“I really like that we managed to put the topic on the map. It was something not talked about at all here, and now, we can even refer to our site and say, ‘Look! Street harassment is real and happening on a daily basis.’ People will still try to make the problem smaller than it is, but we have our own source for evidence now. That makes it much harder for people to simply dismiss sexism as something from the past.” – Julia Brilling
Julia Brilling and Claudia Johann started Hollaback! Berlin after Julia came across Hollaback! London’s website and reached out to Hollaback!’s Executive Director Emily May. When Hollaback! Berlin began, there was not even a word for street harassment in German. Julia states, “There was absolutely no discussion on the topic, neither were there any resources.” Hollaback! Berlin has made great strides in the fight to end street harassment in Germany. Since 2011, Julia has assisted in the formation of two more German sites, Hollaback! Dresden and Hollaback! Dusseldorf. Hollaback! Berlin has appeared in a wide variety of media outlets. The biggest achievement so far was a collaboration with the “bff – Frauen gegen Gewalt”, a german-wide operating organization that works towards ending violence against women. Hollaback! Berlin is active in raising awareness and giving empowerment workshop on the topic of Street Harassment. As part of Hollaback! Berlin’s plans for the future, Julia is especially interested in increasing collaboration with other Hollaback! sites in her region, as well as helping Hollaback! to collaborate with the local feminist community.
“I love knowing that, in my own little way, I’m making the world a better place. While I had absolutely no experience in activism or social justice, and no college degree either, I am now a leader in feminist activism in my community, meeting all kinds of amazing, influential people. And that feels fantastic.” –Shawna Potter
In the past year and a half, Hollaback! Baltimore has organized and co-organized a plethora of events, including Anti-Street Harassment Week, Slutwalk, a film screening, and a consultation with Occupy Wall Street on behalf of the safety of women involved in the encampment. Hollaback! Baltimore has also delivered numerous Street Harassment 101 presentations at colleges, schools, and queer rock shows. Site Leader Shawna Potter notes the budding relationship with the local transgender community as especially rewarding: Hollaback! Baltimore has attended Baltimore PRIDE each year, joined the Transgender Response Team, will continue to help plan the annual Transgender Day of Remembrance, as well as participate in a continuing series of PSA’s about the local transgender community. Shawna simply loves raising awareness in her community: “The look on people’s faces when they ‘get’ exactly what you mean by ‘street harassment,’ and then those same people go home and submit their story–it’s incredible.” Shawna looks forward to forming closer ties with communities of color and finding ways to engage local government leaders in support of Hollaback! Baltimore.
“I want to be able to walk the streets free from fear and I believe that if we stand together and take action, this is something we can achieve. Launching the West Yorkshire site has a positive impact on me, my friends and family, and all women in my neighborhood.” – Louise Westbrooke
Louise Westbrooke and Emma Romanowics started Hollaback! West Yorkshire because of their interest in women’s rights and their own experiences with street harassment. In their community, they have built relationships with several grassroots feminist groups as well as with local government. They have represented Hollaback! at national conferences, held successful workshops, done radio and newspaper interviews, and overall increased their community’s understanding of street harassment. Hollaback! West Yorkshire participated in several large-scale events this year, including the Leeds Slut Walk, a Reclaim the Night Rally, and LaDIY fest, a feminist community festival in Sheffield.
Listen to this quick message from our board chair, and the donate to our end of year campaign! Already donated? Spread the word to your friends and family!
