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followed by a number of males in a car shouting sexual comments and abuse. I had five similar encounters walking along this road in one day.
I want to thank Councilmembers Ferreras, James, Palma, Lander, Levin, and Reyna for their support, but I especially want to thank Speaker Quinn and her team. This is truly a historic day that wouldn’t be possible without their incredible vision, and on behalf of all New Yorkers, but especially women and LGBTQ folks, I want to say thank you.
As we stand here today, I am mindful that some of you have been sexually harassed during your life. Lewd comments, gestures, threats. Public masturbation, groping.
I am mindful that some of you have been harassed this week… and I am mindful that some of you were harassed today.
And I am also mindful that some of you — especially some of you menfolk out there — have never spent two seconds thinking about street harassment, but that most of the women and LGBTQ in New York City have been thinking about it since they were young.
I wish I could tell you that your experiences in some way unique. That the harassment you faced at age 12 isn’t being faced by today’s 12 year olds. But it’s not true.
The truth is, street harassment happens to between 70-99% of women at some point during their lives. And for many — it happens much, much more often.
Harassers love people who they can wield their power over. And if you’ve been harassed throughout your life, you’ve probably come to understand:
This is what is means to be a woman and to walk down the street.
This is what it means to be lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and to walk down the street.
This is what is means to be a person of color, and to walk down the street.
But today marks the beginning of a new understanding:
Even though we face harassment today and tomorrow. This can and will be changed.
Street harassment is such a widespread issue — and so under-researched. To target this problem, we need ways for New Yorkers to speak up and out on this issue. And we need Councilmembers that listen.
As recently as yesterday, if you wanted to report harassment in New York City, it would have taken you hours to file the complaint. With many people getting harassed as often as three or four times a day, reporting harassment could quickly turn into a full time job. It’s no surprise that so few reports came through.
Now, whether you’ve experienced harassment yourself or witnessed it and tried to help, you can make a report in under a minute. Your report will be publically available at nyc.ihollaback.org and if you choose — it will also be sent to the NYC Council and to the Councilmember in the district in which you were harassed.
With each report you make — you will make NYC a little more intolerant of the hate that underlies street harassment. And as those reports build and grow, each one strengthening the case of the last, we’ll work with the city to make sure public service announcements are in subway stations and educational workshops take place in schools.
With your support, we can make New York City a place where everyone has the right to walk safely down the street — no matter your race, gender, or expression. It starts with your story. We’re ready to listen.
App Will Provide New Yorkers the Opportunity to Immediately Report Harassment and City to Identify Possible Trouble Spots That Welcome Crime, Such as Dark Streets and Areas in Need of Repair
(August 19, 2013) – Emily May, Executive Director of Hollaback! was joined by Speaker Christine Quinn, her wife Kim Catullo, and Council Member Diana Reyna today to unveil a new, targeted system to report sexual harassment to New York City Councilmembers via iPhone and Droid app. Speaker Quinn also released a plan for assessing the safety of neighborhoods across the city, block by block, using community-led safety audits. By gathering information in a coordinated way, the city will be able to better direct resources and more effectively combat harassment.
Quinn stated, “People who violate women either by their actions or words won’t be able to hide any longer. We will know who they are, what they do, where they do it – and we will put it to an end. By coupling valuable information with targeted resources we will arm ourselves with the tools we need to put an end to street violence and harassment. Public spaces belong to all New Yorkers, and street harassment is not a price women and LGBT New Yorkers have to pay for walking around New York City’s neighborhoods.”
“This isn’t just an app, this is history. Whether you experienced harassment or you witnessed it and tried to help, your report will make New York City safer for everyone. After we pilot this here, we hope to scale it to cities globally,” said Emily May, Executive Director of Hollaback!.
The app, launched today, will enable users to report valuable information on harassment in real time. The reporting builds on an existing app run by Hollaback!, a non-profit organization that works to end street harassment. The City Council allocated $20,000 last year towards creating an expanded version of Hollaback!’s app. The current app allows users to submit reports of street harassment, assault and violence but is limited to qualitative narratives; expanding the app to include quantitative data will provide new information for evaluation and will allow the city to direct resources where they are most needed.
Information to be collected on the app will include demographics, locational information and information on the specifics of an incident or attack, as well as what, if any, formal reporting process the person went through. With this new tool, New York City will be the first city to undertake an effort to gather the data needed to understand scope of street harassment and how to reduce incidents of harassment.
