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Cross-Posted from HollaBack! Boston
Here at Hollaback!, we often talk about, well, holla-ing back! And we all agree that it’s important to speak up and to fight back. But we also agree that it’s unrealistic to expect that everyone will do that. We also agree that it’s not always safe, because the situation could escalate. And we know that some days you’re just too tired to tell yet another harasser to STFU. And we know that some people just plain don’t want to say anything! And all of those things are a-okay!
When we tell people that there is a “right” and a “wrong” way to handle street harassment, we get into that victim-blaming rhetoric that we all hate so much. Recently, a guy responded to something on my Facebook by telling me that if I just “took control of the situation” by telling a guy to go away or [asking another male for help] that I could “end street harassment.” There is so much wrong with that line of thinking, but what I want to focus on is the idea that if I just acted a certain way, this harassment could and would stop. It’s the implication that I’m somehow to blame for the harassment because I didn’t react to it properly, which is no different than telling me that I should have worn something different/walked somewhere different/done something different in order to avoid harassment/rape.
Ruth Graham says:
The message behind this is simply this: whatever you need to do to feel safe, just to do it. You’re under no feminist obligation to shout ‘em down every time they shout up. But just know that you do not have to take it as a compliment, you do not have to feel that you have done something wrong, worn the wrong thing, or behaved in the wrong way. And most of all, you do not need to accept it. You are not wasting time if you make a complaint, and what they have done is not okay. 80 – 90% of women have experienced sexual harassment, and though we might describe it as ‘low level abuse’, it is still fundamentally wrong, and it’s time society started fully recognising that.
Read the rest of her post here.
So even though we love and encourage you to hollaback and to share your story with us on this site, we also want to assure you that, just like eating a Reese’s, there’s no wrong way to respond to street harassment. We trust that whatever response you choose is the right one for you in that moment, and makes you no less a part of our movement to end street harassment!
I’ve been on an online dating site before but I never experienced something so vile. I started an account with Okcupid last Thursday night. This man messaged me and expressed interest. I read his profile and he seemed like a nice guy BUT a shirt he was wearing was sexist, it had a silhouette of a naked woman on it. So I expressed my concern and figured well he will probably say “oh I’m sorry didn’t know that was offensive” because not many people know that kind of thing is sexist. What happened next was horrifying. He was so unbelievably gross. He asked me if I would “take his 8 inches” then when I refused he said “make me a sandwich!” then I reported him to the dating site. After I told him I reported him he replied saying that OkCupid would do nothing because he makes so much “revenue” for them by laying “mediocre girls” like me!
Things might have ended there with me blocking him. BUT the dumb ass used his actual name for his online username. A quick google search and I found his linkedin profile and where he worked in my community. It was a prominent business.
The next morning armed with the JPEG of our conversation and my laptop with his picture from OkCupid. I went to his place of work. I asked if he worked there, when the receptionist said yes, I asked to see the General Manager. When the GM came to meet me, I said I had a concern about an employee and he immediately took me back to his office. I showed him the picture and the GM confirmed that he was their employee. Then I showed him the conversation that I had with him. I said, I am concerned because his identity is so easily found that his online actions could be damaging your business. The GM said “OH I am right there with you, this hurts our image and reputation in the community.” The GM first stopped me and made sure that I was okay. He asked me over and over, are you okay, do you feel threatened? He was genuinely concerned for my well-being. He told me that he could only handle his behavior from an employer perspective, that he couldn’t change his personal behavior as much as he disagreed with it. But he was pissed and he took said he would face disciplinary action. Finally the GM said “I agree you are not the first woman this has happened to,” and his last words to me were “I’m so glad you came in, you are so brave.” That made me really happy.
So im walking home from my friends house and im on the phone with my mom telling her im almost home & as im talking to her a bunch of guys in a car blow me a kiss and say heeeey. So i keep walking & they drive away. I walk 3 more blocks , approximetely by my house & all i hear is BEEEEEEEEEEEP so i turn around because i thought there had been a car accident but its the guy tryna holla at me again & my mom panics and left the house to come and get me. it really pisses me off when guys do that, like seriously theyre like 30 & theyre tryna talk to a 13 year old girl ? like seriously? could you have a little more respect? Like i dont know why they think its gonna make us talk to them because it only gets us pissed off , & just because we’re petite at this age & pretty doesnt mean we should get treated like this, like we’re some sort of sex toy they can have when we dont even know them. I cant even go out in the streets with a guy staring me down or trying to hit on me/ & its sad that theres nothing they can officialy do about this bc once it happens its done, unless you get a lisence plate, but its just very disrespectful to the women population in this society, & when we go outside we tend to get scared of any guy that walks our way because its becoming a regular thing nowadays and it shouldnt be, not even if youre older.
Ok, so I have two stories.
