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Hi Team Hollaback,
You may have read the recent news articles on CBC.CA regarding Amanda Todd, a young girl who lived in British Columbia, Canada. This 15 year old was bullied to death after an older male convinced her to flash her breasts while she was on SKYPE with him. He told her she was beautiful and she wanted his attention and approval.
After Amanda showed her breasts, the man waited a year and then attempted to black mail her. He told her he would send the picture out to all of her friends and family if she did not perform a lewd act on camera. She did not and her picture went viral. After that, the man created a face book page that used Amanda’s breast as his picture. Amanda was bullied relentlessly, moved schools a couple of times, attempted suicide a couple of times and unfortunately succeeded in killing herself at age 15.
While I am very happy that this man has been caught and is being jailed for his behaviour, I think that Canada is missing the main problem. The problem is with our Canadian society and values. We must acknowledge that the individual is only as safe as the community is harmless. In order for this single act to have led to her death our society must have decided it was a heinous act. Here is the ugly list of messages that this young girl received from our misogynistic society;
1. Good women are not sexual women
2. Displaying your breast means you are a person of low morals
3. Persons “low morals” have no right to survive and thrive in our communities
4. Canadians have a right to act as human garbage towards persons of low morals
5. Canadians have the right to marginalize, rape, and torment persons of low morals. (A boy at her second school pretended to like Amanda until he had sex with her. Then, he immediately dumped her and told his girlfriend that Amanda had sex with him. The girls then became vicious, not just mean. That is what I describe as a premeditated, well planned, rape.
6. Men and women in Canada support and embrace misogyny.
It is truly disgusting that Canadian’s do not see that their behaviour was truly barbaric in comparison to a young, 14 year old girl seeking love and attention. Amanda showed her breast to a man who was valuing her and making her feel beautiful. I cannot imagine a more harmless act. Human beings undress in front of each other daily, all 7 billion of us! So let’s get down to what is truly happening here. Male culture is criminalizing female sexuality and women are helping them do it. Amanda did not kill herself because she showed her breasts to a man. She killed herself because she became a target of the human garbage that she lived amongst on a daily basis. What conclusion must we come to? We must conclude that we are truly a heinous group of people who take a great deal of pleasure in hurting others. I can attest to the fact that people never seem to tire of hurting others in large and small ways. I also understand that there are people who do not behave in this manner. Unfortunately, they are rare in this region. So, my question is, can a few really change the nature of many? It is truly a daunting task.
Hollaback, you are a light in the middle of darkness and I am thankful for all of the work that you do. I struggle every day to feel the optimism that you have in your hearts. Being a female in Canada is similar to being a Jewish person surrounded by Nazis. As long as you are controlled and without power, they have no problem with you. The minute you act outside the acceptable range they attack. This is the ugly truth about our society. Clearly no transgression is too small to trigger the hate.
Amanda, I’ve got your back!! So very sorry it is too little too late. All I can do is share your story with people who would have helped you if they had only known about it in time.
With deep gratitude for all that you do Hollaback!!
- Linda Duff
I live in a city, and I deal with street harassment on almost a daily basis, but I recently experienced a situation worse than usual. I was walking alone downtown around midnight on a Friday night. There were no other people around. I hear yelling from behind me, “I want to f*** the s*** out of your a**!” and other similarly sexually explicit/aggressive statements. I started to freeze up and panic inside, but refused to turn around and look. I followed my typical course of action (now a reflex out of practice): Refuse eye contact and keep walking until you are a safe distance away.
This didn’t work. The yelling grew gradually closer and louder. The voices became threatening: “You need to look at me when I’m talking to you!” and “You know you want this!” followed by more yelling of what they wanted to do to me.
I finally was able to see my harassers without turning around; it was several guys in a car. They left as I approached a less deserted/more populated intersection.
This can’t be explained away as a compliment, a joke, or drunken stupidity. I can’t be accused of dressing provocatively; I was simply a young woman walking alone.
