Today activists from eight cities around the world are bringing the movement to end street harassment to their communities. We are honored to be able to continue this work and we thank you for helping us make this happen!
Meet our new site leaders by watching this one minute video here, and take a minute to support their work by visiting their city-specific web pages and sharing your story, clicking the “I’ve Got Your Back” button on others stories, and/or posting words of encouragement.
Hollaback! works, and if you’re looking for evidence go no farther than our new site leaders:
“Brighton has a reputation as a party destination, and we fully embrace its fun, lively and naughty aspects. However we also need to ensure that the streets are safe for women and LGBTQ individuals, whether they’re out jogging on the seafront or walking to work in the morning” says Karis Ferguson, Director of Hollaback! Brighton.
“Street harassment is a big problem for women in Brussels and also for LGBTQI people. If it is a ‘Bounjour’ in a sleezy voice, whistles by groups of men or even groping – nearly every woman in Brussels knows it. LGBTQI folks on the other hand are often insulted or threatened” explains Julie, Director of Hollaback! Brussels.
“Street harassment does happen in Halifax, but it isn’t widely spoken of, everyone should be able to walk our streets without fear of harassment, intimidation or assault,” said Hollaback! Halifax Director, Rebecca Faria.
These leaders will join our robust community of activists around the world who are committed to ending street harassment. And the movement won’t stop there. Already, activists from an additional 36 cities have contacted us expressing interest bringing the movement to their communities as part of our next training class, which starts starts May 1st and will launch in August.
We couldn’t have done this without you, and we couldn’t be more grateful for your ongoing support. Thank you for helping us expand the movement to end street harassment and we will keep you posted on our progress!
Thanks to Hollaback Ottawa for finding this!
Hollaback in the HOUSE! The White House, that is. Vice President Joe Biden, Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett, and White House Advisor on Violence Against Women Lynn Rosenthal, spoke about the importance of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) and the Administration’s efforts to reduce domestic and dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking victimization. What an honor! Biden’s speech is above — you gotta watch it — it’s amazing.
Our Green Dot partnership grows! Veronica went to a week-long Green Dot training. Afterwards, Dorothy Edwards and Jenn Sayre from Green Dot came into the city and we schemed about how to take our partnership to the next level.
Victoria went to SAY-SO! Victoria joined several other organizations to celebrate survival over rape and sexual assault at Safe Horizon‘s Brooklyn Community Program at the Brooklyn District Attorney’s office.
In the Press! I was interviewed for an article in the Mother Nature Network. Hollaback! London was on BBC Radio 4 and the BBC Women’s Hour.
We Are Losing Catherine! Our wonderful blogging intern Catherine Favorite is leaving us. So here’s a huge thank you to Catherine for all the great work she has done. Thank you, good luck and guest blog for us soon!
HOLLA and out —
Writer/podcast producer Mur Lafferty penned a fantastic letter to her daughter that reads both brutally honest and sweetly optimistic. The whole letter is worth reading by anyone who has ever been a little girl or known someone with a daughter. In other words, you should read it.
“You will not change their mind by arguing, by telling them they are wrong. You change their mind by showing them how being a girl is awesome. You show them by not hiding, by not being demure.
“I gotta say, you are the prettiest little girl I ever did see!”
“‘Thanks?’ You’re awfully matter of fact about that. I guess when a boy tells you how pretty you are, you’ll come home and be like, ‘Oh MOM! He said I was PRETTY!’”
– An older man and my daughter, this weekend
You show them by being more than your looks, even if that’s all people comment on. You show them by your independence. You show them by being more than they expect to see. You show them by not taking their shit.
When I think of little girls, I think of you. I think of perfect math scores, a passion for science, a love of My Little Pony, swords, dressing up as Cleopatra, and having absolutely no shyness or fear. I think of someone with a sharp wit, and frightening skills with a stunt kite. I think of someone with determination – even if you don’t know it yet, I’ve seen it. Whatever you’re determined to do, you manage to do it.”
BY CATHERINE FAVORITE
It’s not every day we come across a political campaign that makes street harassment one of the central points of their platform. In London, however, two of the candidates running for mayor are doing just that. Siobhan Benita, an independent and Ken Livingstone, the Labor Party candidate, have both come out in favor of doing more to prevent street harassment, as a part of their efforts to address violence against women and girls.
Both Livingstone and Benita recently issued their own crime manifestos promising to address street harassment and street violence in London.
