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I’m a teenager from a smaller town. There’s not much to do except walk to the local park or elementary school playground. That day all I wanted was to listen to music on the swings, but there were some young teens that weren’t ok with that. A group of 5 boys not maybe more than a couple of years older than myself started shouting and hooting lewd remarks. As I sat down on the swing 3 of them started walking over to me. One grabbed the swing while the other two stood in front of it. Their friends were gesturing provocatively and one even said he had something more fun I could sit on. I turned on my music to try to ignore them, but not a minute later was I pushed out of the swing and pulled to my feet. I didn’t wait for them to do anything else. I got up kicked the first one I saw in the shin and ran to a friends house to stay for a while. I’m still scared to go back alone.
Hi Team Hollaback,
You may have read the recent news articles on CBC.CA regarding Amanda Todd, a young girl who lived in British Columbia, Canada. This 15 year old was bullied to death after an older male convinced her to flash her breasts while she was on SKYPE with him. He told her she was beautiful and she wanted his attention and approval.
After Amanda showed her breasts, the man waited a year and then attempted to black mail her. He told her he would send the picture out to all of her friends and family if she did not perform a lewd act on camera. She did not and her picture went viral. After that, the man created a face book page that used Amanda’s breast as his picture. Amanda was bullied relentlessly, moved schools a couple of times, attempted suicide a couple of times and unfortunately succeeded in killing herself at age 15.
While I am very happy that this man has been caught and is being jailed for his behaviour, I think that Canada is missing the main problem. The problem is with our Canadian society and values. We must acknowledge that the individual is only as safe as the community is harmless. In order for this single act to have led to her death our society must have decided it was a heinous act. Here is the ugly list of messages that this young girl received from our misogynistic society;
1. Good women are not sexual women
2. Displaying your breast means you are a person of low morals
3. Persons “low morals” have no right to survive and thrive in our communities
4. Canadians have a right to act as human garbage towards persons of low morals
5. Canadians have the right to marginalize, rape, and torment persons of low morals. (A boy at her second school pretended to like Amanda until he had sex with her. Then, he immediately dumped her and told his girlfriend that Amanda had sex with him. The girls then became vicious, not just mean. That is what I describe as a premeditated, well planned, rape.
6. Men and women in Canada support and embrace misogyny.
It is truly disgusting that Canadian’s do not see that their behaviour was truly barbaric in comparison to a young, 14 year old girl seeking love and attention. Amanda showed her breast to a man who was valuing her and making her feel beautiful. I cannot imagine a more harmless act. Human beings undress in front of each other daily, all 7 billion of us! So let’s get down to what is truly happening here. Male culture is criminalizing female sexuality and women are helping them do it. Amanda did not kill herself because she showed her breasts to a man. She killed herself because she became a target of the human garbage that she lived amongst on a daily basis. What conclusion must we come to? We must conclude that we are truly a heinous group of people who take a great deal of pleasure in hurting others. I can attest to the fact that people never seem to tire of hurting others in large and small ways. I also understand that there are people who do not behave in this manner. Unfortunately, they are rare in this region. So, my question is, can a few really change the nature of many? It is truly a daunting task.
Hollaback, you are a light in the middle of darkness and I am thankful for all of the work that you do. I struggle every day to feel the optimism that you have in your hearts. Being a female in Canada is similar to being a Jewish person surrounded by Nazis. As long as you are controlled and without power, they have no problem with you. The minute you act outside the acceptable range they attack. This is the ugly truth about our society. Clearly no transgression is too small to trigger the hate.
Amanda, I’ve got your back!! So very sorry it is too little too late. All I can do is share your story with people who would have helped you if they had only known about it in time.
With deep gratitude for all that you do Hollaback!!
– Linda Duff
This December, Hollaback! is honoring our site leaders with the 31 days of HOLLA. Each day of the month, we’ll highlight the work of one of our amazing sites around the world.
Who’s our HOLLAhero for December 1st? Hollaback! Dublin!
In Hollaback! Dublin’s first year they’ve blown us away: marching in Dublin Pride, traveling to NYC for HOLLA::Revolution, generating major national and regional press, and celebrating their first birthday! Send them some love at dublin.ihollaback.org!
Today, in honor of Transgender Day of Remembrance, we’re taking some time to read over a section from our #HarassmentIs publication. These stories highlight many of ways that transfolks experience violence and discrimination in public spaces. At Hollaback!, we believe that everyone should have equal and safe access to public spaces. This Transgender Day of Remembrance we encourage you to share your stories and stand up against street harassment. Let’s work together to make spaces safer for everyone.
From pages 29-31 of Harassment Is: An Exploration of Identity and Street Harassment
“I always fancy myself one of the bros. I’ve struggled with the idea of being transgender, but have a deep rooted belief in loving my body no matter what….but [once I was harassed] ..I didn’t feel fear. What I did feel though was humiliation and disconnect. In one comment a complete stranger disrupted my place in my group.” – Hollaback!’er
Transgender people may feel that their assigned sex at birth does not match their internal sex or gender. Trans identities, like most identities, exist on a wide spectrum.
Many people exist outside of the either/or of man or women, or come to those identities in different ways. Sadly, a lot of people who identify as trans and/or gender-non conforming face violence, harassment, sexualization, fetishization, and discrimination. Sometimes this violence can be physical, and sometimes it can also be psychological. Imagine what it feels like to not be seen for who you are.
