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Like many women all over the world, I have been a victim of street harassment countless times over the course of my life—starting from the age of 13. We all know that mixed feeling of anger and fear when we’re being catcalled. We assess the situation: is it safe to retaliate and say something to this person? Or should I just keep walking and avoid them?
Hollaback and others are doing amazing work to fight this type of harassment by giving victims of street harassment a way to fight back & a space to voice their experiences. And there is still more work to be done. About a year ago, after complaining to my boyfriend Joseph for the umpteenth time about harassment I had experienced that day, he said to me, “Well stop complaining and do something about it!” “Ok, but how? What can we do?” I replied. As a feminist and my partner, Joseph wanted to help stop this harassment, too. Influenced by all the recent videos that had been flooding the Internet at that time, he suggested we make our own videos that specifically speak to men about street harassment.
Thus SAFER: NYC was born! SAFER: NYC (Street Action For Equality & Respect) aims to end street harassment in a unique way: by mobilizing men to be part of the solution. We strongly believe that the issue of street harassment cannot be adequately solved without the engagement of men—being the root of the problem, their enthusiastic participation is essential to the solution. Our campaigns and messaging humanize the victims of street harassment by highlighting who—in men’s own lives—may be victims: their daughters, wives, sisters, mothers, etc. This serves as a reminder that by harassing others, they are harassing someone’s else’s family member or friend. This message personalizes the devastating impact of street harassment and will serve as a pivotal force for changing behavior.
So how do we actually engage and mobilize men? First, we created two videos that you can see here, as well as a four public service announcements that we will be premiering on New York City subways next Spring. Second, we are doing research on why men engage in street harassment, as there has never been research done on this subject. Armed with this research, we can design the most effective solutions and programs to address the root causes of street harassment.
And lastly, we will be holding community building and awareness raising events, with our first comedy show this Thursday, November 19th at La Luz in Brooklyn, NY. The show will address the topic of street harassment and will feature some of the best improv, sketch, and stand up comedy acts in NYC! The purpose of the show is to raise awareness (and a few funds!) about street harassment and engage people in a conversation about how we can stop it. Your attendance will bring us one step closer to ending street harassment, so we hope you can join us this Thursday!
Thursday, November 19, 2015
Doors open at 7pm, Show 8-10pm
@ La Luz, 135 Thames St, Brooklyn, New York 11237
Tier 1 $10/Tier 2 $15
Buy your tickets here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/safer-nycs-street-harassment-comedy-show-tickets-19270939900
At Hollaback! HQ this week we’ve been up to all sorts of activities…
Debjani, our Interim Executive Director gave two talks on street harassment from a transnational perspective at Middlebury College, Vermont. She really enjoyed the discussion with the students about the realities/limitations of institutional advocacy, the possibilities of transformative justice around issues of sexual harassment and violence, etc. With a mutually respectful space, they were able to broach many topics! CJ, Natasha and Rose were tabling at Female Hysteria: A Women’s Health and Comedy Affair, a fun event organized by the NOW-NYC Activist Alliance. CJ, Rose and Natasha also participated at the Intimate Partner Sexual Abuse: From Teen Dating Violence to Trafficking, webinar hosted by The National Judicial Education Program.
And at Hollaback! sites around the world:
Hollaback! Belfast participated at OUTBURST: OUTLOUD, an event with talks, exhibitions and workshops aimed at creating a space for politics, ideas and debate, with an inclusive ethos and a welcoming attitude. They are also preparing to participate at the second annual Reclaim the Night Belfast march to show the need for action against gender violence and harassment, and aid mutual support.
Hollaback! Baltimore is preparing to table at War on Women, an event part of Trans/Queer/Femme Weekend, and in recognition of Transgender Day of Remembrance. They also attended the White Ally?: An Active Partnership, Not a Passive Title, a talk together with Baltimore Racial Justice Action.
Hollaback! Croatia is preparing for the project “My place in a community” which will be implemented by K-zona from Zagreb in collaboration with Domino and Hollaback! Croatia. They will conduct a research to recognize the problems in their community related to inequality, social justice and development.
That’s it for this week! Stay tuned for more exciting news next week!
Holla and out!
I was waiting for the bus to get to work, a man drove up and asked if I was waiting for the bus. I nodded, he than told me to get in his car (no he did not say, “would you like a ride”, he said ” get in my car”). I shook my head for “no”, than he started telling me what he would do to me once I got in his car, it was very vulgar and sexual. I picked up a rock and threw it at his car. It was a small rock and I’m sure it did no damage however I got the reaction I was expecting, he called me a bitch and started to drive away so I threw a soda it his car, it went through the window and soaked him. He drove away. I wouldn’t recommend doing this, it was in the heat if the moment and I was very angry, but to say the least I’ve seen the same guy since and he crosses the street when he sees me.
