Jasmine’s Story: “I’m about to violate you right now.”

I was walking down the street and a boy tried to talk to me (he was with a group of other boys). He asked if he was “valid” (or good enough) to talk to, and I responded “no, I have a boyfriend.” He then said “[email protected] your boyfriend, what does he have to do with me, I’m not talking about him. This is why I can’t stand harlem b*tches (the boys joined in by laughing).” I asked “harlem what?” and his friend responded “harlem girls.” The boy then repeated “harlem b*tches” and went on to say, “your on my block talking, I should get you jumped. I’m about to violate you right now.” I tried to verbally defend myself, but then decided to cross the street.

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A week in our shoes: March 16, 2012

Kaja Tretjak, co founder of HollabackNYC

Hello Hollabackers!

Up and Coming: Today is my birthday, and I’m celebrating with the launch of our “I’ve Got Your Back” campaign next Thursday! Join me at The Branded Saloon, 603 Vanderbilt Avenue in Brooklyn on March 22 from 6pm until 10pm. You can RSVP here.

SXSW Interactive: I had the opportunity to go to SXSW Interactive this year, thanks to a scholarship from SXSW on our work at the intersection of tech and social change. It was a blast. I stayed with HollabackNYC co-founder Kaja Trejak (you know, the one who convinced us in 2005 to start calling it ‘street harassment

Emily May and Emily Jacobi, founder of Digital Democracy

instead of ‘catcalling,’ despite the fact no one used the term in those days), and I got to meet with Ashoka, the Instructional Telecommunications Foundation, the Knight Foundation, Causevox, the Daily Worth, and the Ford Foundation while I was in town.

Out and About: Last week, Hollaback got to attend the Women in the World summit at New York City’s Lincoln Center. It was great to be in the presence of 2,000 inspiring women and girls who are making the world a better place to grow up as woman.

Natalie and Emily en route to meet with Councilmember Rodriguez

In the Press: It’s been a big week for press! The Huffington Post included me in their list of 20 powerhouse women alongside Hillary Clinton, Michelle Obama, Rachel Maddow, Diane Sawyer, Sonia Sotomayor, and more! Earlier this week, I wrote an article for RH Reality Check on how we’re changing the way we deal with street harassment.

Around the World: Hollaback! Istanbul is teaming up with the US Consulate General to bring the award-winning documentary “Miss Representation” to Istanbul next week during International Anti-Street Harassment Week.

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Watch How Miss Piggy Handles Street Harassment

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When in doubt, try the karate (song).

Thanks to @giuliarozzi for sending this our way!

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Huh? You mean… that happens?

For the record, we love white dudes. We were co-founded in part by white dudes, we’ve got white dudes on our board, and we’ve seen some incredible white dude advocates. But you’ll have to pardon our frustration. If one more white dude tells us street harassment doesn’t exist we’re going to blow our top. Until then, we’ll just make fun of you with memes.

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A trending hashtag on Twitter right now, #ididnotreport, is offering a powerful outlet for anyone who has experienced sexual violence but did not come forward to report it.  As Emily May pointed out in her recent article, “Bringing Sexual Harassment Above the Radar,” there are a multitude of reasons why people don’t report — be it a fear of not being taken seriously, having little faith in the justice system, or because victims aren’t aware of their rights, societies too often protect harassers and rapists over victims.

And for those of you who have been living under a rock, on-line activism works. While #ididnotreport may not topple dictatorships, it can provide survivors of sexual abuse and victims of sexual harassment a mountain to shout their stories from — and when survivors speak up, that can be just as powerful.

The tweets can be found here [TRIGGER WARNING], and you can join the conversation by tweeting your stories with #ididnotreport or by sharing your story on


Jaya’s Story: “Exhausting and frustrating”

I live in UP, North India. It’s a bad place for eve teasing! In my home town which is so small and peaceful, you still get roadside romeos who think it’s a big turn on to follow you home on their bikes yelling things at you all the way. Then when they’ve had enough and are bored they say “Sorry, just having fun!” and zoom off!

Also get all kinds of harassment from every guy who walks past when you go to a park. No matter what you wear, they are drawn like moths to a flame. In shopping malls I have been followed and harassed. These guys just can’t understand why you are scared and have no desire to talk to some stranger who is following you around!

Even older men are up to these tricks. And once common thing you will get is that when you walk past someone will start to sing or play on their phone a raunchy song from some movie. It’s horrible. You feel like everyone is staring at you like a piece of meat.