Three tenets from Benita’s manifesto include:
• Guaranteed continuation of funding for all four Rape Crisis Centres in London for at least the length of my mayoralty and work with London boroughs to expand provision across the Capital.
• Tackle harassment of women and girls in public spaces in London and on our transport system.
• Develop a London-wide plan to combat forced marriage, honour- based violence and female genital mutilation, including evaluating the effectiveness of current approaches.
Ken Livingstone’s crime manifesto, meanwhile, offers suggestions for more community-organized watches for safer streets and wants to create a public campaign against sexual harassment in London’s public spaces.
Ms. Benita cited the End Violence Against Women (EVAW) coalition, when referencing her reasons for taking an active stance against street harassment, which says: “The four million women and girls who live in London have the right to feel and be safe in their communities, workplaces, at school, on public transport, in the street and at home.”
“As a mother of two daughters, I couldn’t agree more. Furthermore, I believe this statement applies equally to every person living in London, regardless of their sexuality, gender, age, race, faith, or disability.”
If every person with a daughter thought the way Ms. Benita does about making the world a better place for girls to grow up in, or pushed for more public responsibility, like Mr. Livingstone, street harassment would no longer exist. Regardless of who becomes London’s next mayor, this issue now has the potential to become part of the wider discussion on gender and sexuality inequality.
According to fellow anti-street harassment blog, Stop Street Harassment, new legislation proposed yesterday by Councilwoman Muriel Bowser will make it easier for police to apprehend accused public masturbators and flashers on DC’s transport system. If the bill is passed it means that the perpetrators of such crimes are more likely to face a penalty.
The Washington Examiner reported that the legislation will lower standards for officers to arrest individuals for indecent exposure, bringing D.C in line with procedures in Maryland and Virginia. The bill will enable police to make arrests based on enough circumstantial evidence.
The WMATA are addressing the issue thanks to pressure from Collective Action for Safe Spaces, who have been imploring the organization to do more about sexual harassment and assault on the area’s transport system. The team testified in February before D.C. City Council catching the attention of Ward 4 Council Member Muriel Bowser.
Holly Kearl of Stop Street Harassment out lined the next steps for the bill on her blog:
“The bill has been referred to Council Member Mendelson’s Committee on the Judiciary. They need to hold a hearing and then vote on it in a separate mark-up hearing. The full Council then has to vote on it twice to be submitted to the Mayor for signature.”
So here’s a big Hollaback! shout out to Councilmember Bowser for taking notice and doing something awesome. You Rock!
Why do you HOLLA? Because it makes me feel less a victim. Because it is a way to reclaim my right to be seen as a full human being. And because I like it when I take them by surprise.
What’s your signature Hollaback? Depends on the situation. Sometimes in German, because then no one understands, sometimes just “Fuck off”, sometimes “Don’t harass people”. What I did last time was “Jamais vu une femme? Pauvre!” (“Never seen a woman? Poor guy.”)
HOLLAfact about your city: Brussels has a large amount of beautiful Art Déco and Art Nouveau houses.
What was your first experience with street harassment? I was perhaps around fourteen, walking down the street with a friend of mine. A guy drove past, sounded the horn and yelled something unintelligible.
Define your style: Flowers, flowers, flowers on my clothes!
My superheroine/hero power is…..My dark, loud voice. As no harasser would expect this from the girl with the flower dress.
What do you collect? Memories.
Say you’re Queen for the day. What would you do to end street harassment? This might be a bit nasty, but: Force all the harassers out there to be for one day one of the persons they normally harass: women, LGBTQ people etc. So they see how it feels like.
If you could leave the world one piece of advice, what would it be? Don’t wait for someone else to push for change. Go start it yourself.
What inspires you? My three fellow HollaBrussels! girls. We’re a dreamteam!
BY MARIA LUIZA WELTON
“Texts From Hillary” creators Stacy Lamb and Adam Smith were invited to meet with the Secretary of State last Wednesday so she could congratulate and thank them for “all the LOLZ” produced by their “Hillary”ous meme, which the pair have described as being started “on a whim.”
So if you haven’t yet checked out “Texts from Hillary”, it’s about time you did! The blog consists of various pictures of “Hilz” captioned with fantastical text-message conversations. The Secretary of State can be seen sass-mouthing Vice President, Joe Biden, accepting a lunch request from Meryl Streep and rejecting Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook friendship request.
