In the space of two minutes: “nice tits!” “sweetheart, do you have a jacket? Because you need a jacket,” and “Hey mama, what’s up?”
A) You’re an asshole, clearly.
B) It might be cloudy, but you might have noticed that I’m carrying a gigantic, heavy satchel, and I just ran up some stairs. Because of this, I am feeling very warm, and have taken off my hoodie. You may be concerned about my short-sleeved shirt, but I assure you I know what’s best for me, and what makes me comfortable. Also, I’m not your sweetheart you fucking dickpenis.
C) Really? Why would I even respond to being called “mama” by a stranger? Not really into the Oedipal thing. I will say, though, your confused expression as I began to vigorously pick my nose and make eye contact was amusing.
And for all the “what were you wearing” haters, cargo pants. Baggy cargo pants, a long, not-low cut tank top with one-inch wide straps, a stained hoodie wrapped around my waist, disheveled hair, glasses, and a gigantic messenger bag-probably the size of an English bulldog. I shit you not. Fuck you, patriarchy, you can’t pin this shit on me, and I swear to god I WILL take you down.
Here’s to safe streets for all.
We’ve had an incredible week. Our sites internationally have been moving and shaking for international anti-street harassment week, and we launched our ‘I’ve Got Your Back’ bystander campaign this week! You can read about the how the initiative got started here. And we need your help! Take a second to:
2. Download the new Droid app today (the new iPhone app is still being approved).
3. Click the button. One of our exciting new website features includes the ‘I’ve Got Your Back’ button which you can now click as a show of support when people post their experiences with street harassment. For example, Veronica and I got harassed this week (doing this work professionally doesn’t prevent it unfortunately!), check it out.WARNING: clicking the ‘I’ve Got Your Back’ button is super addictive.
4. Promote our campaign to your friends! Tag us (@ihollaback.org) in your tweet and we’ll retweet it, or post our new resources page on Facebook!
5. If you don’t do anything else, please, please, take a moment to share stories of when you’ve stood up for others being street harassed. We need to show people that this is possible! And if you haven’t tried to help some who’s been harassed yet, read our resources page and then get to it!
To celebrate the launch of this campaign (which we’ve been working on for a year!) we had an ‘I’ve Got Your Back!’ campaign launch party at the Branded Saloon in Brooklyn! If you couldn’t make it, you definitely missed out and were missed by us all! It was a great night of music, food (lovingly prepared by fellow Hollabackers), karaoke, street harassment trivia presented by the best trivia moderator, ever, and a bar filled with awesome folks and volunteers who are all about turning bystanders into walking advocates on the street! A big thank you to everyone who turned out last night, Branded Saloon, Miss Mona Mour, DJs Miss Bliss and Shuo and Tell, Dolly Trolly, as well as everyone who has helped us with this launch, especially Jill Dimond, Kevin Finity, Josephine Hall, the wonderful folks of Green Dot and our donors who helped make this launch possible!
We Got an Award! We were one of the Manhattan Young Democrat honorees on Wednesday night for an “Engendering progress” award! It was an honor to be amongst so many awesome New Yorkers who are fighting for gender justice!
We met with partners! We skyped with the amazing folks at METRAC in Canada this week about how to do community safety audits. They more-or-less invented them back in the 80s, and now they are considered a UN best practice for dealing with street harassment! We’re partnering with Councilmember Ferreras’ office to do them in Queens this spring!
We got press! Their is an article in Today’s Zaman about our site leader in Istanbul, Kacie Kocher. Also, Julia Grey from Hollaback! London was quoted in this article about anti-street harassment week, Aishwarya S. and Hamsini Ravi from Hollaback! Chennai wrote this article about their project to photograph unsafe spaces, I did podcast for PreventConnect (listen here!) about the new bystander campaign, and The Afro also wrote a nice little piece about it.
HOLLA and out!
(I shared a story yesterday and was shocked when it was posted as the first bystander story, so I thought I share a few incidences where I was the victim and people had MY back)
I was waiting for the lightrail to go to work when a man came and sat beside me. He started asking pretty sexual questions and I tried to deflect him, and eventually asked him to leave. When he didn’t, I moved to stand closer to a group of people. He got up to follow me, a security guard approached me and the man walked away. That same security guard stood and waited with me every morning from that day on. We became rather good friends and I’ve always been grateful for his care and concern.
