I left my apartment at about 5:50pm to walk my dog, and it was already pretty dark. Since she had been inside all day, I decided we could walk around to Long Meadow so she could get some exercise. As we started walking that way, a man on a bicycle rode past us from behind. When I turned because I heard him coming from behind me, he smiled and waved a bit, in what seemed like a “Sorry, wasn’t trying to startle you” kind of gesture. Okay, that’s fine. So we kept walking. As we walked a little bit, I noticed this same guy was now standing by the lake, playing with his phone, bike on the ground next to him. Hmm. We kept walking. He rode past us again. I ignored him this time, but he did make some kind of gesture. Then again, we passed him, this time sitting on a bench, playing with his phone. He smiled and waved a little as we passed. This pattern continued for about 20 minutes or so, 2 or 3 more times. He’d ride past, then wait for us to pass him. I was getting annoyed, so I just stopped for a while. He stopped, too, a short way ahead of us. So I started walking back in the opposite direction, but also toward a park exit. Of course, he followed. I walked outside the park, and as I did, warned a couple women that a man had been following me, and asked them to be careful. I decided to linger outside the park to see if he would try to follow them. He didn’t. He just parked his bike next to some exercise bars near the Vanderbilt St. exit, and stared at me while I called the police. He stayed there the entire time I was on the phone, alternating between pretending to “exercise,” playing on his phone, and staring at me. Of course, when the police arrived, he left.
Groping and verbal harassment to women is, unfortunately, very common in my country, México. I’m 28 years old now, and I was 13 when for the first time in my life a man showed me his genitals in the bus. Back then I couldn’t do anything but start crying. Since that day on, that has happened to me several times, I’ve been groped on the street and in the bus, and not to tell the verbal harassment, that’s “the usual thing” when you walk on the street. Nowadays, I don’t start crying, I face them, push them or yell to them. Nevertheless, the feeling is always the same: anger and frustration. I try to participate in active ways to stop these things from happening in my country, it is very hard though, when most of the people think: “that’s bad but it’s normal”. I hope that movements like this can help to stop harassment against women.
BY OLINDA HASSAN
“Eve teasing”, or sexual harassment is problematic in Bangladesh, especially when we want to talk openly about the aggression South Asian women face day to day on the streets. The phrase has a biblical link- it refers to Eve, the tempting, beautiful woman who inevitably attracts attention from men. So, while “eve teasing” in South Asia refers to the day to day sexual harassment that women face, whether it’s an unwanted touch from a passerby or a cat call from the boys in the corner, the phrase itself blames women, she is tempting, men can’t help it.
Bangladesh’s high courts recently stated that the term “eve teasing” downplays the serious nature of the harassment that women in the country face in their day to day movement. I have seen and experienced my share of eve teasing. I have watched a store clerk eye a girl half his age’s chest and ask her to bring her assets to the store as her mother walked right beside her. This is not something to be ignored, neither should we blame the girl, who could not have been more than 13 years old. The high courts have made this clear, let’s not call this “eve teasing”, let’s use the correct term, sexual harassment.
So how important are words when we talk about these kinds of crimes? When I interviewed several male students at Dhaka University for an opinion-project last year, I was surprised to hear a few of them say that girls are asking for it, even at a time when sexual harassment has been making headlines in Bangladeshi media. Alam, a 20-year old History student said, “What am I supposed to do, when the girl is wearing such a tightly fitted kameez [the traditional dress worn in Bangladesh]? She is at a University, she should be dressing appropriately. I can’t help but look and tell my friends, and try to get her attention when I am bored.” He went on to tell me how girls know that they are going to get attention, so they should protect themselves by dressing accordingly, rather than “complaining” about getting harassed.
In an increasingly globalized world, I particularly enjoy watching girls in Bangladesh dress the way they want and not follow social norms in their clothing. I think that fashion holds a unique story telling power. So why should women have to dress in a way that makes them less vulnerable? Is she taking on the role of Eve when she wears clothes that could, potentially, tempt men? Or is she simply exerting her independence and her right to be who she wants to be on the streets?
