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Introducing our first annual “State of the Streets Report”

We’ve had an incredible year, and we want to celebrate it with you. Without you, none of this would have been possible. With you, everything is possible. Thanks for everything. We can’t wait to see what we create together in 2012.

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Our Revolution Will Not Be Dictated To Us: Hollaback! & Social Media

Forward by Emily May: I am not one for celebrity crushes, but boyohboy did I have one on Malcolm Gladwell.  He was so cute! So smart! So breakthrough! And then one day he wrote an article for the New Yorker called “The Revolution will not be Tweeted.”  Sigh.  Like a ghost in the night, my little crush disappeared and was replaced by funders sending me the article and asking for a response.  Gladwell’s article not only didn’t endorse the clear-and-present-revolution, it slowed us down by putting question marks in the minds of potential funders as to our efficacy.  Thanks, Malcolm.

Enter Alex.  A college senior, our 2011 summer intern, an incredible speech writer, interviewer, thinker, revolutionary and all around good guy.  We were born in the same hospital in North Carolina, nine years apart.  Alex wrote this piece for his class that takes on Gladwell better than I ever could. Read on, and rest easy that the next generation of thinkers is here.  And they’re changing the way we change the world.

 

BY ALEX ALSTON

Street harassment, as defined on Hollaback!’s website, is a form of gender violence experienced overwhelmingly by women and LGBTQ persons.  It can range from lewd comments to groping, to flashing or assault.  It is also one of the “most pervasive” forms of gender violence in the world, and unfortunately, one of the least legislated against.1  Culturally accepted, street harassment is often thought of as something a woman should be proud of or at least accept because, “Well, that is what happens when you’re an attractive woman.”  However, Hollaback!’s Executive Director, Emily May, is fighting for a world where everyone is safe and free from objection in public space.  May has tapped into the power of social media and mobile technology so that victims of street harassment have an effective and safe response.

Stationed in Brooklyn, New York, Hollaback! started as a single blog on which harassed individuals could describe their experiences with harassment and even post photos of their harasser.  Today, the organization has grown into a “young and sassy” world-wide movement led by grassroots activists from London to Jerusalem to Mumbai and the Czech Republic.2  Hollaback! site leaders, under the guidance of the New York office, tailor their sites as well as their involvement in the movement to end street harassment to their respective cultural environments, resources, and abilities.  Taken as a whole Hollaback! is a network of separate but intricately intertwined activists who are voluntarily taking on the fight to make public space safe.  New York City recently held the world’s first conference on street harassment, and May was invited to speak before the United Nations on the issue this past summer.  What started as an idea among friends has grown into an unforeseeable global effort to create social change.

Of course, change rarely comes without tension and, speaking out against oppression is often just as risk-laden as it is subversive.  The systemic implementation of this type of resistance invites even more backlash.  Again, because street harassment is a culturally accepted form of gender violence, its challengers open the door for trouble from those invested in gender hegemonies.  From individuals who consistently seek to bombard the site with negative and obscene comments (referred to as “trolls”), to those who would potentially visit physical harm on site leaders forcing them to remain anonymous, there are many threats to those involved with Hollaback!  Indeed, some sites are located in areas of the world where women have considerably less social capital and power than they possess here in the West and speaking back against patriarchal oppression is downright dangerous. In these places, being involved with Hollaback! is what Malcolm Gladwell terms “high-risk activism.”3  Gladwell borrows Stanford sociologist Doug McAdam’s phrase “strong-tie” to describe the phenomenon of high-risk activism.4   This is a piece of his larger argument that social media cannot facilitate the type of hands on, high-risk activism that social change has always relied on.  Focusing on examples of activism from the Black Freedom Struggle of the twentieth century, Gladwell charges that “we seem to have forgotten what activism is.”5  After reading his piece, however, Emily May thought one thing, “He hasn’t heard of Hollaback!6

