No Hollaback Girl Here- 11 Tips for Fighting Street Harassers

Like many women, I get shit on the street. I get harassed and leered at, and it makes me uncomfortable.  It’s quite disempowering, because I don’t want that attention, but there’s not a damn thing I can do about it. I hate it. Sometimes it happens among my clients at work, a homeless day program where I have a little more leverage and can tell people to knock it off. On the street, I have to be a little more…. careful.

I was going to write an open letter to street oglers, things that I wish I could say to them. But there’s nothing I could say that they would hear. There are only things I can do right in that minute.  Things that would not be aggressive or even perceived as aggressive. (‘Cause that can lead to threats.)

So I took to Google, hoping I would find some suggestions, and curated some favorites from here and here.  I would love your opinions on them.

1. “Make a fart noice. Or else actually fart.”  If someone comments on my posterior or otherwise gestures to my behind, make a fart noise.  I like that so much that I may just make a fart noise every time I walk by a man. A pre-emptive strike.

2. “Bark.”  A “bitch” is a female dog.  So when you’re called a bitch, respond as one – by barking.  I think that would at least have an element of surprise and embarrassment for the dochenozzle that is harassing you.

I ain’t no hollaback girl. Check out holdback.org for info on fighting street harassment.

3. When you call someone out for leering at you, and they say, “What? God gave me eyes.” Say, “But not a brain, clearly.” I’ve done that one and it’s worked.
4. “Dude, does that EVER work for you?”
5. When people tell you, “Smile!”  Say, deadpan, “I am smiling.” I’ve done this one, and it’s hasn’t been as effective as I’ve wanted, but it’s taken our minds off the shit they’re trying to pull. I’ve also said, “What do you think I am, wallpaper? I’m not decoration.”
6. “I hope you don’t mind my asking, but what do you really think that is going to achieve?”
7. “How would you feel if I did that to your daughter or sister?” If properly executed, this one can be life-changing.
8. Turn around, look at them, and give a big spluttering laugh. That would probably be best when caught off guard.
9. Give them a withering look and say, “Run along now.” Actually, this may be taken as a challenge… You know, the kind the ignant fucksticks have to rise to.
10. “I beg your pardon, what did you just say?”  I haven’t tried this, but I like it – to make them repeat themselves. And maybe, once they do repeat themselves, say it again, just as many times as it takes for you to pass.
11. When strange men call you “honey,” (or baby or baby girl), call them “woo gums.” I haven’t tried this, have you?
What do you think of these options?  Have any of you tried them? What do you like to do, or what have you seen/heard?”

 

9 thoughts on “No Hollaback Girl Here- 11 Tips for Fighting Street Harassers

  1. Having had a particularly bad week for this, I have compiled all the things I’ve seen men cringe at, and am actually looking forward to trying them out. I don’t like yelling, so I want to see if I can make them want to disengage with me of their own will. Most of these are for the persistent creeps.

    The next time a man feels the need to comment on my appearance rudely, I am thinking about politely excusing myself to the toilet (as I have pretend had the runs all week), and am worried I felt something! Oh, but since he brought it up, while he was checking out my sexy ass did he see a stain? Followed by sorry, but I have to get to a bathroom ASAP.

    If it is suggested that I smile, I plan on regaling men with stories of woe and misery. Such as over sharing about how my (imaginary) girlfriend bought the same shoes at me when she KNEW I bought them first, and also health problems (such as having the runs), or being concerned about a long booger that never seemed to end (that I picked in the bathroom earlier on that day). Hence, no smile, due to worry. I am also thinking about reviving burping on command if they hang around long enough to save a huge burp. Pardon me, but I have a chronic gas problem and all.

    It is not a very genuine approach, but I would so much rather be the disgusting crazy b-word they wouldn’t ever want near them, than that sexy piece of meat they want to lay claim to. A way not to be hostile but over sharing some innocently albeit gross reminders that I am human.

    Yes, I am immature, juvenile, sometimes shameless. I am almost always a lady, until … I don’t feel like being one. Trying to get off on me comes with some icky mental pictures of overflowing toilets… I have decided.

  2. Hey Belly! It sucks that you also have to deal with dickwidgets. :) I don’t think you’re shameless at all! You did ask for them to make comments about you; you didn’t start this.
    Actually, your comment reminded me of another good one when someone is leering at you – stick your finger up your nose. Offer it to them. :) I have done that one and they’ve turned away, disgusted.
    I think these are great suggestions – I might try some. :) ‘Cause I would also rather be a disgusting b-word than harassed and threatened. Thanks for reading!

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    • Your welcome, and thanks for reading! I don’t know if you read in the comments about putting your finger up your nose like digging for a booger? I’ve started doing that one when passing people and so far, it’s worked. And it cracks me up.
      But I kind of have to plan for it – I’ve been caught off guard a few times. Boo.

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  5. My friends and I used to have an incredibly insensitive scenario that we would ad-lib anytime a group of us went out together and guys started to harass us: we would all act as if we had severe cognitive impairments. We would outdo each other in the length of our drool-strands, the disgusting things we would pretend to put into our mouths (leaves, twigs, and yes, boogers) and then we would act like we were completely ecstatic that the guys were interested in us. We would shamble towards them, making horrible deaf-mute yelping noises, saliva burbling from our lips, and demanding that they give us a kiss. They were invariably offended. I’m sure they were shocked at our cruel mockery of the disabled.

    • Cruelness aside, I completely applaud your commitment to the goal! Doesn’t it suck that we have to sink to such levels to get these asshats to leave us alone?

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