“I’ve had entire days ruined as I mull over what I wish I had said instead on my morning commute. It’s a waste of energy, and Hollaback! to me is an outlet for this energy, a place to channel my frustration and anger and share my experiences with the world.” – Kate Ziegler
“I saw Hollaback! as a movement I could get behind and wanted to be involved in. As a woman born and raised in the city, I was tired of being harassed every time I left my house; I was tired of the normalcy. The Hollaback! movement has helped me grow as an assertive individual who is passionate about sharing Hollaback! with her community.” – Jane M. Carper
Jane M. Carper, Britni Clark, Kate Ziegler, Angela Della Porta and Devon Audie make up our outstanding Hollaback! Boston team. Their organizational partners include a variety of local organizations committed to empowering women and combating domestic violence and sexual assault in Boston. Angela is most excited about Hollaback! Boston’s street harassment diaries. These reflections include posts by Boston site leaders as well as posts about incidents of harassment and the emotional repercussions of those experiences. The diaries powerfully express the ongoing and ever-present nature of street harassment in women’s lives. Despite being a new team, Hollaback! Boston has already begun making public appearances and looks forward to building relationships with local legislators and government.
“I wanted my voice back. I was frustrated by street harassment and I no longer wanted myself or others to have to deal with sexual harassment and objectification in public spaces. Working for Hollaback! means I get to do something about a problem that I am passionate about ending…. I do it because the public needs education about the harm that street harassment causes, and people need to know that they don’t have to put up with street harassment.” -Lauren Alston
Site leader Lauren Alston describes Hollaback! Alberta’s progress as “exponential.” From events to media coverage to support from local organizations and musicians, Hollaback! Alberta has developed a strong presence in the community over the past year. Hollaback! Alberta’s launch party March of 2012 which featured seven non-profit organizations, five bands, and two guest speakers: the Dean of Students from the University of Alberta and a Politician from the National Democratic Party. Hollaback! Alberta has built partnerships with a wide variety of organizations, including the Sexual Assault Centre of Edmonton, Consent Ed, Flurt! Magazine, and Feminist Edmonton. In the past year, the director of Hollaback! Alberta spoke at the Edmonton Slutwalk 2012. Within the next month Hollaback! Alberta will be involved with a screening of the documentary Who Cares, and will be speaking at a local high school. Overall, Hollaback! Alberta has seen an outpouring of support from the local community. In the year ahead, Lauren looks forward to increasing educational outreach efforts to raise awareness on street harassment.
Garnering legislative support. This spring, we reached out to 20 council members and their staff including Council Member Annabel Palma, Brad Lander, Charles Baroon, Daniel Garrodnick, Deborah Rose, Diana Reyna, Gale Brewer, Jimmy Van Brehmer, Julissa Ferreras, Jumaane Williams, Karen Koslowitz, Larry Seabrooke, Letitia James, Margaret Chin, Maria del Castro, Peter Vallone, Rosie Mendez, Ruben Wills, Steven Levin and Ydanis Rodriguez. Fifteen of the council members and/or their staff accepted meetings with us. The goal of each meeting was to establish broad support for Hollaback!’s work, including the apps and local community workshops on bystander intervention. As a result of our efforts, we received $32,500 in the FY 12-13 budget from Council Members Quinn, Ferreras, and Lander.
Queens’ first Safety audit. We held the first-ever community safety audit in Queens, in partnership with Council Member Ferreras. The event was attended by representatives from NYC agencies including the NYPD, NYC Department of Transportation, and the Mayor’s Community Affairs Unit. Collaborating community organizations included Elmcor Senior Services, Dominican American Society (DAS), Ecuadorian Civic Committee, Make the Road New York, and Community Board 3 members. Together, we surveyed blocks in neighborhoods where residents expressed safety concerns and we helped develop concrete plans to address those concerns.
Research Released in Partnership with Cornell University. In October of 2010, Cornell University partnered with Hollaback! to undertake research on street harassment. In May 2012, we released two studies, When Street Harassment Comes Indoors: A sample of New York City service agencies and unions response to street harassment and The Experience of Being Targets of Street Harassment in NYC: Preliminary Findings from a Qualitative Study of a Sample of 223 voices who Hollaback!. We held a legislative briefing in June to discuss the release of the data. The briefing was a huge success and was attended by staffers from 18 council members’ offices, and then we held a public launch event at Cornell University in September. More than 50 representatives from organizations and unions across the city attended the meeting. The diverse group was joined by Speaker Quinn and Council Member Ferreras who both spoke about the importance of addressing street harassment.
