Appalachian Ohio, Athens GA, Atlanta, Berkeley, Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, Columbia MO, Columbus, Des Moines, Durham & Chapel Hill, East Lansing, Fredericksburgh VA, Houston, Los Angeles, Muncie IN, New York City, NYU, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Plattsburgh, Richmond VA, San Francisco, Tucson, Twin Cities
BY REBECCA KATHERINE HIRSCH
Libra, a New Zealand feminine hygiene company, recently pulled a tampon commercial off the airwaves (and Internet waves) when it received a spate of negative attention for its cis-sexist advertisement depicting “real women” and… the apparent alternative: trans women.
It’s clear that the commercial is trafficking in stereotypes (“real” girl is dewy white woman, “fake” one is smug, attitudinal drag queen; both attempt to show “realness” through that superficial, timeworn indicator of femaleness: physical attractiveness), this advertisement promotes the so-called “real” girl at the expense and on the back of the “fake” one.
This poses the question of what constitutes realness and what legitimizes gender? Gender is not a binary or one-way street. It is not biologically determined and it is not an essential, unchanging variable. Gender is fluid. A woman is not a woman because she menstruates. A woman is not a woman based on her genitalia, hobbies, friends, favorite foods, colors, personal history, etc., ad infintum. If a woman identifies as a woman she is a woman
Transwomen in particular are singled out for abuse for many of the same reasons other women are, multiplied many times over. Women, being women, are bad enough (we are told). But that someone biologically born male would ‘choose’ to become female? What a pussy! Women are repulsive! Or so we are told. We live in a misogynistic society that fears weakness and so quite cowardly casts off this fear onto another group: women. We have all learned to associate weakness with women, hence justifying a hatred of women and all things considered “feminine.” And so we have the stereotypes of strong men and weak women, smart men and stupid women, stupid men and omniscient, earthy Wonderwomen. However you slice it, these are contentious stereotypes. We have all been taught to belittle the mythical “feminine” whether it’s signified by the color pink, the qualities of nurture, vulnerability orbeing a dancer instead of a football player, right down to the most unpleasantly minuscule. We have “gendered” all activities and qualities, devaluing some and idolizing others.
And so we have this ad, an ad that quite childishly derives its power from the enforced powerlessness of others. A good measure I fall back on in terms of locating prejudice is generally: Does this conception of X marginalize Y? Does the “authenticity” of one thing rely on the enforced “fakeness” of something else? Is this making someone feel bad? If all these are so, it’s generally a safe idea to consider whatever is being promoted as prejudiced. Nothing real needs to depend upon the denigration of something or someone else.
Feel free to contact Libra here about the cis-sexism of their product’s advertising.
The Daily Mail cites an apology issued by Libra officials before they pulled the clip stating that “it was never intended to upset or offend anyone,” the statement continues:
“Independent research was undertaken and the advertisement was viewed positively during that testing. Libra takes all feedback very seriously, and in response to this, we will immediately review our future position with this campaign based on the feedback received.”
Why do you HOLLA? I Holla because I’m a full human being, not a toy to be played with, or a punching bag for male insecurities.
What’s your craft? I’m a lawyer.
What’s your signature Hollaback? I give them a dirty look or I take their picture.
What was your first experience with street harassment? There were numerous experiences that helped prime me to know my place in public as a young girl, but the first most memorable experience was when I was 14 walking home from high school. It was about a mile walk, and about halfway home I walked down a long stretch of a semi-major street (as major as you really get in a small suburban area). A pickup truck full of men slowed down and drove at a walking pace next to me, shouting out to me “hey beautiful”, “hey talk to me”, and various similar comments trying to get me to respond. Some added kissing sounds to the humiliation. This went on for a few minutes until I turned into a residential neighborhood via sidewalk where they couldn’t follow me. It was embarrassing, stressful, and scary.
Say you’re Queen for the day. What would you do to end street harassment? I’m not sure that any sort of dictates can change a deeply rooted disrespect for women as public beings, so I would dedicate media and public service attention to the issue of street harassment, funds to implement studies and encourage research, with the end goal being to shift the culture of disrespect.
In the year 2020, street harassment… will finally be respected as a mainstream issue, but far from resolved.
What do you collect? Books! My apartment is overflowing with them.
My superheroine power is… that I’m unrelentingly fierce when i’m passionate about something.
