Saturday, July 7, 2012

Logging Street Harassment in the Bay Area

This is a list of street harassment incidents collected through a variety of resources:  street harassment organizations, public transportation websites, personal interviews, and other sources.  This is not an exhaustive list.  Contact to add your story!

Source:  Stop Street Harassment


San Francisco

Location: Caltrain, leaving San Francisco, CA
Minding my own business on the CalTrain, a man gets on, sits in front of me, and leers back between the seats several times before lusting, “Nice legs, very sexy.” I give him the total death stare and he turns around. He looks back a few times, and I stay firmly quiet.
I assess that the situation is safe, then as I am about to exit the train I stand up, lean over him, and say calmly but firmly (and loud enough for others to hear): “The reason I did not respond to you is because what you said to me was sexually aggressive and made me feel threatened. If you want to say anything to a strange woman, try ‘you look nice today.’ You made me feel threatened and that is a really terrible feeling for me.”
He apologized, I think sincerely, and seemed really ashamed. Was it a teaching moment? I hope so. I certainly felt better.
- Anonymous



Location: Oakland, CA
As a 9 year-old-girl my way was blocked by a group of boys, I was terrified. People don’t understand, they think it’s a compliment and I should be grateful.
- Anonymous

Location:  Oakland, CA 

I was walking home one night and there is this street where there is a broken street light. Unfortunately there were also a bunch of people (mostly men) who were partying and taking up the whole block & street by blocking it with their cars. It was so annoying. All i wanted to do was go home. I had a sudden urge to just run home. Because if i walked then one or all of the men would try to literally stop me and try to grab me and/or try to talk to me.

So I took a chance and ran like hell. One car actually tried to back up and get in my way. I could here one of the men yell, “Where you runnin? Stop running I wanna talk to you! It’s like that?”
This pissed me off so much because it was in my own neighborhood. I am always scared and pissed off because I don’t want to get hurt over some dumb shit like getting assaulted because I didn’t give my phone number to a stranger. It’s situations like that that make me loath being around people. Luckily, I made it home. But it was another reason why I hate my neighborhood and leaving/going home.
- Anonymous

San Jose

This mural, created in San Jose, California, says: “We Are Over It. End the Rape Culture, Break the Silence, Celebrate All Genders.”
During the spring semester, San Jose State University’s Women’s Resource Center did a lot to address gender violence. They created the mural above, they put on a production of the Vagina Monologues, they created a Tunnel of Oppression (800 people walked through it) and they created the fabulous videos posted below.
Women’s Resource Center Intern Yan Yin told me via email, “There are a multitude of issues we are over with – from the gender binary to homophobia to sexual harassment and assault, and the rape culture.  We are grateful for all the people that collaborated with us to produce the pieces.”
From street harassment to rape, from campus sexual harassment to sex trafficking, you can spend all day and night being outraged and upset. It’s great to see communities come together to channel that outrage and speak out and demand an end to gender violence they way the community at SJSU did. Keep up the great work, SJSU!

Source:  HollaBack!

San Francisco

Location: San Francisco

I was waiting for the restroom at the Union St. La Boulange
location Friday, June 15, 2012, at 11:15 a.m. While I was waiting, someone in their kitchen whistled at me (cat call whistle). There was only one other person in the hallway, a male employee, who heard the whistle (I know because I mentioned it to him). This incident was extremely offensive, and it is sexual harassment. I am a woman, not an object to be whistled at, especially not at a place of business.
I e-mailed La Boulange, describing the incident. They replied immediately and jumped on the issue to penalize the offender. I really appreciated their response, and the fact that they didn’t make light of the issue.

Location:  San Francisco

Today at a corner store in San Francisco my sister was grabbed by this man, whom she had never seen before. He cornered her and tried to hit on her, pulled on her skirt (like one does to see how full the skirt is), then grabbed her hand and kissed her all the way up her arm. She was terrified and broke away, but he followed her when she went out of the store. She called me in a panic. My sister lives in one of the most progressive cities in the country, and this is the second time this week she’s been harassed.
Taking one’s style of dress, appearance, or demeanor into account is irrelevant when talking about sexual harassment – NO ONE wants or invites or deserves this kind of behavior, no matter what they dress like or do on their own time – but even so, my sister dresses conservatively and told the man she had a husband at home. It didn’t matter, he kept going. No one in their right mind could say that this is acceptable behavior or that she “asked for it.”
Street harassment has happened to every woman I know. It’s happened to me. I’ve usually been too scared to say anything: it’s only recently I’ve learned I can tell a man “that’s not OK.” But I shouldn’t need to say that. Women deserve to feel safe when they go to the store. It’s something this schmuck should have learned in preschool: keep your hands to yourself.

