Cover Story
Catcalling All Men: It's Not a Hoot. It's Harassment.
Ten hours, over 100 catcalls. That’s what one woman dressed simply in jeans and a black T-shirt endured as she conducted a cultural experiment on the streets of New York City with a hidden camera meant to capture the cascade of crude remarks slung her way as she walked around town. Greetings from the gutter included: “Nice,” “Damn,” “Hey, baby,” “God bless you, Mami” and “Hey, look it there.” In October, a video of the woman -- produced for use by the anti-street harassment group, Hollaback! – blew up on the Internet. As a form of both protest and empowerment, women worldwide have been sharing -- online and elsewhere -- their own tawdry tales of verbal and other street abuse. On the following pages, young women of Teens in Print add their voices to the chorus of those who have been subjected to mouthy assaults and other rude behavior dispatched from the sexist sidelines.  

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  I was in Codman Square last week when an old man whistled at me and called me “baby.” Maybe he was trying to show his friends how easy he could get girls. I kept on walking. Then he called me a “b----.” Honestly, that really did not affect me because I know that I’m a good girl who wants to be successful in life. I know that I am educated and he was acting like that because he is not.   ~ WILL-ANGEE RAYMOND // STAFF WRITER  

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  I was on my way to school in September with headphones in my ears while reading a book to show people on the Red Line that I did not want to be bothered. A man approached and said, “Hi, gorgeous.” I made an annoyed face. I told him to leave me alone. He then decided to put his phone in front of my face. As I tried to return to my music and book, he showed me a picture of his penis. “What the heck is wrong with you?” I asked. “Too much?” he replied. I was furious. I didn’t want to cause a scene so I just said “You’re crazy. Leave me alone.” I walked away.   ~ JENNIFER LE // SENIOR EDITOR  

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  In the summer, I was dressed for a job interview downtown and I looked very professional with a button-up shirt and dress pants. A group of guys started to follow me, asking me where I was going and who I was seeing. I was honestly a little freaked out and ignored them. They continued to follow me, telling me that I should give them a try. “How you not gonna talk to me?” one of them said. I told them to back off and leave me alone. I was scared for my life.   ~ HARRIANNE ERRIE // STAFF WRITER  

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  Several months ago, I was taking a friend home and I waited for her to get on the bus in Dorchester. When the bus came, I gave her a friendly goodbye peck on the cheek. Two old guys in a car saw this and one of them must have thought it was a real kiss. “I’ll pay $300 to see that again,” he said.   ~ FARMATA SAMATI // STAFF WRITER  

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  “Aye, girl. Bring dat a-- over here.” --Hyde Park Avenue, December, 2014   Yes, indeed, I am a girl. Indeed, I have a butt. However, I will not, shall not, ever “bring dat a-- over here.” I find it so disrespectful that men think it’s OK to speak to me in any way they want. Would you want someone to speak to your mother, sister, or daughter that way?   ~ ADAMAJAN BAH // STAFF EDITOR  

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It was about three months ago and I was walking near Ashmont with my best friend. We were about to go to this pizza store and there were, like, eight boys in front of the door. “Can you move out of the way?’’ I asked. They were like, “Oh, you guys are hot. Can we get your phone number?” I said no you may not. As we were about to go in, one of them said, “B----, you’re ugly. Why are you here?” I felt bad for a few minutes but then I remembered that it doesn’t matter what they call me because they don’t know me.   ~ CHERBY SINORA // CONTRIBUTING WRITER

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  One day, I was walking from Faneuil Hall to downtown all alone with music in my ears. I was walking really fast because I had somewhere to be. A man approached, called me beautiful, and asked if he could buy me a drink. I was about 16 at the time. I told the man that I was too young. He disregarded my age and continued asking questions. Not even two minutes later, another man came up to me and asked me if he could buy me a drink. “I’m too young,” I said. He had the nerve to say, “You’re not too young to date.” I got annoyed and walked across the street. It made me feel uncomfortable and scared because if he thought that way, he could have other plans in mind.   ~ JENNIFER LE // SENIOR EDITOR  

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  As I was walking in West Roxbury with my best friend this summer, a man in his 20s driving a black car slows down. He rolls down his window and yells: “Ayeo, dark skin!” We knew he was referring to me. I found it funny at the time because did he genuinely think I would consider even responding to a comment like that? It doesn’t matter what the color of my skin is. I am a woman who has a name just like that man has a name.   ~ HARRIANNE ERRIE // STAFF WRITER  

