A Week in Our Shoes

Week in Our Shoes: PARTY EDITION

Dear Hollabackers,

I’m thrilled to share all the amazing things Hollaback has been up to across the world this week.

Here in New York I spoke on a panel called Building Healthy Relationships: Preventing Sexual Assault and Dating Violence on Campus hosted by the Center Against Domestic Violence, and Debjani, our Deputy Director, and I attended the New York Women’s Foundation’s 25th Anniversary Celebration on Tuesday which included speeches by prominent women leaders. In addition, The Gothamist included Hollaback in a story about a sickening case of sexual assault which occurred on a New York City subway early last Saturday morning. Please be aware that the video posted in the article has strong content.

And these are some events that our Hollaback activists have been involved in this week:

Hollaback Atlanta‘s relaunch and re-boost party featured the musical stylings of feminist punk band War on Women. What a badass way to spark change in the community.

Hollaback Birmingham just launched a campaign on University of Birmingham’s campus! This is going to be huge and there’s a lot in the works. See more details here.  Not only that but these activists are also getting involved with a ton of progressive sexual harassment initiatives on campus. Great job guys!

Hollaback Brussels was on national television! French speakers be sure to check out these amazing ladies on TF1 French TV.

The Hollaback Des Moines and SlutWalk forces are joining to present HOLLAween – a campaign and event for empowered women and men to say NO to victim-blaming, slut-shaming, and sexual harassment. Those who aren’t in the area can still support them by downloading their Facebook cover photos.

Hollaback Dublin is also getting into the holiday spirit with a HOLLAween-themed pub quiz.

Hollaback Istanbul‘s visual and performance art fundraiser party was a huge success. Their Get Up, Stand Up event raised awareness about ending harassment and violence in all its forms. Donations and proceeds benefited local anti-violence organizations.

Hollaback Philadelphia made their presence known in a group of hundreds who participated in the Slut Walk. This event aimed to demand respect and to help create safe spaces to share our stories.

Hollaback Winnipeg started a vlog (video blog) series about their work and bystander actions. This is such a creative advocacy tool and I’m looking forward to tuning in every Monday for a new installment. View their first post below:

I’m so proud to have such a strong family of activists working together to end street harassment.

HOLLA and out,

Emily May

Executive Director

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Verbal

Cole’s story: Caught on camera

So leaving the Central Library, I encountered this dude who I said nothing to and as I headed to street behind the library where I parked he hollered several remarks about my “ass” which I ignored completely. I pulled my car around and photographed him harassing two other women. He began a slew of “bitch” this and that and as he threatened to kick my ass for taking his picture and said he would see me again. I assured him that he would. “I don’t give a **** about no police…blah blah blah.” Apparently, he does, since he brought up police; not I. Thought immediately of Hollaback!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Nicola's Got Nerve

Nicola’s Got Nerve: On Remaining Alert and Using Your Voice

This post, by Nicola Briggs, is part of a series of posts that we call Nicola’s Got Nerve. You may remember Nicola from this incident caught on camera which was viewed by more than 1.5 million people and which sparked outrage from all corners of the globe, bringing street harassment to the forefront of women’s rights issues. We admire’s Nicola’s ability to turn a traumatic event into focused action through writing and activism, and we think you will too.

I know how it is: you’re tired because you stayed up late last night studying or with friends, and you just can’t help yourself from nodding off on that long subway ride into Brooklyn for work. So you do because you’ve taken that route so many times, it’s broad daylight, and you’ve seen so many other people do it. How could it be unsafe? But it is, especially if you’re a woman traveling alone.

Or perhaps you’re standing on a busy subway platform during rush hour reading the newspaper. So you don’t happen to notice a man that has been staring at you and getting too close for comfort. Predators like this rely on their surroundings to hide what they’re doing. Above ground, if someone were to stand that close to you, you’d be immediately aware of it and move away. But because we expect to be packed in with hundreds of others below ground, it gives the sexual predator a psychological advantage and a reason to be inappropriately close to you. However, this crime of opportunity doesn’t only happen during rush hours, but can just as easily occur in the middle of the day on an almost deserted platform as well, because predators like this are searching for three things: someone who they perceive is not a threat to them, someone who is not alert, and someone who they feel will not fight back. In short, this type of predator is searching for a woman alone, who they will try to violate.

