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i worked in a high end Italian restaurant, everyday anything I wore I would get hollered by the staff. I felt very uncomfortable.. I am just 19 years old and these men are in their mid 40s and above..plus this was a new job for me.. I couldn’t step in the kitchen without hearing a whistle or someone trying to grab my butt.. It just got to the point that I had to quit that job.. And now am afraid to work in any other restaurants due to the harassment that happens in the kitchen/ restaurant.
Yesterday on the way home from the gym I was walking quickly wearing my black gym pants and a lululemon jacket. I was in no way looking inappropriate.
I was carrying bags ontop of my gym bag as i was having people for dinner that night. As i was walking one way a few people came into my path as they had just crossed the street so as i was weaving through a few people, a large man wearing sunglasses was passing by behind me and he leaned in quickly into my ear and said “damn!”. There are two things, one why did he feel like he had the right to invade my space to get in my ear like that and what did he think would happen as a result? That i would fall down to my knees right then and there and suck him off? What are these ass hats actually thinking?! I kept walking briskly and refused to give him the time of day. But it’s disgusting.
We’re back with our HOLLA-Who series, profiling the amazing site leaders who take on street harassment in their local communities. In the HOLLA-Who series, we learn about what street harassment is like around the world, and what activists are doing today to push back and fight for the right to equal access to public spaces.
Today we’re talking with the amazing Wacu from Hollaback! Nairobi. Wacu started up Hollaback! Nairobi with Class 12, launching back in January. Since then, the site has had a TON of press and on-the-ground awareness, and we’re excited to see where it’ll go!
Why did you start the Hollaback! site in Nairobi, and what inspired you to join on?
“I had one particularly bad harassment incident one day just outside my house and I realized I couldn’t just ignore it anymore, Hollaback! gives me reassurance that I am not alone and the strength/courage to speak out so I can go about my business without being scared i might get harassed...”
What’s a HOLLA-fact about your city?
“Nairobi means City in the Sun.“
Say you’re the Queen for a day. What would you do to end street harassment?
“I would probably put up screens everywhere and make everyone watch a one hour video of how serious an issue this is for people to continuously ignore.”
What was your first experience with street harassment?
“I honestly can’t remember. I just know I have been complaining for years about being stared at and talked to by weird strangers on the street.“
Given that you’ve had years to perfect it, what’s your signature Hollaback!?
“Do I look like I need you to say anything to me?“
We’re all about the right to define yourself. What’s your personal style?
“Harsh and Brutally Honest.“
What’s your super-heroine power?
“I can talk myself out of anything.”
Serious question time. Would you rather have a dragon or be a dragon?
“Be a dragon. Having one would require worrying about feeding it.“
What is your proudest HOLLA-Moment so far?
“Ask me in 6 months“
If you could leave the world one piece of advice, what would it be?
“Honesty really makes things simple.“
What are you excited about for 2015?
“Holla::REV London in June”
What inspires you in this work?
“My Son and how he is an exact copy of me means I have to set a good example.”
And finally, in the year 2020, street harassment will be…
“In the year 2020, street harassment will be on its final days“
A big thank you to Wacu from Hollaback! Nairobi!
Holla and out!
A man in a pickup truck made a lewd kissing gestures at me while I was walking home from work.
Just now on campus, an older man came up behind me and said “I like how you walk” I turned around startled and he repeated “I like the way you are walking”. I muttered thanks under my breath, hoping he would walk away, but I guess he didn’t hear me because he said “say thank you” and then louder “SAY THANK YOU!” I stared him down and didn’t say a word, even though I was scared of his aggressive attitude.
A man in a pickup truck yelled to me from traffic about my appearance as I was walking to work.
We hope your week is going well. Here at headquarters we are busy bees buzzing from project to project keeping everything pollinated and growing. Executive Director Emily spent time in Spokane, Washington doing a training with the Washington Coalition for Sexual Assault Prevention. We also released episode 6 of our vlog With Love and Revolution which explores our stance on criminalization of street harassment. Speaking of videos, an amazing young filmmaker created the awesome short film STOP.
On top of all of these great projects, we took the time to stop and smell the roses this week and celebrate 2 great events. First, we met our goal for our Kickstarter campaign raising $20,989 with the amazing support of 572 backers. Second, Executive Director Emily celebrated her 5 year anniversary of founding Hollaback! as a nonprofit this week. How awesome is that!?
If this week has been as busy for you as it has been for us, make sure to take some time this weekend for self care. These kicks sites could definitely use some rest and relaxation with all the great work they’ve been doing:
Hollaback! Bahamas attended the Peace Revolution Central America and Caribbean fellowship in Guatemala.
Hollaback! Peterborough had their launch party. They had a press conference before hand & then a wonderful evening of slam poetry, musical performances & a cat costume contest. They’ve also gotten local media television & radio spots and were interviewed for CBC Radio!
Take a break this weekend so we can meet next week with a storm!
Holla and out!
I had been to the hospital and was unfamiliar with the bus route and had to wait for about an hour in central Halifax. Whilst walking towards Smiths a group of men dispersed in the crowd were watching me. At least one asked me if I had been paid for it. I was harassed for ten minutes on and off and I felt uncomfortable standing near the bus stop. I dislike smokers and found I could only waste ten minutes in the vegan cafe that I only discovered about six weeks ago. I felt very uncomfortable going to do a bit of shopping. As a staunch Christian feminist I will avoid like the plague the area as it is clearly unsafe. I try not to use public transport at all and I stopped going to Bradford due to the roaring car engines and thumping car radios.
I chose Halifax hospital due to it being nice and modern but it is too far to go if travelling by bus.
Just now my neighbour’s daughter’s boyfriend said something derogatory as I was mowing the lawn.
Julia Retzlaff, an amazing young (18 year-old!!) filmmaker created the awesome short film STOP. about street harassment. Julia has worked as a T.A. for the Bay Area Video Coalition’s (BAVC) beginning video track as well as a freelance editor and researcher for BAVC Productions. We are so excited to see young emerging artists speaking to the realities of street harassment. According to our recent study, 85% of US women report experiencing their first harassment before the age of 17.
I believe it was my senior year of high school. I had dressed up nicely that day, wearing a dress – heels and all – to promote a dance concert that was the following evening. During one of my classes I left, most likely to use the restroom, and on my way back to the classroom I was approached by a male student in the hallway. I had never met him before, he was probably in a different grade, so I continued walking past him. He started trying to get my attention by calling me “shawty”. He began following me down the hallway yelling things at me. “Damn girl, why you all dressed up?” “You look real good today.” “Why don’t you turn around so I can get a good look at ya?” I did what most women do and ignored him. He then became angry. I could hear is pace slow behind me until he stopped and shouted, “Fine. Rude bitch.”
I never said anything to this boy or school authorities (which I now realize I should have at least brought it to their attention) but it does worry me that even though his volume was so loud, in an empty hallway, with classes going on, that none of the teachers or students thought it necessary to stop harassment on school grounds. That was not the only time I was the victim of cat-calling on campus during school hours. It never even mattered what I was wearing or if I was alone or if the harasser was alone.
Street harassment shouldn’t happen anywhere, let alone the halls of a school. I would urge Eaglecrest High School to pay more attention to the way their students treat their classmates. I can assure them I was not breaking the dress code that day or any day, but it never stopped me from being the target of someone’s harassment.