Appalachian Ohio, Athens GA, Atlanta, Berkeley, Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, Columbia MO, Columbus, Des Moines, Durham & Chapel Hill, East Lansing, Fredericksburgh VA, Houston, Los Angeles, Muncie IN, New York City, NYU, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Plattsburgh, Richmond VA, San Francisco, Tucson, Twin Cities
I’m a receptionist at a car dealership. I’m also a book-artist, and I often bring small-scale pieces to my job with me so that I can work on them/fiddle with them in my free time. Today I brought a nice little Coptic-stitched number which I’ve been using as a journal and sketchbook. One of my male coworkers came up to my desk and began to admire it. I allowed it. He opened it up — and asked if he could ‘write me a poem’.
I said sure. This man had made sexualized comments toward me before, in passing — but I thought, ‘surely this guy won’t have the audacity to write something inappropriate in there, while I’m at work. Surely, surely, he isn’t so stupid.’ Welp, I was wrong.
The title of his poem was “Attraction”, and here is how it went:
Disturbing yet Alluring
Hot yet dampened by
the look of wet innocence
if only the conversation
could breathe to life into
I wrote him a poem in return; titled it “Objectification”:
Ain’t no daydream
for the woman
on the receiving end of it.
We hate that shit
More than anything else
in the world.
He was taken aback, and he said that I’d taken the poem ‘the wrong way’. I said ‘I took it like you wrote it.’ And then, we had a conversation about workplace etiquette and the objectification of women. Wasn’t an easy conversation – it made me shake with nerves! But it was EXTREMELY FULFILLING. THANK YOU, hollaback.
T-Mobile has responded to our petition and provided the requested phone numbers to the NYPD. However, T-Mobile slowed down a police investigation of a sexual assault, endangering more people. We continue to be in discussion with T-Mobile to get clarity on their policy.
Hollaback! launches online petition at change.org to demand action from telecommunications giant
(Brooklyn, NY) – Hollaback!, an international movement dedicated to ending street harassment through mobile technology, today called on telecommunications giant T-Mobile to release vital information pertaining to a sexual assault case in New York City. An attack in Brooklyn in July, after which the suspect called the victim’s cell phone from a blocked number, marks the sixth of such assaults to occur in the area since March; the information provided by T-Mobile could be key in leading to the arrest of the perpetrator. The on-line petition is available here.
“Withholding information that could lead to the arrest of a man who poses a violent threat to women across New York is not just irresponsible, it’s unconscionable,” said Hollaback! Executive Director Emily May. “By refusing to assist authorities in this case, T-Mobile is sending a message to sexual predators everywhere that their acts will go unpunished. It’s time the company do the right thing and disclose vital information that will help prevent future rapes.”
The victim, a 22-year old woman, woke up in a car in July with two men on top of her. She screamed and tried to get away, and they let her out of the car — taking only her phone. She was left with bruises and a broken zipper. The details of what happened before she woke up remain unknown.
“As a south Brooklyn resident, I am outraged. T-Mobile’s policy has left my wife, my friends, and all the residents of South Brooklyn at risk,” said Samuel Carter, co-founder and board chair of Hollaback! and publisher of Overflow, a local south Brooklyn magazine.
According to T-Mobile’s Customer Proprietary Network Information (which includes call details and call location information) the company will not disclose such information without a customer’s permission. The NYPD has already submitted one failed subpoena, and is in the process of submitting subpoena’s with higher courts. According to the NYPD, T-Mobile is notorious for their failure to cooperate in criminal investigations.
The most recent reported attack in South Brooklyn occurred on September 6, 2011 and marked the seventh attack since March. Many of the other six attacks happened either late at night or in the early morning. While several women were able to escape, one woman was raped in her apartment vestibule.
BY EMILY MAY
Comedian Alex Carabano points out how completely ridiculous holla’ing is in this little video. And he’s right. If you could take street harassment out of it’s scary/lonely/isolating context it’s freaking ridiculous. Problem is – outside of comedy – you can’t take it out of that context. It’s always gonna be scary. That’s the point.
But what if we took the power out of their words and DID laugh at them? Would it escalate, deter them, or make them cower in shame? HOLLA with your stories of laughing-back. We’d love to hear.
I am not beautiful, that I know, but I also know I am no victim. I was walking home from getting dinner, a five minute maybe 100 yard walk and I was surrounded by four drunk guys. They started yelling things like “hideous bitch,””you’re so f*cking manly, people who look like you shouldn’t exist on this earth,” etc. Unfortunately for the last few weeks, I had gotten this verbal abuse before but this night it escalated. I remained stoic, just enduring until it was over as I usually do. That was until they kicked me in the back of the knees. As I was getting back up, another one of them took a swing to my gut, and before I could react another threw a punch at my jaw. They ran away laughing hysterically. I lost a lot that day, but I would lose more. I’ve dealt with verbal abuse like this in the past but the consistency of it and the culmination of the assault was too much this time. I plummeted into a deep depression. This, not during the assault, was when my life got exponentially worse.