The story below highlights some of the anger, sadness, and frustration that can come along with not being seen as your gender and experiencing street harassment. Elizabeth writes,
“I was walking out of Starbucks and two college-age looking guys yelled “faggot” at me. I am a transgender woman and I have no problem with people noticing that I am a transgender woman. I am very offended when people call me things that I am not. I was so angry that I threw my coffee to the ground and just got in my car and left.” http://bit.ly/15U0qMs
The next story sheds light on the very real threat of violence and escalation of street harassment as a trans* person. One Hollaback!’er writes,
“I think often when we speak about transgender issues, that human voice and visibility is missing. Therefore, I feel it is important to share one of my own stories with bathroom harassment. Often when I first was transitioning, I would do my best to avoid public restrooms…When you are transitioning from using the female restrooms to male restrooms a lot changes. You fear going into female restrooms because women constantly tell you that you are in the wrong restroom. They yell at you, and protect their children like you are going to hurt them…See, because as much as we fear that verbal harassment, I now fear the physical assault upon entering the men’s restroom. It’s hard to confront those who know you or strangers when they state you don’t have a penis, this means you are not a man, get out, freak, etc…It’s not only the physical threat that scares me when this happens, but the mental damage of constantly feeling threatened or fearing another assault as I choose what uniform to wear any given day: is it the straight male, the gay male, the butch female that will cause me the least harm, and more so why must we choose what option means least harm. Which option will disarm those directing assaults at me.”
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
Fall is in full swing here at Hollaback. I was in GLAMOUR MAGAZINE (in france no less!) with our site leaders from London and France (pictured above), and we launched SEVEN new sites this week! They include:
Recommendations for policymakers! Based on our findings in the report “When Street Harassment Comes Indoors,” we made a list of recommendations for policy-makers and service providers looking for ideas to combat street harassment. Check them out and pass them on to your local legislators.
Hollaback Benefit Drag show, September 22nd at Stonewall! This Party to benefit Hollaback will feature Music Spun all night by Dj Executive Realness and two drag shows hosted by Frostie Flakes! Suggested donation at the door $5. RSVP on facebook, here.
Thank you, Vicky! As you may remember, Vicky Simister from the UK Anti-Street Harassment Campaign was here in our office helping us with social media and our new college campaign this summer. She was an incredible volunteer, and on a more personal note, became an incredible friend. She may no longer work at Hollaback, but she’ll always be a Hollaback girl in our hearts!
Welcome, Tabasum! Tabasum Wolayat comes from Afganistan and is volunteering with us for the next three weeks before she heads off to a Master’s program at Oxford. She won awards for her undergraduate thesis on street harassment in Afganistan, and is currently working with Young Women For Change to launch Afganistan’s first women-only internet cafe.
Hollaback Baltimore holds first ever Street Harassment water balloon fight! THIS IS A MUST WATCH VIDEO:
Hollaback South Africa fights for women to be allowed to sing in public. Check out this video of their powerful campaign:
Whew! Whatta week. It wouldn’t be possible without your support.
HOLLA and out –
Walking home from station, hollared at & hooted at from a passing car. Made me mad as I am in my fifties/old enough to be their grandma I reckon. It is soooo unnecessary.
I hereby would like to sincerely apologize, for having ignored your questions today.
I must say that I’m not proud of myself. And I will try to be nicer the next time.
This being said, I would also like to take a moment to help you with your search.
If I understood correctly, you are looking for someone to fuck.
Allow me to point out, that shouting at a random girl, might not be a good way to handle it.
Women kind of need foreplay, you see.
I advise you to try eye contact the next time. And some small talk, before asking the girl on a proper date. A nice restaurant. Maybe a movie.
It takes some effort, but I’m sure you’ll multiply your chances of getting lucky very fast.
On the other hand, if you already know that women need some warming up, this becomes a whole other story. In that case I think you should find out why you enjoy being impolite.
Is it because your mother and sister hit you repeatedly, which made you hate all women? Or do you just have a teeny-tiny little weiner?
Whatever the issue may be, I truly hope you understand what your problem is.
Because I sure don’t.
Any which way, I wish you a good day and a quick lay.
This guy took a picture of me on the subway. He forgot to turn off the flash so I caught him and decided to return the favor.
Hey Hollabackers —
I’m on vacation this week, but our fierce staff and volunteers are keeping the movement moving (with your support of course)! Here’s the roundup:
CATS against CATCALLING tumblr launches! Check it out — and if you love it — spread the word! We’ll have it up for a month, and longer if it takes off. You can submit your own “kitteh” too!
Hollaback! Melbourne Organizes a Site Launch Party! Entry is $5 and includes tea/coffee, special ‘holla’ cupcakes, a Hollaback badge and an arts and crafts station. Guest speaker Lauren Rosewarne will be speaking at 8pm. More details are here.
Hollaback NYC Calls for Local Assemblymember who Sexually Harassed Staff to Step Down. We wrote the statement last Saturday, a day after the allegations were made public, and he stepped down as Brooklyn party boss later in the week. We’re continuing to push for him step down from his Assembly seat, so stay tuned. Our full statement can be found here.
Boston Chalked it up! Check out their street art here (and to the right!).
Rebecca Faria, Founder of Hollaback! Halifax spoke at “Walk With Her: DIY Healthcare.” The description reads, “The healthcare debate has never been so heated, but we’re meeting outside the OR rooms and talking about the things that really do matter most; building walkable cities, accessible mental health services, and how to make “local” more than a slogan.” We couldn’t agree more! Details for the event are here and you can follow Hollaback Halifax on facebook here. Hollaback Halifax has been embraced by the recently launched “GAYBOURHOOD WATCH,” a community organization to prevent crime and violence in Halifax’s gay neighbourhood. Check out their press mentions on CBC (Hollaback ismentioned at 5:40 and again about a minute later), Metronews, and Openfile.
Don’t we have the best team in the world? I think so. And you’re part of it.
HOLLA and out —