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Once when I was 12 years old I was walking home from a piano lesson. I could hear a man yelling angrily behind me and no one was responding, but being so young and in a public space, I assumed I was being paranoid and that he was yelling at someone on the phone. This is especially in light of the fact that it was winter and I was short and wearing thick winter clothes. Either way, I was definitely creeped out, so I crossed the street and took a different route home. As I was approaching my block, I could hear increasingly aggressive yelling coming from down my street, in the same direction from which I had been coming. I panicked and prayed that it wasn’t some maniac with a gun, and ran inside my house. Shortly afterwards, the doorbell rang, and since it was dark out I couldn’t see through the peephole. I was home alone and I thought maybe my mom had forgotten her keys, and opened the door. A tall man with a nondescript plastic bag was standing there (it didn’t even look like anything was in the bag), and he said “Uh I have a delivery for this address.” I told him “we” hadn’t ordered anything, and he said “but I have your address here” and clearly didn’t have any address written down and was not dressed like a delivery man, nor did he have a bicycle or vehicle. I quickly apologized and closed the door on him, and locked it, but I could see that he was still standing on my porch for a while. I grabbed a knife and went back to my room, but fortunately my mom came home and nothing happened. I was very much shaken by the experience, especially when I saw they arrested the man in the local newspaper for stalking and raping/groping young women.
Give OUT Day is a new national initiative that will engage hundreds of organizations and mobilize thousands of people on a single day across the country to give in support of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender & queer community. It is a chance for LGBTQ groups large and small, to work across the wide range of issues and activities that matter to the LGBTQ community from sports to policy change, families to the arts. It is a chance for members of the LGBTQ community and our many allies to stand up and show our support for our community together on one day. It is a chance to make history, we hope you’ll join us in making streets safer for LGBTQ individuals by donating here:
I was walking out of Starbucks and two college-age looking guys yelled “faggot” at me. I am a transgender woman and I have no problem with people noticing that I am a transgender woman. I am very offended when people call me things that I am not. I was so angry that I threw my coffee to the ground and just got in my car and left.
Check out “Cat Calling”, a powerful video created by students from the University of Southern California.
Thanks to our friends at the Thee Kats Meoww for awesome breakdown!
News from New York:
News from around the world:
Hollaback! Brussels welcomes a guest entry on their blog in post by Emilie Van Limbergen. If you can read Dutch, check it out! In human rights news, Hollaback! Brussels is standing in strong support of rape victims and the organization “Rise Against Rape.” They are asking everyone to join them. This August 31, 2013 is the trial of the rapist, Taufik Ahaddouch, the a man who raped five young girls after being REALEASED from the justice system after raping another seven. This case represents serious failure of the justice system as a whole and the trial must be well-attended with supporters of the victims and allies against rape.
Hollaback! Philly’s projects coordinator, Anna, wrote a kickass article in the Huffington Post s part of the RaiseforWomen Challenge. With an incredible sense of humor, Philly hollas back at the “Ask Papa” advice columnist of the Philadelphia City Paper. Finally, check out the POWERFUL video tour of Philly’s Anti-Street Harassment Chalk Walk featuring our hollas and allies:
Hollaback! Melbourne announces the launch of their new series The F Word, a bi-weekly discussion of feminism, what it means, and issues that face feminists and humanists in the world today. This is going to be awesome, stay tuned!
Hollaback! Chandigarh was featured in Femina, a well known women’s magazine in India! The issue covers Rubina’s story and how Hollaback! Chandigarh got started. This week, the site posted an essential resource on their site this week titled, “Ten Things You Need to Know About the Sexual Harassment at Workplace Law,” breaking down important facts and clarifications on the anti-sexual harassment law put in place in India last year.
Hollaback! West Yorkshire is getting ready for their street harassment workshop, scheduled for June 1st! The site is also announcing that they are now accepting submissions their upcoming zine on street harassment! Stories, poems, drawings, and pictures are all welcome! Holla at the via email@example.com with `zine submission’ in the header.
Hollaback! Boston has released this week’s edition of Introducing!, an ongoing series where hollas interview Bostonians. This week, Boston hollas interviewed L, a friend of Hollaback! Boston who blogs anonymously at 5 Cities 6 Women. Next Thursday, May 9, Hollaback! Boston will be joining Fenway Health and IMPACT Boston next for a workshop on responding safely to street harassment how how to be an effective bystander. In honor of National Bike Month, hollas are calling for cyclists’ street harassment stories. Send them in!
Today I was stalked by an older man, when I was walking to the park with my toddler. I felt something off when I passed him on the street. After I had been at the playground for 10 minutes, the guy rides up on his bike. What I had suspected was confirmed. He approaches me, as I am playing with my young son, and asks my name. I tell him a fake one, then he asks if I am married. When I tell him “yes”, he says, “Oh, sorry about that.” Then he rides off.
I felt sick, and wanted to cry. My beautiful spring day at the park with my toddler was ruined. What kind of sick person stalks and pervs a young mother? I was scared for myself and for my son. More than anything, I was angry. I am angry. This is not okay!
Hollaback! NYC hosted a very successful clothing swap this week. Hollas and allies swapped clothing and raised some holla-funds while also collecting tons of clothes for Out Of The Closet. On Wednesday, hollas made a grand appearance at Denim Day at City Hall.
Hollaback! Belfast and Hollaback! Dublin started a campaign to urge Irish radio presenter, Ian Dempsey, to apologize for trivializing sexual assault on his show this week. Read the hollas’ open letter and sign the petition!
Hollaback! Melbourne launched a series of initiatives as part of their International Anti -Street Harassment Week. The site created a photo wall of a bunch of photos they collected of Melbournians holding up anti-street harassment messages. The site also put together a collage of fun and interesting online feminism.
