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I want to ask if you have a category for non-gender/sexuality based harassment? Because I’ve seen a lot of the same general kind of power dynamic in the verbal harassment given by some able-bodied people to people in wheelchairs, people on crutches (except if it looks obviously temporary, like a leg in a cast), people with visible challenges of cognitive function, people with speech issues.
Is there a Hollaback for those folks? Because some of those stories need to be told, too.
Thanks for your awesome question! We totally accept and welcome stories about street harassment in all its forms. While we focus on sex and gender based harassment, we know that street harassment is one of the most basic ways our culture keeps oppressed people of all kinds down, and that we are all in it together. We’re basically interested in the way power dynamics play out in all aspects of life in the public realm.
In terms of other resources that are more specifically geared toward people that are visibly physically challenged check out our friend Eva’s blog that focuses on the way people treat her as someone who’s physically disabled. It’s an amazing blog!
This story is not about being harassed, though I have experienced that to some extent.
This story is about a time when I tried to express to my peers how bad it felt to be called out or intimidated by strangers because of my appearance or maybe even just because I’m a woman. I was perhaps 15 at the time, sitting in high school drama class. As a group (mostly girls) we were having a candid discussion with our teacher about self-esteem and about how important it was as a dramatic group to support and respect each other. Towards the end of class, this turned into an open-forum discussion where people shared how they felt about their appearance and how tough it was living with impossible standards of female beauty (this was also roughly the same group of people who took the Media & Writing class and a lot of us were new, passionate feminists).
I decided I wanted to express how it felt to be yelled at in the street, called pretty/sexy/a whore, and to be propositioned by strangers. I felt so ashamed over these incidents, disgusted, convinced somehow (I assume by systematic patriarchal programming) that it was my fault and I had somehow invited the attention. I’m sure many people would agree that it does not make you feel good about your appearance or your body, even if the attention is “approving.” So the one thing I didn’t feel about these incidents was pride.
I received overwhelming dislike and disgust from most of my female classmates and immediately after class several of them lashed out at me. I can’t remember exactly what was said, but they belittled my feelings of disgust and shame and overall seemed to feel that I should take it as a compliment, that I should be happy that strange men found me appealing in this way. They felt (perhaps justifiably) that it had not been the time to tell my sob story about being “pretty” when so many of them had been struggling with feelings of being “ugly.” They were very mean about it and started a bit of a smear campaign against me.
Perhaps they were right and it wasn’t the best time to tell my story. But what they missed completely was that it made me feel BAD about myself. This incident kind of perverted my view on street harassment for a long time, and for several years afterwards I tried to be pleased over the dirty little comments. When my drunken neighbours would hang out on the front steps of their building all day and yell things at me as I passed, I would try to smile (though most of the time it was more like a grimace). Looking back, I am now ashamed over the fact that I tried to enjoy the attention!
I’m not sure why I felt the need to post this here, but to this day it is the experience regarding street harassment that still hurts the most. I wonder if anyone else has experienced something similar? Did you fall for it like I did?
To the girls out there who may be inclined to smile or accept catcalls as a compliment – it’s not. It’s disrespectful and degrading. It gives them the encouragement they want or need to continue harassing people. I, for one, will never miss another opportunity to hollaback.
Nicola Badass Briggs, anti-street harassment hero poster child, now works for Hollaback.
Currently accepting user questions—Nicola will select several of them weekly and respond personally.
If you didn’t catch video of Nicola responding to a sexual predator on a NYC subway and the amazing bystanders who helped stop the man and film the incident, you can catch up here. We’re reposting, because it’s THAT good:
Maybe Yale needs to begin offering introductory civil rights courses to its administrators—we know of a group of men and women who can help teach them. 16 students have filed a complaint alleging the school has systemically failed to adequately address incidents of sexual harassment and assault by other students.
And the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights is investigating.
The school risks losing federal funding if found in violation of Title IX of the Civil Rights Act of 1964:
“No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance…”
We support the women and men at Yale who are working to make their campus a fair and equitable place.
Re-post this Associated Press article and help spread the word.
First off, may I say that I am 15 years old, and I have been harassed on the street since I was 12 years old! My most memorable experiences:
I was 12 and walking back from a Neighbourhood festival with a friend of mine and this beat up pickup truck drove by; some 40-something year old guy with a cowboy hat honked, and leaned out the window to shout some obscene remark to us and took off.
