Appalachian Ohio, Athens GA, Atlanta, Berkeley, Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, Columbia MO, Columbus, Des Moines, Durham & Chapel Hill, East Lansing, Fredericksburgh VA, Houston, Los Angeles, Muncie IN, New York City, NYU, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Plattsburgh, Richmond VA, San Francisco, Tucson, Twin Cities
Interview conducted by Chloe Safier
In the photo from left to right: Britni Clark, Kate Ziegler, Angela Della Porta, Devon Audie, Jane Carper.
When did you start your holla?
Devon: After a summer and fall full of planning and Hollaback! webinars, Hollaback! Boston launched in December, 2011.
Why did you start a HOLLA and what does Hollaback mean to you?
Britni: I wanted to start a HOLLA because I couldn’t believe that Boston, a big city with busy public transportation, didn’t have one. I knew that if I experienced a lot of harassment on a daily basis that chances were that other women did, too. Hollaback means that I don’t have to take it and that we can start to change this pervasive idea that receiving street harassment is just this thing that you have to deal with when you’re female and in public spaces. It means that I have the power to help change the conversation.
Jane: For personal reasons, I started Hollaback! Boston to create a space where I could fight against harassment with likeminded individuals who know what it is like to be unsafe publically in one’s own body. To me, to hollaback means to take back a slice of power in a situation of imbalanced power. Even if the individual feels that their holla didn’t have an impact, on a larger scale, every individual holla makes the movement stronger.
Angela: Hollaback not only meant being part of a movement to make Boston and other cities safer, but it was a tool through which I could let other women, LGB & T* folks, and straight male bystanders know that they do have a way to fight back against this constant harassment, and I didn’t even have a complete dictionary of language to convey that before Hollaback.
Devon: I joined the start up team after Jane reached out and was asking if others she knew would like to help her fight street harassment in a more organized way. To be honest, the concept of it was novel to me at the time because I had always just lived with street harassment and had thought it was something I had to learn to “live with” so joining Hollaback! was an amazing wake up call!
Kate: I was no stranger to street harassment, but had grown to accept it mostly as an unfortunate fact of life. I found myself particularly upset about catcalls I received while running – not at my best, not sexy, just sweaty and smelly. Maybe it was the extra time I had as I ran to work myself up over harassment and what I wished I had said in the moment, but I began to consider the power dynamic that underlies harassment, and the irrelevance of my appearance or behavior. My being powerless to prevent harassment really began to get to me, and starting Hollaback! Boston to help other victims of street harassment to realize that their experiences and sense of vulnerability are not isolated or their fault helped me to feel less powerless myself. Hollaback, to me, is all about conversations – removing shame and blame and helping others, victims, bystanders and harassers alike, to understand the context of our behaviors and the damage that the normalization of harassment can do.
HOLLAfact about your city:
Britni: That Boston is awesome? Oh, you mean something you didn’t already know?
Jane: Our public transit buses (and trains) still run during snow storms. Isn’t that awesome? (Well, until 1am. We have a bedtime.)
Angela: Like everywhere in New England, temperatures in Boston can range from -30 degrees to 110 degrees; no matter what the temperature, what women are wearing, or how covered up they are, streets harassment never cools down.
Devon: Well, even though Boston is awesome, we still experience lots of street harassment, just like everywhere else in the world. :\
Kate: All of the Back Bay is built on landfill! At the Trinity Church in Copley Square, visitors can see the foundation and the stilts that support the building. When Boston ran out of room, they filled in part of the harbor and the Charles River (the “back bay”) to make more.
Say you’re Queen for the day. What would you do to end street harassment?
Britni: Give all harassers the sentence of having to experience street harassment on a daily basis for a week so that they know what it feels like to live that way.
Jane: I would first pack a culmination of all of the street harassment a woman experienced over her whole life and all of the messy feelings and hurt it brought up. Then, I would place that into the mind of a harasser so he knows the exact negative chain of reactions he is causing.