To the extent Gladwell’s strong critique of social media and its relationship to activism helps us dispel the myth of a twitter revolution in Egypt or calls into question the idea of inevitable progress through Change.org petitions, it is valuable, even vital.  He quotes historian Robert Darnton who has written, “The marvels of communication technology in the present have produced a false consciousness about the past…”7  The narrative that “the new tools of social media have reinvented social activism” is, briefly put, misguided.8  Gladwell’s insight and critical interrogation of social media proves this.  But the fact remains that Gladwell is simply too eager to lump all things “social media” into the categories of websites such as Facebook, Twitter, online petitions, donations, and the like.  His well-intentioned skepticism of social media, (or lack of research) while illuminating, causes him to overlook any cases in which social media does in fact foster strong ties, high risk activism, and real social change.  The case of Hollaback! is an obvious one.

“The evangelists of social media,” according to Gladwell, “…seem to believe that a Facebook friend is the same as a real friend…”9  He sets out to use the Greensboro sit-ins and the Freedom Summer in Mississippi as examples of how high risk activism is centered around strong human relationships.  He cites the work of McAdam which maintains that there was correlation between the Freedom Summer volunteers who did not drop out despite the inescapable peril of their situation and those who had the most personal connection to the movement.10  His point, in summary, is that fighting for social change entails great risk at times, and a given individual is more likely to take that risk when he or she has a personal connection to what is going on.  He does not see social media as capable of reproducing this type of connection.  What Gladwell does not consider, however, is that one’s emotional stake is an issue is not limited to one’s circle of close friends.  That is, no one is necessarily precluded from participating in high risk activism because they do not have a connection to an issue through another person.  In the case of Hollaback!, street harassment is such a universal point of oppression for women across cultures, races, classes, and regions, fostering the personal connection (around the issue of street harassment), is a matter of articulating that shared experience. When asked about why Gladwell was wrong about Hollaback!’s brand of online activism May said, “He forgot that movement building has always been based on storytelling, and that storytelling creates great empathy. With empathy comes strong ties.”11 Even Gladwell himself would not argue that social media simply makes storytelling easier and more effective.

 So then a forty year old working class immigrant from the Bronx can connect with an white Ph.D. student in the Czech Republic because both of these women know what it means to be degraded, embarrassed, or frightened in public by catcalls or groping.  A common language is all these women need to feel the personal connection, the strong tie, (around the issue of street harassment) that Gladwell says is necessary for high risk activism.  Hollaback! uses Facebook, Twitter, and WordPress for something other than what Gladwell is imagining when he says “online activism.”  Bringing people with shared experiences together in safe spaces where personal connections can form and grow, where empathy can abound, is a vital part of social change.  Strong ties are formed by shared experiences, not by immediate physical or social proximity alone.  However, Gladwell is right in that immediate physical and social proximity (being a radical activist in Mississippi registering voters during the 60’s) are some of the factors responsible for shared experiences and the ensuing personal connection.  Furthermore, a personal connection on an issue does not equate to being someone’s close friend.  The examples Gladwell gives of the personal ties anchoring the Red Brigades in Italy and the mujahedeen in Afghanistan only tell half of the story.  Those individuals, while clearly closely aligned around their method of political action, were not necessarily best of friends or even close acquaintances.  So even if Hollaback! does not foster sprawling friendships it can still do the work of relationship building that is necessary to foment change.

Malcolm Gladwell’s second major point of contention with reading social media as a tool for social activism involves the fact that “Facebook and the like are tools for building networks, which are the opposite, in structure and character, of hierarchies.”12  He uses the sit-in again as well as the Montgomery bus boycott as examples of how hierarchies are necessary when high-risk activism is involved because top down organization is essential. According to Gladwell, networks cannot function to make systemic changes.  May simply thinks that he was unable envision a structure where people around the world who have never met would shift the paradigm from ‘think globally, act locally,’ to ‘collaborate globally, act locally.’13  He does concede that networks are the best structure for low-risk situations, citing Wikipedia as an example, but again, Gladwell is guilty of gross generalizations.  His idea that networks and hierarchies are irreconcilable is almost purposefully polemical.  When asked why, in her opinion, site leaders were willing to voluntarily undertake the work of Hollaback! without ever meeting its director, part of Emily’s response was:

They don’t have to hang out with me.  I’m not their “boss” and most of them will never meet me.  We built a platform so that people can take it and customize it to what they love to do — and what they think their community needs.  Then they run with it — and when the work gets dangerous they know 150 plus [other site leaders] people around the world have got their back. That’s pretty powerful.14

Hollaback!’s structure is a network inside of a hierarchy.  The Executive Director sits at the top and just under her is the International Movement Coordinator. The bloggers and site leaders are on the next rung of the ladder.  From there, each site is led by one or more individuals who, aside from general Hollaback! guidelines, are free to approach the fight against harassment however they see fit.  So if a site leader in France would like to participate in the local slut walk, no outside permission is necessary.  This is the rule across the board (within reason obviously).  If the site leaders of any given place can no longer keep it up, it simply “dies” with little to no effect on the others.  The leadership style of the New York office is very hands off, and as a result the sites look to one another for advice and suggestions, but as equals.  The Hollaback! community is very much a community.  Finally, the idea that this community operating through social media is “not a natural enemy of the status quo” is something they might expect, quite frankly, from someone who cannot relate to the lived reality of gendered oppression as it pertains to harassment in public space.15

Street harassment is a result, not of sexual attraction, but of a power dynamic.  In a patriarchal word, men exercise their power over women with embarrassment, intimidation, and violence in public places for all to see.  Hollaback! is not a Band-Aid for battered egos, it is a movement to reconfigure the relationship between genders so as to end street harassment.  Hollaback! would not be possible without the power of the nexus between social media and social activism.  Malcolm Gladwell is not wrong, he simply wouldn’t know real social change being worked through social media if he saw it, and that is his point, it is rare.  But it is happening.

1.   http://www.ihollaback.org/about/2.  May, Emily. E-mail interview. 03 Dec. 2012.3.  Gladwell, Malcolm. “Small Change : Why the Revolution Will Not Be Tweeted.” The New Yorker 4 Oct. 2010. Print.4.  Ibid.5.  Ibid.6.  May, Emily. E-mail interview. 03 Dec. 2012.7. Gladwell, Malcolm. “Small Change : Why the Revolution Will Not Be Tweeted.” The New Yorker 4 Oct. 2010. Print.8.  Ibid.9.  Ibid.10.  Ibid.11. May, Emily. E-mail interview. 03 Dec. 2012.12. Gladwell, Malcolm. “Small Change : Why the Revolution Will Not Be Tweeted.” The New Yorker 4 Oct. 2010. Print. 13. May, Emily. E-mail interview. 03 Dec. 2012.14.  Ibid. 15. Gladwell, Malcolm. “Small Change : Why the Revolution Will Not Be Tweeted.” The New Yorker 4 Oct. 2010. Print.

 

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The 12 Days of Hollaback!

Thank you so much to everyone who came to our HOLLAday party this year! You can check out the photos from the event on Facebook, here.  Happy HOLLAdays from all of us at Hollaback!

On the First day of Christmas,
Hollaback! said to me
It’s my right to walk-safely!

So on the second day of Christmas,
A subway creep said to me,
Nice rack baby,
It’s my right to walk-safely!

On the third day of Christmas,
Hollaback! said to say:
That’s not appropriate,
Nice rack baby,
It’s my right to walk-safely!

On the fourth day of Christmas,
A subway creep said to me,
He’d like to bang that,
That’s not appropriate,
Nice rack baby,
It’s my right to walk-safely!

On the fifth day of Christmas,
Hollaback! said to say:
I’ll take a picture,
He’d like to bang that,
That’s not appropriate,
Nice rack baby,
It’s my right to walk-safely!

On the sixth day of Christmas,
A subway creep showed to me,
His disgusting penis,
I’ll take a picture,
He’d like to bang that,
That’s not appropriate,
Nice rack baby,
It’s my right to walk-safely!

