Dear Hollaback! Community,
I am reaching out today with the heaviest of hearts. The tragedy in Orlando was one of the deadliest mass shootings in the United States. It took place on Latinx night at the Pulse, and those we lost were mostly LGBTQ, mostly people of color.
We want to be clear: this was not just an act of terror, it was also a hate crime. It was, at its root, a product of homophobic, racist, and transphobic culture that we live in.
It’s a culture of hate that we perpetuate everyday when we support laws against gender-inclusive bathrooms, normalize street harassment, and allow gay teens to be bullied in plain sight. When we refuse to stand up against the daily violence that LGBTQ people face just for being who they are, we create a culture where events like Orlando become inevitable.
The horrific events in Orlando bring to the forefront our own experiences of harassment and violence as LGBTQ folks. It can feel like a scab ripping off; it is a wound that never really has a chance to heal.
This week, as we heal, reflect, and care for one another — let’s also take this opportunity to turn our pain into power. Join us in sharing your experiences with hate, harassment, or violence towards the LGBTQ community with the hashtag #thehatewefaceiseveryday.
Your story could be something that small — like a hateful joke, or a passing comment. Or it could be something much harder — like harassment, intimidation, stalking, or assault. Whatever it is, we’re listening. If you would prefer to be anonymous, you can share your story on our site, or through our free app.
As we process this tragedy, our pain runs deep. As we do the critical work of standing up against Islamophobia and fighting for better policies — we too need to do the work of caring for ourselves, and giving our pain space to breathe.
Sharing your story is an act of self-care, and in times like these, it is an act of survival. We need to show people what’s wrong so they can see what’s possible.
with love and warmth,
Co-Founder and Executive Director
It was around 6 pm here in my city in PH. My friends and I were waiting for a public transport where all of a sudden a man groped my behind with two hands, one for each cheek. I was already having a bad day and this made it way worse. I was too shocked to react and when it finally registered in my brain, the man was already running with his obnoxious friends. I felt violated of all sorts. This happened about a year ago. Now, I’m currently working in my undergrad thesis and chose street harassment as my topic. Filipinos aren’t keen on street harassment. I grew up learning to just adapt it and accept that it will happen every now and then. It is now time to instill awareness to my folks. My resources are very limited and finding this site is like locating a treasure chest filled with gold and all priceless jewels. Thank you.
Have you read Erin’s Story or Ursula’s Story or Kristin’s Story? Each of these stories have two major things in common: First, they’re experiences of street harassment. Second, they’re three of the many stories of people who felt very aware of what they were wearing and how it related to their experiences of harassment. In our research with Cornell we found that 66% of women change the way they dress in order to try and avoid harassment.
Our partners at ModCloth think this is absurd because they know just as well as we do, we dress for ourselves (or at least we should be able to). We love their new video campaign that hones in on this message:
In a world that perpetuates the myth that our clothes are an invitation, it is so important for us to speak up! By telling your stories you are transforming an experience that is lonely and isolating into one that is sharable. You change the power dynamic by flipping the lens off of you and onto the harasser. And you enter a worldwide community of people who’ve got your back. Your stories are inspiring legislators, journalists, academics, and the guy on the corner to take street harassment seriously and create solutions that make everyone feel safe.
So wear what makes you feel good about yourself, and join the movement to shut down street harassers who think your smile or your awesome outfit is an invitation to invade your space. We know that you dress for yourself, and we’ve got your back. Share your stories online or through our new app and participate in the conversation to help us end street harassment.
STOP is a short street harassment film created and directed by Julia Retzlaff.
Julia Retzlaff is an 18 year-old filmmaker who will be attending San Francisco State University in the fall of 2015. Her films have played in youth festivals across the country. Julia has worked as a T.A. for the Bay Area Video Coalition’s (BAVC) beginning video track as well as a freelance editor and researcher for BAVC Productions. On her off time, Julia writes poetry and indulges her cinephile side. Some of her favorite films include Nowhere by Gregg Araki, La Haine, and Dark Days.
Check out the film below and look for more films on our Youtube Channel:
Hollaback! and Cornell University began a large-scale research survey on street harassment in 2014. The research will be released in two parts: Part I reviews data from the United States and Part II of the survey, a cross-cultural analysis of street harassment from 42 cities around the globe, will release in May. Part I, US-Specific Data, had 4,872 respondents.
The data shows that 85% of US women surveyed report experiencing street harassment before the age of 17, and 67% of women report experiencing it before age 14.
Data was collected and analyzed by Dr. Beth Livingston, Cornell University ILR School and graduate assistants Maria Grillo and Rebecca Paluch, Cornell University ILR School in partnership with Hollaback!
Full results will be available in May 2015 throughout the Hollaback! network. US general results can be viewed above.
For more research on street harassment, see Hollaback!’s Research page.
Why did you make this video?
We think videos are an awesome tool to raise awareness about the realities of street harassment. This video is the third in a series. Each video aims to explore a different experience with street harassment. One video demonstrated the sheer number of times women are harassed in public space. Another video, “My Sexual Assault: On the Train and in The Media”, depicted one survivor’s, Elisa’s, experience with street harassment. Building on those narratives, this video encourages us to listen to and believe the experiences of each individual.
