“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!
BY TANISHA L. RAMIREZ
Hollaback is a voice; it’s an opportunity to join a chorus of women speaking up against street harassment, in an effort not only to mute the various Psssts, Hey, Ma’s, and Hey, Girl’s that women are subjected to just about any time that they step out in public, but to bring awareness to the fact that these public come-ons are unwarranted, unwanted and unwelcome.
Cat-calls, or piropos as they are called in Spanish, have been a daily occurrence in my life since I was 12 years old. I remember the first time a man—yes, a man, not a boy!—wolf-whistled at me in the street. I was walking home from my ELEMENTARY school and a man in a blue jeep slowed his vehicle to a creepy crawl, hung out of his window and shouted, “Hey, Mamita! You need a ride home?” His eyes caressed the budding curves of my body and his lips shined with the spit deposited on them from a fresh lick. It was at that moment that I knew—just knew—that I was a piece of meat to this man. I went home feeling ashamed and dirty. I didn’t tell anyone about it or leave my home for days.
As got older the hollering became cruder and more frequent. What were excused as mere compliments and pleasantries regarding my body were hurled at me on an almost daily basis. My ass, my breasts, my hair, my hips, my waist and even my smile were up for public discussion. “Smile, Ma,” they’d say as they grinned at me, stupidly. Because, of course, most people go about gallivanting on the street with a big goofy smile on their faces. Thank you strange man for reminding that my “thighs be thick” and that I’ve forgotten to smile. It’s like I had a bevy of street harassers serving as my verbal mirror. I tried covering up my body in long coats and bulky sweaters. I zig-zagged across streets in order to avoid directly passing in front of groups of boys or men. I kept it all to myself, withdrawing further into my mind and into my home.
Then, one day, after a particularly awful day filled to the brim with crude remarks and one especially depraved individual requesting that I “bounce” on his lap, I’d had enough. At the time Facebook had just introduced the “Notes” app. I clicked on the app, and filled the empty page with the note that would not only ignite my blogging career, but introduced me to Hollaback. I wrote, “All you guys who feel compelled to say the nastiest, cheesiest and just ungodly things to young women walking down the street, you all need to SHUT THE *EXPLATIVE* UP… Don’t think that you are so important that girls and women must stop for you in the street, must run up to your car when you honk a horn, or blush just because you called them pretty… Ladies, you don’t need any validation from anyone, much less someone who doesn’t know you for who you really are—more than just a body…So, guys, just shut up! We just want to go about our day without being harassed by you on the street.”
What started out as just an opportunity to vent more than a decade-worth of being harassed on the street for no reason other than the fact that I walked outside while being an unaccompanied female, became an instant hit among my friends. Women and men commented on my post, with most of them expressing relief that someone finally put into words the frustration that they felt as a result of street harassment. One of the commentators wrote, “You’d love Hollaback! They are a hub for stories like yours.”
I visited iHollaback.org that very night. I spent countless hours clicking through women’s stories of street harassment. I’d always known that I wasn’t the only female to experience these piropos, these cat-calls, but at the time, visiting Hollaback for the first time, I felt that I’d found a community of women who were willing to finally talk about it, and holler back!
Hollaback has given me a voice with which I fight against street harassment. With Hollback, I’m able to track incidents of street harassment in my city, and sometimes read vivid descriptions of the perpetrators. I’m sure they don’t care for our detailed descriptions of their bodies—ha! Hollaback
has also given me the courage to literally talk back to the man who threatened to “fuck,” me “into submission” after I refused to speak to him or blush when he whistled at me. Hollaback makes me feel like every time that I step out in the world, I do so with thousands of Hollerbackers by my side. We are a chorus of women speaking up against piropos, cat-calls, wolf-whistles, come-ons, “compliments”, and hollers. Though I understand that street harassment may always be a part of my life, and that often times the men that we target are not interested in reading the blog, I’m comforted by the fact that when they holler at me, I’m willing and able to holler back.
In the lobby, a group of adults were walking past my group & one man and his wife who had obviously been drinking began to pester us to sing even tough we were under instruction to be quiet in the lobby of the club until our director arrived (as I informed him repeatedly). Blame it on the alcohol… either way he was rude & made me uncomfortable. A grown man who belongs to a country club should know better than to act like that to a group of teens even after a few drinks. Rich shouldn’t equal rude.
There are builders currently working on our campus, so my classmates and I frequently experience wolf whistling, being told to smile and shouts of “morning gorgeous” etc as we make out way to and from classes.
I was walking and had 2 guys follow me in a car and said hey girl come here look at that ass, come here, show me your vagina. It was gross and made me feel awful.
On the local news I saw that there is a man that has flashed, I believe, 2 women in the downtown Corpus Christi area by Cole Park. It’s a popular jogging area. Police are urging that you report any and all suspicious activity in that area because they are very concerned by this kind of behavior as it can lead to a more dangerous crime as the flasher may get braver.