On the seventh day of Christmas
Hollaback! said to me,
Put him on the net,
His disgusting penis,
I’ll take a picture,
He’d like to bang that,
That’s not appropriate,
Nice rack baby,
It’s my right to walk-safely!

On the eighth day of Christmas,
A creep tried to grab me,
Not before I smacked him
Put him on the net,
His disgusting penis,
I’ll take a picture,
He’d like to bang that,
That’s not appropriate,
Nice rack baby,
It’s my right to walk-safely!

On the ninth day of Christmas,
Hollaback! said to me,
Let’s end street harassment,
I think I’ll smack him
Put him on the net,
His disgusting penis,
I’ll take a picture,
He’d like to bang that,
That’s not appropriate,
Nice rack baby,
It’s my right to walk-safely!

On the tenth day of Christmas,
A creep jerked off in front of me,
We have the power,
To end street harassment,
I think I’ll smack him,
Put him on the net,
His disgusting penis,
I’ll take a picture,
He’d like to bang that,
That’s not appropriate,
Nice rack baby,
It’s my right to walk-safely!

On the eleventh day of Christmas,
Hollaback! said to me,
Report him to the cops,
We have the power
To end street harassment,
I think I’ll smack him
Put him on the net,
His disgusting penis,
I’ll take a picture,
He’d like to bang that,
That’s not appropriate,
Nice rack baby,
It’s my right to walk-safely!

On the twelfth day of Christmas,
Emily May said to me,
Join the revolution,
Report him to the cops,
We have the right
To be safe on the Subway,
I think I’ll smack him
Put him on the net,
His disgusting penis,
I’ll take a picture,
He’d like to bang that,
That’s not appropriate,
Nice rack baby,
It’s my right to walk-safely!

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Sexy or Sexism? You Decide On This Fall’s Television Line Up

BY SARA SUGAR

Jointly launched by The Women’s Media Center and MissRepresentation.org, the Sexy or Sexism? campaign is redefining sexy and identifying sexism. This season, the campaign is bringing to the forefront the prevalent misrepresentation of women in the media. The campaign is monitoring the major television networks and their fall line-ups while providing a platform for honest and open discussion about identifying what really is sexy and what is just downright sexism.

The aim is to hold the media accountable for its depiction of females. In Early November the campaign invited viewers to take part in rating which new shows on television they felt were redefining “sexy” in a positive way and which ones were just plain sexist. Viewers were asked to score shows by applying letter grades (either A, B, C, D, or F, with F being the most sexist); around 1,000 people participated. The results were tallied and coming in with a B average, the show that recieved the highest letter grade for its portrayal of gender was NBC’s Up All Night; while ABC’s Man Up! was marked with the lowest grade of an F.

Rolling in with a B average from the creator and producer of Saturday Night Live was Up All Night, starring Christina Applegate and Will Arnett as new parents Reagan and Chris, dealing with not only the challenges and delights of parenthood for the first time, but also as a not-so-freqently-seen stay-at-home dad and a work-in-the-office mom.

As James Poniewozik of Time Entertainment aptly points out in Up All Night, Modern Family and TV’s Feminism for Men, what Up All Night is doing, and doing well, is writing scripts for a sitcome that just happens to have a stay-at-home dad and a work-in-the-office mom but isn’t primarily about that. In other words, NBC is presenting gender roles in a different light; not by making them the center purpose of the show, but by making them one aspect of two people’s lives.

In opposition to the refreshing take on gender in Up All Night, ABC’s Man Up! falls flat coming in with an F rating from SexyorSexism. But apparently Man Up! didn’t just fail with SexyorSexism, but with its own network! ABC has announced that Man Up! is being taken off the network’s line up. ABC cites poor ratings for the show, but with SexyorSexism urging viewers to write to ABC directly and tell them what they think of Man Up!, one can only hope that ABC executives wake up and decide to not take the sexist road to work!

To see how others shows in this fall’s TV line up were graded visit SexyorSexism.