If you could leave the world one piece of advice, what would it be? To find something that you’re willing to fight to the death for, and to then spend your life fighting for it, reminding yourself that your perseverance is what makes the world a place worth protecting. My personal mantra is from Eleanor Roosevelt (many of my mottos and comments to live by are from her) – “When you have decided what you believe, what you feel must be done, have the courage to stand alone and be counted.” THAT is something to live by – because if you know in your gut that something is not right, but you aren’t willing to stand up and fight for it, you can’t expect anyone else to fight for it either. However scary it may be, have the courage to endure the judgment you will inevitably face for having the audacity to “stand alone and be counted” — it is infinitely more glorious than inaction when you give others the courage to join you in righting wrongs, eliminating injustice, and changing the world.
What inspires you? Fearless women inspire me. Feminist men inspire me. But mostly what inspires me to act is the horrific news that I read every day that reminds me why it’s so important to forego sleep and a social life to maintain my involvement in feminist activism.
January is National Stalking Awareness Month. Stalking is a serious crime that affects 3.4 million adults in the U.S every year. This campaigns aims to raise awareness of stalking so that more can be done to stop it.
Launched in 2004 by the stalking Resource Center, National Center for Victims of Crime and the Office on Violence Against Women, each January communities across the country hold events and share resources to educate the masses and help raise the profile of stalking.
The Stalking Awareness Month website is jam-packed with resources to help you get involved and do your part in the fight against it. Visit the website to download posters, letterheads, fliers, a factsheet, get social networking updates and take a stalking quiz.
“You have the power to help know, name and stop stalking in your community”
BY VICTORIA TRAVERS
Angry School staffers and elected officials will hold a demonstration this afternoon outside Bronxdale High School in the Bronx to call for the Principal’s immediate removal following his outrageously sexually explicit comments to a female staff member in July.
Principal John Chase Jr. was reported to have made several inappropriate statements to female co-workers concerning a new photocopier. According to members of staff concerned he said:
“Have you seen the new copy machine? It does everything. It even has a hole in it where you can stick your d— in it and get a b— job.”
Following an investigation by the Education Department’s Office of Equal Opportunity, Chase, who earns $132,633 a year, was issued with a disciplinary letter in his personal file and was urged to undertake sensitivity training.
But for some co-workers this was not sufficient. One staff worker told the New York Daily News:
“The fact that he’s not being fired is insane. People are very uncomfortable around this guy. He needs to go.”
In a letter from State Sen. Jeffrey Klein (D-Bronx) to city Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott, Klein urges Walcott to remove Chase. He wrote:
“The mere fact that he was found guilty of sexual harassment undermines his authority as head of the school.”
But Walcott is set on leaving Chase in charge, saying:
“I’m not going to remove him, but he knows he cannot have any similar type of comments. He is on a very strict line as far as his behavior.”
Chase declined comment.
The rally is set to start at 3.30 today at 925 Astor Avenue, in the Bronx. The Daily News estimates 250 supporters to show, along with politicians Jeff Klein, Naomi Rivera and Jimmy Vacca.
BY ELIZABETH GYORI
Alcohol abuse and underage drinking are certainly problems faced by many teenagers and young adults across the U.S. We’ve all learned about the effects of excessive alcohol consumption in health class. With excessive drinking comes a decrease in motor skills, negative health effects on the liver, judgment impairment and the possibility of alcohol poisoning. We’ve also been taught that we should always watch our drinks at parties and to never leave our drinks unattended so that no one slips unwanted drugs or substances into our drinks. A new ad by the Pennsylvania state liquor board tries to warn young adults against alcohol abuse by linking excessive drinking with date rape. The ad was eventually pulled after an influx of criticism though.
Yes, that is a real ad that was OK’ed by a government agency to be run as part of the “Control Tonight” online campaign against alcohol abuse.
Not only is this ad very, very racy, but it also does nothing more than blame rape victims (who may have been drinking) for the trauma they suffered. Yes, drinking excessively can severely impair judgment and lead to regrettable mistakes. Yes, alcohol abuse can lead to a decrease in awareness of surroundings, making it easier for someone to slip date rape into your drink. And these are issues that must be addressed. But if someone is sick enough to slip date rape into a person’s drink and then rape him or her, it’s far from the victim’s fault that she or he couldn’t say no.
If Rape is an intentional choice on the part of the rapist, especially if the choice to use date rape drugs is involved. The PA state liquor board should be running ads that tell people to abstain from rape (or they could end up in jail), not telling women that it’ll be their fault they are raped while trying to have a fun and enjoyable night out. The fact that this ad even ran just goes to show how we really do live in a society that teaches, “Don’t get raped,” rather than, “Don’t rape.”