Women don’t get harassed on the streets just because of what they wear in Dhaka. Men in Dhaka have basically been allowed to harass women because they were never caught and punished, until now that specific laws have made it a crime. Dhaka’s streets, once dominated by men, are beginning to change as more women are taking on professional roles. Women are increasingly getting educated at one of the highest rates for a developing country. Bangladesh has several female political heads, including its Prime Minister. It is one of the most liberal Muslim-dominated countries in the world. Nevertheless, a patriarchal culture still exists.
Referring back to the notion of words, how important is it to make sure that we use the right words when we talk about violence against women? I followed up with Alam and asked what he thought about sexual harassment against his female peers that take place regularly in Dhaka University. Alam hesitated and said that what his friends did, the cat calling, and sometimes following women was not sexual, or harassment. Then, I asked what he thought about “eve teasing”, to which he responded that it was all innocent and fun.
Calling sexual harassment “eve teasing” makes the aggravation seem harmless and amusing against victims who are purposefully tempting. How do you make a society start saying “sexual harassment” where the culture never really talks about sex and sexual behavior openly? And an even bigger question is, how do you convince a society that victims are not purposefully tempting perpetrators, that men don’t harass women because they are asking for it? Although it may seem like a mountain to climb, there is an answer – education as education fosters change. Both men and women need to be educated about exactly what constitutes sexual harassment, the impact of it, what is acceptable and what is not, only then can we move forward.
BY VICTORIA TRAVERS
Yesterday, on the 13th International Transgender Day of Remembrance, we spared a quiet moment to not only mourn the loss of murdered transgender individuals but to raise awareness of the daily dangers and struggles faced by transgender people all over the world. This annual event began 13 years ago following the brutal stabbing and still unsolved murder of vivacious Rita Hester.
The Huffington Post published a wonderful article entitled “Transgender day of Remembrance: 20 Trans Pioneers” celebrating 20 inspirational and trailblazing transgender men and women that have fought their way into the public domain to raise awareness and give the transgender community a voice.
The article includes a slide show of 20 awe-inspiring men and women including college basketball player Kye Allums, “America’s Next Top Model” contestant Isis, actress Candis Cayne, Marci Bowers M.D and “DWTS” Chaz Bono. Their unique stories are testament to the fact that change is possible when you have a voice and you use it.
Here’s two examples to get you started!
The amazing Kye Allums, the first transgender student basketball player.
Gender reassignment surgeon extraordinaire Marci Bowers M.D.
BY VICTORIA TRAVERS
According to the GLAAD website at least one transgender person is murdered and several more assaulted every month, with 55% of transgender youth having reported being physically attacked. It is also even more saddening to learn that over 50% of transgender and gender non-conforming individuals have attempted suicide.
So HollaPeople, in light of these terrible statistics you need to listen up because I am about to hit you with some very important knowledge. After reading a Huffington Post article entitled “Transgender or Transgendered” and having had my own quiet moment on Sunday for Transgender day of Remembrance, I came to realize the impact of the words we use to talk about lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people and issues. With the help of the GLAAD website I have been enlightened as to how the wrong words can alienate and hurt and how the right words can educate and create inclusiveness.
Although it may seem like only a slight difference between “trangendered” and “transgender” the terms are a world apart in their connotations.
Firstly, the correct term is “transgender” used as an adjective. For example, you can refer to an individual as a “transgender person” or a “transgender advocate,” vocabulary to avoid would be “transgendered” as this implies a condition. It is important that the word “transgender” is always used as an adjective and not a noun, so do not call anyone “a transgender” or refer transgender people as a whole as “transgenders.” Also absolutely, always do not use tranny, trannie, she-male, he-she, it or shim, these are not cool and very offensive!
GLAAD has a wonderfully enlightening website with lots of transgender resources to help make our world more inclusive and accepting.
BY VICTORIA TRAVERS
Have a good look at this dumb-ass, waste of skin caught on CCTV having groped a woman as she was boarding the M train at Broadway-Lafayette on the morning of November 10.