Who created this video?
Hollaback! sought out Aden Hakimi to direct this video because of his experience working with a queer filmmaking collective. With Hollaback!’s guidance and feedback, Aden shot and edited the video. He worked closely with Michelle Charles, the supporter in the video, to incorporate her experiences with street harassment into the narrative of the video.
Is Michelle’s experience unique?
The experience of street harassment is different for everyone. Street harassment disproportionately impacts women, people of color, LGBTQ individuals, and young people. These forms of harassment are not just sexist — but also racist and homophobic in nature. For more information on how harassment impacts people differently, please read our guide on street harassment and identity called #harassmentis.
What is street harassment?
Street harassment is a form of sexual harassment that takes place in public spaces. At its core is a power dynamic that constantly reminds historically subordinated groups (women and LGBTQ folks, for example) of their vulnerability to assault in public spaces. Further, it reinforces the ubiquitous sexual objectification of these groups in everyday life. At Hollaback!, we believe that what specifically counts as street harassment is determined by those who experience it. While there is always the classic, “Hey baby, nice tits!”, there are many other forms that go unnoted. If you feel like you have been harassed, HOLLABACK!
So you want to criminalize street harassment, right?
No. We believe that it is our role as advocates to steer policy makers away from measures that would increase criminalization, and toward measures that engage communities in prevention.
Every Day Is Election Day: A Woman’s Guide to Winning Any Office, from the PTA to the White House, written by Hollaback! friend and colleague Rebecca Sive, is available just in time for the holiday gift-giving season, for 30% discount, (in print or e-book) by clicking here http://bit.ly/1v73h1L and using code: Holla30. There is no limit on the number you can order.
What better holiday present than the gift of leadership for you, and for every woman in your life who is dreaming big, and wants to make the world a better place where every woman street-safe. Every one of your friends will appreciate the wisdom of the diverse women leaders nationwide Rebecca interviewed for their inspirational stories and frank guidance on how, you too, can become a powerful public advocate for ending street violence and other dangers women face. They are sure to inspire you to step-up, step-out, and invite all the women in your life to do the same.
Every Day Is Election Day has been widely praised and endorsed and is the authoritative guide for women who want to achieve political leadership and influence public policy. In her no-nonsense, woman-to-woman style, Rebecca offers insider advice for women’s daily lives as candidates, advocates and powerbrokers. She explains how to surmount public barriers, conquer private fears, and run any campaign with humor, confidence, and no apologies. And, she also provides tips from women all over the country who run organizations and are important public and political leaders—for realizing the power of sisterhood, bankrolling oneself, creating an inimitable brand, and getting men to accept a take-charge personality.
To order — as many copies as you’d like — go here and use code Holla30.
P.S. For special pricing (50% off list price), for bulk orders of 25 copies or more for your women’s group, book club, or neighborhood organization, feel free contact: Cynthia Sherry, [email protected].
New York City, NY (30th October, 2014) – When the street harassment video was launched earlier this week, we hoped that it would make an impact but never imagined that it would be viewed more than 15,000,000 times in the first three days. The response has been overwhelmingly positive. Many women feel a little less alone and a little more validated in their experiences and we have heard support from our partners, new and old.
Rob Bliss Creative donated time and labor to create this video and support our work. We are grateful for his work and the wide reach that his video has achieved but we feel the need to directly address other responses to the video.
First, we regret the unintended racial bias in the editing of the video that over represents men of color. Although we appreciate Rob’s support, we are committed to showing the complete picture. It is our hope and intention that this video will be the start of a series to demonstrate that the type of harassment we’re concerned about is directed toward women of all races and ethnicities and conducted by an equally diverse population of men.
Hollaback! understands that harassment is a broad problem perpetuated by a diversity of individuals regardless of race. There is no one profile for a harasser and harassment comes in many different forms. Check out our Harassment Is: Identities and Street Harassment guide on how individuals experience harassment differently. This video should have done a better job of representing this knowledge.
There are many more voices to add to this conversation and Hollaback! is committed to continuing to make space for those voices by providing platforms and amplification of people sharing their stories and finding ways to push back.
Second, there has been another problem which deserves further attention: the onslaught of rape and death threats that have been directed at the Shoshana B. Roberts, the subject of the video, are unacceptable but sadly unsurprising. When women are visible in online or offline spaces, they experience harassment. When women demand change, they meet violent demands for their silence.
We understand that violence exists on a spectrum that is played out on the street and online. We understand that it needs to change. We hope that you will work with us to end street harassment and to fight harassment wherever it is found.
Third, the coverage that this video has received shows how far we have come and how far we still have to go. Many outlets have used the video to have conversations about street harassment that would never have happened even five years ago. For many, street harassment is a real problem to be reported as such.
Other coverage, however, shows that sexism still shapes culture in a way that harms women. When journalists on major news networks reinforce, support, and normalize street harassment they minimize the violence and fear that women experience on the street.
