Appalachian Ohio, Athens GA, Atlanta, Baltimore, Chicago, Cleveland, Columbia MO, Columbus, Denver, Des Moines, Durham & Chapel Hill, East Lansing, Fredericksburgh VA, Houston, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Lubbock TX, Manhattan KS, Muncie IN, New Orleans, New York City, NYU, Pittsburgh, Plattsburgh, Richmond VA, San Fernando Valley, San Francisco, SUNY Oneonta, Tucson, Twin Cities
BY EMILY MAY
Last week 6,300 of you rallied and signed a petition on Change.org for the NYPD to have increased sensitivity surrounding the South Brooklyn sexual assault cases, and today we are proud to announce the NYPD listened.
On Thursday, October 8th – only a week after the petition began – the commanding officers of the NYPD’s 72nd and 78th Precincts held a meeting with members of Hollaback! and Safe Slope, convened by New York City Councilmember Brad Lander, to directly address Safe Slope’s open letter to the NYPD and the 6,300 people (that’s you!) who signed the petition demanding increased sensitivity. As a result of that meeting, we are proud to announce the NYPD has agreed to following improvements:
Clearly, there is still work to be done. But we couldn’t have made it this far without your support.
In addition to your efforts, our heartfelt thanks go to Safe Slope, The Line Campaign, Permanent Wave, the organizers of SlutWalk NYC, and Women in the Media and News for organizing with us to make the petition happen, and Councilmember Lander for setting up the meeting with the NYPD. Shelby Knox, Director of Community Organizing for Women’s Rights at Change.org said, “the coalition of activists that made this happen should be commended for using people power, online and offline, to improve police sensitivity surrounding sexual assault cases. Their work will serve as a blueprint on how residents can respectfully petition the NYPD — and it is my belief that the impact of their efforts will live on long after the South Brooklyn rapist has been caught.”
Keep using your voice to change the world, and remember to always…
A year ago I went on vacation with my dad to Las Vegas, it was the first vacation I’ve had ever since I was a 6, (16 when this happened) and was even able to go with my dad whose job has him all over the world much of the time. So I was trying very hard to make this a good experience for me, one which I would look back fondly on for years. This guy ruined the whole post-harassment part of the vacation for me.
So my dad and I were at the Excalibur Hotel/Casino on the Vegas Strip, we were heading out of the building after a show to go back to our hotel to get dinner and sleep. My dad had to use the bathroom, so I just sat down on the steps by the bathroom, and waited. I was next to the slot machines, and I noticed a man staring at me from there. He was likely in his 40s or 50s, and was balding with gray hair. A bit nervous, I pulled out my phone and tried to look busy. I heard “Hey.” and looked up to see him right above me. It was hard to understand him through his thick accent, but I’ll never forget my heart dropping into my stomach when he said: “You have… very beautiful legs. They’d sure look nice wrapped around me.” (I was wearing jeans and boots, not a skirt or anything revealing.) Luckily, I didn’t need to think about what to do, because my dad came out of the bathroom right after. My dad said “What’s going on? Who’re you?” to him. The man was obviously shaken by the sudden appearance of my 6″1′ tall, 225 lb dad. He said “I wasn’t doin’ nothin’.” and backed off. As we left my dad shot him the most threatening look he could. I remember just getting to our room in the MGM Grand hotel and crying my eyes out, my dad was furious that this was able to happen. I had never experienced anything like this in my hometown, I mean I’ve had catcalls coming from men in cars when I was on the sidewalk here, but I never felt truly threatened. I was genuinely afraid that somehow this man would get into our room and rape me. It was sort of a wake-up call that I’m not as safe in public as I thought. We made a point to never separate for the rest of the vacation, and I’ve been so much more cautious ever since.
Every time this happens to me, I wish I did something different. I was walking home alone at 1am in a nice residential part of the city in a zipped hooded sweatshirt and corduroys, no skin showing by my face. I hear the slowing of a car coming up behind me and I feel this immediate sinking feeling, thinking oh god, here we go. A man in the car rolls his window down as he pulls up next to me, I continue to walk staring straight ahead, hoping he’s stopping for any other reason than to cat call me. “Hey, want a ride?” And immediately, I said “No”, continuing to walk and stare ahead of me. “Really?” I started to seethe. “YEAH, REALLY.” The man scoffs and says, “WOW” and drives away. I flipped him off as he drove away, wishing I had brought my can of pepper spray. It’s an abomination that this happens to women every day in the U.S., the constant degradation of women that is ignored as being harmless. And I wish I could say this were the first (or last time) this happened to me.
