BY CATHERINE FAVORITE
This year Target is selling one Valentine’s Day card that draws only the sound of crickets and tumbleweeds rather than laughter. The front of the card reads:
“Stalker is a harsh word” and the inside says: “I prefer Valentine”.
Considering that 54 percent of female murder victims reported being stalked, this is one crime that should never be equated with love. Regardless of your feelings about Valentine’s Day, it should go without saying that there is never a good time to make light of stalking, especially not on a day that is supposed to be about letting the people in your life know you care about them. Apparently, Target has not gotten the memo, yet.
By making light of what is a serious, terrifying and potentially violent crime for 1 in 12 women and 1 in 45 men in the United States, Target is normalizing the message that stalking is acceptable behavior. Even worse, they are diminishing the concerns of victims of stalking and contributing to the dangerous attitude that one should not report it to the police. So Hollabackers, let’s call Target out on their insensitivity! By signing this Care2 petition, you will help send a message to Target that jokes about stalking are not edgy or humorous.
I was pumping gas when a group of teenage boys pulled up to the intersection. They rolled the windows down and one began yelling things – starting with “pump that gas, girl.” I looked up then turned to ignore him. He kept yelling, getting more suggestive but not explicit.
After months of walking to the bus to yells of “hey, girl” or horns being honked by anonymous drivers, I was fed up. So I flipped him off and yelled, “f**k you, come say it to my face, you little chickenshit.” And there was silence. Then I heard a weak, “that’s not very nice.” And they drove away.
I love his response. He wanted me to be passive, afraid, shamed, an object of his attention. My aggression set him back. I’m sure he won’t forget it soon. I wouldn’t recommend my method to anyone, but considering my audience and genuine willingness to fight it was fitting.
I was baby sitting for my sister and brother in law while they went out to spend time with my brother in law’s brother who was in town. they came home after a night of partying and while every one else went to bed my brother in laws brother decided to get touchy. I told him no multiple times and he still continued to touch me, kiss me and grope me. He was drunk and wouldnt stop. i didnt sleep at all that night. I just want to find closer with this. it happened about 3 years ago. no charges were ever pressed(family said we would deal with it) I havent seen him since.
BY CATHERINE FAVORITE
A blogger out of the U.K. has an excellent suggestion that we would like to reiterate: “Operation Creep-Be-Gone”. Have you ever marveled at what street harassers get away with in public? Has there ever been a time when you were being followed, catcalled or made to feel unsafe in a public place and why, despite all the other people around you, you still felt unsafe or threatened?
The inspiration for “Operation Creep-Be-Gone” came from this blogger’s particular experience at witnessing another woman being harassed:
I saw a woman, on a busy Euston Road at 6pm, being hounded by a man. He wasn’t being outwardly aggressive, but he was sliming round her like a slug in an overcoat, asking questions and ignoring all clear signals (headphones in, one-word answers, refusal to make eye contact) that she wasn’t interested.
I caught the girl’s eye and mouthed “are you ok?”, to which she shook her head. So then I had a decision to make, quickly. To barge in like the Green Cross Code Man and say “STOP, letch! She doesn’t want to talk to you. RETREAT,” before blasting him with a sonic ray gun, or the alternative; pretend to be her mate. “There you are!” I cried, launching myself on her (for if I’m going to do a good deed I may as well get a hug out of it). “Hi!” she faked, as I dragged her away. Then we stood together on the pavement miming friendly chat like a couple of am-dram actors, while Slug Man stared, lingered, and eventually slithered off back to his cabbage patch.
While this blogger rightly stepped in to help, she noted, “There must have been 20 people within view and earshot standing nearby, yet nobody else paid the slightest attention.” Does our fear of bringing unwanted negative attention onto ourselves influence a decision not to step in to assist someone, or is it because many still dismiss street harassment as a legitimate threat?
Regardless of the reasons behind this seeming ambivalence, this woman’s story serves as an important reminder to speak up, not just against your own street harassers, but to the street harassment of others, as well.
…nobody’s saying you have to leap in with your handbag swinging. Even a stern glance or a calm, disapproving presence could help. A well-timed ‘tut’ might still go some way to helping these lowlifes learn that harassing us for the simple crime of possessing ovaries is Not Ok.
The idea behind Operation Creep-Be-Gone could go a long way toward combating not only the actions of street harassers, but to countering the quiet, implicit acceptance of anyone who witnesses another person getting street harassed.
So the latest Super Bowl controversy, aside from rapper MIA flipping the bird during her performance with Madonna, is the Fiat Car commercial starring Romanian model Catrinel Menghia. Despite Fiat revealing today that the commercial achieved the highest cumulative increase in car model page traffic, we would like to pop that balloon by cataloguing several reasons why we just plain don’t like it.
Apart from objectifying females and condoning street harassment the advert plays with some very dangerous race and gender stereotyping. The commercial portrays a seemingly dumb white guy, ogling the classically hyper-sexualized woman of color. She is seen as provocative, voiceless and tattoed, a stereotype that we should be rejecting, not reinforcing. Check it out for yourself.