Hey Hollabackers —
With our campaign in full-swing, this week’s edition is short and sweet.
Here’s the deal: WE NEED YOUR MONEY.
Sorry to be so blunt about it — but it’s true. People think that because we’re awesome we’re rich. That’s nice, but it simply isn’t true. Fun facts:
Number of full-time staff: 2
Number of part-time staff: 2
Office size: 350 square feet
Office phone: a cell phone we throw around when it rings
Office pens: courtesy of people at conferences with booths
Office mascot: a money tree, which sits in the Fung Shai “money corner” of our office. It sort of works, but not well enough, because…
Number of countries we’re funded to be in: 1
Number of countries we’re not funded to be in, but are anyway: 24
Number of new sites that want to launch, that we don’t have funding for: 38
Cost of a world without street harassment: PRICELESS.
JK. LOL. It’s actually not. I know most of you think this can be done without money — but with 200 leaders and 20 volunteers, someone’s gotta coordinate, communication, and keep this movement moving. And that’s us: the mothership.
So please, help us sisters out this holiday season. It’s time that street harassment is toast.
HOLLA and out —
BY RITA PASARELL
This past August, Sonia Saraiya and a group of women writers created CATCALLED.org, a “collection of women’s stories about street harassment in New York City.” Each of the 11 participants wrote a daily log for two weeks, and then responded to each other’s logs for exit interviews. CATCALLED says street harassment is “an unfair burden placed on women in public spaces” and describes the project as “an attempt to give that struggle a voice.” Here’s what else Sonia had to say:
1) This site is great, and the entries are so interesting! What inspired you to create CATCALLED?
I’m not from New York, and I had recently moved here and was so happy about it! Then, the summer started . . . the level of anger I felt in the street just skyrocketed from all of the catcalling I was experiencing. It had happened to me before, but here, the volume of it was just so much greater. I felt alienated as I walked around doing simple things, like just trying to get home. The looks, the judgments, the threats inherent in the comments . . . I felt so exposed. I tried not to pay attention to all of it because it was just too much. Then I thought, “but this is real! This is my experience and I don’t think I’m alone.” Then, I started talking to other people about it.
2) Are there any themes that you noticed emerging from the entries?
Many of the writers said that the process of keeping track of all the street harassment they experienced was extremely emotionally exhausting. The project made them start paying attention to things they had taught themselves to ignore, because with so much catcalling, it can become too upsetting to confront the reality of the situation. For instance, many described this sort of auto-pilot mode of changing their habits to avoid street harassment – things like altering their route to avoid feeling vulnerable.
3) Is there any particular Catcalled entry or writer that sticks out the most for you?
Of course, I was very surprised by writer #11, because I found out she carries a knife. Participant #6 was also interesting to me. She wrote about how it feels to routinely not be catcalled. And she thinks catcalling is terrible, and the few times it happens to her, she hates it, but she also notices that it isn’t happening, and she connects that to her own self-esteem about how she looks. This is how the culture of street harassment is harmful even for people who don’t get harassed –it affected her self-esteem to not be getting that attention, even though she didn’t really want it anyway.
4) The exit interviews were especially interesting — can you describe your thoughts on including these?
I wanted to begin the process of women talking to each other about their experiences. It was a way for a dialogue to start, so they could find common ground, or disagree, and reflect.
5) Do you remember how you first heard about the anti-street harassment movement?
I was maybe in middle school or high school, and there was this comic strip where catcalling was portrayed negatively. Up to that point, I only had seen the issue spoken of in harmful ways, in terms of the woman’s fault: she was wearing the wrong thing, in the wrong place, out too late.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Sonia! And thanks to Sonia and the CATCALLED team for their great work and for speaking out against street harassment!