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Want to speak up about street harassment and have your writing published on a website visited by thousands of people a year? Hollaback! is seeking submissions for our first ever essay contest! Winners will have their essays published in Sistersong’s “Collective Voices” and posted under the “resources” section of the site.
The subject of the essay contest is “Academic Discourse and Street Harassment: Where are we now, and where can we go from here?”
In order to answer this question, we are looking for students in all academic disciplines: if you’re a future law student, write us an essay on the legal issues pertaining to street harassment, the gaps in legislative protection and the possibilities for legal change. If you’re into feminist theory, write to us about how feminist movements have addressed this issue. If you’re interested in international affairs, tell us how different countries have challenged this issue. If you’re into math, submit a statistical analysis.
Any college or graduate students are eligible. The best articles will be published on the ihollaback.org website this summer, and will be judged on the basis of academic rigor, clarity, writing style, and their potential to advance the field of street harassment. Financial or other forms of compensation will not be provided, but you can rest assured that your efforts will make the world safer for everyone.
To be eligible, you must:
1) Be a currently enrolled college or graduate student.
2) Submit an unpublished academic work of 2000-6000 words on the topic provided.
3) Submit by August 1, 2011.
Please submit all essays to [email protected]
Entrees will be judged on a scale of 1-10 based on four criteria:
1) Writing skill: including clarity, articulation of arguments, etc.
a. Is the writing clear? Are the arguments presented in a straightforward and logical way?
2) Writing style:
a. Is the writing compelling? Does it engage the reader? Is the writing stylistic and imaginative?
3) Impact: The degree to which the essay contributes something new to the field in which the topic is situated.
a. Does the essay describe the ways in which it presents a unique contribution? Does the author situation him/herself in the context of current academic debates on the subject?
4) Relevance of topic and presentation: Does this topic matter to the work of hollaback?
a. Is there a need for the production of information on this topic at this time? Is it topical, relevant to the work of the movement to end street harassment? Does the article generate new knowledge? Is the information presented in a way that will have impact? (ie. are there analysis or guidelines or documentation that will be useful in furthering the work of an advocacy organization like hollaback, etc)
Walking, not having a good day, have my headphones in.
Some old guy loudly says hi, I mumble hi back and keep walking, he keeps shouting at me long after I have passed by.
I just ignored him so didn’t really hear what he was saying, but he was clearly pissed off that I didn’t stop to talk with him.
Guess what, folks? Sometimes people have bad days and are not going to be all smiles, and WOMEN ARE PEOPLE, TOO.
Some random stranger angrily shouting that I should smile more and pretty ladies should be friendlier isn’t going to make my bad day any better.
Dear Jackson Heights Chachi, internet troll, chicaschicas2, bungabunga, chaci1, genius at IP address 184.108.40.206 and 220.127.116.11 (did you move or get new internet service in December?)
While we realize that you’re probably very lonely and angry, we’re beginning to become a little concerned for your wellbeing.
Maybe you’re so wrapped up in trolling the internet and leaving insightful comments that you don’t realize it has become an obsession and it is probably eating away at your already diminished mental health.
Since December you’ve left close to 50 comments on various posts on our site, some of them only minutes apart, usually very late at night (but at all times of day, really) when you should be sleeping soundly or out having fun with friends. And while we have published none of them, you continue to leave them. They offer such contributions to society and progressive social thought as:
“I touched ma ass. I’m turning myself in. Where do I go to get my brain enema?”
“endonde esta el bathroom? I need to do caci! Muchas gracias!”
“Chicas? Where can I find Lulu’s international house of chicas?”
“someone touched my peepee on the train. can you help me?”
“Got my rub on with my cat. Pass it on. I look at a girl’s booty on the train and now I’m full of guilt and remorse so flagellated myself while at the same time passing gas. It was awful. Pass it on.”
“Men of America, if you’re not a buff and thick top man like myself and you can’t live without your fish, forget U.S. women, they are not worth all their bullshit. Go overseas asap. Trust me. Leave the women on these shores to bitch and moan with each other. Pass it on.”
“Don’t hate punk bitches. love, Don Juan poo poo pants.”
and of course, the Chachi classic:
“SAY NO TO FISH!”