Another ended badly. I was headed home from work, engrossed in a Stieg Larson novel, with my hair down, and wearing office casual. An open seat next to me was taken by a man, I’d say in his late 20’s. With the noise of the train and the distraction of my book, I didn’t hear him and therefore didn’t acknowledge him.
A few stops later, he moves to another seat, which is common on public transit. While on that same stop, another passenger timidly asks me if she can sit next to me. Before I can give her my affirmation, I hear a loud and angry voice saying, “don’t sit next to her, she’s a bitch.”
Incensed, I turn my head to demand an explanation from the not-so-gentleman now sitting two rows back. He begins to berate me for not talking to him when he was only trying to get my attention, etc. etc. typical entitled mating bullcrap. I yell back at him, standing my ground, telling him that I did not owe him anything and that no one told him to intrude on my day. I’m basically trying to put him in his place and he’s telling me I look cute when I’m mad.
About 20 minutes and 10 stops of shouting later, another passenger tells us both to shut up, I take this opportunity and turn back to whatever the girl with the dragon tattoo happens to be doing.
3 stops of silence later, he comes to me, apologizes and I, like an idiot, forgive him because I just want him to leave and never think about the incident again. Thankfully, I’ve never seen him again but the event sticks with me to this day.
En una calle de poteo estabamos dos chicas hablando, yo colombiana,mi amiga vasca,se acerca un conocido borracho,y dice,os vais a liar?,tras el venia otro,bebido tambien,empezaron a vacilarnos y les dijimos que se fueran,el primero empezo a gritarme “que dices colombiana”,o “callate MUJER”,mi amiga me defendio y el empezo a llamarla lesbiana ofensivamente,mayores pasaban sin meterse,nuestra reaccion de miedo fue una bofetada,la suya volverse loco xq eramos mujeres..al final el amigose lo llevo.
I was in 7th grade when this happened. As I was walking through our local mall (the Galleria at Roseville), I kept hearing comments coming from obviously older men. Stuff like “daaaamn” and “work it” and whooping and hollering. OLDER GUYS “HITTING ON” a 7th grader.
I didn’t want to say anything since I was so young but I felt violated, which I shouldn’t have to feel as a 12/13 year old girl. I was wearing skinny jeans and a v neck Hollister shirt (with a cami underneath). Nothing to be hollering at. Then, once I’ve had enough, I went outside to be picked up by my parents and someone drove by and yelled “SLUT!” directly at me.
Honestly, what about me comes off as “slut”? (Nothing because no one is a slut) but like what the fuck? I’m obviously young, even though I’m well endowed, I don’t show them off (even if I did, it doesn’t warrant comments). Even though I still hear comments from the yard workers everyday, this day stood out to me: now I am a young woman and this is what happens to young women.
This is disgusting and wrong. Let’s stop it
At the Mothership, Deputy Director, Debjani Roy, trained student leaders at the New School Social Justice Hub on Friday.
And…drum roll, please….
We launched 8 NEW SITES! We are SO excited to welcome these sites to the HOLLA family:
Hollaback! East Lansing, Hollaback! Columbus, Hollaback! Plattsburgh, Hollaback! Cleveland, Hollaback! Hull University, Hollaback! Bristol UK, Hollaback! Bahamas, and Hollaback! Marrakesh
Here’s what HOLLAs around the world have been up to:
Hollaback! Bahamas started this survey to learn the prevalence of street harassment in The Bahamas and its effects on those experiencing it. It will further equip them to appropriately respond to street harassment in The Bahamas.
Hollaback! Baltimore attended the University of Maryland Baltimore County’s Take Back the Night event. They also worked with activist organization FORCE to create quilt squares for The Monument Quilt, a creative project that provides a participatory platform for survivors to tell their stories while working together to forever change how people in the US respond to rape.