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  About six months ago, I went to the corner store in Dorchester to buy my mother something. While I’m walking back home, a car beeps at me and a guy says, “Hey, sexy.” I ignored it and continued to walk. A second car beeps and a guy says, “Hey, Mami.” That got me upset because he was the second old person doing it to me on the same day but different minutes. Then a third car beeps. The guy inside didn’t say anything. But when I turned around, I saw him looking at me with his mouth wide open. I didn’t know what was causing these people to do this to me but I didn’t want to hear any more of it. I started speed-walking home.   ~ FARMATA SAMATI // STAFF WRITER  

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  “Damn, ma! You so fine.” -- Dorchester, November, 2014 See, now I can’t run in my neighborhood. OMG! I’m training for a marathon and I need to get this run in and you’re staring. Ugh. So annoying.   ~ ADAMAJAN BAH // STAFF EDITOR  

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While walking with my boyfriend downtown several months ago, a man walked by us and said, “Look at this man walking with a beautiful lady.” My boyfriend laughed and said I’m so popular. I laughed but then the man said, “I hope she has my babies.” I felt so awkward and grossed out.   ~ JENNIFER LE // SENIOR EDITOR

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“Aye, yo, shorty! Let me holla atchu real quick!” -- Dudley Station, November, 2014 Wow. Really? Let you holla? Do you mean you want to talk to me? I’m not a mere object. Plus, does it look like I’m short? So don’t call me shorty.   ~ ADAMAJAN BAH // STAFF EDITOR  

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There was a time, several years ago, when I was going shopping with my mother and we were coming back home to Dorchester. On our way, we heard a guy asking if we were from Guinea-Bissau, which was weird because I am from Guinea-Bissau. Me and my mother looked at each other and then turned around to see who it was. I realized that he might have overheard us speaking in Portuguese Creole. He told us that he was Cape Verdean. He asked if he could get my number. I told him that I did not give my number to strangers. He kept asking. That’s when things started to get aggravating, because he kept licking his lips while he was talking to me, which I found so disrespectful. He kept calling me “baby.” As we sped up, he was like, “No, don’t go. I still didn’t get your number.”   ~ FARMATA SAMATI // STAFF WRITER  

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When I was in the fifth grade, me and my mom were walking through Boston Common. When we got to the sidewalk, we heard someone say: “Hey, you wanna a ride?” As respectful women, we just ignored him. “Shawty,” he said to my mom, “I know you heard me talking to you, b----.” I watched my mom’s face explode with anger. I felt really bad after this because it disrespected and humiliated my mother. As I got older, I realized that incidents like this happen every day. I believe that all women deserve to walk down the street in peace.   ~ ROSE KOUMBASSA // STAFF WRITER

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STREET RHYMES FOR STREET CRIMES

  Catcalls. Is she a cat? Not at all. Don’t call.   That little girl, she loves the world. She stands tall, never to fall.   One. Two. Three. “Hey Mami” right on cue he says at you.   Four. Five. Six. “Send some pics.” Makes me sick that he thinks like this.   Seven. Eight. Nine. “You so fine.” Then, ten. Put the pigs in a pen.   ~ NICOLE DUBOV // TVR STAFF WRITER  

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Catcall Calculus

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Letters to Younger Girls (Series)
Teen Voices Rising investigates the struggles of younger girls to stay strong in a community in which they have been belittled, stereotyped, sexualized, and ignored. As TVR participants recognized that these hurtful messages have been imbedded in them at a young age, they wrote letters to younger girls, younger sisters, or younger versions of themselves in hopes of warning girls of these harsh realities, and offering them advice and encouragement. Our writers wanted to remind girls of their individual and collective strength.
    Dear Imaginary Little Sis,   I'm writing to you to not only warn you about the complications you may encounter in the future but to also make you a stronger person. Though life seems hard now, trust me it gets worse. Despite all of the pressures you may possibly face, there is hope that you can overcome these struggles. Growing up my parents taught me I could be anything I desired, whether I want to be a nurse or the CEO of my own company. Although I received all the encouragement a person could ask for in my home, it was the outside world that diminished my confidence. As a little girl when I would tell my teachers that I wanted to be president or to own my own business, I was met with awkward stares and answers like: “Oh sweetheart, that’s a man’s job. How about nursing?” I am not saying that nursing isn’t a respectable job, but I just don’t understand why girls are raised to think that they are unfit to take leadership roles, and should instead pursue roles that consist of caretaking. I know that right now you may not feel that you have the voice or the strength to speak against these stereotypes, but I just want you to know that your future should depend solely on your wishes and not on what society believes you should be. If there ever comes a day where you feel like giving into pressures placed by society, remember that you are strong and you can be a leader.   Love,   Jamie  
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Letters to Younger Girls (Series)

