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My roommate and I were walking down the street back to our apartment from our local Kwik Trip in t-shirts and athletic shorts around 11:45 pm. We were minding our own business, clearly, simply walking and talk about our plans for the rest of the evening. As we crossed and intersection a car turned, slowed down, and a young male (presumably college age) yelled “SLUTS!” at us and him and his friend proceeded to laugh at that. As I turned around to respond– to be honest, i didn’t even know what I’d say– they were already gone. My roommate and I didn’t speak for a few moments, embarrassed and hurt by what had happened. When we got home, we turned from embarrassment, to anger, to sadness. My friend showed me this website after I posted the story to my facebook page. This is what I posted:
I am deeply distressed and frustrated with the fact that as a 22 year old female college student I cannot even walk down the street with my roommate in a t-shirt and athletic shorts without being called “SLUTS!” by passing cars. Besides pointing out the fact that there is a very blatant double standard being promoted with that comment, one that is still incredibly evident in our society today, I have a few more things to say.
FOR REAL?!?!? I know this type of shit happens everywhere and to everyone, but it is upsetting regardless. To the guys who yelled that at us tonight, how did it make you feel? Did it make you feel better about yourself or more empowered? Do you REALLY think its OKAY to yell at two girls walking down the sidewalk from YOUR CAR without giving us a chance to respond?! What if someone said that to your sister? Your female friends? Your mother? Or other women in your life that you love and respect dearly?
You don’t even know us, dude. Not a damn thing about us. And I’ll admit, it hurt my damn feelings and I don’t even know YOU. But these things happen. And I’ll recover, while you’ll remain an insensitive and disrespectful individual.
So while you can laugh about this with all your friends for a mere second and probably forget about the whole incident, I will not. And I’ll use it as motivation to keep spreading my truth, keep studying what I’m studying, and keep on my path of treating others well, even strangers walking down the street. It is NOT OKAY to yell degrading comments to women. EVER. It’s not funny, it’s hurtful and silencing. Peace and Love, yo.
I think this website is absolutely amazing. Thanks for being a place where I feel I can be heard. Infinite love
Because of your ongoing support, we’ve had a rockin’ week! Here’s what’s new:
Street harassment expert Vicky Simister joins our team for the month! The UK Anti Street Harassment Campaign was founded in 2010 by Vicky after she was harassed and subsequently assaulted on a North London street. When the police were called, Vicky was told “boys will be boys” and that she had brought about her own assault by not accepting her harassers “compliments”. Since then she’s won tons of awards and has become a spokesperson against street harassment. She’s working with us this summer on our campaign against campus harassment, and we’re so honored to have her!
“A Shit Sandwich of Oppression.” On Wednesday, Vicky and I were interviewed by Kamau Bell for his new show on F/X called “Totally Biased.” After learning about the root causes of street harassment, Kamau responded, “so basically, it’s a shit sandwich of oppression.” Vicky and I fell immediately in love. A photo of the interview is above, and the show premiers on Thursday, August 9th.
Brooklyn Magazine thinks were “culture changers.” OH YES WE ARE. Brooklyn magazine is honoring us with a bunch of other artists and creative types, because like them, we’re changing the culture [that makes street harassment OK]. To celebrate our success, they dolled me up and put clothes on me that cost more than my monthly salary. Seriously.
Thanks for your ongoing support, and if you get a chance this weekend: tell someone about Hollaback. No one deserves to deal with street harassment alone.
HOLLA and out —
Cross-posted with permission from our friends at the HEALTHY MASCULINITY SUMMIT
The test of knowledge is not based on how much you know but on how you act when you don’t know. This is an idea based on writings by John Holt, an education scholar,. He wants to make sure that curiosity doesn’t disappear during teen and adult years, that as children age they hold onto their desire to ask questions.
The Healthy Masculinity Summit, taking place this October 17-19 in Washington, DC, will be a place for this approach to knowledge – for questions and curiosity. The summit kicks off the Healthy Masculinity Action Project (HMAP), a two-year initiative designed to raise the national visibility and value of healthy masculinity and support emerging male leaders taking sustained action in communities across the country.
Here’s a start to questions that can be asked: What does our experience of masculinity and the experiences of others tell us about unhealthy and healthy masculinity? Can healthy masculinity help men and boys understand the importance of stopping street harassment? Can healthy masculinity be about both safe streets and men and boys’ mental and physical health?
There are a lot more. So bring your questions to the summit and join Men Can Stop Rape, the National Resource Center on Domestic Violence, Men Stopping Violence, Coach for America, Women of Color Network, and A CALL TO MEN in asking where healthy masculinity might take us.
Save money. Early bird registration for the summit ends August 17. www.healthymasculinity.org
Rikera interned with us this summer, and she was amazing. She wrote and published HOW-TO guides, added resources to our site, cleaned up our press section (which was overwhelming!) and garnered over 1000 new facebook fans and twitter followers. She also made this video, talking about her experience. Thank you for everything, Rikera! The movement to end street harassment is stronger because of your contributions.