This problem in our subway system seems to be growing, with predators getting more and more brazen. Even the prospect of time behind bars doesn’t seem to deter this dangerous type of anti-social behavior. I should know. After I was attacked in 2010, the perpetrator got out on bail and was caught again just a few weeks later for doing the exact same thing to another woman. So the law, which so far treats most of these crimes as misdemeanors, has not been a deterrent to these criminals. On October 6, at around 1:30 pm, police reported that another woman was forcibly touched and subjected to indecent exposure on the Lorimer Street J train platform. (The litany of cases just goes on and on, doesn’t it?)

Fortunately, we’ve got an influential ally in Public Advocate Bill De Blasio who’s trying to change the categorization of these sexually violent offenses to that of felony. He understands the danger that New York women are in if we can’t secure greater penalties for this type of offense. In the meantime, he advises using self-defense to protect yourself and others, by specifically using the power of your voice to defend yourself. “If you feel uncomfortable; you feel something is about to happen, make noise,” De Blasio said. “Make that scene, because it might save you or other people on the train from an attack. Better to make the noise; better to create the distraction, that to wish later you had.”

I could not agree more. I know that if I had not raised my voice (for exactly 8 minutes of controlled screaming, calling attention to the perpetrator and waiting for transit police to arrive), the perpetrator would have gotten away and violated someone else that day. So while it’s more than unfortunate that women have got to remain on alert, it is within our power to defend ourselves just by raising our voices. By using your voice and announcing what is happening to you, you’re able to present yourself to a predator as not standing for this type of behavior, and to onlookers as a person in need of (and deserving of) their help. In short, the power of your voice can protect you from harm and can protect others. It may not seem like the polite thing to do to raise your voice in public, to announce in graphic terms what a predator has tried to do to you, but as De Blasio explains, it’s better to act now so you won’t have regrets later. Remember ladies, raise your voices, and don’t let good manners ruin your day.

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Verbal

K.’s story: “He respected that I had a boyfriend more than he acknowledged that what he did was harassment”

My boyfriend and I were out in Charlotte’s NoDA district, walking to the car after dinner. Someone behind us started calling out “hey baby” and a few other things, then he asked something like “is that your girl” to my boyfriend.

I turned around angrily to face him. He approached, told me his name and some other crap I don’t remember, and asked me my name. I told him that I don’t give out my name, and that I was trying (emphasis on trying) to enjoy a night out with my boyfriend. I had a pretty strong sense that he would respect that I had a boyfriend more than he would respect that I on my own was not interested in him, and aside from that, I wanted to have a nice night out with my partner, and he was ruining our good time.

As expected, he respected that I had a boyfriend more than he acknowledged that what he did was harassment. He shook my boyfriend’s hand, said a few things, and left.

I've got your back!
24+

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A Week in Our Shoes

Week in our shoes: CHANGEMAKERS EDITION

Dear Hollabackers,

I am always excited to share how the Hollaback movement is constantly gaining momentum; and this week is no different.

We’re thrilled to be a finalist in the Ashoka Changemaker’s competition. If you haven’t already, show your holla love and vote for us! Polls close on 11/6 so be sure to make your voice heard today. If we’re among the top three, we’ll win $10,000.

We testified at City Hall on sexual harassment at colleges in NYC. This work was part of our new effort to eradicate street harassment from college campuses (there’s already an NYU site and Rutgers University is soon to join the family). Learn more here.

We rallied against sexual harassment at City Hall! Check out Debjani, our Deputy Director, and Justine, our International Movement Intern, who were pictured in the Village Voice at a rally against sexual harassment in the workplace last week.

Congratulations Jill Dimond, our Lead Technical Developer! Her paper examining Hollaback and the role of storytelling online was accepted into the Conference on Computer Supported Cooperative Work and Social Computing.

