Why do you HOLLA? Because I’m tired of turning away, crossing the street, watching shadows, and resorting to learned behaviours of invisibility. I’m sure I’m not the only one.
When I learned about Hollaback, my first thought was to wish we had it where I lived. So I’m bringing it here myself.
What’s your signature Hollaback? In the past it’s been a swift getaway and staircase wit, but I’m getting better at responding in the moment.
What’s your craft? English-to-English translation. Also preserves; my plum-ginger jam could probably win prizes.
HOLLAfact about your city: A ceremonial cannon is fired every day at noon at the Halifax Citadel, a historic fort on a hill that looks over downtown. (I love that cannon. Wouldn’t you?)
What was your first experience with street harassment? I first witnessed street harassment when I was very young. I was walking with my mother and some young men across the street yelled racial slurs at her.
There were many later incidents that, in hindsight, were definitely racial and/or sexual harassment. In particular, there was schoolyard bullying that often had a sexual tone. I didn’t identify it as harassment at the time, though. They were “just” being creepy, or rude, or pushy, or ignorant, and I didn’t know how to respond to it. The pattern didn’t become clear until I got older and learned that these things happened to a lot of other women too, not just me.
The first time I immediately identified something as harassment was when I was about 23. I was traveling alone across the country, and got stranded in northern Alberta for a day because of a mishap with the Greyhound schedule. It was Sunday, so almost every business was closed and the streets were deserted. I walked towards downtown, and some guy drove his car up beside me, slowed to match my pace, and then leaned down so he could get a better look at me through the passenger window. He didn’t say anything, he just leered and followed me for about a block.
Define your style: I’m a wordy and enthusiastic introvert who favours colour-blocking, mixed textures, and asymmetry. I used to be afraid of being noticed, but a few years ago I decided to become impossible to ignore. Refusing to be invisible is a political act.
My superheroine power is…Curiosity. I want to know everything.
What do you collect? I collect books more or less deliberately. I collect tiny pieces of paper completely by accident.
If you could leave the world one piece of advice, what would it be? June Callwood said that she believed in kindness. I can’t think of anything better than that. So, be kind. Oh, and be daring as well.
What inspires you? People who try to change the world.
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