I was sitting on the lightrail, headed to work, when a homeless man came up behind me and started petting my hair. He was murmuring how “pretty” I was and how shiny my hair clip was. I was paralyzed with indecision, the car was mostly empty and the man was obviously a few cards short of a full deck. He was behind me and touching me, and I could see in the reflective glass that he was much bigger than me. What if I upset him and he lashed out to hurt me? There was a tough “gangster” looking guy sitting across the isle from me a couple seats down who stood up and growled at the man to get his (expletive) hands off of me and to “leave the girl alone”. The homeless man moved to the back of the car and got off at the next stop. The “gangster” looking guy moved to the seat across the isle from me and “mean mugged” anyone who came near me until I reached my stop. We never exchanged words, but I sent him a thankful glance and had the feeling he was warning people away from me to give me time to recover and collect myself. I wish I had been less shaken and able to properly express my gratitude.
I was headed home from work and got off the lightrail to change trains. A few steps out a man behind me tried to get my attention by saying something along the lines of “Hey baby, where you headed?” I turned my head and saw him moving towards me, when a police officer blocked his path and told him to leave me alone. I kept walking but heard the people around me. Some were laughing, but I heard one girl talking to a friend saying she couldn’t believe that just happened – what right did a cop have to tell a guy not to talk to some girl?
I could keep going. If I go somewhere I’m normally walking or taking public transportation. I even have stories from walking home from the bus stop in middle school. Being a victim of street harassment makes you feel vulnerable and in constant danger every time you step outside your front door, but sometimes there are everyday heroes that remind you that you’re not alone and if you are lucky someone will be there to have your back.
There are a few things that have kept me unmolested for the most part that I’d like to share with you.
*Vary your routine, if at all possible make the routes you walk random.
*If possible, walk with a friend. Sometimes this may be as simple as striking up a conversation with another female traveling in the same direction as you and walking together.
*Stay close to groups, if they’re around stay near law enforcement or security. Isolating yourself makes you an easy target.
*Be aware of your surroundings, walk with confidence, and don’t slow down when someone tries to talk to you.
*Don’t be afraid to ask for help, people are usually more than happy to provide it.
Good luck, stay safe, and remember to have each other’s backs.
I have experienced more instances of harassment in Amherst than I could recount so I’ll share the most recent, which happened to a friend of mine.
We were out at a bar for her 21st birthday, she’d had a lot to drink, we were sitting outside at around 12:30am. She was sitting on the ground next to a bench, with about 6 friends (men and women) around, visibly intoxicated. A man walked up and, ignoring all of us standing and talking around her, pulled out some cheesy pick-up line. I let him know she wasn’t interested and he walked away, only to walk in a small circle around us and return to stand in front of my friend. He repeated this lurking, zeroing in and slimy line routine 4-5 times, and each time I told him that she was fine and he needed to leave her alone. I had to step up to him (I being an average-sized woman and he being a very tall, large man who I believe works the door) and tell him he needed to back off right away, and he finally did and skulked off into the bar.
I can’t imagine what would make a person think they could act that way, especially with so many people around, and what made every other person stand there and pretend they weren’t seeing this man try to take advantage of their petite, incapacitated friend. Unfortunately, this is a scene that plays out over and over here and most other places…all I ask is that more people hollaback and help each other stay safe!
BY EMILY MAY
Since starting to map street harassment in 2010, we’ve seen a flood of little pink dots popping up all over the world. People are holla’ing back everywhere, and our collective voices grow louder with each one.
But over time the map also became a constant reminder that, despite our best efforts, street harassment is at epidemic proportions. It seems more common across cultures than access to drinking water. And with each dot, and each moment of resistance, comes another incident of violence.
“The stories are amazing, but our map is a bit depressing,” I said to our volunteer, Esty. “We need to map something happy, too. We need to show people they can end this.”
We brainstormed about what kinds of happiness could come from being street harassed. Not much, is the truth. But after throwing out a bunch of ideas for ways to get people involved, Esty said, “What about when people stand up for you? You know, when people have your back?”
And so it was born.
In most of the stories on our site where bystanders are present, they either fail to act or do something that further traumatizes the victim (i.e. “you shouldn’t have worn that”, “where is your boyfriend?”, type stuff). We wanted to build a platform where people didn’t feel like they had to strap on superhero spandex and swoop down and beat everyone up when they saw street harassment happen. We knew that the only good way to provide real-time relief to people who are harassed is to get bystanders engaged, but we also knew that bystanders wouldn’t act unless we showed them how.
Our concept was this: we’d develop resources, trainings, and we’d start mapping bystander stories in green dots. Then, we’d build an ‘I’ve Got Your Back’ button which users can click to show support. At the end of each day, the person who submitted their story will get an email telling them how many people have their backs.
