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We just wanted to highlight the work of two amazing college-based initiatives – Freeze the Tease and Chappal Maarungi – in the Mumbai-wide and global fight to end street harassment.
Freeze the Tease is the brainchild of six students at St. Andrew’s College – Perma Dsouza, Andrea Fernades, Digi George, Anishka Alvares, Rochelle Barrie and Valeska Reveredo. The initiative began as a response to a class assignment and has solidified into a dynamic, awareness-raising campaign. Their campaign has involved encouraging women to sign a pledge saying that they will not be silent in the face of street harassment and wearing bands that say ‘I pledge to freeze the tease.’ They have also organized outdoor activities, such as a recent outing where they distributed ‘Freeze the Tease’ bands in Bandra and other public spaces. Check out their Facebook page here. Amazing stuff!
Similarly, Chappal Maarungi was started in response to a class assignment at Wilson College and has taken on a life of its own. Their Facebook page states “Chappal Maarungi” as a campaign is not directed towards men, asking them to stop cat calling and eve teasing. Instead, as the name itself suggests, is directed towards women: asking them to raise their voices against inappropriate behavior. The “chappal” here is symbolic for women raising their voices and not necessarily their footwear (unless of course, they need to!)”
Amazing stuff! Their angle is that when women are empowered to take a stand against harassment, men will learn that harassment of any kind in any arena is entirely unacceptable. The group has created a 5-foot tall chappal and placed boxes of chappals around their college campus as an encouragement to women to step up (no pun intended : ) Check out their Facebook page here!
Awesome stuff! So good to see other campaigns working to end street harassment in Mumbai. Together we shall overcome.
Meet Kacie, the social entrepreneur fighting street harassment in Istanbul, Turkey.
Why do you HOLLA? I HOLLA because people just can’t be treated this way.
What’s your craft? Social entrepreneurship, essentially figuring out how to make a living while caring about the world. I’m also a locavor and foodie.
What was your first experience with street harassment? I really don’t remember, but I’m sure it began when I was 12 or 13 years old. When I was 18, I remember realizing that it would become a normal experience of my daily life. I learned that street harassment could be dangerous when I was 20, and now that I’m 24 now I have learned how to respond to it.
Define your style: Tweed, androgyny, nose ring, modesty, and my trusty red cowboy boots. Also trying not to look too American while I’m living abroad.
What do you collect? Postcards from my penpals.
If you could leave the world one piece of advice, what would it be? Make sure that the dreams you dream are big enough for you.
My superheroine power is…that people tend to trust me and believe in me.
What inspires you? Mostly other people’s amazing stories partnered with my pragmatic idealism.
In the year 2020, street harassment…will be apart of legislation that’s enacted in many countries across the world.
BY EMILY MAY
The issue of peer-to-peer harassment on campuses has come into focus over the past year – and for good reason: the statistics are staggering. Amongst the LGBTQ community, CNN reports that 33% of LGBTQ and 38% of transgender students, faculty and staff have seriously considered leaving their institution due to harassment, and in a 2005 study by the AAUW, 62% of women and 61% of men report being sexually harassed on campuses. The epidemic is widespread, and 51% of male students admit to harassing their female counterparts at least once. Yale students caught on tape yelling “no means yes and yes means anal,” have caused a nationwide uproar, and a group of student activists sued Yale University for creating a “hostile sexual environment” on campus.
Nationwide outrage related to gender-based violence on campus has led the U.S. Department of Education to follow suit in denouncing sexual assault on campus, and recently issued a statement requiring universities to improve their sexual assault policies and mandate reporting. In tandem with this focus on sexual assault, the suicide of Tyler Clementi – a young, gay male who was caught on camera by his roommates during a sexual encounter – has put an unprecedented amount of focus on the harassment of people in the LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, and queer) community.
As attention mounts on gender-based harassment and assault, we have a unique and historical opportunity (not to mention a responsibility) to address campus harassment. We want to hear from you: what is your campus doing to address harassment? What strategies do you think would be effective?
Let us know, as always, keep holla’ing back!
Since the early spring, there have been 11 sexual assaults, including one rape, in Park Slope and surrounding neighborhoods.
In response the NYPD has released information about at least three suspects, including multiple videos and composite sketches, and increased police presence in the area. While we applaud the police for taking the attacks seriously, neighborhood residents are concerned with some aspects of the police response.