Well I’ve put ‘verbal’ but this guy was walking towards me with his arms out as if to hug me on a dark station platform late at night with his two friends in tow and I didn’t know if he was going to grab me, lift me up or push me into the tracks! This is in an area where there has recently been very high profile sexual assaults of several women and also the rape of a young girl just down the road. I was tired after a 12 hour shift and as a reflex (why am I even explaining the reasons for my reaction?!) I said “get away from me” as he got so close his face was in mine. At this point he immediately launched into firing insults about every aspect of my physical appearance. It was constant “look at the state of you look at the state of you look at your disgusting face bla bla etc”
I responded by saying I didn’t care and that I am 36 years old where upon he said “you look 46.” I told him very calmly that I didn’t care what I looked like and that I liked to read and learn things and that’s what was important. He shouted in my face “stop talking stop talking” “you’re so ugly you should kill yourself.”
I don’t know why and I regret it a bit but I decided to say “yes yes! Oooh im incredibly ugly yes look at the terrible state of me oh it’s awful isn’t it I’m a disgusting mess etc” then the station staff man who was in the little unit box thing on the platform opened his door, I think he could see I was surrounded by these three men. At this point the guy who tried to hug me said to him “she started on me!”
I said “I was just minding my business!”
My train came and I walked far away in case they were in my carriage but they weren’t even getting in the train and it sailed past all three who looked at me as the train went by.
How unnecessary the whole thing is! I wish I’d said more, of course in retrospect I thought of a million better things to say but my heart was racing and my legs were shaking. I thought he would punch me I really did, he looked so angry.
I wish I’d said something like “one day when you’re about 54 you’ll probably be married and work in IT and gave two children one probably a girl and when this happens to her, when a man walks towards her at night you’ll hope she can stand up for herself and say “out of my way” but you punished me for doing it with the typical lazy reaction of “oh god you’re so ugly!” You’ll live your daughter and want to hurt those people but now, when you could actually make a difference to your culture you choose to be a coward.
I went home and have tried to feel strong but you know what? I’ve been looking in the mirror and thinking “yes, you are ugly!” “Yes, the time you were homeless took its toll and shows in your face” “yes, the death of your father at age 7 probably gave you a permanently sad face and his absence probably also gave you no self esteem” etc etc on and on.
I know this is because I’m programmed. I look the same as I did when I left my friend’s earlier and felt fairly ok about life. Weird thing is, I was not standing there claiming to be a great beauty. His remarks were as if he were refuting done statement if made. I admit it, I feed sadder than I did before it happened. It’s one more nail in a long long coffin of comments and shouting and being grabbed and insulted, often complimented and then insulted when I haven’t wanted to talk. I’m tired. I’m so tired of knowing that I either acquiesce or have my existence and appearance torn apart. It’s so cowardly. Bored of it. Bored and angry and sad and frustrated. I have so many stories from over the years. Always I am verbally ripped to pieces when I answer back. I’m tired that I was forced into a conversation I didn’t want, yet again. I’m sure I could have avoided all the esteem destroying remarks had I hugged him or smiled or made some kind of simmering sounds of non threatening friendliness but why should I? It would be an act and an act of fear. So, there’s the deal. I think every time we answer back we risk a personal inventory of our faults so perhaps that’s why many people do not answer back and the whole thing continues. I’m tired of this. Tired of no back up. I do not drive and work hard so I am alone on public transport a lot which I should be able to be!
The anger expressed when I do not stop to chat or smile or if I just ignore the shouts. The anger and insults. I don’t want conversations with men I don’t know in the street! Why are they angry when I speak my mind? Don’t they have mothers or sisters? Daughters?
I am baffled and as I think I said. Tired.
Stepped onto the bus after the gym and there were no seats so I was standing. I noticed an older man staring at me almost immediately. Specifically my legs and pubic area (I was in my running tights). I thought it was a fleeting glance but he continued to stare for the rest of the bus journey. It made me extremely uncomfortable and angry. So I gave him the “tight-lipped-eyebrow-raised-staring into your soul-wtf are you looking at?” face and he just smiled at me only slightly embarrassed. I did not engage further with him but tried to find a place away from his gaze. He exited the bus but stayed and stared through the window until the bus drove away. I was not scared but I didn’t say anything. I feel that I should have. However I’m in a country where I don’t speak the language and it would have been useless anyway. I let him know that I disapproved of his staring by staring right back at him.