I had been sitting on a bench reading. I was in full sun and was getting rather hot, so I decided to head back to my dorm. As I got up and started walking along the path, I noticed a man coming towards me in the opposite direction. I didn’t take too much notice of him. Until the moment when I directly past him and noticed he had his penis and balls out of his pants, rubbing one out looking at me as he walked past. It all happened so quickly, I was already past him before I realized exactly what had happened. I suddenly became conscious of how short my shorts were and how a little bit of my mid-drift could be seen. But I told myself that shouldn’t matter. That guy was a pig-headed creep, getting off on girls in a public park. If I had been still sitting, and my experience more prolonged, I would like to think I would have called him out, brought attention to what he was doing in hopes that would shame him into stopping. But seeing as this is my first encounter with street harassment, maybe I wouldn’t have been that gutsy. But it is because of organizations like Hollaback! that I am gaining confidence. After I left the park, I found I was really angry and almost wanted him to come back and try again so I could scream in his face. And because of Hollaback! I know that that anger is justified. Thank you for empowering women to stand up to street harassment and for providing a forum for women to share their stories.
We just wanted to highlight the work of two amazing college-based initiatives – Freeze the Tease and Chappal Maarungi – in the Mumbai-wide and global fight to end street harassment.
Freeze the Tease is the brainchild of six students at St. Andrew’s College – Perma Dsouza, Andrea Fernades, Digi George, Anishka Alvares, Rochelle Barrie and Valeska Reveredo. The initiative began as a response to a class assignment and has solidified into a dynamic, awareness-raising campaign. Their campaign has involved encouraging women to sign a pledge saying that they will not be silent in the face of street harassment and wearing bands that say ‘I pledge to freeze the tease.’ They have also organized outdoor activities, such as a recent outing where they distributed ‘Freeze the Tease’ bands in Bandra and other public spaces. Check out their Facebook page here. Amazing stuff!
Similarly, Chappal Maarungi was started in response to a class assignment at Wilson College and has taken on a life of its own. Their Facebook page states “Chappal Maarungi” as a campaign is not directed towards men, asking them to stop cat calling and eve teasing. Instead, as the name itself suggests, is directed towards women: asking them to raise their voices against inappropriate behavior. The “chappal” here is symbolic for women raising their voices and not necessarily their footwear (unless of course, they need to!)”
Amazing stuff! Their angle is that when women are empowered to take a stand against harassment, men will learn that harassment of any kind in any arena is entirely unacceptable. The group has created a 5-foot tall chappal and placed boxes of chappals around their college campus as an encouragement to women to step up (no pun intended : ) Check out their Facebook page here!
Awesome stuff! So good to see other campaigns working to end street harassment in Mumbai. Together we shall overcome.
Meet Kacie, the social entrepreneur fighting street harassment in Istanbul, Turkey.
Why do you HOLLA? I HOLLA because people just can’t be treated this way.
What’s your craft? Social entrepreneurship, essentially figuring out how to make a living while caring about the world. I’m also a locavor and foodie.
What was your first experience with street harassment? I really don’t remember, but I’m sure it began when I was 12 or 13 years old. When I was 18, I remember realizing that it would become a normal experience of my daily life. I learned that street harassment could be dangerous when I was 20, and now that I’m 24 now I have learned how to respond to it.
Define your style: Tweed, androgyny, nose ring, modesty, and my trusty red cowboy boots. Also trying not to look too American while I’m living abroad.
What do you collect? Postcards from my penpals.
If you could leave the world one piece of advice, what would it be? Make sure that the dreams you dream are big enough for you.
My superheroine power is…that people tend to trust me and believe in me.
What inspires you? Mostly other people’s amazing stories partnered with my pragmatic idealism.
In the year 2020, street harassment…will be apart of legislation that’s enacted in many countries across the world.
I don’t know if this counts as sexual harassing… but I might say that when I suffer from schizophrenia and I have been a victim of bullying and harassing all my life, I really don’t know.
I was waiting for a bus to Helsinki on a dark winter evening, when a young man who as obviously drunk came up to me and asked: “Hey, what bus are you waiting for?” As you might know, I got really queasy and decided to walk to another stop. When I left, I heard him say; “Well look at that, I just ask a simple question and…”
Now I would ask a simple question; why on Earth would any man in his right mind ask such a stupid question? Why are you suddenly interested in what kind of bus am I taking?
A couple of weeks ago I went to buy new shoes, vegan biker boots for kicking ass! I had some extra money left so I went to buy a couple of cans of carrot juice, my favorite drink.