We want to thank everyone for participating in this vital dialogue — and we encourage continued conversation and debate.
Our first ever online silent auction has launched! We are so excited to have you #HOLLAbid on all of the goodies we have to offer including yoga classes, jewelry, home baked brownies, public speaking training and much more!
You can make a #HOLLAbid on any number of cool gifts and services while also making an impactful investment in our organization. With the click of a mouse, you can generate both a recreational and social return on your investment in us.
Peruse our site, find some things that you love, and place your #HOLLAbid. The auction is running until Monday, November 3 at midnight EST.
– The Hollaback! Board
Hollaback! is proud to partner with TrustLaw and DLA Piper to provide an international “Know Your Rights” guide to street harassment. The guide establishes legal definitions of street harassment and provides an outline of local laws governing street harassment. The “Know Your Rights” guide is aimed to inform individuals of their rights in public space.
We’ve received some questions about the guide, and we wanted to take a minute to answer them here:
Question: What exactly is street harassment?
Street harassment is a form of sexual harassment that takes place in public spaces. It exists on a spectrum including “catcalling” or verbal harassment, stalking, groping, public masturbation, and assault. At its core is a power dynamic that constantly reminds historically subordinated groups (women and LGBTQ folks, for example) of their vulnerability to assault in public spaces. Further, it reinforces the ubiquitous sexual objectification of these groups in everyday life. Street harassment can be sexist, racist, transphobic, homophobic, ableist, sizeist and/or classist. It is an expression of the interlocking and overlapping oppressions we face and it functions as a means to silence our voices and “keep us in our place.” At Hollaback!, we believe that what specifically counts as street harassment is determined by those who experience it. If you’ve experienced street harassment, we’ve got your back!
For the purposes of this guide, street harassment is defined per local laws. For example, in Maryland, United States, one form of street harassment is defined as: “making unwanted or inappropriate sexual comments if it continued after a request to stop.” In Berkeley, United States, street harassment is defined as: “unlawful violence, a credible threat of violence, or a knowing and wilful course of conduct directed at a specific person that seriously alarms, annoys, or harasses the person, and that serves no legitimate purpose. The course of conduct must be such as would cause a reasonable person to suffer substantial emotional distress, and must actually cause substantial emotional distress to the petitioner.”
Question: Who experiences street harassment?
On our site, we primarily receive stories from women and LGBTQ individuals. You can read those stories here (and click the I’ve got your back button to support them).
For more information on how identity intersects with one’s experience of street harassment, including individual stories of street harassment, check out Hollaback!’s Harassment Is: Identity and Street Harassment guide.
Question: How did this guide come about?
Since our launch in 2005, Hollaback! has fielded requests from survivors requesting legal information. We have tried to make legal information about street harassment transparent on all our local sites, but oftentimes, this information was either hard to find or required legal expertise to navigate. At the same time, we listened to survivors articulate concerns about police involvement. With this in mind, we sought legal support to create an international guide that provided accessible, locally-based legal information for individuals who have experienced harassment, advocates, and activists around the world.
In December 2013 we partnered with TrustLaw, the Thomson Reuters Foundation’s global legal pro bono service, to create an international “Know Your Rights” guide to street harassment. Over the next nine months, DLA Piper led a team of law firms and in-house corporate legal teams who worked pro-bono to navigate local laws in fourteen languages and work with our site leaders to learn how laws are implemented on the ground. We are incredibly thankful for the hard work of everyone involved.
Question: What are the goals of the Legal Guide?
The goals of the “Know Your Rights” guide are:
Question: Does Hollaback! endorse increasing criminalization of street harassment?
No. We believe that it is our role as advocates to steer policy makers away from measures that would increase criminalization, and toward measures that engage communities in prevention. As explained in Hollaback!’s article by Deputy Director, Debjani Roy, “Criminalizing verbal harassment and unwanted gestures is neither the final goal nor the ultimate solution to this problem and can, in fact, inadvertently work against the growth of an inclusive anti-harassment movement. The criminal justice system disproportionately targets and affects low-income communities and communities of color, as evidenced by policies such as New York City’s Stop and Frisk program and other degrading forms of racial profiling. Our objective is to address and shift cultural and social dialogues and attitudes of patriarchy that purport street harassment as simply the price you pay for being a woman or being LGBTQ. It is not to re-victimize men already discriminated against by the system.”
Question: I don’t feel safe working with the legal system. Are there any options in this guide for me?
The purpose of this guide is to educate and inform individuals about their rights. We understand that there are many reasons why individuals might not feel comfortable accessing legal recourse when harassed. This guide is not meant to act as an endorsement of any single solution, but as an option.
What is important is that you feel supported and know that you are not alone. We encourage you to share your story on our website: ihollaback.org, speak to your friends, and practice self care.
Regardless of what you choose to do, it is always important to know what your rights are.
If you have additional questions, email us at [email protected]. We welcome your feedback and engagement in this conversation as we work together to make the streets safer for everyone.