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Pop the bubbly, it’s Friday afternoon and we’ve got killer news. The NYC Council’s Committee on Women’s Issues is holding a hearing on “Street Harassment of Women and Girls.” Why?
Because you holla’ed back, and they listened.
One incredible woman, named Elizabeth Mendez Barry, holla’ed in El Diario (read it in English, here). Her op-ed, called “Street Harassment, the uncomfortable walk home,” inspired the city council, along with complaints from school administrators, to take action. Her bold act reminds us of the importance of using our voices to speak out, and of the power of the op-ed. To learn how to write your own op-ed, visit The Op-Ed Project. In the words of Holly Kearl from Stop Street Harassment, “it changed my life.”
The hearing will take place on Thursday, October 28th, 2010 at 1pm in the 14th floor committee room at 250 Broadway. We want to pack the room. If you are willing to tell your story to the city council, please reach out to us. We’re happy to help you develop your testimony if you’ve never done it before. If you just want to show up in solidarity on your lunch hour, that would be rad too.
This is an incredible opportunity to push your hollabacks off the computer screen and in front of legislators. Women represent 50% of the voting block, and legislators already know that making powerful waves on this will be good for their political careers. But what they don’t know is the extent to which this is happening, and how incredibly important this issue is. That’s our job. We’ve got to ban together and seize this opportunity.
If you’re interested in being a part of this, reach out to Emily May at firstname.lastname@example.org If you can’t be there — tell us what changes you’d like to see in this city, below.
Dressed in my finest power suit, I walked along a tree-lined street in cobble hill, the sun was shining and I felt great as I mentally prepared for my interview. As I passed a brownstone where people were unloading party supplies from a Party Rental LTD truck, you know the one with the pink hippo painted on the trucks, one of the delivery men came close to me and whispered in his best husky voice “hey sexy, i would want to get to know you”, I was shocked, for some silly reason I thought no street predator could possibly bother a woman in a power suit… Normally, I would walk away fuming or give the jerk a dirty look, but I was my power suit damn it, so I walked up to this man and asked him his name and why he felt it was acceptable to degrade women. Robert (no last name) covered his work badge, and cowered away yelling out apologies as I threaten to call his company and report him. Funny enough I drew a mob of woman backing me up – the solidarity of women (and hopefully the firing of Robert) left me feeling empowered, but sadly, this is only one jerk that may second guess harassing women.
Submitted by Gina
“Great photography tells stories.”
All of your photos tell a story. A story that is rarely told, but that captures the experience of 90-100% of women internationally. The grainy-ness, the blurriness, it tells a story. Much better than a thousand dollar camera ever could. So enter your hollabacks for a chance to win $25K. You’d transform the field of photography, bring awareness to street harassment, plus you’d be rich. Sweet.
His cowardice became larger and much more evident when I asked him if he wouldn’t mind if I took a photo.
“Why do you want my photo? Here, take a photo of this,” he slobbered as he held up the porno mag he’d just been reading in the middle of 6th Ave. at 2pm on a Tuesday afternoon.
“Because I like to take photos of all the men who harass me in the streets.”
“YEAH! look for it online!”
I went back to my comfortable office and sat down at my comfortable desk and enjoyed a good laugh as I uploaded his photo. Street harassment enrages me, but this guy was so pathetic I couldn’t help but chuckle.
Submitted by Betty Sue
I was walking home from class (college), down one of the main streets in town, in the middle of the afternoon, minding my own business, zipped and bundled up against the cold. A nasty, middle aged man approaches me, staring. I glare at him, but as he passes he says, “nice tits”. I was so furious! I have been commented on before, catcalls etc., and always just tried to ignore it and not give it any attention, and felt so angry and humiliated afterward, but this was just too much that day and I finally turned after him and said, “fuck you, asshole!”. It did feel a bit better to say something than to remain passive as I have before, but I hate that I still felt so helpless and humiliated and embarrassed when he was the one who should feel embarrassed not me! Next time I hope I can muster the courage to yell at the next douchebag who says something to me, and louder, and label to him and anyone who might be around, what the hell he thinks he has the right to say to me as the nasty, pathetic harrassment it is.
Submitted by Livia
The first Annual Westside Domestic Violence Walk will take place on Thursday, October 28th from 10:30am to 1pm, in honor of Domestic Violence Awareness Month. According to the organizers, “This walk is to educate and raise awareness in the community about the issue of domestic violence and to join other advocates, treatment providers, survivors and community members in solidarity against domestic violence and its devastating impact on individuals, society and our healthcare system. We will gather in front of the Cathedral of St. John the Divine on Amsterdam Avenue and 112th Street at 10:30 am for a rally before the one mile walk down to 100th Street on Amsterdam Avenue, turning to Broadway and back up to the Cathedral where there will be speakers and refreshments.”
