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BY AMALIA SIRICA
This past week, to commemorate the 17th anniversary of the Violence Against Women Act, Vice President Joe Biden announced his “1 is 2 many” campaign. In an impassioned speech that can be viewed here, he urges us to step up and take action.
At the heart of this new campaign is the notion that victims of sexual violence are more than mere statistics. I love the name “1 is 2 many,” because I think that too often we look at a number and think, “oh just 1 in 5? that’s not that bad,” but in reality we should be thinking, “1 is WAY too many.”
One of my favorite parts of Biden’s speech describes his position on bystander intervention. “There’s no such thing as an innocent bystander when it comes to the abuse of a woman,” he says. “If you know of it, if you see it, you have an absolute obligation to stop it.”
I was glad to hear him say this, because I think that too often campaigns will focus on “teaching women how to protect themselves,” when really we should be teaching others to be socially responsible for the communities they reside in.
While overall I responded positively to “1 is 2 many,” I did take issue with some of the language that Biden used.
I cringed a little when he said, “One more thing, guys: If you know somebody’s being abused or see someone being abused, be a man. Step up. It could be your sister. It’s your obligation. Thanks guys. We need your help.”
While I’m sure his intentions were good, this appeal to men has always irked me. Why is it necessary to remind them that the women being assaulted could be their sister? Isn’t it enough to say that a member of their community is in need? And on top of that to encourage them to, “be a man”? It feels downright paternalistic, and a little patronizing…
I’m happy the nation’s leaders are taking notice of these issues and making them a priority. But I also yearn for a day when a woman could count on her community for help just because she is human, and not because she might be a stand-in for a blood relation.
I was walking along the street and moved to the side to let a man pass. Instead of also moving to the side so I could pass, this man moved closer. As we passed one another on the side walk, he felt up my hip briefly. Yuck. I felt so gross after.
This incident occurred last Friday. I was walking home from the library and was just passing the middle school in my neighborhood. A middle aged man in a red shirt was walking on the sidewalk in the opposite direction as me. I thought nothing of it, he looked like he could be picking up his kid at the middle school. As he passed me, I heard him muttering something under his breath which sounded like “slut”. I froze for a second as he continued walking then turned around and said “what did you just say to me?” in an incredulous tone of voice. He said “‘Mamacita’. Do you know what that means?” Completely disgusted, I turned back around and shouted “Creeper!” and continued walking. I wish I had been louder; I wish I had been more confident in my confrontation of his behavior. I had worn my favorite purple polka dot miniskirt in order to feel better about my horrible day and he turned it into something disgusting and cringe-worthy.
Thanks for existing, Hollaback- I can’t even begin to tell you how much better I feel having written this knowing it will be read by people who understand.
I just got back to the US after spending three months abroad in South Korea and Japan. I was very excited to spend a week visiting LA for the first time before I return to my hometown on the east coast. Today is my first day back in the states, and I decided to go for a walk to check out the area. Ten minutes after I stepped out the door, a guy waiting at a red light yelled “Slut!” at me out of his car window. As I continued walking, three more cars with men in them honked at me or slowed down to leer out the window. This isn’t a bad neighborhood, but now I feel somewhat uncomfortable walking around by myself. My first reaction was surprise because I didn’t have any experiences like this while in Asia-not that sexual harassment doesn’t happen there, but I always felt very safe walking alone, even at night. Most women I spoke with there felt the same way. I had been back in my own country for less than 24 hours when this happened. It feels like this is just America’s way of saying “Welcome home.”
I was walking home from the bus stop this morning, and all day I had been stared at and honked at by men in cars, and I’d just about had enough. I was only wearing a long sleeve top and a skirt! Anyway, so I was walking along my street which is a main road, and this guy honked at me and shouted something out. I thought nothing of it. And then, just as I was about to walk into my house, the guy pulled up beside me and started speaking to me. There was another guy in the car as well but he looked more awkward and I could tell he didn’t like what this other guy was doing. He said I looked familiar and asked what my name was and where I went to school. I only gave him brief information, but it was still a bit confronting. He then asked me how old I was, and I told him my real age, thinking he’d go away because I was way too young for him. But he kept talking, and eventually asked me for my number. That was the line. There was no way I was going to even consider handing out my phone number to this creep, he looked about 10 or 15 years older than me! So I said no and walked off, past my house so he couldn’t follow me, and then some other guy honked at me as well! By this time I was really fed up and upset, so I went around the corner to a park, and burst into tears. It was one of the most confronting and upsetting moments of my life.