Angela: Install street-harassment sensing cameras. Then, call the perpetrators in and sentence them to watching themselves harass women until they promise to never do it again, and because I’m such a benevolent queen, they stop!
Devon: I guess if I were Queen for a day then I would simply enlighten street harassers around the world of their disrespectful wrong doings, all with the wave of a wand. I’m confusing Queen with Fairy God Mother, but that’s okay.
Kate: So long as my Queen-dom includes a bit of magic, I turn patriarchal rape culture rape culture on its head for the day so that everyone can have some small sense of what years of “normal” harassment can do to change a victim’s sense of vulnerability and the ways they move through public space.
What was your first experience with street harassment?
Britni: Oh, god. I don’t even remember! But I know that I was probably flattered by it because I thought I was supposed to be. It wasn’t until I got a little older and the harassment got creepier that I started to question whether or not this was really complimentary behavior.
Jane: The first time was probably when I was a young teen, taking a city bus to school. I’m sure I was flattered because, like Britni said, I was taught to feel that way.
Angela: I honestly can’t remember. They sort of all blur together.
Devon: I wrote about my first experience with street harassment in my introduction post on the Hollaback! Boston blog.
Kate: When I was 13, a guard at the Sistine Chapel grabbed my butt as I filed through staring at the ceiling. I was embarrassed, scared and, at the same time, felt I should be flattered. I still wish I had hollered back.
What’s your signature Hollaback?
Britni: I usually just say, “Please don’t talk to me like that. It’s not okay.” But sometimes I can’t help it and I unleash some pent up anger and curse them out!
Jane:“STOP HARASSING WOMEN!”
Angela: “Don’t speak to me like that. Don’t speak to women like that.”
Devon: I stick with firm, closed-ended responses like, “Don’t talk to me like that.” Or, “Don’t harass women.”
Kate: On foot, a simple, “…eew,” combined with a general appearance of disgust and dismissal. By bike, a very loud “respect women!” If I’ve been running for anything over 10 miles, I’m not very polite, nor quotable.
Define your style:
Britni: Quirky, colorful, sparkly. Super feminine, manic pixie dream girl-esque. Like Punky Brewster fell in a pit of sequins and glitter.
Jane: Lots of fall colors… at all times of the year. A mix of thrifted clothes and Target essentials. Comfortable shoes!
Angela: Some combination of really basic, boring things, jeans, giant glasses, and various animal prints and pink items mixed in.
Devon: I’ve been trying to become more “””professional””” so I’ve felt pretty boring lately.
Kate: Pearls meets Pennsylvania Dutch. Classic Boston with a contemporary art habit.
My superheroine power is…
Britni: Confidence and a big mouth!
Jane: Intersecting social issues so I can see the multiple entry points of a problem. Then lots of talking and brainstorming action steps to cultivate change!
Angela: A super ability to turn from “beautiful” or “cute” to a “bitch” to harassers in the blink of an eye!
What is your proudest holla moment so far?
Britni: When we got our first submission.
Jane: When our picture and start-up story was in the Metro!
Angela: When I was explaining Hollaback! to an older woman with whom I was interviewing, she told me she never thought about street harassment, it was always just the way it was, and she’s glad someone is finally trying to make a difference. Honestly, every time it clicks for someone, I’m proud again.
Devon: I’m just proud of every single person we reach on Facebook, the blog, twitter, etc. I’m proud that we are able to make a difference in people’s lives, even if it’s slight, and to help them realize they’re not alone when dealing with street harassment.
Kate: While chalking anti-harassment taglines around Boston one morning last summer, an older woman stopped to watch our progress. We finished a, “Hey Baby is no way to say hello!” and she approached to tell us how glad she was that we were out, explaining that she still can’t believe that at her age, men still harass her, and in fact had just that morning a few blocks away. Our conversation wasn’t a particularly happy one, but the connection made a big impression on me and I look back on it fondly.
What do you do when your not holla’ng?
