Hollaback! Hot Pink With Green Dots! What a Combination.

Jenn Sayre


In February we had the pleasure of welcoming Jenn Sayre and Marigail Sexton of Green Dot into the Hollaback! office to discuss collaborations and share success stories. Green Dot is a violence prevention strategy that gives everyone the skills needed to stop rape, partner violence and stalking, while also imparting how we can promote safety our own communities. And what is even more fantastic is that they are collaborating with Hollaback!. Jenn even made an appearance in our Saturday Webinar to discuss how bystander intervention can be used to end street harassment.

The organization is dedicated to measurably and systematically reducing violence within any given community using research and training. It operates under the vision that every time a form of abuse occurs or is ignored a red dot appears on a map, but to counteract this each time a any behavior, choice, word or attitude that promotes safety occurs a green dot appears.

Jennifer M. Sayre, Ph.D. is the Director of Training and Development for Green Dot. Under Jenn’s direction, Green Dot provides training and consultation to universities, non-profit organizations, and military installations across the globe inspiring and mobilizing people to act on preventing personal violence within their own communities:

“I become more certain each day that as a direct result of our work, rates of power-based personal violence will go down.”

Jenn worked as a therapist for over a decade before her work with Green Dot where she was frequently met with the devastating consequences of power-based personal violence. Prior to Green Dot Jenn believed that:

“The best I could do was help glue shattered people back together.”

However, after learning of Green Dot Jenn admits that this belief changed dramatically:

“Hope was awakened in me and I have since been propelled into this work with a sense of urgency and optimism.”

Jenn is adamant that the organization’s work in bystander intervention and the reeducation of communities is directly responsible for the decrease in personal violence. Recently, Jenn’s youngest daughter gave her a pin that read “My Mother is a Goddess,” which she admits:

“Inspired me to have the audacity to believe that I can and will be a part of making this world safer.”

Jenn is a graduate of Dartmouth College and obtained her masters and doctorate degrees in Clinical Psychology from the University of Virginia.

Marigail Sexton

Marigail Sexton is the Director of Communications for Green Dot and despite spending many years completing work in this field Marigail “never once believed that what” she “was doing could really end violence,” but that was before Green Dot. Marigail says:

“I have been reignited by Green Dot, as have many people across the country. I am honored to be a part of this new approach to violence prevention and look forward to the new-found freedom it will bring us all.”

Marigail has 20 years of experience in sexual violence and associated fields and was instrumental in the initial development of the Green Dot violence prevention strategy. Her previous professional roles include : Communications and Program Development Coordinator for the Violence, Intervention, and Prevention Center at the University of Kentucky; Executive Director of Kentucky Association of Sexual Assault Programs; Program Coordinator with the Kentucky Governor’s Office of Child Abuse and Domestic Violence Services; and Project Coordinator for the UK Center for Research on Violence Against Women. Marigail was also active in sexual violence prevention work in Virginia.

“You cannot be free, if you are not safe. This statement, I love.”

Marigail confesses that her “intense desire” for what she describes as “full and complete freedom” for everyone is what drives her in her life and in her role at Green Dot.

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A Week in Our Shoes: Feb. 27th – March 3rd, 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.

Out and About: We met with students from Rutgers and NYU to discuss our forthcoming campus harassment initiative. I also met with Councilmember Chin’s office to talk about street harassment in Lower Manhattan.

Support: We are extremely grateful to the Ben and Jerry’s Foundation for supporting our national movement-building work.

In the PressSPIN Magazine interviewed us for their May issue (because we’re rockstars, clearly) and WNBC came to talk to me about a recent rape case.

Hollaback! Around the World: Hollaback! Bogota participated in the SlutWalk Bogota, Columbia. Hollaback! Twin Cities got a shout out on the University of Minnesota Women’s Center Blog written when their site leader Ami Wazlawwik stepped up as a guest blogger. In celebration of National Women’s Day on March 8th, Hollaback! Winnipeg made it in to Uptown. Hollaback! Istanbul was on the front cover of  Turkey’s Today’s Zaman.

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

HOLLA and out!

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Can Too $hort Grow From His XXL Magazine Fatherly Advice Backlash?


