BY EMILY MAY
When I became ED of Hollaback! last year I was 29 and was terrified. Everyone told me it was impossible to launch a nonprofit in a recession, especially one with a atypical model addressing a rarely-discussed issue. I knew no one with big money (our biggest donor to date I met in line for the bathroom), and went for 8 months with no salary living off of my nonprofit-work’s savings to bring it to life. Today Hollaback! is alive and well thanks to sweat, tears, and kickass volunteers, and I want to show other folks (especially those uncomfortable with traditional leadership models because they’ve traditionally been used to oppress them) that it’s not only possible, it’s critical that we step up if we are going to create a world that we want to live in. And what better way to do this than through a webseries?
Enter Up and UP. In the words of founder Kristen Dolle,
“Up and UP is a webseries about the revolution that’s taking place in New York City, where extraordinary, young women are building businesses and leading movements to shape a better world. These girls bring a new generation of icons to the mix of Gloria’s, Arianna’s and Hillary’s. I believe these girls have the power to create a new culture of cool around awesome women, women who are using their intelligence to both generate revenue and improve the state of the world. This content is desperately needed in a male- dominated media landscape and serves as an excellent vehicle for these young women to get their messages out to the broadest audience.”
I met Kristen Dolle, the creator of Up and UP, last year and immediately loved her compelling vision. We need to present people with alternative views of leadership — and we need to start to undo some of the media’s less-than-compelling representations of women. I think this project accomplishes both. But it won’t accomplish either unless it gets funded.
Car followed me from the local IGA and slowly drove behind me calling me things like easy, tease, etc etc and making comments on my appearance. When I didn’t respond they sped up and got louder, screaming I was a frigid and that all frigids get raped cause they deserve it. The car was a red toyota.
Today was an ordinary day as most are. I got home early because I didn’t have rehearsal for the play I’m in at my high school or class at the local community college. As a young woman, I want to go places in my life and I’m doing everything I can to do so. This evening, however, that didn’t matter to a group of teenage boys. To them, I wasn’t a hardworking young woman who’s studying, getting some of her college credits out of the way even though she’s only a junior in high school, and filling the rest of the time with extra curriculars in the theatre department. To them, I was just a hot chick.
I was walking my neighbor’s dog for them and it was in the late evening. It was beginning to get dark but I didn’t mind because it was at least a little bit cooler than Florida is during the day. Because I would be jogging and it was at least 80 degrees outside, I opted to wear shorts and a tank top, nothing unheard of in the Sunshine State. As the dog Bella and I made our way through the neighborhood, a group of teenage boys passed us on the opposite side of the street. Since it was dark and I didn’t have my glasses on, I couldn’t recognize their faces but I knew that they went to my school. From across the street they tried to make conversation with me. Or at least, they spoke to me. No, not even that. They spoke at me.
They shouted out greetings, while talking to each other in between said greetings. They discussed how attractive I was by their standards when I was a mere ten feet away from them. I chose to ignore them, though I had a million of my own comments racing through my brain. Once I was farther away, they let up.
Unfortunately, this wasn’t the end of it for me because soon I had to turn around to go back where I came from. This time they were on the same side of the road as I was and Bella chose to go far slower than I wanted her to. I simply wanted to jog past and not deal with any more of them while Bella wanted to take her sweet time. I encouraged her to speed up by saying, “Bella! Bella, come on girl! Let’s go!” Picking up on her name, the boys called her too. When she didn’t respond, just as I hadn’t, they went back to trying on me. I kept ignoring their comments until finally I just didn’t. I thought about all the times in the past I’ve regretted holding back what I wanted to say. I thought about the conversation I just had the other day with a friend of mine of how much I hate being harassed by men on the street and how it makes me feel dirty and inferior. I thought of Hollaback. So when the next of the boys spoke, asking me what grade I was in, I replied with undeniable snark in my voice, “Not yours!” and jogged away.
Now sure, it wasn’t the most clever comment in the world. It wasn’t the toughest either. It wasn’t revolutionary or life changing, or anything. But it made me feel good. It felt good knowing that I stood up to those boys and put them in their place. It felt good to let them know that I meant business and I wasn’t going to put up with their harassment. It felt good to be able to walk away with no regrets other than not saying something cooler.
For the rest of the walk I felt great and I told my step mom about it immediately when I got home, then popped right on here at Hollback to share my story with other girls. For the first time, at sixteen years old, I stood up to the boys who wanted to show their superiority over me and proved that hey, I might be a girl, and a hot one at that, but I won’t let anyone try to make me feel like that’s all I am.
I was at Barnes & Noble looking for a book when I noticed a man standing unusually close to me. I figured he was also just looking for a book, but it made me so uncomfortable I decided to give up my search and look for something else. I went a couple aisles down and began browsing, but he followed me and I started feeling nervous. I moved again to the teen section figuring there’d be no reason for him to want something from it, but after a few minutes I saw him staring at me from the end of the shelf. I got so freaked out that I went to the front of the store at the cafe to sit, and he proceeded to follow me there and sit staring at me for my entire stay. This was my first encounter with anything like this and it made me feel so degraded and helpless. I’ve never felt that powerless before.
As the month of September draws to a close, many young students are already starting to focus on what their mid-term projects will be, coming to terms with that mystery meat served up in the cafeteria, and getting into the rhythm of heavy amounts of school work after a summer of freedom. This is the life of a typical middle-schooler, and it doesn’t seem to have changed that much over the last twenty years. But one thing has ~ the prevalence and viciousness of girls getting bullied by other girls. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not a new phenomenon by any means, it’s just that it seems to be taking a particularly virulent form now. Dangerous, even, but not just physically. All of us probably remember either seeing or even being a party to bullying, even before we reached the relative sanity of high school or college, but there is a not-so-subtle difference. Young female students seem to be showing more aggressiveness toward each other, and now with the flourishing of social media, the ways that they can inflict harm have become more cruel, more public, than ever before.
