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I believe it was my senior year of high school. I had dressed up nicely that day, wearing a dress – heels and all – to promote a dance concert that was the following evening. During one of my classes I left, most likely to use the restroom, and on my way back to the classroom I was approached by a male student in the hallway. I had never met him before, he was probably in a different grade, so I continued walking past him. He started trying to get my attention by calling me “shawty”. He began following me down the hallway yelling things at me. “Damn girl, why you all dressed up?” “You look real good today.” “Why don’t you turn around so I can get a good look at ya?” I did what most women do and ignored him. He then became angry. I could hear is pace slow behind me until he stopped and shouted, “Fine. Rude bitch.”
I never said anything to this boy or school authorities (which I now realize I should have at least brought it to their attention) but it does worry me that even though his volume was so loud, in an empty hallway, with classes going on, that none of the teachers or students thought it necessary to stop harassment on school grounds. That was not the only time I was the victim of cat-calling on campus during school hours. It never even mattered what I was wearing or if I was alone or if the harasser was alone.
Street harassment shouldn’t happen anywhere, let alone the halls of a school. I would urge Eaglecrest High School to pay more attention to the way their students treat their classmates. I can assure them I was not breaking the dress code that day or any day, but it never stopped me from being the target of someone’s harassment.
STOP is a short street harassment film created and directed by Julia Retzlaff.
Julia Retzlaff is an 18 year-old filmmaker who will be attending San Francisco State University in the fall of 2015. Her films have played in youth festivals across the country. Julia has worked as a T.A. for the Bay Area Video Coalition’s (BAVC) beginning video track as well as a freelance editor and researcher for BAVC Productions. On her off time, Julia writes poetry and indulges her cinephile side. Some of her favorite films include Nowhere by Gregg Araki, La Haine, and Dark Days.
Check out the film below and look for more films on our Youtube Channel:
To save money, I ride public transportation to work. Every day something inappropriate is said about my appearance and body, but this past Friday I was genuinely afraid. I was riding the bus to the metrolink. There were not any seats left, so I stood. I did not mind standing. Then this man stood up from his seat and said “Baby, come on have my seat. Sit down, baby” and I declined the offer. He insisted and was not going to sit down. So, I accepted the seat. When I approached the seat he got in my space and turned with me and I fell into the seat and he boxed me in. Then he started talking about how sexy he thought I was. And then smelled me and said I smelled nice too. Then I tried to ignore him, but he was so close and I did not know what he was going to do. He kept talking “If I was your man, I would never let go of you, baby let me be your man” me: “No, I already have somebody and we are very happy.” bystanders laugh as this goes on. Mt eyes search for someone to care, or help. But my eyes only see smiles. One man tells him to lay off me through spurts of laughter. Then the harasser reaches in his bag and gives me a disc. The same man who told him to layoff says: “girl, do not throw that away, that is a free movie and it is money” and I continue to try my best to ignore both of them…finally it is my stop and I make my way off that bus as fast as I can and throw the damn disc away, too. I am just so tired of this happening to me. I am sick of being told it is my fault because of my body type and appearance.
One of my friends that I had known for a few months sent me a dm on Twitter. He tried to ask me out and I told him I had a boyfriend. After learning this, he persistently asked for nudes saying things like “it doesn’t have to be shirtless” and “it’s not that bad”, “can I at least get a look at your underwear drawer?”.
I told him no and I had no idea what to do.
After a week I finally told my parents. He got in trouble (not a lot) and I got grounded and interrogated on “what I said to provoke it”.
We were 15.
We’re back with our HOLLA-Who series, profiling the amazing site leaders who take on street harassment in their local communities. In the HOLLA-Who series, we learn about what street harassment is like around the world, and what activists are doing today to push back and fight for the right to equal access to public spaces.
Today we’re talking with the amazing Julia from Hollaback! London. Julia, and other members of the HB London team, have been running the site since 2010. That’s five years of standing up to street harassment and changing the face of street harassment activism across the pond!
Why did you start the Hollaback! site in London (five years ago!), what inspired you to join on?
“I started the London site because I was feeling fed up with the harassment I experienced in my home city, being made to feel I had less of a right to my own streets and spaces. I wanted to provide a non-judgmental space for people to share their stories, regain some power after their experience and hopefully achieve some sort of parallel justice. Hollaback! means to me true grass roots activism. Getting up and speaking out after years of being silenced. It’s the thing that allowed me to identify my feminism, it’s the thing that empowered me to stand up for what I believe in. It’s the thing that sparked a career in the women’s sector. So it means a whole lot.”
What’s been going on in Hollaback! London recently?
“Last year we launched the first project working with late night venues to train staff to better support customers in the event of harassment or assault. It’s called Good Night Out.”
Say you’re the Queen for a day. What would you do to end street harassment?
“I’d put men in women’s shoes so they could see.”
What was your first experience with street harassment?