Here’s what our sites around the world have been up to this week:

Hollaback Baltimore held another successful “offline event.” These events are intended to build the movement on a more personal level by bringing together allies to vent, share tips, and swap stories.

Hollaback Sheffield hosted an Anti Sexual Street Harassment day advocacy event on The University of Sheffield’s campus. On top of that they also held an interactive confidence-building workshop.

Hollaback Edinburgh held a day workshop with speakers, workshops, a film screening, cake, and a lot of badass feminism.

Hollaback Chennai participated in a twitter discussion as part of Violence Against Women Awareness Month and shared some useful tips about how to combat street harassment.

Hollaback Philadelphia tackled the issue of sex trafficking and labor trafficking in their community this week. The event, which was sponsored by Pennsylvania State Senator Daylin Leach, included a film screening of Not My Life and a panel discussion.

 

Let’s make next week as great as this one.

HOLLA and out,

Emily

 

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groping, public masturbation

Mariana’s story: “We live in a country where the freedom of speech is guaranteed but in the streets we don’t feel that.”

Everyday and everywhere women get harassed.
I would like to share three stories that happened to me on a daily basis:
1. I got out of the subway and went up the stairs that guide you to the street exit. While I was climbing up the stairs a 40′ year old man was going down, passed right next to me and touched slightly my buttock. I look behind to see his face and kept on going thinking to myself “it’s not worth it to say anything right now…just keep going”. A minute later, I felt a finger pressing between my legs and I saw him (so he came back, climbed up and touched me again!) I pushed him hard and screamed: “What the f**k man!” really angry! He looked at me and I saw a glimpse of a smile. At that moment I felt powerless and went away quickly.
2. I was walking down a street with a friend to school some years ago when I was still in high school. We saw a man walking in the opposite way, towards us. There was nothing suspicious about the guy until the exact moment when we crossed he came close to my ear and whispered “I would lick all of you baby, you’re so fine”. Again I felt powerless because I felt that I couldn’t even reply and defend myself even in a verbal way because he could attack us or hurt us…it’s frustrating
3. Me and two girlfriends were having a great picnic in a park next to the river. We were having such a great time eating our snacks and talking until we realised there was an old man sitting in the nearest park seat touching himself on his baggy shorts, clearly jerking off, looking our way! We decided to pack our stuff and go away. At that time I couldn’t help myself and started screaming so that everyone in the park would look at him and see what was going on instead of just passing by without saying a word. I screamed “What the f**k are you doing! go home! that’s disgusting! people look at this man, he is touching himself! don’t you have a daughter, a grandchild? go home! you’re disgusting!”

We live in a country where the freedom of speech is guaranteed but in the streets we don’t feel that. We have to shut up, put our earplugs, walk quickly, look behind each street corner and don’t reply on any comment.

I've got your back!
27+

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Verbal

Danielle’s story: A new strategy to end street harassment

I moved from the suburbs of Maryland into the lovely city of Washington D.C. but I seem to never be able to enjoy this beautiful city because my head is constantly down. I’ve been a victim of street harassment since I had on a training bra but never to this extent. I went from driving everywhere easily getting to point A to point B to walking and biking everywhere and experiencing catcalls constantly. I’ve recently become more invovled in the issue of street harassment and have a true burning passion to try to put an end to it. I believe there is a way to stand up to these perpentrators without escalating the situation. After being harassed on my way to tutor at an Elementary School around the corner from my house, I, for possibly the first time ever, looked the guy in the eye and told him to not “fucking” speak to women that way and he laughed at me. While the word “fucking” should not have been used, but nevertheless when I passed him on the way back he didn’t dare even look up at me. I got home and thought more about what happened. I realised that it’s important to keep your composure to effectively get your point through to the harasser. I also realised that there it’s almost impossible to do that by yelling something back, or giving the person the finger. So I sat down at my computer and typed up some words which eventually led me to making a flyer to hand to the street harasser. What I do is I fold the piece of paper up very small , so perhaps when I hand it to them they think I’m giving them my number. I look them in the eye but with no emotion. The time it takes for them to un-fold the piece of paper gives me enough time to distance myself from the person, possibly be out of sight. I wouldn’t do this on a train, bus or at night when no one’s around but most of the time I’m harassed is in daylight on the street. I’ve been to many city’s and I’ve never seen harassment so intense as it is in D.C. I think it’s important to put information directly in the perpetrators face. Yes, there’s the street harassment ad campaign in D.C. which I appreciate, but you cannot make someone read those signs. You can make a website dedicated to to end up street harassment but you also cannot make anyone read that. So with the flyer, maybe they read it or maybe they crumble it up, spit and stomp on it. But the point is that they see it and maybe some of these people will just think about it for a moment. I could go on an on about this as I’m sure a lot of people could, but I’ll stop here. Thanks