Typically, when we think of bullying, the image of some poor kid being pushed around on the playground comes to mind, but girls as a cohort tend to bully each other in less physical ways, especially as they get older. Young girls are emerging into adulthood not only by growing in mental and physical maturity, but also by grappling with the all-important issues of body image, and it’s close cousin, self-esteem. They are more vulnerable and hence, susceptible, to all the messages that we and their peers are sending them about themselves every day. So it makes it incredibly easy for an insecure girl to hurt another girl’s feelings, to crush her already fragile self-confidence, especially when it comes to sexuality.
The teen world in many ways tries to mirror the gravitas of the adult world, and that can translate into damaging rumors being accepted as fact. Assaults on reputation, or character assassination, is one weapon which some girls may use, especially out of jealousy. Other common methods are ostracism and harassment, in the form of name-calling. These can work particularly well when used as a group, to gang up on their target. Although the threat to a girl of being bullied and harassed by a fellow male student is very real, most bullying of girls is perpetrated by other girls. Facebook-posted, texted, yelled, and whispered epithets like ‘slut,’ ‘bitch,’ and ‘whore’ can have long lasting effects on the psyche and future ability to form healthy relationships. And sadly, perhaps because many adults have either been subjected to this treatment, or they were perpetrators themselves, not enough has been done about it. Next week, we’ll take a look a some of the ways a girl can effectively fight back, from Facebook to in-person encounters, so that she can regain her power as an emerging woman.
I was walking to an interview and while stopped at a light a construction worker said, “good morning. I love you.” NOT the way I want to start my day. I used my Hollaback app and submitted a photo.
I was waiting to cross the road on the way to meet friends, and a group of guys of about 18 crossed at the same time as I did. When a van drove in between us, they reached out at it jokily, shouting ‘touched it!’ When they walked past me, one of them reached out to grab my ass, and I jumped out the way. I heard another one of them say, ‘wouldn’t touch that-jail-bait.’ I was 14 at the time, this was a few months ago, and since then I’ve been harassed a few more times, but I’m angry that they thought it was ok to do that, especially to someone a lot younger than them. I read about this website in a magazine-thanks for giving me the opportunity to share this, Hollaback!
I was riding home on my bike, with my boyfriend. In the space of 500m, I had 3 cars filled with young men holla at me from their windows. The first was a series of wolf whistles, the second just hollering and screaming, and the third, well the third got ugly.
I’d like to point out, that whilst it should make NO difference, I was not wearing anything particularly attention grabbing. Just a pair of pink denim shorts and a green hoody. My boyfriend, who was riding a few meters behind me, witness all of these verbal encounters.
The third car, unrelated to the first 2, pulled up at an intersection, and a boy in the back seat was calling out to two other men on the street. As I rode by, he started shouting at me ‘THAT GIRLS GOT A BIGGER DICK THAN YOU DO’. Enraged by the previous cars, I simply called back and said ‘ EXCUSE ME?’. The boy proceeded to call me various names, before my boyfriend stepped in, ran across the road, up to the guy’s window, and stomped his foot into the car’s rear door.
I was obviously surprised, and violence is not something I usually condone, but I have to say I felt pride swell up in me seeing my boyfriend defend me like that. It didn’t take long however before a car full of boys, 3 of them, jumped out and started laying into my boyfriend on the side of the intersection. The three-against-one onslaught went on for about 15 minutes, all the time my boyfriend refusing to throw a punch, instead blocking and defending himself from the other boys. The whole ordeal didn’t come to an end until the police arrived, with the boys wanting to press charges for damages to the car.
I told the police, in no uncertain terms that what I’d been subjected to was sexual harassment, and whilst my boyfriend’s actions may have been extreme, they weren’t unprovoked. And that I was going to press charges for both harassment and assault.
There is a creeper that lives across the street from me. He routinely watches my comings and goings, and hollers at me whenever he sees me entering or leaving my car or home. He calls me by pet names, despite my telling him I don’t appreciate this. Last week, he had the gall to ring my doorbell to ask for my number. I told him no, and said this was unacceptable. He said, “But you told me to stop approaching you at night on your way in the door, so I thought this would be better. Would you rather I just holler at you and cross the street late at night to talk to you?” Do I really have to accept either of these options? No means No. I am tempted to send all my burly male friends over to his place to knock on his door and ask for his digits.
Was out for a run in the neighborhood where I grew up while visiting for a family reunion. A kid on a bicycle rode past me a couple of times. I noted that he was probably around 15 and had just gotten out of school that afternoon. The third pass he made from behind me, reached out and did what I now term the “ass slap/grab”. I had my ipod shuffle on so I did not hear him ride up from behind. It startled me and I heard myself scream, he then sped off super fast. I gathered from that, that he knew he was doing something he shouldn’t have. Later on that evening my step-mother and her daughter saw him again cycling around the area. My step-mom said she thought he was much older than what I had described. She saw him up closer than I did, they were in a car. My family was upset and sorry that something like this could have happened. I watched for him the rest of the weekend and chose to run elsewhere. I was furious. This is assault and no one deserves to be touched/slapped/hit/grabbed by a person unknown to them. I felt like I could feel the place on my buttocks for hours after it happened. It scared me. Although I was not hurt I did feel violated to some degree. I wish I had reported the incident. Thanks for letting me vent!!! Great website!!!