I am always excited to share how the Hollaback movement is constantly gaining momentum; and this week is no different.
We’re thrilled to be a finalist in the Ashoka Changemaker’s competition. If you haven’t already, show your holla love and vote for us! Polls close on 11/6 so be sure to make your voice heard today. If we’re among the top three, we’ll win $10,000.
We testified at City Hall on sexual harassment at colleges in NYC. This work was part of our new effort to eradicate street harassment from college campuses (there’s already an NYU site and Rutgers University is soon to join the family). Learn more here.
We rallied against sexual harassment at City Hall! Check out Debjani, our Deputy Director, and Justine, our International Movement Intern, who were pictured in the Village Voice at a rally against sexual harassment in the workplace last week.
Congratulations Jill Dimond, our Lead Technical Developer! Her paper examining Hollaback and the role of storytelling online was accepted into the Conference on Computer Supported Cooperative Work and Social Computing.
Here’s what our sites around the world have been up to this week:
Hollaback Baltimore held another successful “offline event.” These events are intended to build the movement on a more personal level by bringing together allies to vent, share tips, and swap stories.
Hollaback Philadelphia tackled the issue of sex trafficking and labor trafficking in their community this week. The event, which was sponsored by Pennsylvania State Senator Daylin Leach, included a film screening of Not My Life and a panel discussion.
Let’s make next week as great as this one.
HOLLA and out,
Everyday and everywhere women get harassed.
I would like to share three stories that happened to me on a daily basis:
1. I got out of the subway and went up the stairs that guide you to the street exit. While I was climbing up the stairs a 40′ year old man was going down, passed right next to me and touched slightly my buttock. I look behind to see his face and kept on going thinking to myself “it’s not worth it to say anything right now…just keep going”. A minute later, I felt a finger pressing between my legs and I saw him (so he came back, climbed up and touched me again!) I pushed him hard and screamed: “What the f**k man!” really angry! He looked at me and I saw a glimpse of a smile. At that moment I felt powerless and went away quickly.
2. I was walking down a street with a friend to school some years ago when I was still in high school. We saw a man walking in the opposite way, towards us. There was nothing suspicious about the guy until the exact moment when we crossed he came close to my ear and whispered “I would lick all of you baby, you’re so fine”. Again I felt powerless because I felt that I couldn’t even reply and defend myself even in a verbal way because he could attack us or hurt us…it’s frustrating
3. Me and two girlfriends were having a great picnic in a park next to the river. We were having such a great time eating our snacks and talking until we realised there was an old man sitting in the nearest park seat touching himself on his baggy shorts, clearly jerking off, looking our way! We decided to pack our stuff and go away. At that time I couldn’t help myself and started screaming so that everyone in the park would look at him and see what was going on instead of just passing by without saying a word. I screamed “What the f**k are you doing! go home! that’s disgusting! people look at this man, he is touching himself! don’t you have a daughter, a grandchild? go home! you’re disgusting!”
We live in a country where the freedom of speech is guaranteed but in the streets we don’t feel that. We have to shut up, put our earplugs, walk quickly, look behind each street corner and don’t reply on any comment.
I moved from the suburbs of Maryland into the lovely city of Washington D.C. but I seem to never be able to enjoy this beautiful city because my head is constantly down. I’ve been a victim of street harassment since I had on a training bra but never to this extent. I went from driving everywhere easily getting to point A to point B to walking and biking everywhere and experiencing catcalls constantly. I’ve recently become more invovled in the issue of street harassment and have a true burning passion to try to put an end to it. I believe there is a way to stand up to these perpentrators without escalating the situation. After being harassed on my way to tutor at an Elementary School around the corner from my house, I, for possibly the first time ever, looked the guy in the eye and told him to not “fucking” speak to women that way and he laughed at me. While the word “fucking” should not have been used, but nevertheless when I passed him on the way back he didn’t dare even look up at me. I got home and thought more about what happened. I realised that it’s important to keep your composure to effectively get your point through to the harasser. I also realised that there it’s almost impossible to do that by yelling something back, or giving the person the finger. So I sat down at my computer and typed up some words which eventually led me to making a flyer to hand to the street harasser. What I do is I fold the piece of paper up very small , so perhaps when I hand it to them they think I’m giving them my number. I look them in the eye but with no emotion. The time it takes for them to un-fold the piece of paper gives me enough time to distance myself from the person, possibly be out of sight. I wouldn’t do this on a train, bus or at night when no one’s around but most of the time I’m harassed is in daylight on the street. I’ve been to many city’s and I’ve never seen harassment so intense as it is in D.C. I think it’s important to put information directly in the perpetrators face. Yes, there’s the street harassment ad campaign in D.C. which I appreciate, but you cannot make someone read those signs. You can make a website dedicated to to end up street harassment but you also cannot make anyone read that. So with the flyer, maybe they read it or maybe they crumble it up, spit and stomp on it. But the point is that they see it and maybe some of these people will just think about it for a moment. I could go on an on about this as I’m sure a lot of people could, but I’ll stop here. Thanks
This post, by Nicola Briggs, is part of a series of posts that we call Nicola’s Got Nerve. You may remember Nicola from this incident caught on camera which was viewed by more than 1.5 million people and which sparked outrage from all corners of the globe, bringing street harassment to the forefront of women’s rights issues. We admire’s Nicola’s ability to turn a traumatic event into focused action through writing and activism, and we think you will too.