Depression, to say the least, takes a toll, and mine was severe. I alienated myself from my friends, as I did not tell anyone what had happened to me. I became a person that the depression made me, an anti-me. Instead of being chill and just going with the flow, I became somewhat paranoid and was convinced that something was inherently wrong with me that I would get such constant, violent attention. I became someone I hated, every day I woke up hating myself. That was the depression. It took my beliefs, my identity, my ambition, my soul, and my life.
My friends left. I assume they didn’t understand, and I was giving them no explanation. My relationship left, citing that we weren’t working anymore. I became even more alone than I already felt. I became completely alone.
I had lost myself, and everything identifying me as myself and there was seemingly no end to pain in my life. I was lost and alone.
I’m a strong person, or at least I was. I am a trained kick boxer but this all happened so fast and I never thought it would escalate into assault. I returned to the place of my assault yesterday, as a fresh face as I like to think, due to a lot of endless work over the summer, that I am somewhat depression free. I returned to this place. I returned to my school, where I still have a year left, and I felt great pain. I felt great betrayal.
I didn’t ask to be depressed, I didn’t ask to be assaulted, and I didn’t ask to be abandoned but it happened.
Am I stronger today because of it? Maybe. But probably not quite yet.
BY ANNIE BOGGS
Second-wave feminist Carol Hanisch originated the phrase “the personal is political.” Hanisch enlightened me on the myth of bra burning and her hopes for the future of feminism, as well as other interesting tidbits. I was inspired and wanted to share with the Hollaback! community. Enjoy!
photo via redstockings.org
Carol Hanisch was one of the original “bra burners.” Except she never actually burned her bra. Starting a fire on the boardwalk at the 1968 Miss America Pageant protest in Atlantic City wasn’t permitted, but the newspapers still picked it up and the name stuck.
“They should have called us girdle burners. That was much more important than the bras. Those things were so uncomfortable,” Hanisch said on the phone from her home in upstate New York.
As a member of the group New York Radical Women, Hanisch was the instigator for that now well-known protest. One of the pioneering feminists of the late 1960s, Hanisch also has local connections to my college town of Gainesville, Florida, (once known as the “Berkeley of the South”) as one of the former members of the Gainesville Women’s Liberation.
Born and raised on a farm in Iowa, Hanisch wants to correct the assumption that all members of the women’s liberation movement were big city, middle-class liberals. She wasn’t the only person from a rural, working-class background.
“It’s important that people realize that it really did cut across all class. Women of all backgrounds took up the fight.”
Hanisch’s early interest in feminism stemmed from her involvement in the civil rights movement in Mississippi in the mid-1960s, which “propelled” her entrance into the women’s movement.
“I guess it kind of turned my head around,” said Hanisch of the racism she witnessed in Mississippi in 1965 and 1966 as a civil rights volunteer.
Her famous statement “The personal is political,” is still well-known in feminist circles, though Hanisch admits the phrase has become distorted since its inception.
“People think that anything they do is political and feel they don’t need to get involved in a movement. We were all movement. Couldn’t change anything unless women united and worked together in a united way.”
She still has hope for the movement. Though there’s been a huge backlash against women’s liberation, Hanisch believes issues like abortion, violence, and even general respect for women (Hollaback!) all need to be worked on. She thinks SlutWalks are a good example of what the movement needs, although she’s not sure she likes the name.
As for feminism ever thriving on college campuses?
“It certainly could,” Hanisch said. “It just needs some leadership and some courage.”
I was walking back to my apartment downtown after a grocery run when I passed a parked car. I was tired from the walk, carrying my heavy bags of groceries and just wanted to get home. But as I walked past the car, I heard a guy’s voice saying, “You’re hot.” He said something before that but I wasn’t paying attention and missed it. Before I could even turn around to see where the catcall was coming from, a girl in the driver’s seat shouted, “Hey! My brother’s talking to you!” as if that made me obligated to respond in some way.
I wish I could’ve thought of something to say back, but I was really taken off-guard and just wanted to get home. It made me really upset for a few reasons. First, I find catcalling to be degrading, misogynistic and generally a tool men use to assert dominance and make females feel small. But I was especially upset because the girl in the driver’s seat, his sister, was an accomplice in the harassment of a fellow woman. I don’t know if this girl has to deal with street harassment on a daily basis the way I do, but it pained me that she would encourage his behavior instead of scolding him for his disrespect toward me and women in general. In addition, I take offense to the idea that just because a man is talking to me that I am somehow obliged to listen. Give me a break. Was I supposed to just stand there with my armful of groceries in the middle of the night and take his BS because it’s my place to do so as a woman?
In the end, I just kept walking and tuned the two out. I wish I could have thought of something to hollaback.
Also, this was just a few minutes after a guy in a big truck honked his horn at me and stuck his head out of the window of his car to smile at me suggestively. Twice in one night, and to have a girl encourage her brother? Gross.
