As a young female college student, I had always been told not to walk home alone or take the “short cut” if it was unsafe. But I’d taken the short way home plenty of times in this city to get home from the library, especially in the dark, and have had no problems. On the way home from a friend’s house tonight, I was in a rush to get home. I had a weird gut feeling when I thought about taking the short cut- I have to pass a run-down convenience store, and a section of government housing- but I ignored it. That was a mistake.
I was just about at the end of the short cut, almost home, when a group of 3 or 4 guys came out of nowhere and began to follow me. At first, they were distant. But they shouted “Nice ass!” and “Hey sweetie!” after me, just as I turned the corner to walk down my street. I picked up my pace; they turned onto my street and continued their cat-calling, even more vulgar while they laughed. I turned down into my driveway, and knew I couldn’t go to my house. At first I went around the other side of it, and waited. Then I saw my neighbor’s light on. I rang her doorbell and desperately hoped she would answer and I could then ask to come inside; but she didn’t. The group of guys saw me, and stood at the end of my driveway, continuing their taunting. I had no idea what they wanted, or what I should do. Luckily, they left shortly after. I went to my own house, where my roommate let me in.
Ladies, LISTEN TO YOUR GUT! It can prevent situations like this.
This week was exciting for advocates everywhere!
The Violence Against Women Act (including LGBTQ-inclusive provisions) has passed this Senate! Remember when we went to the White House two weeks ago because they were concerned it wouldn’t? It did! Thanks for all your tweeting, petition signing, and phone calls to Senators: they worked! Next stop: the House.
Wednesday Was Denim Day! This is an annual day of remembrance all over the world to increase awareness surrounding rape and sexual assault and on Tuesday I was at the press conference. On Wednesday Veronica gave a workshop in Brooklyn, and I headed out to Queens to give a workshop to two groups of middle and high schoolers.
Media BLITZ! We posted about it this week, but it’s worth mentioning again. This week was insane! Hollaback! was featured in countless publications and on several news channels including CNET, local news in Washington, CBS Good Morning, the Daily News and Fox to name a few. Check them all out here.
Scenarios USA had their gala! Scenarios USA uses writing and film to amplify the voices of young people in conversations about young people’s sexuality and sexual health. I was honored to get to volunteer with one of their amazing young writers, Nancy Romero, during the cocktail hour.
Our Queens Safety Audit is coming! Councilmember Ferreras’s Legislative Director, Annie Meredith, Chief of Staff, Yoselin Genao, Natalie, and I took a walk around Queens in preparation for our upcoming safety audit. Already 60 people have RSVPed, thanks to local community partners. It takes place on Saturday May 5th, so RSVP today! You’ll get a free t-shirt and lunch.
We’re having a benefit show with Permanent Wave on May 15th — so mark your calendar. And do us a favor and invite all your friends. The revolution needs us all.
HOLLA and out —
I was 20 years old at the time and had the day off of work and decided to spend a few hours at the public library. I was looking through a book about water color technique when I started hear a strange repetitive sound. I looked around and couldn’t find the source of noise. I then started to get a feeling that I was being stared at. Again, I looked around and there wasn’t anyone noticeably looking at me. The bookshelves at this library are more like shelves and not bookcases, meaning you can look through the shelves and see the next aisle. I did just that I when I did, my eyes where met with a staring, intense gaze. I then looked down and then saw the source of the repetitive sound that I had been hearing… the man was masturbating while looking at me. I was so shocked and disturbed that my first instinct was to immediately look back down at my book and pretend like I hadn’t seen anything to avoid drawing attention to myself. As I stood there, ignoring this man I became increasing scared and I couldn’t take it anymore. I looked him in the eyes through the shelf and yelled “ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!” Just like that, the man zipped up and started running. I dropped my book and followed him quickly but quickly lost sight of this pervert. I ran to the help desk and told the women there what had just happened. They saw how visibly upset I was as I was shaking and finding it difficult to speak. They had me sit down and offered me water to help me calm down while they called the police. When the officer got there I told him what had happened and he said that “he had a feeling of who it might have been.” I filed a report, but I’m not sure if anything ever came of it.
Why do you HOLLA? Because enough is enough. Everyone should feel safe in their own skin and in their own city. No matter what. Other people are not there for you to objectify and judge. The next generation should not have to fight this battle all over again.
What’s your signature Hollaback? Usually an evil “don’t mess with me” glare, sometimes a growled “Wow, you’re so clever.”
What’s your craft? Trying to make the world a better place with deconstruction. I’m a part-time PhD student, part-time teacher of literary studies.
HOLLAfact about your city: For all its conservatism, Dresden has a lot more queer and feminist activists than one would think. Grass-roots organizing, that’s where it’s at.
What was your first experience with street harassment? Probably this very crappy guy who asked me whether I wanted to suck his **** when I was walking home one day. I was 12 and had no idea how to react. The experience left me feeling awfully alone and powerless.
