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i often think about this event, and i love sharing the story. there aren’t enough stories of people being helped by a stranger, so i’m glad to share the story of the time someone helped me.
it was in 2005, and i was waiting for a subway train to take me to a party at like 8:30 pm on a friday. i was sitting on a bench, when a man came up and sat at the other end of the bench. he started by just staring and smiling. i was pretty sure he was drunk, so i figured he was just being a drunk guy and would get bored. then he started saying things to me, though i don’t know what he said because he said them in spanish. he said them in a low voice, and he made some kissing and sucking noises to punctuate them.
the station was pretty empty, and i thought if i sat there and didn’t do anything, it wouldn’t escalate.
it did. the bench was long, and he started scooting toward me.
about this time, a teenaged boy came down the escalator to wait for the train. he was on a path to walk by us, but he turned his head and when he saw what was happening, he stopped. he was a very tall young man, and quite physically imposing. i generally do not have a positive opinion of teenaged boys, so for a moment, i thought i was going to gain another harasser.
but he smiled at me. it was one of the kindest smiles i can ever recall receiving. he said, ‘hey, you need some help?’ i just shrugged, somehow too embarrassed to admit being bothered by the drunk guy down the bench. he smiled again, and sat down in between me and the drunk guy.
he turned and gave the man a very menacing look, and shook his head slowly. then he pulled out his ipod and headphones. as he was putting on his headphones, i said, ‘thank you so much.’ but i had been so nervous and kinda holding my breath, that it came out in a relieved exhale.
he smiled again and said, ‘don’t worry about it’ before putting on his headphones.
i’d never been so grateful for a stranger’s assistance before in my life. i suddenly felt safe, simply because another person decided to be nice. and i hate to say it, but it was that much more helpful that he was a tall young man.
nice dudes out there who don’t like to harass women and think it’s wrong to do so, help a lady out if she needs it!
Today, compelling documentary ‘Bully’ will open nationwide, telling the true story of the appalling bullying epidemic that is blighting the U.S. Directed by Lee Hirsch, Huffington Post writer Marlo Thomas has called it “the year’s most important film” but the Motion Picture Association of America has rated the film as “Unrated” meaning that theater owners can choose not to screen it.
So find a theater that is showing it and take your children and other people’s children to see this harrowing and significant movie. Although it may not be an easy watch, viewing the film will be worth every moment if we are to have any chance of eliminating bullying for good.
Watch the trailer here.
We’re in the press! Our site leader in Mexico City, Gabi Duhart, was in Marie Claire! Our NYC site leader, Kalema Botang, was on Bronx Net, I was interviewed for PIX 11 in response to wednesday’s lack of conviction on rape charges against former NYPD officer Michael Peña. We also got a mention on feminist blog Butchieblog.
We’re in the community! Veronica went to Encuentro for Immigrant Women, organized by Adelante Alliance, a small immigrant advocacy group that works with the Spanish-speaking community in Sunset Park, Brooklyn. Veronica attended a meeting with New Yorkers for Safe Transit (NYFST), a coalition we are part of here in New York City. NYFST is doing a community safety survey, and four Hollabackers have already volunteered!
We’re making policy progress! Natalie and I met with staffers from Councilmembers Koslowitz, Garodnick, and Ferreras’s offices this week, and scheduled a community safety audit with Ferraras in Jackson Heights and Elmhurst, Queens, for May 5th!
We’re moving and shaking around the world! Hollaback! Instanbul were featured in Today’s Zaman after organizing a special screening of short film Miss Representation last Tuesday. Hollaback! London appeared on BBC London Radio and on LBC AND check out all the activism that Hollaback! Philly got up to during Anti-Street Harassment Awareness Week. Awesome!
I’m off to the Sex::tech Conference in San Francisco next week, and I’ll be speaking at the University of California at Berkeley and the City College of San Francisco, so stay tuned for next week’s west coast edition!
HOLLA and out!