Beyond the victim blaming, this ad doesn’t account for the legality of having sex with someone who is intoxicated. The law states that you cannot consent to sex if you’ve been drinking. That’s the bottom line, no ifs, and’s or buts. If you have sex with someone who has been drinking, that’s rape and you could go to jail for it. Maybe we should be running ads with a picture of someone being put in the back of a police car and big, white, capital letters saying, “Sober consent: the only real and legal way to say ‘yes’ to sex.”
Finally, this ad makes it seem like only women are date raped and only women could possibly make irresponsible sexual choices while drinking. Date rape is not gender neutral. I’ve personally known men who’ve been slipped date rape while out drinking and I’ve known men who’ve been raped while drunk. Furthermore, rape is not only a problem in heterosexual relationships, but it is also an issue in gay and transgender relationships. Perhaps ads need to be more all-inclusive in order to make a real impact.
Date rape drugs, lack of consent during sex, rape and alcohol abuse are all pervasive problems that need to be tackled via a massive public education campaign and other initiatives. But we have to target the source of the problem when it comes to each of these issues. That is, people should be taught: Respect people enough to not slip drugs into others’ drinks; Consenting to sex while intoxicated is not consent at all; And rape is—to put it as simply as possible—bad.
Greetings Hollaback friends, activists and supporters!
As a mighty Phoenix rising up from the ashes of 2011, ignited with the blaze of activism, we have burst through the beginnings of 2012 with the tenacity and fervor that we mean to continue with. 2011 was awesome but 2012 will be super-out-of-this-freakin’-world-awesome!
We have started 2012 with 25 new sites raring to go from all over the globe stretching from Auckland, New Zealand to Glasgow, Scotland, training is due to start on January 14th and will take roughly about three months to complete, so we’ll keep you posted!
Last month we successfully launched sites in Winnipeg, Canada and Chennai, South India. With the launch of the Chennai site, Hollaback! gained international press coverage from online media platform ‘The Alternative’, which seeks to document and support social development in India.
Following the devastating murder of Keenan Santos and Reuben Fernandez in October last year for defending the honor of their girlfriends in the face of street Harassment, Hollaback Mumbai started the petition: Demand Justice for Two Men Killed Trying to Stop Street harassment. The petition has 2,313 signatures so far, but we need 10,000! So get clicking for justice Hollabackers.
On Thursday we said a very tearful goodbye to our intern extraordinaire Amalia Sirica. Here’s a big shout out and massive thank you for all the awesomeness and hard work that you have done for Hollaback! Enjoy Brazil!
AND to my utter astonishment I have been named as one of The Daily Muse’s Women to Watch in 2012. Woop woop! Although, it is my name on the award it could not have been possible without the volunteers, the donors, board members and all the sassy hollabackers that are helping the revolution grow and grow! Thank you so much!
Be sure to tune in next Friday for weekly updates of the Hollaback! movement around the world, change making activism and street harassment news.
Thank you for all your support– and keep holla’ing back!
Holla and Out!!!
BY VICTORIA TRAVERS
By using the Universal Declaration of Human Rights there may be no confusion as to whether Street Harassment is a Human Rights issue. Article 1 states:
“All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.”
By telling a woman she has “ a great rack”, calling a gay man a “fucking faggot”, or removing one’s penis from its appropriate abode in public is not behaving in the “spirit of brotherhood”, not by any stretch of the imagination. Street Harassment is a Human Rights issue.
“Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, color, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.”
“Everyone” includes women and LGBTQ individuals, everyone has the right to express themselves freely in public spaces without fear of abuse from strangers. A transgender person has the right to identify his or herself in the way that feels natural to them, as a woman has the right to dress as she pleases without threat or aggravation. Street Harassment is a Human Rights issue.
“Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.”
Women and LGBTQ individuals have the right to live and express themselves in public spaces without worry of being badgered, stalked, flashed, groped, abused, whistled at, masturbated at or raped. Street Harassment is a Human Rights issue.
“No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.”
Calling a transgender person ‘it’ a ‘tranny’ or a ‘heshe’ is inhumane, degrading, torturous and cruel. Physically attacking a gay person because of their sexual orientation is inhumane, degrading, torturous and cruel. Putting your hand up a woman’s skirt on the subway is inhumane, degrading, torturous and cruel. Street Harassment is a Human Rights issue.
Perpetrators of Street Harassment may argue that it is their human right to express themselves freely, but at this point it is relevant to refer ‘spirit of brotherhood’ cited in Article 1, the connotations of brotherhood do not include any form of abuse be it physical or verbal. Street Harassment is unquestionably a Human Rights issue.
