Sunday, July 10, 2011

The Time I Felt I Couldn't Hollaback

Bumper Sticker by Holly Kearl

On my way home after a wonderful night, two men took it upon themselves to ruin my mood. Friday evening, I had a great time at Word Up pop-up bookshop. I read that evening, listened to other authors, poets and musicians, and after the event, spent time with a new acquaintance.

The train ride home was uneventful. Not one drunk or vagabond to speak of. The train made all stops. It was a little after 4am on Saturday morning before I got back to my neighborhood. I've done this a million times before. About a block away from the train station a car pulled up along side the parked cars, slowing to about 5 miles an hour to keep pace with me. The passenger called out to me something to the effect that I shouldn't be alone and asked if he could walk with me. I knew the tone. He wasn't trying to be a gentleman. I kept pace and looked sidelong at him. He continued to speak but rage was drowning out whatever he was saying.

Then I heard a different voice coming from the car. It was the driver. He was leaning past his friend to speak to me. I guess he figured he'd have a better shot. I started to grip my umbrella tighter wishing I could just bash their faces in.

"Dread, dread! Why you nuh talk to me, dread?"

After seeing the death glare I shot him, he shot back with some variation of the why-you-so-angry, don't-look-so-mean command men are known for.

You wanna know why I ain't smiling, motherfucker? Because it's 4 am and you've been driving alongside me for about a block catcalling and harassing me from your car with your friend.

I've heard too many stories of men retaliating against a woman who spits back only because their egos are bruised. It was two against one, my cell phone wasn't working, so I didn't say anything.

The driver continued his assessment of my hair, my body and my walk, while the passenger continued to leer, laugh and ask why I won't "come here" or "stop and talk".

"Mi see you walkin dere so, dread, and mi jus wan eat your pussy. An mi nuh do dem tings but mi a look pon you and mi jus wan eat your pussy." This time I shot him a look Obea almost answered for me. His tirade was accompanied by a tongue gesture. I was so enraged.

They continued to roll alongside me. He told me how he wanted to eat my pussy and how could I not want it. But with no response from me, he wished me a "good night" and sped up, him and his passenger looking back periodically until they/I were out of eye shot.

Before they drove off, I saw two young men on the stoop of a building. I wasn't thinking that they would help but just hoping having more people around would stop the two men in the car. They drove off when I was a few yards from the stoop. Yet as I walked past the stoop, the one closest to me on a lower step turned to his friend by the door and said, "Yo, shorty right there could be sucking my dick right now with those lips."

I wasn't supposed to hear the comment and it took everything in me not to turn around but again it was two against one if they did decide I "shouldn't have said anything."

No, I didn't deserve what happened to me because it was 4 am.  No, I wasn't wearing any tight or revealing clothing to cause these men to lose self-control. They were just disrespectful assholes who thought it was OK to follow me almost the length of an avenue and harass me. I'm just pissed that I had to bite my tongue because of fear of how they'd react. Had it been a couple of hours earlier, or if there were more people on the street, the outcome would've been a lot different.

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Check out this movement and get involved:

Hollaback! is a movement dedicated to ending street harassment using mobile technology. Street harassment is one of the most pervasive forms of gender-based violence and one of the least legislated against.


  1. My goodness. Reading this evoked so many bad memories for me. I have had men do the same to me several times. It's humiliating, disgusting, and threatening. Like you. I bite my tongue for fear of retaliation but I wonder what goes on in these minds that they feel the right and most likely obligation to make such lewd and salacious remarks. Thank you for speaking out.

  2. Yes, I need to pick the minds of some of these men. What possesses them to do that? I know it's about power but why? Are they trying to get a(n angry) reaction? They can't possibly think some woman would say they want to be with them after behaving that way.


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