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Disgusting UVM Fraternity Questionnaire Sparks Outrage

BY SARAH M., cross posted from our partners at SAFER

Today finds me crawling out of blog hibernation to point ya’ll to the latest installment of “College Boys Just Want to Have Fun…By Demeaning Women and Making Jokes About Rape.” Today’s episode takes place at the University of Vermont, where a puzzling and revolting survey was recently distributed to the brothers of Sigma Phi Epsilon. We were sent a copy of the questionnaire, which mostly consists of benign questions like name, birthday, major, amount of time with SigEp and favorite SigEp memories, hobbies, future goals, etc. It’s actually kind of nerdy and cute, until you get to the final three “personal questions.”

1. Where in public would I want to have sex?

2. Who’s my favorite artist?

3. If I could rape someone, who would it be?

We come across a lot of gross stuff at SAFER, but the contrast here makes this particularly jarring and offensive. It’s not the usual litany of purposefully offensive garbage; it’s a seemingly legit, “normal” survey with this one horrifying nuggets thrown in at the end. The normalization of the question—the nonchalance—is so…disturbing.

As often happens with these kind of “frat shenanigans,” the survey made it into the hands of other folks on campus, who were understandably upset and are taking action. This petition was started last night by “Feminists from UVM” and is already up to 375 signatures. This is what they have to say:

This egregious expression of rape culture is only the most recent example of systemic sexism at UVM. The past year alone has witnessed rape, multiple sexual assaults, and anti-abortion chalking in public spaces. While the university administration has laid off long-time Women’s and Gender Studies faculty and supported sexist institutions like Sigma Phi Epsilon, it has refused to take concerted action to combat sexism and rape culture. We demand that instead of diverting resources into vast salaries for its administrators, UVM should launch an aggressive campaign against sexism and rape culture, and it should expand institutions such as Women’s and Gender Studies and the Women’s Center at UVM. Furthermore, UVM must immediately disband Sigma Phi Epsilon. An institution that discusses who it wants to rape has no place at UVM or in the Burlington community.

Sign the UVM petition and look for updates over at FedUp Vermont, a local grassroots feminist organization. The story hasn’t hit the news yet (campus or otherwise) so there is no word on whether the school will take any action or if the men of Sigma Phi Epsilon have anything to say for themselves, but we’ll let you know if they do. Something tells me this was supposed to “funny.” Ha. Ha. Ha.

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On Rape Humor: The Power of Allies

BY REBECCA KATHERINE HIRSCH

Rape jokes may not be the WORST source of feminist-hand-wringing, they do have an awful lot of
competition with all those pay gaps, rolled-back abortion and LGBT rights, not mention dehumanizing objectification and all that darned pernicious, underreported sexism of street harassment and inconspicuous misogyny cleverly disguised as family entertainment. But they sure as heck do hold a specially depressing place in every fatigued-with-trying-to-explain feminist’s heart. As Jon Stewart (I think..) once said, “humor only goes as far as your ideology.”

The latest culprit to make light of such physical and emotional trauma is Jersey Shore’s Vinny Guadagnino who recently released “Rack City Mix” including the appalling line “Actin’like I’m raping it.” The Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN) immediately condemned the song and Guadagnino defended himself via Twitter saying:

“Whoa! Some people really know how to take things out
of context ! #LearnToListenToMusic …It was fun though!”

As well as, publically apologizing for having “offended anyone.” He later launched a T-shirt line called “I Have A Vision” to combat bullying. I think it’s relevant at this point to reveal some other classy lines from the song:

“I ain’t got a girl … You ain’t got a man …
I’ve got a date for ya … and it’s in my pants.”

The hopeless romantic continues:

“Oh you a fan? You wanna take a pic?
I like your crack girl … I wanna take a hit.
Yeah I’m takin’ it … I’m a get you naked b*tch …
We can f**k and make it fit… boomin s**t and slatin’ it.
Actin’ like I’m raping it …
f** k her til she fakin’ it.”

And lastly:

“If I act like a d*ck … slap me with your t*ts.”

Vinny you eloquent old charmer! It is possible that Vinny was just trying to rhyme with “fakin’ it” as judging by his courtship tactics he probably gets that a lot and restraining orders maybe.