In the past year, Filmmaker and Academy of Art University student, Tiye Rose Hood, has created and released two compelling films. “Objectified” focuses on street harassment, and the latest “Jenella” published in January, explores the blame culture and the issue of silence associated with sexual assault. The inspiration for all of Tiye’s documentaries comes from what she describes as a deep-rooted “interest in work that inspires understanding and social change,” as well as a passion for film and digital cinematography.
Produced in 2011, street harassment documentary “Objectified” debuted on Vimeo in June of last year and was nominated for Best Documentary in Academy of Art’s 2011 Epidemic Film Festival. Being nominated for the award was’ a wonderful feeling’ but Tiye admits that the driving force behind its production was not a quest for critical acclaim. Tiye was inspired by her own experiences of street harassment and the stories that others had shared with her:
“It is often quite irritating to hear honks, whistles, and obscenities when all you want to do is go home after a really long day at work or school, and that’s something we all agreed on. My roommates and I all ride the bus and walk, so we encounter our share of rude and unwanted attention. And pretty much all of the attention occurs (seemingly) without a catalyst.”
As a young woman that spends her life moving through public spaces, Tiye, recognizes the importance of the movement against street harassment:
“I think the movement against it is important, and that ultimately everyone should be able to feel safe and comfortable no matter what they happen to have on.”
With social injustice and the idea of sharing stories still fresh in Tiye’s mind she embarked upon “Jenella”, which originally began as an assignment for a documentary class. However, in the middle of the semester the focus shifted:
“I met Jenella through one of my roommates, who told me a little bit about what happened to her. I knew her story had to be told in some manner. Jenella is the strongest individual I have met to date.”
Originally, the documentary was intended to be about rape crisis counselors, featuring footage from last year’s high profile Slutwalks rather than “one women’s struggle.” But Tiye felt that Jenella’s story was one that had to be told and focused upon:
“I met Jenella through one of my roommates, who told me a little bit about what happened to her. After I met her and started to learn more about her, I knew her story had to be told in some manner. I also met Chimine Arfuso, a speaker, philanthropist, and the creator of Create Social Change. Chimine shared her experiences and the methods she used to cope with them. Jenella and Chimine are the strongest individuals I have met to date.”
The beauty of Tiye’s work is her recognition of the power of story telling, the idea that if we share our stories, we gather strength, momentum and knowledge to make a change and raise awareness. “Jenella” rejects the concept of sweeping incidents under the carpet and tackles the “blame culture” where survivors are questioned as to why they made decisions that could have possibly led to their attack.
Born in the Los Angeles area, Tiye grew up in Pasadena and Altadena and went to school in Pasadena. She loves to randomly bake and admits that she has “fallen deeply in love with the painstaking process of using lights, the sun, and a light meter to create and manipulate the visual aesthetics and get the desired results,” and looks forward to soon be working with 35mm film.
Tiye is inspired by several different directors, cinematographers and musicians including: Paul Thomas Anderson, Spike Jonze, Stanley Kubrick, Emmanuel Lubezki, Joanna Newsom, Bradford Cox. But high profile role models aside, the aspiring director is most motivated by her friends whom she describes as:
“Strong, fearless, passionate and very highly involved in equal rights movements.”
When asked about the future, the Best Documentary in Academy of Art’s 2011 nominee quite modestly reveals that she does not know. However, what she does know is that she really wants “to learn, enjoy life, enjoy the ups and downs of film-making and graduate!” And we at Hollaback! say good luck to you Tiye and keep driving social change and being generally awesome!
I am 19, and my best friend is 17. While we were picking up a few things at Wal-mart, we noticed three men who were following us around the store. I am a Wal-Mart employee, and Coffeyville is a small town, so I actually recognized the men who were following us because they had given myself and other female employees problems in the past. At first they were just making remarks at my friend and I, so we just ignored it. As we were checking out, the three men got behind my friend and I. At first we just ignored them, but as I was paying for our items, I noticed that the men were standing very close to my friend, and one of them was standing directly behind her, actually touching her with his body. I became very angry, and pushed the man away from my friend who did not know what to do, and then asked for the cashier to call for a manager so they could call the police, because the man was sexually harassing a minor. Unfortunately the three men actually ran out of the store. But even thought they got away, I still feel good about what I did.
I am so glad I found this space– this experience has left me with a very lonely and awful feeling all day. I am visiting New Orleans for a business convention, so I am required to wear business professional attire. Because I am short, I prefer to wear “skinny jeans” style dress pants because I look like I am swimming in wide leg pants. My clothing was form fitting because, plain simply ,that is more flattering on me and because I feel confident wearing that style.
While walking to lunch in the french quarter I was called to repeatedly by different men. At first it didn’t bother me because I took it as “southern charm,” but when I walked past a convince store in front of a group of men, they literally were screaming at me. One man even said that he “was horny.” I felt mortified and objectified. While I silently stormed away another group of men at the end of the street continued where they left off. Further down a man pulled his car over to ask “if he could walk me home” that night. I could not believe these men had the nerve to make me feel this way. I felt ashamed for the way I was dressed (even though I was completely business appropriate). I wish I had the nerve to say something, but I was honestly scared that I would just provoke them. I am trying not to let this experience taint my otherwise amazing time in New Orleans.
