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I have only lived in San Diego for 6 months and I have already had some experiences that have made me very uncomfortable to walk home from work in my “safe” neighborhood. I’ll start with the least disturbing occurrence and go on from there. I was on my work, sitting outside of Starbucks with my nametag on. A man said “You should smile, Hailey.” I think it was just because I was sitting alone minding my own business. Another time I was walking past this Starbucks when I followed the gaze of two men (one young, one old) as they checked me out from behind. The older man asked “what ethnicity are you?” to which, I didn’t respond and continued to walk, upsetting them. They became upset.
Here is where things get really messed up.
It was a hot night and I was wearing a short, yet long sleeved dress. My boyfriend and I were walking home when we had come to a stop to wait for the light to turn so we could cross the road. A suspicious looking man was waiting for a different light. He had a large jacket on, glasses, a backpack, and his hands in his pockets. Once he saw us, he immediately started laughing and moved to our side of the street. My boyfriend and I decided not to risk waiting with this man, so we turned around and began walking quickly in the opposite direction. We started running full speed when the man yelled “That’s right you keep running!”
Another occasion, I was on my lunch break again. I was walking past the grocery store when a man with a long beard approached me and asked if I would have sex with him. I looked him in the face (as you should do with suspicious characters) and continued to walk. He began screaming hysterically “of course you don’t want to have sex with me!, why would you want to have sex with me!? Come on!!!” To which I looked back and responded by telling him to fuck off. Maybe not the smartest move but, this was a busy shopping center in the day time. I immediately called the police and let the ladies at work know what he looked like. The police said they could do nothing unless he actually physically assaulted me.
This is possibly one of the creepiest things I have ever experienced. A man comes into the store where I work quite often, we will call him Jeff. He appears to be a man in his 40’s. I am a petite 18 year old that looks more like I could be 16. One night just before close, Jeff comes in and mentions that he had just seen me at a specific grocery store. I thought that was very odd because I hadn’t been there for around 3 weeks. I thought he might work there because I do shop there on my breaks and the employees talk to me. Turns out he didn’t work there. Jeff comes in again a few weeks later and gets something for his daughter. I help him find it and ring him up at the register. He begins to ask me questions about my job and make general but, invasive small talk. A few minutes after he leaves we get a phone call. I pick up the work phone. I recognize his voice. He introduces himself as the “bald guy” I just helped and asks if this is a good time. I figure it’s something to do with work and say “of course, how can I help?” He asks me if I’m single! I say no and that I have to get back to work and hang up. What!??? I let my manager know.
University employee (presumably from Facilities, as he had a university jacket) stopped working to tell me “Smile, baby!” He was working with several other men. I had earbuds in, which he pro a l I gave the man a disgusted look and walked away. The man apologized in a “oh, I’m sorry you were offended” manner.
My friend and i went to our local community centre to see a friend of ours that was performing. Remember, my friend and I are only 16. We were both dressed wearing simple simple modest clothing that was not tight or revealing as its still winter and its cold at night. We left after our friend had played and walked about 5 minutes down the street to McDonald’s. On our way we were stopped at traffic lights and 2 cars had drove past and honked their horns and were catcalling at us out the window. We didn’t let this phase us, continued to trek McDonalds, ate our food, and left.
As we are walking back the same set of traffic lights we are stopped by two middle aged men, we try keep our eyes on the destination, ignore their stares and not seem phased until one of them tries to high five me and hold my hand, this was really awkward. They compliment us and ask us where the nearest liquor store is and if we could walk there with them, we denied, said a polite goodnight and kept walking. We were both really scared at this point because silly us go walking alone at night, we’ve already had men stop us and we aren’t even halfway back yet.
So we’re about 2 minutes away, the centre in plain eyesight, 2 drunk men are approaching us, we move to the opposite side of the footpath, even contemplate crossing the road, I decide we would only make the men offended and angry if we did that. I whisper to my friend not to make eye contact, keep walking and do not seem phased by them.
They stop us, slurring, speaking to one another about our appearance and what they would do to us if they got the chance. One of them even says to me “no offence to your friend or anything but i’d totally root you” (this is typical Australian slang for sex) For me personally, it was one of the scariest nights i’ve ever had and i could only imagine what other women older and prettier than me go through on a night out. I felt dirty and downright disrespected having men I don’t even know comment and say disgusting sexual things to my face. I could also honestly write that if i had said what was actually on my mind instead of a simple “ok, thats enough, have a good night guys” me or my friend would have gotten verbally/physically assaulted or raped.
This needs to stop!
Happy Friday Hollabacker’s!
There has been a great deal of press coverage of Hollaback! this week with the explosion of the viral video. If you haven’t yet read our statement regarding the recent street harassment PSA you may do so here.
We hope you helped #carrythatweight on Wednesday, October 29th. Executive Director Emily May spoke and Hollaback! donated 28 mattresses. Full coverage of the rally can be found here.
