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I’ve had long hair all my life, waist/hip length. Unfortunately, around when I turned into a teen it became a bit of a burden. Cat-callers would address me by my hair, calling me Blondie along with other lewd things. There’s been times where strangers, behind my back, have stroked my hair. Some from the top to the very ends (at my butt), then vanishing from sight. I used to think I was imagining things, until my friend who was shopping with me verified it.
On my sixteenth birthday (July 2006) at a restaurant in the Springfield,MA Marriott hotel, the manager came out and chatted up my mother and I. As he was doing this, he was also stroking my hair and said to me, unbeknownst to my mother, “men love long hair…” in my ear. He was a larger man in his 50’s. I wish I reported it. He still worked there as of the second incident described below.
A couple years later (July 2008) there was another incident at this same hotel, same restaurant, where a couple of older business men were asking my mother inappropriate questions. The waitstaff (men and a woman) witnessed this and did nothing, said nothing. We reported it to the front desk and my mother was in tears. The hotel security, a very nice woman, assured us she’d fix this. But she then said she couldn’t/didn’t because these men belonged to a company(unknown) that frequently puts its employees up at the hotel. They gave us the dinner free, threw in a couple of ice cream bars, and sent us back to our room. That’s when I realized how easy it is for people to get away with sexual harassment. Especially at this hotel. Ruined my birthday, twice.
Listen up Hollafollowers the Violence Against Women Act is up for reauthorization and we at Hollaback! implore you to contact your Senators to make sure the bill gets their support.
Since its inception 1994, the VAWA has saved countless lives, providing a lifeline for those that find themselves in situations of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking. It has vastly improved the federal system to meet the needs of victims, BUT, there is more to be done.
The reauthorization of the bill will build upon the act’s existing successes and continue to work toward breaking the cycle and culture of violence. Yesterday Senators Patrick Leahy and Mike Crapo introduced a bipartisan bill to reauthorize and improve the VAWA and they need our help by getting other Senators excited about the bill.
Call your Senator(s) TODAY and ask for them to be original co-sponsors of VAWA. Let’s keep their phones ringing! Here’s the numbers for all the Senators, so let’s get dialing and release our inner change maker!
Sessions, Jeff – (202) 224-4124
Shelby, Richard – (202) 224-5744
Boozman, John – (202) 224-4843
Murkowski, Lisa – (202) 224-6665
McCain, John – (202) 224-2235
Kyl, Jon – (202) 224-4521
Rubio, Marco – (202) 224-3041
Chambliss, Saxby – (202) 224-3521
Isakson, Johnny – (202) 224-3643
Crapo, Mike – (202) 224-6142 – (thank him!)
Risch, James – (202) 224-2752
Kirk, Mark – (202) 224-2854
Lugar, Richard – (202) 224-4814
Coats, Daniel – (202) 224-5623
Grassley, Chuck – (202) 224-3744
Vitter, David – (202) 224-4623
Moran, Jerry – (202) 224-6521
Roberts, Pat – (202) 224-4774
McConnell, Mitch – (202) 224-2541
Paul, Rand – (202) 224-4343
Collins, Susan – (202) 224-2523
Snowe, Olympia – (202) 224-5344
Brown, Scott – (202) 224-4543
Cochran, Thad – (202) 224-5054
Wicker, Roger – (202) 224-6253
Blunt, Roy – (202) 224-5721
Johanns, Mike – (202) 224-4224
Heller, Dean – (202) 224-6244
Ayotte, Kelly – (202) 224-3324
Burr, Richard – (202) 224-3154
Hoeven, John – (202) 224-2551
Portman, Rob – (202) 224-3353
Coburn, Tom – (202) 224-5754
Inhofe, James – (202) 224-4721
Toomey, Patrick – (202) 224-4254
DeMint, Jim – (202) 224-6121
Graham, Lindsey – (202) 224-5972
Thune, John – (202) 224-2321
Alexander, Lamar – (202) 224-4944
Corker, Bob – (202) 224-3344
Cornyn, John – (202) 224-2934
Hutchison, Kay Bailey – (202) 224-5922
Hatch, Orrin – (202) 224-5251
Lee, Mike – (202) 224-5444
Johnson, Ron – (202) 224-5323
Enzi, Michael – (202) 224-3424
Barrasso, John – (202) 224-6441
I was walking to school, a car stopped,
the man inside told me: “Come here, I want to suck it”
(oral sex). I wanted to cry, but I was brave, and got far from there.