Meet Anna, the thoughtful mover and shaker fighting street harassment in Brussels.
Why do you HOLLA? I Holla to show myself, my harassers and those around me that harassment is unacceptable. I Holla because it inspires me to be the strong person I can be. I Holla because it reinforces the fact that any large-scale oppressive treatment of a specific population simply can not be tolerated.
What’s your signature Hollaback? The one I’ve been sticking with lately is saying: ‘’Don’t talk to me like that’’ in a serious and authoritative tone. Although, I tend to flip the bird if I am caught off guard.
What’s your craft? I am infinitely intrigued by the human body and mind. Almost everything I do with my time involves the exploration of those things through various mediums and thought processes.
What was your first experience with street harassment? Witnessing: I remember being in Brooklyn and walking near McCarren Park. I saw a woman walking her dog and she had her cell phone out as well. There was a car slowly driving by and the guy said something to her. She immediately responded with something about how she was there to have a walk. Before she responded, I didn’t know if they knew one another or if the male driver was harassing her. I was so proud and in total admiration of this woman who responded, and I was so scared at the same time because I realized how a bystander like myself could let harassment happen because of fear and not knowing. Sometimes I can tell and I know I can do something. Sometimes I am unsure and then I am too slow to react or not brave enough. Now that Hollaback has the Bystander/Green Dot campaign, I feel well equipped to respond.
Define your style: Funky, comfortable, utilitarian and a little bit hippy. Nothing too fancy… and a bit of athletic gear mixed in b/c of heading to or from one activity or another.
…Since I’ve moved to Brussels though, I wear a lot of black and a lot of pants to try to blend in– to avoid street harassment.
My superheroine/hero power is…Starting things: gathering people together, getting excited, supporting.
…Although I’m working on fire breathing and flying.
What do you collect? Scents and sensations of experiences.
If you could leave the world one piece of advice, what would it be? Follow your intuition. Stand up for what you know deep down to be right. Support one another. Breathe. Keep going.
What inspires you? Seeing other people stand up for themselves or someone else. Seeing people work on issues they care about. Passion. Engagement. Care for oneself and others.
While in a perfect world, people wouldn’t take it upon themselves to tell complete strangers what they thought of them at all, we appreciate the sentiments behind this hilarious video.
Street harassers: bored with the same old, tired routine? If you actually believe unsolicited comments on a woman’s appearance make her feel good, imagine how treating her like she has thoughts and feelings will make her feel!
This is cross-posted from Hollaback! Boston.
Women who sign up for Streetsafe, which starts at $19.99 a month, can call the company’s trained security advisers 24/7, no questions asked. Streetsafe offers two services: “Walk With Me,” billed as a personal safety escort service, and “Silent Alarm.” The latter is self explanatory — if you’re not able to call 911 yourself, slide a red button and StreetSafe will do it for you, using your GPS data to contact your local police station — but the former feature is really what makes the app stand out. “Imagine walking alone, or in an uncomfortable environment, but nothing has happened, so you can’t call 911. Walk with Me connects the user to a live Safety Advisor who will stay on the phone with you and keep you alert until you get to your destination safely,” says their website. If the situation becomes more dangerous, Streetsafe will contact 911, but the officials I spoke with said that hasn’t actually happened since they launched last August. Instead, most StreetSafe customers use the service on a regular basis, as a precaution.
I think we can all agree that the fact that we even have to fear walking alone on the street is a sad reality (one that we’re trying to change with your help!). The Jezebel article describes the app as being for “proactive and paranoid women,” the latter half of which I have to take issue with. Is it really paranoid to be afraid of being approached, threatened, or asasulted when experience and statistics prove that certain demographics (women, people of color, members of the LGBTQ community) are more likely to have these things happen to them? I would call that being realistic and having geniune concern for your safely, not being “paranoid,” which is a symptom of psychotic mental illness.