The Wall Street Journal reports that officers are telling women not to wear shorts or skirts to prevent being assaulted. This is victim-blaming, not prevention. This approach is indicative of a police force that is effectively disconnected from the community and unaffected by the current outcry and mass mobilizations against rape and victim blaming provoked by a Toronto police officer’s declaration that “women should avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victimized.”
Safe Slope, a Brooklyn-based collective formed in response to the attacks, recently chronicled additional worrying NYPD behavior, including:
- Officers following women home at night without communicating with them and showing video of the attacks to residents without warning, both practices that are frightening and triggering to sexual assault survivors.
- Only providing information about the assaults to women, which sends the message that men and genderqueer people aren’t sexually assaulted – a dangerous myth – and that sexual assault prevention is a women’s issue rather than the responsibility of the entire community.
- Only providing prevention and information materials in English, which prevents non-English speaking members of the community from receiving safety tips and information they need to protect themselves.
These missteps are the latest examples of a police department that is unprepared to responsibly and effectively prevent rape and sexual assault. A police force that is hurting those it is supposed to protect, particularly some of the most vulnerable members of society, is an outrage and an affront to the civil and human rights of all and requires action at all levels. Systemic victim-blaming leaves all people, but especially historically marginalized members of society, more susceptible to violence and arrest when they report rape or sexual assault to the police. We must build an analysis of police behavior, recklessness, lack of sensitivity and lack of adequate training as a systemic problem that has a significantly negative impact on those affected by violence and their communities.
In two recent incidents, two NYPD officers were accused of rape – and convicted of official misconduct for repeatedly entering the home of a woman without cause – and another officer was apprehended while committing a sexual assault. Videos have also been circulating of police violence at the Occupy Wall Street protests, adding to public mistrust of the NYPD and its motives, tactics, and actions.
We, the undersigned, call on Commissioner Ray Kelly to enact these steps immediately in regard to the situation in Park Slope:
- Immediately order sensitivity training for all officers assigned to work on the Park Slope case, to be completed by October 15th
- Ensure officers provide information about sexual assaults and prevention in Spanish and other languages reflective of community needs
- Ensure information on sexual assault be provided to individuals who are not female-bodied people
- Insist NYPD officers identify themselves and inform people who are being followed home
We further call on Commissioner Kelly to:
- Insist all NYPD officers complete mandatory sensitivity training by January 1st, 2012.
- Facilitate a safe and violence-free SlutWalk in New York City on Saturday October 1, 2011 with zero instances of police brutality or unwarranted police force.
Black Women’s Blueprint
The Line Campaign
The organizers of SlutWalk NYC
BY EMILY MAY
Remember when “Stop Looking at My Mom” by the Astronomical Kid went viral last year? The world was cheering, and the anti-street harassment community went wild. The verdict was clear: this kid was amazing.
And then he took it to the next level. He showed up to New York City’s first street harassment hearing with his mom to testify against street harassment on October 28th of last year. His testimony was smart, thoughtful, and insightful. This wasn’t just a catchy song to him – it was a call to action.
And now, Brian Bradly, the 14 year old Astronomical Kid, has wowed us all again by taking the issue of street harassment to the main stage of the XFactor. As Veronica and I just watched this clip in the office – I couldn’t but to cry tears of happiness. As Brian Bradley accomplishes his dream, he’s also accomplishing mine by bringing the issue of street harassment to the main stage.
Brian, we’ll dance to your revolution any day. Keep winning, keep inspiring us, and don’t stop believing. I know we won’t.
BY EMILY MAY AND VERONICA PINTO
On Wednesday, September 14th at 5pm, Hollaback! started a petition to get T-Mobile to comply with the subpoena and release the contact information of a suspected rapist. By 10am the next morning, 125 of you signed the petition, and T-Mobile folded.
Never doubt that 125 individuals and an on-line petition can change the world. Because that’s exactly what you did.
The story was heartbreaking: in July, a 22-year old woman woke up in a car with two men on top of her. She screamed and tried to get away, and they let her out of the car — taking only her phone. She was left with bruises and a broken zipper. The details of what happened before she woke up remain unknown. In an odd turn of events, the perpetrator tried to call her partner’s T-Mobile phone from a blocked number, but only left a fake name and a vague apology.
After the crime was reported, the police subpoenaed T-Mobile for the number, but T-Mobile refused to hand it over, claiming to do so would be violating the “privacy” of their customers. According to the NYPD, T-Mobile is notorious for their failure to cooperate in police investigations – but their decision left the rapist at large, and women at risk.
But you didn’t take no for an answer. You quickly came to her defense and signed the change.org petition to demand action from the telecommunications giant. And it worked.