I’ve had a hard day. I came to your site to share my story, just one from today. When I started to fill out your submission form, I started to cry. Unsure of which box to check under “Harassment type”, I realized that I would have to make sharing my stories of harassment a full time job if I actually wanted to share my stories that have sadly become part of my life. The countless times I’ve been shouted at on the street. The several jobs that I have either been forced to quit, fired from, or kept from because a “man” can’t keep his thoughts to himself. The nights that I drove home crying from my server job because the door guy couldn’t keep his hands off of me. I just turned 37 and it doesn’t seem to end. It feels just as bad now, as it did to be harassed when I was younger. It has to stop.
I’m a college student working at a restaurant down in South Beach Miami. Today this rich asshole comes in his Lamborghini. Once he was seated, while my female coworker was trying to take his order, he said “Can I stare at your breasts?” (He actually said that) Obviously she looked shocked at then he proceeded to shove his face right into her breasts. WTF? She started yelling at him and my boss came over and asked what was going on. She told him what happened the rich guy accused her of lying. I went over to the table and told my boss that I saw what happened and to call the cops. And this prick sided with the rich guy. Everyone else there saw what happened, I don’t know why no one else was stepping up. My boss didn’t charge him for his food and took the money for his food off of our paychecks (me and the female coworker). Fucking ridiculous.
What we’ve been up to this week…
CJ, our Program and Admin Assistant, was at the NYC March and Rally: Bring National Awareness to the 22+ Murders of Transgender People, raising the awareness on the violence against transgender people, whose murders are at the highest peak this year! We need more events to show support and share love! On the other side, Desiree, our HeartMob Program Coordinator, was attending Day One Cyber and Tech Safety Training, discussing and learning how to fight online harassment. At the same time, we are preparing something new and very interesting, and can not wait to share it with you!
And at Hollaback! sites around the world:
Hollaback! Bahamas Director Alicia Wallace was at the Bluestockings Bookstore, Café, & Activist Center in NYC together with 4 other activists from USA, Netherlands, and Nigeria, talking about street harassment and activism.
Hollaback! Vancouver is promoting the event co-presented by Blueprint and Good Night Out Vancouver: Vancouver’s first accessibility panel and series, curated and marketed for the Vancouver nightlife industry.
Hollaback! Halifax is spreading the news about Trans Day of Remembrance in Halifax, that will take place on November 20th 2015. There is a call-out for speakers, artists, story-tellers, and resistors for the event! The event is organized by South House.
Hollaback! Belfast will be at an energetic all-day event packed with live music, workshops, talks, exhibitions, films, zines and more, all with a feminist/trans/queer slant, together with Outburst, GoGirl and Black Box. It will be on November 14th so if you are in the area don’t miss it! Hollaback! Belfast is also co-organizing the second annual Reclaim the Night Belfast march to show the need for action against gender violence and harassment, and aid mutual support, which will be on November 28th. Belfast has it going on folks!
Great job this week team!
Holla and out!
I was 12 years old still in 6th grade. It was the end of the day, I went back to my locker and my idiot locker neighbor comes up to me and with his friend and shows me his erection. His friend starts to laugh and he laughs with him as I slowly realized what was happening. He asked me if I was “turned on” and said that he would pay me $25 if I let him touch my breast. It was AWFUL!!!!! I felt like throwing up!!!! I went back to school the next day and he called my “Ho” and “baby girl”. I finally had the courage to tell my principal what happened. She pulled up security footage of what happened and he got ATS (detention) and suspended for 3 days. They also moved my locker. I had nothing to worry about. Telling an adult is the right thing to do it completely helped my situation!!!!!! Don’t be afraid!!!!!
I work close to this location and I have to walk across a bridge to get to my job from where I park my car. About a month ago I was walking and a man was walking towards me and he had an old style flip phone held up to his chest really tightly kind of pointed outward. I almost didn’t notice it until we were parallel to each other and I heard a camera shutter sound. I was immediately like no, he didn’t take a picture of me. I’m just being paranoid or something. In my heart I knew he had. It was weird but I’d never seen him before so I thought I never would again. That was until today. Again I was walking across the bridge listening to music and I saw a man walking in the opposite direction I was. It did register who he was or anything. Until he was holding the phone out from his chest to take pictures. I became so angry and I tried to hide, tried to disappear into myself. I was so angry that I was trying to hide- I shouldn’t have to hide! I started screaming at him. I screamed what he was doing was wrong. And I think I swore at him. I wasn’t really in control of what was coming out of my mouth. He just walked away faster. Now I’m left feeling so dirty and violated. I told my friend and her response was oh he must really like you! Like its a joke. Like I should enjoy that he took pictures of me and is doing what with them?!? I don’t know what to do now. If I see him again. I don’t want to get hurt if he reacts violently. But I really don’t want him taking my picture like that! It’s maddening that he wouldn’t even think this is appropriate!