I've got your back!
23+

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Nicola's Got Nerve, Uncategorized

Nicola’s Got Nerve: On Freezing in the Face of Danger

This post, by Nicola Briggs, is part of a series of posts that we call Nicola’s Got Nerve. You may remember Nicola from this incident caught on camera which was viewed by more than 1.5 million people and which sparked outrage from all corners of the globe, bringing street harassment to the forefront of women’s rights issues. We admire’s Nicola’s ability to turn a traumatic event into focused action through writing and activism, and we think you will too.

“It’s not your fault, even if you did nothing.” Many women who have been the target of a sexual attack, whether in the form of public groping, molestation, or rape, have heard this said to them, but find it hard to believe this true statement, because they “didn’t try to get away” during the moment. There are so many valid reasons why this is factual, and must be taken to heart. In many situations, it can be extremely unsafe to act against a predator, which include a fear of aggravating the situation and incurring further harm; but what most survivors of sexual violence don’t know is that their response, freezing in the face of danger,  is actually one of the most common and natural responses to a threat.

For example, imagine a herd of impala grazing peacefully by the river. They are alert for danger, but also relaxed and enjoying their afternoon meal. There is a gentle breeze that blows across the river, and on this breeze, mingled with many other smells, they can detect something very familiar, but not exactly reassuring. A few heads look up from their grazing, but they don’t spot anything out of the ordinary, so their heads go back down, concentrating on their meal. This is the moment the cheetah has been waiting for. He charges out of the nearby tall grasses where he’s been hiding and the herd instantly reacts. As one unit, they start racing across the Savannah  and the chase is underway. But one young impala trips on a rock, and even though he immediately recovers, that split-second of vulnerability is all the cheetah needs. The young impala tries his utmost to get away, but the cheetah overtakes him at 70 mph and, with one last lunge, brings him down. In the moment either just before or at the moment of first contact between the impala and the cheetah, the prey, the impala, suddenly drops lifelessly to the ground. And he’s not even wounded yet.

So why does this happen? It’s called the “immobility response,” or you might know it as “playing possum.” It’s one of the three ways that reptiles and mammals have to react in the face of overwhelming threat, the other two being fight or flight. All are instinctual efforts at self-preservation. The young impala may be torn limb from limb in the next instant by the cheetah, so “freezing” allows his body and mind to go into another state where they feel no pain during this brutal death. This instinctual “freezing” would also allow him to remain in another state, perhaps while his body was dragged into the cheetah’s den to be consumed later. In which case, he would effectively “wake up” and have a chance to try and escape again.

I’ve used this nature tale to not only illustrate how animals are effortlessly wise, but to validate an often maligned response to danger– freezing– which for many survivors of sexual violence can be a key to surviving the trauma of being attacked. Remember, it’s never your fault, especially if you did nothing. Because you did nothing wrong at all.

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Verbal

Emily’s story: “I shouldn’t have to adjust my lifestyle to accommodate for sexual harassment.”