This sort of thing happens to me too often, and I’m so sick of it, knowing that there are horrible men out there is really frightening.
As I wad drunkenly leaving Turtle Bay bar, this dude appears next to me, touches my leg and goes “I love you you’re beautiful.”
Dude, F*CK OFF. YOU HAVE NO RIGHT TO TOUCH ME. ALSO YOU HAVE ZERO CHANCE WITH ME. EVEN IF I WERE STRAIGHT. WHICH I’M NOT. I’M GAY AS F*CK. F*CK YOU VERY MUCH.
I’m a receptionist at a car dealership. I’m also a book-artist, and I often bring small-scale pieces to my job with me so that I can work on them/fiddle with them in my free time. Today I brought a nice little Coptic-stitched number which I’ve been using as a journal and sketchbook. One of my male coworkers came up to my desk and began to admire it. I allowed it. He opened it up — and asked if he could ‘write me a poem’.
I said sure. This man had made sexualized comments toward me before, in passing — but I thought, ‘surely this guy won’t have the audacity to write something inappropriate in there, while I’m at work. Surely, surely, he isn’t so stupid.’ Welp, I was wrong.
The title of his poem was “Attraction”, and here is how it went:
Disturbing yet Alluring
Hot yet dampened by
the look of wet innocence
if only the conversation
could breathe to life into
I wrote him a poem in return; titled it “Objectification”:
Ain’t no daydream
for the woman
on the receiving end of it.
We hate that shit
More than anything else
in the world.
He was taken aback, and he said that I’d taken the poem ‘the wrong way’. I said ‘I took it like you wrote it.’ And then, we had a conversation about workplace etiquette and the objectification of women. Wasn’t an easy conversation – it made me shake with nerves! But it was EXTREMELY FULFILLING. THANK YOU, hollaback.
I was walking with a friend about 5 feet behind another woman who was walking alone. As she walked by two men, one of them began to walk with her and was leaning into her very closely, as if he was going to kiss her. She began walking much more quickly and as she moved ahead of him, he reached out to her and squeezed her butt. She didn’t look back, but began running forward at that point. My friend and I, seeing what had happened, also began running so that we wouldn’t have a similar encounter.
BY ALEX ALSTON
I personally think the idea that only women can be feminists is a myth constructed by a male-dominated society. Quite frankly, it has done much in the way of dividing men and women working toward gender equity, as it is often wielded by patriarchal ways of thinking. However, one of my professors and I recently sat down and began discussing the somewhat problematic, in our respective opinions, phenomenon of men in academia (or any other discipline) promoting themselves as feminists when in fact their actions suggest otherwise.
The specific case in question involved Tulane University professor Shayne Lee and his book entitled, Erotic Revolutionaries: Black Women, Sexuality, and Popular Culture. (If you haven’t heard about the debacle please google it.) Lee was once a part of a group of black professors, all men, who very vehemently and consistently articulated their place as “black male-feminists.” The problem arose when Lee’s work was critiqued by a colleague of his, Dr. Tamura Lomax. For whatever reason Lee responded hostilely toward his colleague via text message and facebook. Dr. Lomax expressed that she felt physically threatened and intellectually demeaned by Lee’s comments toward her. Lee, however has defended his position even as the situation has deteriorated and many of his colleagues, both men and women, have firmly denounced his behavior as neither feminist nor professional. The point both my professor and I stressed was that a commitment to feminism from a man, cannot simply be lip service. There are inevitably various ways to practice feminism, but physical intimidation and insults cannot be readily incorporated into a feminist framework of responding to a colleague. Like Lee, there are many “progressive men” operating in different disciplines and different spheres that don’t mind calling themselves feminists. Part of my experience at Hollaback! taught me to value the meaning of the term and to not just lump myself in simply because I could be mildly cognizant of sexism. I certainly don’t claim to be the authority on who is and who is not a feminist, but I will say there is a real problem with the almost flippant use of the word on the part of some men to serve their own ends. A feminist in speech only, is no feminist at all.
T-Mobile has responded to our petition and provided the requested phone numbers to the NYPD. However, T-Mobile slowed down a police investigation of a sexual assault, endangering more people. We continue to be in discussion with T-Mobile to get clarity on their policy.