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So when I was thirteen years old I lived in a terraced house set back from the road where my bus ran to my high school. At this time, they were building a small housing estate at the end of the road and I had to walk past the construction workers to go pretty much anywhere. The construction went on for forever; I’m pretty sure that they were building until I was about fifteen.
Now construction workers, like white van men, have a general reputation for cat calls and leering, and I developed pretty early, meaning that in the summer, when I walked past them in a tank top and a pair of shorts, a small chorus of wolf whistles and cat calling erupted from the site. Oh shit, I thought, is this going to happen all the time?
It happened more than once, which was bad enough. What was even worse is that they knew I was underage. Maybe they didn’t know exactly how young I was, but I’d walked past in my school uniform, they didn’t have an excuse. I told my mother about it eventually and she stormed down to give the foreman a piece of her mind, to which they responded like a bunch of naughty schoolboys: “Oh no miss, it couldn’t have been us, we’ve been down the other end all week.”
Bollocks, said my mother, you’ve been harassing my thirteen year-old daughter and I won’t stand for it.
The cat-calls stopped after that. I don’t know if it was the discovery that I wasn’t as old as I looked or the fact that my mother is a fierce bitch, but thankfully, it stopped.
Submitted by Milena
I had only recently moved to London from Nova Scotia, Canada, and had even more recently moved out of my cousin’s house in South London and into my own flat in North London. I spent the first few days exploring the area between Turnpike Lane and Seven Sisters stations, as you do in any new area I guess, looking at the shops and grocery stores, etc.
After being in the area for maybe two weeks tops, I was walking to Turnpike Lane station when a guy stepped out of a door stoop by one of the shops on West Green Road and blocked my way. I paused because he was in my way, and he tried to start a conversation about my Remembrance Day poppy. I tried to be polite and move along as I was late, but he was insistent that I *had* to have a conversation with him, and refused to stop blocking my path. Things quickly turned creepy. “I’ve seen you around,” he said, “I know you live in this area. You definitely live nearby. Give me your number, we’ll go clubbing. You’re pretty, you have to.” I had never seen this guy before in my life, and was severely creeped out by the fact that he had obviously been watching me, trying to figure out my routine. I pretended that I didn’t have a cell phone, but he made me write down his number before he’d stop blocking my path and let me continue on my way. No touching, and no verbal abuse, but still terrifying because of his insistence that I owed him something [my number, my time] since he had spent so much time watching me. I pretty much exclusively use Seven Sisters station now.
Submitted by Jade
My friend’s nickname for me is “mama”, because a man called me that on the street once when we were walking together. “Hey mama, how you doing? You’re looking good…”
It’s funny and sweet when she calls me that, but I’ll always remember the origin of the nickname: unsolicited harassment on the street.
Submitted by Ileanna
We are seeking a hard-working, ambitious, and dynamic Program Associate Intern to join our team. Hollaback! is an international movement to end street harassment using digital and mobile technology. Responsibilities include:
1. Researching and drafting our “State of the Streets” report, that will profile progress on street harassment in the areas that we serve;
2. Assist our expansion team in coordinating, training, and launching our second class of Hollaback sites internationally;
3. Research and identify potential individuals donors and foundations; and
4. Other administrative duties as needed.
Interested candidates must have a long-term interest in making the world a better place and a dedication to not just fighting the good fight, but to making genuine impact. The successful candidate will be detail-oriented, a consummate overachiever, able to think strategically, and a good writer.
We currently are accepting applications from students for spring 2011. The estimated time commitment is 15-20 hours per week, and we can offer a $100/month stipend to cover travel. This position takes place at our office, 6 Barclay Place, 6th floor (in the same office as Women’s eNews). You will be supervised directly by Emily May, executive director.
If you are interested, please send a resume, a cover letter, and a writing sample to holla (at) ihollaback.org before Feb. 15th.
I was getting into my car this morning to drive to work and, while throwing my bag into the backseat, I dropped my keys on the ground. There was a traffic debacle waiting in the wings, as a car pulled up behind me to make room for a school bus that was coming in the opposite direction (facing my vehicle). As I squatted down to pick up my keys, someone on the bus yelled “nice ass” out of an open window. I did not see the face of the student, but the sound of the voice was congruent with that of an elementary school student … If I had to venture a guess, I would have placed the student in 4th or 5th grade. Not only did I feel harassed and discounted, but I felt disheartened on a deep level. I have reason to believe that this was a child saying this … trying to impress friends or laxly emulating behavior(s) he has synthesized from any number of people, places, and things. Any way you slice it, it felt terrible for a multitude of reasons.
