On Being Attacked

Last week we featured an interview with Nijla and Monique, the co-directors of the documentary, Back Up! Concert Diaries. Today, we feature a very powerful poem written by Nijla Mumin.  Her poem reminds us of the fears many of us experience as we walk the streets of DC.

On being attacked

might I hug
my purse close
cross the street
crown my head in baseball
clutch a canister of pepper
spray in one hand
clinch the other into a
upon the sight of
bare backed brown boys
no more than
17 years

might I tiptoe past liquor
stores breath deep
when I spot
baggy pants brown boys
bickering on street corners
might I tack my mouth
shut with silence
upon a brown man’s
or smile wide for his
approval to walk
down the street

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A Victory Against Street Harassment

At HBDC, we don’t just want to highlight the horrible incidences of gender based sexual harassment that are happening daily in DC. We think it is equally important to show how individuals are holding harassers accountable for their actions. In order to change the culture of gender based sexual harassment that we live in, we need to ban together as community, and take back our right to feel  safe  in public spaces and to live in a world free of gender based sexual harassment!

We give a HUGE HIGH FIVE to one of our loyal HBDC for her success.  We also want to thank any business that refuses to put up with sexual harassment. So THANK YOU, Hill’s Chimney Service!

Her Story

A large black utility van turns a corner, and its passengers yell “Howya doin’, Darlin’?” at me. I don’t respond, and the men cackle like the hyenas from “The Lion King.” Ugh!

I got the company’s name — Hill’s Chimney Service. The van drives so fast that I’m worried I’m not going to be able to snag its license plate number.

The van gets stuck at a light, and I’m praying in my head that I catch up to it before the light changes. The light changed and I was worried I’d lose them. Someone must’ve been looking out for me, because they don’t make it this cycle and get stuck again. I pull out my Post-It pad, and I fumble for a pen. Luckily I still had the Jeopardy pen I’d received as a consolation gift for not being able to audition (another story, another day) and write down the license plate number: MD 51N 005. Yes!

I continue on, and these fools have the audacity to still try to catcall at me. The one in the passenger seat (always the one on the passenger side, damn scrub) has this shit-eating grin and is giggling, but when I said “You sexually harassed me, so I took down your license plate number and will report you,” that grin turned into a frown and he immediately rolled up his window. I could still hear some giggling, but I repeated, “You will be reported.” More on this later.

When I arrived at work, one of the first things I did was call Hill’s Chimney Service to report their catcalling employees. A kindly receptionist answered the phone, and when I told her what the call was about, she replied with “Oh my goodness!” She left a message for Mike, the supervisor.

About 40-something minutes later, Mike calls back. I relay the story to him and he was upset.

“My company does not condone this!” he said. “I am a family man, I love my wife, I would never do that to a woman, and I truly apologize for this behavior. That behavior does not represent Hill’s Chimney Service as a whole.”

When I gave the license plate number, he gave me the names of the culprits: “Richard and Tyrone.”

He told me that he will reprimand them as soon as he sees them, and hopes that I never see them again.

“If you do see them again and they do that again, please call me,” Mike said.

“Will do,” I said.

So a small victory against street harassment is mine, but it doesn’t tackle the bigger war against it.

Submitted by anonymous

Fodder to the Fire

posted in: Street Harassment | 0

Street harassment is wide and rampant in Washington, DC. Don’t believe us? Check out City Paper‘s video on street harassment.

It happens on the bus, the Metro, on your way to work, or when you are enjoying a day out with your loved ones. It happens to women of all colors and creeds and to those who identify as LGBTQ. It can escalate into violence, it can happen in silence. However it happens, you have a right not to encounter it.

Share your stories of gender based sexual harassment by email us at dchollaback at gmail dot com. We automatically post stories anonymously unless you want us to use your name or initials.

Street Harassment Must Stop

Another holler, you give another middle finger to that stranger, another vulgar name is hurled in your direction. Although living in DC has its perks, street harassment is something that most of us don’t sign up for on our daily routine to the Metro, the local grocery store, or to work. This reality is something we hope to capture on our blog, as well as highlighting local activists, different organizations, and events to combat street/gender-based public sexual harassment.  Inspired by our sister blog, Holla Back NYC, we hope to create a community of concerned citizens working to end street harassment through a variety of different means.

To share your story, please send it to us at dchollaback at gmail dot com. We will post your story anonymously, unless you want your name (or initials). We also encourage you to take pictures/videos of your perpetrators in order to empower our stories and put faces to the harassment. Although don’t do this if your safety will be compromised.

We look forward to working with you and creating a community–a revolution, if you will–of folks ready and empowered to end street harassment in our Nation’s capital.

For more information, check out our FAQs and our anti-racism policy.

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