“It’s not your fault, even if you did nothing.” Many women who have been the target of a sexual attack, whether in the form of public groping, molestation, or rape, have heard this said to them, but find it hard to believe this true statement, because they “didn’t try to get away” during the moment. There are so many valid reasons why this is factual, and must be taken to heart. In many situations, it can be extremely unsafe to act against a predator, which include a fear of aggravating the situation and incurring further harm; but what most survivors of sexual violence don’t know is that their response, freezing in the face of danger, is actually one of the most common and natural responses to a threat.
For example, imagine a herd of impala grazing peacefully by the river. They are alert for danger, but also relaxed and enjoying their afternoon meal. There is a gentle breeze that blows across the river, and on this breeze, mingled with many other smells, they can detect something very familiar, but not exactly reassuring. A few heads look up from their grazing, but they don’t spot anything out of the ordinary, so their heads go back down, concentrating on their meal. This is the moment the cheetah has been waiting for. He charges out of the nearby tall grasses where he’s been hiding and the herd instantly reacts. As one unit, they start racing across the Savannah and the chase is underway. But one young impala trips on a rock, and even though he immediately recovers, that split-second of vulnerability is all the cheetah needs. The young impala tries his utmost to get away, but the cheetah overtakes him at 70 mph and, with one last lunge, brings him down. In the moment either just before or at the moment of first contact between the impala and the cheetah, the prey, the impala, suddenly drops lifelessly to the ground. And he’s not even wounded yet.
So why does this happen? It’s called the “immobility response,” or you might know it as “playing possum.” It’s one of the three ways that reptiles and mammals have to react in the face of overwhelming threat, the other two being fight or flight. All are instinctual efforts at self-preservation. The young impala may be torn limb from limb in the next instant by the cheetah, so “freezing” allows his body and mind to go into another state where they feel no pain during this brutal death. This instinctual “freezing” would also allow him to remain in another state, perhaps while his body was dragged into the cheetah’s den to be consumed later. In which case, he would effectively “wake up” and have a chance to try and escape again.
I’ve used this nature tale to not only illustrate how animals are effortlessly wise, but to validate an often maligned response to danger– freezing– which for many survivors of sexual violence can be a key to surviving the trauma of being attacked. Remember, it’s never your fault, especially if you did nothing. Because you did nothing wrong at all.
I was walking home today and an unpleasant thing happened. It made me kinda angry and I felt like doing something about it. So here is my short story, fueled by my desire to end street harassment:
I live in Queensland, Australia in a respectful, middle-class, and reasonably safe suburb of Brisbane. It is currently 1.26pm on a Tuesday afternoon. I’d say the temperature was a warm 25 degrees Celsius. For this reason, I chose to wear a singlet, shorts, and runners to my morning at university. When I was walking home, an unpleasant thing happened. A car full of young men drove past and yelled out to me. This has happened many times before, which is a sad fact in itself. I’d been previously been yelled to “show us ya tits”, “gimme a piece of that”, or just simply “nice ass”. Each time this has happened it leaves me feeling insecure, unhappy, and a little bit guilty for something. I’ve wondered whether I should dress the way I do, if maybe a longer skirt would have prevented it, or if I’d walked down a side-street instead of the highway things might have been better. But now I’ve realised I shouldn’t have to think these things. I shouldn’t have to adjust my lifestyle to accommodate for sexual harassment.