West Coast Rapper, Too $hort, came under fire recently for the outrageous “fatherly” advice that he gave in an interview to hop-hop publication XXL Magazine. The singer gives tips to young boys on the “mind manipulation” of young girls, the content of which makes for very uncomfortably and inappropriate listening, particularly for the young audience at which it is aimed.

In response to the incident a coalition of Black and Latina activists have formed called We Are the 44% to counter sexual violence against teens. They issued a statement condemning the interview, and offered a list of demands, which include that both Too Short and all Harris Publication staff members participate in education and sensitivity training on sexual assault/rape, as well as the sacking of XXL Magazine Editor-in-chief Vanessa Satten. (Trigger warning: You can read the transcript of the interview for yourself here).

Initially, Too Short appears to have flip-flopped around his comments, first offering an apology cloaked in denial of responsibility. Yet, in a newly added layer, Too $hort approached feminist writer and member of We Are the 44%, Dream Hampton, to conduct an interview with him to set the record straight in Some may consider Too Short’s apologies too little, too late, or question the authenticity of his change of heart, but the conversation leaves him in better stead than in his first response to the backlash. It shows that it is possible for a person to alter their dehumanizing attitudes towards women and that if we continue to hold people accountable for hateful speech, there can be a ripple effect of change. In the following extract, Too $hort discusses what he has learned from this incident and responds to the backlash:

…when I taped the XXL video, my goal was that this was some kind of comedy piece. So I am sitting there and the thing that I am saying’s actually reminiscent of when we as little boys were being bad and (what) we were doing something or learning or practicing. But know I’m understanding that it’s actually it’s a form of sexual assault. And it’s crazy that I’m just now understanding this.”

I’m not going to lie to you…my eyes are opening just from reading the comments, the stuff that is coming from people. They say stuff like, “Does he get it?” I’m reading it and I am starting to get it. I am looking at this and I am looking at all the stuff that they put out, completely from the entertainment industry, from the movies I watched when I was a kid. A rape scene in a movie was pretty normal. They don’t really do it that much anymore, (but) back then a guy would take it and the girl would enjoy it. They put those images out there over and over again and it’s like so much society is ok with the images of aggressive male and female sexuality. I’m just reading this and I’m reading that, and I’m like I am so much a part of that whole “man” thing.”

Whether or not the magazine ultimately decides to fire Vanessa Satten, we can only hope that in the future, their editors will pay closer attention to the content they are implicitly promoting and that musicians in the spotlight, who wield a tremendous potential to influence young people, will consider if they are advocating a culture of violence against girls of color.

As gender justice activist, Elischia Fludd points out in her Huffington Post article:

“We need to be able to have conversations about what Too Short’s and XXL magazine’s actions perpetuate in our society, but not without rejecting smoke-screen rhetoric. Violence Against Women (VAW) continues to destroy the fabric of our society and men must step up and stop scapegoating women to save themselves.”

Here is a challenge, men: Step up and journey to un-learn all of what you think is cool about what is really VAW from places like Men Can Stop Rape, people like Jackson Katz and films like Hip Hop: Beyond Beats and Rhymes. It is never too late to start, only shameful if you choose not to.

If you feel strongly about this issue then sign the petition urging XXL Magazine to fire Vanessa Satten or join We Are the 44% on Facebook.




We’ve Been Reading Jezebel’s: “Rich White Dudes Can Be Gropers Too”


The Upper East Side may have a new serial groper plaguing the streets. On two separate occasions this week, police say a man who is “white, clean shaven, neatly dressed, with brown hair, about 30 years old, 5 feet 11 inches tall, and 180 pounds” has grabbed and groped women before running off.

Anna North at Jezebel makes a great point in her recent post “Rich White Dudes Can Be Gropers Too.” Anna focuses on avoiding perpetrator stereotypes and bad anti-rape advice like “stay out of ‘bad’ neighborhoods,” and instead concentrating on catching the bad guys:

“The case of the well-dressed groper busts a number of stereotypes about sexual predators: that they attack only at night and only in poor neighborhoods; that they’re unattractive men who can’t get women to notice them; that they’re never rich white guys. Law & Order: SVU, for all its faults, actually does a good job of challenging some of these myths: its perps are frequently powerful, good-looking white men. But the idea that all assaults are committed by certain kinds of men in certain kinds of places remains strong. The Upper East Side gropings are a reminder that telling women to stay away from “bad” neighborhoods at night isn’t going to stop assault. To do that, we need to stop the perpetrators. And since gropers sometimes escalate to more serious crimes, let’s hope the NYPD catches this one soon.”

