Anonymous’s Story: Never feel guilty

I got groped on a shuttle this past spring, towards the end of my sophomore year of college. I am a woman of small stature and I was wearing jeans and a NOT incredibly sexy shirt – not that a sexy shirt would have justified ANYTHING. I just wanted to be clear about the fact that this shit can happen no matter what you have on.

This situation really pissed me off and still bothers me now to some degree… but I’m really glad I said something.

So, I’m on the Pitt shuttle alone – it’s a Saturday night, around 10:30pm, and I’m going back to my dorm after hanging out with some friends. The shuttle is pretty busy. I stand up to get ready to leave the shuttle as it comes to a stop. As I’m trying to move to the front, a group of guys get on.

As I’m pushing my way up, one of the guys getting on the shuttle squeezes my waist, right above my hip bone, as he goes past me. It was so discreet and most likely no one else had any idea that he just touched me. Horrified, I look down at his hand and blurt out, very loudly, without even thinking really – “Do NOT touch me.”

The shuttle gets quieter, the driver is looking at me like “WTF?” and I can hear the dude’s friends laughing. I hear one of them say, “Yeah, don’t touch her,” in a mocking tone. UGH. Totally horrified and embarrassed, I fly towards the exit, get off the bus, and wish I could disappear.

I felt so shitty about that guy thinking he could just touch me because he could. I felt reduced, like it didn’t matter at all who I was – he would have touched me anyway just because he could. I didn’t even see his face, so if I see him on campus again I won’t even know it. Worse, right after I asserted myself and drew attention to us, I felt guilty, like I had been the one to do something wrong… like I shouldn’t have caused a fuss. I kept thinking that it could have been worse – he could have touched my boobs or grabbed my crotch – and ya know, it’s just my waist, so why was I so upset?

That guilty feeling went away pretty quickly, especially after I got back to my dorm room and ranted to my roommate and boyfriend. He is the one who is the asshole who did something wrong, not me, so fuck that!!! Thankfully, no one has groped me since then, but if they do I want to be sure I tell them “NO” again and make sure I can recognize their face in case I ever see them again.

Location: Outside the Cathedral of Learning, Bigelow Blvd.
Time of harassment: 10:30pm

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Anonymous’s Story: “Other men seem to back off more when they know you are ‘taken'”

This happened about a month ago, but this website was not up at the time. I had just left work and was on my way home when I decided I wanted to grab some food for dinner. I locked my bike up outside the pizza place, went in and ordered, and was just about to sit down on a stool to wait for my food when a guy walks in.

He comes up to me, says hello, and asks me if I want to go out on a date sometime with him. I have never seen this man before, have no clue who he is, and I sure as hell am not inclined to go on random dates with strangers. He was polite, so I quickly decided in my head that I would also respond politely. I told him no thanks, and against my strong desire to do otherwise, I followed that up by telling him I have a boyfriend.* This is how the rest of the conversation goes:

Him: “Well, I just saw you outside and you looked good. Can I call you sometime?”

Me: “No”

Him: “Well then can I text you sometime?”

Me: “No.”

Him: “Well can I at least get a hug?”

Me: In my head, “Hell no.” But out loud I responded with “NOPE. I’m good.” And as he walks out of the store, staring at my body up and down the entire time, I am getting angrier so I loudly tell him that he can fucking leave now and to stop staring at me. He left.

I was thankful that I am an acquaintance with one of the owners there and talked about it with him afterward. He peripherally saw what was happening, but he was on the phone so he didn’t hear the conversation. After talking with him, it made me feel better to know that he also thought that guy was an asshole, and would have backed me up in telling him off.

But honestly… WTF. This man did not listen to me any of the many times I told him no, and this incident really bothered me for many reasons. Do men not hear me when I speak? Is my “no” of any value? If I had not been polite when I responded the first time, would that have made things better or worse? These are all questions I was left with.