We hope you’re having a beautiful harassment-free summer! Here’s what we’ve been up to this week:
Interns rule. A big thank you to our summer interns Sunny Frothingham and Rikera Taylor. Sunny worked on this year’s “State of the Streets” report, which will be released this fall, and in doing so elevated the voices of our site leaders internationally. Rikera developed these amazing HOW-TO guides that are now on our site, ramped up our resources, and brought in 500 new facebook fans and 500 new twitter followers in only two months. Way to go Sunny and Rikera, your legacy will be long-lasting here at Hollaback.
You rule, gropers drool. Yesterday we put a call out on social media for folks to tell their stories of groping for piece that NBC is interested in doing — and you responded in droves! In only 8 hours, we collected over 25 stories. Thank you for your quick work, and we’ll keep you posted on the release of the piece!
Partners rule. We were grateful to meet with Jan Bindas-Tenney, the new co-executive director of RightRides and coordinator for New Yorkers for Safe Transit. If you live in the Sunset Park community, check out New Yorkers for Safe Transit’s upcoming event. We were also honored to present to the talented team at PCI Media Impact this week — stay tuned for details on a partnership with them!
HOLLA and out —
Sya Groosman is a talented, passionate college student and photographer in London who has big dreams to make an artistic impact to fight sexual/street harassment. With her culminating project at the University of Arts, she hopes to raise people’s awareness of the low conviction rates of sexual harassment while channeling her interest in fashion. She brings to light some of the most common experiences of young women everywhere through an artistic protest. Read on for a special and fascinating interview with Sya herself and learn about how to get involved.
Was there an event that served as the breaking point for wanting to explore sexual harassment more?
About a month ago a man followed me home after a night out while shouting out things like “I want to go home with you, you’re so beautiful.” Thank God it never became violent, but this event did make me realize: I have to do this project, even if it only creates awareness on a small level. Before this, I’ve always used my photography to criticize the roles of women in our society, yet I didn’t how to turn it into a project. I always thought of it as a very important but very sensitive subject and so decided to wait until it was the right timing for me and society. There is a lot going on about this in the news now, which makes it so much more interesting to explore.
How did you get into photography? Was this always a medium you wanted to use?
Yes, my love for photography started around the age of 15 when I got my first digital camera. And when I started my BA in Photography at the University of the Arts in Utrecht 3 years later, I found that this was a medium that I could use to express my opinion. You could make beautiful images that you may want to buy for your living room but that never loses that underlying critical concept. Hopefully it makes the viewer think about what is going on in our society.
Who do you want to influence with your finished project? Who is your target audience for this?
Sexual harassment survivors and their friends and family, as well as all the other people that have a strong opinion about sexual harassment without ever experiencing it. I’m definitely not targeting rapists or offenders, because these are just sick people and I know that an art project won’t change that. But I do hope that by creating awareness, girls realize that it is not something to be ashamed of.
Why do you think people assume that clothing always serves as an invite for unwanted sexual attention?
It seems to be the easiest excuse. By coincidence, I spoke to a guy in a club in London last weekend, and he sincerely asked me “Why are all the English girls dressed as sluts but don’t act like it?” I don’t know what he said to the girls he approached, but I told him clearly, if you approach a girl like she is a slut, why would she ever feel flattered and actually like you? She may dress in the clothes she likes but it doesn’t mean she takes them off just as easily. Likewise I wasn’t dressed provocatively after my night out when the guy followed me home, and most women in the street, during daylight, aren’t wearing such clothing either. In my opinion every form of sexual harassment is an expression of power, about intimidating and having control over women.
Any empowering words of advice for young women all around the world?
Please do go to the police and tell your story. You never asked to be harassed, even if you are wearing that short skirt. You are not the offender and you didn’t do anything wrong–nothing gives a man the right to harass you. We’re not pieces of meat, we’re human beings.
Contact Sya or message her on Facebook to get involved with her amazing project:
Email: [email protected]
Phone: +44 (0)7585934641
Up the River Endeavors! Last week I went to Martha’s Vineyard for a retreat with our incredible funder — Up the River Endeavors. The head of the foundation, Mal Jones (pictured left) is a feminist social entrepreneur who is interested in women internationally working collectively to impact the root causes of the major social problems facing us today.
One-on-one calls with new site leaders! This week we spoke with our Class 6 site leaders and strategized with them on how to make their Hollaback sites a success. The sites are scheduled to launch in September.
Partnerships galore. This week we spoke with Wagner College and Sisters on the Runway, an organization that has raised over $50,000 toward ending domestic violence. We also got a shout-out from our partners at SPARK, check it out.