Warning women to stay out of “bad” neighborhoods at night, as if there were a protective bubble of gender equality floating over places like the Upper East Side, is indeed laughable. Yet, this is still some of the most dispensed advice women receive on how to not get assaulted, that and “don’t wear skirts because then you’re just asking for it.” Thank you for that nugget of advisory gold.


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DC Hollaback Confronts Harassment at Metro Stations


The Metro Station and the citizens of DC are in a current debate over what constitutes as sexual harassment: is it mere flirtation or unwanted attention? Surprisingly, many officials have defended the right to sexually harass, implying that too much sensitivity has blurred the distinction between compliments and harassment. They have yet to explore how someone might feel when a stranger approaches them in a confined space (often at night) and makes them feel uncomfortable and scared.

The DC chapter of Hollaback, also known locally as CASS (Collective Action for Safe Spaces), has decided to take the matter to local government. With claims that transit police are not tracking reports of harassment and giving little consideration to gender-based harassment, activists are seeking out transit employee training, governmental action, and awareness. Hollaback has also pointed out that while New York, Boston, and Chicago have all instituted PSA campaigns against this issue, DC is still lacking anything to address a serious and frequent problem.

When reading Hollaback reports in cities where public transportation is an essential part of daily life, it is evident that there have been countless situations where a person feels violated, vulnerable, and unsafe. The DC chapter is commendable for taking action and going to their government. The Gender Equity Center for Cal Poly is also planning to talk to our city council on how to make this town safer for all people. If you feel that you have something to say about town safety, harassment, or you just want to show support, it is highly suggested that you attend this meeting. More information will be released in the coming weeks.

To inquire further about DC, check out the live feed of the DC meeting and this great Washington Post article.


Ella’s Story: “That’s when I started crying”

As I arrived at my bus stop several people (all women) were already standing there. There is another bus stop at the other side of the street, where a young man was standing.
As soon as he noticed me he started yelling all these derogatory things, he called me a dirty slut, said he was going to rape me, … I was really scared but he didn’t cross the street and I had to take my bus so I tried to completely ignore him. This went on for about 5 minutes, when his bus arrived and he left.
That’s when I started crying.

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Sarah’s Story: Learning from experiences

You don’t have a “HollaBack” in my city, Kathmandu, Nepal, but I think this story is important none-the-less. Even if it’s just to get it out of my own head and heart, and shared.

I’m really moved by what you do at HollaBack, and think it’s an incredibly important and smart movement. It’s great timing for me, as I just learned about this website today, and was harassed 2 days ago, with (I feel) little I can do about it here.

While walking down my dirt road, I was feeling more confident and attractive than usual here. It was warm outside and for the first time in months I was able to wear a long flowing skirt and a v-neck t-shirt. (Nothing revealing by any means)

I was only maybe 20 feet away from my house door, when a motorcyclist came speeding by. On his way past, he stuck out his hand, and grabbed my breast. He passed by so fast, I really had no defense against it. Even when I turned away to yell at him, I realized, I speak English, he most likely speaks Nepali, my words were of no use. 🙁 If he had been going any slower I think I would have tried to push over his motorcycle. I was furious at his nerve, and the fact I was defenseless against it.

So, he went speeding away. It happened so unexpectedly I can barely remember what he looked like, much less felt there was anything I could do about it.

Since the incident, I’ve felt less safe in my own neighborhood. I think, “what if he lives near me?” “what if he sees me often and I’ve just never noticed him?” I don’t like this feeling of fear and lack of safety in the area in which I live.

I also feel like my fears aren’t helpful. What IS helpful is being aware of my surroundings, learning from my experiences, and sharing them with other women to move forward to fight against this sort of street harassment that happens every day.

Since hearing about HollaBack, I feel more comfortable discussing this with people in my neighborhood as well to keep from it happening again. Thanks HollaBack for giving me an outlet. 🙂

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