The big thing is, I’ve never known what to do in these situations. I’m not good at thinking up witty retorts and even if I was, maybe something worse would happen if I yelled back. Its incredibly frustrating to feel so powerless against something you detest. However, I’ve discovered the Hollaback! campaign after being particularly enraged this afternoon.
When a car full of young men drove past me this afternoon, they yelled at me to “get in the car” and drove away laughing. As usual, I didn’t understand the point of this (what did they hope to achieve? Did they think it was funny? Did they actually want me to get in the car and do… what exactly?). But this remark was more offensive than any I had experienced before. This is because abduction, particularly towards young women, is a serious problem and cracking jokes about it is something I just can’t understand or appreciate. I’m sick and tired of being on the receiving end of these comments. If these actions are becoming normalised and accepted as part of everyday life, I won’t be able to feel safe, secure, or happy whenever I leave the house.
The Hollaback! campaign has my full support to end street harassment.
Hopefully one day I can wear a pair of shorts, a singlet, a skirt, or whatever I want without the fear of being harassed. Maybe one day someone will yell to me “I love your dress!”. I’d be ok with that.
I’m excited to share all the quality work our hollabackers are doing around the world this week:
CNN featured us three times this week! The article, “Hey Baby! Women Speak Out Against Cat Calls,” was put on prominent display on CNN’s website. The article was accompanied by a CNN radio broadcast where I was interviewed (listen in here). These pieces brought on a storm of comments so big as to constitute yet another CNN article just about that impromptu debate. A quick look will show you that we still have a lot of work to do.
We are so grateful to author Yashar Ali who will donate part of the profits of his first book, tentatively titled “On Her Terms: The Modern Woman’s Guide to Rewriting the Rules of Romance,” to Hollaback! His empowering book which reframes the issues that have frustrated women for so many years will hit the shelves late next year. Thank you, Mr. Ali!
Another big thanks to the Simplicity Metrics team for volunteering to make an amazing infographic for us (click the image to expand) using our research conducted with Cornell University. Feel free to share this on your blogs and among your networks.
I spoke at a New York City Council meeting on Wednesday where I presented about our work on a panel with other leaders working to end sexual harassment and assualt. We’re ready to kick some butt, legislative style.
Welcome Debjani Roy, our new Deputy Director! She’s already hard at work repping Hollaback at this week’s NOW rally about ending sexual harassment in the work place.
Here’s what our sites worldwide have been up to:
Hollaback Chandigarh organized a self-defense workshop this week in response to a recent outbreak of violence against women in the city. There was a great turn out at their one hour introductory class to teach basic skills that women can use if they are attacked.
Hollaback Winnipeg is in the running to be a part of Free Press’ National Conference for Media Reform! Vote for them so their session can be included in the conference and their message can be heard by big time media-makers. Show some love and spread the word.
Hollaback Melbourne was featured on the Channel 10 Breakfast Show (link to come soon) where hollabackers discussed what they’ve been up to. Another TV interview is in the works for them so stay tuned.
Keep up the awesome work! I can’t wait to see what’s in store for us next.
Holla and out,
Voting ends November 7th, and the top three winners receive $10,000 to support their work. Please help a HOLLA out by voting today and spreading the word.
I was coming back home with my little sister. We were walking just around the corner from our house. Suddenly, I heard the sound of a motorbike behind me, and the guy who was driving grabbed my left buttock so hard, that I couldn’t even move…I was so shocked.
I felt very disgusted and powerless for not being able to do anything…
I was walking back to my dorm today, and a construction worker called out to me, “Hi, how are you?”. I responded and he came over to the fence and started talking to me. He asked if I was married, if I was looking for a man right now, how old I am, etc. I don’t know why I kept answering. He told me that he wasn’t from around here, that he just comes up for work. He said that he’d seen me walk past several times before, and that there weren’t any girls like me where he comes from. He asked if we can just talk now and then. I told him I don’t have time. And he said something about phone numbers, at which point I finally started to leave. I’ve been conditioned to always be polite, and I guess that was my problem here. I was starting to feel scared, from the admission that he’s been watching me, to the realization that I normally have to walk by that construction site a lot. I realize that there is no reason at this point for me to be polite to this man, it’s just hard to change the way I’ve always behaved. I’m still scared after dealing with this. And I’m frustrated that I have to deal with this at all. I’m working on finding another route in order to avoid that area, and I’m angry that this is happening.
These guys on the bus are threatening a young woman on the bus for seemingly no reason.