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Walking during the day to go have lunch with my sister I noticed a group of men following me yelling at me in another language. I understood and translated that they were harassing me. They followed me for a few blocks.
I started walking faster. I then found two older college aged girls sitting on the steps of a building just talking together. I approached them and said “hey girls so good to see you!” as if I knew these women as my own friends. I explained that I was being followed and they let me sit with them until the men passed me and walked around the corner. I am thankful that these women were protective and helpful.
Walking to the train station, someone in a car slows down to wolf whistle at me, laughs and makes revolting ‘kissy’ motions at me when I flip him off.
Company vehicle, crowded street (with kids) and he knew he’d get away with it. This is the culture women have to put up with. Demeaning and dehumanizing.
An open letter to my street harasser (what I wish I’d said, and what I will say next time):
That was not a compliment. I’m gonna go out on a limb and guess that you give this kind of unsolicited feedback on the regular, so here’s a tip: what you might think is complimentary, someone else might perceive as deeply wounding and offensive. Especially when coming – unprovoked – from a complete stranger. Please think before you speak, and you might not hurt as many people. Then again, if you simply don’t care that what you say might make someone uncomfortable or self-conscious, then you’re just an utterly worthless piece of shit. There’s YOUR compliment.
Here’s what HOLLAs around the world have been up to:
Hollaback! Appalachian Ohio created valentines with students to be left all over Athens for random people to find. They also taught a 3 hour workshop to the Ohio University student group FUCKRAPECULTURE on presenting good workshops. They have plans to do another one with them on consensus based decision making, meeting facilitation, and campaign strategy.
Hollaback! Boston is hosting a HOLLA party! Join them on Friday, February 21, for pampering, self-care, and socializing in a space full of love and acceptance. HB! Boston was also part of a meeting with local LGBTQ PoC organizations to collaborate with, share schedules and support each other’s events. Finally, check out this great blogpost recapping their Take Back the Bar event from the end of January.
Hollaback! Fredericksburg will be tabling and helping with Smash Presents: The Heartbreakers and Betties Burlesque show at Eyeclopes Studios on Saturday, Feb 15, 7-10 p.m. On their site, they discuss how burlesque has a long history, and a recent revitalization that really aims to empower the performer, and provide commentary on the way we view and experience bodies.
Hollaback! Montreal announced the revamping and revival of their local branch! They are planning a bunch of really great projects and collaborations for the community this spring. As of now, they are working on getting organized and reaching out to groups and individuals to renew their local network. They are also drafting awareness-raising campaigns to denounce harassment within public transportation spaces and at clubs and bars in the city. Hooray Hollaback! Montreal!
Hollaback! Polska has been rockin’ it with their social media education work! First, with this graphic that shows Poland’s most recent important law changes concerning rape cases. Secondly, with their recent comments on rape culture in the media. HB! Polska publicly commented on a journalist using the term “sexual excesses” to Kaddafi crimes against women and on an article published from a well-known portal about the Polish Prime Minister’s daughter being stalked so brutally that she needed government security – they called it “love problems” with “discreet admirer”. Within these comments, they ask journalists to not minimize violence against women by using such inadequate terminology. Both of their comments were mentioned in an article about how media language makes light of violations of women’s human rights.
Awesome work, HOLLAs! Thank you for continuing to dazzle us with your brilliance!
HOLLA and out!
- The Hollaback! Team
I just walked into a grocery store to get some grossly overpriced desserts. As I was walking towards the store, a dude pivoted on the street and followed me into the store. He was talking at me a million miles a minute asking me about myself and whether he could hug me and telling me how beautiful I was. I said absolutely fucking not. Then he started to try to hug me and when I told him “not to fucking touch me,” I walked away.
He grabbed my arm, but I wrenched it away and repeated that he shouldn’t touch me. He also kept insisting I buy him things and asking me if I wanted have sex with him. When he asked if he should just leave and I said that he should, he stole a bunch of shit on the way out. No one batted an eye. When he left I asked “did anyone see that? did anyone at all see that?”, but no one had even looked up.
This morning, I am feeling fed up.
I was walking from the coffee shop to the mental health center that I’m volunteering at when I hear someone shouting. I realize that person is shouting at me from his car and he is trying to get my attention. He proceeds to whistle at me repeatedly and starts jeering. I ignored him and kept walking but he proceeded to shout and make inappropriate noises until I made it in the building.
I have never understood why men yell at women from their cars. What do they get from this obnoxious behavior? I have been honked at, yelled at, sneered at, propositioned, and gestured to by men from their cars since middle school. It happens when I’m walking on the street, waiting at the bus stop, and even once when I was driving on the freeway. Several times I’ve been harassed on public transit as well. Sometimes when I talk about it with people they tell me I should take it as a compliment or that it must mean they found me attractive.