We’ll be blocking your IP address so that even we can’t see your sweet sweet poetry (as you can understand, the redundancy is getting a little boring), but please seek help for yourself.
Thanks and good luck,
p.s. Say yes to fish!
Occasionally we get inspiring success stories about justice being served. This is one of them. The original hollaback is posted below the update.
UPDATE: I received a call form the Manhattan District Attorney’s office on 4/12, notifying me that the perpetrator will be arraigned in court on May 6th, and asking if I’d be willing to verify the statement I made to the police. I should be receiving a copy of my statement in the mail. I am going to call the DA’s office back, as I really feel it is important for me to be present at the arraignment, although my presence is not required. (I am starting a new semester at school that week, so if the arraignment would cause me to miss an entire class session, I might not be able to go – I am praying that’s not going to be the case). I’m not sure whether I’ll be able to make a brief statement to the judge, but if it is allowed, I plan to do so.
Re-posted from April 8.
I was headed home to Brooklyn for the day at about 2:30 p.m. after finishing a final exam at school in Manhattan. I was listening to a podcast and briefly closed my eyes between Rector and Whitehall. When I opened my eyes, there was a man sitting directly across from me (no other passengers were seated in this section of the train) masturbating with his genitals completely outside of his pants. His eyes were nearly closed. I got up and got loud, shouting, “What the are you doing jerking off in front of me?! That’s disgusting!” He got up and headed to the door at the other end of the car. I was so glad that a large, middle-aged man near where I had walked to in the car looked at me and said he had seen what happened. I told the man I didn’t want to let the guy get away, and he offered to help me. We walked to where the perpetrator was standing and stood right behind him. As soon as the doors opened at Whitehall, the perp bolted, and the fellow commuter and I flew after him.
I reached the perp first and grabbed the sleeve of his sweatshirt, bringing him down on the stairs. Three men helped me detain him on the stairs until the transit cop FINALLY came 10 minutes later. During that 10 minutes, the perp pleaded with me to let him go and to think of his family, he also kept trying to get away, but he knew he was too outnumbered to really make a run for it. Once the cop came, the other men departed. After a few minutes, the perp tried to get away from the cop by jumping the turnstile. I ran after him and grabbed him from behind by the belt, bringing him down to the ground. He resisted arrest, but the cop was finally able to handcuff him and he was arrested and taken into custody for public drunkenness and lewdness and I gave a formal statement to the police at the nearest substation.
I felt so good about not just keeping my mouth shut and letting this pervert get away with it. Even if nothing much happens to him, I feel happy with my decision to take action. On a side note, it was completely ridiculous to have to wait for 10 minutes for the transit cop to arrive. I also had to clearly state to the cops that I wanted to press charges against the guy, rather than them just giving him a warning.
By LOU LaROCHE
“Activism” has become a modern-day dirty word for some, synonymous with dodgy police tactics, professional protesters and “grubby-looking transient types” who seem to like complaining about everything. It’s very easy, when watching news footage of the latest actions being taken, to feel divorced from other types of people who don’t just have opinions but feel the need to shout, march and break stuff because of them.
But actually, that’s not what activism is about. From the end of slavery to women’s suffrage to ending Third World debt, activism is about not just complaining about something, but getting those complaints to the right people at the same time that other people are doing the same thing. Seems obvious, right?
Yet somehow society’s need to get up and change things from time to time, to say “Enough is enough” has been translated to mean action taken only by those who identify themselves as being on the far fringes of society. Yet everyone has opinions, and everyone gets frustrated when they’re not heard. So how is it that more “mainstream folk” came to feel that it wasn’t our place to demand hearing?
About three weeks ago, I was on a bus with my autistic five-year-old son, traveling through Bristol, UK. Three older teenagers got on and – though my child was plainly visible – proceeded to verbally abuse me (graphic sexual language), touch me, run their fingers through my hair and laugh at my demands that they stop. When another passenger threatened violence, I took my child, complained to an indifferent bus driver and got off the bus.