Define your style: Quiet at first, but alert at all times, I will speak up loudly even scream when it matters. People usually don’t see me coming.
What do you collect? Nay-sayers. People who tell me I cannot do something are pretty good motivators.
Say you’re Queen for the day. What would you do to end street harassment? So much to do, so little time. Change the way the genders are portrayed in the media, in advertising, etc. Give money to organizations who work to raise awareness and who foster respect and acceptance. Make gender and sexuality training mandatory in all schools, colleges, work places, senior citizens’ homes, etc. Pass legislation regarding all forms of gender violence. … and so much more.
If you could leave the world one piece of advice, what would it be? Empathize more. No seriously, try to put yourself into someone else’s shoes before doing anything, especially before doing harm.
What inspires you? Little victories, like getting people to reconsider long held truths. When friends or family tell you how they now notice things they haven’t noticed before and you can tell they are slowly changing their mind. And of course reading about other people’s struggles and victories, nothing can re-charge your activist batteries like hearing success stories from around the world.
BY EMILY MAY
Yesterday, this Daily News piece came out talking about the app we’re developing with New York City Council members Christine Quinn and Julissa Ferreras. The app will allow New Yorkers to send reports of harassment, including location and time, to the New York City government. It’s the first initiative of it’s kind across the world, and our hope is that it will become a best practices for cities everywhere. Check out the media splash it made:
Brooklyn Channel 12
The apps are still under development, and we’d love your advice. What do you think they should be able to do? What kind of information should they collect, and what kind of information should they not? Hollaback is built for you, by you, and as always you input is invaluable to us.
UPDATE! 10:45am 4/25/12
We were also on CBS Good Morning! The CBS piece is at about minute 1:30:
And it was even covered on the local news in Spokane, Washington!
And CNET! (at minute 2:20)
According to last Saturday’s Boston Herald, a 24-year-old woman, who wishes to remain anonymous, managed to single handedly capture a man that masturbated in front of her on a packed B-Line trolley.
The subway heroine told the Boston Herald:
“This guy was just being a real creeper.”
She said that he followed her through the trolley and stood over her while she was sitting down.
“I looked up and felt awkward, so I looked down.”
Then she realized that his penis was exposed and he was touching himself. The 24-year-old was so infuriated by his behavior that she describes her self as switching into “She-Hulk” mode. She loudly drew attention to what the man was doing and received no support from her fellow passengers, one trolley rider even shrugged.
So, in an impulsive moment she lunged at the man as he tried to exit the train at Packard’s Corner. She held onto the man with one hand and reprimanded him until law enforcement arrived. She said:
“I’ve had enough of being harassed on the street. I’m tired of it and I want it to end. It was the last straw.”
After his arrest, Michael Galvin, 37, tried to defend himself by saying the “packed and jostling” train made his pants fall down. He was charged with open and gross lewdness.
What a courageous lady! Here’s a big Hollaback! well done for standing up for what’s right and not being afraid to speak out. You are awesome.
Last week The Gothamist reported on yet another masturbating subway douche and very little being done about it. Subway rider, Monique Henry, was making her daily commute from Queens to Brooklyn to her job as a baker. After she boarded the D train at Rock Center she witness “a middle aged Hispanic man” dressed “in a rumpled, cheap looking suit, and [carrying] a Jet magazine” playing with himself. Left is what she snapped.
Once Henry got to the 179th street station she recalls:
“I ran to find [help] and ran into who I guess was the conductor/announcer. I showed them the video and EXACTLY where the man was on the train. THE MAN WAS STILL ON THE TRAIN. And you know what I got? A blank stare. That’s it. I just worked a 10 hour shift, had a 2 hour train ride home…and that’s what I got.”
We’ve got your back Monique! If you recognize this pervert then let us know.
All my life I have been in the public school system in my town. There have been many rewarding aspects, but I have had many instances of harassment as well.
When I was in seventh grade, I wore a tennis skirt to P.E. I was standing in a circle of friends when I felt what felt like a finger push into my upper thigh. At age twelve, I was extremely confused as to what this was. I turned around and a boy behind me said, “That was my dick.” I said nothing.
In ninth grade, I moved to a high school with many staircases. I was fond of wearing skirts. Several girls asked if I wore spandex underneath them. When I replied no, they told me that many guys were in the habit of walking up the stairs behind girls and looking up skirts. Shortly afterward, I experienced it for myself. I do not wear skirts to school anymore. I said nothing.
Today, the weather was warm out. I wore shorts for the first time. A boy in my math class commented on how nice and tan my legs were. I said nothing.
Over the years, I have had boys try to put their hands on my legs. I have had boys try to stroke my shoulders, chest, or stomach. I move away. I say nothing.
Why am brainwashed into silence? These boys have harassed me. Today I say something. Starting today, I holla back.