This is a story about my experience one day while living in Buffalo, NY. It’s one of many examples of how women experience street harassment every day.
A few years back I lived in Buffalo, NY for a time. One sunny, breezy, and beauteous summer afternoon, I decided to ride my bicycle over to Delaware Park. I had the day off and wanted to get out in the sunshine and enjoy myself for a little while. I was thoroughly enjoying my leisurely ride around the pond when a Mr. I-wear-sleeveless-tops-and-drink-protein-shakes type passed me on his bike and made a direct kissy noise at me. Needless to say I was skeeved and annoyed but continued on my ride anyways.
A few minutes later I see the same douche bag riding toward me on the trail once again. And once again, he made the creepy kissy noises at me. I thought “Ok.. seriously douche, this has to be the last time you will do this seeing as how I had absolutely no reaction to you.” Well I should have known that I was wrong. This happened twice more before I got too mad and bothered to stay there. So I road my bicycle home. I was pissed. How dare this f*cking douche bag make me feel uncomfortable – so uncomfortable that I choose to end my leisurely bike ride on a beautiful sunny day because I didn’t want to pass him again and hear him make those disgusting kissy noises at me. I should be able to go somewhere by myself and not fear or be bothered by douche bags like this.
Fuming, I made my way home, enjoying the ride that was luckily douche bag free. Or so I thought. I had reached my street, and was riding down the center of the road about a block from my apartment. I saw a little boy of about seven standing on the sidewalk ahead of me. As I rode past him he screamed “Hey! I lost my teddy bear, can I sleep with you?” Which was then also followed up by “Nice ass.” This boy was seven. Seven years old and already harassing women on the street. I will admit that I chuckled a little to myself, just because it was such a cheesy line. But seriously. I was street harassed by a seven year old. What the f*ck.
You don’t have to be conventionally “pretty” or “thin” to be harassed on the street, Basically the only qualification you need is to have a vagina. My friends and I would talk about it quite frequently. They were also harassed constantly while walking around Buffalo. Seeing as how Buffalo is a fairly urban area, I noticed that I was harassed much more often than, say, my home town. Men would say the most derogatory things to my friends and me. All the time. It was just like they had free reign to make women feel as uncomfortable and skeeved out as possible. And what could we do? Talk back sometimes, yes, but often times that would just fuel the fire and make it even worse. However, I came to realize that expressing your distaste with the way you’re treated is better than flat out ignoring it. Women shouldn’t feel silenced and intimidated on the streets. So ladies, next time some low life treats you like a piece of meat on the street, holla back at him and let him know that it is NOT acceptable.
F*ck street harassment and f*ck any society that accepts it as standard behavior.
BY VICTORIA TRAVERS
In the early hours of Tuesday morning Mayor Bloomberg authorized the mass eviction of peaceful protest Occupy Wall St from Liberty square. Bloomberg told a press conference this morning:
“The final decision was mine and mine alone.”
Law enforcement arrived at Zuccotti Park not long after midnight last night where they handed out letters to protesters declaring that the occupation of the park posed an increasing health risk. It requested that they immediately leave the park so that it could be cleaned and restored. It also stated that the park would be reopened in several hours, when protesters would be permitted to return but without tents, sleeping bags or tarps.
According Occupy Wall St individuals that were a part of the dynamic civil process were beaten, pepper-sprayed and relieved of their personal property.
As a result, members were mobilized and continue to march through the city en masse. So far protesters have marched from Foley Square to City Hall and are continuing their journey. Occupy Wall Street released this statement on their website:
“We are appalled, but not deterred. Liberty Square was dispersed, but its spirit not defeated. Today we are stronger than we were yesterday. Tomorrow we will be stronger still. We are breaking free of the fear that constricts and confines us. We occupy to liberate.
We move forward in the grand tradition of the transformative social movements that have defined American history. We stand on the shoulders of those who have struggled before us, and we pick up where others have left off. We are creating a better society for us all.”
Organizers hope to reenter the park at 9.30 am this morning. There are also rumors of an occupation of the Holland Tunnel.
BY VICTORIA TRAVERS
This man is wanted in connection with an attempted rape of a woman in the East Village in the early hours of Sunday Morning.
According to police the suspect is a white man, aged between 25 and 30, 5’9 and weighing approximately 190lbs.
The attacker was alleged to have followed his 27-year-old victim from the First Avenue Subway Station at 14th Street to her home, where he pushed her to the ground and tried to rape her, bravely she fought back causing him to flee the crime scene.
