Athens GA, Atlanta, Baltimore, Chicago, Cleveland, Columbia MO, Columbus, Denver, Des Moines, Duke University, NC, Durham & Chapel Hill, East Lansing, Flagstaff, AZ, Houston, Iowa City, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Lubbock TX, Manhattan KS, Muncie IN, New Orleans, New York City, Oneonta, Pittsburgh, Plattsburgh, Providence, Richmond VA, San Fernando Valley, San Francisco, Twin Cities, West Georgia (University)
BY VICTORIA FITZGERALD
Second year Film and Media Arts and Women’s Studies student at Temple University, Kara Lieff, originally produced the short film for a class to highlight the common misconception of a direct correlation between a woman’s choice of clothing and her sexual availability. Lieff gave this background information to street harassment blog Stop Street Harassment:
“‘Asking For It’ was made for those who believe that there is a definitive connection between a woman’s clothing choice and her sexual availability. Many people think that women who dress a certain way are asking to be, or wouldn’t mind being, bothered, but this satirical take on street harassment shows that what a women really wants does not coincide with her attire.
This video was created for a class, and the assignment was to make a video that would get viewers to accomplish a certain action. I knew that I wanted my video to be a conversation starter – for my viewers to discuss street harassment, their experiences, why it happens, who is to blame, and what can be done to combat this problem. By featuring college-aged adults, I especially hope to reach out to my peers early on.
Street harassment is a huge problem, and any method used – whether it be talking back, writing, art, or videos – to fight back is a step in the right direction.”
BY NICOLA BRIGGS
In 2004, I went to Bangkok to give a Tai Chi presentation at the 15th International AIDS Conference, and while I was there I noticed an interesting bill-board. It depicted a young girl kneeling in front of a man, with her head bowed and hands clasped in the prayer position. I asked the driver what it meant, and he replied in a matter-of-fact tone that the girl was pleading with her father not to sell her into prostitution to support their family. Needless to say, I was deeply shocked, but thought that perhaps it was a problem isolated to poorer societies than those in the U.S. Some of the statistics are startling: over 32 million people are enslaved around the world, and 80% percent of these victims are forced into sexual servitude. Sex trafficking is the second most profitable illicit business globally. And it’s not just a problem overseas, it’s increasing in severity right here in the United States. When I got back to the States from Thailand, I found out that there are 100,000-300,000 American children forced into prostitution. Young girls in every state, some not even twelve years old, have been targeted for kidnapping on their way home from school, or taken in as runaways by pimps, who then sell them into sexual slavery.
I think it would be very helpful to raise awareness of this crime, which very often has subtle indicators. This is especially true, because it may not be obvious who is a victim of sex trafficking, and many times victims try to hide their victimhood for their own safety. The life of a sex trafficking victim is narrow in scope and possibility, and they live a strictly regimented existence. Usually this entails seeing “customers,” working their day jobs, which they have been forced to perform with coercion, and sleeping and living under close supervision in the brothel, hotel, apartment, or restaurant where they work. They are not permitted to go out on their own, for fear that they might escape, and the slave master will lose his (or in rare cases, her) investment. Many times, victims are charged “fees” by their slave masters for the slightest transgression, which even further hobbles their ability to become independent. They are routinely threatened with injury, death, deportation, not only to themselves, but to their families back in their home countries. This is one of the strongest deterrents to escape, and only the strongest and most desperate victims are able to overcome the severe psychological abuses, which keep them locked in their situation. Sex trafficking victims in the United States work in many jobs right under our noses, including office cleaners, landscapers, street vendors, wait staff, bus boys, and hotel cleaning crews.
Frequently, someone is rescued from this type of abuse only after a call is made to law enforcement when an observant and intuitive person sees something that doesn’t add up. Perhaps it’s a massage parlor that’s open 24 hours per day, or a waiter or waitress that seems afraid to speak to you if you ask about what it’s like living in the U.S., as compared to back home in Thailand, for instance. Sometimes it might be just as subtle as a stern look from someone’s boss that elicits an actual look of fear. If your gut is telling you that something is wrong, and you suspect that a worker around you is being exploited, whether a minor, or not, you may be saving a person’s life by alerting the authorities. The National Human Trafficking Resource Center has a hotline: (888) 373-7888 to call in tips, or to file an anonymous report. The sooner we start waking up to the prevalence of this situation in the United States and around the globe, the sooner we’ll be able to ensure a safe and wholesome childhood for the next generation of girls.
I was walking back to my apartment after my internship on a Monday. I had already had a rough day and had just gotten off the phone with my mom. It was a little after 5pm and there were people everywhere. I was looking down for a second to hang up my phone when I looked up and saw an older man’s face right in mine. I felt his arm across my stomach and his hand slowly start to move up to my chest as he said, “hey baby.” I kept walking and was hoping someone was going to do something, maybe not do anything to him, but at least ask if I was okay. There were a lot of people around and not one person asked if I was alright. I felt so violated and immediately started crying and continued to walk home.
