I was sitting on the 2 train at approximately 8:45 pm tonight. This man very purposefully stood above me, though it wasn’t a crowded train at all. He had his hand in his pocket, and was clearly touching himself while staring at me. He was holding honda 3-d glasses. I don’t know why. I took this picture of his face and said “excuse me pervert” and got up and off the train. I am still nearly hyperventilating. Please post this. I don’t want anyone else to feel this way.
Submitted by Annie
The deadline for the Justmeans Paperless Challenge is Wednesday the 15th, and Hollaback! is so close to winning! But we need your help. To help us reach our goal, we are giving away FIVE Hollaback iPhone 3GS covers.
1. Vote for Hollaback!, and comment on why street harassment matters or why Hollaback! rocks.
2. Link to the competition on your facebook or twitter page, using this link (http://www.justmeans.com/contestidea?ideaid=ODU4) and our handle. We are @ihollaback on twitter, or Hollaback! on facebook.
If we win, we’ll use the funds to overhaul our website (and say goodbye and good riddens to pepto-bismol pink). We’ll announce the winners of the competition on September 16th.
Thank you for all your support. We couldn’t do it without you!
On October 12th, we are collaborating with Envision Williamsburg and Feministing to bring you the best happy hour ever! Envision Williamsburg recently completed a community research project that showed street harassment as the form of sexual violence that caused the most concern for Williamsburg residents. To tackle this, Envision Williamsburg is looking to do a number of community-based interventions, but their awesome efforts have been stifled by a cut in funding to their parent organization, the New York City Alliance Against Sexual Assault. Your $5 suggested donation will go towards directly supporting Hollaback! and Envision Williamsburg’s efforts to build a street harassment free city.
If you are able to volunteer for this event, we need your help. We’re holding a silent auction at the event, and we’ll be giving free Hollaback! iPhone covers to anyone who brings an item (or items) valued at over $50. Can you contribute? Contact us at holla (at) ihollaback.org.
I was actually harassed moments after leaving tonight’s book release on “Stop Street Harassment”. It was the strangest thing it was almost as if the whole thing was planned as an ironic joke or something. But I guess I was so angry after the talk that before this guy even finished his sentence I flipped out on him! I saw him leering a me as he was walking towards me and he started to say “Damn baby, you look….” I just lost it. The thing is that I have always had a mixed bag of reactions when dealing with this sort of thing, some of the time I would say something but most of the time I would say nothing and just let it happen to me. It was invigorating to put that guy in his place, especially since I could see that he honestly didn’t expect it! He was with two other guys who said nothing during the whole exchange which may have proven to have humiliated him in front of his friends. I hope this story inspires all women or rather all victims of street harassment to stand up for themselves whenever it is safe for them to do so and to never miss that opportunity. Tonight I was glad that I didn’t.
Submitted by Esmeralda
Editor’s Note: Thank you to Esmeralda and everyone else who came to the “Stop Street Harassment” book launch last night! It was great to see so many people there, and a big congratulations to Holly on this important contribution to the movement!
If you’ve complained to others about street harassment, you’ve probably been told to “toughen up” or “get a thicker skin.” Like as if somehow, the fact that street harassment hurts is your fault. It’s a decision that you make, and if you were just a little stronger, and a little less of a “girl,” the problem would be solved.
When street harassment hurts, it’s not because we’re not strong enough. In fact, I think it’s our strength that makes it hurt more. Street harassment shatters our perspectives on who we are: smart, dynamic, bold; and instead focuses on who we aren’t: bitches, whores, and pairs of tits. So — too often — we just try to ignore it. And it works, sometimes. But most of the time it doesn’t, and the hurt just sits inside us, “like molton lava boiling right underneath the surface of my skin.”
In this incredible piece called “Thinner Skin” the writer talks eloquently about how you can’t just make the hurt of street harassment go away. How it lives inside us. She tells the story of her own sexual assault and writes: ” I’ve been threatened. I’ve been hurt. My friends have been threatened and hurt. I regard any man invading my space and disrespecting me as a direct threat to my well being. Every single time I get verbally accosted, every single time a man sits too close on purpose. Every single time I catch a man, out of the corner of my eyes, sizing me up as bait. I feel that same rage. I am there again.” For survivors of sexual assault, street harassment can feel like ripping a scab off – three, four, five times a day. Any doctor will tell you that’s no way to heal.
A thick skin would be helpful if we wanted to ignore the world’s problems, internalize our pain, and just stay at home. But for the world we’re trying to create, the skin we’ve got will do just fine. We need to be OK with the fact that it hurts because we’re strong, not in spite of it. Because if we keep this myth up that street harassment hurts because we’re weak, it will continue to get passed down generation to generation. Just like it did to us.
We have an unprecedented opportunity to transform street harassment from something that is lonely and isolating, to something that is shareable. The internet is our new campfire, and if we’re going to solve this we have to start by talking about it, by responding to it, by holla’ing back. The world won’t listen if we keep pretending that our silence means it doesn’t hurt.
If you’re not getting an ample supply of street harassment during your commute, while biking, while walking, while shopping, eating, praying, loving, or just generally breathing, then print out this new game from Scary Godmother and enjoy round-the-clock misogyny. Wait, what’s that? You already do? Well maybe you’ll just have to send this link to anyone who’s ever asked why you can’t just take a compliment, then, and hope they’ll get the hint.
In London, Vicki Simister from the LASH campaign has been meeting with policy makers for Oona King (pictured here). King is running for Mayor in the 2012 election – and has recently promised to write street harassment into her policy!
