My friends and I were at Sugar Lounge in San Francisco and was constantly staring at us. The whole time he stared but didn’t initiate any conversation. It was uncomfortable and scary.
Each day I learn increasingly how dangerous it is to be a female on this planet. I only recently returned, just before 2am, from the most terrifying experience of my life. On my commute home, I ended up at a relatively desolate subway station. A guy apparently took interest in me and started (literally) doing ninja kicks by my head as I sat, petrified, on a bench wondering what the fuck was going on. I moved away and he pursued, following me wherever I walked in the station. I sought solace by the only other people there at that moment, only to again be regarded as a piece of meat and catcalled by the two shitfaces. The psycho guy was oblivious to my intentions of ignoring him, my dirty looks, hanging around the emergency call button and wearing headphones. I was so tempted to push that button, but I was afraid he’d beat me to a bloody pulp in the time it took the cops to get that far underground to the station. I knew he would follow me onto my train and my prediction was correct, as he boarded the same car as me and made sure to stand a few feet away from me. I swung my umbrella around and clenched my pepperspray in my coat pocket. It was collectively the most horrifying 20 mins of my life. He pretty much chased me out of the station and I almost passed out due to running and having a simultaneous panic attack. Hollywood Boulevard was almost empty, but I saw a mall security guard (as I’d hoped to) and ran to him, relaying my story. The psycho followed me into the open air mall, only to continue walking up the steps when he saw me with security. I was literally shaking and out of breath. Another guard was called to escort me to my street, which is right behind the mall. He couldn’t believe what had happened. We approached the exit of the mall, which joins up with a parking garage for the hotel and also my street. Who was walking down the driveway from the parking garage? The psycho! I bolted back towards the mall until the guard received a call that the guy had left the area. The guard then walked me to my street and I said I was ok to get to my apartment, which was a few buildings down and waved to him when I was outside my door. I am so grateful to them for helping me and as sad as it is, I know it could have been much, much worse, as it is for so many people in this scenario. I don’t think it’s stretching beyond the imagination to say that guy would have attacked and raped me, then killed me, had we been alone. It’s like I can’t even live my life with these people around, all because I am a girl.
“I found it important to bring the issue up in the public realm. It was not an issue that had been addressed very widely, but it was certainly the case that it was an issue that needed attention. Hollaback! offered the tools and the support to create a new paradigm using digital technology, which wasn’t being used in that way here yet…” –Inti Maria
Last year, when Hollaback! Buenos Aires leader Inti Maria received a public rape threat from prominent and influential journalist Juan Terranova, Holalaback! sprang into action to respond. Terranova made his threat in reaction to Hollaback! Buenos Aires’s sudden rise in publicity surrounding an advertising campaign by Coca-Cola which encouraged piropos, a kind of street harassment. Sending a clear message that Hollaback! takes violent threats seriously, Emily May, Inti, and Hollaback! site leaders from around the globe created and circulated an online petition that gathered signatures from over 3,500 people in 75 different countries. Next, Hollaback! focused their energy on convincing advertisers to withdraw support from the magazine that printed the threat. Through brilliant use of online organizing and their global network, the united Hollaback! groups convinced advertisers Fiat and Lacoste to pull their advertisements, prompting the magazine to distance itself from Terranova. More recently, Inti has been working on building a stronger local network and volunteer community, organizing alongside feminist organisations with strong digital platforms, such as Con.textuadas, AnyBody Argentina, Especie en Riesgo de Extincion and Chicas Bondiola, in opposition to a website, Chicas Bondi, which posts photos of women on public transportation without their knowledge or permission. In her own words, Inti is most proud of “having inspired personal and professional growth in the volunteers of the chapter.” Most recently, Inti has raised the issue of street harassment at the National Annual Women’s Meeting, attended by 25,000 women. She has also singlehandledly set up a screen printing studio in her garage to make hand crafted merchandize, which helps visbilize and bring brand awarenes to the movement. Hollaback! Buenos aires has joined forces with the feminist self defense workshop to create a safe space for women to talk about strategies of self defense and street harassment, and participated this years Marcha de Las Putas Festival with an information stall, t-shirts, and a self-defense workshop.