Location:  San Francisco
Hey Hollaback y’alls,
So, I like this. I like this because I thought of waging my own anti-street harassment campaigns the same time you were building this website. Awesome.
I lived in San Francisco, in the deep mission. The men stared at EVERY woman under 30 who walked by. They’d visually stalk me every time I walked out the door.
I had seriously high anxiety in San Francisco because I was always being watched. Walking down the street, men would see me from a block away, and literally turn their bodies toward me while still talking to each other & stare. As I walked past them, they’d turn their bodies so they could watch me walk away.
This was a daily thing. I dreamed of putting up posters that said, ” Staring is rude.” “We think men who stare are unattractive.” Knowing they were total homophobic pigs…”Would you fuck a 68 year old man? Neither would I. Stop Staring.”
I didn’t do it, but I think I still will.

Location:  San Francisco
My timeline of secrecy… I will not keep it to myself anymore.
I have been sexually harassed times before in public places.
The first time when I was 11 or 12, after school a friend and I were standing at a Walgreens photo kiosk and a man was pretending to grab a snack on the lower shelf, when I realize that he has been there way too long to get something. I look again and see that he has a video camera aimed up our catholic school skirts. I yelled “Hey!” and he ran. I didn’t know what to think. I explained what I saw to my friend and aside from how barbaric that is, we’re glad we always have shorts under these skirts.
After that, about the rest of the time I have spent my middle school and high school days in San Francisco, I may have been “goosed” on my rear end maybe a total of 4 times by middle aged men way older than I was. The places that this occurred usually were in crowded places like a Chinatown street or store, or on public transportation. Quite frankly I’ve been paranoid since of people sliding past behind me. I’ve been more cautious; I trust no one and assume every man can and will potentially do that.
I’ve told my family once about an incident and they laughed at me and said, “the next time that happens, make sure you step on them hard and make it public.” I was embarrassed and a little mad that they even laughed and dismissed it so easily; logically, yes, it’s that simple, but it altered my perception of safety being female.
I left to a university in Southern California and felt completely safe, or safer to much greater degree. For one thing, shorts and tanks were everywhere; everyone was my age with young bodies. Sexual violations were rare especially with the amount of hormones and alcohol involved, it seemed like it gave permission to do something stupid today and regret it tomorrow (I may be over-exaggerating, but it is what it seems). Plus, there’s an escort program provided by the school that aided in that security.
And then I came back to San Francisco. I am now 23. I’ve forgotten how it is. In my neighborhood, never ever has it happened so close to home. I was walking back and a man on a bike, with a cap and a messenger bag groped me from behind and sped off. My reaction was not quick enough. I looked around and there was no one. I am afraid to be walking my own streets by myself… Two days ago I saw this same man speed off in front of my house window. There was no time for me to snap a picture, but I felt like I would see him again. I wondered if police did anything about these cases of sexual harassment or if there isn’t enough proof to do anything about it. Then I found this site.
This picture I took of this man today didn’t physically or verbally do anything to me. I was waiting for a bus alone and I could tell from my periphery he was staring at me, you cannot mistake it because traffic comes the other direction. I was texting meanwhile to speak to someone so I can feel a tad safer. A woman and her family decided to stand around me thankfully. But as I was out of his gaze hiding behind this woman, he stepped back to get a good view of me as I pretended to constantly look up to check for a bus, but really checking to see if he was still looking; he would advert his eyes each time I looked up his direction. I didn’t want to be followed. I remembered the Hollaback site. So I held my smartphone up to snap a picture. He turned around to dodge it and I was afraid I wasn’t going to get a clear picture. But the shutter time was perfect. I sent the picture to a friend in case anything was to happen to me, or if this man was offended and decided to take my phone, etc. After that, he crossed the street and left. He didn’t even bother to wait for a bus anymore. I was relieved. Now I wonder, taking a picture so openly and obviously, if I was creeping on a creeper, a little ironic. Technically in this last story I have told, nothing happened. It doesn’t neatly fall under a definition of harassment that I can bubble in. I was only fearful and creeped out. I may have prevented something from happening; I’ll never be sure of that. But if I did, this picture is of a man that I (or anyone) may be careful watch out for.
