Appalachian Ohio, Athens GA, Atlanta, Berkeley, Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Columbia MO, Des Moines, Durham & Chapel Hill, Fredericksburgh VA, Houston, Los Angeles, Muncie IN, New York City, NYU, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Richmond VA, San Francisco, Tucson, Twin Cities
I was sitting on the bus going down London Road towards Meadowbank, and a car load of blokes pulled up next to us at the lights. They started shouting and generally being lairy, so I turned and looked at them. They started whistling and blowing me kisses. After doing a double take and a “are you talking to me?” type thing, I gave them a V sign. The bus pulled off. All fine. Then they sped up and overtook the bus shouting, jeering and beeping their horn as they did. It really pissed me off as 1) it was quite intimidating as I was just about to get off and 2) its humiliating in front of a bus load of strangers to be (bus?) harassed by a bunch of dudes. Annoying.
I’m an International student attending the University of Edinburgh, and I have always felt fairly safe in this city at night. I rarely go anywhere alone, and on this night, I was with my two friends.
We were on the 30 bus towards Princes Street (Clovenstone) and were talking amongst ourselves. We were fairly happy to be heading to Subway to have a different meal for dinner. A man (in his late 20s to early 30s) turned and began talking to us from a few rows up.
At fist we thought he was being friendly, because he told us that it was down the road. That quickly turned into him making sexual references like “You girls want a big sandwich, do you? With cheese?” Multiple times. He moved to the front of the bus, and when we had to get off the bus, I noticed that the few men that were on the bus were beginning to look uncomfortable.
The man stood at the entrance to the bus, and proceeded to ask us to have a drink. We politely declined. He continued to bother us, stating that he was “just joking”. I heard a man behind us quietly mumble “Could have fooled me. Good luck ladies.” When the doors opened, he refused to let us pass at first, but we managed to get around him (just barely). Needless to say, we booked it down the street and did not turn back as he yelled something behind us.
Besides being pestered by this man, what I found worse was the fact that not ONE male on the bus would simply say “Leave them alone, they’re not interested.” or something along those lines. Back home in North America, SOMEONE would say something! I’m very disappointed. What happened to chivalry, or a bit of sympathy?
It’s dark, I’ve got a banging headache, and I’m walking home behind five guys who are already a bit merry on their night’s adventures. I don’t really give too much thought to it – I’m tired, I want to get home. One sees me, breaks off from the group, and starts with the usual ‘hiya pal how’s it going’. I keep my tone reasonable and say ‘I’m alright, but I just want to get home undisturbed thanks’. His mate turns around (so I’m suddenly the focus now of all five guys) and tells me just to ignore him ‘because he’s from a village where there are no females’. He doesn’t tell his mate to stop harassing strangers, and I feel like telling him that he should, rather than tell me how to behave, but I’m too tired, there’s five of them, and my front door is almost in sight. I repeat: seriously, I just want to get home. Dude number 1 gets closer and is all ‘what’s your name, where do you come from?’. Me, exasperated: I think you should join your mates. I’m not interested. I just want to get home. He finally gets the hint. Before getting my keys out as I approach my front door, the thought crosses my mind so briefly I barely register it, that maybe I should slow down so they don’t see which flat I live in.
Lasting impression? F’cks sake. I just wanted to go home.
As I stood with friends outside Lulu nightclub on George Street two men approached me and asked in a jovial tone “are you a Paki?” To which I answered no and turned my back. I was shocked that he would think using such a derogatory word so casually was acceptable to a stranger. Being 1/8 Indian this is certainly not my first encounter with a bigot but was my weirdest!
Would you like to be part of a dynamic team working together to wipe harassment off Edinburgh’s streets?
Hollaback! Edinburgh are recruiting for new volunteers to get involved with us. This could be as a committee member, as a volunteer for a specific time frame or campaign, or as an ad hoc volunteer who lends their skills and helps out as and when they can.
If you would like to get involved with Hollaback! Edinburgh, please email firstname.lastname@example.org to request an application form. The closing date for complete application forms is 12noon on Monday 28th of October.
If you require the form in a different format, or if there are any questions you may have, please don’t hesitate to get back in touch with us.
Hollaback! Edinburgh are committed to equal opportunities, and welcome applications from all members of the community.
At first glance it seems that everyone who lives in Edinburgh lives in the same city. It seems like we walk the same streets, but the moment you begin to talk to people you realise that our everyday experience of exactly the same places is often completely different. Spaces that for some people are safe and normal can be intimidating for many women, LBGT individuals and black and minority ethnic groups. Many people face harassment on a daily basis, and right now as a society we just accept it. Once you realise that, it’s only a tiny step to think that it’s not good enough and that we can do something about it. This is why I joined Hollaback, because I think that our culture needs to change. It’s time to stand up and say that we can do better. Everyone in Edinburgh should be able to enjoy the freedom to go where they like, when they like, dressed as they like without fear of verbal or physical assault. Every part of our city should be welcoming and open no matter who you are.