I DON’T CARE if you find me attractive. It does not make me feel good when I am harassed. Men, if you have ever participated in this behavior, why do you do it? I am not going to give you my number. I am not flattered or complimented when you hit on me from your car. I am not going to smile at you. I noticed men do it more often when they are with their friends. You are not impressing me. You are not more of a man because you harass women on the street. It is not cute. It is not okay. I am not going to sleep with you. Motherfucker, I am not going to give you the time of day. If I had a bag of rocks I would strongly desire to throw them at your car.
Friends, please do not invalidate someone’s negative feelings and emotions if they talk about being a victim of street harassment. It IS quite prevalent, a big deal, and can lead to violence. It is not a compliment. It is not acceptable. I don’t care how I look or what I am wearing, it is NOT an invitation for you to holler at me.
I was walking to lectures at about 11am in the morning. I was wearing a pair of high waisted trousers with a long sleeved crop top, a leather jacket and a pair of wedge boots. I left the house feeling confident and really liking my outfit that day – I thought I looked classy and put together. The only skin I was showing was less than an inch of midriff, when I had my jacket off. By the time I arrived home that evening I was angry and upset.
I was verbally harassed continually throughout the day. A man called me a ‘slut’ as i walked past him, just before I was wolf whistled at by some builders. A man called me “maggie no-tits” (?) and two men beeped at me from a van and slowed down to wave at me. This all happened in the half hour walk between my room and Uni. After my first class I was in a University building and some contractors who were doing repair work whistled and made comments about my outfit . I then was walking to lunch and I overheard a boy discussing at length with his girlfriend about how “attention-seeking” my outfit was. To my relief and smugness, she did tell him to “shut up because she probably doesn’t care, and neither should you”. You go girl!
Walking by a construction site, a worker called out, “Hello… You don’t have to walk so fast all the time.”
Worker 2: Why you don’t do your work?
Other workers *laugh*
Worker 1: Man he wants me do my work, then HE carries her home.
All workers: *uproarious laughter*
Me: I’m not an object and none of you will be taking me ANYwhere. I will tell your boss, [name here], how disrespectful you are.
So glad I knew the head of that site. It saved me weeks of harassment as I walk by there daily
I’ve been living in Glasgow for just under six months now, as a student. I’m living in a somewhat rough area and i’m well aware it’s not safe to wander around at night on my own. However, this incident took place at about 5pm on a weekday night, in a park just down the road from my dorms. I was walking back from a lecture with two of my flatmates and we cut through a small park, as we normally do. A man emerged from the bushes, completely naked from the waist down and touching himself, and started following us up the path. We tried to ignore him and started to walk a bit quicker but as he got closer and closer to my flatmate, who was behind me, I reacted. I screamed and swore at him but he just seemed to enjoy this, and laughed in my face. He followed us through the park and disappeared when my flatmate got her phone out to call the police – who incidentally never caught him and whose only advice was to avoid that park in future.
So obviously, living in a foreign city after growing up in a small town i’m wary; this really shook my confidence. I experienced panic attacks and ended up missing some important deadlines as a result of this incident, as I felt unsafe leaving the flat. I’m glad I shouted at/reported him but I am frustrated that I can’t feel at home in this area anymore.
Here’s what the HOLLAs around the world have been up to:
Hollaback! Belfast held a workshop on street harassment with a Girls’ Brigade group.
Hollaback! Des Moines, in collaboration with the Women of Color Advisory Network and Iowa Coalition Against Sexual Assault, announced their upcoming presentation of a multicultural, multilingual community production of Eve Ensler’s The Vagina Monologues. Casting calls will take place March 2 and March 5.
Hollaback! Hamilton is officially working with 12 students to take on some projects in the next four months! The students are from a “women, sexuality and the welfare state” class at McMaster University.
Hollaback! Istanbul‘s Nihan Guneli was written about/in this radio excerpt for her work on a harassment case, where the harasser was sentenced to 1 year and 8 months in prison–really unheard of in Turkey. Guneli states that “the vast majority of harassment and rape cases go unreported in Turkey in large part because the police station experience can be more traumatic than the harassment”.
Hollaback! Korea started a new YouTube channel and are welcoming content submission ideas. You can check out videos from their events and recordings of interviews to learn more about the project. On their channel, you can listen to a recent radio interview in which Site Founder Chelle B. Mille talks about street harassment in Korea, how Hollaback! Korea is addressing the issue, and how community members can get involved.
Hollaback! Philly, in partnership with Temple University, is hosting a speaker series on human sex trafficking of domestic girls with various experts from across the country. The event will take place February 27, 2014.
Hollaback! Polska was interviewed on television regarding law changes concerning rape cases. Rape is pursued in all cases now. Originally, rape was pursued by a victim’s request which meant the offender/police/family could make the victim withdraw the request and the case was automatically closed. In addition, Poland now has more victim-friendly investigation procedures.
Inspiring to see all of the HOLLAs making waves! Until next week~
HOLLA and out!
- The Hollaback! Team