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I was waiting for the bus yesterday and this guy drove by and smiled as he drove by. I didn’t think much it b/c stuff like that happens often. But then he drove by again this time smiled and winked. After he did this again I started to walk away and he drove by again and so I went the opposite way and he followed. It ended with me going to a friend/co worker’s house (he followed me part way there too) and I waited for another friend to pick me up.
This happened on the bus, very near to the station. There was a man whistling very loudly (the wolf whistle). At first, I wasn’t sure quite what was going on, but felt that unmistakable sense of being stared down as I kept my eyes frontward. When it came again, it was more drawn out and insistent. I looked over to see him sunken into his seat looking right at me. Fortunately, he didn’t follow me off the bus as I made an early exit.
A group of boys started asking me if I was going to be a ‘vagina-tologist’ in the future and told me that being that and stripping are the only jobs women should be allowed to do.
I am a college student. I was walking back into the dorms last night with two friends and a group of drunk guys were calling to us outside of their window, saying we were “really pretty” and one even yelling out what was presumably his number. We soon realized that they were doing this to everyone who passed by. They seemed like they were having a blast. Though they were not threatening, I was saddened that calling people out on the street was their idea of a fun night.
This week Hollaback! was featured by Policy Mic, Ottawa Citizen, Ottawa Sun, CNN (iReport), The Root, The Daily Free Press, The Athens News and ;Hollaback!’s ED, Emily May, won an award for being one of the “50 Fearless Minds Changing the World.”
The date for International Anti-Street Harassment Week has been set for March 30th – April 5th, 2014! Check out highlights from previous years on Meet Us On the Street.
Here’s what the HOLLAs around the world have been up to:
Hollaback! Ottawa site leader Julie Lalonde went to the local school école secondaire De La Salle to talk about her work to a group of about 20 students. They loved Hollaback! and a bunch of students downloaded the app on the spot. Lalonde also did an interview with CBC Ottawa where she discussed her impressive work with Hollaback! and more.
Hollaback! Appalachian Ohio site leader Sarah Fick has established herself as a go-to for quotes for local news stories. Fick, along with other members of HB! AO, are also becoming certified Green Dot trainers this week.
Hollaback! Sarajevo has been making great moves as a Bosnia Hollaback street harassment case goes to court! The date has been scheduled for 21st November and they’ll be sure to keep us updated along the way. Hollaback Sarajevo has also become sisters with Yarn Bombing Sarajevo !
Hollaback! Belfast put on a performance of a Witch-y Feminist Fairytale at Witchcraft at the margins: The four confessions of Isobel Gowdie.
Hollaback! Philly’s iReport on cosplayers was vetted and approved by CNN producers! HB leaders Rochelle Keyhan and Anna Kegier are also speaking at the same event as Hillary Clinton and Madeleine Albright at the Pennsylvania Conference for Women!
HOLLA and out!
-The Hollaback! Team
I was out for a run this morning with my two young children (3 and 1) in the jogging stroller. A man in a truck slowed down, honked, and yelled disgusting things out the window as he drove past. Yelled them in front of my children.
In our modern, global society sexual abuse exists as the most colossus impediment to gender equality. Street harassment, in particular, is a human rights issue that it serves as a daily, tangible reminder of the disparity between male and female power and freedoms.
Street harassment is not something restricted to a single culture or one concentrated area of the world. A recent study concluded that street harassment affects 80% of women worldwide, one in five women in the UK and similar figures in the U.S.
Street harassment can be defined as any unwelcome sexual behavior, be it physical or verbal. Catcalling is street harassment. Unwanted sexual looks or gestures are street harassment. Whistling or winking is street harassment.
Street harassment primarily affects women and limits their access to public places in volumes inexperienced by the opposite sex.
Women are forced to change commuting routes, only go to places accompanied, change jobs, quit hobbies and even move neighborhoods in order to avoid further harassment. And even with such radical measures; there is no guaranteeing that sexual harassment will ever stop.
StopStreetHarassment defines the endemic as:
“An invisible problem.. Dismissed as being a “minor annoyance,” a “joke,” or the fault of the harassed person.. it’s a human rights violation that must be addressed”
One of the major misunderstandings with street harassment is that it only comes in physical form. Both men and women largely misapprehend this. Not all forms of abuse come in touching or groping; verbal street harassment is equally as destructive as physical harassment. Just words can be enough to exercise power over somebody.
Sexual comments about women’s clothing, anatomy, or looks, referring to women as “babe”, or “honey”, kissing sounds, howling, pressure for dates, whistling, cat calling and asking about sexual fantasies, preferences, or history are all forms of verbal sexual harassment.