* Also, I felt upset with myself for relying on my relationship status as a way to deflect unwanted attention. It shouldn’t fucking matter whether I am single, in a relationship, gay, asexual, or whatever! My NO should not need to be clarified in order for it to have validity. Unfortunately, in my experience, other men seem to back off more when they know that you are “taken”. Hmmm… could this be because women are viewed as property and if you’re already in a relationship you are “off the market”? Bingo.

Location: Pizza shop on Penn Avenue, Garfield
Time of harassment: 4:30 PM

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HOLLAWho? Meet Philadelphia.

Meet Rochelle Keyhan, the unrelentingly fierce activist fighting street harassment in Philadelphia, PA.

Why do you HOLLA? I Holla because I’m a full human being, not a toy to be played with, or a punching bag for male insecurities.

What’s your craft? I’m a lawyer.

What’s your signature Hollaback? I give them a dirty look or I take their picture.

What was your first experience with street harassment? There were numerous experiences that helped prime me to know my place in public as a young girl, but the first most memorable experience was when I was 14 walking home from high school. It was about a mile walk, and about halfway home I walked down a long stretch of a semi-major street (as major as you really get in a small suburban area). A pickup truck full of men slowed down and drove at a walking pace next to me, shouting out to me “hey beautiful”, “hey talk to me”, and various similar comments trying to get me to respond. Some added kissing sounds to the humiliation. This went on for a few minutes until I turned into a residential neighborhood via sidewalk where they couldn’t follow me. It was embarrassing, stressful, and scary.

Say you’re Queen for the day.  What would you do to end street harassment? I’m not sure that any sort of dictates can change a deeply rooted disrespect for women as public beings, so I would dedicate media and public service attention to the issue of street harassment, funds to implement studies and encourage research, with the end goal being to shift the culture of disrespect.

In the year 2020, street harassment… will finally be respected as a mainstream issue, but far from resolved.

What do you collect? Books! My apartment is overflowing with them.

My superheroine power is… that I’m unrelentingly fierce when i’m passionate about something.

If you could leave the world one piece of advice, what would it be? To find something that you’re willing to fight to the death for, and to then spend your life fighting for it, reminding yourself that your perseverance is what makes the world a place worth protecting. My personal mantra is from Eleanor Roosevelt (many of my mottos and comments to live by are from her) – “When you have decided what you believe, what you feel must be done, have the courage to stand alone and be counted.” THAT is something to live by – because if you know in your gut that something is not right, but you aren’t willing to stand up and fight for it, you can’t expect anyone else to fight for it either. However scary it may be, have the courage to endure the judgment you will inevitably face for having the audacity to “stand alone and be counted” — it is infinitely more glorious than inaction when you give others the courage to join you in righting wrongs, eliminating injustice, and changing the world.

What inspires you? Fearless women inspire me. Feminist men inspire me. But mostly what inspires me to act is the horrific news that I read every day that reminds me why it’s so important to forego sleep and a social life to maintain my involvement in feminist activism.


Jos’s Story: So aggravated

Walking someone said, “smile you look too pretty to have serious face” when in fact I had my NORMAL & neutral face! I was so aggravated.

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Name It. Stop It: January is Stalking Awareness Month


January is National Stalking Awareness Month. Stalking is a serious crime that affects 3.4 million adults in the U.S every year. This campaigns aims to raise awareness of stalking so that more can be done to stop it.

Launched in 2004 by the stalking Resource Center, National Center for Victims of Crime and the Office on Violence Against Women, each January communities across the country hold events and share resources to educate the masses and help raise the profile of stalking.

The Stalking Awareness Month website is jam-packed with resources to help you get involved and do your part in the fight against it. Visit the website to download posters, letterheads, fliers, a factsheet, get social networking updates and take a stalking quiz.

“You have the power to help know, name and stop stalking in your community”

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Bronx School Holds Rally to Oust Foul-Mouthed Principal


Principal John Chase Jr.


Angry School staffers and elected officials will hold a demonstration this afternoon outside Bronxdale High School in the Bronx to call for the Principal’s immediate removal following his outrageously sexually explicit comments to a female staff member in July.

Principal John Chase Jr. was reported to have made several inappropriate statements to female co-workers concerning a new photocopier. According to members of staff concerned he said:

“Have you seen the new copy machine? It does everything. It even has a hole in it where you can stick your d— in it and get a b— job.”