I think it’s important that men are engaged and involved in the movement to end street harassment. There’s no getting away from the fact that it is men who are most often the perpetrators, so we can’t let harassers represent us. We can speak up when those around us don’t behave like decent human beings. Whether it’s abuse in the streets, rape jokes or misogynistic behaviour we have to stand up to our friends, family and colleagues and show them that it’s out of line.
This should be a movement for everyone to get behind. We all need to stand up and say that everyone in society deserves to feel safe in public places. When you begin talking to people about it they almost always react in the same way. First comes surprise, as they realise how pervasive harassment really is. Then comes a wave of positivity, as they realise that an alternative isn’t impossible. People are full of stories of the experiences of themselves and those closest to them. I believe we can beat street harassment in a generation by changing people’s casual acceptance of it and challenging ourselves as a society to do better.
This week was my last official week as the Chair of Hollaback Edinburgh, and let me tell you, this last year has been a blast. Having set up and chaired the committee, I’ve been lucky enough to be around some seriously awesome people, all committed to ending street harassment. Whether you’ve come to hear us speak, shared your story, taken party on our survey, had a wee dance with us, or attended our feminist flavoured pub quiz, it’s been great to be part of something so innovative, so vibrant and so needed.
I wanted to get involved in hollaback because at 31 I was fed up of having 20 years of street harassment. From the moment I hit puberty I have been whistled at, shouted at, called a cunt, asked to get my tits out, called a slag, masturbated at and followed home on a fairly frequent basis. And I know I’m not alone.
I’m currently 6 months pregnant, and something I’ve noticed since being pregnant is that my experience of street harassment has changed quite radically- not the purpose, but the act itself.
Sure, I’ve had strangers eye me up and down when I’m in the pub, just to make sure that I’m either a) not drinking or b) if I really am pregnant; I’ve had people tell me how fat I’m going to get and I’ve people double take at me on street. It’s all very strange. But one thing that hasn’t happened to me since I’ve been visibly pregnant is street harassment of the wolf whistling/get your tits out variety. All of this, is of course, grounded in sexism. The only time I’m not sexually objectified by strangers on the street is when I’m knocked up, which is no better than the sister/daughter/mother narrative which makes me cringe so much. You know the one, don’t harass me because I might be important to some dude? It’s no coincidence that I don’t get harassed when I’m out with my (male) partner. Vomit. I am more than my relation to the men in my life thank you very much.
However, today, on my way to work, I was street harassed in the wink-wink-nudge-nudge kind of way; and it was grim. I’d forgotten just how demeaning it is to have a gross bloke look at you as if you are nothing but a body. And this is why street harassment is about sexism. It’s a way of reminding us that in this sexist society, we are always a body. Sometimes we are a body that belongs to a man, sometimes we are a body that belongs to a child, sometimes we are a body to judge. When it comes to street harassment, we are always just a body- the right kind, the wrong kind, whatever, we are always up for (normally men’s) approval or ridicule.
Our reactions may be to feel overwhelmed, diminished, undermined or full on pissed off, and what’s so fantastic about hollaback is that we get somewhere to put all of that, where people will understand, support and listen. And this is quite simply awesome.
I am so honoured to be part of this movement speaking out against street harassment with its courage, bravery and general bad ass-ness. Thanks so much for having me. holla4eva!
Walking down my street and I see a guy struggling with two boxes to get into a tenement. I say: ‘Are you alright, do you need me to grab the door for you?’ And he says: ‘No, I’m okay. Where are you from?’ I start walking away, saying ‘from a place where people offer to open doors for people’. Because the hint that I was unimpressed wasn’t strong enough, and he thought that I actually identify as someone who is ‘from the door opening place’, he goes: ‘No, what I mean is, are you Asian?’ By this time he has left the door of the building I thought he was trying to get in and following me down the road. I say no, to which he just looks at me with ‘I know you’re lying’ written all over his face. I say, in my most unimpressed tone, ‘I’m mixed’. Him: ‘What mix like Asian and White?’ Me: ‘You know its rude to randomly ask people what ethnicity they are in the street’ Him: ‘No its not I’ve just moved to the area and I’ve heard there’s a lot of Asian people in the area’ (like that makes it all okay?) Me: ‘I think I’m entitled to my opinion on this one’. Him: ‘Do you live round here then?’ Me: ‘No’. At which point he drops one of his boxes, and I see my opportunity to put more distance between us and speed up. Behind me, as he picks up his boxes, he shouts: ‘I hope to see you again soon!’ Yeah, likely mate – because who wouldn’t want a bit more casual racial and sexual objectification in her life?