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This April, the 2012 Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM) campaign centers on promoting healthy sexuality to prevent sexual violence.
One time I was just walking down the Ave and a group of girls were standing outside a Thai restaurant. One of them slapped my butt as I passed and said “nice ass baby”. I felt like turning around and kicking her in the cooch but I resisted because I didn’t want to lower myself to her level. It just makes me so irate when women put their hands on me without asking.
It’s been a fairly typical Saturday, and I’ve been out and about all day. I happened to notice a few men look at me and smile earlier, I didn’t pay much attention – they were looking at my face after all. It’s just nice to see people smile, sometimes.
To get home, I walk down a steep hill with a number of bars on it. I walk this way every day, so I know the pavements are narrow, and I keep an eye out for people coming the other way, especially big groups. So when I stepped aside to make way for a group of half a dozen lads in their 20s and 30s to get past earlier, I was not expecting one of them to stand in my way, stare at my chest, lick his lips, and then proclaim, ‘Wow. They’re massive, darlin’.’ Once he’d said that, I was expecting his mates to laugh, which they did.
Now, I could make allowances for the fact he was probably trying to impress his mates, and I can’t really dispute the factual content of his observation. But the tone and gesture made me feel objectified and, if I am honest, sullied. I am ashamed to say that the first thing I did when I got home was to verify that I was not wearing ‘provocative’ clothing. I wasn’t, but that really isn’t the point: after all, what the hell should it matter what I am wearing when I go out to buy groceries, as long as I am not breaking any decency laws?
I was minding my own business, and now I won’t be able to walk up my own street without thinking of this incident. I’m in my 30s, I’ve lived all over the world, and I can take most things on the chin. But this has really upset me – and I wish that guy stops and thinks the next time he wants to pay a ‘compliment’.
Welcome to this week’s west coast edition! I’m on a plane, heading back back from a week in San Francisco as we speak. Veronica, Natalie, Victoria, and Catherine have been holding down for the fort in New York, and of course, our site leaders continue to kick street harassment to the curb internationally. Here’s the roundup!
I talked, a lot! I was invited to speak on a killer panel with Shelby Knox (of Change.org and “The Miseducation of Shelby Knox fame) and Jamia Wilson (VP of Programs at the Women’s Media Center) at SEX::TECH, a conference put on by ISIS and dedicated to using technology to spread the gospel about sexual health to youth. I also spoke at the City College of San Francisco and UC Berkeley. At Berkeley, I got to meet our UH-MAZ-ING site leaders, Ian and Tiffany. They are working on getting harassment education instituted for incoming freshman. Totally revolutionary.
The tour-du-legislators continues! In my absence, Natalie boldly took the reigns and presented to the entire Brooklyn delegation of the New York City Council! Go Natalie!
The international movement is rocking and rolling! Our Southern California site leader Shira Tarrant has been blogging about street harassment for Ms. Magazine’s Ms. Blog. Also in California, we got a mention in The Gothamist this week after a woman snapped a picture of a creepy man that tried to kidnap her in LA. On the other side of the country, a french documentary company is coming to interview me tonight for their documentary on street harassment. A little look at france.ihollaback.org, and yep, I’d say they could use it.
And if you’re in the New York City area, please join us for our screening of War Zone, a documentary about street harassment. We’re co-hosting it with our friends (and former office-mates) Women’s eNews. Tickets are $10 and are on sale now.
HOLLA and out!
Why do you HOLLA? Why do I HOLLA? Why didn’t I holla back in the past?! I HOLLA because I experience street harassment on a nearly daily basis, because I live in a country that is dragging its feet in the past. I want to be part of the change, and I want to educate men and women about harassment because I find many of them don’t really know the difference between abuse and being polite (true story!).
What’s your signature Hollaback? “Will you say that to your mother/daughter?”
What’s your craft? I’m a social media manager, I specialise in social media policy and strategy and manage the online reputation of other brands and companies. I have a sneaky wine lover streak.