Boy, it’s been a long time since I posted. Actually, the last time I posted was right around the time that I moved back to San Francisco. And I’m so glad to be back.
But I don’t tell people that one of the reasons I’m so glad to be back in the city is that the amount of harassment I encounter has gone waaaaaay down. The main reason I don’t mention it is that the reactions of many people break my heart. Too many people, upon being told in general that I get a lot of harassment, act uncomfortable — with me! — and don’t offer me any sympathy, much less engage in any discussion. I’m talking about abstract conversations here, where there’s no immediate danger, and all I’m doing is communicating.
It’s so much worse, then, when the harassment happens in front of your friends or social circle and they do nothing or act uncomfortable with you, as if you were the one who had done something wrong. I know that those situations can be sometimes scary or emotionally heightened. But think about the general emotional orientation of someone who doesn’t, when the scary moment is over, automatically offer help and sympathy to a friend who has just been verbally assaulted.
I mean, c’mon, people! How hard is it to say to your friend who was just harassed, “I’m sorry you had to deal with that,” or ask her “are you alright?”
It’s those simple offerings that can make the difference between you being part of the problem, and you being part of the solution. Either you kick a friend who’s just been kicked, or you blow on her bruise and offer her salve. Why is that such a hard choice?
The immediate sympathy and help is key, but what’s an even greater act of friendship is listening, discussing, and helping your friend to process the harassment, to understand it, contextualize it, and help render it less powerful. Treating your friend as a thinking, feeling adult who is capable of understanding what has happened to her, and capable of insight, is a really important part of being an empowered woman in a society that often treats us as meat.
And the greatest act of friendship — and righteousness — of all is intervening on the spot, and standing up to the harasser for and with your friend.
This last one — standing up for your friends — should be automatic. If it isn’t, maybe it’s time to think long and hard about how you were raised, and what choices you learned to make to survive. Yeah, I was a bullied kid and I threw other outcasts under the bus if it would save me … when I was in grade school. But now I’m an adult, and every failure of mine to protect and support my friends when they are attacked is my failure, not theirs. And yes, as an adult I’ve failed many times, or been weak or stupid in my support. But I’m glad to say that there have also been times when I was mindful enough to succeed in supporting and backing up my friends. And I strive to be that person every day.
I’m thankful for those fierce friends of mine who have done all of these things: Jaime, Patty, Cyndie, Robynn, and others whom I’m forgetting right now. (There have been so many incidents over the years, and when I was younger I deliberately forgot about it when friends failed to support me, so I managed to also forget when they did support me.)
And I’m also remembering people who shall remain nameless — some of them people I greatly respected — who stood by and did nothing. And, though I forgive quickly, I’ll never forget. As MLK said:
In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.
You’re not alone — in being harassed, in feeling helpless, in not knowing what to do. But tackling street harassment as it happens in front of you is your responsibility, as it is the responsibility of every citizen of a free state.

 Location:  San Francisco 
...We also got a story from Kristin in San Francisco. Kristen was on a crowded bus when she felt a perpetrator’s genitals moving up and down on her thigh.  As she moved away the larger man followed her, forcing her to get off at the nearest stop.  Kristin now suffers from anxiety attacks....

Location:  San Francisco
I used to work in downtown San Francisco. As anyone who has lived or visited here knows, having a car is generally more trouble than its worth. I take the bus or walk everywhere. A big part of my commute every day was the 38L bus. This particular line is massively overcrowded during commute hours. I was on my way home from work and the bus was so crowded everyone standing was pressed up against each other. All the sudden I felt something rubbing up and down on my thigh. It took me a second to realize that this big guy standing behind me was slowly humping me. I started to move back further on the bus and try to get away from him. He followed me and started doing it again. I finally managed to slip off the bus at the next stop and waited for the next one. I’m lucky he didn’t follow me off the bus. To this day, I refuse to get on a bus that crowded if I can help it. I will wait for the next one if I can. When I have to take it no matter how crowded, I am hyper aware of everything going on around me and have had minor anxiety attacks until I can get off the bus.