Outside the shop there was a young hippie- ish man talking to a cellphone, I stopped next to him to put some garbage into the dustbin, and suddenly he yelled: “Hey girl, you! You in the red tartan cap! You know very well I am talking to you!”
I was getting a bit anxious, but didn’t mind him. I walked to the escalator, he ran after me yelling at me, I ran away and cried for help, and I made it to the bus stop without him following me.
Well, it’s no wonder I hate men so much!
BY EMILY MAY
The issue of peer-to-peer harassment on campuses has come into focus over the past year – and for good reason: the statistics are staggering. Amongst the LGBTQ community, CNN reports that 33% of LGBTQ and 38% of transgender students, faculty and staff have seriously considered leaving their institution due to harassment, and in a 2005 study by the AAUW, 62% of women and 61% of men report being sexually harassed on campuses. The epidemic is widespread, and 51% of male students admit to harassing their female counterparts at least once. Yale students caught on tape yelling “no means yes and yes means anal,” have caused a nationwide uproar, and a group of student activists sued Yale University for creating a “hostile sexual environment” on campus.
Nationwide outrage related to gender-based violence on campus has led the U.S. Department of Education to follow suit in denouncing sexual assault on campus, and recently issued a statement requiring universities to improve their sexual assault policies and mandate reporting. In tandem with this focus on sexual assault, the suicide of Tyler Clementi – a young, gay male who was caught on camera by his roommates during a sexual encounter – has put an unprecedented amount of focus on the harassment of people in the LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, and queer) community.
As attention mounts on gender-based harassment and assault, we have a unique and historical opportunity (not to mention a responsibility) to address campus harassment. We want to hear from you: what is your campus doing to address harassment? What strategies do you think would be effective?
Let us know, as always, keep holla’ing back!
Since the early spring, there have been 11 sexual assaults, including one rape, in Park Slope and surrounding neighborhoods.
In response the NYPD has released information about at least three suspects, including multiple videos and composite sketches, and increased police presence in the area. While we applaud the police for taking the attacks seriously, neighborhood residents are concerned with some aspects of the police response.
The Wall Street Journal reports that officers are telling women not to wear shorts or skirts to prevent being assaulted. This is victim-blaming, not prevention. This approach is indicative of a police force that is effectively disconnected from the community and unaffected by the current outcry and mass mobilizations against rape and victim blaming provoked by a Toronto police officer’s declaration that “women should avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victimized.”
Safe Slope, a Brooklyn-based collective formed in response to the attacks, recently chronicled additional worrying NYPD behavior, including:
– Officers following women home at night without communicating with them and showing video of the attacks to residents without warning, both practices that are frightening and triggering to sexual assault survivors.
– Only providing information about the assaults to women, which sends the message that men and genderqueer people aren’t sexually assaulted – a dangerous myth – and that sexual assault prevention is a women’s issue rather than the responsibility of the entire community.
– Only providing prevention and information materials in English, which prevents non-English speaking members of the community from receiving safety tips and information they need to protect themselves.
These missteps are the latest examples of a police department that is unprepared to responsibly and effectively prevent rape and sexual assault. A police force that is hurting those it is supposed to protect, particularly some of the most vulnerable members of society, is an outrage and an affront to the civil and human rights of all and requires action at all levels. Systemic victim-blaming leaves all people, but especially historically marginalized members of society, more susceptible to violence and arrest when they report rape or sexual assault to the police. We must build an analysis of police behavior, recklessness, lack of sensitivity and lack of adequate training as a systemic problem that has a significantly negative impact on those affected by violence and their communities.
In two recent incidents, two NYPD officers were accused of rape – and convicted of official misconduct for repeatedly entering the home of a woman without cause – and another officer was apprehended while committing a sexual assault. Videos have also been circulating of police violence at the Occupy Wall Street protests, adding to public mistrust of the NYPD and its motives, tactics, and actions.
We, the undersigned, call on Commissioner Ray Kelly to enact these steps immediately in regard to the situation in Park Slope:
– Immediately order sensitivity training for all officers assigned to work on the Park Slope case, to be completed by October 15th
– Ensure officers provide information about sexual assaults and prevention in Spanish and other languages reflective of community needs
– Ensure information on sexual assault be provided to individuals who are not female-bodied people
– Insist NYPD officers identify themselves and inform people who are being followed home
We further call on Commissioner Kelly to:
– Insist all NYPD officers complete mandatory sensitivity training by January 1st, 2012.
– Facilitate a safe and violence-free SlutWalk in New York City on Saturday October 1, 2011 with zero instances of police brutality or unwarranted police force.
Black Women’s Blueprint
The Line Campaign
The organizers of SlutWalk NYC