Following an investigation by the Education Department’s Office of Equal Opportunity, Chase, who earns $132,633 a year, was issued with a disciplinary letter in his personal file and was urged to undertake sensitivity training.

But for some co-workers this was not sufficient. One staff worker told the New York Daily News:

“The fact that he’s not being fired is insane. People are very uncomfortable around this guy. He needs to go.”

In a letter from State Sen. Jeffrey Klein (D-Bronx) to city Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott, Klein urges Walcott to remove Chase. He wrote:

“The mere fact that he was found guilty of sexual harassment undermines his authority as head of the school.”

But Walcott is set on leaving Chase in charge, saying:

“I’m not going to remove him, but he knows he cannot have any similar type of comments. He is on a very strict line as far as his behavior.”

Chase declined comment.

The rally is set to start at 3.30 today at 925 Astor Avenue, in the Bronx. The Daily News estimates 250 supporters to show, along with politicians Jeff Klein, Naomi Rivera and Jimmy Vacca.




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Anti-alcohol Abuse Ad Blames Rape Victims

Pulled: Pennsylvania's Liquor Control Board pulled two PSAs warning women of the correlation between heavy drinking and rapeBY ELIZABETH GYORI

Alcohol abuse and underage drinking are certainly problems faced by many teenagers and young adults across the U.S. We’ve all learned about the effects of excessive alcohol consumption in health class. With excessive drinking comes a decrease in motor skills, negative health effects on the liver, judgment impairment and the possibility of alcohol poisoning. We’ve also been taught that we should always watch our drinks at parties and to never leave our drinks unattended so that no one slips unwanted drugs or substances into our drinks. A new ad by the Pennsylvania state liquor board tries to warn young adults against alcohol abuse by linking excessive drinking with date rape. The ad was eventually pulled after an influx of criticism though.

Yes, that is a real ad that was OK’ed by a government agency to be run as part of the “Control Tonight” online campaign against alcohol abuse.

Not only is this ad very, very racy, but it also does nothing more than blame rape victims (who may have been drinking) for the trauma they suffered. Yes, drinking excessively can severely impair judgment and lead to regrettable mistakes. Yes, alcohol abuse can lead to a decrease in awareness of surroundings, making it easier for someone to slip date rape into your drink. And these are issues that must be addressed. But if someone is sick enough to slip date rape into a person’s drink and then rape him or her, it’s far from the victim’s fault that she or he couldn’t say no.

If Rape is an intentional choice on the part of the rapist, especially if the choice to use date rape drugs is involved. The PA state liquor board should be running ads that tell people to abstain from rape (or they could end up in jail), not telling women that it’ll be their fault they are raped while trying to have a fun and enjoyable night out. The fact that this ad even ran just goes to show how we really do live in a society that teaches, “Don’t get raped,” rather than, “Don’t rape.”

Beyond the victim blaming, this ad doesn’t account for the legality of having sex with someone who is intoxicated. The law states that you cannot consent to sex if you’ve been drinking. That’s the bottom line, no ifs, and’s or buts. If you have sex with someone who has been drinking, that’s rape and you could go to jail for it. Maybe we should be running ads with a picture of someone being put in the back of a police car and big, white, capital letters saying, “Sober consent: the only real and legal way to say ‘yes’ to sex.”

Finally, this ad makes it seem like only women are date raped and only women could possibly make irresponsible sexual choices while drinking. Date rape is not gender neutral. I’ve personally known men who’ve been slipped date rape while out drinking and I’ve known men who’ve been raped while drunk. Furthermore, rape is not only a problem in heterosexual relationships, but it is also an issue in gay and transgender relationships. Perhaps ads need to be more all-inclusive in order to make a real impact.

Date rape drugs, lack of consent during sex, rape and alcohol abuse are all pervasive problems that need to be tackled via a massive public education campaign and other initiatives. But we have to target the source of the problem when it comes to each of these issues. That is, people should be taught: Respect people enough to not slip drugs into others’ drinks; Consenting to sex while intoxicated is not consent at all; And rape is—to put it as simply as possible—bad.