About three days ago I gave up hope of finding anyone save my closest female friends who would care at all about what happened to me (and my son) that night. Met with constant indifference, “Boys will be boys” and “Well, no-one was hurt, were they?” I’d fallen foul of the crime we all commit when this happens to us: I chalked it up to experience, pushed it to the back of my mind and let life continue. I’d tried to use my voice and had been told, quite clearly, to shut up.
Then I read about Hollaback! And I became an activist.
This campaign isn’t about gathering together disgruntled women in enough numbers to grab a quick media spot on the news before being forgotten. It’s about a constant and sustained refusal to put up with aggressive verbal and sexual harassment in our public places. It’s not about “action” in any brutal sense, but about collecting our experiences together and using the sheer multitude of them to draw attention to what we have to deal with almost every single time we leave our homes and workplaces. It’s about raising the profile of this sort of unacceptable behaviour and about letting women and gay men (and anyone else who is victimised in the street) know that they DO NOT have to put up with this any longer. Like all proper activism, Hollaback! is about empowerment and change.
To be a Hollaback! activist, you just need to talk to someone. No marching. No sign-waving. No throwing stuff through windows. No rubbing shoulders with complete strangers. Share the story of what happened to you on the website with hundreds of thousands of women from around the world; it’s surprising how good it feels to actually say out loud “This happened and it was horrible” and know that no-one is going to palm you off with “Don’t know what you’re making such a fuss for” or “They’re just playing about”.
But Hollaback! isn’t a victims’ club, either – you don’t even have to have experienced this first-hand to jump in. Try asking the next woman you see if she’s ever been cat-called in the street and whether she thinks that sort of thing is acceptable. If her reply is something along the lines of “It’s disgusting”, tell her about Hollaback!
In that moment, to your enormous surprise, you’ll have become an activist, too.
Lou lives in Bristol, England, and will be leading July’s Hollaback Bristol launch. To get involved, please email us.
We live in a world where pop icons make feminists furious. Straight from the pages of Ariel Levy’s Female Chauvinist Pigs and Susan J. Douglas’ Enlightened Sexism, girls are constantly being fed an offensive image via music videos and lyrics: that women are supposed to be submissive, demure, and – above all! – sexy. So every once in a while, when a female artist makes a move (however small) toward making a statement, it should be commended.
So I’m here to talk about Ke$ha.
(I can hear you all booing already; hear me out.)
While Ke$ha might not be the poster child for appropriate behavior (anyone who’s seen her “TiK ToK” video can tell you that), she does arguably represent some facet of feminism: doing what she wants and not giving an F-U-C-K what anyone else things about it. But rather than starting a debate about whether or not Ke$ha’s party girl image represents feminism in a positive light, what I’d like to do is draw specific attention to one of the songs on her debut album, Animal, “Dinosaur.”
“Old man, why are you staring at me?” starts the catchy song. “Mack on me and my friends, it’s kind of creepy.” And while the song is specifically about older men looking for young girls, it speaks to street harassment in general with lines like “hitting on me – what?” and “come on, dude, leave us alone.”
As a high school teacher, I’ve overheard more than one female student quote the song and then turn to her friend like, “Seriously, why do they do that?” inadvertently inciting an entire conversation dedicated to the injustices of gender-based violence inextricably laced inside street harassment. They share stories, vent, and leave the conversation feeling justified and validated – this is a problem, and I’m not alone. And isn’t that what Hollaback! is all about?
Now, I’m a Ke$ha fan and will defend her to the death, but I think that even her haters have to admit that, with this track, she’s taking a step in the right direction.
Melissa A. Fabello lives in New England, where she volunteers for various feminist organizations and runs the lesbian blog and community ToughxCookies.
I am studying in Florence, Italy, for my final semester of college, and I was thrilled at the prospect of getting out of my boring North Carolina town and into a place renowned for culture and fashion. Florence is amazing, but the men feel that they can stop and gape at you, or say all kinds of offensive things, and it’s part of their “culture.” A simple “ciao bella” as I pass by does not offend me–that is the kind of culture that is allowed, that is an appreciation of beauty; unfortunately it is used as a shield to justify more lewd statements.
