groping, Nonverbal Harassment, Uncategorized

Angela’s Story: “I am afraid to be walking my own streets by myself”

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.

no comments 
Uncategorized

Anonymous’s Story: Take the hint!

Friday night some friends and I set a picnic in the park for an outdoor movie screening.  No more than ten minutes after we got comfortable to enjoy the evening, this guy and his buddy come over and asked if they could sit with us and eat our food.  We turned our backs and deliberately ignored them for several minutes, but they continued to hover and smirk with a goofy grin.  Even after we took the first photo, they still didn’t catch on, and actually started to pose together for a second shot.  Idiots!  Finally, we turned and said in the “I mean business” tone that they were bothering us, and NO we would NOT appreciate their company!

no comments 
Uncategorized

Our Streets Too: Philly’s Anti-Street Harassment Day 2011 with Nuala Cabral

Reposted from Hollaback! Philly

On March 20, 2011, Nuala Cabral organized the Philadelphia celebration of International Anti-Street Harassment Day, and HollabackPhilly was lucky enough to have participated with her. Cabral recently released footage of the day with commentary by the activists involved in the awareness raising event. The video (below) involves a discussion of street harassment, followed by footage of the Anti-Street Harassment Day events and commentary on the day’s successes and lessons. The event occurred in Rittenhouse Square and El Stops in West Philadelphia, and engaged men, young girls, parents, and various other women.

 

I contacted Cabral to get some insight into what inspired her to not only celebrate Anti-Street Harassment Day here in Philadelphia, but also what inspires her to use film as a means of advocacy. Cabral responded:

Creating Walking Home connected me with a community of folks who are addressing street harassment through writing, art, film, education and community action. When I heard about Holly Kearl’s book and the Anti Street Harassment Day she was spearheading, I knew I had to be involved. Screening Walking Home or viewing it online has been a great way to reach a wide audience and spark dialogue. However, a film, a book, an online magazine does not reach all audiences. Therefore  it is necessary to go beyond media and engage with people face to face about this issue.

 

She also describes many lessons the group learned throughout the day, about the community’s response and ourselves.

 

We learned that many women and men have a story to share about street harassment. Engaging in conversation was a way to validate those stories and voices. Experiencing push back from some people reminded us that we still have work to do, in terms of shifting norms and expectations around street harassment and simply taking a stand.
It felt good that we had numbers–solidarity. It was inspiring. Street harassment can make you feel alone and dis-empowered. When we were out there together, I felt empowered and supported.

Chalking on the streets drew people in and led to conversations about why were were there.

The drum also created an environment that was upbeat and energizing. For those of us who are shy, that pulsing beat helped us get out of our comfort zone.

I agree with her that the drums energized the event, not only for the activists but also for the surrounding community. It also made us more approachable and less intimidating. The chalk had a similar effect while also making the discussion interactive and engaging.

I was part of the Rittenhouse portion of the event and many women shared stories with us about prior street harassment incidents, a few men pushed back and told us the line is too blurry between harassment and a compliment, and a few parents went on to explain street harassment to their daughters as their daughters drew pictures with the chalk.

All in all, it was an effective day of awareness raising in a city that needs the anti-street harassment discussion. We look forward to working with Cabral in the future to continue bringing the discussion to the streets!

one comment 
The Movement

Only hours left in the campaign!

BY EMILY MAY

I’ve been in Cairo, Egypt this week at the UNWomen Safe Cities conference – and what a week it’s been. There will be more blogging about it tomorrow when I jump on the plane, but in these final hours of the “I’ve Got Your Back” campaign I wanted to tell you one last story: my story.

no comments 
Nonverbal Harassment, Verbal

Why one donor needs us to have her back.

We’ve been sending personal responses to all our donors thanking them, and this reply really struck a cord with us. The writer anonymously agreed to share it with us.