Hollaback! Bahamas held an open forum with a performing arts class at College of The Bahamas. They also held an educational session for a sociology class at College of The Bahamas. Additionally, they joined Bahamas Against Sexual Violence & Child Abuse in a demonstration calling for the protection of children, an amber alert system, stiffer penalties, proper rehabilitation, and a sex offenders registry (following the sentencing of a 64 year old man to 5 years in prison for the rape of a 6 year old girl).
HollaBack Cleveland invites you to their very first Holla-WEEN Costume party and funky fundraiser dance party!!
On Saturday, Nov. 1st, celebrate Holla-ween with a SAFE-SPACE COSTUME DANCE PARTY! Come boogie down on the dance floor without worry that unwanted comments on your body or outfit, or gay bashing will ruin your night.
Growing up in Los Angeles, from the time I was in my early teens I could not walk down the block with out getting cat calls by men . I would get cat calls from old men, young men , teenage boys etc. As an attractive female I felt trapped that no matter where I went i would get verbally harrased and in some ocassions stalked. I did not always live in the greatest of neighborhoods in Los Angeles, my family was low income and my transportation was public transportation. While standing at a bus stop or even a stop light, men would pull up their car next to me and try to pick me up as though I was a prostitute. I could not even begin to tell you how many times I was cat called and hollard at while I was a teenager going on to my 20 s. Its unbelievable what being an attractive female is like living in a big city. The attention that these men displayed is not the kind of attention that I wished for. I could appreciate a compliment here and there , but to hear them everyday on a regular basis really starts to affect ones mental state and at the end of a long day a woman doesn’t feel beautiful, she feels like a piece of meat .
New York City, NY (30th October, 2014) – When the street harassment video was launched earlier this week, we hoped that it would make an impact but never imagined that it would be viewed more than 15,000,000 times in the first three days. The response has been overwhelmingly positive. Many women feel a little less alone and a little more validated in their experiences and we have heard support from our partners, new and old.
Rob Bliss Creative donated time and labor to create this video and support our work. We are grateful for his work and the wide reach that his video has achieved but we feel the need to directly address other responses to the video.
First, we regret the unintended racial bias in the editing of the video that over represents men of color. Although we appreciate Rob’s support, we are committed to showing the complete picture. It is our hope and intention that this video will be the start of a series to demonstrate that the type of harassment we’re concerned about is directed toward women of all races and ethnicities and conducted by an equally diverse population of men.
Hollaback! understands that harassment is a broad problem perpetuated by a diversity of individuals regardless of race. There is no one profile for a harasser and harassment comes in many different forms. Check out our Harassment Is: Identities and Street Harassment guide on how individuals experience harassment differently. This video should have done a better job of representing this knowledge.
There are many more voices to add to this conversation and Hollaback! is committed to continuing to make space for those voices by providing platforms and amplification of people sharing their stories and finding ways to push back.
Second, there has been another problem which deserves further attention: the onslaught of rape and death threats that have been directed at the Shoshana B. Roberts, the subject of the video, are unacceptable but sadly unsurprising. When women are visible in online or offline spaces, they experience harassment. When women demand change, they meet violent demands for their silence.
We understand that violence exists on a spectrum that is played out on the street and online. We understand that it needs to change. We hope that you will work with us to end street harassment and to fight harassment wherever it is found.
Third, the coverage that this video has received shows how far we have come and how far we still have to go. Many outlets have used the video to have conversations about street harassment that would never have happened even five years ago. For many, street harassment is a real problem to be reported as such.
Other coverage, however, shows that sexism still shapes culture in a way that harms women. When journalists on major news networks reinforce, support, and normalize street harassment they minimize the violence and fear that women experience on the street.
We want to thank everyone for participating in this vital dialogue — and we encourage continued conversation and debate.
As an avid runner, I wanted to go for a longer run today as it was nice out. I put on a race shirt thats a little to big for me and my leggings (most comfy to run in) I then began my run. I usually run in residential areas, but today I ran into town. I was heading into the town just running as usual when the first car honked. I disregarded it. 10 minutes later, another honk. To top it off I was outside starbucks on the sidewalk with other people. It was a slowish area due to a yellow light when a car drove slowly next to me with two men in their late teens/early twenties. Note: i am 15. I had my headphones in so I couldnt hear what they said, but one of them leaned out the window with a big grin and started saying something. I just ran away. I was scared. I’m 15 years old. I shouldn’t have to be afraid to run outside of a starbucks at 3:00 in the afternoon.
How did this PSA come about?
In August 2014, Rob Bliss of Rob Bliss Creative reached out to Hollaback! to partner on a PSA highlighting the impact of street harassment. He was inspired by his girlfriend — who gets street harassed all the time — and Shoshana B. Roberts volunteered to be the subject of his PSA. For 10 hours, Rob walked in front of Shoshana with a camera in his backpack, while Shoshana walked silently with two mics in her hands.