Thank you for having the guts to stand up for what you know is right, and for proving that together, we have the power to change the world.
BY REBECCA KATHERINE HIRSCH
So, SlutWalk. A movement whose name makes me cringe. I joined SlutWalk for the same reason I join many things: Desire, fear, half-conscious longing for union. But let’s zone in on that FEAR. Fear of what? Fear of oneself? Well, yeah, sure, but what else? Fear of… Dudes.
Yeah. Dudes. The men people. The ones with the power. The ones whose power has been socially encouraged to be insecurely felt and hence violently expressed.
But wait! Not all men are repulsive, sleazy, insidiously creepy wannabe he-men, evil warring rapist babies with penises made out of spikes! That would be crazy! But that’s how society presented them to me! (And now, whenever I consort with a fellow who’s aware of his socialization and curious to know about social constructs and his personal history and sources that inspired adherence to “male” stereotyped behavior, I just fall over backwards and say Let’s have open-minded, potentially non-gender-normative sex! Or no? You’re not into that? Ok, let’s do it the boring way! So long as it’s consensual, no expression of sexuality is perverse!) Too many men are manipulated into the pervasive idea that male power is in need of constant re-affirmation. Their defensiveness is metastasized into cruelty.
But back to that fear…
Where there is fear there is also disgust. By what am I disgusted? Ladies. The popular conception of ladies. Women people. The ones without power. Women were presented to me (via all media and popular mythology so deeply entrenched it’s taken as “fact” and “natural”) as vindictive, slimy, conniving explosives that kill everyone in their paths. They were also put forth as pretty brain-dead princesses (who secretly want to kill everyone in their paths which is why we have to stop them by shaming them and calling them mean names—how about ‘slut’? Yeah, that’ll do). This was confusing for me. Because I was none of those things. Or was I all of those things? I wondered at these conflicting, woman-hating messages late into the night.
And then I got ANGRY. SO ANGRY. That my options were the only options given every female since men realized they could band together and shame us down: Virgin or whore. Stupid victim who gets killed for her naiveté or evil temptress who gets killed for her lusty wiles. And the Everyman victor goes off to slay the dragon and live his untroubled life while I, the virgin or whore, die in the background wondering why the hell I was only given two lousy choices when I TOO could be the Everyman. Everyone is the Everyman. The Everyman is a myth that purports (white, resource-rich) men as normal and everyone else as abnormal, deficient, pathological.
Well, I am not down with these double binds! Society’s unfair and unrealistic breakdown of binary gender qualities and abilities presents MEN as strong, powerful creeps and WOMEN as stupid, pitiful harpies.
I am neither of those things and nobody is. I joined SlutWalk to smash gender stereotypes. Gender stereotypes, after all, perpetuate rape.
The stereotype that men cannot control their sex drives and must violently penetrate, bloody and maim everything they want makes me murderous. That’s an unfair stereotype. It casts men as infantile hyenas and says women must resign themselves to violence. This is a myth. A myth akin to black people being stupid or gay people being sexually wanton. When you think about it, all negative mythology condemns the same thing: weakness. Sexual weakness, mental weakness. However you slice it, we all fear our humanity.
Because ALL people are sexual and ALL people are imperfect. Our society superficially values sexual control and the veneer of intelligence (instead of TRULY teaching and valuing sexual education, intelligence and diversity) and so assigns these incomplete and inhuman characteristics to the people it values most: Men. White men. White men with economic resources. But men don’t possess absolute power any more than robots do. Myths hurt everyone! If men who buy into the system constantly feel they aren’t measuring up (since no human being could) and take it out on those who are societally perceived as weaker and less deserving of sympathy, do we blame men? (A few times, but only on an individual, not systemic, basis) Or do we blame the overarching mythology and dualistic system that creates an absolute, essentialist, polarized division of FAUTLESSLY GLORIOUS (male) people and BAD, SNEAKY, PRETTY (female) people? (SlutWalk says we should.)
I’m so sick of being afraid of men (for some of their violent expressions of “power”). And I’m sick of wanting to be a man (so I can at least tangibly manifest my own desired power without being called names). I hate the system that assigns the quality of aggressive thoughtlessness to men and calls it power.