Thank YOU for everything you do. I only wish I could contribute more. I live in New York City and when I was working in an office I would get harassed almost every day going to or from work. Now I’m a freelance writer and I work from home so I encounter it less on the street but have started experiencing truly frightening things in bars. In the last few weeks, I had a man walk in on me in a bathroom stall (the lock was apparently broken) in an empty women’s bathroom, and just stand there and stare at me for a good ten seconds. He didn’t say anything or act surprised that he’d walked in on me or that he was in the wrong bathroom, and then he just calmly left. A week later, I was at another bar with all male friends and a guy who was alone at the bar, only about five feet away from me, was turning around to look at me every 30 seconds. Sometimes he’d turn his chair around completely and stare for a solid five minutes and listen to what I was saying as though he was in the conversation. When I took my phone out at one point to check my texts and Facebook and such, he took his phone out and pointed it directly at mine, so that it was only like two feet away, and then immediately spun his chair back around as soon as I put my phone away. (That was one of the strangest things and really scared me.) He was completely undeterred by me and all of my friends and my very angry boyfriend giving him nasty looks, and he did all of this for over an hour until I was so uncomfortable that I had stopped talking completely because I didn’t want him listening to me and didn’t want to leave the bar for fear of him following me anywhere, even if I was with other people. I’ve lived in cities before, but have never experienced anything like this, or the level and frequency of street harassment that occurs in New York. I lived in Baltimore for college for four years. I was harassed on the street ONCE, and another man sitting near him got up and started yelling at him, “How dare you speak to her that way?! Have some respect!” So it actually ended up being a rather endearing experience. I’m constantly harassed in New York, always in front of plenty of people, and no one has ever come to my defense here. Not that I can’t fight my own battles, but the acknowledgment of others who witness it that it is not okay would be nice. (What a cruel joke it is that I pay SO much more money to live here than other places and I’m not even treated like a human being when I walk around the city.)

Sorry for venting all of this to you completely unsolicited. I just really hope you know how important this is to so many of us. If you ever have those days that are frustrating or hopeless, we appreciate what you do so much.

2 comments 
The Movement, Uncategorized

39 hours to go: Veronica tells her story about why this campaign matters

We are so close! With only one day to go (39 hours to be exact), we still need to raise a little over $5,000.  The flood of supporters that have come through has been truly incredible, and we are so grateful. Just yesterday we raised over $6,000 from over 50 people.  If we do it again today we’ll meet our goal. Do it on Thursday and we’ll exceed our goal.

To our supporters: thank so much for getting us this far, and let’s keep this campaign going through the final stretch. Be sure to let your friends and family know about the campaign if you haven’t already, and most importantly, thanks for having our backs. You know we’ve got yours too.

no comments 
demonstration, Nonverbal Harassment

Sara’s story: ‘Get used to it.’

I’ve been scared to drive ever since I was little. So when I announced at the beginning of the spring of 2011 that I was going to get my driver’s license, my friends and family were in disbelief. Imagine their surprise a few months later when at the wonderful age of 23 I proudly showed off my official license.

The first time I drove with my older sister in the car, I pulled up to a stop light next to a black SUV. An ordinary enough occurrence, but when I looked over and saw four boys leaning out of the SUV and making jack-off and cunnilingus gestures at us. I was absolutely stunned at their lack of respect. So stunned in fact, that I unknowingly switched lanes once the light turned green and cut off the person in the red car behind the black SUV full of jerks. The boys in the SUV pointed and laughed out of their windows as the guy in the red car honked mercilessly at me. My sister started screaming at me, saying that she shouldn’t have let me drive. I told her about how stunned I was with the guys making rude gestures at me, and her only response was:
“You’re going to have to get used to it. Guys do that to cute girls.”

I drove the rest of the trip in silence. I don’t want to ‘get used to it’ and I don’t think it’s fair that women have to add one more thing to worry about on the road.

 

To help build a world where Sara doesn’t have to “get used to it,” donate here to support our “I’ve Got Your Back” campaign.

 


no comments 
Uncategorized

I’m not a piece of meat sir!

Rare are summer days in Houston when the weather cools from the oppressively swampy to merely sultry. Whenever such an opportunity presents itself, few would blame me for wanting to slip out of my desk and into the sunshine. I didn’t take a lunch break, anyways. Nobody would mind if I ran to the bookstore for a metaphorical minute.

 

As I walk along Main Street, between its intersections with Lamar and Dallas, a stranger saunters up to me. His body now merely millimeters from mine, he demands, “Let me pick you up and carry you home. I have to carry you and take you home with me right now.” Loud enough for a 5-person band of onlookers to start quietly paying attention.

 

I panic. “GO FUCK YOURSELF!” Not the most mature of reactions, but fear and a desire to intimidate preclude creativity. Our audience continues staring.

 

He shrinks back, raising his volume and desperately whining, “But I have to do SOMETHING to you! I need to take you back to my home and do something. Let me carry you home and we’ll talk about this.”

 

“GO! FUCK! YOURSELF!” Finally, the man jerks his head away and turns to walk off in the other direction. My voice transcends my meager frame. Gives me power. Authority. A strength beyond whatever it is I’m bench pressing these days. “I AM NOT A PIECE OF MEAT, SIR!” rockets towards his back. Cliché to be certain, and not my proudest moment. But it gets the point across succinctly. A glare shot at the throng transfixed by our encounter. Lips pressed tightly into themselves. Eyes narrowed to nothing more than paper cuts, albeit obscured by prescription sunglasses.