Submitted by Janet
I was walking in a quiet street when I noticed someone was walking behind me. At first I didn’t pay much notice, but I noticed that when I upped my speed, the person behind me started walking faster as well, and was getting closer to me. Then all of a sudden, I feel a pull on my coat, and in one quick movement this guy just pulls up my skirt and exposes me right in the street. I turned back, stunned, and yelled ‘Jerk!’ while he quickly ran away. I was wearing heels, so it was no use running after him. It was infuriating.
Submitted by Elke
“Hey sexy lady! Check THIS out…”
[Michael Jackson-esque groin thrust in my direction]
‘Ohh please’ I think ‘please wait while I hurry over and give you my phone number, you prehistoric, knuckle-dragging moron’
You may assume that the slimy guy leering at you in the street or beeping his car horn is simply a victim of tragic social ineptitude, but this situation is more sinister. Street harassment ranges from whistles, shouting, and dodgy trouser pocket movements to full blown groping and physical attacks. Where does ‘harmless fun’ end and ‘serious assault’ begin? And exactly how much fun is it for the women who enjoy this uninvited attention?
A victim-blaming culture tends to emerge when we talk about harassment. How many times have you heard someone ask what the woman was wearing when considering a case of sexual violence? I don’t care if she was strutting around naked wearing a pair of stiletto heels, nothing gives one human being the right to attack and violate the personal space (physical or psychological) of another. OK, naked strutting on a Friday night might explain why you get harassed in the UK, but it doesn’t condone it. And what about in Egypt? By this logic we support those who argue that not wearing a veil legitimises physical attacks on women. And – FYI anyone gearing up to have this debate in a pub – the kind of people who dish out the ‘oh but she was in a mini skirt so it’s her own fault she got raped’ argument are often the kind who audibly balk at the idea of Islamic dress codes. The social standards may change, but the argument stays the same – if women don’t wear whatever I think is ‘respectable’, then I have the right to humiliate, intimidate and even hurt them.
This is a story we are all familiar with, and it sucks. Running up against the same outdated responses that demean their significance and often blame the victim, women rarely report these incidents…Until now.
The increasing use of mobile technology and access to the internet has given rise to an interesting phenomenon – people are using cell phones to report harassment and serious sexual attacks in order to alert others, shame perpetrators and, just to be heard, and to have a voice. I don’t yell back if some meat-head shouts obscenities at the bus stop, and it makes me feel small. But reporting it on sites like ihollaback.org gives me a voice again.
In Egypt, blog.harassmap.org uses open source data to create a map of sexual harassment incidents that are experienced by 83% of Egyptian and 98% of foreign women. Users send a text message to central computers and receive resources on how to file a police report, referrals to counselling and more via SMS. Their report is added to data that puts pressure on local authorities to deal with trouble hot spots, and to address a problem that all too often is denied or ignored.
Mobile technology is also being used in Haiti to report gender-based violence, people trafficking and attacks in a country where legal infrastructure is often non-existent. Again, women receive support in the form of referrals, advice, and information, but importantly, their voice is heard and their experience recorded.
Gender-based violence, which is on the rise in the UK (UK Home Office 2011) relies on all of us ignoring and accepting these incidents. Shrugging off the remarks of an obnoxious drunk in a bar might seem OK at the time, but it normalises behaviour that leads to a climate of fear, silence and oppression. Using mobile technology, women can report in safety and confidence, finding help but also finding their voice.
Hollaback welcomes the New Year with strength. We continue to grow and we are rapidly covering the globe. We are experiencing exciting times.
As a result of its international expansion, Hollaback has decided it is time to pass the torch at the local level (NYC) and give 10 youth (ages 18-22) the opportunity to become the leaders of HollabackNYC. We seek a diverse group of youth from the different neighborhoods of NYC, who are committed to making social change. Youth who are eager to learn and are able to invest at least 10 hours a week to this process. The new leadership of HollabackNYC will receive training in social media, community organizing, policy/advocacy, and marketing. They will also become part of an international movement that will broaden their networks and aid their development as agents of social change.
