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I was at Starbucks with my female friends sitting by a giant window next to the sidewalk and a group of teenaged boys came walking up. One of them thought that it would be hilarious to start making dumb faces right in front of the window at us. We all felt so awkward and tried to ignore them. He put his hand on the window so one of us could oh-so-romantically have our hands touching with the glass between us, which none of us obviously did. Then, one of them came inside and put his hand over me to touch his friend’s hand and his arm was touching my chest. I told him, “Okay, you’re touching me and I will fucking scream.” He backed off, but it’s absolutely repulsive that boys start doing this so young and that victims feel awkward because they don’t know how to respond. Why should we learn how to defend ourselves when we aren’t the problem?
I used to live in South London, I have moved out of this area now because of the amount of street harassment I used to get. I would get it at least three times a day. It varied from men staring, to wolf whistling, to walking along side me, making rude and inappropriate comments. I have received comments such as ‘c*m on my face you f***ing slut’. I have never known these men and the ages always very from about 18-40. I have been ‘stroked’ when walking past and one man went to grope in between my legs while looking me directly in the eye; luckily I saw it coming and managed to dodge a little and he grabbed my thigh instead. It makes me so angry when it happens but, I never know what to do. I have to bite my tongue as I want to say something to them but, realistically I’m too scared. It’s not worth it, I don’t know who they are or what they might do – and this is the most upsetting thing.
Walking back to the train in a group of three from hanging out with some friends, and some guy on my left says “so beautiful” so I make a disgusted noise and continue my conversation with my friends. He says “nice ass” and makes a grab for my butt, so I spin and scoot almost out of his reach so he just grazes my ass. I keep walking and he shouts a string of insults at me, including “bitch” 3 or 4 times. My friends don’t say anything, and keep talking. It completely ruined a night of laughter and de-stressing that I badly needed. Now I just feel ashamed that I didn’t knock him out, didn’t escalate the situation or do any of the things I always think I’ll do, and I don’t feel great about my friends I spent the night with either.
Happy Friday Hollaback’ers!
This week’s WIOS compiles the past two weeks at Hollaback!, and my has it been busy. Hollaback! NYC had two press hits in The Guardian this week, one co-authored by Executive Director Emily May and Deputy Director Debjani Roy and one featuring Emily. Debjani was also sourced in an article on campus sexual assault in Metro NYC.
We’ve reached survey crunch time! The last day to take the survey is December 15th. We’ve had 1,222 additional survey respondents in these past 2 weeks. Keep up the good work. In particular, shout outs to Bahamas, Baltimore, Bristol, Buenos Aires, Croatia, Halifax, Italy, LA, and Pittsburgh for significant growth.
Hollaback! Italy participated at the Trans freedom march in Turin in the TdoR (Trans Day of Remembrance). Additionally, they interviewed an artistic group called “lesbica non è un insulto” (“Lesbian is not an insult”) about their project inspired by the feminist photos project.
Hollaback! Alberta presented a workshop at the Alberta GSA Conference, a provincial conference organized for students and teachers that wish to start LGBTQ and ally student groups in junior high and high schools. The conference included a series of workshops, resource displays, and a keynote presentation and performance from Canadian performer and award-winning author Ivan Coyote.
Helen McBride of Hollaback! Belfast was interviewed by Ulster University Coleraine and the Tab and spoke on a panel discussing Gender stereotypes for the Women of the World festival in Derry/Londonderry. Hollaback! Belfast also co-organized Reclaim the Night Belfast with Belfast Feminist Network on Saturday as part of the 16 Days of Activism against Gender Violence. And give a warm welcome to their new Social Media Intern. Follow them on instagram @hollabackbelfast
Hollaback! Croatia had an interview at a local radio station, and an initial meeting and education for new volunteers.
On The 23d of November Hollaback! Ghent collaborated with FEL (Feminist and Left), Ghent feminists, Flemish Women’s Council and Ella (knowledge center on gender and ethnicity) to the second “Break the Silence.” The day consisted of presentations, workshops and a documentary in light of the International Day Against Violence Against Women. For a full summary of the events, click here.
Hollaback! Appalachian Ohio published this video of our street performance at the Athens Halloween Block Party featuring members of the F Word Performers, All About the Ladies, and Hollaback! Appalachian Ohio.