A Week In Our Shoes


Greetings Hollaback friends, activists and supporters!

As a mighty Phoenix rising up from the ashes of 2011, ignited with the blaze of activism, we have burst through the beginnings of 2012 with the tenacity and fervor that we mean to continue with. 2011 was awesome but 2012 will be super-out-of-this-freakin’-world-awesome!

We have started 2012 with 25 new sites raring to go from all over the globe stretching from Auckland, New Zealand to Glasgow, Scotland, training is due to start on January 14th and will take roughly about three months to complete, so we’ll keep you posted!

Last month we successfully launched sites in Winnipeg, Canada and Chennai, South India. With the launch of the Chennai site, Hollaback! gained international press coverage from online media platform ‘The Alternative’, which seeks to document and support social development in India.

Following the devastating murder of Keenan Santos and Reuben Fernandez in October last year for defending the honor of their girlfriends in the face of street Harassment, Hollaback Mumbai started the petition: Demand Justice for Two Men Killed Trying to Stop Street harassment. The petition has 2,313 signatures so far, but we need 10,000! So get clicking for justice Hollabackers.

On Thursday we said a very tearful goodbye to our intern extraordinaire Amalia Sirica. Here’s a big shout out and massive thank you for all the awesomeness and hard work that you have done for Hollaback! Enjoy Brazil!

AND to my utter astonishment I have been named as one of The Daily Muse’s Women to Watch in 2012. Woop woop! Although, it is my name on the award it could not have been possible without the volunteers, the donors, board members and all the sassy hollabackers that are helping the revolution grow and grow! Thank you so much!

Be sure to tune in next Friday for weekly updates of the Hollaback! movement around the world, change making activism and street harassment news.

Thank you for all your support– and keep holla’ing back!

Holla and Out!!!





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Street Harassment: A Human Rights Issue?


By using the Universal Declaration of Human Rights there may be no confusion as to whether Street Harassment is a Human Rights issue. Article 1 states:

“All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.”

By telling a woman she has “ a great rack”, calling a gay man a “fucking faggot”, or removing one’s penis from its appropriate abode in public is not behaving in the “spirit of brotherhood”, not by any stretch of the imagination. Street Harassment is a Human Rights issue.

Article 2:

“Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, color, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.”

“Everyone” includes women and LGBTQ individuals, everyone has the right to express themselves freely in public spaces without fear of abuse from strangers. A transgender person has the right to identify his or herself in the way that feels natural to them, as a woman has the right to dress as she pleases without threat or aggravation. Street Harassment is a Human Rights issue.

Article 3:

“Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.”

Women and LGBTQ individuals have the right to live and express themselves in public spaces without worry of being badgered, stalked, flashed, groped, abused, whistled at, masturbated at or raped. Street Harassment is a Human Rights issue.

Article 5:

“No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.”

Calling a transgender person ‘it’ a ‘tranny’ or a ‘heshe’ is inhumane, degrading, torturous and cruel. Physically attacking a gay person because of their sexual orientation is inhumane, degrading, torturous and cruel. Putting your hand up a woman’s skirt on the subway is inhumane, degrading, torturous and cruel. Street Harassment is a Human Rights issue.

Perpetrators of Street Harassment may argue that it is their human right to express themselves freely, but at this point it is relevant to refer ‘spirit of brotherhood’ cited in Article 1, the connotations of brotherhood do not include any form of abuse be it physical or verbal. Street Harassment is unquestionably a Human Rights issue.

Question answered. Revolution Started.






I’m an Egyptian Girl: An Anti-Street Harassment Film

Check out this short anti-street harassment film from Egypt by Cairo students Merna Karam, May Kassem and Mirna Makary. It is so awesome to see courageous ladies raising awareness of street harassment all over the world, for every person that takes a stand several more are sure to follow, so let’s keep talking about it, educating people and speaking out against it.

We need a Hollaback! in Egypt! You have the power to end street harassment, start a Hollaback! in your area today.

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