HOLLAfact about your city: According to a Human Rights Watch report, 68% of women in South Africa have been subjected to some form of sexual harassment.
What was your first experience with street harassment? I can’t remember my first experience, but I remember one of my earliest. I just got my hair done and was walking out of the shopping mall when a delivery man yelled “Hello girl!” in the most slimy tone of voice. It shattered my confidence at that moment, instead of feeling pampered and happy after a trip to the hair dresser, I felt violated and helpless in such a public space. People were standing around, nobody said a word, not even me. I just walked away, angry that I had no clever comeback, nothing to say, all the time feeling his eyes boring into my soul as I pretended not to hear.
Define your style: Laid back and inconsistent. I drift between fashion trends and classic pieces. I’m outspoken AND shy.
My superheroine power is…Flight.
What do you collect? I collect various things, wine, fighter-jet books, and specs and small model plane kits, badges.
Say you’re Queen for the day. What would you do to end street harassment? I’d order every school to have mandatory gender-neutral ‘Good Manners’ classes for juniors and seniors and for their parents. This won’t be about what to say at the dinner table (ok maybe that to!), but how to properly speak to people, how to pay a compliment to another person, how to RESPECT a person, how to defend a person, how to say “That’s not ok”, how to ask for help. My mom always said this stuff should be taught at home, but I think parents should be included in these classes too so that everyone learns.
If you could leave the world one piece of advice, what would it be? Treat others the way you would like to be treated, it’s all about respect.
What inspires you? Change inspires me, I see things changing all around me, especially in this country. We’ve gone through massive, urgent changes and I’ve seen the positive side of this. It inspires me to take action.
In the year 2020, street harassment…Will be an embarrassing phenomenon that people experienced in the dark ages and looked back on in disgust like racism.
Ryan Gosling knows what bystander intervention is all about. Earlier this week, the actor much celebrated for his mind and acting talents stepped in when he saw a woman about to get hit by a taxi cab. In New York City, it can be all too easy to dismiss strangers in need of help, but this story serves as a nice reminder and example of how to behave like a decent human being from time to time.
The woman Gosling stopped right before she stepped into oncoming traffic, just so happened to be British journalist, Laurie Penny, who made a fantastic point on the celebrity-obsessed frenzy that followed:
“What’s more, I really do object to being framed as the ditzy damsel in distress in this story. I do not mean any disrespect to Ryan Gosling, who is an excellent actor and, by all accounts, a personable and decent chap. I thought he was marvelous in The Ides of March, and will feel weird about objectifying him in future now that I have encountered him briefly as an actual human.
But as a feminist, a writer, and a gentlewoman of fortune, I refuse to be cast in any sort of boring supporting female role, even though I have occasional trouble crossing the road, and even though I did swoon the teeniest tiniest bit when I realized it was him. I think that’s lazy storytelling, and I’m sure Ryan Gosling would agree with me.”
For this, we fully support Laurie Penny’s point on not portraying women as damsels in distress; the dangers of objectifying anyone (though we still enjoy the occasional Ryan Gosling meme); and the realization that it should not be a major headline anytime a person helps out a stranger. Bystander intervention is for everyone, if you see someone who looks like they are being harassed by a stranger, or about to get hit by a taxi, don’t just stand there!
If you have an idea for creating positive change, whether it be for solving a global human rights issue, something going on in your local community or creating lasting environmental or social change, then consider submitting your idea by May 1, 2012 to the first ever Global Project Fair by the Worldwide Visionaries community to receive support for turning your ideas into action! What have you got to lose? Even the simplest of ideas can have a big impact on the world.
Visionary Projects: Everyone who submits a project in the Global Project Fair
will receive a Worldwide Visionaries digital badge of endorsement to honor your participation. Proudly display your digital badge on your website, profile or portfolio to let others know about the positive contribution you are making to the world!
