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At Hollaback!, we are going to start doing guest posts. You will see a lot more of these when we re-launch our site in July. Please note, these posts do not necessarily reflect our views. They are intended to start a conversation and reflect a diversity of tactics. If you would like to submit your HOLLAperspective, send it to holla (at) ihollaback.org.
I don’t believe that guys on the street hollering at women believe they’re going to get a date: it’s definitely about entitlement, if not harassment.
And yes, it just keeps coming: I’m 60 and fat, both of which are great for lessening street harassment, but even age and padding haven’t ended it completely, I’m sorry to tell you.
However, while living in New York City for a decade as an under five-foot tall girl I evolved a system that’s kept me safe for 40 years, while getting rid of the PUAs (self-styled Pick Up Artists), harassers, stalkers or whichever strange man was bothering me in a public place. (With the added pleasure of embarrassing some, and scaring off others.)
Ignoring strange men intent on a pickup on the street often didn’t work: they had the “excuse” that I may not have heard them, and while repeating their harassment some of ’em worked themselves up into a lather that that I was being “rude” because I’d ignored them.
Sorry: Yelling at the clods to leave me alone only resulted in a psycho screaming at the top of his lungs that he could do whatever he wanted to me, while following, for blocks.
After a couple years, I discovered that the key to successfully dealing with street harassment from men was to acknowledge it in a dull monotone, and pretend it was—get this—a matter of “manners.”
I come from the generation whose parents insisted children learn basic manners, including “Please”, “Thank you,” and “You’re welcome,” so I respond with that politesse automatically, to this day.
Even when the situation may not warrant it. But when my disinterested, but seemingly polite, “No, thank you,” to a street harasser’s request (for a date, coffee, whatever) actually stopped him, dumbfounded in his tracks, I realized I may have stumbled onto something workable.
From there on in, to every approach I’d repeat in a neutral or monotone, “I’m terribly sorry, but I never speak to strangers on the street,” (or variation “I‘m sorry, but I never speak to strangers.”) rinse and repeat, while moving on. (Don’t smile, that can be seen as an encouragement.)
An neutral tone and overtly “polite” response didn’t give the psychos or PUAs an excuse to abuse me for my disinterest, or to continue to harass me, usually.
A request of any sort from the street harasser was also responded to, again, in an emotionless, “No, thank you.” Rinse and repeat, while moving away at a deliberate pace.
(With a bonus: if the request has been obscene, and guy has friends around him, they then laughed at him after my “polite” response.)
However, if the clod persisted after “polite” neutral-toned dismissals, I discovered how to deflect that attack, too—largely because when someone was rude enough to frighten me, my next natural response was anger that he’d had the nerve.
The one time I was groped, on an up escalator at Port Authority bus terminal, the guy behind me grabbed my thigh.
My natural, indignant response, ”Are you insane?” had him backing down the escalator, apologizing.
Righteous indignation after a line crossed, usually resulted in a PUA or strange man backing away and apologizing, believe it or not— as long as I made it a matter of manners.
“Do you realize how rude it is to follow me and frighten me!” Late at night, followed through empty blocks by drunks, and yet invariably apologized to.
However, if there were other people on the street and I was being followed, I’d point it out calmly, “That man is following me,” and cross the street. That would end THAT.
After I moved to Los Angeles and a guy in a sports car followed me for blocks through Beverly Hills after I’d politely told him, no I didn’t want a ride, I turned and said, “I said, no thank you.”
Another block of following, and I turned and spat, “Listen buddy, don’t fuck with me — I’m from New York.”
At which point, PUA and sports car peeled out.
(WARNING: If, after your neutral or monotone “polite” response the harasser immediately cycles into anger or abuse, don’t escalate the situation: repeat over and over in the same neutral tone, “I’m not interested. Please go way. Please go away,” as you move away. No rise out of you, and he doesn‘t have the excuse he wants to escalate the abuse. At least, that‘s how I got rid of a multiple offender.)
So that’s the system: “polite” response in emotionless monotone, rinse and repeat, while moving on, usually deflects the harassers. Until or unless he crosses the line, and then righteous indignation usually backs them off.
However, if your harasser is abusively angry from the gitgo, neutral tone or monotone requests for him to leave you alone, repeated endlessly, is better for getting rid of him and keeping you safe.
I’d also recommend you keep the number of the local police station on speed dial — 911 isn’t as fast from a cell. I now work in a public place where I don’t have the option of leaving when harassed, but when several monotone requests for them to leave hasn’t worked, threatening to call the police, flipping open my phone and/or actually calling the cops, or a more local authority, has sent my harassers running, or at least ambling, away. However, I’ve also never shown fear while doing so, I spoke in the same calm, emotionless tone of voice — I think guys who harass women on the street get some sort of satisfication from frightening or upsetting those women.
The above system has kept me safe for four decades as a woman living in several big cities, as well as giving me a way to respond to harassers that gave them no satisfaction.
The New York Times covers “Hey Baby,” the street harassment video game. I was shocked the author hadn’t experienced street harassment personally, until I noticed the name “Seth” in the by-line…woops!