“I have been groped a few times on the streets of Chennai. What troubles me is that these incidents are not taken seriously. It takes someone to die (Sarika from the famous 1998 “eve teasing” case) or for something to involve a mob and a video camera for the nation to be outraged about these things.
“Truth is, it happens to thousands of women everyday. What I would like to see is sustained conversation on this issue beyond the general short-livedness of public memory, and for street harassment to be treated like the crime it is by the police, in everyday situations, beyond asking us to ‘be careful’.”
History has always been made by badasses, and our site leaders are no exception. Need more proof? Check out Hollaback Boston’s recent workshop.
HOLLA and out —
Cross Posted from Hollaback! Baltimore
The latest mental disorder SHF (or Street Harasser Frustration) has few remedies. The cure is less street harassment in the world. Until scientists come up with the eradication cure, women, girls, and lgbtq folks are forced to administer their own treatments. Here is one such treatment, courtesy of the girls from St. Francis Community Center:
Cross Posted from Hollaback! Boston
This past Thursday, July 12th, I had the privilege of leading a workshop on Hollaback! Boston at theComputer Clubhouse 2012 Teen Summit at Northeastern University. The Teen Summit is:
a biennial event that includes opportunities for Clubhouse youth to express their ideas with high-end technologies, such as graphic design, video animation, digital art, music, radio and documentary film-making, and 3-D modeling.
Teaching a group of engaged, tech-savvy teens about the Hollaback! movement (our aptly titled workshop: “Holla WHAT? Hollaback!”) was truly rewarding experience. I got to teach the teens about the pervasive nature of street harassment, why it is an international problem, and ways to take action through holla’ing back or being a bystander. I shared videos on how the Hollaback! movement got started, how pervasive street harassment is for women and LGBTQI-individuals, and how men can be effective bystanders. I shared some of our favorite comics which inspired some of the participants to make comics of their own!
My favorite part of the workshop was the last hour, where the teens had the option to create comics, poems, haikus, or skits to respond to street harassment. Seeing the teens from all around the world (seriously, we had participants from Palestine, New Zealand, Australia, and California!) collaborate on projects to end street harassment was a powerful moment. I was able to see how engaged our generation is and how passionate individuals can get when given the tools to talk back to unacceptable, dangerous behavior in our culture, such as street harassment.
A group of teens working together on a Hollaback! campaign.
Coming up with street harassment comics
I was so impressed with the group by the end of the workshop! It was amazing for me to see teens from all around the world grasp on to the Hollaback! movement. Here are some of their final products:
Imani uses the whiteboard for a cartoon: “Hi chick!” “I’m no chick, I’m human!”
Using poetry to respond to street harassment.
Nick and Nick Jr.’s comic: “Hey, wassup baby girl?” “I have a name you know.”
Bystander awesomeness! “Hey man, what’s wrong with (you) man?! Cut it out!”
Each piece of work showed a different approach to understanding street harassment and getting involved in Hollaback’s work to end it, whether by being a badass bystander (I love that cartoon) or coming up with snappy remarks to unwelcome comments. There were a few more written pieces that I plan on sharing in a separate post, soon!
What do you think of these teens’ work? What are other ways you get teens involved with social justice? Leave your thoughts and comments below!
I spend a lot of energy on a daily basis considering how to best respond to street harassment. What I want is a quick, sure-fire way to shut down the harasser without any follow-up conversation or possibility of leaving them thinking the behavior is flattering, while also avoiding provocation of violence or retribution.
It’s not easy to fit all of that into a three-word phrase you can yell at a passing car.
Earlier this week, as I walked my bike up the hill to my house (yes, I am that lazy, but it’s a serious hill), I had an interesting encounter. When the car pulled up next to me, passenger hanging out the window, I braced for the worst – instead, “Hey, hey miss – how much did your bike cost?”
I was so confused at the non-harassy inquiry, that my response came out a confounding combination of multiple possible answers: “Not enough!”
The passenger barely got out a “…What?” before the driver took matters into his own hands and left me to my reflections.
I should acknowledge, I have a fairly hilarious track record of this; once, as a colleague commiserated about a dreary Monday over the coffeemaker, I responded in a combination of “Mondays are the worst” and “Can’t it be spring yet?” The result: a very hyperbolic, “It’s the worst Monday yet!” (What? Indeed.)
This most recent experience left me wondering – what if I just responded to all street harassment with a ridiculous non-sequitur? Would it stop the conversation in its tracks? Prevent escalation? Give the harasser a moment of pause the next time they consider commenting on a stranger’s derriere?
Yesterday, I happened across a reference to Jenna Marbles’ video How to Avoid Talking To People You Don’t Want To Talk To. The answer, she says, is in The Face – and I couldn’t help but think that this might translate exceedingly well as a response to street harassment. Who needs a three-word retort when this is an option? Go on, click through and give it a watch.
What’s your favorite response to street harassment? Would you try The Face?