As we well know, all forms of sexual violence work together to create a world that is not-so-nice to women and LBGTQ folks. At the national sexual assault conference this year, I had the opportunity to meet with a woman who was at the head of the domestic violence movement when it started. She said it was started by a bunch of survivors, in a living room, with little more than some telephones and a lot of passion. This woman went for six years without being paid. Only forty years later, there is a notable infrastructure for survivors of domestic violence around the country.
I told her I thought the movement to end street harassment was blessed. The support was overwhelming, and although we didn’t have any money, we had a lot of passion in living rooms across the world. She said that’s all it takes. She said we were doing the right thing by coming forward and telling our stories; that’s where it all starts. I smiled, humbled. We wouldn’t be doing this work if women like her didn’t come before us. Hats off to her, and hats off to the Domestic Violence walk for continuing to build a world where everyone can be safe and free.
I was walking down a country road in rural PA with my mother, who is a disabled woman. As we walked a truck full of young men drove past. They then hit their brakes and reversed towards us. One was in the bed of the truck and another hanging out the door leering at me. They asked me who I was and we kept walking. They drove slowly pacing us for about 2 minutes, then called me a bitch for not answering their catcalls and yelled out “We know where you live!” before spinning tire and speeding off.
The one in the bed of the truck acted like he was going to jump out and come up to us at any minute, and there was no where to go. I don’t know how I would have protected my mother if he had tried anything.
It was so scary because it is a small town, we were walking on the road my mother lives on, and they probably did know where we lived!
Submitted by Sabrina
We are proud to announce the newest of the Hollaback sites: Hollaback San Jose!
They write on their blog, “After years of being yelled at, whistled at, of having our space invaded, of being made to feel that we walk the streets at our own peril, we are ready to assert our right to feel safe, sexy and confident in public. It happens to all of us, and we’ve learned to drown it out. We’re told to ignore it, to keep walking– but that is exactly why it keeps happening.”
We’ll keep you posted on the incredible work that San Jose is up to. In the meantime, if you live in the San Jose area, HOLLABACK! You can email it to: email@example.com.
I was walking home from [law] school last night around 10:20 p.m. My walk is only about 15 minutes, from Tribeca to the Financial District, and I normally walk very rapidly.
I’m always aware of my surroundings, especially at night, and am careful to remain in well-lit areas where other people are as well. As I was walking down Broadway, I noticed 2 boys in front of me. One was on a razr-type scooter, the other one (orange polo) was just walking.
Eventually I passed them, and as I did, the one of the scooter, who had been going around in a circle said, “Hey gorgeous.” I ignored him and walked faster. After about 30 seconds I could hear both of them behind me, and they were beginning to keep pace with me. They followed me all the way down Broadway, to Fulton Street. Along the way, they were muttering things to each other like “Yeah, she does have a nice ass though.” I probably behaved pretty stupidly, but I thought because there were people all around me, that these guys would give up and leave eventually. They seemed younger and weren’t overly intimidating. I pulled my phone out and had 911 ready-dialed in case it escalated too quickly. They continued to follow me down Fulton Street, but eventually the guy on the scooter pulled back. The second guy was still keeping stride, though, and as I neared a cross street, I heard the scooter guy yell, “Now, Man (Max, Mac?)” and the guy in the orange polo said “Now?,” began running past me, and grabbed my ass. He then slowed, stood at the next corner, and watched me pass. I felt so violated and completely degraded. I took a picture of him with my camera phone as I walked by him, because it\’s all I could think to do, but it came out very blurry.
I was sitting on a blanket in Prospect Park on the grass (near the baseball fields off of the 9th St/PPW entrance) having a lovely time, when squarely build dude of medium height in jeans with a hoody pulled over his head started prowling around hear the “Tennis House” (looks like a pavilion) in the trees behind me. My alarms went off so I kept my eye on him and, sure enough, he positioned himself sort-of behind a bush, pulled out his dick and started beating off while staring at me.
I stood up and yelled at him to leave but he just kept on and wouldn’t budge. Just stood there, staring at me for several minutes. Finally, I summoned a guy who was walking past and told him what was happening, and the perv retreated back into the woods when the guy saw him. Called the cops, who drove to the park but who just stared motionless at me when I suggested they get out of their car on Prospect Park West to come into the park and so I could show them where the guy was hiding. Told some nearby ladies and couples on blankets. A dude who was with his wife and toddler daughter kind of laughed at the story and said “Oh yeah, I know. I heard you yelling at the guy.”
Well, dear gentleman, if you knew what was happening why didn’t you come over and back me up?
I’m so pissed. It’s a gorgeous day but this made me too uncomfortable so I left the park.
Submitted by Sarah