BY HOLLABACK! BOARD MEMBER BRAD PERRY
For the past 15 years I have either volunteered at or been employed by agencies working to prevent violence against women. This work has always meant a lot to me, but my one constant source of frustration was never feeling like my colleagues and I could figure out how to leverage the power of online social networks and mobile technology to their full potentials – to engage people as successfully as other more tech-savvy causes. I knew it was possible to use these new tools to create a movement for tangible, positive change on this issue, but I couldn’t wrap my head around how to do it.
That was before I discovered Hollaback!. Let’s say my wife, Tara, is walking down to the coffee shop tonight and some jerk yells something at her about how he wants to “hit that.” Rather than only feel fear and have to “just deal” with it, she can also feel empowered as she activates her Hollaback! app. In just a few taps, it provides an easy way to briefly describe what just happened. Then her story gets instantly added to the repository of other Hollaback! moments for her city, and gets geo-tagged to a map. She can even take a photo of the location or the harasser if she feels safe enough to do it.
What’s the big deal about all of this? For one, when hundreds of women are able to do this, suddenly street harassment becomes more than just a bunch of disconnected incidents. Suddenly women realize that they’re not alone in having to “just deal with” this crap. And that’s a pretty big deal. What’s more, when all of these stories are collected and mapped, they become useful information for getting the attention of city governments, and can help police know where to keep an eye out. In short, Hollaback! is amazing.
Earlier this year I was asked to join the non-profit board of Hollaback!, and our goal for 2012 is to adapt and expand Hollaback! to college campuses. Earlier this week we launched a $25,000 campaign to help support this new effort. A donation from you, $10, $50, or even more would do an incredible amount of good in young people’s lives. We have the platform and expertise to implement this, but we need your help to organize the young leaders who will bring Hollaback! to their campuses.
Here’s a link to our campaign where you can also watch a video I put together about what we’re trying to do on campuses. Please consider donating today. Our past campaigns have been successful through donations of all sizes, so even a small amount can really help.
Beginning in November of 2009, I have been stalked by a man named Gerard (aka Jerry), who is a resident of a group home near my art gallery in Lambertville, NJ. When I began my business, he would stand in front of a nearby building and stare at me. I thought there was a bus stop there, but there wasn’t. He would stare at me every day. To me, he looked like anyone. I assumed he was a tourist.
By November of 2010, he was trying to talk to me outside of my shop. I had an exhibit of photographs, and he told me he related to the photo of a homeless man sleeping on a bench in Baltimore. He told me he was from Baltimore (which was untrue, I know the accent). I knew he wasn’t playing with a full deck by the way he was talking. He would speak low, but I wasn’t about to get closer to him. I just walked away from him.
In the spring of 2011, I was hanging a show, and he was watching me through the windows. I wasn’t sure who he was; I thought he was a real tourist. He told me he was from Connecticut. We had a few conversations, but then I started to get rid of him. After that, I started to put it all together.
He seemed to know my routine. I would open at 11, and then have a smoke at 11:30. I would see him make a beeline across the street, right to my shop, every day just about, with a half-smoked cigar in his mouth. It was getting on my nerves. I knew he wasn’t going to buy anything ever, and he was creepy and not good for business.
By the time of a popular street festival, I began commiserating about this guy with my fellow merchant/friend located on the next block. She also had been watched (and creeped out) by the same guy and at that point both of us had thrown him out of our respective businesses, for good.
I would occasionally see him around town. He tried to speak to me at a local eatery one time. I did not respond. When I told one of the employees that he made me nervous, she told me he was better than he had been. Apparently, he used to sit and stare at women in there, and laugh. They considered him a customer, and didn’t feel right kicking him out. Stopping in to see another gallerist in town, she had not been bothered by hi m, but told me he was always sitting on any of the benches on the street, staring at women.
At one point, on a busy Saturday afternoon, I was waiting to cross the street downtown, and he was making sure he was directly opposite me, moving to whatever corner I would be crossing, so I would HAVE to walk towards him. After several minutes of that, I went another way quickly, and lost him in the crowd. I took a circuitous route back to my shop, quite scared.
Lately, he’s been increasing his stalking of me. He has walked in front of my car, and even came very close to me as I was exiting the car. When he followed me into a local pizzeria and loomed over me at the register, that’s when I decided to talk to the police.
The police were very helpful, and took the matter seriously. The detective found him, and told him to leave me alone. If the creep sees me, he has been instructed to go the other way. Now if he follows me again, I’m supposed to call them and he will be arrested for harassment.
Let all of your friends know about what is happening to you. You’d be surprised at the support, and some of them might have been bothered by the very same person. And don’t be afraid to go to the police. They can help you, and it is good to get the creep onto their radar. Sometimes the police don’t know about a bad person.
It was a hot summer night, as it tends to be in NM, and I was waiting outside my work for my boyfriend to pick me up. As I was enjoying my iced chai, a man who was obviously very drunk, came up to me.
“where are you going?”
“Where’s that at?”
I smiled politely, and slowly began to back away. He followed suit.
“Wanna come home with me?”