 

They look away. Huffy. Bored. One man mutters, “Such language…”

 

Humiliation. An overarching sensation of dehumanization prickles my internals and externals alike. Saline stings the backs of my eyelids. A quaking, shaking blancmange of a thoroughly ashamed, embarrassed and just plain angry young woman. Deliberate encroachment onto my personal space, overtures of sexual violence and a complete lack of disrespect for my autonomy, agency and consent…and they take offense at the language I use to convey my flashpoint rage! He and I provided them with the day’s sensational entertainment, not a pathetic tableau of harassment. I question whether or not their apathy would have finally dissolved had this horrid man attempted to genuinely hurt me.

 

And I am incredibly fortunate he intended to intimidate more than actually injure, but all the same there exists no compelling justification for his actions (sorry, victim-blamers, but I was wearing a loose-fitting Muppets t-shirt and even more comfortable jeans that day). Nor those who saw fit to treat us as free, live theatre. Their silence gave this man permission to treat another woman with such a callous dismissal of her independence. Their chiding my self-defense enabled yet another incident of public harassment and verbal assault to end up an exercise in shaming the recipient. Of neglecting to change the rhetoric of gender-based violence.

 

But hey! It only takes something as easy and minor as the complete overhaul of societal perceptions towards street harassment, sexual assault and rape to reverse this attitude!  Neither I nor anyone else deserves to inhabit a world where something simple like running to pick up a copy The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks ends up a disheartening lesson in how Americans react when confronted with very public verbal and physical harassment. Public places belong to the public, not just those intending to badger, bully or brutalize the innocent. And that is why those of us with stories to tell – all narratives, be they victim, bystander or a loved one hearing about everything later in the day – must ensure the populace learns of them. Education, not dressing differently or agoraphobia or constantly looking over your shoulder, remains just about the only truly effective, sustainable weapon in our stash.

Credit and thanks go to Hollaback! Houston supporter James Collins with Savage Serenity Studios and Space City Nerd for helping me with edits!

 

 

one comment 
Uncategorized

Hollaback! NYC: End street harassment where it happens…

What? Hollaback NYC is inviting community members and organizations to take a stand against street sexual harassment. For too long, women and girls have been victims of sexual harassment, assault, rape, socio-economic and political violence…. and silence has been the response in many of our communities. During these hot summer days, many look to affirm their “power” through constant street sexual harassment and inappropriate remarks made to women and young girls… If street harassment is “okay,” then other forms of violence are okay. Hollaback says “Enough is enough! It is not okay!” 

It is our right to never let anyone make us feel any less than our confident and badass self, so on Friday, July 8th we will be sharing strength, looking to unite forces with community members and organizations to encourage women and girls to…. Hollaback!

Join us! There will be music and speakers….

When? Friday, July 8th, 2011 at 5:30 p.m.
Where? 116th Street & Lexington Ave.

It is time for community members and organizations to build unity and strength to create safer streets, where our women and men of all ages can walk safely and feel free of any type of harassment.

 

no comments 
Uncategorized

Only 5 days to go: El Paso’s Got Your Back

We’ve raised $11,355 and we’ve got over $13,000 to go in only 5 days.  Do you have our back? Of course you do! So keep supporting us by asking friends and family to donate. And if you haven’t donated yet – do it now! Your donation will be matched by our generous board of directors.

Here’s a sample letter to send to your loved ones:

Dear Friends and Family,

I’m contacting you today because of an effort I truly believe deserves your support. Hollaback! is an international movement to end street harassment (sexual harassment in public spaces). Over the past year, this tiny non-profit has organized volunteer activists in 24 cities in 10 countries – to work to end street harassment within their own communities. Though street harassment is the most common form of violence experienced in women’s livesHollaback! is one of the only efforts to prevent street harassment.

This month, Hollaback! has launched a new campaign called “I’ve Got Your Back.” The campaign is designed to get bystanders to intervene when they see someone being harassed. “I’ve Got Your Back” takes Hollaback!’s work to the next level by providing a real-time response to those who are harassed. Click here to learn how the campaign works.
This campaign has the ability to change the way we experience public space – and make that space safer for victims of harassment who are routinely harmed in it. Street harassment disproportionately impacts young people, women, and LGBTQ individuals. By having each other’s backs – we aren’t just providing real-time relief to people who are harassed – we are strengthening communities and acknowledging everyone’s right to walk down the street in safety.

Click here to support this important effort.

Thank you for your time – and your support!
Best,
Your awesome self!

no comments 
Powered by WordPress