Hollaback! Boston presented at this year’s Civil Liberties and Public Policy Conference on The Intersection of Street Harassment & Reproductive Justice.
Fantastic work, HOLLAs!
HOLLA and out!
- The Hollaback! Team
Last night I walked home from work in the sunshine in London, an 80 minute journey. I was wearing a bobbled grey woolen (but tight) dress and thick black tights.
The first man said “ooh lookin’ fiiine!”
The second two men said “BOOTAYY, man check out her bootie!”
The third man stared me up and down and kissed his teeth
The fourth man held up traffic at a junction and stared sideways at me not the road
The fifth and sixth men twisted their necks as they walked past and muttered whatever they wanted
The seventh group of men were having a beer outside in the pub I passed and stopped and said “woah check THAT out”
The 8th beeped his horn and laughed
The 9th, a group of three men in my neighbourhood said “ooooh you looking sexyyyyyyyyy” as i walked through the middle of them
By this point I turned around and shouted “are you JOKING??? That is the NINTH comment I’ve had in one journey…GET A GRIP”
They replied that I should be pleased and god blessed me.
I felt quite guilty for shouting when I got home and my friend told me that it’s just how they are and they probably thought they were complimenting me, and at least they find me attractive..
It’s not a compliment, I’m walking home (pretty covered up for a hot day), I’m not ‘giving them the eye’ or ‘asking for it’ (no one is ‘asking for it’) it is not acceptable.
Last week on a train I had to sit next to vile men ‘spotting’ “great tits” as ladies went past to the toilet or on-board shop.
When will we actively start teaching our sons that showing women respect has absolutely nothing to do with catcalling or objectifying them as sexual entities to be judged as they walk home from work, or go to a shop??
The following is typical of my daily commute. I travel by metro and foot between Petworth and Takoma.
I’m footsteps away from work and passing the bus stop at the intersection of Carroll and Laurel. As I walk by I notice a man sitting on the bench and wearing sunglasses is making all kinds of hissing and sucking noises, but don’t realize it’s directed at me until he says “mad fine” as I pass by. Normally I’d ignore him or even smile, wanting to avoid any possibly dangerous conflict with a stranger, but today it caught me off guard.
I’m hunched over carrying a heavy backpack, wearing a dirty old hoodie with my hood pulled over my head. The only thing that could have possibly been sexy were my legs, fully covered in denim and visible only from the front when he had already started making a scene.
Baffled, I pull my hood off to reveal my fully shaved head and just shrug at him, thinking, “what are you even talking about?”
The entire time I’m still walking towards work and suddenly I hear him yelling from behind me, “Enjoy being a girl!” He says it as if it were a command.
I go into work and open shop, but it ate at me all day. It’s sad that a passing rude remark can send me spiraling into an anxiety attack, but it just got to me and I guess that’s the point. I was relieved it didn’t escalate further: I waited and watched him board the bus, having become suddenly neurotic he would follow me into work.I was distracted for the rest of the day, regardless, thinking of his words over and over.
“Enjoy being a girl!” ?
It could mean so many things. I think to him it simply meant “You deserve this”.
It was 2am Friday night in Arcata Plaza. We were standing outside Don’s Donuts & my friend Z was talking as this guy walks passed her & says “damn you’re beautiful” while he stares at her butt. I noticed him ’cause of the drool dropping from his mouth. I said “what the fuck? This guy is staring at you like he’s going to devour you”. He went on some rant about me hating on my friend. I told him he was objectifying her. So he gets in a car & drives up to us & calls me (& my friends) dogs.
A man stalked me around the front of King Soopers when my car broke down around 3am. I was in the lobby calling anyone I could think of who was awake to try and help me, when he sat on the bench next to to where I was standing and started masturbating. After ignoring him and walking across the lobby, he followed me and asked if I would like to have sex in the bathroom. All of this was on camera – after complaining to night manager, no action taken. The man left after I faked a 911 call!