Individual Projects: Individuals or small groups who are not currently in a school setting, age 13+
Businesses, standing nonprofit organizations and political groups cannot be included.
$1,000 will be awarded to outstanding projects from this category
Student Projects: For all global, secondary and post-secondary (junior high through university) students, age 13+
The project can be from an individual or small group collaborating on the submission.
$1,000 will be awarded to outstanding projects from this category
Educational Collaborative Projects: Class projects coordinated and submitted by a teacher or faculty member ON BEHALF OF THEIR STUDENTS
This category is for educators from all global, primary through post-secondary classes
(elementary though university), to coordinate their students in completing a collaborative project that the educator will submit on the students’ behalf. Note that this category is equally focused on the collaborative efforts of the students, and the educator’s role as the project coordinator and submission liaison.
$1,000 will be awarded to outstanding projects from this category
Added bonus: All awardees will have the opportunity to ‘pay it forward’ by selecting a project from from the Fair (of their choosing) they would like to support with a matching $1,000 award.
BY VICTORIA TRAVERS
You never know what someone goes through till you walk a mile in their shoes and last week the men of Western Kentucky University proved they were willing to do exactly this to raise awareness of sexual assault. So the fellas donned their favorite stilettos and took to the streets in aid of Walk a Mile in Her Shoes as a part of Sexual Assault Awareness Month. The walk, sponsored by Hope Harbor and the WKU Counseling and Testing Center, was aimed at raising awareness of violent sex crimes.
The event raised $1,000 but more importantly was able to open up communication about sexual violence and encouraged guys to “better understand and appreciate women’s experiences, thus changing perspectives, helping improve gender relationships and decreasing the potential for violence.” It also gave participants a small insight into the true trauma of wearing and walking in a stiletto.
WKU freshman, Garrett Haugh, said that despite the foot pain he would definitely be interested in taking part next year. He said:
“(The heels) are a lot harder than I thought, but yeah, I’ll probably be back next year.”
According to walk organizers the support for the event has increased since last year, which is awesome news. It is so important that men are willing to stand in solidarity with women to end violence against women and make the world a safer place. Well done boys!
i often think about this event, and i love sharing the story. there aren’t enough stories of people being helped by a stranger, so i’m glad to share the story of the time someone helped me.
it was in 2005, and i was waiting for a subway train to take me to a party at like 8:30 pm on a friday. i was sitting on a bench, when a man came up and sat at the other end of the bench. he started by just staring and smiling. i was pretty sure he was drunk, so i figured he was just being a drunk guy and would get bored. then he started saying things to me, though i don’t know what he said because he said them in spanish. he said them in a low voice, and he made some kissing and sucking noises to punctuate them.
the station was pretty empty, and i thought if i sat there and didn’t do anything, it wouldn’t escalate.
it did. the bench was long, and he started scooting toward me.
about this time, a teenaged boy came down the escalator to wait for the train. he was on a path to walk by us, but he turned his head and when he saw what was happening, he stopped. he was a very tall young man, and quite physically imposing. i generally do not have a positive opinion of teenaged boys, so for a moment, i thought i was going to gain another harasser.
but he smiled at me. it was one of the kindest smiles i can ever recall receiving. he said, ‘hey, you need some help?’ i just shrugged, somehow too embarrassed to admit being bothered by the drunk guy down the bench. he smiled again, and sat down in between me and the drunk guy.
he turned and gave the man a very menacing look, and shook his head slowly. then he pulled out his ipod and headphones. as he was putting on his headphones, i said, ‘thank you so much.’ but i had been so nervous and kinda holding my breath, that it came out in a relieved exhale.
he smiled again and said, ‘don’t worry about it’ before putting on his headphones.
i’d never been so grateful for a stranger’s assistance before in my life. i suddenly felt safe, simply because another person decided to be nice. and i hate to say it, but it was that much more helpful that he was a tall young man.
nice dudes out there who don’t like to harass women and think it’s wrong to do so, help a lady out if she needs it!