I was 13 years old.
Everyone says Holland is so liberal, so open-minded. Also that sexist harassment is nil here.
Combine Sexist with Racist. Happy Racists.
This happens to me where I live, once a week, but here’s a specific example:
I am on my bicycle on my way to the grocery store. Two teenage boys ride on either side and make mocking “ChingChong” noises.
And they stay there, riding alongside me.
I tell them to go away, (Racists!) – they say, in English, “We’re not racists.”
Yes, I am Asian. No, I am not from China, or of Chinese descent. No, even if I were from China this is not OK.
More often, it’s less but the same:
I am on an errand — someone bikes by and sing-songs “China!” and “NiHao!” at me, and they’re gone. Happy smiling racists.
It ruins my whole walk. It’s racist, and also sexist. Because racism is how they get sexist, and worse.
By Rebecca Katherine Hirsch
On July 14 of this year, co-founder of Young Women for Change, Noorjahan Akbar and 25 others prepared to embark on a rare journey through the streets of Kabul: the organization’s first march against Street Harassment.
Student Noorjahan wrote in her New York Times Opinion Pages blog:
“Every woman I know, whether she wears a burqa or simply dresses conservatively, has told me stories of being harassed in Afghanistan. The harassment ranges from comments on appearance to groping and pushing. Even my mother, who is a 40-plus teacher always dressed in her school uniform, arrives home upset almost every day because of the disgusting comments she receives, sometimes from youth half her age and sometimes from white-bearded men who sit by the roads.”
So, with a scant 10 police officers for protection and armed with a healthy dose of hope, pride and solidarity, Akbar and 25 others marched from the Afghan Culture House, past the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission to Kabul University, where they were joined by more than 50 more supporters and a flurry of media coverage. In the face of criticism these brave activists brandished banners saying “Islam and the law forbid the harassment of women” and “I have the right to walk in my city safely!” The events of July 14 left Akbar brimming with pride she said:
“Thursday, July 14, 2011 was the first day I felt like I belonged to the city I have lived in for most of my life. I realized that the women who were walking in their high heels and headscarves–as well as their male supporters–had so much strength and power waiting to be unleashed, and it made me so proud to be among them.”
Reading about these events reminded me of SlutWalk, the worldwide series of protests against sexual and domestic violence. I helped to organize the NYC protest and news of this Afghan protest struck me as similar. While this protest doesn’t use clothes as the pretext to introduce the topic of sexual discrimination, the feminist goals of SlutWalk and Young Women for Change are similar: To fight for a world where people are treated with dignity–regardless of appearance, regardless of identity. As these young women and men in Kabul have shown, harassment is not going to be accepted without a fight—or a protest.
I am reminded of the criticism that SlutWalk received: that it was an ignorant parade that unknowingly promulgated the sexist patriarchy by wearing “sexy” clothes or that the protesters were privileged white people who weren’t inclusive of or respectful of the qualms and realities of people of color or that the protesters were disinterested in gender-based violence that occurred in non-Western parts of the world.
Well, I would say that this protest and this kind of sober-minded rebellion against oppression is a great example of people taking a public stand and operating on their own terms, using their own methods. To me, whichever methods people use are ultimately interchangeable. The goal is to draw awareness to an issue that needs correcting. So whether a feminist protest uses flashy clothing, strong chants, meaningful signs or silent solemnity or simply walks in opposition, we’re all challenging the status quo by upsetting the present order with a protest.