“I personally feel I walk differently on the streets now. There’s a strength that wasn’t there before, and that’s all thanks to Hollaback.” – Ingrid Vanderhoeven
Angelika Hild, Julie Richel, Ingrid Vanderhoeven, and Anna Whaley started Hollaback! Brussels because they wanted to make their community a better place to live. They celebrated their site launch with a flash mob, and have since been working with partner organizations like Outrage, which focuses on ending harassment of LGBT individuals, Garance, which specializes in violence prevention, and Zij-kant, a sociocultural movement focused on gender and equal rights. Hollaback! Brussels has seen an outpouring of support from their community, which helped make their 2nd Chalk-Walk (Reclaim the Streets) this past June a huge success (Their First Chalk-Walk was held in March, serving as an event for the International Anti-Street-Harassment Week , but also serving as a pre-launch ritual for the four site leaders). During the Chalk-Walk in June, members & volunteers of Hollaback! Brussels covered streets and sidewalks with eye-catching slogans advocating for a harassment-free city. In the next year, Angelika looks forward to continuing to meet with government leaders, and is excited by the upcoming opportunity to speak at a session of Parliament. Angelika notes that, “More and more politicians want to meet us and are recognizing that street harassment is a problem.” Brussels’ Parliament Members Yamilla Idrissi and Bianca Debaets have recently contacted and declared their support for Hollaback! Brussels. MP Yamilla Idrissi spoke up in Parliament on the subject of sexual violence and street harassment asking what the Parliament intended to do about it and mentioned Hollaback! Brussels as a great initiative in the fight against these issues. As a result, Equal Opportunity Minister Pascal Smet said he intended to lead a year-long project to map incidents of sexual violence, street harassment and homophobia in an attempt to better understand the roots of misogyny and homophobia in Brussels.
We’re knee deep in our end of year campaign, and we’ve raised $5,500 so far thank you awesome people. But we’ve got a ways to go, so if you’re planning on giving, we want you to know one very important thing: YOU RULE. (also, here’s the link).
The HOLLAdays haven’t slowed our site leaders down. Check out this magic:
Hollaback South Africa was in Cosmo!
Hollaback Chandigarh launches “The Pledge Project” to encourage their city to stand up and take action when they see harassment or rape happening.
Hollaback Buenos Aires was interviewed by Genderit.org.
Hollaback Melbourne’s “Days of Christmas” campaign brings the sassy anti-street harassment sentiment to the holidays.
Hollaback Fredericksburg’s discussion panel on ways to promote the role of women in Fredericksburg’s music scene got press.
Hollaback Brussels has had one incredible year. You’ve got to read it to believe it.
Hollaback Victoria participated in the Red Umbrella March on International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers.
Hollaback Winnipeg releases its second-ever vlog – on bystanders!
Hollaback London releases the second-ever Langdon Olgar zine.
Hollaback Delhi reacts to a terrible local local rape.
Hollaback Edinburgh got funding from the Feminist Review Trust!
Hollaback Des Moines’s HOLLAday GIFs continue!
Hollaback Rutgers screams against gender-based violence on campus.
Busy, busy, busy! Make 2013 even better by donating now.