I live on a major street in Oakland, and for whatever reason I can’t leave my front door on foot without getting harassed at least once on my way to Point B. I love this city, so it really bums me out that this is the case. The most frightening was when I walked under the highway overpass and not one but TWO cars tried to pull up next to me within a minute of each other.
The worst incident in recent memory happened in a yuppified neighborhood north of here. I had just gotten off the train and was on my way to work. I was very hungry and the supermarket was a few blocks away, but I found a Tootsie Pop left over from Halloween in my bag, so I thought, “This will hold me until I can get some real food.”
So there I was, eating my Tootsie Pop and thinking cheerful thoughts when some asshole walking towards me interjected, “I’ll give you someting to suck on, baby.” I was stunned. I couldn’t believe it. As soon as I realized what he had said, I turned and threw the sucker at him as hard as I could. It didn’t hit him, but I couldn’t have gone on eating it after that.

Location:  Oakland, CA
I was crossing the street half a block from my house, and this guy on a bike started making lewd noises at me. I told him that he was being gross and he needed to learn how to respect women. He started yelling “fuck you, bitch” so I took his photo. He’s the one in the red hat.


Location:  Berkeley, CA

I was riding my bike down Russell Street near San Pablo Park. Minding my own business a heard a car coming from behind, I got closure to the curb to allow the car to pass with ease, when all of a sudden behind me a guy leans out the window and slaps my butt, laughs with all his buddies in the car and proceeds to speed off down Russell turning onto Park st.
Note to all women cyclists: in Berkeley and Oakland, you HAVE to ride hard/fast. You are an easy target if you are riding slow. It is unfortunate that we cannot leisurely ride around our neighborhoods, but the street harassment is unbearable to those that have to ride alone sometime. Best of luck to all the ladies out there riding, keep doing what you do, but be alert of your surrounds.
btw, this was in broad daylight with people all in the park around 5:30pm.

Location:  Berkeley, CA
 Street harassment, frankly I hate the term. It makes it seem like what I go through everyday is just an annoyance, like a nagging fly buzzing around your ear it could just be swatted away. Lets call it what it is, street violence. What I deal with everyday is violence.What other term can be used to describe something that has robbed me of my sense of security and plunged my consciousness into a warzone. A day on the streets of Berkeley without “Hey sexy”, “Can I get your number”, “Hey Honey, what you think you too good for me?” is a foreign concept to me. It’s become a world I can’t imagine. From the time I step out of my dorm and onto the street I am in a heightened  state of anxiety, constantly worrying about who is going try to get in my face today.
          Who is gonna make remarks about my body today? Are they gonna be bold enough to follow me like the guys yesterday? Are they gonna be loud and draw attention to me like the guys from last week? I can no longer physically walk down Durant at night because the sight of it fills me with fear. Simply glancing at the shadows on Durant transports me back to night a group of six men circled me in the shadows and looked at me as if they could have me right there if they truly wanted to, no one could stop them including me. When they sneered at me “Mmmmm Mami we not gonna hurt you…” with smiles on there faces I had never felt more helpless before in my should mentioned that those same men yelled at me from across the street earlier that night asking me if they could just take my picture. Street violence like this has made me feel powerless and insecure. I have begun to question myself in ways I have never before. Every morning when I get dressed I question whether every outfit shows too much or is a reason for someone to comment on my body.
          The scars street violence leaves are invisible but they are powerful because they alter who you are by changing the way you see yourself and the world around. The streets of Berkeley are my war zone and I can’t say that I’m winning any battles.  The idea of Hollaback has helped me regain some of my power. Hollaback is the best weapon women in Berkeley have to fight back against street violence. If we can put our harassers face out for the world to see we can warn others and begin to reclaim our streets. Hollaback helps to do what no self defense class can do which is expose street harassment as what it is, it is violence.

Location:  Berkeley, CA
....Living in Berkeley now, I worry about the safest way to get home after dark. I walk briskly, ignoring any comments that are spit at me, my skin thicker and more immune to harassment than it ever was. But thick skin is not the answer. Ignoring harassment is not a way to stop it. I’ve learned that I need to “hollaback!” at these situations. I deserve a voice, I deserve to be respected, and I deserve to feel safe. We all do.