SlutWalk was never about provocative clothing, instead it used provocative clothing to draw attention to the culture of victim-blaming, just as Young Women for Change’s march was not just about street harassment. It is about fighting a greater culture that blames victims, and both trivializes and denies the impact of abuse.
Whatever anyone wears, of course, is never an excuse for violence and harassment. These Afghan women are bravely fighting a worldwide system that belittles and ignores harassment. Whether in Afghanistan or New York, we are all fighting the same fight—to retain our dignity and feel confident, safe and free in our homelands.
Sisters Martha and Lorena Reyes arrived at the Hyatt Santa Clara, where Lorena had been employed for 24 years and Martha for 7, during “Housekeeper Appreciation Week” to find degrading, sexually suggestive images of their faces photoshopped onto bikini-wearing cartoon women.
Humiliated and outraged, Martha removed the offending articles and refused to return them to a coworker that was insistent on hanging them back up.
Regardless of both sisters’ exemplary records, a few weeks later they were terminated from their jobs at the hotel.
Now, humiliated, furious and jobless, Martha and Lorena are fighting back and they need your help. They’ve started a Change.org petition demanding reinstatement in their former jobs, along with back pay for the hours they’ve missed since being fired. Click here to sign Martha and Lorena’s petition now.
You have the power to make a change today, sign Martha and Lorena’s campaign to get them reinstated in their jobs at the Hyatt Santa Clara with back pay.
I left my apartment at about 5:50pm to walk my dog, and it was already pretty dark. Since she had been inside all day, I decided we could walk around to Long Meadow so she could get some exercise. As we started walking that way, a man on a bicycle rode past us from behind. When I turned because I heard him coming from behind me, he smiled and waved a bit, in what seemed like a “Sorry, wasn’t trying to startle you” kind of gesture. Okay, that’s fine. So we kept walking. As we walked a little bit, I noticed this same guy was now standing by the lake, playing with his phone, bike on the ground next to him. Hmm. We kept walking. He rode past us again. I ignored him this time, but he did make some kind of gesture. Then again, we passed him, this time sitting on a bench, playing with his phone. He smiled and waved a little as we passed. This pattern continued for about 20 minutes or so, 2 or 3 more times. He’d ride past, then wait for us to pass him. I was getting annoyed, so I just stopped for a while. He stopped, too, a short way ahead of us. So I started walking back in the opposite direction, but also toward a park exit. Of course, he followed. I walked outside the park, and as I did, warned a couple women that a man had been following me, and asked them to be careful. I decided to linger outside the park to see if he would try to follow them. He didn’t. He just parked his bike next to some exercise bars near the Vanderbilt St. exit, and stared at me while I called the police. He stayed there the entire time I was on the phone, alternating between pretending to “exercise,” playing on his phone, and staring at me. Of course, when the police arrived, he left.
Groping and verbal harassment to women is, unfortunately, very common in my country, México. I’m 28 years old now, and I was 13 when for the first time in my life a man showed me his genitals in the bus. Back then I couldn’t do anything but start crying. Since that day on, that has happened to me several times, I’ve been groped on the street and in the bus, and not to tell the verbal harassment, that’s “the usual thing” when you walk on the street. Nowadays, I don’t start crying, I face them, push them or yell to them. Nevertheless, the feeling is always the same: anger and frustration. I try to participate in active ways to stop these things from happening in my country, it is very hard though, when most of the people think: “that’s bad but it’s normal”. I hope that movements like this can help to stop harassment against women.
BY OLINDA HASSAN
“Eve teasing”, or sexual harassment is problematic in Bangladesh, especially when we want to talk openly about the aggression South Asian women face day to day on the streets. The phrase has a biblical link- it refers to Eve, the tempting, beautiful woman who inevitably attracts attention from men. So, while “eve teasing” in South Asia refers to the day to day sexual harassment that women face, whether it’s an unwanted touch from a passerby or a cat call from the boys in the corner, the phrase itself blames women, she is tempting, men can’t help it.