Also, listen to our own Emily May discuss the video game with the creator on NPR: http://n.pr/cAs6pb
***Favorite Emily quote of the interview: “No, I did not like shooting guys at all. I will be totally frank. It totally freaked me out… I would much rather have had a bar of soap to go around washing their mouths out with than I would a gun.”
For anyone in your life who needs an educational introduction to the problem of street harassment, Melody Thomas “calls out the catcallers” and even gives a shout out to Hollaback!
Miss D.C. has been speaking out about street harassment, and defends her position in a new interview:
Here is an update on global street harassment and the response to “eve teasing” in Bangladesh:
More coverage of “Eve Teasing Protection Day” is available here: http://bit.ly/bMMOB7
And finally, let’s not forget that HOLLABACK LONDON has LAUNCHED!!!!! http://www.hollabackldn.com/ I heart solidarity. Also, how awesome is the nail art at Wah Nails, supporters of the movement to end street harassment http://wah-nails.com/ ?!?! I’m not usually a big manicure girl, but these guys might have turned me into a believer.
Everyday is a HOLLAday
Hollaback! iPhone App & Site Launch Party
Come and celebrate the beginning of the end of street harassment! After five years of running Hollaback as a blog, we’re growing up, relaunching our site, and launching an iPhone app that will track exactly when and where street harassment happens. We’re building a world where everyone has the right to feel safe, confident, and sexy – one hollaback at time.
Dolly Trolly and DJs Miss Bliss and Emily Allen will be spinning killer tunes throughout the night. More entertainment will be announced in the coming weeks.
Tickets are $12 at the door
And $8 for our fabulous KickStarter contributors!
All proceeds benefit Hollaback!
Get in for FREE by becoming a HOLLAhero!
To become a HOLLAhero you can either:
-Bring 10 friends
-Bring 5 friends and 1 silent auction item
-Bring 2 silent auction items
Please note, HOLLAheroes must sign up in advance of the event.
Email Rebecca at [email protected] if you are interested in becoming a HOLLAhero or for event details.
UPDATE: We’re thrilled to announce that we have an Android app and SMS texting in the works as well!
To read the lyrics or meet the genius, click here.
So, you want to end street harassment. And you want to do it now. Taking action and volunteering is about more than stuffing envelopes and making calls. Here are three quick ways you can volunteer for Hollaback from the comfort of your computer:
1. We are a finalist in the “Revelation to Action” competition. Vote for us and if we win, Hollaback! wins $5,000. This will help us cover marketing costs to get the word out about Hollaback! You’ll need to quickly login before you vote.
2. Be a HOLLAhero and invite friends to attend our launch party. It’s on July 8th at Southpaw in Brooklyn. You’ll get to see our new app, new site, and meet some incredible HOLLArockstars. You’ll help spread the word about the Hollaback movement.
3. Write a glowing review of Hollaback! that will be seen by potential foundations. In case you didn’t know, foundations have BIG BUCKS! The more you write, the less we’ll need to ask you for money in the future, and the happier we will all be.
WE MADE IT – 358 people entered and only 15 were chosen! Now, we need your help to win the prize: VOTE NOW and the world wins.
Only three weeks to vote! The three finalists with the most votes win. Change the world and vote today.
Here’s us on WPIX:
And here’s us on NPR’s “Tell Me More”:
This is the thirteenth video in the “Why I Hollaback” series. “Why I Hollaback” tells the story of how and why folks decide to take the leap, speak up, and start Holla’ing back. We will release a new story every Monday and accept submissions from all over the world. So tell us your story — Why do you Hollaback?
HollabackLDN lauched today, giving London a badass response to street harassment. The project is led by Julia Gray and Sharmadean Reid, a fearless and fashion-forward duo. Sharmadean is also the founder of WAH-Nails, a self proclaimed “badass nail shop” in London that is also located in the famous TopShop. That’s a lot of badass, but what can I say — Julia and Sharmadean are pretty badass ladies.
If you crack open a history book you will see that much of the domestic violence movement happened in salons. Think about it: you are surrounded by friendly, chatty women, you go to the salon more than you go to the doctor, and it takes getting pretty up close and personal to get that perfect ‘do. Street harassment is on a spectrum of violence against women. It carries many of the same traits, and many of the same solutions. So when we heard that the street harassment movement was happening in a nail shop we thought: BEAUTIFUL.
HollabackLDN is giving the “wankers” a run for their money and showing Londoners that they have the right to feel safe, confident, and sexy (for inspiration on the sexy, check out WAH-nails beautiful nail art). When the team first hatched the idea to launch HollabackLDN, Sharmadean said in a conversation with me, “2009 I launched the nail shop, 2010 is all about the girls. I want empower girls, and get them to stop being scared of themselves.” That’s exactly what they are doing, one hollaback at a time.
Check out HollabackLDN and if you live in London, contact them to see how you can get involved!
RightRides for Women’s Safety is currently hiring for a Deputy Director position. They are seeking candidates with 2+ years experience in development and policy, with experience in social justice, community organizing and related movements. The right candidate is passionate for ending gender-based violence and also has a record of successful grant writing, coordinating coalitions, and mobilizing communities towards change. They are a small office now, but the Deputy Director will help us grow the organization and this position has ample room for growth. For more info and application instructions, click here. As an added bonus, the new Deputy Director will work with Hollaback! through our work with New Yorkers for Safe Transit!