A Week in Our Shoes 2/24/12

Us with the US Dept of State Delegation from Europe


Hello supporters and revolutionaries! Check out this week’s news and updates from the exciting world of Hollaback! and our endeavors to stamp out street harassment once and for all.

It’s National Anti-Street Harassment Week March 18-24! And there are so many ways that you can get involved and take action: join our board, support the movement and come to our March 22nd event “I’ve Got Your Back” or check out this Huffington Post article Ten Things You Can Do To Stop Street Harassment for more ideas.

Presentations: I had the honor of presenting to the US Department of State delegation from Europe “Empowering Women Against Domestic Violence” along with Victoria Travers.

Out and about: I attended Rutgers University to talk to young activists at the Women’s Center, as well as giving a plenary in their knowledge and power class. The university’s online publication, The Daily Targem also honored us with a laurel in their Week in Review: Darts and Laurels. Later today I will be attending the Denim Day 2012 planning meeting along with our partners Day One, YWCA Brooklyn, NYC Coalition Against Sexual Assault, the Joyful Heart Foundation, the Manhattan and Queens Borough President’s Offices.

Collaborations: Veronica and I met with Alyson Greenfield of the Tinder Box Music Festival for possible future partnerships. Catherine and I also met with Nils Knagenhjelm who created the bSafe Smartphone App. Check out Catherine’s interview with him here.

Hollaback! around the world: Aisha Zakira of Hollaback! Mumbai was the subject of Daily News & Analysis article Run for a Cause: Let’s Stop Gender-Based Violence.

In the press: Hollaback! along with Stop Street Harassment, Men Can Stop Rape and Girls for Gender Equality, was mentioned in Jezebel article How to be a Good Guy on the Sidewalk, giving advice to men on how to establish that they are not a threat when encountering women in dark, secluded, public areas.

We Got an Award! Hollaback! has been honored with an MYD Engendering Progress Award on March 21st in Manhattan. This is their 3rd annual event to honor women leaders, activist, entrepreneurs and philanthropists.

Thanks Hollaback! supporters for another fantastic week of fighting street harassment and keeping the revolution alive!

HOLLA and out!


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Women’s Status in the Media at Crisis Levels

The Status of Women in the MediaBY CATHERINE FAVORITE

The Women’s Media Center recently published their 2012 Report on the Status of Women in the US Media. Although the findings show that women have gained a strong foothold in some areas, the vast majority of fields in American media are still occupied by men.

Some of the report’s key findings (from 2011) include:

-Women represented 21.7% of guests on Sunday morning news talk shows airing on NBC, CBS, ABC, CNN, and Fox News.

-Women comprised only 18.1% of all radio news directors.

-The “Heavy Hundred” the “most important radio talk show hosts in America” selected by the editors of Talkers magazine with input from industry leaders, included only 13 solo women hosts and three women who co-host shows with men.

-In sports news, women represented 11.4% of all editors, 10% of all columnists, and 7% of all reporters.

-Of the top 250 domestic grossing films, women were 5% of the directors, 14% of the writers, 18% of the executive producers, 25% of the producers, 20% of the editors, and 4% of the cinematographers.

-In the key behind-the-scenes role in entertainment television, women were 18% of the creators, 22% of the executive producers, 37% of the producers, 15% of the writers, 11% of the directors, 20% of the editors, and 4% of the directors of photography.

A point of interest in the report was that:

“Girls and women between the ages of 13 and 20 are more likely than others to be referred to as attractive (21.5% versus 13.8% of 21-30 year-olds and 3.9% of 40-64 year-olds).”

It also pointed out that, in both film and television, women and girls seldom held leadership roles and were less likely than male characters to achieve their goals.

The sexualization of young women and girls is particularly troubling, when one considers that this very same age demographic is mostly likely to be watching the depiction of themselves. As the report notes:

Research has shown that underrepresentation and negative depictions in media have broad societal effects. How women are represented in media affects gender equity in general. It is important to determine the causes of underrepresentation and stereotypical depiction and to develop practical approaches to improving the status quo.

The constant one dimensional portrayals of female characters as hyper-sexual cannot possibly have a positive impact on how women are treated in real life. Shallow media depictions of women and girls only further ingrains the message that being attractive is the most important, if not the only indicator, of a woman’s worth. Indeed, just how strongly the media influences our perceptions reveals itself everyday on the street. Why else would some people expect women to be flattered or appreciative of “catcalls”, whistles or compliments on her appearance from strangers?

Though the report does not forecast sunshines and rainbows for the current state of women in the media, it offers suggestions for determining how to identify the causes of the under-representation of women in American media.

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Case Update: Hyatt Housekeepers Sexually Harassed and Sacked

Hyatt CEO: Reinstate Workers Unfairly Fired After Protesting Injustice!


In November of last year Hollaback! posted an article urging readers to support sisters Martha and Lorena Reyes after their unfair dismissal from the Hyatt Santa Clara.