Question answered. Revolution Started.
Check out this short anti-street harassment film from Egypt by Cairo students Merna Karam, May Kassem and Mirna Makary. It is so awesome to see courageous ladies raising awareness of street harassment all over the world, for every person that takes a stand several more are sure to follow, so let’s keep talking about it, educating people and speaking out against it.
We need a Hollaback! in Egypt! You have the power to end street harassment, start a Hollaback! in your area today.
BY VICTORIA TRAVERS
Meet Natalie Warne, an awe-inspiring young lady from humble beginnings who achieved the impossible with spirit, determination and a shed load of Red Bull.
In the following video Natalie speaks about her struggle to run a successful campaign for the Invisible Children Project, the movement that seeks to end the conflict in Uganda and prevent the abductions of children for use as child soldiers. She modestly touches upon how she gained national recognition and the attention of Oprah Winfrey. As a result, President Obama signed a bill in Congress that would apprehend those responsible and fund the recovery of the affected areas.
Warne pays tribute to the selfless vigor of “anonymous extraordinaries” that seek neither fame nor recognition but only hope for change and revolution. The 20-year-old urges young people everywhere to listen to the fire in their belly and let nothing stop them from changing the world.
Here is the video. Warning: You will Cry.
BY VICTORIA TRAVERS
I always like to start the New Year with plenty of laughs, so 2012 brought me the pompous, misogynistic, racist, not to mention archaic inner thoughts of Texas Representative and more scarily potential Presidential candidate, Ron Paul, in the form of his 1987 book “Freedom Under Siege: The US Constitution 200-Plus Years”.
The book is punctuated with several million “say what?!” moments that are guaranteed to leave you speechless.
Firstly, take a look at Paul’s stand on sexual harassment in the workplace:
“Employee rights are said to be valid when employers pressure employees into sexual activity. Why don’t they quit once the so-called harassment starts? Obviously the morals of the harasser cannot be defended, but how can the harassee escape some responsibility for the problem? Seeking protection under civil rights legislation is hardly acceptable. If force was clearly used, that is another story, but pressure and submission is hardly an example of a violation of one’s employment rights. “
So, if a colleague comments that you have ‘nice rack’ in the dulcet tones of a Tony Bennett sound-a-like it’s fine, in fact, but if it does upset you then you should just leave the company! What brilliant advice! If only Anita Hill had thought of that. If that is not enough to make you take to the streets shouting “Ron Paul is a prize plonker,” then more interesting is Mr. Paul’s take on equal pay:
“The concept of equal pay for equal work is not only an impossible task.”
End of conversation. Next the debate on whether “women have the right to join men’s clubs. What do you think Mr. Paul?
“Women obviously have a right to apply for membership in any group they wish, and a club has a similar right to exclude anyone it wishes.”
Paul goes on to use an example of a woman that sued the Boy Scouts because she ‘claimed’ she had a right to be a Scout Master:
“Women may want to be scout masters, but where did they get this “right” to coerce a private organization to change its rules regarding members and leaders?”
In one fell swoop Ron Paul managed to offend and alienate just about everyone, from AIDS victims to the computer age, what an achievement! And he is a possible presidential candidate?
For your delectation I have selected some more choice lines from the liberal fearing Mr. Paul:
1. “Physicians are sued for less than normal children.”
2. “The twentieth century has delivered a society totally void of standards.”
3. “Liberal theologians promote worldwide socialism and even communism in the name of love, human dignity, and rights, while fundamentalists retaliate by offering economic prosperity for those who believe in the literalness of the biblical message and contribute appropriately.”
4. “Young people, as a result of the welfare ethic accepted today, are not disciplined in the work ethic.”
5. “Every year new groups organize to demand their “rights.” White people who organize and expect the same attention as other groups are quickly and viciously condemned as dangerous bigots.”
6. “The Computer Age is now upon us, and this technology could easily eliminate completely the privacy that should be cherished by all freedom- loving individuals.”
7. “The individual suffering from AIDS certainly is a victim – frequently a victim of his own lifestyle – but this same individual victimizes innocent citizens by forcing them to pay for his care.”
8. “To the majority of Americans, the concept of responsibility for one’s own actions, has been replaced by the belief that someone else must pay those who demand a handout.”
In Ron Paul’s defense, when questioned by ABC’s This Week’s Jake Tapper he replied:
“There were some very bad sentences put in. I did not write those, I did not review them. It was an error on my part.”
Is Ron Paul saying that he did not read his own book? Now who is relinquishing responsibility?