Great job this week team!
Holla and out!
–The Hollaback Staff
For much of my adult life I never realized that some of the comments I was getting on the street were harassment. Even though they made me feel uncomfortable I would respond politely and get away as quickly as possible, often leaving with an odd feeling about the whole situation.
One of the ones I hated the most was when men would tell me to smile, and in the past I would usually feel obligated to flash them a quick smile to appease them. This has happened on several occasions but one time stands out in particular, a guy told me to smile so I smiled and kept walking and then he stopped me and told me it looked fake and to give him a real smile, so I did my best to give a genuine smile. To this day it bothers me that this guy got upset that I couldn’t give him a genuine smile on command and that he felt entitled to tell me what to do with my facial expression.
On a busy street in the middle of the afternoon a man walked towards me and as he walked by he stuck out his hand and grabbed my ass. This is the first time this has happened to me on the street, (as an ex-nightclub employee in the UK it has happened a few times before in a club). I was shocked into stopping dead. I turned to look at him as he walked away and he looked back at me over his shoulder with a repulsive leer of a smile. The second time he looked back I decided I would follow him and get his photo.
There is something powerful about taking a person’s photo without their consent. He did not like me doing it.
I carried on doing what I had planned to do but when I passed some police I stopped to ask them if they thought I should report the incident. They said I definitely should so I filed a report. Those two actions made me feel a lot better, like I was able to take back some control.
So glad to find out that an organization like Hollaback now exists. When I lived in New York, I was followed by men, got cat calls from men in cars and generally harassed on a daily basis. It never occurred to me at the time that it was a form of sexual harassment and in fact, could be dangerous. It is a form of power that some men use over single women. A woman walking alone is an easy target.
After awhile, it makes women afraid to be women. Just going to the grocery store becomes a drama filled occasion. It’s not even about dressing sexy. Women get harassed in just a t-shirt and jeans.
The worse would be when I was groped in a crowd. It’s hard because you really learn not to trust men. Then, you finally meet a good one, like my husband. I’ve always missed my time in New York, but now I remember how hard it can be.
It’s hard to be a single woman in New York. Harassment is never cool. hollaback!
I was working at my job, overseeing a sailboat race in Baltimore harbor. I was coaching over our VHF radios when an unknown voice came on our channel saying extremely inappropriate things. The line I remember best was, “You wouldn’t be talking so much with my cock in your mouth.”
I was totally shocked since all channels are coast-guard monitored. I didn’t know how to react professionally so I turned my radio off. I felt so violated and I couldn’t believe that some random boater would challenge a race committee’s authority over a public radio channel like that.
This mostly happens all the time when i’am walking home from school or walking to school.But this time this morning when i was walking to school it was an latino guy in a white car i was crossing the street and it was a green light so i was crossing and he honk his horn at me while i was crossing and i looked back to see who it was and he rolled down his window and said “Hey mami you looking good can i get your number?” i turned back around and kepted on walking and i seen that car kind of following me when i was going to school but then it turned the other street when i got to school.
A few years ago I was in a store in the feminine care aisle. There was a guy standing there in front of the brand of pads I wanted for a long time so I went to do my other shopping and then went back to get my pads that I was looking for. He was still there but in a different section of the aisle. I took my pads off the shelf and put them in my basket. As I was walking out of the aisle (which had one exit) he sort of blocked my path and asked if he could “ask some questions” I said no thanks and sort of shuffled to the side to walk around him and he blocked me again. So I said fine ask your question. He proceeded to ask me a series of increasingly personal questions about my love life which I tried not to answer. After about five minutes of this he aggressively asked for my number and I did the old “oh sorry I have a boyfriend” thing. Then he proceeded to give me this lecture about how I should dump my boyfriend for him and all this stuff about how manly he was. I continued telling him I wasn’t interested and eventually he let me out of the isle. I made my purchases and walked back to my dorm feeling quite uncomfortable and shaken up. About a week later I was at my job, the front desk of the building I lived in. And he showed up and kind if hung around the lobby. My next shift he was there and asked if I had dumped my boyfriend yet. He showed up a few times after that and I started asking my friend who lived in the building come pick me up from work (I work late) even though I only lived a few floors above. I was afraid he would corner me in the elevator or stairs or follow me to my room.