Teen Voices Rising investigates the struggles of younger girls to stay strong in a community in which they have been belittled, stereotyped, sexualized, and ignored. As TVR participants recognized that these hurtful messages have been imbedded in them at a young age, they wrote letters to younger girls, younger sisters, or younger versions of themselves in hopes of warning girls of these harsh realities, and offering them advice and encouragement. Our writers wanted to remind girls of their individual and collective strength.
 
  Dear Little Girl,   It’s okay, little one—I see the tears falling down your young innocent face. You lock yourself in your room when your daddy raises his voice. You peek out & see your daddy’s hands raise as your mommy screams, “Please stop!” The red substance now drips from the side of your mother’s face. You run up to him and begin to punch him repulsively! His face enraged he throws you to the ground and your soft skin encounters a sharp pain! You try to scream, but nothing comes from your mouth! The lock on your room door turns again and the tears continue to fall from your eyes. You have no one to tell, but it’s okay—I hear you, little one. I don’t want you to grow up thinking you can’t love no man because the one man you did love betrayed you in each and every way. Every man is not that same. Don’t shield yourself from men because you’re afraid because all men won’t do the same.   With Love,   Dasia    
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Letters to Younger Girls (Series)

Teen Voices Rising investigates the struggles of younger girls to stay strong in a community in which they have been belittled, stereotyped, sexualized, and ignored. As TVR participants recognized that these hurtful messages have been imbedded in them at a young age, they wrote letters to younger girls, younger sisters, or younger versions of themselves in hopes of warning girls of these harsh realities, and offering them advice and encouragement. Our writers wanted to remind girls of their individual and collective strength.
    Dear Little Sister,   I'm writing this letter in hopes that you will see this when you're older or that you will stumble upon this. Not only is this for you, but to all the young girls who need a big sister out there. Lanvy Tran_StrengthInSkin To all those young girls that think you are not good enough? You don't have to be, for anyone else at least. The most important thing that you will ever need is to be comfortable in your own skin. Don't conform to society's definition of beautiful. Wear what you like, what you think feels good. Be yourself, because, girl, your personality is the best part about you! Lastly, don't let negative people affect your positive attitude. Shine through. If people want to be mean because you are not afraid of labels and rock whatever you wear with pride, then that’s their problem. Keep moving forward, little sister.   Much Love,   Melanie    
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Letters to Younger Girls (Series)

Teen Voices Rising investigates the struggles of younger girls to stay strong in a community in which they have been belittled, stereotyped, sexualized, and ignored. As TVR participants recognized that these hurtful messages have been imbedded in them at a young age, they wrote letters to younger girls, younger sisters, or younger versions of themselves in hopes of warning girls of these harsh realities, and offering them advice and encouragement. Our writers wanted to remind girls of their individual and collective strength.
  Dear Younger Me,   You are me—but not really. We’re almost two different people, in fact. You, young and unaware, are happy. I am all of those things too, but in a different way. Your happiness is constant. I am now forced to look for mine, and it is exhausting. You take a lot for granted now – attention, an audience—and that’s perfectly fine. In fact, keep doing it. You have absolutely no idea what it’s like to be ignored, or to have your thoughts belittled for anything other than being a kid. When you get “old” (“old” is in quotation marks because I’m not really old – I still can’t drive), things will change. You’ll struggle to find an audience because people will be less likely to listen to you, and you’ll be less likely to speak. I mean, you don’t talk much now but imagine how bad I am with conversations (very). Practice beginning conversations. Ending them. Responding to getting cut off mid-sentence. Repressing the urge to cut other people off mid-sentence. Do it while there are a million and one adults and children willing to listen to whatever you say. Now there aren’t, and it stinks. I, still young and unaware, am not able to take attention and an audience for granted because I rarely have them. That’s both my fault and not. So, I’ll give you a final word of advice (more likely to be followed than the plethora of “practices”) – cope with your loss of an audience with humor whenever possible. Make fun of your parents, your classmates, and most importantly, yourself. One day, if you start to get your audience back, they might appreciate it.   Best,   Naomi  
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