Two summers ago (age 14), I had finished up a play at the local high school, and a friend and I were walking to a Culvers a few blocks over. It was about 10:30pm and we had one block of a dark, deserted street. This Honda Pilot drove down the street, and we saw the driver look out his window, slow down, and deliberately whistle at us. He then drove to the end of the street, made a U-turn, and drive even more slowly past us AGAIN, and whistled once more. Luckily the director of the play pulled up next to us and asked if we wanted a ride, so we didn’t have to risk him passing us again.
This past summer (age 15), I was at a metro bus transfer point and was waiting for my mother to pick me up, and some guy started to walk towards me. The alarms went off in my head, so I grabbed my bag and walked to the Walgreens across the street. Lo and behold – he followed! I tried to trip him up by weaving randomly through several aisles, but he still followed. I finally ducked into the bathroom for about 10 minutes and waited till he left. He never said anything, but that was the creepiest part!
About two months ago (still 15) I was taking a bus out to my theater (I’m in a youth Shakespeare group) with a friend to watch a rehearsal because we had school off, and this guy was on the bus. At first he overheard us talking about the theater and asked some polite questions, but then he started asking our names and where we went to school, and it felt too personal. I shortly afterwards became homeschooled, and take a bus out to the school each day for a chemistry class. I saw him again frequently, and he would always smile and stare at me, and stand or sit in a way so as to always have a clear view. One time, in a nearly empty bus, he sat down right in front of me, then turned his entire torso around to face me, and smiled at me while staring at my chest. It wasn’t a glance, either – this stare was for several minutes! He never said anything, and didn’t touch, but his very presence and the way he was blatantly staring just made me feel violated. I finally told him “Okay, stop.” And got up to get off the bus (thankfully my stop wasn’t to far after he got on. I haven’t seen him since, but the experience always sticks with me as my creepiest.
A very recent one (this past Friday), I was on State Street with my dad and sister to see a movie as part of the Wisconsin Film Festival. It was about 9 at night, and we had stopped in a little market to buy my sister something to eat, and I stood near the door looking at magazines. As I was flipping through one, I heard something along the lines of “come here, sexy!”, I look up and there are some college age guys passing the door and staring at me. When they saw that I heard them, another leers at me and calls out “HHEEEEYYOOO” and they leave. It was unnerving – even if they couldn’t see my dad – that this would happen when I was with family, and even more that my dad didn’t hear it.
Other less creepy ones, but still unnerving nonetheless was when actors of my theater gather to perform scenes on Capital Square (during the Farmer’s Market) in order to advertise the Theater, there have been several instances when an elderly man would walk up and give me money – to “support the arts” they say – while leering at my chest. Some old sweaty man was staring a friend and my chests while trying to find out our schools and where we live. We brushed him off.
Also, once, when I was still in school, I was walking to my health class, and there were two classmates of mine and some random other friend of theres sitting on the floor in the hallway. I was wearing a dress that day, and the random guy leaned forward, then looked at my face and asked my name. I realized he had looked up my skirt (sucks for him – I wear shorts under all dresses or skirts).
One time I was at the mall and I went to a store in the food court to buy some water. I didn’t have the right amount of money with the tax added in (about 50 cents short), so I was trying to say “nevermind” and go somewhere else, when the guy insisted to chip in for me and wished me “a nice day, gorgeous” as I left. Slightly flattering if by someone my age who I knew, but out-of-line in the circumstance.
Last one: When I was still in public school, I was walking back to class from the bathroom, and there was this kid (freshman) standing in the hall with a friend of his. As I passed, he said “hey” and I responded accordingly. He then proceeded to plant himself in my path, forcing me to stop, and asked me how I was. I shortly replied that I was fine, annoyed by then. Not getting the message, he then decided to inform me that “I like how you mooove” in a ridiculous voice, making it clear he had been watching my ass as I had was walking by him. I gave him a dirty look and went around him, and that was the end of it.
I don’t get where men have decided that now, today, in the 21st Century, women are to be treated as pieces of meat solely there for the male viewing pleasure, and that we don’t care when we are catcalled, whistled, followed, “complimented” and in any other way violated. It’s awful that it’s become so ingrained in society that when I confided in a friend, she told me to “flip him off, laugh and let it be. It happens”. It happens BECAUSE we let it be! Unfortunately none of my incidents had been easy to report – or reportable at all, in the eyes of the cops – or had happened to quickly for me to actually berate, so they’ve gone without punishment.