“When I was eight, a boy who lived on my block told me I needed to start shaving my legs. He also punched my sister once and called us bastards because our parents weren’t married. He was a dreadful, dreadful boy!“
Given that you’ve had years to perfect it, what’s your signature Hollaback!?
“Just flip ’em the bird.”
We’re all about the right to wear whatever you want. What’s your personal style?
“I like to aspire to 90’s power woman, a lot of shoulder pads! Still getting there!”
Serious question time. Would you rather have a dragon or be a dragon?
“Be a dragon!! Come on!”
What is your proudest HOLLA-Moment so far?
“Launching Good Night Out, so so proud.”
If you could leave the world one piece of advice, what would it be?
“Don’t judge, and don’t assume.”
What are you excited about for 2015?
What inspires you in this work?
“All the women I meet and work with who quietly get on with changing the world for the better, piece by piece. Who do it with calm, and composure and passion.”
And finally, in the year 2020, street harassment will be…
“Will be high up on the political agenda, and will be frowned upon by society. Will be hugely diminished since we all started shouting about it years ago!“
A big thank you to Julia from Hollaback! London. We are also *so excited* about the upcoming HOLLA::Revolution London. You can pick up your tickets today for the June 23rd event and catch local activists and performers taking on street harassment in London.
Holla and out!
It happens on an everyday basis, virtually. If you are female and walk down the street you get asked, “How much”, and slag, or slut, etc. from random men passing by or from men in cars shouting out to you. It’s no good blaming it on what a woman wears, because even when you are wearing no make-up, no high heels, hair unbrushed and a long dress they still do it. Also, the people driving the cars should be concentrating on the traffic and road, not neglecting it to look out the window and harass a woman. I would say, “How much” is the most common phrase and then you are asked 70p, etc. It is unacceptable to be harassed just because you happen to be female, especially in the 21st century.
I worked at a restaurant in an area (shopping district) that is widely considered nice, and somewhat “high-class”. I was on my break and and decided to walk to the Panera two blocks away. On my way back two men were crossing the street from the other end. As I walked past them one said: damn girl you’re beautiful. I wasn’t so much scared, as taken aback. It was broad daylight and there were tons of people around. I still felt uncomfortable despite the fact it “sounded like a compliment.”
As usual, i was going home after closing the bar i used to work at, it was around 4a. So i was (a little bit) drunk, heading to my flat, at a 2mn walk away, walking on a big lightened pedestrian street when a groupe of 4 or 5 young men joined me. One criticized my low waist jeans saying he sees everything and the others laughed when i stammered a multiple excuse “you don’t see anything / i’m wearing a boxer/it’s not my fault my button gave way sooner”. last thing i remember, the guy who adressed me put a hand against my throat, pining me against the church’s wall. They all left laughing. I ran back home. I don’t want to blame myself for being tipsy, i don’t want to feel guilty about an outfit, but i do feel bad about the explanation i gave them : we shouldn’t need any.
Flowers are blooming, Spring is in the air, and Hollaback! sites are creating on-the-ground actions! At the HQ, ED Emily May spent the week at the Ashoka Future Forum, collaborating with leaders from around the world! Also, ICYMI, check out these (US-Specific) graphs on prevalence and effects of street harassment, created using the recent Cornell street harassment data!
In HeartMob news, we met another funding goal and will receiving a boost from Catapult! We also launched #MyTroll, where we asked people to tweet about their harassment experiences. Check out the storify here! Finally, we’ve gotten some killer press. HeartMob was featured in Fusion and Refinery 29! It’s been a great campaign (wrapping up tonight) and we couldn’t have done it without all of your support.
Let’s see what some of our sites have been up to…
Hollaback! Toronto has received some serious press this week. Hollaback TO’s Alicia was on a panel discussing the #FHRITP incident and harassment at work on CBC Radio’s The Current. Way to spread the word and stand up against harassment Toronto!
Hollaback! London provided Good Night Out training to The Island and Distriandina – ten points to everyone involved! PS – did you know that this year’s HOLLA::Revolution will be held in London? You should attend!
Hollaback! Ottawa went to Comiccon and talked about the four Ds of intervention, and what to do if you see someone being harassed in Geek spaces. They have some AMAZING photos from the event that you can check out here!
Hollaback! Vancouver held their amazing “What’s Your Number?” show a few weeks back. You can check out all the work in an upcoming zine, out at the end of the month. It’s not too late to submit if you have a writing or art piece about street harassment / gender/ public space – or – if you did attend – a review of the show! Send your work to [email protected]
Great job team!
HOLLA and Out!
Walking down the street in a black t-shirt and jeans. Two white men, mid 20’s cat called me saying, “look at this bitch. Bitch you busy, wanna party?”
I did not respond, which apparently prompted anger in an additional response with, “are you a fucking dude? Funking ‘trannies’! Someone should do it [sic] a favor and kill it [sic]! Better start moving faggot!”