Thank you, Hollaback, for giving me an outlet to vent. These stories are hard to share.
It happened so fast.
It happened before I could think.
But, it happened.
It was a little thing, I guess, in the scale of street harassment.
But it was big too, because every little act of disrespect and aggression adds up to something larger in a world where being a female out in public makes you sexual prey.
Which is why I wish I had done something to protect the women he might do this to in the future.
Cause most women don’t like to be sniffed in public. That’s right I said sniffed.
Yeah, SNIFFED. Like a dog.
Here’s how it happened, girlfriends.
I was standing outside a grocery store in another town when a man came up behind me, got as close as he could without touching me…..and sniffed me.
Yeah, SNIFFED me. Like a dog.
My back had been to the store, so I didn’t see the man until he walked around me and went to his car. He shot a creepy smile over his shoulder, letting me know that he knew exactly what he had done.
I stood glued to my spot on the sidewalk, stunned by the guy’s brazen disrespect in such a public place. I watched him get in his car, still smiling his creepy smile. I watched him drive away, laughing to himself. I was pissed, but mainly I counted myself lucky that it hadn’t been something worse. At least he hadn’t touched me, I thought. Or yelled something humiliating. He was just a sad, pathetic guy who got a cheap thrill from sniffing women in public places. I was unharmed and I could laugh about the story with my friends.
But the more I thought about the incident it didn’t make me laugh, it made me MAD! Not just mad at the creep, but mad at myself.
Mad at myself because I hadn’t done anything. I just let him drive away, not even because I was that scared, but mainly because I was being selfish.
I say selfish because in my reaction to this guy I was thinking only about myself. “I got out of it. I wasn’t hurt. I didn’t live in the city where it happened.” Those were my thoughts as I silently watched him drive away.
But really my thought process should have been more like this: “What if he does this to one of us again? What if he does something worse to someone else? We need to stick together.”
The “we” of course, is all women, because whether you believe in the concept of global sisterhood or not, we are all in this together when it comes to street harassment.
When you confront or report a street harasser, you’re doing it not just for yourself, but for the future women the harasser may target. Getting catcalled at a construction site? When you call in and complain you save not just yourself, but all the future women walking by that site from unjust humiliation. When you get harassed by someone in a car? Get the license plate number if you can and call the authorities. You may never see the harasser again but some other women will, and your call could be what gets the harasser pulled over and scared off that type of behavior.
And if you get sniffed?
Well, I’ve thought a lot about what I could have done in the situation. Like I said it happened very fast and I think the first thing you should think about in any confrontation is your own safety.
Thinking back I wish I had at least taken a picture of the guy and his license plate with my camera phone. I would have felt safe enough to do that and I could have turned the picture and a description of the event into the managers at the grocery store he’d been exiting and of course the local police.
Sniffing somebody is strange enough, but all I can think about is how my police officer relative later told me that behavior like that is usually a first step to guys trying to touch women (or do worse) to them out in public.
Could I have done something so that if this guy tries to do something worse to a woman some of his information would already be on file? Or has he already done something worse (and my gut told me he was a pretty serious creep), and turning in the pictures could have helped another woman find justice?
I don’t want to beat myself up asking too many questions. I can’t change how I responded to a past situation, but I can think about how I’ll act in the future. The next time I’m harassed I hope I think not just about myself but about all of us — all the women out there who just want to be out in public without feeling like a target.
And if I can do something to make the next women’s life a little safer I’ll feel like I’ve done my part.
Hello Hollaback supporters and revolutionaries!
Take a look at this week ‘s HOLLAnews and updates with February’s first installment:
–Mumbai in Town! This week we met up with Aisha from Hollaback! Mumbai who has been super busy heading up the revolution in Bombay. Hollaback! Mumbai, in collaboration with the families of murdered Keenan Santos and Reuben Fernandez, are responsible for change.org petition: Demand Justice for Two Men Killed Trying to Stop Street Harassment, which demands justice for the brutal murders of two bright, brave young men and calls for recognition of the prevalence of street harassment in Mumbai and across India. Also, check out Hollaback! Mumbai’s awesome press coverage in online news publication Hindustan Times.
-In the Press: I was interviewed for online fashion market place, I-ELLA.com. We also got a shout out from the Pixel Project, a non-profit organization that works to end violence against women (VAW) by delivering innovative, powerful viral campaigns across various online and virtual channels including social media. Our lead developer, Jill Dimond, was also featured on mobile app blog, Fueled.com.
-Meetings and Partnerships: We met with the Caruso Foundation and the Transit Workers Union to talk about future collaborative works to stamp out street harassment once and for all!
Thanks Hollaback! supporters for another fantastic week of fighting street harassment and keeping the revolution alive!
HOLLA and out!