Hollaback! Chennai has a wonderful new entry titled, “A Time for Assessment, a Time for Growth” talking about the necessity of initiatives like Hollaback! and the site’s plans for the future. Stay tuned!
My friend came home tonight terrified and told me that she had just run home after being pursued by a man who tried to get her in his car. I thought the community of Lacey, WA and Olympia, WA should know about this so we can catch the guy who tried to take her.
“Walking home from work at 11PM. Guy tries to get me into his car. He was parked in a dark parking lot. He yelled at me when I walked by, ‘Hey! Come here! Come here!’ I yelled ‘No!’ and ran. As I’m running he drove alongside me and yelled “Get in! Come here!”. I screamed at the top of my lungs ‘NO!’ and he drove off. Probably scared that I was making loud noises near some businesses/houses.
I ran home, scared out of my mind, until I couldn’t breathe anymore. Thankfully made it, hands are still shaking, still can’t breathe.
This is the 5th time in my life—from my childhood till now—Someone has tried to kidnap me. Apparently I can’t even walk a quarter of a fucking mile without being harassed.”
Hollaback community, keep your eyes out for a small, white compact vehicle in the Lacey area loitering around in any dark spots in parking lots for a long time. From what she could see of the driver in the dark, he was wearing a backward baseball cap and had dark hair and spoke with a light accent. Keep aware and if something seems off, say something. The number for Oly police is 360.704.2740.
Hollaback!’s Deputy Director, Debjani Roy, wrote an amazing op-ed in the Huffington Post last week discussing criminalization and street harassment. Check it out below!
“When it comes to combating street harassment, increasing criminalization is not the answer.
I have been working as an advocate to end gender-based violence for 10 years with a focus on domestic violence, widows’ rights, forced marriage, sexual trafficking, forced prostitution, and other issues affecting women and girls globally. I currently work to end street harassment or sexual harassment in public spaces.
Street harassment is a widespread and global problem, defined as unwelcome and unwanted attention of a sexual nature, objectifying and targeting both women and men. The wide spectrum of actions ranges from leering, catcalling and whistling to public exposure and masturbation to groping, touching and grabbing. While some forms of street harassment, such as the overt physical acts, do fall under statutory penal codes, others including the ‘hey baby’s,’ the ‘can I get a smile?’, or even the reactive, ‘you’re so ugly, I wouldn’t touch you with a stick,’ do not. These commonplace comments and actions, some of which are claimed to be compliments, are belittling, offensive, intimidating and discriminatory. The 4,500-plus experiences of street harassment shared on the blogging platform of Hollaback!, the anti-street harassment organization, confirm that.
It is a commonly held myth that street harassment happens in low income communities and communities of color. Mapping incidents of street harassment shows it is prevalent in high density areas, such as Times Square in New York City or the West End in London. It makes sense — the more people present in a locale, the more likely harassment will occur, especially in a world that accepts it as a normal and everyday part of life.
When speaking about street harassment at trainings, panels and other outreach efforts, one question repeatedly asked by participants is, ‘How do you criminalize catcalling?’ Criminalizing verbal harassment and unwanted gestures is neither the final goal nor the ultimate solution to this problem and can, in fact, inadvertently work against the growth of an inclusive anti-harassment movement. The criminal justice system disproportionately targets and affects low-income communities and communities of color, as evidenced by more recent policies such as New York City’s Stop and Frisk program and other degrading forms of racial profiling. Our objective is to address and shift cultural and social dialogues and attitudes of patriarchy that purport street harassment as simply the price you pay for being a woman or being LBGTQ. It is not to re-victimize men already discriminated against by the system.
Further criminalizing street harassment can have a negative impact on families and communities within already marginalized and targeted groups. As a South Asian American immigrant woman who has been harassed by men of all backgrounds, including South Asian men, the thought of reporting men who already face institutional and systematic discrimination carries with it a personal sense of responsibility. Having been an advocate for survivors of domestic violence within the South Asian community, I understand the repercussions that families within my community face in the hands of the legal system. A family may depend on a harasser due to certain institutional and cultural barriers, including immigration status (dependent visas, lack of documentation, etc.), linguistic barriers or economic dependency. Say, for example, the harasser has a spouse who is on a dependent visa that does not allow her to work in the United States. Criminalization of the harasser, will directly affect the family that relies on him for their livelihood, potentially resulting in dependent family members losing legal status in the United States, being separated in the case of removal proceedings or economic hardships due to lost income. As advocates, our job is to consider the immediate and long-term impacts of criminalization, knowing that we are working with a flawed and discriminatory system.
This does not excuse the behavior and actions of harassers, but rather promotes the opportunity for more effective ways to let them know that street harassment is unacceptable and furthermore, prevent it from occurring in the first place.
A better approach would require devoting time, energy and effort toward creating social and cultural change. An example of these methods include going out to schools to talk to girls and boys about appropriate ways of treating one another; going out in our communities to engage members on how harassment affects their mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, daughters and sons; training individuals on bystander intervention, showing that we all have a role to play in having each other’s backs; creating communities of people who stand up against behavior that is demeaning, discriminating, sexist and homophobic; working through community-based organizations to discuss how masculinity is shaped and actively redefining what it means to be a man across cultures.
Change will not happen overnight, but we intend to continue with this work of changing minds amongst individuals, communities and institutions about the acceptability of street harassment, while simultaneously empowering and strengthening the community of those of us who are targeted. Together we must focus our energies into laying the groundwork so that street harassment is no longer a part of any of our lives.”
- Debjani Roy