Luckily, he was caught on CCTV and provided law enforcement with a fortunately clear image of him.
So here’s a massive Hollaappeal to anyone in the New York area that recognizes the man in the picture or who has any other information. Hollaback! and either call the NYPD Crime Stoppers hotline at 1-800-577-8477 (TIPS) or Log on to the Crime Stoppers website. All calls are kept confidential. Text your tip to 274637 (CRIMES), then enter TIP577.
Last month we published an article detailing the heroic actions of Mumbai young men, Keenan Santos and Reuben Fernandez, who were both savagely murdered when they stood up to street Harassment. Just over a week ago Hollaback! Mumbai payed their tributes to these brave souls and a story that was far too close to home:
BY RIYA KARTHA, BLOGGER AT QUAINT MURMUR, FREELANCE WRITER AND LECTURER AT WILSON COLLEGE
If there is anything we are taught from birth it is to avoid confrontation. To look away. We are moulded as a society to ignore, to not take chances with, to leave well enough alone.
Two weeks ago, a casual dinner turned into a nightmare for a group of young Mumbaikars. As they stepped out after dinner, an altercation with a drunk man led to events which nobody could have foreseen. Reuben Fernandez and Keenan Santos died of stab wounds inflicted by one man with an army of thirteen. The latter died soon after the altercation, the former succumbed to his injuries last night.
Well-meaning folks say they could have avoided the altercation. By looking away. By ignoring it. By leaving well enough alone.
I didn’t know either one personally. What I do know is that I am grateful that they existed at all. I have lived in Mumbai for many years now and this is the city I call home. And yet today, in this city, two boys are dead because they took offense to a drunk man making sexual advances towards a girl in their group. Because they didn’t look away.
Too often I have fought my own battles with a niggling feeling that some man would come and get me back for standing up for myself. Too often I have been upset with male friends who ignored a threat, choosing to look away instead. So when people shrug sadly and remark that looking away was a better option, I feel my heart break.
Because there is a fundamental flaw with that logic. If there is anything that we should learn from the deaths of Reuben and Keenan it is that looking away is not the solution. It is that we have lost our voices, our dignity and indeed our conscience by repeatedly looking away each time we are faced with an assault on our individual and collective dignity. Nobody deserves to die for standing up for someone elses dignity. Nobody deserves to die like that. And that we have begun to believe that is the way things are is where the flaw lies.
Any woman who has walked the streets of this city will attest to feeling the humiliation. Because we face these killers every day. They walk among us, talk dirty to us, feel us up, brush against us, pinch us and grope us and every single time we report these, we are asked to keep our mouths shut for fear of swift and painful retribution.
And so by doing so, we have lost our collective voice. We keep our heads down and we shut our eyes and ears and we move on. Oblivious to other people, oblivious to all the injustice around us. And because two boys refused to do so, because they refused to listen to the naysayers, they are dead. What a horrible way to go! Fighting for a society that probably wouldn’t have done the same for them.
So no, I don’t think they should have looked away. I think we should have looked out for them. We should look out for them now. We should stop looking away before Reuben and Keenan seem like a distant memory.
Thank you, Keenan and Reuben. For not looking away.
You are both heroes in my book.
BY ERIN HOLLABACK DES MOINES
Make no mistake, we are at war. We are engaged in battle with gender binaries, expectations of gender presentation, rape culture, and a great many number of things- we are most certainly at war. And in war, there are casualties.
I want to apologize. We at Hollaback! Des Moines have not yet addressed the case of Amber Cole, the 14-year-old Baltimore teen who is depicted in a video performing oral sex on a teen boy. The video went viral, and Amber has faced endless shaming, threats, and harassment. The boys have been arrested, and Cole has decided to press charges against them. This is an important subject to discuss, and I’d like to address it now- better late than never.
The following is an excerpt from the Washington Post’s online blog, written by school psychologist and doctoral student Erin Harper:
“The boys who participated in this act are also children who should not have their human rights violated by dragging their names through the same mud as Amber’s. Instead, they should be taught why their behavior is wrong, why it is “okay” for child pornography to be circulated as entertainment, and why society is so twisted that an internet search for Amber Cole’s name yields an “Official” video when the only thing official about the video is that consumers who “know better” are OFFICIAL FREAKING IDIOTS WHO DESERVE OFFICIAL CHILD PORNOGRAPHY CHARGES AND OFFICIAL TIME IN JAIL.”