Britni: I’m a social worker by day, spiritual gangster by night.
Jane: Finishing up my undergraduate degree at Clark University with a double-major in Psychology and Race, Class, and Gender Studies. I also watch a lot of sci-fi and TV dramas.
Angela: Finishing my last semester and graduating (class of 2013, woo!) from Clark University, working with 1 in 3′s campaign to end abortion stigma and increase access to reproductive care, social networking, and hanging out!
Devon: I’m usually busying myself with school, work, and of course Netflix.
Kate: I have a day job in Operations. On the side, I run a design firm (Union Jack Creative) with my partner, Jack. I run, and bike, and ski, and spend a lot of time nursing bruises from those things. I have a soft spot for fashion magazines, I cook often but seldom measure, and I love a good episode of Mythbusters.
If you could leave the world one piece of advice, what would it be?
Britni: Treat others like you would want to be treated. The world is a lot nicer that way and my days are much better when I live that way.
Jane: Be kind to others, because you never know what the other person is going through.
Angela: Be confident in everything you do and everything you are.
Kate: Take a deep breath and sleep on it.
What are you excited about in 2013?
Britni: Speaking to a women studies class at UMass Boston! Getting married.
Jane: I am excited about all of the elected women who have taken office after the last election and the impact it will have worldwide.
Angela: Graduating, Teaching in Detroit, MI (as much as I’ll miss Massachusetts!)
Devon: I’m excited about graduating and entering the Real World! And of course for all the new and exciting work Hollaback! volunteers will accomplish.
Kate: Elizabeth Warren’s election in MA, and the potential for progress everywhere!
What inspires you?
Britni: Women kicking ass. Margaret Cho.
Jane: The whole Hollaback! movement! The fact that we’re international and that women and allies across all spectrums are coming together to take a stand against gender-based violence.
Angela: Being part of something bigger.
Devon: Women in politics!
Kate: Strength, bravery and kindness.
In the year 2020, street harassment…
Britni: …will be a foreign concept to everyone and something we never ever talk about because we don’t have to.
Jane: …will be a shameful embarrassment of the men who still practice it and active bystanders will tell those harassers to cut it out!
Angela: … is seen as harassment and gender-based violence, something that doesn’t “just happen.”
Devon: …will be so obviously not okay! Just like it is in the workplace!
Kate:… is just silly. Everyone moves through public space respectfully and feels safe doing so.
This interview with Alberta’s site leader Lauren Alston was conducted by Lauren Bedosky.
1.) When did you start your HOLLA? I started working on the Alberta chapter of Hollaback in September of 2010, but Hollaback Alberta officially launched April 1st, 2011.
2.) Why did you start a HOLLA and what does Hollaback mean to you? I started a HOLLA because I was frustrated with how people were disrespected in their own communities, and targeted based on their perceived gender, sexual orientation, race, or any other identifying factors. I am frustrated that I am consistently reminded that some people view me as a sexual object and not a human being with feelings, thoughts, and complexity.
3.) HOLLAfact about your city: Edmonton, the capital city of Alberta, is Canada´s Festival City, hosting over 30 festivals every year!
4.) What was your first experience with street harassment? I can’t remember which one came first but both were when I was about 12 years old: One was getting called “hey sexy” by an older boy. The other was when I was at a pool and a random man grabbed my face and told me how beautiful he thought I was, then when he leaned in to kiss my cheek, I freaked out and ran away.
5.) What’s your signature Hollaback? If the person is threatening, creepy or vulgar I will point out that what they’re doing is street harassment and that it is not appreciated, or if I don’t feel comfortable saying something I will show them a visibly disgusted face. If the person is being stupidly disrespectful (as if they think it’s a joke) I will satirically start making weird animal noises (ie: if they whistle or cat-call I’ll pretend I’m looking for their lost dog and they get the hint), or if they are using cheesy lines I declare my love for fluffy llamas/alpacas and they end up being confused or at least realize they sound equally ridiculous.