I see pros and cons to this app. Many people already do this kind of thing already. I know that I often call my mother when I’m walking alone. This Hollaback Girl called her brother. It’s very common to say to people “if you don’t hear from me by this time, make sure that nothing has happened to me,” or “please stay on the phone with me until I get home/to work/to my appointment.” Not everyone has someone that they can call, which would make this app a good resource for them. It would also be a good resource for people that work hours not conducive to calling a friend for a chat on their walk home– I know that I don’t have many friends that would appreciate a 2 AM phone call “just until I get home.” I also really like the 911 feature of this app. Though the company says that they haven’t had to use it yet, I like knowing that it’s an option.
On the otherhand, being on the phone can help lower your guard and make you a better target for being attacked since you are less aware of your surroundings while you’re distracted. The prices are also kind of high, so there is definitely a specific demographic that would be using this app. On the whole, though, the pros seem to outweigh the cons. There is also an app available for Android called “Guard My Angel” that is similar in nature (but utilizes texts moreso than calls) and costs less money.
What are your thoughts on this app? Would you use it? What do you do when you feel unsafe on the streets?
BY VICTORIA TRAVERS
The consultative Shura Council of Saudi Arabia has completed an outline of a new law that would initiate several punishments for sexual harassment crimes throughout the country, according to Arabianbusiness.com.
For the draft law to become legislation its details must be firstly agreed to by the 150-member Shura Council within 30 days. It is then passed to King Abdullah to be approved.
Member of the Shura Council and political science professor, Dr. Sadaka, endorsed the draft law telling Arabic news organization Al-Eqtisadiya:
“This is a common problem that can be found in all societies but in varying degrees. It increases in mixed places such as malls and workplaces and it results in many social and psychological problems for victims.”
Though we at Hollaback! do not endorse flogging or $13,000 fines, we are pleased that Saudi Arabia is paying attention to street harassment in a country where women are still largely segregated. In September of last year, Saudi ruler King Abdullah declared that from 2015 women would be able to vote, be appointed to the Shura Council and stand in municipal elections. Officials have also announced that they would allow Saudi female athletes to compete in the London 2012 Olympics. It is absolutely staggering that these simple human rights that we take for granted everyday are not available to Saudi women, and we hope this attention to street harassment is the first of many cultural shifts to come.
Big thanks to Blake for all her work! Check it OUT!
From one of our readers: “I’m riding the Brooklyn Coney Island bound R train Saturday 3-24-12 at about 5:40am, I was on my phone and happened to look up and see a man fondling himself. At first I thought he had an itch until he revealed himself. I took his picture so I could put him on blast. Ladies, please be aware of this dirt bag!!”
This guest blog post is reprinted from the Hollaback Brussels Facebook page about the “Chalk Walk” they took on March 24, 2012.
Morning. Saturday. 10.30 am. The sun’s slowly coming up over the rooftops. The streets of Brussels are greeting us. All 4 of us are on ‘our way’. Anxious.
We meet up at ‘Ribaucourt, Molenbeek’. The place where Angelika was harassed. The streets still look quite empty, as if Brussels hasn’t fully woken up yet.
We arrive cheerfully to the ‘spot’, we organise, make our DIY ‘banners’, excited. Time to start. This is Angelika’s moment. With colorful chalk she starts to write on the sidewalk. People pass by glancing quickly, trying to read what she’s writing. ‘I was harassed here. I Hollaback. I reclaim the street.’ she writes strongly.
When it’s over we hug and congratulate Angelika and with our banner she goes and stands at the top of her chalk-text, reclaiming this street, this sidewalk!
Next stop: Lemonnier. The place where Anna was harassed. The tram takes us there and Anna retells parts of her story. She shows us where she went and stood trying to get away from her harasser, there, in the middle of that four-lane boulevard.
The ritual is the same. She starts to write, getting into the moment. People pass. Try to read. When it’s over we hug her firmly and congratulate her. She proudly and beautifully reclaims this spot.