Bangladesh’s high courts recently stated that the term “eve teasing” downplays the serious nature of the harassment that women in the country face in their day to day movement. I have seen and experienced my share of eve teasing. I have watched a store clerk eye a girl half his age’s chest and ask her to bring her assets to the store as her mother walked right beside her. This is not something to be ignored, neither should we blame the girl, who could not have been more than 13 years old. The high courts have made this clear, let’s not call this “eve teasing”, let’s use the correct term, sexual harassment.
So how important are words when we talk about these kinds of crimes? When I interviewed several male students at Dhaka University for an opinion-project last year, I was surprised to hear a few of them say that girls are asking for it, even at a time when sexual harassment has been making headlines in Bangladeshi media. Alam, a 20-year old History student said, “What am I supposed to do, when the girl is wearing such a tightly fitted kameez [the traditional dress worn in Bangladesh]? She is at a University, she should be dressing appropriately. I can’t help but look and tell my friends, and try to get her attention when I am bored.” He went on to tell me how girls know that they are going to get attention, so they should protect themselves by dressing accordingly, rather than “complaining” about getting harassed.
In an increasingly globalized world, I particularly enjoy watching girls in Bangladesh dress the way they want and not follow social norms in their clothing. I think that fashion holds a unique story telling power. So why should women have to dress in a way that makes them less vulnerable? Is she taking on the role of Eve when she wears clothes that could, potentially, tempt men? Or is she simply exerting her independence and her right to be who she wants to be on the streets?
Women don’t get harassed on the streets just because of what they wear in Dhaka. Men in Dhaka have basically been allowed to harass women because they were never caught and punished, until now that specific laws have made it a crime. Dhaka’s streets, once dominated by men, are beginning to change as more women are taking on professional roles. Women are increasingly getting educated at one of the highest rates for a developing country. Bangladesh has several female political heads, including its Prime Minister. It is one of the most liberal Muslim-dominated countries in the world. Nevertheless, a patriarchal culture still exists.
Referring back to the notion of words, how important is it to make sure that we use the right words when we talk about violence against women? I followed up with Alam and asked what he thought about sexual harassment against his female peers that take place regularly in Dhaka University. Alam hesitated and said that what his friends did, the cat calling, and sometimes following women was not sexual, or harassment. Then, I asked what he thought about “eve teasing”, to which he responded that it was all innocent and fun.
Calling sexual harassment “eve teasing” makes the aggravation seem harmless and amusing against victims who are purposefully tempting. How do you make a society start saying “sexual harassment” where the culture never really talks about sex and sexual behavior openly? And an even bigger question is, how do you convince a society that victims are not purposefully tempting perpetrators, that men don’t harass women because they are asking for it? Although it may seem like a mountain to climb, there is an answer – education as education fosters change. Both men and women need to be educated about exactly what constitutes sexual harassment, the impact of it, what is acceptable and what is not, only then can we move forward.
BY VICTORIA TRAVERS
Yesterday, on the 13th International Transgender Day of Remembrance, we spared a quiet moment to not only mourn the loss of murdered transgender individuals but to raise awareness of the daily dangers and struggles faced by transgender people all over the world. This annual event began 13 years ago following the brutal stabbing and still unsolved murder of vivacious Rita Hester.
The Huffington Post published a wonderful article entitled “Transgender day of Remembrance: 20 Trans Pioneers” celebrating 20 inspirational and trailblazing transgender men and women that have fought their way into the public domain to raise awareness and give the transgender community a voice.
The article includes a slide show of 20 awe-inspiring men and women including college basketball player Kye Allums, “America’s Next Top Model” contestant Isis, actress Candis Cayne, Marci Bowers M.D and “DWTS” Chaz Bono. Their unique stories are testament to the fact that change is possible when you have a voice and you use it.
Here’s two examples to get you started!
The amazing Kye Allums, the first transgender student basketball player.
Gender reassignment surgeon extraordinaire Marci Bowers M.D.