We thought we’d map these stories in green dots, because you know, green looks good with pink (these things are important!). And then we found out there was a whole organization called Green Dot (www.livethegreendot.com) that trained people how to intervene, but didn’t do the mapping part. We called them, attended their training, and fell in love with them.
Our plan was off to a great start. Only one snag: we needed funding to partner with them. We applied to one foundation and got turned down. So we applied to five more foundations, and got turned down again. Not liking to be told ‘no’, I did what any self-respecting executive director would do: I called them and begged. And it worked! A month later, Green Dot was on a plane to New York. We spent a week conceptualizing the project, and although some things are still on hold, pending additional support, we got a lot of pieces up and running.
Thanks to Green Dot, 268 donors, and our pro-bono team of developers which include Jill Dimond, Kevin Finity, and Josephine Hall, we’ve revamped Hollaback!’s website with bystander resources and are working to train Hollaback!’s 150 sites leaders in 44 cities and 16 countries on how to do bystander workshops in their communities. Successful bystander stories are now collected through ihollaback.org and Hollaback!’s newly re-released iPhone and Droid apps, and the ‘I’ve Got Your Back’ button is awesome and being clicked as we speak.
This campaign is still in its infancy, but we’re pretty confident: the ‘I’ve Got Your Back’ campaign is going to put a serious dent into street harassment by shifting the culture that’s made it OK for way too long. Everyone has a role in this movement — so start intervening and share your story today at ihollaback.org.
Join us at our “I’ve Got Your Back” event tonight in Brooklyn, details are here.
We are proud to announce this is our first-ever bystander story submitted! Yipppeeee! For more information on our ‘I’ve Got Your Back’ bystander campaign, click here.
I was about 15 years old and I saw a young woman being screamed at by a man who I think may have been her boyfriend. He was alternately shoving her and grabbing her by her arm. It was a weekend during the summer, busy and hot, the street was full of people (mostly tourists I think) who had nothing better to do than browse shops or wander through museums. I stood there for a moment just watching the scene, amazed at all the people walking by and ignoring what was happening. People were actually crossing the street so they didn’t have to come near them.
When I realized no one else was going to do anything to stop this from happening, I decided to. So I walked up to them and said something like “Hey, get your hands off of her!” Then pulled the young woman aside and asked if she wanted my help. She said yes and I asked if she wanted that man to go away, and she said that she did. I told the man to leave, he was angry and I thought for a moment he might hit me or something – but my involvement in the scene for some reason made people stop and watch while they’d been ignoring it before. The man turned away and stomped off.
I walked some distance away and sat with the young woman until she’d calmed down, offered her buss fair, and ended up lending her my phone so she could call for a ride.
Looking back I still can’t believe how apathetic those other bystanders were, and I hope it shamed them a little that a lone young girl had the balls to stand up and do the right thing while grown men and women (some in fairly large groups) turned away from another’s pain or twiddled their thumbs in indecision.
This is cross posted from Hollaback Ottawa! They said:
Today’s creative response to street harassment comes from an anonymous source with a penchant for internet memes! We dig.
Every day for International Anti-Street Harassment Week, we’re collecting your creative responses to street harassment and posting them here and on our social media to inspire others to hollaback, too!
Send yours to [email protected]
Do it! The revolution needs more kitty cats and puppy dogs.
I recently had the painfully unpleasant (but all too common) experience of being sexually harassed by a man. I was harassed in a digital age, when creepy men can invade your personal space by sending their unwanted and invasive attention straight to you, regardless of where you are or what you are doing. I was sexually harassed while I was enjoying dinner at home with my family and friends, this creep’s crass thoughts and words flooding me with fear and shame in the comfort of the home I grew up in. I was sexually harassed while I was working at school, this asshole’s demented ideas trashing my consciousness and the innocent environment it was meant to be nourishing. I was sexually harassed and it was NOT OK. It IS not OK. But when I reported it to the local police force meant to protect me from this kind of creep- this ONE creep of an entire species of creeps pervading the male-world we live in- it informed me that this sexual harassment WAS, in fact, OK because it did not place me in any sort of direct existential danger, and that if he continued to harass me I should simply change my number and avoid the areas I typically see him creeping around.
When I hung up the phone with the police I thought to myself: Something here is terribly wrong.