As well as inviting them to meet with her, “Hilz” even took the time to create her own version of the meme, an autographed picture, which she posted on twitter:
I for one appreciated the sass, power and bad-ass swag that inventors Stacy Lamb and Adam Smith attributed to our Secretary of State. There is nothing like seeing a strong woman being portrayed with strength and wit. Check out Hilary’s contribution, which she signed “Thanks for the many LOLZ, Hillary “Hilz!”
BY ELIZABETH SCHULTZ
This was originally posted on econgirl and sent to us by Carey Tan.
My last night in Ouagadougou, I enjoyed a lovely Vietnamese dinner, then went to the street to find a taxi to my hotel. It wasn’t late, but it was just starting to rain, and taxis were scarce, so I started walking in the direction of the hotel, knowing I would be more likely to find a taxi that way.
I was crossing an intersection when a man started yelling “La blanche! La blanche” (White! White!) I decided to ignore him, as this rude by any measure. The man then ran up behind me, and grabbed me around the neck with both arms.
I had no idea what he was doing, so to be on the safe side, I screamed. I was able to duck out of his arms and push him away. He didn’t put up much resistance, so I decided this was just his idea of sport. I hit him across the face, then walked away, and he let me go.
Hitting an assailant wasn’t the smartest thing—I probably should have taken off running—but I’m glad I did. What was he thinking? He didn’t strike me as being mentally ill in any way. The only conclusion that I can come to is that since I was clearly a foreigner, and because he thought I was physically weak, he felt like he could get away behavior that would be unacceptable in his own community.
The more disturbing thing is that, even though there were half a dozen people in the immediate vicinity, no one did anything. No one tried to help, or even asked if I was okay. This was shocking to me, especially because in Ghana, people would have come running from all around. I’m not sure why no one helped—if it was because it was beginning to rain and they wanted to go home, or if it was because I was a foreigner, or if that’s just the culture in Ouagadougou.
If you are reading this and thinking, “Poor Liz—what a god-awful country!”, then I have news for you: men do stuff like this to women all the time in the United States, and they get away with it. Ask any young woman living in a city like New York or DC when the last time was that she was catcalled on the street, or grabbed in a bar or club. Ask her if anyone said anything to the person who did it.
The fact is, wherever conditions exist that allow people to harass others without consequence, there will be people who take advantage of that. I think there are two cultural tendencies that contribute to those conditions:
1. A general tendency not to get involved. This is something that you see a lot more in the west than in places like Ghana, where society values individualism less and communities are tightly-knit, creating more incentive to enforce good behavior. But everywhere, to some extent, people are often hesitant to get involved, either because of fear, or because of inconvenience. The result is that bad behavior goes unpunished. This is especially consequential in places where formal law and order is lacking.
2. In-group bias. I think that everywhere, people who are “different” are more likely to be targeted and less likely to be helped. (They are probably more likely to be targeted BECAUSE they are less likely to be helped.) These people might be vulnerable because they don’t speak the local language, and don’t have local social connections or social standing, but I think there is also a tendency for people who are different to be more objectified—they are seen first as “a white” or “a black”, rather than as another person. People have less problem with them being objects for others’ amusement, and they are less concerned with their welfare than they would be someone who appears to be from their same community. There are people who would argue that in-group bias is okay or even good, and that it encourages social cohesion. I argue that the cost of in-group bias is that the most vulnerable people are ignored when they need help.
So if you don’t like what happened to me, I urge you to do two things. First, make yourself more of a “social enforcer.” Being a social enforcer can be intimidating. Natural social enforcers often have a high tolerance for stress. But generally, a person who enforces good social behavior, for example by chiding someone who cuts in line, are viewed favorably by everyone who observes the interaction.
Second, try to fight your own in-group bias, and make an effort to reach out to those people who seem especially out of place. If they look out of place, they probably feel that way even more so. Treat them the way you would want your mother, or your sister, or your daughter treated if she were alone someplace strange.
Interestingly, the two things I am encouraging—social enforcement and reducing in-group bias—are typically associated with opposite sides of the political and social spectrum. Social enforcement tends to be associated with conventional, authoritarian, and duty-oriented attitudes. Reduced in-group bias tends to be associated with liberal, individualistic, and intellectually-oriented attitudes. I don’t think this is an accident: all of these values are good; that’s why there are people that value them. If we all ascribe to each other’s values a little more—if social enforcers can apply their protections to a wider group of people, and if those who care about people who are different can make themselves into social enforcers—I think we would do better at protecting the most vulnerable from those people who have no values at all.