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“You’re beautiful” he said, running towards me from his concrete truck on my block. Once he stopped running and I stopped worrying that it was going to escalate, I thought to myself: “hell yes I am!” but I’m also smart, loving, and passionate. Why don’t people yell those things at me?
Oh right, I forgot.
All the world is a stage. Unless you’re a woman, in which case it’s a pageant.
Well, Hollaback, here is my story.
I was inside my car, so not sure if this qualifies as street harassment, but it was incredibly scary and some of it was sexual, so I thought I would share. I don’t have pictures because I was driving and wanted to get where it was safe. At that point I whipped out my phone and called 911. Supposedly they sent someone there to deal with the mob.
I was driving home from a late night roller derby practice and went through a student-heavy area of town to get home. This isn’t my normal route, but of course after roller skating for two hours I needed ice cream. So I ended up on Green Street. I forgot about the Stanley Cup since I’m not a hockey fan, but started noticing throngs of people in hockey jerseys and realized what was going on.
Then I got to a mob of at least fifty people, almost entirely men, cheering on one man as he hoisted a young woman over his shoulder and ran her across the street. I couldn’t tell if it was consensual and they were joking around; it seemed consensual but I know that women are good at looking like they are going along with something when afraid for their lives as a defense mechanism. A burly man in a Harley was waiting at the stop light ahead of me and we watched the mob.
When the light turned green, the mob rushed out at us. They tried to make a tunnel for the motorcyclist, who just slowly and carefully picked his way past them. They didn’t give him a lot of trouble, and he looked like he could have kicked their scrawny college asses. But then my tiny 2001 Honda Civic came along, with a woman driving and a baby seat in the back.
Instead of parting out of the way, the mob swarmed me. At least twenty of them surrounded my car, cheering and screaming at me, putting their faces in the windows, hitting my car, spitting on it and throwing beer at it. One man was videotaping the whole thing from his phone, slowly walking in front of me and leering. Another man jumped in front of my car and kept pretending to be hit by it, and then to additional cheers started fondling his package and dancing in front of my car. I was petrified I was going to accidentally hit one of them and hurt them, even as another part of me was so angry that I wanted to hurt them. I tried not to make eye contact with anyone, had one hand partially obscuring my face, and drove very, very slowly looking straight ahead, until I was clear of them.
Once I was a safe distance away, I called the police. Then I drove home, shaking all the way. I have no idea what I could have done differently and suspect any other behavior would have only made them crazier. I am so glad I happened to have all my doors locked and windows up. Who knows what would have happened if one of them had been able to get in my car (I couldn’t tell from the thumping whether they were trying the doors or not). Not only was that one of the scariest experiences of my life, I am disgusted that the Champaign Police weren’t already dealing with the mob, since by all appearances they had been harassing individuals and drivers for some time. Further, all of the men looked very young and I wouldn’t be surprised if a number of them were below drinking age.
Thank you for creating a space to share stories of street harassment. I guess it turns out that even professors can be harassed by their own students.
Submitted by Kathryn
So, you want to end street harassment. And you want to do it now. Taking action and volunteering is about more than stuffing envelopes and making calls. Here are three quick ways you can volunteer for Hollaback from the comfort of your computer:
1. We are a finalist in the “Revelation to Action” competition. Vote for us and if we win, Hollaback! wins $5,000. This will help us cover marketing costs to get the word out about Hollaback! You’ll need to quickly login before you vote.
2. Be a HOLLAhero and invite friends to attend our launch party. It’s on July 8th at Southpaw in Brooklyn. You’ll get to see our new app, new site, and meet some incredible HOLLArockstars. You’ll help spread the word about the Hollaback movement.
3. Write a glowing review of Hollaback! that will be seen by potential foundations. In case you didn’t know, foundations have BIG BUCKS! The more you write, the less we’ll need to ask you for money in the future, and the happier we will all be.
The silver car in front of the bus was a symphony of kissy. When will these frogs learn that you’ll never be a ladies prince if you keep making random kissy noises at them on the street?
Introduce yourself. Learn my name. Ask me on a date. I’ll tell you I have a boyfriend, but will admire your chivalry and refer you to my friend. Go on a date with her. Ask her what she thinks about life, politics, love. Play your cards right and then maybe you’ll be able to make some real awesome kissy noises.
Submitted by Emily May
WE MADE IT – 358 people entered and only 15 were chosen! Now, we need your help to win the prize: VOTE NOW and the world wins.
Only three weeks to vote! The three finalists with the most votes win. Change the world and vote today.
Here’s us on WPIX:
And here’s us on NPR’s “Tell Me More”:
This is the thirteenth video in the “Why I Hollaback” series. “Why I Hollaback” tells the story of how and why folks decide to take the leap, speak up, and start Holla’ing back. We will release a new story every Monday and accept submissions from all over the world. So tell us your story — Why do you Hollaback?
I can’t remember the twists of fate that led me to your website within the past month. I read about your work and the testimonies of many brave women in NYC and around the world.
Your message apparently sank in and yesterday evening on my way home from gamelan practice, I sat down in an S-Bahn station next to three young men who proceeded to wolf-whistle twice at women who walked by. I confronted them about their behavior — told them that women don’t appreciate such attention, that it is not a compliment (as they tried to insist), rather a burden. When they tried in their mediocre way to debate the issue, another woman stepped in and told them if they didn’t agree they were free to leave the station — she’d be happy to call the police to escort them out if they preferred.
We have allies everywhere!
Thanks for helping me to find my voice, and helping me speak out for others who aren’t in a position to do so.
Submitted by Hilary
HollabackLDN lauched today, giving London a badass response to street harassment. The project is led by Julia Gray and Sharmadean Reid, a fearless and fashion-forward duo. Sharmadean is also the founder of WAH-Nails, a self proclaimed “badass nail shop” in London that is also located in the famous TopShop. That’s a lot of badass, but what can I say — Julia and Sharmadean are pretty badass ladies.
If you crack open a history book you will see that much of the domestic violence movement happened in salons. Think about it: you are surrounded by friendly, chatty women, you go to the salon more than you go to the doctor, and it takes getting pretty up close and personal to get that perfect ‘do. Street harassment is on a spectrum of violence against women. It carries many of the same traits, and many of the same solutions. So when we heard that the street harassment movement was happening in a nail shop we thought: BEAUTIFUL.
HollabackLDN is giving the “wankers” a run for their money and showing Londoners that they have the right to feel safe, confident, and sexy (for inspiration on the sexy, check out WAH-nails beautiful nail art). When the team first hatched the idea to launch HollabackLDN, Sharmadean said in a conversation with me, “2009 I launched the nail shop, 2010 is all about the girls. I want empower girls, and get them to stop being scared of themselves.” That’s exactly what they are doing, one hollaback at a time.
Check out HollabackLDN and if you live in London, contact them to see how you can get involved!
RightRides for Women’s Safety is currently hiring for a Deputy Director position. They are seeking candidates with 2+ years experience in development and policy, with experience in social justice, community organizing and related movements. The right candidate is passionate for ending gender-based violence and also has a record of successful grant writing, coordinating coalitions, and mobilizing communities towards change. They are a small office now, but the Deputy Director will help us grow the organization and this position has ample room for growth. For more info and application instructions, click here. As an added bonus, the new Deputy Director will work with Hollaback! through our work with New Yorkers for Safe Transit!