The perpetrator is said to be a 35-year-old man with a large build, carrying an iPad and wearing a backpack. After the assault, he fled the scene, but was not clever enough to avoid the subway security camera.
So look closely at the picture and help the police apprehend this degenerate so we can teach him to respect others and keep his grubby paws to himself. If you recognize this man or have any other information please call the NYPD Crime Stoppers Hotline at 800-577-TIPS or log onto the Crime Stoppers Website www.nypdcrimestoppers.com or text 274637(CRIMES) then enter TIP577.
Occupy Denver has now joined numerous other organizations standing in unity with Hollaback! and those working on the ground at Occupy to allow everyone to feel safe and confident in occupied spaces.
The news comes following numerous complaints across the U.S about harassment at the Occupy movements. In Occupy Denver alone there have been reports of harassment and sexual assault, including the sexual assault of a 14-year-old runaway girl, who remains in hospital.
For women and LGBTQ people to participate equally in the Occupy movement, we must be safe in occupied spaces. We know that harassment and assault happens everywhere — and that the Occupy movement is no more immune to it than our nation’s parks and parking lots — but we also know that a movement where women and LGBTQ individuals are not safe is not a movement that serves the interests of the 99%.
In solidarity with those who are already working on the ground to make safer spaces, we call on all General Assemblies of the Occupy movement to adopt anti-harassment and anti-assault as core principles of solidarity. To realize these principles within the movement, we call on General Assemblies in every city to empower women and LGBTQ occupiers with the time, space, and resources necessary to ensure that every occupied space is a safe space.
If your organization supports this call for safer spaces, please email [email protected] or [email protected] to be added to the list of co-signers. If you know other groups that have not yet joined this call to action, please contact them and ask them to stand with us! Let’s work together to make a safer world for everyone!
I was stopped by a fundraiser for Planned Parenthood, of all things, and he told me that he had watched me walk up the street and then walk out of Target and that I was beautiful. I said thank you, but I’m not interested. I know he meant well, but that kind of approach is not appropriate or appreciated.
BY VICTORIA TRAVERS
Hollallujah for a new bill that will protect Massachusetts Transgender people from prejudice and hate crimes! The state Senate followed the House on Wednesday morning in passing a transgender civil rights bill. Governor Deval Patrick is set to sign the bill, but when exactly is not yet certain. This would make Massachusetts the 16th state to treat transgender people as a protected class. May the domino effect continue!
According to co-sponsor of the bill and state Representative Carl Sciortino Jr. “Transgender people individuals in Massachusetts face unacceptably high levels of violence and discrimination in their daily lives… This bill will extend our statutory rights and hate crimes protections to the transgender community.”
In a study conducted by the Williams Institute in April 2011, approximately 33,000 people in Massachusetts identify themselves as transgender. And according to a National Center for Transgender Equality and the National Gay and Lesbian Taskforce 2009 survey 97 percent of transgender individuals reported that they were harassed or mistreated at work, with 47 percent of people complaining that they had been either denied a job or sacked for identifying as transgender.
This awesome news comes amidst Transgender Awareness Week, which will come to a close on November 20th with Transgender Day of Remembrance, a memorial to victims of anti-transgender hatred or prejudice.
On December 5th our very own Hollaback! Executive Director, Emily May will join the Chair of the National Organization for Women Young Feminist Task Force, Jerin Afria; Coordinator of Community Violence Prevention at the Center for Anti-Violence Education, Susan Moesker; and New York City Council member Manhattan District 5, Jessica Lappin, to discuss and advise on how to combat gender violence on New York’s subways and public spaces.
This exclusive event will begin at 7pm on Monday December 5 at Hunter College, Lexington Avenue at 68th.
Talking Back is sponsored by Hunter Women’s Rights Coalition; Manhattan Young Democrats Transportation and Women’s Issues Committee; New Yorkers for Safe Transit; Hollaback!; and the National Organization for Women.
Be a change-maker, Hollaback! and join the conversation!