To our knowledge, this is the first time that street harassment has become a major campaign issue. This tremendous leadership is incredible for London, but it is also a model for how street harassment can be addressed in other cities. Her policy even proclaims that street harassment is a “gateway to more serious forms of violence,” something that we’ve been shouting off the rooftops for years now.
Reading policy has never made us swoon more:
“Commission Police reports across the capital about the extent of street harassment, and include it within anti-social behaviour programmes”
The policy also says:
“Taking street harassment seriously
Street harassment is a regular occurrence for women in London, but is barely mentioned in government policy in the past. It is completely unacceptable that women should be expected to put up with casual intimidation, from unwanted sexual comments to being followed or even groped, simply as a result of going out in public. It is also likely that this behaviour acts as a gateway to more serious forms of violence, and so we simply cannot afford to let it go unchallenged. The Mayor should promote a culture in which street harassment is recognised as unacceptable, and women do not have to suffer it in silence. Working with police, boroughs and Transport for London, effective action should include:
• Ensuring that local authorities recognise sexual harassment as a from of violence
against women, and incorporate it into their training and policies
• Identifying London’s “harassment hotspots” and putting more police and community
support officers where they are needed
• Coordinating a poster campaign to challenge this form of behaviour and encourage
women to report it
• Establishing best practice in police responses, including consistent monitoring and
enforcement where there is evidence of persistent harassment
• Working with local councils and community groups to ensure consensus on the unacceptability of street harassment”
Kudos to Vicki from the LASH campaign for making this happen!
Despite the fact that I don’t live anywhere near New York, I’d like to submit my experience;
I’m a young caucasian girl and pretty oblivious at times. It was dark and I was taking the city bus home from a peer-education group meeting. I nearly always sit in the back of the bus because the drivers like to talk to pretty young girls if they’re sitting close enough. My city is pretty racially segregated and I happen to live in the ‘black’ part of town that’s up at bat for gentrification. The racial tension in the neighborhood is hideous and, at times, I’m ashamed of the color of my skin. This bus was predominately occupied by african-americans. I was feeling eyes crawling on my stupid whit skin and I was trying not to look as uncomfortable or out of place as I felt. I was listening to my ipod and texting my friend and trying to feel ok when I noticed these two older guys looking at my chest. One of them had dreadlocks with a receding hairline and the other had a cigarette tucked behind his ear. About thirty seconds after I noticed them, they both pulled their sunglasses over their eyes. They were talking to each other but I couldn’t hear what they were saying so I casually turned the volume of my music all the way down. Then Mr. Dreads pulled out his phone and they started talking about the camera function. Mr. Cigarette was saying something to the effect of ‘Oh that’s nice! Look at that resolution!’ The camera lens was pointed at my chest. I didn’t want to say anything and I didn’t want to move. I know that if the guys had been my same race, I’d have felt confident enough to yell at them but because of the pre-existing tension, I was unsure of how to deal with them. I didn’t (and don’t) want to be painted as racist but I felt it then. I was a minority in the situation but those men would have claimed me to be the aggressor. After a bit of thinking I worked up the courage to zip up my sweatshirt and turn my body slightly away from them.
I haven’t seen them since and hopefully won’t again. I’ve never been so uncomfortable and unsure of myself. I couldn’t even tell my mom about it for fear she would revoke the little freedom she gives me.
Submitted by Casper
NOTE: As part of our anti-racism policy, we do not identify the race of the harassers in the post, unless the relevance to the story is “clearly and constructively” explained. We felt this was a good example of that.
After a short hiatus, ‘this week in street harassment’ is back with a whole bunch of updates.
First of all, we have two internship opportunities for anyone who is interested in getting more involved in the movement to end street harassment:
RightRides for Women’s Safety is currently looking for a Media and Outreach Intern. RightRides for Women’s Safety builds safer communities for women and LGBTQ individuals through community organizing, policy advocacy, direct service programs, and anti-violence education with the goal of fostering greater safety awareness and individual empowerment in New York City. The full job description is available here.
Check out this fantastic article on street harassment in London. This piece in The Guardian discusses how widespread street harassment is and the impact it has on women, as well as providing information about the anti-street harassment movement. Organizations like Hollaback! and the LASH campaign are leading the charge as women and LGBTQ folks speak out and the world starts to pay attention.
Also from the Guardian, some women, tired of being harassed while biking around the city, have started a Hollaback! style mapping project! Awesome. Also, why are there so many men out there who think that “hey- you should ride me” is a good line to use on cyclists???
Our own Emily May is interviewed at No Country for Young Women and reminds us that Hollaback! is all about creating a response. The situation can escalate if you yell and walking away gives you that horrible I-can’t-believe-I-have-to-internalize-this-crap-everyday feeling, but Hollaback gives you a way to respond and a community to support you!
This street harassment based webcomic could be my life on a bad day. Thank to the always entertaining and irreverent ladies at Jezebel for posting it – as they point out, having your experience dismissed and belittled can be as frustrating and painful as the original harassment.
Indonesia is the latest country to introduce women-only spaces on public transportation. While this obviously doesn’t do anything to address the larger issues that have made groping on trains such a problem (except perhaps for acknowledging that harassment is a serious and wide-spread issue that affects numerous women), it is a welcome relief in the mean time.
Finally, I know that this creep who has been walking around squirting semen on women is old news at this point, but on behalf of everyone here at Hollaback!, let me say EW.