I was walking home last week, and at an intersection waited for the light to change. A guy next to me eyed me, and then starting talking to me; I ignored him, which was easier since I was listening to my ipod, but he would not give up. From that intersection he followed me over four blocks to my apartment, trying to speak to me the whole time. He was so thick-headed that I thought it better not to turn and say anything, but to get away as quickly as possible; the language barrier also would have made it difficult. I made it home and took great pleasure in slamming the door in his face. What shocks me, though, is that all of the streets I walked were full of people, and it was 1 o clock in the afternoon, and no one did or said anything.
I frequently wear heels and dresses, but that DOES NOT mean that I am asking for it, and I dress solely for myself, not for men. This site has inspired me and I hope to admonish my next harasser, who I am sure I will encounter at some point tomorrow.
I was standing on the platform waiting for the train when I noticed that a small man had leaned on a pillar near me. He was a little too close, so I just took a few steps away and continued to wait. A few minutes later I realized that it looked like he was masturbating. Just from my peripheral vision, I saw what looked like him touching his fully exposed genitals. All I wanted to do was get away from this creep, but as I walked away, he followed me and continued to station himself within my vicinity, and moved whenever I moved.
As the train pulled in and he walked nearer to me I yelled “You want to get the fuck away from me!” to which he responded by spitting on me.
My only instinct during this whole thing was to get away from this pervert. He exposed himself to me and followed me, and getting other people involved was the last thing on my mind. It’s kind of intimidating, and I didn’t expect to feel like that when confronted with a situation like this. I always assumed that I’d be prepared to kick someone in the balls if they ever tried something like this with me, but when the moment came I think I was in shock.
Looking back, I should have yelled and been more vocal and gotten everyone on that platform’s attention. Even though I stood up for myself by recognizing what he was doing and telling him to get away from me, I should have gone a step further.
I feel fortunate that nothing worse happened – that he didn’t try to touch me or follow me on the train – but I will be prepared to make a scene if this ever happens to me again and make sure that there is one less disgusting human being who is able to do this to other women.
I go to a very small school of only 100 kids, so I feel very awkward and nervous submitting this. But then I remember what a parent said to me 3 nights ago and I reconfirm the inappropriateness of the comment and feel the need to share.
My school puts on a production called, “scene night” in which the advanced theater class does individual scenes rather than a whole play. So each student gets their own scene. I chose a scene that was beautifully written and funny, hoping to explore comedic theater a little more and show my acting dexterity. I memorized for days, and determined the perfect blocking and finally got to preform my scene. It went smashingly. I was a playing the part of a reference librarian that was defending her career choice. She was trying to explain that reference librarians were not bland people as the status quo might say, and were instead romantic intellectuals. There was one part where I climbed on top of my reference desk, explaining my ‘fantasy’ while talking to an imaginary patron. It was somewhat about seduction but not about sex. After the performance, which I was immensely proud of (it was my final performance at the school before I graduated) while we were all schmoozing about with the audience, one of the other kid’s parents came up to me very close and introduced himself as, “Mr. X’s Dad” and then said, “You looked so sexy up there..I mean really sexy.” Put on the spot I said something like “Thank you, I had a good time.” And turned away looking for someone to talk to. But I really wanted to tell him not to stand so close to me, and that his comment was really inappropriate. He was just nearly pressed against me, and I could smell his breath! And it wasn’t like he was complimenting my performance..he was telling me I looked appealing to him. Why do I care what you think of me, Mr. X? I’m not trying to turn you on! I know he didn’t mean to be offensive and probably thought I’d be flattered by the comment but I was creeped out and told my mom as soon as I was far enough away. My mom responded with, “You know I’ve always gotten a creepy vibe from him…I think he just doesn’t know how to be social though.” She moved on from it an encouraged me to do the same but all I’ve felt since the comment is I must not have portrayed my character well. I must have made it too sexual. But my mom is also consequently my director and had seen me rehearse it nearly 20 times. She wouldn’t have let me continue with the monologue if it was too sex-riddled. She would definitely have said something. I just wish my experience wasn’t tainted by this man’s comment and that it didn’t make me feel like the one time I really extended my comfort zone, I was mis-percieved by people.