6.) What is your proudest holla moment so far? The Hollaback Alberta launch party was very successful with over 100 attendees: we featured local speakers involved in municipal government and the University of Alberta, 5 musical acts, and 7 organizations tabled. We made wonderful contacts with local organizations and non-profits and raised awareness about the initiatives of Hollaback Alberta and why street harassment is an important issue.
7.) What do you do when you’re not holla’ng? Well a lot of my time is spent in school: I’m a graduate student working on my MSc in Neuroscience. But I also enjoy drawing, writing comics for the U of A newspaper: The Gateway, checking out live music with friends, playing music with friends, and playing basketball. I would also not be where I am today if it weren’t for the support of my wonderful family and friends whom I love dearly.
8.) What are you excited about in 2013? The spread of awareness of street harassment: what it is, that it’s not okay, and that we’re not putting up with it! I’m so stoked to see more sites start up around the world, and to continue to be involved with awesome local events and organizations in Alberta!
9.) What inspires you? People who have the courage to speak out for what is right, despite the consequences.
We are Hollaback!, an international movement to end street-harassment, and we have heard from thousands of self-respecting women for whom street harassment is a constant struggle: it is scary, it is dehumanizing, and they do not want it. We collect their stories so that their voices will not go silent: we raise their experiences into a collective HOLLABACK!
In today’s Gawker article Mayor Bloomberg was quoted saying, “I know for a fact that any self-respecting woman who walks past a construction site and doesn’t get a whistle will turn around and walk past again and again until she does get one.” This comment wrongly seeks to place responsibility for street harassment in the hands of the person being harassed. Street harassers are in control of and accountable for their own actions. Catcalling is never the “fault” of women, who, according to Bloomberg’s fantasy, demand that attention.
In addition, his words are an ugly attempt to classify a woman’s value on her ability, and willingness, to elicit sexual attention from strangers. Women, and men as well, should not feel forced to make a trade-off about ownership of their bodies in order to pass by a public space.
As the Mayor of a city with vast public spaces enjoyed by men and women alike, Bloomberg has a duty to make it clear that everyone has a right to feel safe as we go about our days in the sidewalks, streets, and subways.
Many Self-Respecting Women
Welcome to our weekly update! Let’s get started.
The mothership got some nice press this week — we were mentioned in this MS Magazine’s article, How Some Men Harass Women Online and What Other Men Can Do to Stop It, profiled in The Story Exchange, and interviewed for Vice Magazine! When Vice starts to care about street harassment — you know change is in the air.
And now, without further ado, our sites have had quite a week:
Hollaback! Des Moines published their very awesome 5 Things You Can Do Right Now To End Street Harassment on the Hollaback Des Moines website! They are continuing to bring in stories for their Story Drive. The goal is to collect 50 stories by March 1st, so share your story if you haven’t already! We are also very excited to announce Hollaback! Des Moines’ newest team member: welcome, Alysa Mozak to our Hollaback! family! Alysa currently works as a Sexual Assault Response Coordinator and Healthy Relationship Promoter at Drake University. Very Cool.
Hollaback! Alberta did a screening this past Wednesday of the documentary The Invisible War at local theatre in Edmonton. The site posted an important lesson on the harmful effects of the improper use of the word “rape.” View the post here.
Hollaback! Istanbul got some big press this week. After friend of our site leader and acclaimed journalist Alyson Neel published widely-read article in the Washington Post, In Istanbul, street harassment is a constant, both Alyson Neel and our Hollaback! Istanbul Programs Director, Ezgi Cincin, were interviewed on Television! Watch them talk about the effects of street harassment HERE! (note: it’s in Turkish).
Hollaback! Philly’s site leader Rochelle Keyhan was featured in a groundbreaking 20-minute documentary titled Trigger Warning. The documentary explores the harmful effects of rape jokes and violent discourse in comedy as we have grown accustomed to it. Definitely a must-watch.