Granted, her caps-lock near the end there reveals some heavy bias, but I believe Harper is tackling an issue few people have- why the boys felt it was alright to upload that video onto the Internet. Why we need to educate our children about sex, laws pertaining to sex, and how despite what they may think, there are consequences to one’s actions. So many parents, bloggers, reporters, etc. have been consumed with “choosing a side” that they have not addressed the reason reasons we’re even talking about this case.
Here: (http://jezebel.com/5853116/i-am-amber-coles-father?tag=amber-cole) is a man who at first claims to be Amber’s father, bashes Amber’s mother, and essentially promotes a “boys will be boys” policy before revealing that is is actually Jimi Izrael. Here: (http://www.amptoons.com/blog/2011/10/26/no-you-arent-amber-coles-father/) is a response by Jeff Fecke, relatively constructive, but still hell-bent on choosing a side.
My personal stance on the Amber Cole case is not to automatically jump on the offensive, bash these boys, and applaud Cole for her bravery; it is instead to examine what deep-seeded issues led to the problem, and how we can address them so things like these cease happening. Amber Cole is not the only teen that has been slandered across the Internet, and yet she has been singled out. Why is that, do we think? Is it her race, her age, her geographic, location, what is it about her?
I don’t know the answer to this question. I have my musings, but no definitive, concrete answer. So I’ll pose the question to you all- why is it, do you think, that among all the American teens who have experienced this type of harassment, we have singled out Amber Cole? Why is it so much easier to either blame her or rally around her, than the address the underlying issues of sexism, racism, and rape culture?
BY SARA SUGAR
Bell Bajao is a series of print, radio and television advertisements produced by global human rights organization Breakthrough, as part of a three-year commitment of the Clinton Global Initiative to end violence against women in India. Breakthrough uses popular culture to mobilize individuals to fight back against human injustices and Bell Bajao is spreading awareness of the prevalence of domestic violence, the societal beliefs surrounding it, and specifically what men are able to do to help end it.
According to Trustlaw, a legal news service run by Thomsom Reuters Foundation, India ranks as one of the world’s five most dangerous countries for women. A poll, conducted by Trustlaw, asked 213 gender experts to rank countries on their overall perception of danger and on six specific risks: health threats, sexual violence, non-sexual violence, cultural or religious factors, lack of access to resources and trafficking. Following Afghanistan, Congo and Pakistan, India was polled as the fourth most dangerous country for women, ranking just one place above Somalia. According to Bell Bajao, more than two-thirds of married women between the ages of 15 and 49 have experience domestic violence, with as much as 40 percent of women and men in India believing that it is at least sometimes justifiable for women to be beaten by their husbands, as well as, 35 percent of women experience domestic violence. But Bell Bajao is working to rewrite these statistics.
Through the use of the Internet, social media, celebrity endorsements and training toolkits, Bell Bajao is calling on men and boys to help put an end to violence aimed at women. Through a series of print, radio and television advertisements that encourage men to step in and help stop violence against women, the Bell Bajao campaign has reached over 130 million people across India and went global in 2010.
The campaign stresses the importance and emphasizes the positive effects that men can have towards ending domestic violence. Bell Bajao, which translates as “ring the bell” in Hindi, is encouraging men to do just that. It uses an education-centric campaign that teaches how to safely speak up against domestic violence, men are seeing that by physically ringing the bell or knocking on the front door where they believe domestic violence is taking place, they are able to interrupt domestic violence and very often save a life.
This year, November 25 through December 10, marks the 2011 Center for Women’s Global Leadership’s 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence Campaign. The campaign, which starts on International Day Against Violence Against Women (November 25), and ends on International Human Rights Day (December 10), is used as a mobilizing tool for organizations and individuals to speak up against violence aimed at women and to advocate for its elimination. Contributing this year, Bell Bajao is holding the campaign’s first-ever fiction (re)writing competition, #Rewrite the Ending.
Everyone has wanted to change the ending of a book, play or movie at some point in their lives, and now’s your chance! Here’s the opportunity to re-write the violent, sexist, misogynistic ending of a novel, play, movie, or anything that spurs your creative juices and inflames your feminist consciousness! Visit the Bell Bajao website at www.bellbajao.org for additional information. The Contest ends November 21 so get writing, and with Bell Bajao, help rewrite the lives of women affected by domestic violence every day.
On November 8th we issued a public statement with OccupyWallSt.org that was co-signed by over 50 organizations and 4 Occupy Sites. One of these sites is Occupy Houston, who used our call to action to write a beautiful internal solidarity statement. We are reprinting it here in hope that is of use to Occupy sites around the world as they look to craft movements that are inclusive of the 99%.