Don’t touch me!: Ok, so I am a really small person, and I look like a little kid, even though I’m 26. I also have really nice red curly hair. People are constantly commenting on it and trying to run their hands through it. It annoys me so much that they think they can do it, just because they think I’m small enough that I won’t fight back. Unfortunately they usually touch it and run, before I can say anything. But this one day really stands out in my mind. I work in a wine store and I was helping a gentleman find a nice bottle of red wine. I showed him my favourite. He says, with a wink, “You must drink a lot of this to know it’s your favourite”. Ok, dumb, annoying, but I hear it all the time. He then proceeds to stroke my face with his knuckle. I was dumbfounded. Also being at work, I can’t exactly tell him to fuck off. He just paid and left. I told my co-worker about it, and she asked what he looked like so we can bar him. Unfortunately, I can’t remember. You’d think I would. Fuck.
Second Story: So, the other day I was going to the bus stop to go to work. It was really hot–around 37 degrees–and I was wearing shorts and a tight black t-shirt, and had my work pants in a bag so I could change. I stopped a stop a little ways from the bus stop I needed, because the sun had come out and I wanted to change my glasses to my sunglasses. There was a creepy guy sitting there (probably old enough to be my father) and he says “ooo, you have an iPod Nano”. I said I didn’t know. He says “Oh, you’re going to *love* what I have” as he reaches into his pocket and pulls out an iPhone. I said I actually didn’t like Apple and only had an iPod because it was free. I then curtly said I had to go catch my bus and left. It’s not as bad as some stuff I read here, and maybe I’m making too big a deal of it, but I didn’t like the vibe. Plus I’m pretty sure it wouldn’t have happened if I had been wearing baggy jeans and a hoodie. Thanks for letting me holla to you guys, even though I should have told him to go away!
This has been happening to me for 51 years. people come up to me and ask me “what is wrong with your face?” and get mad at me if i don’t want to explain that it was partially paralyzed from medical (birth) malpractice. i don’t see why i ‘have’ to repeatedly talk about that; it happens before anything about me is asked, as if that’s all there is to me, period. my family didn’t raise me to think of myself as ‘wrong’ simply because of that incident, and i have gone ahead and tried to enjoy and live my life like anyone else. when i look in the mirror, i can appreciate my features; i don’t have an “all or nothing” idea about what beauty is, much less what an ‘acceptable’ human body is. this seems to be really lost on some people. i’ve noticed that those who don’t act as though i ‘must’ explain my body to them are generally positive in their attitude about life overall, and can make thoughtful remarks rather than presumptuous ones about me (such as “you must hate yourself/want to commit suicide/be in denial if you are happy, successful, have relationships with guys, etc.” what can i say to those people to make it clear i deserve as much respect as an individual as anyone else?
A guy yelled and whistled at me while riding my bike home from work. I’m an RN at a community health center and try to treat every patient with respect. I expect the same from my community.
I was walking from the subway to my apartment in the pouring rain. It was really hot out, so I was wearing a relatively low-cut yoga top and pretty short shorts. I wasn’t wearing makeup or trying to flaunt my body in any way. It was just hot out. A man on a bike (I’m guessing in his 30s) rides past me and says, “Nice.”
I wasn’t “asking” for this. I’m infuriated that this man couldn’t control himself, ESPECIALLY because he was on a bike and therefore didn’t expect a response from me.
If you remember a few weeks back, we got a grant to do some strategic planning at our first ever board retreat at the Omega Institute. Check out the video they did on all the organizations that were invited!
Now, for some updates:
Our site leaders win funding! Congrats to our Hollaback sites in Czech Republic, Philly, Baltimore, and Croatia for winning $1k towards their efforts to combat street harassment from Worldwide Visionaries.
Jezebel’s 5th birthday, and we got honored! The official announcement will be up on Jezebel next week, but for now check out this super cute picture of me and our interns (from left to right) Rikera, Sunny, and Natalie from the party last night.
Our 6th class of Hollabacks are in training! They include:
Sheffield (in South Yorkshire)
Victoria, (BC) Canada
Their webinar on how to localize the movement through on the ground activism takes place tomorrow.
Knight Civic Media Conference in Boston! I was honored to be invited. Check out the speaker videos, here.
Shout-out and profiles! This week I was profiled by SPIN magazine and Ashoka’s Changemakers, and we got awesome shout-outs from Scenarios USA, Sadie Magazine, France 24 Observer, and Days of Pink Tumblr. The more media attention we draw to street harassment, the quicker people learn that street harassment is not OK!
Remember: all this is possible because some bold people (perhaps you) told their stories. Let’s keep sharing our stories and keep growing this movement.
HOLLA and out —
Cross Posted from HollaBack! Boston
Here’s wishing you a sunshine-y and harassment-free weekend!
image credit: Kid With Experience
Cross-posted from Hollaback! Philly
We are so excited to announce that our proposal for a two month advertisement campaign in both Philadelphia subway lines was just accepted! Check out our winning proposal here.
Below is our video intro to the project!