This week we had the honor of presenting at the Roots Of Change conference in Portland! Emily gave the history of Hollaback! and talked about why street harassment matters. Our board member Chad Sniffen presented on the history of bystander engagement and how Hollaback! is leveraging it in their “I’ve Got Your Back” campaign, and our site leader from Portland, Joe LeBlanc, presented on how their critical diverse partnerships are to making the revolution in Portland go down. Our HOLLAfriends Jessica Valenti and Jaclyn Friedman were also there delivering the best. presentations. ever. If you ever get a change to see either of them speak — don’t walk. Run. Their bold visions for a world without sexual violence make it all feel possible.
A note from Emily May, executive director: I’ve spent the past 18 years knowing that my younger sister was the coolest girl on the planet. So when she reached out to me to start volunteering for Hollaback!, I shouldn’t have been surprised. I mean of course — she’s awesome. But I couldn’t help to feel angry at whatever turd inspired her new volunteering gig. I mean — how can someone street harass my little sister? The one whose diaper I changed when I was 12? I wanted to march down to North Carolina and give this turd a piece of my mind. But my super-smart sister was one step ahead of me. We would proudly join forces and fight street harassment together! Go, sis. You never cease to amaze me. The following is her college essay.
BY KIMBERLY MAY
Street harassment is not only a personal, local, national, or an international concern. It is all of them. Street harassment is any behavior that occurs between strangers that is unwanted, disrespectful, threatening, or harassing and is motivated by gender. Street harassment can range from strange looks and whistles to actual sexual assault or even murder. Statistics show that nearly 100% of females experience street harassment of some form, starting around age twelve and continuing into their 80s.
In 2005 my sister, Emily May, and a group of friends decided to try to put an end to street harassment. They started a blog called Hollaback! where women who are harassed share their story and sometimes a photograph on the website. This movement started in New York City, and now has chapters all over the world.
I have always supported Hollaback! because of Emily, but I did not really understand the full importance of ending street harassment. As I have gotten older and street harassment occurs to me, I have realized how important it is to create awareness of street harassment to try to abolish it. I now work as a volunteer for Hollaback! approving posts and comments that people send in. I edit the posts, give them a title, and then post them on the Hollaback! website.
I think it is terrible that women have to be afraid of going places alone because of the fear of being harassed. It is not fair that street harassment is just accepted as “the price you pay for being a woman.” Even in a small town like I am from women experience street harassment, and it is truly scary at times. I believe that we can work together to eradicate street harassment by being proactive, and I am very proud to be part of a movement that is attempting to accomplish this.
Each year, both men and women have three basic choices for Halloween.
1.) Go costume-less, maybe with a nod to the day by wearing all black, or wear a t-shirt that says “Costume”:
“Halloween means nothing to me, and I’m sure-as-hell not going to make an ass out of myself….again.”
2.) Go all-out, and start hand-sewing the costume the day after last year’s Halloween, like you’re preparing to join a professional samba school for Carnival:
“Halloween, or Samhain, as it should be called, is the best day to honor the dissolving of the walls between the material world and the spiritual world. That is why I have brought dried sage to burn for all of you.”
(full disclosure: I’m allowed to make fun of this, because it was my Celtic ancestors who were probably dancing around naked in the woods…)
3.) Throw something together, either kick-ass or lame-ass, really doesn’t matter at this point, a scant two hours before the office party: “I worked 80 hours last week, not including overtime, and didn’t really have time to plan for this, but I’ll be damned if I’m the only one without a costume this year.”
I’d like to encourage you to go with options b) or c). All kidding aside, option b) might actually be the best (even if you’re too late for the obsessive planning-ahead component), because it speaks to the actual meaning of the day. Samhain, which predates All Hallow’s Eve, was traditionally a time for reflection and meditation on death, and a way to honor one’s actual or spiritual ancestors. It’s basically an opportunity to celebrate those who lived before you. Which makes it an ideal time to remember those many women and men who have made a significant difference to later generations of women, chiefly in the areas of race, class and gender equality and opportunity. I’m thinking of the great feminists from around the globe, not only the ones with whom we are familiar. Consider this: You can’t walk out of the door in costume on Halloween without somebody asking, “Who are you supposed to be?” Let’s give others something to think about, by going as (in no particular order):
I’ve purposely chosen individuals who may not be household names but who’ have certainly changed the world in which we live. If you “go” as one of them, or some other notable figure, you’ve got an opportunity to start a real conversation. So let’s have fun today, be true to one’s self and our spiritual ancestors.