I was walking home today and an unpleasant thing happened. It made me kinda angry and I felt like doing something about it. So here is my short story, fueled by my desire to end street harassment:

I live in Queensland, Australia in a respectful, middle-class, and reasonably safe suburb of Brisbane. It is currently 1.26pm on a Tuesday afternoon. I’d say the temperature was a warm 25 degrees Celsius. For this reason, I chose to wear a singlet, shorts, and runners to my morning at university. When I was walking home, an unpleasant thing happened. A car full of young men drove past and yelled out to me. This has happened many times before, which is a sad fact in itself. I’d been previously been yelled to “show us ya tits”, “gimme a piece of that”, or just simply “nice ass”. Each time this has happened it leaves me feeling insecure, unhappy, and a little bit guilty for something. I’ve wondered whether I should dress the way I do, if maybe a longer skirt would have prevented it, or if I’d walked down a side-street instead of the highway things might have been better. But now I’ve realised I shouldn’t have to think these things. I shouldn’t have to adjust my lifestyle to accommodate for sexual harassment.

The big thing is, I’ve never known what to do in these situations. I’m not good at thinking up witty retorts and even if I was, maybe something worse would happen if I yelled back. Its incredibly frustrating to feel so powerless against something you detest. However, I’ve discovered the Hollaback! campaign after being particularly enraged this afternoon.

When a car full of young men drove past me this afternoon, they yelled at me to “get in the car” and drove away laughing. As usual, I didn’t understand the point of this (what did they hope to achieve? Did they think it was funny? Did they actually want me to get in the car and do… what exactly?). But this remark was more offensive than any I had experienced before. This is because abduction, particularly towards young women, is a serious problem and cracking jokes about it is something I just can’t understand or appreciate. I’m sick and tired of being on the receiving end of these comments. If these actions are becoming normalised and accepted as part of everyday life, I won’t be able to feel safe, secure, or happy whenever I leave the house.

The Hollaback! campaign has my full support to end street harassment.

Hopefully one day I can wear a pair of shorts, a singlet, a skirt, or whatever I want without the fear of being harassed. Maybe one day someone will yell to me “I love your dress!”. I’d be ok with that.

I've got your back!
19+

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A Week in Our Shoes

Week in our shoes: CNN Edition

Dear Hollabackers,

I’m excited to share all the quality work our hollabackers are doing around the world this week:

CNN featured us three times this week! The article, “Hey Baby! Women Speak Out Against Cat Calls,” was put on prominent display on CNN’s website. The article was accompanied by a CNN radio broadcast where I was interviewed (listen in here). These pieces brought on a storm of comments so big as to constitute yet another CNN article just about that impromptu debate. A quick look will show you that we still have a lot of work to do.

We are so grateful to author Yashar Ali who will donate part of the profits of his first book, tentatively titled “On Her Terms: The Modern Woman’s Guide to Rewriting the Rules of Romance,” to Hollaback! His empowering book which reframes the issues that have frustrated women for so many years will hit the shelves late next year. Thank you, Mr. Ali!

Another big thanks to the Simplicity Metrics team for volunteering to make an amazing infographic for us (click the image to expand) using our research conducted with Cornell University. Feel free to share this on your blogs and among your networks.

I spoke at a New York City Council meeting on Wednesday where I presented about our work on a panel with other leaders working to end sexual harassment and assualt. We’re ready to kick some butt, legislative style.

Welcome Debjani Roy, our new Deputy Director! She’s already hard at work repping Hollaback at this week’s NOW rally about ending sexual harassment in the work place. 

 

Here’s what our sites worldwide have been up to:

Hollaback Chandigarh organized a self-defense workshop this week in response to a recent outbreak of violence against women in the city. There was a great turn out at their one hour introductory class to teach basic skills that women can use if they are attacked.

Hollaback Winnipeg is in the running to be a part of Free Press’ National Conference for Media Reform! Vote for them so their session can be included in the conference and their message can be heard by big time media-makers. Show some love and spread the word.

Hollaback Melbourne was featured on the Channel 10 Breakfast Show (link to come soon) where hollabackers discussed what they’ve been up to. Another TV interview is in the works for them so stay tuned.

Keep up the awesome work! I can’t wait to see what’s in store for us next.

Holla and out,

Emily

 

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