HOLLA and out —
“I really like that we managed to put the topic on the map. It was something not talked about at all here, and now, we can even refer to our site and say, ‘Look! Street harassment is real and happening on a daily basis.’ People will still try to make the problem smaller than it is, but we have our own source for evidence now. That makes it much harder for people to simply dismiss sexism as something from the past.” – Julia Brilling
Julia Brilling and Claudia Johann started Hollaback! Berlin after Julia came across Hollaback! London’s website and reached out to Hollaback!’s Executive Director Emily May. When Hollaback! Berlin began, there was not even a word for street harassment in German. Julia states, “There was absolutely no discussion on the topic, neither were there any resources.” Hollaback! Berlin has made great strides in the fight to end street harassment in Germany. Since 2011, Julia has assisted in the formation of two more German sites, Hollaback! Dresden and Hollaback! Dusseldorf. Hollaback! Berlin has appeared in a wide variety of media outlets. The biggest achievement so far was a collaboration with the “bff – Frauen gegen Gewalt”, a german-wide operating organization that works towards ending violence against women. Hollaback! Berlin is active in raising awareness and giving empowerment workshop on the topic of Street Harassment. As part of Hollaback! Berlin’s plans for the future, Julia is especially interested in increasing collaboration with other Hollaback! sites in her region, as well as helping Hollaback! to collaborate with the local feminist community.
“I love knowing that, in my own little way, I’m making the world a better place. While I had absolutely no experience in activism or social justice, and no college degree either, I am now a leader in feminist activism in my community, meeting all kinds of amazing, influential people. And that feels fantastic.” –Shawna Potter
In the past year and a half, Hollaback! Baltimore has organized and co-organized a plethora of events, including Anti-Street Harassment Week, Slutwalk, a film screening, and a consultation with Occupy Wall Street on behalf of the safety of women involved in the encampment. Hollaback! Baltimore has also delivered numerous Street Harassment 101 presentations at colleges, schools, and queer rock shows. Site Leader Shawna Potter notes the budding relationship with the local transgender community as especially rewarding: Hollaback! Baltimore has attended Baltimore PRIDE each year, joined the Transgender Response Team, will continue to help plan the annual Transgender Day of Remembrance, as well as participate in a continuing series of PSA’s about the local transgender community. Shawna simply loves raising awareness in her community: “The look on people’s faces when they ‘get’ exactly what you mean by ‘street harassment,’ and then those same people go home and submit their story–it’s incredible.” Shawna looks forward to forming closer ties with communities of color and finding ways to engage local government leaders in support of Hollaback! Baltimore.
“I want to be able to walk the streets free from fear and I believe that if we stand together and take action, this is something we can achieve. Launching the West Yorkshire site has a positive impact on me, my friends and family, and all women in my neighborhood.” – Louise Westbrooke
Louise Westbrooke and Emma Romanowics started Hollaback! West Yorkshire because of their interest in women’s rights and their own experiences with street harassment. In their community, they have built relationships with several grassroots feminist groups as well as with local government. They have represented Hollaback! at national conferences, held successful workshops, done radio and newspaper interviews, and overall increased their community’s understanding of street harassment. Hollaback! West Yorkshire participated in several large-scale events this year, including the Leeds Slut Walk, a Reclaim the Night Rally, and LaDIY fest, a feminist community festival in Sheffield.
Listen to this quick message from our board chair, and the donate to our end of year campaign! Already donated? Spread the word to your friends and family!
“I’ve had entire days ruined as I mull over what I wish I had said instead on my morning commute. It’s a waste of energy, and Hollaback! to me is an outlet for this energy, a place to channel my frustration and anger and share my experiences with the world.” – Kate Ziegler
“I saw Hollaback! as a movement I could get behind and wanted to be involved in. As a woman born and raised in the city, I was tired of being harassed every time I left my house; I was tired of the normalcy. The Hollaback! movement has helped me grow as an assertive individual who is passionate about sharing Hollaback! with her community.” – Jane M. Carper
Jane M. Carper, Britni Clark, Kate Ziegler, Angela Della Porta and Devon Audie make up our outstanding Hollaback! Boston team. Their organizational partners include a variety of local organizations committed to empowering women and combating domestic violence and sexual assault in Boston. Angela is most excited about Hollaback! Boston’s street harassment diaries. These reflections include posts by Boston site leaders as well as posts about incidents of harassment and the emotional repercussions of those experiences. The diaries powerfully express the ongoing and ever-present nature of street harassment in women’s lives. Despite being a new team, Hollaback! Boston has already begun making public appearances and looks forward to building relationships with local legislators and government.