Criticizing rape jokes is not a feminist issue, irrespective of offending women or rape victims, it is an issue for everyone. Exposure to the unchallenged association of violation with humor sends the message that
violence is laughable. By not challenging these jests the jokes pass as innocuous, thus trivializing and normalizing the notion of rape.

I would encourage all joke-tellers, but mostly joke-hearers to think of the responsibility and power they possess in upsetting the current paradigm where violence and sadism are no big deal.

In conclusion: If you hear a rape joke, take a stand! You know? Comment, question, challenge! Silence is the enemy here, since silence inthe face of injustice—as all those ‘First they came for the Catholics…’  posters I saw growing up make clear—is tantamount to colluding with the enemy.

Only YOU can prevent institutionalized violence (and forest fires, perhaps)!

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CALLING ALL AWESOME


BY EMILY MAY

Over the past year and half I have struggled, celebrated, struggled, and celebrated again in the process of getting Hollaback! off the ground. There were those first eight months when I didn’t get a salary and ate a lot of rice and beans (I hate rice). Then there was the ridiculous amounts of press we got (People, Time, CNN, ABC, NPR, what! what!) or me flying around the world to spread the gospel. If you’ve ever met me, I’ve probably tried to convince you to volunteer for Hollaback!. So many of you did, whether it was a little tweet or a major undertaking.

Today the result is nothing short of an activist fairytale. We are in 45 cities, in 16 countries, and in 9 different languages. We’re partnering with government, we’ve taken down four major corporations to date (for being jerks), and on any given day there are over 200 people around the world working to bring Hollaback! to life, even though only two of us get paid. Here’s the funny part about starting a revolution though: only awesome people get it. Institutions? Not so much. People with tons money? Very rarely. We’re working overtime to fix this little problem and bring on an earned income revenue stream, but for right now we’re staring down a budget gap the size of disaster in January. It’s super scary, I’m not going to lie.

So I’m heading straight towards the honeypot of awesome on this one (that is you). We’re having a campaign right now to raise $25,000 before December 31st to keep this movement moving. I want you – yes you – to give. Scratch that: I NEED YOU TO GIVE. And I need you get everyone else you know to give too. We’ve got 25 sites already signed up to launch this Spring, and we can’t stop now. Please donate. And let’s end 2011 with a bang.

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Back to Basics: What is Street Harassment?

BY VICTORIA TRAVERS

Sometimes we have to return to the basics. It is important for us to explain exactly what constitutes “Street Harassment” for our new readers as well as consolidating the knowledge of our existing audience. I speak to many people that are aware, vaguely aware, unaware or totally unsure of what is appropriate in public spaces. This is because the perennial problem of street harassment is something we are used to and have come to accept and ignore. So now it’s time to set the record straight.

Street Harassment is any form of behavior, verbal or physical, between strangers in a public space that is unwanted, disrespectful, threatening or violent. The best way to know if this has happened to you is to ask yourself how the abuser/incident has made you feel, if you feel ashamed, angered or forced to stare at the floor, walk faster or dive into a shop – you should not tolerate it and you should definitely Hollaback!

Street Harassment affects everyone, men, women and LGBTQ folk, although statistically it happens to certain groups more frequently than others, not a single individual on the planet is impervious to it. It manifests itself in all manner of ways from wolf whistles to assault. Popular Anti –Street Harassment site Stop Street Harassment has defined the varying types of street harassment:

“It ranges from leers, whistles, honks, kissing noises, and non-sexually explicit evaluative comments, to more insulting and threatening behavior like vulgar gestures, sexually charged comments, flashing, and stalking, to illegal actions like public masturbation, sexual touching, assault, and murder.”

A few months ago I met a man via my husband who asked me “where do you draw the line in street harassment?” It is interesting because I do not believe that he was a pervert or a mean person, just an ignorant product of the “boys will be boys” mentality that trivializes the act of abusing another person on the street. He continued:

“Well what exactly can I say to a woman on the street?”