As part of Rob’s agreement with Hollaback!, Rob had creative control over the PSA and owns it with unlimited usage rights for Hollaback!. Hollaback! is grateful for Rob and Shoshana’s dedication to this issue, and for their volunteer service.
What is street harassment?
Street harassment is a form of sexual harassment that takes place in public spaces. It exists on a spectrum including “catcalling” or verbal harassment, stalking, groping, public masturbation, and assault. At its core is a power dynamic that constantly reminds historically subordinated groups (women and LGBTQ folks, for example) of their vulnerability to assault in public spaces. Further, it reinforces the ubiquitous sexual objectification of these groups in everyday life. Street harassment can be sexist, racist, transphobic, homophobic, ableist, sizeist and/or classist. It is an expression of the interlocking and overlapping oppressions we face and it functions as a means to silence our voices and “keep us in our place.” At Hollaback!, we believe that what specifically counts as street harassment is determined by those who experience it. If you’ve experienced street harassment, we’ve got your back!
Is Shoshana’s experience unique?
The experience of street harassment is different for everyone. Street harassment disproportionately impacts women, people of color, LGBTQ individuals, and young people. Although the degree to which Shoshana gets harassed is shocking — the reality is that the harassment that people of color and LGBTQ individuals face is oftentimes more severe and more likely to escalate into violence. These forms of harassment are not just sexist — but also racist and homophobic in nature.
For more information on how harassment impacts people different, please read our guide on street harassment and identity called #harassmentis.
Does street harassment only happen in NYC?
Street harassment happens everywhere, although our maps indicate that population density may be a factor for it. If you think about it, this makes sense: if one out of every fifty guys you pass is going to harass you, you’ll be far more likely to experience street harassment on Wall Street than in a Walmart parking lot.
Hollaback! has 79 sites in 26 countries around the world, from Alberta, Canada to Delhi, India. Every site is working to end street harassment in their communities and support individuals who share their stories of harassment. You can check out their stories (and provide support) here.
Is Street Harassment a Cultural Thing?
Like all forms of gender-based violence, street harassers fall evenly across lines of race and class. It is a longstanding myth that street harassment is a “cultural” thing, perpetrated mostly by men of color. We believe that street harassment is a “cultural” thing in the sense that it emerges from a culture of sexism — and unfortunately — that is everyone’s culture.
It’s important to keep in mind that is this video only captures verbal harassment, and Rob and Shoshana can attest to the harassment overall falling evenly along race and class lines. While filming, Shoshana noted, “I’m harassed when I smile and I’m harassed when I don’t. I’m harassed by white men, black men, latino men. Not a day goes by when I don’t experience this.”
How do I get involved?
Share this message with your friends and donate. We can’t end this alone.
Our first ever online silent auction has launched! We are so excited to have you #HOLLAbid on all of the goodies we have to offer including yoga classes, jewelry, home baked brownies, public speaking training and much more!
You can make a #HOLLAbid on any number of cool gifts and services while also making an impactful investment in our organization. With the click of a mouse, you can generate both a recreational and social return on your investment in us.
Peruse our site, find some things that you love, and place your #HOLLAbid. The auction is running until Monday, November 3 at midnight EST.
– The Hollaback! Board
Happy Friday Hollabacker’s!
This week, the Hollaback! mothership attended the Emily May classroom at the Lower East Side Girls Prep and worked with fourth graders on a public art project. Additionally, we received press hits from The Gothamist, Telesur, and NY City Lens.
We are working to spread the word on two big awesome things, and you can help!
1) #Carrythatweight. Stand in solidarity with Emma Sulkowitz on 10/29. http://www.carryingtheweighttogether.com/get-involved. Carry a mattress and demand the end of sexual violence on college campuses and around the world.
2) As previously announced, our international street harassment survey is live. Thank you everyone for sending out the survey links. There are many different languages and locations. Send out the survey to as many list serves as possible. Reach high, reach wide! An international survey will give us worldwide solutions!
And here’s what the rest of our sites around the world have been up to….
Hollaback! Appalachian Ohio alerted us to the media coverage of the F@#KRAPECULTURE rally had some glaring omissions. Here’s one reporter’s attempt at starting to put LGBT people and women of color back into the headlines. Props for keeping the Hollaback! movement intersectional.
Hollaback! Bahamas guest lectured a Sociology class at The College of The Bahamas on street harassment and gender issues. They were also special guests at College of The Bahamas Union of Students’ Equality in Democracy forum. Additionally The Tribune reported on Hollaback! Bahamas’ presence at the Global Citizenship Conference in New Orleans.
Quentin Daspremont of Hollaback Brussels has been invited to give a talk on street harassment for the occasion of the comic book release of Project Crocodiles (pictured left). Project Crocodiles is a comic book and tumblr project of the illustrator/artist Thomas Mathieu where he transforms real harassment stories into drawings where harassers are crocodiles. We worked with Thomas before and he has transformed our bystander guide and tips on how to respond page into drawings/memes that have gone viral.
Great job this week, team! HOLLA and out!
– The Hollaback! Staff