I’m only 15 and I look older than I am apparently I look about 20 because I am tall and mature for my age but I get beeped at all the time I hate it I get men shouting out there cars at me and whistling its not a compliment. I’ve also on 2 occasions had men leaning out there window beckoning me over but the worst one was in school but when he saw my outside of school it happened too. He would shout at my “oi oi sexy” and put his arm round me and ask my for hugs and snogs and one incident was when he saw me walking to class and he started singing pretty women and once I got to my class room after him almost running to keep up with me he shouted at me “let me lick you up and down sexy babe.” Hated it every time someone tapped my shoulder or something I’d jump out my skin and always be looking around to make sure he wasn’t there thankfully he left school and I haven’t seen him since but it shouldn’t be happening that wasn’t so bad compared to what other people get but it affecting me a lot it need to stop.
As I was walking to school around 9:30am yesterday morning (Thursday, October 28), I passed two men sitting in a car parked alongside the curb.(They looked to be in their 30’s.) As I passed them, they yelled “Hey!” from the parked car. I turned and looked behind me because I was startled, but realized I was just being cat-called as usual so I ignored them and continued walking.
Suddenly the two men pulled the car away from the curb and pulled up next to me me, driving slowly alongside me as I walked. They started shouting to me from the car “Excuse me, Miss! Can you please spare a moment of your time?”
I continued walking for a minute, trying to ignore them, but they were still following me, so I turned as I was walking and said in a clearly threatening tone, “What’s up?” The man who was driving asked me “What’s your name?”
“I don’t have time for this. Fuck off!” I replied.
“Yes, FUCK OFF!” I yelled.
“Well fuck you, too, bitch!” They shouted. “I hope you have a SHITTY ass day you fat-ass bitch!” and sped away up the street, cursing and flipping me off.
I know I shouldn’t have said anything, but I just didn’t know what else to do. I was completely alone. There was no one around to help me. It seemed pointless to call 9-1-1 because they wouldn’t have been able to get to me in time, and I was afraid if the men saw I had a smart phone they would get out of the car and try to rob me or worse. I wish I could feel proud of myself for telling them to leave me alone, but instead I’m just thankful that they didn’t get out of the car and hurt me or kidnap me.
Reuben Fernandez, deceased Keenan Santos and
BY VICTORIA FITZGERALD
On Saturday night an innocent dinner of six friends in Mumbai, India, ended in the violent murder of a 24-year-old man and left another victim fighting for his life in Kokilaben hospital. How did this happen? Keenan Santos confronted a vile drunk that was sexually harassing his girlfriend.
According to the DN Nagar police in Amboli, Andheri residents Keenan Santos (24), Reuben Fernandez (29) and Avinash Solanki (31) dined out at Amboli Bar and Kitchen on Saturday night where they were joined by Santos and Fernandez’ girlfriend and a common friend.
The group of friends left the restaurant at 11 pm and headed out for some paan. Standing at a nearby stall, they were approached by a clearly inebriated eve-teaser, a euphemism for sexual harassment of women by men in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, who was alleged to have made sexual advances towards Santos girlfriend. As a natural reaction to defend his girlfriend, Santos confronted the man and pushed him away. A heated exchange erupted with alleged attacker, Jitendra Rana, fleeing the scene, whilst threatening to return. Shaken but not taking the threats seriously they continued to enjoy their night.
A short time later Rana returned with a group of what is believed to be 13 men brandishing swords and knives. Santos was stabbed so violently in the stomach that he was disemboweled, Fernandez was stabbed four times and Bali suffered minor cuts and bruises.
Both men were taken to Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani hospital where Santos was pronounced dead at 1 am and Fernandez is still critically ill. Santos father arrived at the hospital moments before he died, he said:
“”I drove to the hospital, and reached to find my son struggling for his life. He breathed his last within minutes.”
Senior police inspector, Vijay Kumar Bhoite, who is in charge of the investigation made this statement:
“We have arrested Rana, Both and Durgaj. We are on the lookout for the fourth accomplice, Deepak… We have asked the hotel to give us their CCTV grabs, so we can find out how many more goons were involved in the crime.”
We at Hollaback! want to give a big shout out to our sisters at Hollaback! Mumbai and want to show our support at such a tragic loss of human life. We encourage you to keep holla-ing back in the face of adversity. We also pay tribute to brave and heroic soul Keenan Santos for standing up and giving his life to speak out against injustice.
BY VICTORIA FITZGERLD
20 years ago this month Anita Hill courageously thrust the issue of workplace sexual harassment into the American public consciousness when she spoke out about the inappropriate behavior of then-Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas.
To celebrate the profound impact made by Hill’s appearance at the all-white, all-male congressional hearing in 1991, The Nation has brought together a whole host of inspirational women, including playwright Eve Ensler, the Domestic Workers Alliance’s Ai-Jen Poo and our very own badass Chief Executive Emily May to discuss the implications of Hill’s legacy. This awesome troop of ladies not only discuss how Hill orchestrated a change in the workplace but also what remains to be done. In particular, there is a legal loop-hole that alienates domestic workers. To be protected from workplace sexual harassment or discrimination there needs to be a minimum number of employees, in many instances at least five, which excludes workforces of one. This has to change. Watch the video so you yourself can inspire change!