For this poor chap, my advice was that it was probably best for him to say nothing at all and maybe he should imagine being bound by an imaginary line that forever lies just ahead of him. I could not blame him entirely because we are constantly exposed to images that suggest such behavior is acceptable. There is a scene in “The Hangover” where the characters cruise a cop car down the Vegas strip, using the loud speaker Bradley Cooper’s character informs a woman on the street something to the effect of “you have an awesome rack”, having already accepted the other humorous parts of the movie so it is widely accepted as “harmless fun”. However, I am sure the majority of people out there would not like to have their “rack” or any other part of them referred to by a total stranger on the street.

Regardless of sex, creed, color or choice of outfit everyone has the right to feel safe and confident on the streets without fear of any varying violation of their person or personal space. We have the power to end street harassment and we will. Join the revolution, it’s freakin’ awesome!

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She refused to date him, he attacked her with acid. What the what?

From Change.org:

Twenty-two-year-old Franca Ogbu has spent the past year in a hospital bed, after falling victim to an acid attack while studying at Federal University of Technology that left her in extreme pain and deeply disfigured. She has undergone 11 surgeries and needs 13 more — meanwhile, the perpetrator of this horrific assault remains out on the streets.

Fellow student Chibuzor Bright Nkire was promptly expelled, along with a group of accomplices, for pouring acid on Franca because she refused to date him. However, nobody has been prosecuted for this vile crime yet.

When we talk about street harassment we usually talk about verbal harassment, groping, public masturbation, assault… but acid attacks? We don’t often talk about them but we should.  So we’re starting to, right here, right now. SIGN THIS PETITION! Real justice is living in a world where these things never happen in the first place.  But until we get there — let’s at least hold the people that do these things accountable.

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HOLLABACK! GROWS TO 45 CITIES INTERNATIONALLY: New locations in India, Colombia, and Chile join the movement against street harassment

Untitled from Chad Sniffen on Vimeo.

 

The movement to end street harassment takes another giant leap forward today as an additional 11 Hollaback! sites launch internationally, adding to an already vibrant network of 34 sites across four continents. Each site is run by a team of local advocates who are deeply committed to working on-line and off-line to end street harassment in their communities.

“I decided to start a Hollaback! because I wanted to be a part of a collective of dedicated and passionate activists fighting to make the streets safe for women all over the world,” said Hollaback! Palo Alto Founder Viviana Arcia.  The organization expected to only launch in five cities this year, but is now in 45 cities across 16 countries, with leaders speaking more than nine different languages — each with the same message: street harassment must be put to a stop.  New locations include Bogota, Colombia; Boston, MA; San Luis Obispo, CA; Chennai, India; Dusseldorf, Germany; Minneapolis, MN; Montreal, Quebec; Palo Alto, CA; Portland, ME; Santiago, Chile; and Winnipeg, Canada.

“What we tend to forget is that preventing sexual harassment in the long run is about changing our attitudes, not just ensuring physical safety. This is where we come in with Hollaback!” said Hamsini Ravi, Project Coordinator Hollaback! Chennai.

Local Hollaback! site leaders run their local blogs and organize their communities through advocacy, community partnerships, and direct action. Site leaders are as diverse in their backgrounds as they are in their experiences of harassment. Hollaback! reports that 44% lesbian, gay, bisexual, and queer, 26% identify as people of color, 76% are under the age of 30, and 90% are women.

“Women and members of the LGBTQ community have always been taught that street harassment is inevitable and something that we need to accept, smile at, or ignore,” says Cara Courchesne, Director of Hollaback! Portland, Maine. “Hollaback! changes that storyline.”

Hollaback!’s international sites are already having an impact. In Querétaro, Mexico, site leaders have developed a workshop to promote cities free of harassment for all people. In the last two months, 600 young people have taken part. In Baltimore, MD, the site leader has organized several successful events, including an Anti-hate Prom and the Baltimore SlutWalk. In Croatia, site leaders are creating a survey that will allow them to collect data on street harassment that will then be used across the Hollaback! network, giving Hollaback! an ability to compare street harassment across cultures.

 

 

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