Today I was harassed. My harasser thought he was doing me a favour by slapping my ass and telling me how good I looked in my shorts. “It’s a compliment!” He said.
I asked him if he liked harassing women. I asked him if it made him feel like a bigger person to belittle me without knowing anything about me, my opinions, my life. “It was JUST a compliment!” He said.
I told him his version of a compliment was fucked in all directions. I told him that this wouldn’t go under the rug, like so many experiences like this I’ve had before.
He started walking away, I was making a big scene. I started stopping women on University Ave, asking them if they have ever been harassed by this man? None were, and if they were they never told me. I yelled to sisters further up the street to watch out for that 45 year old in the orange shirt with the beer gut. “He harasses women!” I screamed.
He slinked around the corner and away, tail between his legs.
I am livid, hurt, vulnerable and in desperate need of reassurance
This shouldn’t have to happen…to anyone!
If it wasn’t for Hollaback! I would have never had the guts to stand up and say something. I hope this humiliation is something he carries with him everywhere he goes…
BY EMILY MAY
Check out the article, “Get Angry. Go Viral. Use Social Media for Change!” in this month’s more magazine! The article profiles our friends at Harassmap in Egypt, as well as our friend Deanna Zandt who wrote “Share This! How you will change with world with social networking” (if you haven’t read it yet, get on it). The article also gives Hollaback! a little shout out:
As technology grows more sophisticated, the sites will too. iHollaback.org, a U.S.-based precursor to HarassMap that takes advantage of the latest software, enables women to punch an icon on their smartphones, choose whether to take a photo of their harasser and later share the details of the abuse—-information that is then uploaded to Hollaback’s website, along with blogs, tips and news. “Change has always been about telling our stories,” says the site’s founder, Emily May. “But now we can map our stories. We can photograph our stories. We can tell our stories on blogs.” And produce concrete results: In 2008, after months of pressure from Hollaback members [EDITOR'S NOTE: This done in coordination with New Yorkers for Safe Transit, of which Hollaback! is a member], New York City’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority agreed to plaster antigroping signs in the subways, and now the city council is considering more aggressive action against harassers. “All of a sudden we’re not just talking to our friends online,” May says. “We can use our stories to talk to people in the community, talk to legislators and spread the word.”
Ultimately, though, what draws women to these sites is something deeper: a camaraderie of the pissed off and the passionate. As one woman posted on Hollaback: “Using your camera phone is a subtle way to take some kind of action when you feel powerless . . . [It] connects you to an entire community of people who collectively say this is awful, it shouldn’t have happened to you, and it wasn’t your fault. When people ask me, ‘What good does it do to post a picture on a blog?’ I say, ‘Are you kidding?! We’re building a movement!’ ”
Gotta love that end quote. Pretty much sums it all up.
BY EMILY MAY
In spring 2009 I was accepted into the Women’s Media Center’s Progressive Women’s Voices Program with nine of the most impressive women I’ve ever met. At the front of the room was Katy Orenstein, founder of the Op-ed project, a project designed to increase the amount of women writers on the editorial pages.
Katy was pushing us to identify as “experts.” Media people love “experts” (read: talking heads) but women tend to shy away from it. We fear the “so what makes you an expert?” question like the plague, and to be fair – we’re much more likely to get it than men. The more Katy pushed us to identify, the more we wiggled in our seats and pushed back with over-intellectualized arguments that reasoned if every one’s voice matters – what was so special about ours?
What Katy did next changed my life. She told us to imagine that everyone in the room had cancer. Then after a long pause she told us to imagine that we weren’t sure – but that we thought we had a cure. She asked us: do we speak up?
We responded in unison: of course.
So, she said, “what’s the difference? The world has problems, and you all have answers. If you’re not speaking up you’re silently complicit in other’s pain.”
Those words hit me hard. It made me realize — once and for all — the power of what we had created. We had a huge international platform from which to end street harassment. We also had a me, who didn’t want to lead, write books, or pursue media for fear of making it all about me. And in the process, I had made it all about me. Hollaback! hadn’t even come close to realizing it’s potential because I was scared to lead, and in that moment I realized that this wasn’t about me. It wasn’t about my fears, feelings, hesitations or career goals. I had a choice: I could lead this thing or I could sit back, go with Plan A, and delay progress.
We all know what the end of the story is, but my point is this: every day each of us face moments where we can speak up or shut up. I’m not gonna lie, speaking up is one the scariest things you’ll ever do. You’ll open yourself up to criticism and ridicule. If you speak loudly enough someone will tell you you’re fat or ugly. When we make the mistake of thinking that we speak up only for ourselves, shutting up becomes an obvious choice. But when we remember that our voices can speed the pace of progress -whether it’s ending street harassment, promoting peace, or preserving the environment – speaking up becomes so much more than an outlet. It becomes a responsibility.