in front of the First Metropolitan United church. We were standing on the stairs, and a car with a bunch of loud people drove up to the intersection. All of a sudden, my friend and I heard one of the people in the car yell “She wants to get fucked!”; I was quite enraged at the assumption. I shouted back at the top of my lungs “No, she does not!”, and the person replied with “I…I didn’t mean it literally, I mean.. uh”.
I admit the situation could have been handled better but there wasn’t much I could do in the sleep-deprived state I was in. I certainly hope they got the message. Judging by their reaction, I think it may have gotten across.
Yesterday I witnessed a man pull a woman by her hand and then grab her purse and drag her by it. Her purse strap broke and he walked off while calling her a “no-good cunt”. I crossed the street and asked if she was alright. She was crying. I asked if I could do anything for her. She said ‘no’ and then hugged me and thanked me. I told her to “not put up with that shit” and we parted ways. I wanted to tell her to “leave the asshole”, but I didn’t. I wanted to go yell at the guy, but I didn’t want to make things worse for her and invade her agency. Does anyone have any thoughts on the best way to help a woman in that situation? Maybe I did the right thing? Maybe I could have called the police, but she might have not pressed charges, gone home with him and been beaten worse. I also wanted to offer her a night at my place, but didn’t. I would appreciate any advice on how I could respond to seeing an incident like that.
I was walking down the street on a Friday afternoon on my way to a job interview. An older man (probably in his fifties) walking the opposite way leered at me and said ”C’mon, smile! It’d look good on you!” as he passed. I glared at him but said nothing, I didn’t feel comfortable reacting because I was alone and it wasn’t a great neighborhood. Now I wish I had.
This past summer my friends from work and I were walking down Yates street when we were verbally assaulted by a group of men. We were all wearing heavy backpacks with all of our clothes and gear for our job (we worked at a summer camp). The men started yelling at us and telling us to “get off the street and get a job”. One of the men proceeded to tell me and my other female-bodied friend to “use what god gave [us] and make some money”. They followed us for the rest of the block yelling at us.
This was my first encounter with such an aggressive form of street harassment, and even with all of my experience in the prevention and education world, I was shocked into silence. I felt attacked and scared, a feeling I’d never wanted to have associated with my hometown. I didn’t know what to do. It made me think also about the importance of not making quick judgements or judging people off of their appearances–because after all, we all had jobs.
I remember the first time I was ever cat called at. I was only thirteen. I had quickly run out to my mum’s car to grab her wallet for her when a truck drove up and stopped at the light. The guys in the truck started yelling and whistling at me. I’m not sure why, but I remember what shoes I was wearing that day: my favourite purple suede boots. Probably because I was looking down at them until the light turned green.
One morning while walking from Spiral Cafe to my nearby high school, a man in a car rolled down his window and yelled “Slut!” at me. He sped away quickly leaving me stunned at the side of the road. As I kept walking thoughts like “well my dress is quite short and I guess you can’t see from far away that I’m wearing shorts underneath” and “I probably should have worn leggings” flooded my mind. As a feminist and activist I was distraught by my own thoughts and felt overwhelmed with emotion. Our society is so messed up that I was criticizing myself and not the creep that had just yelled at me! By the time I got to school I was crying and the reactions I got from friends were little help. When I told my friend the story she told me not to worry about it because she knew that I wasn’t a slut. That’s not the point; no one should be slut-shamed or street harassed!
Hollaback Victoria would like to acknowledge the Host Communities and Nations in whose territories we work and live. Details