Location:  Berkeley, CA

This happened to me in Berkeley… there are a lot of cat calls here. My neighbor said, “Well, that’s what Berkeley is like.” I say it’s inappropriate no matter what city it is and Berkeley deserves a better reputation than that.
First off this guy was persistent. He was hanging out in front of my building by the Laundromat. Every girl that walked by he made a comment “Want to wrestle?” Then he mumbled something to me and I asked to repeat himself. He claimed he didn’t say anything.  Later I was walking up the street he was walking in the same direction. He said “Hey sweetie…” I asked him to stop talking to me and that he was being disrespectful. He started a string of insults about my ass being fat and so on. So I took his picture and told him it would be on Hollaback. He didn’t like it.

 Location:  Berkeley, CA
I’m going to guess this guy wasn’t from Berkeley.
I was waiting to cross the street as this truck waited to turn, and the guy in the passenger seat started making crude comments to me and my female friend.
“Sit on my lap and ride!”
I took out my phone and got this shot. He was flattered, at first.
“Hey, she’s taking my picture!”
“Yeah, so I can post it online and tell everyone what an asshole you are.”
Then he didn’t look so flattered. He didn’t have much to say after that, either.
Thanks, HollabackNYC!

Location:  Bay Area
Walking down the street on my way to the store and a guy in a truck actually stopped in the street to shout at me about my “great” legs, kept shouting until I looked over before finally moving along.

Source:  Muni Diaries


San Francisco


T-Third line creep:  original story
There is a total creep who gets on the T-Third line over by Ingleside. He preys on young girls who usually seem too scared to confront him, or aren’t even sure of the situation. I know, because he assumed I was one of those.
He will sit next to you in the cramped two-person seats. At some point he will move one of his arms to the side, like he’s reaching for something in his pocket. The only thing is, the arm stays in that awkward position, usually touching a young girl’s thigh or buttock for a really long time.
I know it seems silly, but when I experienced it, I honestly couldn’t be sure he was doing what I thought he was doing. I remember elbowing the guy, and he said he was “reaching for something in his pocket.” Yeah. No one “reaches” for 2 minutes ++.
The guy is really tall, maybe over 6 feet, and just an awkward-looking fellow. I don’t know if there’s anything mentally wrong with him, but his conduct is definitely wrong.
After he tried that on me, he actually kept using the same technique on other girls. I’ve caught him on two other occasions, and have called him out on it. Other than seeming like a crazy person by glaring or trying to warn these other would-be victims, I’m not sure how I can really prevent this from happening to other women.
Hey creepy dude, stop creeping people out, cuz you don’t wanna end up another Muni humper. If anyone else experienced this or any other creep on the T-Third or any other routes, let us know. We also advise you to contact the police, or at the very least, let the driver or SFMTA know about it.

Follow-up post:
I sent a copy of this [T-Third line creep post] to the SFPD and this was their reply:
I printed your blog and gave it to the Captain to see what we can do. I recommend that a police report be made if you see this guy doing this again. If you call the police while on the bus, they can meet the bus and identify him.
Ofc. E. Teper
Bayview Police Station
201 Williams
San Francisco, CA 94124

N-Judah toucher:
I had the displeasure of a NJudah pervert recently between Cole Valley & Duboce Park. Doesn’t sound like it’s the “T-Third Toucher,” however, as he definitely wasn’t over 6 feet.
He got on at Cole Valley (my stop), immediately tried to squirm behind me into the corner, which was unnecessary as the train wasn’t super packed. I moved away, but he inched closer and closer, finally swinging around and again pressing up against my back, followed by a full-on body thrust. I pushed him off and he turned to presumably repeat his actions on another woman, who quickly moved.
Lucky me, he turned his attention back on me. I told him to F-off, at which point he spit on me. So disgusting. He added a barrage of sexual comments as well. Other passengers hit the emergency call button and once the driver came back he ran off.
I filed a report with both Muni and SFPD. We’ll see if anything happens.
His description: white, mid-late 30′s, appx 5’8″-5’9″; brown hair; average build. Horrid brown teeth. Was wearing neon sunglasses. Also was humming/singing loudly and acting erratic aka druggie.
Ladies (and everyone, really): Be careful out there. And report the creeps who cross the line.