Now let us be frank about this endemic plague called sexual harassment that male homo sapiens can’t seem to kick. It shares the same qualities of all of society’s ugliest actualities, but is experienced by an entire gender group, worldwide, and everyday. To be female in the world- today, yesterday and tomorrows to come- is to be subject to sexual harassment by men. For women, sexual harassment is as pervasive and (dare I say) NATURAL an everyday part of our realities as breathing: it is in us and outside of us from our youth on up to adulthood, a period through which we develop our own personal means of dealing with it while trying to fulfill ourselves meaningfully in a world built up against us. I have historically dealt with it through silence, ignoring the presumptive “hey baby’s” and “nice ass’s” by quickening my pace and turning my face from the eyes and mouths violating me. A friend of mine plays crazy, staring blankly or yelling incoherently at her perpetrators’ advances until they finally back off (needless to say, some don’t). Yes, we women have our ways of dealing with the sick and unfair reality our sexist history has constructed for us , and to varying degrees they allow us to get through the day to day.
But today our methods, my methods especially, are dated. Today, my (admittedly) passive silent reaction to a man’s harassment protects me from him about as much as a cigarette protects a smoker from getting lung cancer: Not only does my silence fail to protect me, it makes the situation worse. As I repeatedly erased the explicitly crude messages invading my phone and interrupting my life- my life as I was CHOOSING to experience it- I was giving this creep the power to manipulate my immediate condition and surroundings. When I simply closed out the digital garbage littering my laptop’s inbox and polluting my mind, I was allowing this jerk the liberty to control how I was feeling and thinking at that time. And when I reported this unjust robbery of my self-determination, I was told that silence and avoidance would be the only means of coping with the harassment until it transpired into something more “real”: a response which, rather than providing me a sense of comfort and consolation from fear, stirred in me a very deep sense of rage, and a firm new determination to never feel that fear again.
We live in a world today where people die from the lives they lead in digital media. Kids commit suicide from cyber bullying, people are trafficked into fatal situations, and women get harassed- and abused, and prostituted, and raped and killed- in a cyberspace that increasingly takes on the oppressive patriarchal qualities of the society that produced it. Not only do women now have the “real” male-oriented world to navigate and survive in, we also have the equivocally real, male-oriented cyber-reality to navigate and survive in, the latter’s very “unreality” making it all the more dangerous. Who we women choose to participate in our everyday “real” lives is something that is fortunately very much in our control, despite the abrasive harassment which inevitably invades them. We are free to pick and choose what male attention we wish to fill those lives with, while surviving the grimy reality of unwanted male attention because we are women and that is what we women do. Who we invite to participate in our digitized lives, however, is something entirely different completely. While our digital livelihoods are not something we are completely powerless over, they do involve spaces that make our digital (and real) selves more readily accessible and vulnerable to unwanted attention, gazes and words. Creepy men will, and are, invading those spaces, and it is not something that will stop by simply ignoring it or keeping your mouth shut. Cigarettes will kill you. Silence will make this harassment worse.
So consider this my own little vernacular vendetta against the creep who thought it was OK to fuck with me, to make me feel belittled, ashamed and afraid (to protect the integrity of his identity, I will refer to him here as “the-guy-you-all-know-if-you-go-to-the-Starbuck’s-on-Monroe-Avenue,-Monday-through-Friday,-anytime-from-about-7-a.m.-to-5-p.m.,-who-wears-a-yellow-jacket-and-rain-boots-and-sits-in-one-of-the-larger-comfy-chairs-pretending-to-write-a-math-textbook-while-actually-sexually-harassing-women-all-day-long,-who-is-reported-to-have-done-this-to-countless-girls-before-me-and-will-unquestionably-continue-to-do-so,-so-long-as-all-of-us-girls-stay-quiet-and-choose-not-to-stop-taking-this-BULLSHIT!). But it’s more than that. It’s a statement that this kind of harassment is more pervasive and less tolerable in today’s digital age than the former kind was, currently is, or ever will be in the future. It is ubiquitous and just as menacing, dangerous and unacceptable as any other form of harassment or abuse for the very real and tragic consequences we’ve seen it create. Why should a woman being sexually harassed on the street be given different consideration than one being sexually harassed in the privacy of her own home? Why must a woman feel the direct physical fear of a man for her fear to be taken seriously by the law, and why have our laws failed to acknowledge this fear manifesting itself in new forms, through our new medias and in our new digital selves?
Freedom from fear is not a right limited to the world we actively live in, but one that extends into the worlds we create with our language and means of expression. The fact that the digital worlds we populate are not real in a corporeal sense does not absolve us the moral responsibility we have to endow those worlds with a bit of humanity. The fear I felt every day the aforementioned creep harassed me was unquestionably real, though that fear’s source was “not.” If fear can blur the lines separating our “real” selves from our digital selves” and our “real” worlds from our digital worlds, freedom from fear can do it too, in a very loud way.