In September of last year, sexually explicit, photoshopped images of the two housekeepers were displayed on the company bulletin board by a co-worker. A few weeks later they were let go for the “fuss” that they had made. We at Hollaback! urged you to help have them reinstated in their jobs with back pay.

While you have been signing the petition, over 150 universities nationwide have released a statement calling on Hyatt Regency to “uphold the dignity of women” and rehire the sisters. Women’s and Gender Studies Faculties from several universities have initiated a petition that has been signed by over 700 students and faculty members nationwide.

Faculty in Chicago and the Bay Area lead delegations yesterday to members of Hyatt’s Board of Directors to deliver the petition and as soon as we find out the outcome we will post it here. It is so amazing to see awesome people joining forces to make a change for the good.


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Mini Skirt Marchers Take Back the Streets of Johannesburg


Last Friday hundreds of men and women gathered in the streets of Johannesburg for the “Mini Skirt March” organized by the ANC Women’s League to condemn sexual violence in South Africa.

The march began in Johannesburg’s Central Business District at a taxi rank on Bree Street. 300 protesters turned up brandishing banners and kitted out in skirts and mini skirts of all varieties.

The march, the first of which took place in 2008, was organized in response to the sexual harassment of two young women as they stood in the Noord Street taxi rank last December. The pair were taunted by a group of men about their clothes, groped, snapped with the harassers’ cellphones and masturbated in front of. Both women were in attendance at the march.

Friday’s demonstration was supported by a number of prominent political figures, including South Africa’s Minister for Women, Children and People with Disabilities, Lulu Xingwana, as well as, several other activist groups.

The World Health Organization published a study last September, which revealed that 42 percent of South African women aged 13 to 23 have experienced sexual assault “during social outings.” This is also a country that deems “Corrective Rape” as a justifiable “cure” for “being a lesbian.”

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A Week in Our Shoes: 2/12/12

Me and Shawna From Hollaback! Baltimore


Hey there supporters and revolutionaries! Check out this week’s news and updates from the world of Hollaback!

Out and about: International movement intern Natalie attended a Hunter College V-Day event in Manhattan to spread the Hollaback! gospel and today, international movement coordinator Veronica will take a trip to Columbia University to talk about the wonders of Hollaback! at their V-Day event.

Hollaback! around the world: Aisha Zakira and the rest of the Hollaback! Mumbai team spoke at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences last night in Mumbai, India. The team talked about the myths surrounding street harassment, bystander intervention and how to respond to street harassers. I also met with Shawna from Hollaback! Baltimore, who recently celebrated their one year anniversary with party Dance Your Panties On. So congratulations Hollaback! Baltimore!

In the press: I was featured in the New York Times, along with several other travel experts, this week giving handy travel tips to keen explorers. I told them:

“The mile-high club is only cool when it’s consensual… You’d be surprised at the number of people who think groping people in their sleep, masturbating under blankets or harassing fellow passengers is a good idea. And if you experience or witness any of these behaviors, don’t be afraid to tell the flight staff.” Read the full article here!

I was also a guest this week on the Tonya Hall Show, talking about social media and social change. Hollaback! Mexico had a shout out in online publication Kaja Negra and Hollaback! Chennai was featured in online publication Women’s Web, discussing the necessity of changing attitudes towards street harassment.

Join us: We need new board members! This is an exciting opportunity to be part of a new initiative, and to help lead the way as we explore new platforms for making social change in a networked world.

Thanks Hollaback! supporters for another fantastic week of fighting street harassment and keeping the revolution alive!

HOLLA and out!


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Airport Scanner Agents Target Female Travelers



The TSA, the government body responsible for protecting the nation’s transportation systems to ensure safe travel, have received several complaints from women who claim to have been targeted by airport screeners to view their bodies.

According to online magazine, Ellen Terrell, who travelled from Dallas-Ft. Worth International Airport told CBS News that a female agent appeared to be singling out certain females on request from male agents in an adjacent room. Terrell was even directed through the scan a number of times because the picture was said to be “blurry.”

Following the third scan the TSA agent apparently became agitated telling her co-workers on her microphone:

“Guys, it is not blurry, I’m letting her go.”

Terrell told CBS that she felt “totally exposed” and was positive that their only motive for sending her through the scanner multiple times was to “have a nice look” at her body.

Another woman said that she felt “targeted by the TSA employee to go through the see-you-naked machine because” she is “a semi-attractive female.” While another said:

“The screener appeared to enjoy the process of picking someone rather than doing true random screening. I felt this was inappropriate. A woman behind me was also ‘randomly selected.’”

CBS contacted the TSA and this is the response that they received:

“All of our millimeter wave technology units including those in Dallas have been upgraded with additional privacy enhancements that no longer display passenger-specific images… To further ensure passenger privacy and anonymity, a privacy filter was applied to blur all images.”

Good job too! It seems like a no brainer to me that males would be allowed to view females in the “see me naked machine,” particularly as pat-downs are always performed by the same sex, the same policy should be put in place for the scanning agents. I am absolutely happy to endure the most extensive of airport security to ensure complete safety when travelling, however, it is truly staggering that there are degenerate creeps that would abuse not only the system, but would violate an individual’s fundamental human right to privacy. Terrorists are not in the habit of hiding weapons of mass destruction in their bras.


