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Bonnie Zare is a Gender & Women’s Studies Professor at University of Wyoming. She traveled to Kadapa, Andhra Pradesh and lead a workshop on street harassment using Hollaback! resources.
In January, I met with a group of non-privileged teens who, after having suffered the misfortune of being abandoned by their parents, live at Aarti Home in Kadapa, Andhra Pradesh. As part of the New York based Women’s Education Project, I was leading a series of classes on women’s rights, human rights and children’s rights (although actually this was my 6th visit to the Home as I am a frequent visitor and year-round volunteer fundraiser). I turned to ihollaback.org for a set of helpful exercises to think about the problem of street harassment. The students particularly liked the exercise of “pretending to make a film about harassment” and drawing a world without street harassment (see sample drawing).
Although nearly everyone understood the learning objective, one student drew a picture of a few ants, clustering around sugar. Underneath it said “when beauty is there, the ants are drawn to it.” The older students, called me over. They said scoldingly, “This is not right.” I let it go. Later when we discussed some of the most compelling drawings, I brought it to their attention and asked them why it was not fitting. They said, “What do ants have to do with it?” The artist said, giggling apologetically, Mmen can’t stay away from beauty. It’s in their nature.” I said, “Beauty is not the issue. Maybe some people get more harassment than others, but it is not a compliment. It is not a sign of your beauty. And men don’t have to do this biologically.” Ants may like sugar and men may like women, but verbal harassment is not an ok way to show liking someone. I think the majority understood what I was saying.
Awkward moment: When discussing street harassment, Board member and observer Durga called out, “You see, women don’t get harassed on the streets in the West. So it is a problem that can be solved. Why must our men do this? Women are beautiful there too, no? But they don’t get harassed.” I felt weird because I immediately had to correct her. Me: “Oh, they do. I was harassed and called all sorts of names when I was younger. Mainly in major cities…. Perhaps it is not as frequent as in India but it occurs.” Both she and the teachers looked a little shocked and a few people basically said that they did not believe me. I said,”I got these exercises from a US group called hollaback.org (as I had already told them). Why do you think the US group formed in the first place? Because they were experiencing harassment and wanted to make people aware of the size of the problem.”
in a cab. just as i am settling in for the ride theres this male voice real weird & whispery: just like youre dressed now? just like youre dressed now? tell me? tell me? the voice rasps. when you get home how will you undress? how will you take off your clothes? tell me? omg. its the fucking cab driver. you can let me out here driver i say even tho its about 15 blocks before my destination. now his weird whispery becomes sweaty nervous. n-n-no money he stammers pulling over. i w-w-wont take m-money. as i get out of the cab he is still saying i d-dont want money. dont worry i reassure him cuz you arent getting any. ear rape?
on another day trapped in a phenomenally fierce evening rush hour gridlock trying to get home from work. each bus goes out of service after only a few blocks. gotta keep changing buses — 5 times altogether. finally settled into a blessed seat on a bus thats going — hallejuiah! — all the way uptown along the regular route. anti stress deep breathing brings on a deserved little lite nap. ah. crack open my eyes to see how much further. feel stranger eyes on me. across the crowded aisle this guy is looking at me & looking down at his crotch looking at me & looking down at his crotch & playing with his penis — making it get hard & move around inside his pants & looking rite at me waiting for me to look so i can see him jerking off & looking at me looking at him while he is jerking off so he can cop a free thrill. ugh ugh ugh. eye rape?
on still another day when i finally finally get home after 3 hours for a trip that usually takes no more than 45 minutes theres 2 messages on the machine both in a mega decibel screaming maniac voice promising me an immediate $2500 line of credit with mastercard! thats rite! $2,500.00 if i will only call this toll free number rite now! 1-800-338-8055! limited time offer! call now! 1-800-338-8055! call now call now call now & tell us what name you want on your card! tele-electronic rape?
c hattie gossett 2013
no use without permission of writer
These 3 poems are excerpted from hattie’s (work in progress) one woman show. This Sunday, 9 June, hattie will be doing a free open rehearsal with live musical soundscape at n.y.u. — admission is by reservations only and the reservations list closes on Thursday at 5pm. The invitation can be found here
At a bar, a creepy guy next to me started taking pictures of the female bartender without her knowledge/consent.
Welp, today I am a “ghetto bitch” because I didn’t “smile”. And somehow I feel bad about it? Not fair.
I am walking down the street and a man says” you got a lot of ass come here to big daddy”. I ignore him and he calls me a hoe.
Check out the Elixher article about their amazing work here
This dude on a bike who I didn’t know kept following me and saying he liked me. Ugggghhhhh. I felt creeped out enough to get my self defense keychain out.
Hollaback! Polksa has released an amazing video on street harassment!
During Anti-Street Hassment Week, Hollaback! Polska asked people on the streets of Poland how they had been harassed and asked their reasons to Hollaback! They’ve compiled the answers to that survey here!
Check out their video here
I was sitting on the patio of a popular local cafe when I noticed a well dressed man sitting in the corner who appeared to be talking to himself . After a while, I noticed that he was making comments about all of the girls that walked past him, ex “hey let me talk to you a minute,” law she just mad cuz she can’t handle me,” and the like. It was creepy and made me feel uncomfortable and unsafe. I decided to move inside the cafe to avoid having to listen to him.
I was on one of my many runs in preparation for the 10k that I will be running in a couple weeks, and a guy walking past me looked me up and down and said something like, “hey how you doing girl.” Honestly, I told him to ‘f-off.’ Perhaps swearing isn’t the best strategy, but I was really put off by the experience. Whenever I am cat-called, I automatically feel uncomfortable and potentially unsafe. Whether I am wearing a short skirt or sweaty work out clothes, that behavior is unacceptable.