We are excited to be in this recruitment process and to move forward in solidifying youth leadership to continue to build the movement against street harassment. Help us create this pool of youth leaders and spread the news. Our recruitment flyer and our short application are available here for download: Info flyer and iHollabackApplication. If you need more information contact Claudia De la Cruz at [email protected].
Spread the word… HollabackNYC is on the move!
A few years ago when I was walking to the gym when a group of men sitting outside an apartment building started talking to me. It started out innocently enough with “How are you?” “Have a nice day,” etc. Then one of them got up and followed me and trying to talk to me even though I made it clear I was not interested. He said we should go out and proceeded to grab my ass. I told him not to touch me and jumped away. He replied “But I like touching.” Even when clearly being spurned he kept following me, asking for my number. He didn’t leave me alone until I gave him a phone number…that I made up. What a jerkface.
Submitted by Laura
HOLLABAACK!! I have been repeatedly harassed by a gross guy who works at the public library near my house. He works as “security” but stands around and leers at women and hits on them all day. He would always talk to me in an invasive, macho way, with the tone of voice of “hey, baby” as if he was at a bar and not working as security. I was always cold to him and showed him my disgust. I observed him doing this to other women also. I complained to the library manager and she said other women had complained about him, and that they would address it with him. She told me I should speak to him directly but I didn’t want to make an issue of it at the time. He is a predator and predators are about power and control. At the time a girl I knew had been raped by her bf and we plastered anti rape signs around the town and put anti sexual harassment signs all over the library. It’s not as direct but still empowering as a way to use your voice.
He continued to harass me and nothing changed. A year ago I was on the street downtown with friends and he came up and asked for a hug. I was with other people and laughing/relaxed and he caught me off guard, although my face showed disgust he he gave me a hug which I completely regretted – I felt slimed. Awhile ago walking home in the dark up the street he made a beeline towards me, diagonally from the library, and again made a slimey comment. I gave him a look of extreme disgust and walked away.
I recently had a private meeting with him and the library manager in which I told him his behavior was unacceptable, inappropriate, and must STOP or I would press charges. I told him he disgusted me. He had a typical b.s. response saying he was just being friendly and he didn’t know what I was talking about, I told him he knows EXACTLY what I am talking about; I held him accountable. A short time after the meeting, the library manager told me she had told him directly, that’s it, no more talking to women at all. I thought it would be resolved but his creepy and predatory behavior towards me continued. Recently he was reading his book from across the library, and I was tutoring students at a table, he came to read his book right behind the bookshelf next to me, to be leering at me and invade my space, when he could have chosen to go anywhere in the library and he knows I hate him and he disgusts me, esp. after the meeting. I was busy with students and didn’t speak up at the time. He has continued to speak to me when he was told not to.
The other day I decided to confront him and am glad I did. I got fed up and who cares if I was a little aggressive, he needs to know what it’s like to have his space invaded. I went up to him, said, “I need to speak with you.” He was about to make a call on his cell and he said “wait”, I said, “no, now”, I closed his cell phone cover, got up close in his space (with a sharp pencil on hand if needed) and went off on him, told him I had told him to stay out of my space and to not talk to me, he disrespected that, and he needs to learn respect and as soon as it happens again I’ll call the cops. He started swearing and then ran off. It felt good to be forceful and up in his face. God what a SCUMBAG he is.
The librarian clerk there saw the interaction and protected the predator saying it’s his job to walk around the library, how dare I talk to him like that? (typical bs). I was direct with her as well and she said I couldn’t talk to her like that, she freaked out and was very hostile. I let her know that he acts like it’s his job to harass women, and that this town is full of typical liberal passivity b.s. and that other women have complained. It was frustrating to be attacked by this stupid librarian, but who cares, the main thing is I used my voice and now he knows I will kick his ass and definitely call the cops if it happens again. I have taken my power back. Predators are the scum of the earth. I documented everything on paper on writing and will do everything in my power to get him fired. Thanks for letting me vent and share this story, it’s great to know there are ass kicking chicks out there. The stupid librarian can kiss my ass! It’s ok for women to assert themselves, and it doesn’t matter how they do it, as long as they speak up.
HOOLLLLLLLAAA BACK!!!!!!! Kick ass and speak up, use your voice!