In places other than my hometown, I have experienced groping. Some guy once followed me trying to talk to me and when I told him to leave me alone he lunged forward and grabbed my breast hard for a moment before racing away. It was painful physically and frustrating too because I didn’t even have time to yell. I felt so used and abused afterwards.

These men should understand how frightening and humiliating it is to go outside on your own streets and be treated this way. It is not a compliment to be noticed, it is exhausting and frustrating to only be seen as a sex object. Would they like their sister, mothers, wives and daughters to be treated that way? I am sick of so many noticing that I am a female with a female body and staring at that as if it is theirs for the taking. I dream of a world where my mind and my actions are more important.

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Natalie’s Story: Not a whore

Jeep pulled over, called me a whore like 4 times, and when I turned around and said what did you say? They said one two three, “WHORE you retard.”

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A Week in Our Shoes 3/9/2012


Hello Hollaback! supporters! Check out this week’s news and updates from the exciting world of Hollaback! and our endeavors to stamp out street harassment.

Up and Coming: The launch of our “I’ve Got Your Back” campaign is only two weeks away! Join as we celebrate international anti-street harassment week at The Branded Saloon, 603 Vanderbilt Avenue in Brooklyn on March 22 from 6pm until 10pm. You can RSVP here.  Also, We are getting an MYD Engendering progress award on March 21, at Greenhouse, 150 Varick Street in Manhattan, buy your tickets here. And last but not least we are collaborating with Women’s eNews for a special screening of “War Zone” on April 16.

Out and About: Natalie and I met with councilmembers Julissa Ferreras and Jessica Lappin, and Veronica and I attended a networking event to annouce FRIDA: The Young Feminist Fund at the ASTREA foundation.

In the Press: Author, founding director of the Solutions Journalism Network, and HOLLAfriend Courtney Martin wrote mentioned us as a best practice in her Co.Exist article: “Three Lessons on the Wrong Ways to Use Social Media to Create Change.”

Around the World: 25 of our site leaders tuned into last Saturday’s webinar which featured Jenn Sayre of Green Dot to learn about how bystander intervention can be used to end street harassment.

Thanks for another fantastic week of fighting street harassment — you make this all possible!

HOLLA and out!


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David Cameron Backs Legislation to Outlaw Street Harassment in Europe

UK Prime Minister David Cameron


It is laudable that UK Prime Minister David Cameron will be signing the Council of Europe’s convention, which will include legislation that criminalizes “unwanted verbal, non-verbal violence and physical” sexual harassment against women, particularly as yesterday was International Women’s Day. This may include criminalizing some forms of street harassment, as the convention lays out a definition of sexual harassment as any act “violating the dignity of a person, in particular when creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment.”

Rather predictably, this has raised stir among those who can best be described as street harassment advocates, the idea that women might be anything but grateful for receiving the “gift” of unsolicited attention from lecherous creeps is apparently distressing. As others have quite rightly pointed out, though:

“Harassers needn’t worry too much that they’re going to hear sirens the next time they shout obscenities at a woman, and fears that building sites across the land will now be raided at the first sign of a puckered set of lips are probably unfounded.”

Despite widespread claims that the convention will outlaw “wolf whistles” and comments of “Heeeeey sweetheart”, Prime Minister Cameron’s spokesperson has apparently “downplayed the issue of sexism and street intimidation, saying ‘we have harassment laws in this country’ already.”

Unfortunately, since the news broke there has been a collective media fail. Many news outlets have run sensational headlines, leading with rumors of criminalizing catcalling, while crying freedom of speech abuses, leaving a sentence or two at most to mention the legislation that will more strictly monitor issues of forced marriage, forced genital mutilation and the ability to prosecute British citizens who have committed acts of rape or sexual assault abroad.

Regardless of what types harassment ultimately become criminalized, our friends in London rightly observe:

“Whether it’s leering, catcalls, shouts or whispers from strangers, defending this behaviour is a gateway to the cultural acceptance of much more serious crimes across the spectrum of gender-based violence. Dismiss the smaller issues, and the bigger issues go unchallenged too.

It’s hard for some people to get their heads around, especially those who have never experienced it, but these seemingly harmless interactions with strangers on the street can build up a well of resentment, internalised shame and guilt in the people who live with them.”

Cameron commented earlier this week: “Stalking is an abhorrent crime. It makes life a living hell for victims. That is why we are explicitly criminalising stalking to make sure that justice is done.”

While this may be a mere political ploy to garner more female supporters, David Cameron and the European Union are at least giving some long-deserved attention to the culture of violence directed at women worldwide. Maybe next year, they’ll devote an entire week to us.

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