COMING SOON: One Billion Rising is quickly approaching, and a whole bunch of incredible programs are in the works at Hollaback! sites all over the world. Get involved with you local Hollaback! site, it’s going to be the best V-Day yet.
Our Hollaback! community is making street harassment a known issue and a paramount international conversation. THANK YOU to our incredible site leaders and supporters worldwide. Let’s keep it going!
Holla and out–
Welcome to our weekly update! First of all, we are so excited to welcome our brand new interns: Jae, our International Movement Building/Legislative Intern, Julia, our Communications Intern, and Lindsay, our Development and Research Intern! We are excited to have you three on our Hollaback! team.
Hollaback! has no doubt started this year right! We have some very exciting site updates this week:
Hollaback! Winnipeg is continuing their incredible work with the Bystander Intervention Vlog, coaching those who witness harassment on how to be an effective bystander and stop street harassment in its tracks. Check out Hollaback Winnipeg’s Jodie Layne breaking it down:
Hollaback! San Francisco’s site director, Michelle Seivers, went ON THE AIR this past Monday on 91.7 KALW “Your Call” to discuss the recent attacks on women in the Bay Area and around the world, and what Hollaback! San Francisco is doing as to fight street harassment and violence. Listen to the show here.
Hollaback! Baltimore is celebrating their second birthday Friday, February 8! They are also continuing to do great work with their survey on street harassment. Haven’t filled it out yet? Here’s the link.
Keep up the amazing work!
HOLLA and out –
Was driving. Stopped at the light. Look over to my right and some guy in another car is staring me down. Looked straight ahead and looked again and he’s flicking his tongue at me like he’s half reptile.
I have gone to my friends’ house to meet him as he was not well. After sometime, we decided to go out for a light stroll. Some boys standing outside the apartment abused me without any reason. My friend got angry but I asked him not to loose his patience as they were in large numbers. But, still I am not able to forget that incident and I really feel insulted. How to overcome this?
2013 is off to a roaring start!
First off, a big THANK YOU to the MAKERS project for creating six awesome videos about our work. My favorites are “Pissing People Off” and “Progress.”
Second, congrats to our partners at GirlTank for releasing their first video of girl-innovators, featuring me alongside SO MANY OTHER AMAZING GIRL ACTIVISTS.
Third, I want to give special thanks to the Paley Center’s Executive Director Pat Mitchell for the shout-out in Fast Company! “Mitchell’s got a long list of other inspirational and influential examples. She reels off a set of names that ranges from teen activist Julie Bluhm (who took on Seventeen magazine’s photoshopping policies); Deanna Zandt for her Planned Parenthood Saved Me Tumblr blog; Emily May of Hollaback.” If you aren’t familiar with Deanna or Julie – check them out! They both rule.
Hollaback Croatia was on Croatian National TV discussing their recent research on street harassment!
Hollaback sites in Canada are parterning with the Represent Project. They are “offering a new forum to challenge damaging media representations of women in Canada.” RAD!
Hollaback London published a letter to Argos written by Rachel, a woman who was harassed by employees of the company. In the letter, Rachel writes, “Sexual harassment is always unacceptable, at any time and in any place, but the fact that these men feel they have the right to harass a woman while representing the Argos brand demonstrates extreme impudence. I hope that the management at Argos will take this matter very seriously and deal with their staff appropriately”. Way to go, Rachel!
Hollabackers in Mexico, Richmond, St. Paul, and San Francisco are banning together to do a content analysis of bystander stories on our site. They will be looking for trends around bystander intervention, including impact.
Hollaback Jacksonville, NC’s leader Kari Raack is up for military spouse of the year! Please vote for her. If she wins, she plans to use the platform spread the world about Hollaback across the military and their families.
Last but not least, we’ve got a couple volunteer positions open!Take a look and let us know if you can help.
HOLLA and out –
Harassed for several weeks. Contacted my employees, verbally attacked me.
For some reason even though I have my two kids with me and my wedding ring on my hand men still come up to me it’s really pathetic.