This happened the day before spring break, before I found this site, and I feel terrible for not saying something.
I’m new at my school, so I don’t get a lot of attention, which is a good thing. I was sitting next to this girl, looking out the window, minding my own business, when I overhear a guy in the seat behind me say, “Hey girl, you wanna get with this?” The girl sitting next to me said, “No, thanks,” and turned back around. For the rest of the ride, he kept asking her if she wanted to have sex with him, how big his penis was, and at one point he even said, “What, you a lesbo or something?” She kept quietly saying, “No,” but he wouldn’t leave her alone. I wanted so badly to turn to her and say, “You don’t have to put up with this, there’s an empty seat up front, you can move,” but I was just too afraid. He kept harassing her the whole ride, even as I was getting off.
I really wish I had said something, but now I promise myself that the next time I see another woman being harassed, I will stand up and I will speak.
Across the nation, many cuts are being made to the services provided for women who have been in domestic violence situations.
This study looks at the willingness of domestic violence survivors to seek help both from their family and from the government funded resources provided in their community (including shelters, support groups, and online help).
The study consists of statements to which respondents agree or disagree. At the end, you may provide more detailed responses if you wish, but it is not required.
There questionnaire won’t take more than 10 minutes to complete.
It does not deal with the personal experiences of domestic violence but a list of possible triggers.
Our efforts to oust ‘journalist’ Juan Terranova for publishing his wish to rape an anti-street harassment activist are still going strong. Rape threats are not funny, clever, or thought-provoking. Join us tomorrow (Saturday, April 2) to keep the momentum going.
Terranova will be participating in a one-day online reality show TOMORROW with six other Hispanic ‘literary’ figures.
His broadcast will be on this page:
Users will be able to make comments during the live broadcast (Terranova will be on from 2:45 – 4:30 PM or 1:45-3:30 EST) through the website as well as Facebook and Twitter. We want to send a message to Terranova that says that we will not tolerate rape threats!
You can tweet him at @juanterranova or comment directly on the website.
If you don’t speak Spanish, you can use this message, “Las insinuaciones de violencia y violación no son graciosas, astutas ni invitan a la reflexión. Disculpas a la representante de Hollaback.” which translates to: “Threats of violence and rape are not funny, clever or thought-provoking. Apologize to the representative of Hollaback.”
This April marks the tenth anniversary of SAAM (Sexual Assault Awareness Month), and the awesome activists at SAFER (Students Active For Ending Rape) are calling for a push from awareness to activism, making this years’ SAAM stand for Sexual Assault ACTIVISM Month. Students, recent alumni, parents, and teachers are encouraged to participate by “pledging” a direct action against sexual assault this month, whether by fundraising, submitting their definition of accountability to the SAFER website, or checking up on their schools’ sexual assault policy and pushing for reform where necessary.
Check out this video for some student submissions of what accountability looks like to them:
Hollaback is hard at work finding creative and effective ways to shut down street harassment, and we have a new project under way – but we need your help! We want to launch a line of t-shirts, stickers, posters and pins so you can put your fed-up feelings on display. Wouldn’t it be snazzy to have a shirt that told off harassers for you? Wouldn’t it be neat to be strolling down the street and see another Hollaback supporter sporting a pin and know they’ve got your back? What would you print on that shirt? What would the pin look like?
We have limited resources and have to start off with a small batch of shirts and products, so we want the snappiest, smartest, prettiest designs out there – in other words, we want YOUR designs! This is your chance to spread your message via our products – and it’s a great way of supporting Hollaback by donating your creativity and design skills. Please submit your original artwork, slogans, or design ideas today!
Here are the details:
* Send submissions to [email protected]. Please attach files in jpg or psd format. We will be considering submissions for only the next two weeks, so rev up your creativity and get to work!
* Please do not send any images, quotes or material that is not your own work without attributing its source so we can obtain use permission.
* Be judicious in using swear words – we want to reach as broad of an audience as possible, so we avoid profanity where possible.
* Any artwork or material submitted will not receive compensation and may be used by Hollaback! to support its nonprofit, tax-exempt work of ending street harassment.
* If you have a great idea for a design but don’t have the graphic design skills to lay it out, we’d love to hear your ideas as well! Send ’em along!
The deadline is: APRIL 14th, 5PM EST.