Rene’s Story: Don’t throw your trash at me

Walking home from campus, early evening (5:00ish), I was approaching the intersection of 14th & Mass. A white Jimmy SUV full of boys slowed down and yelled “I’d tap that fat ass!” then threw a Sonic cup full of something (I hope to God it was water) at me, then sped off. Didn’t get a license plate number, but they had some kind of fraternity/Greek letters on the back windshield and a Jayhawk sticker (narrows it down, right? Ha).

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Turkey: Female Judge Takes a Vacation and Rapists Walk Free


A 24-year-old rapist has escaped a prison sentence in Turkey while the only female judge was on leave on the grounds that the sex was consensual because the victim did not scream.

For two years, the woman, who is a mentally disabled widow and mother, was raped by her neighbor, who threatened to kill her and her 3 children when she said she did not want to have sex with him. It was only after discovering that the woman was 8 months pregnant, that he was arrested. Prosecutors were able to convict him based on the DNA evidence taken from the baby.

Without considering the woman’s mental state, the fact that her life was being threatened and that her children’s lives were being threatened, the court has relied on a rigid, outdated misconception on the definitions of rape. In a country where 45 percent of girls and women between the ages of 15 and 60 have experienced physical or sexual assault, it can be difficult to see how Turkey is making inroads for gender equality. Yet, despite the troubling statistics, the voices of Turkish women and girls continues to grow in the face of increasing inequality for women. Additionally, 78 members of Turkish Parliament elected last year were women. Since the lone female judge’s absence may have carried significant sway regarding the lack of justice the rape survivor received when the rapist was released early, it could have easily played out differently had more female judges been present.

It may still be an uphill battle ensuring women have adequate legal protections from rape, domestic violence and harassment, however, as more women continue to enter the workforce, run for public office and make up almost half of college students, Turkey’s legal system will gradually be forced to acknowledge the rights of women.

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Let’s Oust Homophobic Chicken Franchise at NYU!

BY CATHERINNew York University: Stop serving anti-gay Chick-fil-A on campusE FAVORITE

Chick-Fil-A, the American chicken restaurant has made quite a name for itself of late and it’s not for their chicken strips. Via the restaurant chain’s charity, WinShape, the organization has donated over $2 million to groups that promote anti-gay rhetoric, such as Focus On The Family, Exodus International and the Family Research Council.

Hillary Dworkoski has created a petition New York University: Stop Serving Anti-Gay Chick-Fil-A on Campus. Her petition letter reads as follows:

While Chick-fil-A denies having an “agenda against anyone,” an investigation by Equality Matters revealed that Chick-fil-A’s charitable arm, WinShape, donated nearly $2 million to anti-gay groups in 2009 alone. That $2 million supported groups such as Focus On The Family, Exodus International, and the Family Research Council.

And New York City’s only Chick-fil-A is located in a cafeteria in a New York University dorm.

NYU prides itself on being a diverse, open and inclusive campus community. Unfortunately, maintaining a contract with an anti-gay vendor like Chick-fil-A undermines what makes this university so great.

While the NYU Student Senators Council recently voted not to remove vendors for political reasons, they did retain that the school could remove vendors that violate human or labor rights. As Secretary Clinton recently announced, “gay rights are human rights, and human rights are gay rights.” As such, I respectfully request that NYU remove Chick-fil-A from campus.

By signing this petition, you will help send a strong message to New York University, an institution which “prides itself on being a diverse, open and inclusive campus community,” that by keeping the chain they are doing the exact opposite of what they preach.


Do the words “Felony Assault” Mean Anything to the Grammys?


Journalist Jeffrey Goldberg summed up the Chris Brown’s/Grammys debacle perfectly on Twitter last weekend when he said:

“Chris Brown? I don’t look to the Grammys for moral clarity, but, really? Do the words ‘felony assault’ mean anything at all?”

And The Atlantic writer is not the only person that feels this way. The Grammys and Executive Producer Ken Ehrlich have been receiving criticism left, right and center for giving Brown a second chance to perform at the event. Particularly after Ehrlich dared to say that the Grammys were victims of the grisly 2009 incident. Of course our hearts bleed and our violins play for the trauma that must have been caused to the Grammys, compared with the injuries sustained by Rihanna that showed welts above her eyebrows, bruises on her cheeks and bloodied lips.

Despite turning himself, it seemed that 1,400 hours of community service, domestic violence counseling and a 50 yard restraining order was a trivial punishment for the crime. The most disturbing fallout from allowing Brown to play the Grammys were twitter responses to his performance such:

“”Not gonna lie, I’d let Chris Brown beat me.”

Which is why we need to act! Activist Brett Simons has started petition The Grammys: Apologize to Domestic Violence Victims. The petition already has 1,090 signatures but it needs 1,500. So get clicking and make sure the Recording Academy understand the severity of their actions.


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