Quinn also committed to conducting neighborhood audits in order to identify the safety of individual communities and where improvements are needed. The city will work with local community leaders to form teams with a variety of backgrounds and expertise to survey neighborhoods and assess factors impacting safety and the likelihood of street harassment occurring. The surveys will result in increased community engagement and recommendations for concrete improvements specific to each neighborhood’s needs.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, non-contact unwanted sexual experiences including street harassment are the most prevalent form of sexual violence for both men and women. According to a joint study conducted by Hollaback! and the Worker Institute at Cornell University, 96 percent of respondents reported that they or colleague had been targeted by street harassment, with only five percent reporting the incident to security or a city authority.
Hollaback! is a non-profit organization that works to end street harassment and violence by providing training and developing innovative strategies. Since January 2011, Hollaback! has trained more than 200 young people to be leaders in their local communities in the effort to end street harassment.
To start this story off I am 19 and in college, I have had my fair share of drunk frat guys approaching me and trying to dance/dry hump me. I even had one guy at once attempt slipping something in my drink, luckily I was paying attention and ran off with friends before he turned around.
This post isn’t about those situations though, this post is the first time that I actually am having a hard time brushing off the incident like I normally do with the college boys. I was shopping with my sisters and mom and was looking at the clearance racks. All of a sudden I feel a hand grabbing my butt and when I turn around there is a really creepy older man wearing a bright neon hat he looks at me with no emotion and in a robotic tone says “Oh, Sorry” then began to shuffle the way out of the store. The reason it creeps me out the most is because it was elevated where I was standing and there was a fence like structure a foot behind me, this guy was on a ramp behind the fence structure, he deliberately put his hand through the railing and stretched to grab my but, and nobody else around me saw.
I stood there in shock at out he can just so blatantly grope me and then walk away with no sort of shame or punishment, and I kick myself today because I didn’t react differently. I was able to tell my sisters and point to him when he was almost out the door but he still left and was likely to do it to another woman if he had the chance. Now I am nervous to go out shopping or wear shorts again, and my shorts were not even that short but for some reason I still blame myself for what happened, maybe if I hadn’t been wearing shorts that day that wouldn’t have happened? I just felt gross all day yesterday because of it, I lost the ability to enjoy that shopping trip with my family because I was constantly making sure he wasn’t around and that I never had my back turned. Well I guess this is enough of my rambling, but I just really wish that guy gets caught doing what he’s doing and gets some form of punishment but I doubt that will happen.
Last year, my family and I (17 years old) went to India to visit my grandparents. We are from South India and have never gone to see the Taj Mahal (in North India). Because of this my grandparents booked us all (my mom, brother, aunt, cousin, themselves, and myself) tickets to travel to North India. Near the end of our week long stay there (which was going so well) we decided to go to a Hindu temple and pray. On the way there, we decided to hold hands with each other as it was very crowded and the area was hard to navigate. I decided to hold my aunt’s since she was standing closest to me. As we started walking, I noticed a man walking straight towards me as if he was going to run into me. Slightly unnerved by this but otherwise unsuspectingly I just made sure to move a little closer to my aunt and keep my distance from him. We continued walking, and as I passed the man, he stuck his arm out in my way and made sure to rub it against my inner thigh (I’m still not sure if he was trying to grab my crotch instead)! In that moment, I became extremely fearful of him and felt like bawling my eyes out from the humiliation. I mean, come on! He touched one of my most private areas in public, in front of my family nonetheless! I felt humiliated and dirty the rest of the trip (especially since after that we were going to temples and praying)! I was just really glad my family was there; I fear what he would have done if I was alone.
Dear Hollabackers –
This week, we had our first annual staff retreat in New Paltz, NY. We ate vegan chocolate, drank local craft brew, and mapped out our work together over the next year. It’s gonna be our best year yet. Before we left on Monday, Debjani keynoted at the I-CASH conference (International Coalition Against Sexual Harassment) and Emily headed to DC to collaborate with the Women’s Health Network on mapping the movement. Here’s what’s been going on around the world:
Hollaback! Ottawa site leader Julie presented on being the underdog at Taking Charge of Change, an event in honor of International Youth Day. Julie was also interviewed on Talking Radical Radio– listen to the whole segment! Ottawa’s
street harassment study was featured in this piece on the Daily Xtra. Ottawa also received press in several pieces about their local transit authority, OC Transpo, failing to take action against the harassment happening on public transportation. Here’s one from the Ottawa Sun, where they were asked to respond to a high-profile sexual assault that occurred at a transit station, and two from the Ottawa Citizen.