Studies have shown that street harassment can have severely negative implications on the well-being of young adult women, some even going as far as to blame themselves or not leaving their homes in order to avoid it. Public transport is particularly ridden with street harassers since there is nowhere for women to escape to.
An innovative resistance project labeled ”Stop Telling Women to Smile” launched by Brooklyn based artist Tatyana Fazlalizadeh is aimed at curtailing prevalent street harassment in Harlem, New York. Fazlalizadeh places portraits of women, defiant and impactful, in the very spaces where strangers have hounded her. She describes:
“The project is saying that street harassment is not okay. That feeling entitled to treat and speak to women any type of way, is not okay. That demanding a woman’s attention is not okay. That intruding on a woman’s space and thoughts is not okay. That women should be able to walk to the train, to the grocery store, to school – without having to cross the street to avoid the men that she sees already eyeing her as she approaches. That making women feel objectified, sexualized simply because they are women, is not okay”.
Fazlalizadeh’s street posters reflect a wider sentiment expressed by women all over the world that street harassment is simply not a compliment.
Among many things, street harassment is an inconvenience and frustration. Above all else; it is an infringement on women’s essential rights and a derailment of gender equality progression. Sweet Machine best explains this abuse of rights:
“If you speak to a woman who is otherwise occupied, you’re sending a subtle message. It is that your desire to interact trumps her right to be left alone. Street harassment indicates that you believe your desires are a legitimate reason to override her rights.”
For women who are dealing with a daily barrage of physical and/or verbal assault another key issue is at play; there is no telling who is a dangerous perpetrator.
As expressed in my article on Rape Culture in the Feminist Wire, our current milieu is a harrowing one; women are constantly victimized under a culture of physical, emotional and sexual terrorism. This constitutes a culture of rape that maintains an environment of sexual assault so that rape is viewed as normal, and even inevitable.
In this case, a rape culture does not allow for women to differentiate between dangerous and non-dangerous assailants since assault is so prevalent. Any male approaching you can be regarded as a threat, until proven otherwise. Women are forced to remain alert and on-guard, fearing the worst and discerning possible threats from street harassers. This undoubtedly exasperates the magnitude of street harassment.
Male collaboration is absolutely imperative in ending sexual harassment. This is not to say that women need male protection from street harassment — this would be a perpetuation of patriarchal ideals depicting women as helpless damsels and re-enforcing erroneous conceptions of masculinity.
Instead, I am calling for male allies: men who accept that street harassment are endemic and are willing to act on and educate others on this knowledge. Here are some examples male allies expressing their angst towards the problem:
“Harassment is never about complimenting women, and it never has been. You may respond, “But I’m not trying to bother her, just be complimentary.” In that case, see above; it doesn’t matter what your intent is, it matters how what you do is received by her. This can be hard for us as men to hear, but intent doesn’t matter in this case.”
Joe Vess, Former Director of Training at Men Can Stop Rape.
“As men, our silence is deafening and we continue to ignore the canary in the mine which says our community needs to deal with issues of gender and power. Until we see street harassment as the problem that it is, we’ll continue to live in our neighborhoods like the miner who labors in a mine with a dead canary, until it’s too late to get to safety.”
Dr. L’Heureux Dumi Lewis, Assistant Professor at the City College of New York.
Street harassment is ultimately a deplorable method at objectifying, sexualizing and trivializing women. There are many ways for you to act against street harassment.
Educate everyone around you on the importance of refraining from harassment and rally male and female peers to act against it. Sharing a story or joining anti-street harassment organizations is another imperative move towards raising awareness. We won’t end worldwide street harassment, but local initiatives have national impact and slowly but surely, we will erode the street harassment mentality.
What is Sexual Harassment? Facts and Outlines: http://www.un.org/womenwatch/osagi/pdf/whatissh.pdf
Stop StreetHarassment is a nonprofit organization dedicated to documenting and ending gender-based street harassment worldwide: http://www.stopstreetharassment.org/
Femme De LaRue: A powerful documentary on street harassment: http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xsknaq_femme-de-la-rue-sexism-in-the-streets-of-brussels-english-subtitles_webcam
HollaBack is a movement to end street harassment powered by a network of local activists around the world: http://www.ihollaback.org/
Everyday Stranger Harassment and Women’s Objectification (2008) by KimberlyFairchild Laurie A. Rudman: http://www.stopstreetharassment.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/KimberlyFairchildStreetHarassarticle.pdf
A man in a pickup with a female passenger honked and whistled at me as I waited to cross the street.
Exiting the commons when some man comes up behind and says “hey shawty, suck my dick?!”
A guy in my classroom at UB, is constantly on his laptop, with his hand down his pants. I even noticed two of the guys blushing in class, when they realized what he is doing. Nobody has said anything, because the professor is talking, and it makes me uncomfortable every Tuesday and Thursday in Park Hall.