Internal Solidarity Statement:
This is a living document. As the Occupy Houston community,
we have the right and responsibility to edit this document on an ongoing basis.
We welcome feedback and new ideas.
We are the 99%, and our task is to unify the 99%. We are a society in which
many are diligently seeking to resolve issues of various forms of oppression.
As the Occupy Houston community, we will consciously and urgently work on
dismantling these systems of oppression even within our movement. We are
working on creating a community where everyone’s rights are respected,
protected, and treated equally. We all have different levels of privilege that
we strive to acknowledge and educate ourselves about in order to ensure that
these privileges are not used to oppress others.
We want to have an inclusive atmosphere of ideas in which we
do not police each other’s thoughts and one in which we reason together without
intimidating words or actions. If a conflict arises it should, if possible, be
settled through democratic discussion or debate; otherwise, it should be
settled with the help of a Conflict Resolution Team, a Support Team, or both,
We are dedicated to reasoning about and resolving issues in our community including:
Discrimination based on Age, on Class, on Culture, on Disability,
on Experiences with the Justice System, on Gender, on Hetero-Normativity, on
Homo-Phobia, on Immigration Status, on Race, on Religious or Non-religious Intolerance,
on Trans-Phobia, and Discrimination based on Weight.
Adopted by Consensus 11-09-11
On Saturday Night Washington DC was pulsing with the heartbeat of 100 awe-inspiring, super-achieving mayors, policymakers, musicians and media stars, as they gathered at the Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium to celebrate The Root 100 awards 2011. Founded in 2008, The Root is a unique online news publication that offers an African-American perspective on breaking news and aims to raise the profile of the black voice in mainstream media.
Donna L. Byrd, publisher of The Root, in her opening remarks referred to the honorees as the “all-stars of our community’ and judging by the line-up she was not wrong. The list included NAACP President Benjamin Todd Jealous and executive producer of Black Girls Rock, Beverly Bond, both of whom made touching and inspirational speeches. Jealous urged listeners remember the responsibility we all have to speak for those who have no voice,” and Bond told the audience:
“As the most influential of our generation, we must be the frontrunners for change.”
So here’s a huge Hollaback! congratulations to such an awesome cohort of change makers and leaders. You inspire us.
Meet the full list of honorees here!
BY VICTORIA TRAVERS
It is truly awesome to see the creative ways in which activists are making themselves heard! Case in question: Governor Scott Walker and the Trojan Horse breakfast protest.
Last Thursday controversial Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker was shouted into silence by protesters posing as suits as he attempted to give a budget speech at the Chicago Union League Club.
Over 70 members of Stand Up! Chicago and Occupy Chicago ambushed the 11/3 Walker breakfast presentation on “Taxpayers, State Budget Reforms and the New Realities” at the Union League Club of Chicago in order to voice their opinions on Governor Walker’s union-busting and job-cut policies.
Protesters settled themselves down to breakfast and sprang into action following the opening remarks, using what they have dubbed as the “human mic.” The statement began:
“ It is an outrage and a shame, that we sit at this fancy breakfast to listen to someone who has wreaked havoc on the lives of working families. Governor Walker has vilified unions and insulted the 99% who depend on living wages and adequate benefits to support their families, while on the payroll of the right wing billionaire Koch brothers.”
After each statement the crowd repeated it, rendering the remainder of the room speechless. Walker encouraged his supporters to clap out the disruption but the protest continued, forcing the rest of the room to listen.
Check out the video for yourself and be inspired to make your voice heard and be a change maker!
BY VICTORIA TRAVERS
Inspirational and Badass Shyane DeJesus
Brave anthropology student, Shyane DeJesus, hit headlines last week when she fought back against 39-year-old, subway sex pest, Froylan Andrade. DeJesus was groped by Andrade on the 6 platform at Union Square at 9.30 am on October 23. In utter disgust, she punched him with her left hand. Andrade fled onto the train and sat down as if nothing had happened. However, DeJesus was not about to let him get away with this, she followed him and kicked him in the face, she then took his picture as fellow passengers ignored her plight.
And the wonderful thing is that her efforts were not in vain! Once she had the precious picture she got to her office and called the police. According to the NY Post the NYPD were tipped off by Andrade’s brother who recognized the photo and gave them his address. Andrade was arrested and positively identified by courageous DeJesus.
Dejesus’ message to the world is:
“Don’t let them scare you: they are cowards!”
Hopefully this wonderful young lady will give others the courage to find their own voice and say NO to street harassment!