Hollaback! Boston is hosting their first Take Back The Bar event tonight. They also had some great blog posts up this week– one about virtual harassment and another in their Introducing! series, where they spoke to Kristen, a local style blogger. They also attended an “anti street hollering” rally in support of another local organization!
Last but not least, check out this great video by Surayya Diggs, including a lot of great footage of our Anti-Street Harassment Week Rally in Washington Square Park:
HOLLA and out –
The Hollaback team
I went on a walk with my dog wearing long running shorts, an old, baggy t-shirt. A car full of high school boys was at a stop sign while I was a block ahead. They hung halfway out the windows and whistled and yelled at me. It wasn’t much but I was a 13 year old, innocent young girl and it scared the hell out of me. I felt ashamed, embarrassed for there were other cars in the intersection, and I felt like I did something wrong. I started running because I was afraid they would circle the block. I’ve been timid of walking alone ever since (it was a year ago), but finding Hollaback has given me the courage to know that I’m not alone and that I can stand up for myself.
While doing my grocery shopping I look up and see a man looking at me. I’m usually a friendly person and will smile and sometimes say “Hi” or “How are you?”. I smiled at him and he immediately looks at my chest and groin and says “I was wondering if you were going to smile at me.” All the while grinning at my body.
I thought of all kinds of fantastic come backs after the fact, but was too dumbfounded to say a word at the time.
About a month ago, I was hanging out with my friends in a fully packed bar. A couple of guys harassed us that night, but I’ll just talk about the three that shocked me the most.
I came out of this toilet cubicle and suddenly this guy walked up to me (it was a boy/girl bathroom) and he kind of cornered me, so I couldn’t go back to the bar where my friends were. He asked my name. I told him my name’s Pauline. He then proceeded to call me Paulientje (which is Dutch for ‘Little Pauline’) and asked me if I had a boyfriend. I told him I was a lesbian and started pushing him away, but he wouldn’t budge. We were also blocking the entrance to the bathroom now and there was quite a queue by now. I was clearly uncomfortable, but no one helped me. He continued talking to me, saying things like ‘Did you fall from heaven?’ and ‘Are you absolutely sure you’re a lesbian? You’re not sure, are you? I can see it, you started questioning the minute you saw my face’ After what must have been ten minutes, my best friend showed up (because she was worried something had happened as it wasn’t the first time that night guys were bothering us) and pulled him away from me.
I was still kind of shocked, when another friend (though I didn’t really know him that well) came up to me and asked me what was wrong. I told him some guy had harassed me in the bathroom, to which he replied ‘Oh, I would’ve wanted to join’. At first I thought he had misunderstood me, so I repeated what I just had said, and his response was ‘I know what you said’. That same ‘friend’ had been groping my breasts, butt and thighs the entire evening, by the way. At first, I’d thought he was doing it by accident, but it happened one too many times. My scarf actually smelled like him up to two days after that night.
Some time later another guy grabbed me, asking for my name and such. I recognized him, as he had slapped my butt earlier that night and I had yelled at him. Once again, I told him my name and that I’m a lesbian and once again, the guy didn’t seem very bothered by that fact. He was actually rather excited by it and he told me it was his dream to fuck a lesbian. I was absolutely horrified, but thank god my best friend and her boyfriend came to my rescue. The guy got somewhat aggressive, so we decided it was time to leave.
Up to this day, I’m still wondering what the hell I’d been doing wrong that night.
I was at my favorite nightclub with a group of friends on a Saturday night, standing on the edge of the dancefloor. I was chatting to one of my male friends when I felt someone pinch my bum. I turned around and the groper and his friend, who I vaguely recognize as being a year older than me at the local boys school, are leering at me. I glared at them and turned around.
Not ten seconds later, it happened again – I turned around and said “Please stop doing that, or I will ask a bouncer to make you leave”. Ten seconds later – again. I turned around and told him bluntly to fuck off, before attempting to walk away.
But before I could, he did it again and attempted to drag my by my top towards him. So I turned around to face him, smiled sweetly, and motioned towards his drink as if I wanted to taste a bit. Confident his stellar pulling technique had struck gold, he handed it to me. I then had the somewhat immature but very satisfying pleasure of watching the creepy grin drain off his face as I dumped his pint of Stella all over his head. I sauntered away to the cheers of the crowd
#don’tmess #HOLLABACK #