Source:  The N-Judah Chronicles

"Creepy Pervert Guy on the N Judah."

Dear N Judah Chronicles:

I am writing you today to tell you about a guy my wife and I have named "Creepy Pervert Guy on the N Judah." His method is to hop on super packed morning rush-hour N-Judahs, inbound, usually boarding anywhere between Stanyan St. and Church St stops. He only rides when the train is super packed; i.e.. Standing room only. He may ride at other times, but we have only witnessed him from 7:30am-9:30am weekdays.

He will enter a train car, find a woman, and hold onto the rail. It's hard to tell from this picture but he will grab the rail much further ahead from where he is standing. This allows him to smother the woman in front of him. What you don't see is that he is pushing his...Ahem... into the woman in front of him, below the line of view of anyone else on the train.
When he tires of this, he will find another woman on the same train. I've also seen him hop off the current train car at a stop and run, not walk, to a train car behind the one he was on and hop on before the train takes off (I'm assuming to find a new crop of women to do this to that are unsuspecting).

My wife and I have been tracking this pervert for a few months now. My wife noticed this guy one day when he did this very same thing to her. It was extremely uncomfortable for her, and when it happened a second time she KNEW something was up. One day as we were taking the train together, wouldn't you know it, there he was waiting for the train at our stop.
Now I knew who this guy was. We made a pact to try to get a photo of him in the act and spread it out there. Before we could do that, we really needed to know that this wasn't a figment of our imagination or sick coincidence. We had to know that his intentions were such before we start some sort of a smear campaign on anyone.

You have to understand that the way he does this is so under the radar that merely calling him out wouldn't be very effective. We had to know from others that this was in fact happening.
One morning he boarded and my wife noticed he was doing it AGAIN. She ran up and told the driver about the man. The driver then stopped the train from moving. He made an announcement to the train. He pulled into Van Ness, and unfortunately creepy guy hopped off. By the time the train got to Civic Center, Muni police were waiting to board and look for the guy who unfortunately was no longer on board.

What sealed the deal for us was one morning a few weeks ago when I hopped onto the N-Judah to go to work in the morning. I got a nice spot in between two trains so I could lean. Wouldn't you know it, he boarded the train in front of me. From my vantage point, I could tell that he had picked a lady and was straddling her. I couldn't see her face, I could sure as hell see his.

We've seen him ride the train to Van Ness, or Civic Center, and exit the train. We've seen him run across to the other side to catch the Outbound train that was arriving at the same time. All this creep does is ride the trains repeatedly to get creepy on women in the train.

This morning we were on the train, and actually made a joke about the guy. Sure enough, 5 minutes later, he boards at Church St. and is standing right next to us. We're silenced. We can tell he is trying to get close to a lady next to my wife.

I tapped him on the shoulder and told him he should move because there is "plenty of open space so you don't have to get so close". He moved immediately and exited at the next stop. We then asked the people in the train, including the most recent target, if they had noticed him before. Resounding "yes". I showed everyone the picture from above, and more than one lady confirmed that he does this.

Why so long winded? Because this isn't just a "hunch". This guy does this. And anyone riding the N-Judah (and really any train as far as I'm concerned... Just cause we've seen him on the N-Judah, doesn't mean he doesn't spread the "love" so to speak on other trains) should know who to watch out for.

I will be forwarding this note and image to Muni police to spot the guy.
They do NOT want a guy like this riding. I'm also posting this on Craigslist. When I see him on the train, I will let the train operator know that the guy is on there. I'll do my part.
Thanks everyone. Here's to a safe, non-creepy ride to work in the mornings.

Yikes! Reader Jason has identified not only a specific problem that happens on mass transit (i.e. weirdos who do creepy gross things) but a bigger problem as well - how do we, as riders, deal with someone who's committing a crime or disturbing the peace on a MUNI bus? Too often, by the time the police show up or whatever, the offending party is long gone, and drivers themselves are limited in what they can do to stop someone (especially a violent crazy person) as well.....

Source:  Newspapers

"Sex Crimes Ride Under the Radar on Public Transit" - Bay Citizen article, NY Times article 


"Muni Masturbation: It's Not Just Us" - SF Weekly article

Source: personal interviews