All myths that arrange people into artificial hierarchies are socially dangerous because they are emotionally devastating. You say a women has to wear the “right” clothes in order to fan the flames of alleged uncontrollable male lust (MY FEMALE LUST IS UNCONTROLLABLE, ARE YOU KIDDING ME? Still I manage to avoid assaulting people! And it’s not because my lust is lesser; it’s not because I don’t “naturally” lust: these things were SYTEMATICALLY taught to women, expected and enforced via shaming and calling a woman a “slut” if she acts like a “man” as if men were one monolithic hulk that has no empathy and no real desire for pleasure, just power and control). A black man has to not be black in order to not get targeted and arrested. A gay person has to not be gay in order to not be harassed and humiliated by zealots. A trans person has to not be trans in order to live in safety.
No one is free until everyone is free! Sexism is racism is homophobia is transphobia is ableism is prejudice. It’s the fear and hatred of perceived weakness we ALL have in ourselves. Why run from it? Why not explore it? Why displace our anger at other people who don’t deserve it?
And so! I’m marching with SlutWalk on October 1st to do my small part in challenging this culture that condones rape by glorifying qualities artificially associated with maleness and belittling all things perceived as female and feminine. I’m marching to
materialize the radical notion that ALL people deserve to be treated like human beings.
HOLLAnote: We’re reprinting this from our friends at change.org because, quite simply, it makes us rage. As we at Hollaback! know all too well, discrimination is a day-to-day occurrence for so many people internationally. But that doesn’t make it OK. We all deserve to be who we are — on the streets and in the air. Join us in signing this today.
Leisha Hailey and Camila Grey weren’t expecting anything out of the ordinary when they boarded their Southwest Airlines flight last Monday. Camila kissed Leisha — just a typical “I love you” peck like any couple might share.
Apparently, this was not okay with their flight attendant, who came over to explain that two women kissing was not acceptable, because Southwest is “a family-oriented airline.”
Leisha and Camila were extremely upset. The flight attendant wouldn’t back down. The conflict escalated. And Leisha and Camila were kicked off their flight.
Jeremy Sharp is a college student and a fan of Leisha’s — Leisha was one of the stars of the TV series “The L Word.” Jeremy started a petition on Change.org demanding that Southwest apologize to Leisha and Camila. Please sign Jeremy’s petition to Southwest today.
Southwest claims to be a supporter of LGBT rights — and, as corporations go, Southwest has excellent anti-discrimination policies. It’s even the official airline for the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD). But now that those policies are being put to the test, Southwest is failing miserably.
In multiple statements, Southwest has refused to accept responsibility for the actions of its employee, and has instead blamed Leisha and Camila for bringing this discrimination on themselves. But Leisha and Camila would have had no cause to get upset if they hadn’t been targeted by their flight attendant for their sexual orientation.
Eradicating homophobia means more than saying the right buzzwords and sponsoring the right organizations. It means making sure that LGBT families are treated equally every day. If Southwest can brush this incident under the rug, what’s to stop other well-meaning companies from doing the same?
Southwest has already received an avalanche of bad publicity for both its employee’s discriminatory behavior and its failure to accept responsibility for the incident. The airline’s executives need to understand that potential customers aren’t going to let this go until Southwest issues an official, meaningful apology.
Please sign Jeremy’s petition asking that Southwest apologize to Leisha and Camila:
And keep on holla’ing back!
BY EMILY MAY
When I became ED of Hollaback! last year I was 29 and was terrified. Everyone told me it was impossible to launch a nonprofit in a recession, especially one with a atypical model addressing a rarely-discussed issue. I knew no one with big money (our biggest donor to date I met in line for the bathroom), and went for 8 months with no salary living off of my nonprofit-work’s savings to bring it to life. Today Hollaback! is alive and well thanks to sweat, tears, and kickass volunteers, and I want to show other folks (especially those uncomfortable with traditional leadership models because they’ve traditionally been used to oppress them) that it’s not only possible, it’s critical that we step up if we are going to create a world that we want to live in. And what better way to do this than through a webseries?
Enter Up and UP. In the words of founder Kristen Dolle,
“Up and UP is a webseries about the revolution that’s taking place in New York City, where extraordinary, young women are building businesses and leading movements to shape a better world. These girls bring a new generation of icons to the mix of Gloria’s, Arianna’s and Hillary’s. I believe these girls have the power to create a new culture of cool around awesome women, women who are using their intelligence to both generate revenue and improve the state of the world. This content is desperately needed in a male- dominated media landscape and serves as an excellent vehicle for these young women to get their messages out to the broadest audience.”
I met Kristen Dolle, the creator of Up and UP, last year and immediately loved her compelling vision. We need to present people with alternative views of leadership — and we need to start to undo some of the media’s less-than-compelling representations of women. I think this project accomplishes both. But it won’t accomplish either unless it gets funded.