“No. Please go away.”
He didn’t take no for an answer, and proceeded to get as close as he could.
“Sir go away please.”
“Because you are making me uncomfortable. Go away, or I will call the police.”
He got very angry and threatened to hurt me if I called. I panicked and took off my high heel and had it ready in my hand, yelling at him to leave me alone. He finally did, and walked away yelling that I was a dirty cunt and how it was the president’s fault he couldn’t solicit sluts like me. I cried when my boyfriend came, and ever since then, I’ve avoided that corner.
I had just got finished with my Zumba class and was waiting for the city bus. I was texting my boyfriend when a man came up to me and asked me if he could use my phone. I explained to him that the battery was almost dead, and I needed it. I apologized and continued texting. He then proceeded to move closer to me. I could smell that he hadn’t had a shower and had been drinking so I moved away from him. I asked him to kindly back away since he was invading my personal space. “Little bitch,” he cursed at me. I then had my phone ready with 911, prepared to press the button. “I outta rape your lil’ ass righ now!” I was terrified so I screamed and ran down the street. He fled before the cops could get there, and I didn’t get a good look at his face to report him. Either way, I was terrified and since then, have learned to be more assertive.
Let’s bring Hollaback! to 10 college campuses over the next year! Take a minute to hear Irene’s campus harassment story and to donate here. We are in the second week of our campaign and have already raised $3,810 of our $25,000 goal! Donate today, every donation counts!
got on the elevator at Lynn, MA train station with my bike at 8:30 a.m. A tallish man in his 50s I think followed me on. Once the door closed, he got very close ogling me, but I kept looking away, used my bike as a barrier. Got off at platform (lots of commuters) went to far end. Turned he was gone.
I was walking home from my boyfriends house on a Sunday afternoon at around 3pm. I was wearing a dress with a full skirt that fell just past my fingertips. As I was walking, a man sitting on the curb starting yelling out at me “Oh ballerina, little ballerina. Won’t you come sit on my lap. Come dance on my lap little ballerina.”
He got up and began to follow me. I quickly crossed to the opposite side of the street and, thankfully, he didn’t follow.
Walking to the train this morning in Logan square, I passed a group of four men talking. They all got quiet and just stated me down as I walked by in my loafers, blouse and knee-length skirt. I said “Stop being creepy!” loud enough for them to hear but I don’t think they spoke English.
This week the news has exploded with stories of sexual harassment. On Monday, Dharun Ravi was sentenced after videotaping his college roommate Tyler Clementi having a sexual encounter with a man, and then outing him via instant messenger and twitter.
On Tuesday Ellen Pao brought a case against Kleiner Perkins and Caulfield & Buyers after facing sexual harassment and discrimination over a six year period. Both stories are testament to the fact that this behaviour is rooted deeply in the fabric of our culture, however, what is more chilling is how harassment filters from school, to college, to the workplace.
By allowing sexual harassment to persist on college campuses, we’re creating a pipeline for acceptance that bleeds into the workplace. In one case, the victim is a young gay man. In the other, the victim is a high-powered female executive. And yet neither of their experiences with sexual harassment is unique: 61% of men, like Tyler Clementi, have experienced sexual harassment on college campuses, and 25% of women experience sexual harassment in the workplace at some point in their career.
Too commonly harassment is disregarded as ‘kids being kids’ on campuses or ‘boys being boys’ in the workplace. And victims are oftentimes advised to ignore it because ‘it’s just a part of life.’ It shouldn’t take suicide or a high-powered investment firm to make society pay attention to sexual harassment. Had Clementi not killed himself, this ‘harmless childhood prank’ would most likely have been deemed ‘kids fooling around.’ And had Ellen Pao been a cashier at the grocery store, her story wouldn’t have made the headlines. Regardless, both reports demonstrate how when victims of harassment come forward to tell their stories — people listen.
The Hollaback! campaign against campus harassment is the first step to breaking the cycle of harassment. Harassment is at epidemic proportions. According to the AAUW, 51% of male students admit to harassing someone. If we do not address the culture of bullying in college then students will continue to harass throughout their lives and in the workplace and the victims will continue to accept it as ‘just a part of life.’
The good news is, there is a solution. In a survey, 57% of students said that to cope with sexual harassment, they wanted an anonymous online reporting platform with resources. At Hollaback!, that’s what we do best. But we need your help. We’re raising $25,000 to customize our platform that has been used in 50 cities in 17 countries to address campus harassment, too. If we’re successful, we’ll bring Hollaback! to 10 college campuses within the year. And that’s just a start. Soon, students everywhere will be able to report their harassment. And we can rest easier knowing that we’re making the world just a little bit safer, and a little bit better, for everyone.
Stand with Tyler Clementi and Ellen Pao by donating today. With your support, we can give voice to countless victims of harassment.
Just got harassed while getting off an elevator. Thank goodness they were getting on & I was getting off so I didn’t have to share any more time with them. 2 guys, pretty young, “hey ma, hey baby, how you doing?” I said I’m not ye baby, that’s not my name. “I was just…” Nope, it’s disrespectful.