Appalachian Ohio, Athens GA, Atlanta, Baltimore, Chicago, Cleveland, Columbia MO, Columbus, Denver, Des Moines, Durham & Chapel Hill, East Lansing, Fredericksburgh VA, Houston, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Lubbock TX, Manhattan KS, Muncie IN, New Orleans, New York City, NYU, Pittsburgh, Plattsburgh, Richmond VA, San Fernando Valley, San Francisco, SUNY Oneonta, Tucson, Twin Cities
Get whistled and yelled at aggressively while wearing my large sloth t-shirt…. men are objectifying/ sexualizing sloths? NOW It’s gone too far because they surely couldn’t have been catcalling at me, I wasn’t asking for it at 10am on my way to class, not wearing makeup and wearing a simple sloth t-shirt.
In Spain, walking at 11pm by myself through the city of Santander to meet up my friends for a pregame when I see a man in the middle of the sidewalk just standing there. I start getting a strange feeling until he turns to the side and I see his erect genitals. I stop in the tracks, horrified and turn down the closest street I can as fast as I can before he can see me. The fear I felt was intense, I was forced into panic mode to try and get away. It was a scarring, horrible experience.
Buffalo, especially the west side, is a breeding ground for sexual predators. I go to a local college in this area called D’youville and all the young women who go here are subjected to harassment daily. It’s so regular for us that it’s becoming harder and harder to ignore. Every day when walking home or around campus men openly stop their cars to stare at us, whistle at us to get our attention, stop in their tracks to turn around and stare, and yell “compliments” it needs to stop.
First and foremost, thank you for your continued support of Hollaback!. As some of you now may be aware, we have been the object of some negative press and comments on social media regarding the recent street harassment video by Rob Bliss Creative. When the video was released, we doubted more than 10,000 people would watch it. We never imagined that it would be viewed more than 32 million times.
Given your passionate and dedicated support of Hollaback!, we wanted to inform you how we are directly responding to the accusations of racial and class bias.
Last Thursday, we issued a statement that makes our position clear: Hollaback! understands that harassment is a broad problem committed by a broad spectrum of individuals across lines of race, location and class. We know from the 8,000 stories we’ve collected on ihollaback.org that there is no single profile for a harasser, and harassment comes in many different forms. We are deeply invested in a movement that is multiracial, gender inclusive and incorporates place-based leadership specific to each locale. Racial, gender, and class politics is a core part of our work. While we did not create this video, we did allow our name to be used at the end of it. We agree wholeheartedly that the video should have done a better job of representing our understanding of street harassment and we take full responsibility for that. I’m deeply sorry.
What we also want to say is: We’re listening. Hollaback! is a small but determined and diverse organization, and we’ve been overwhelmed with the amount of feedback we’ve gotten. This video, created and edited pro-bono by Rob Bliss Creative, has taught us an important lesson. Although we appreciate Rob’s support, which has helped garner over $10k in donations from new donors, we are committed to continuing to show the complete, overall picture.
We are using the door opened by this conversation to expose the harassment faced by women of color and LGBTQ folks that too often is ignored by the mainstream media. That’s why we’re using the money raised to create our own video series — with the first one currently under development and scheduled to release within the next two weeks. We’re also working to create clearer messaging, respond to specific news articles, work with partners to write an Op-Ed, showcase thousands more stories through our global research study with Cornell University, and start an open and transparent dialogue with the public to voice opinions and concerns.
We are leveraging this opportunity to bring greater attention to our driving mission: giving you the power to end street harassment.
Again, thank you for believing in us, being a part of this vital dialogue, and supporting Hollaback! as we continue and extend our mission. We welcome your thoughts and suggestions as we move forward.
Executive Director, Hollaback!
In numerous occasions when men would stare and say harassing things, I found it most effective to look them in the eyes and say Ina clear, strong voice:
“Didn’t your mama teach you not to stare?”
How did this PSA come about?
In August 2014, Rob Bliss of Rob Bliss Creative reached out to Hollaback! to partner on a PSA highlighting the impact of street harassment. He was inspired by his girlfriend — who gets street harassed all the time — and Shoshana B. Roberts volunteered to be the subject of his PSA. For 10 hours, Rob walked in front of Shoshana with a camera in his backpack, while Shoshana walked silently with two mics in her hands.
As part of Rob’s agreement with Hollaback!, Rob had creative control over the PSA and owns it with unlimited usage rights for Hollaback!. Hollaback! is grateful for Rob and Shoshana’s dedication to this issue, and for their volunteer service.
What is street harassment?
Street harassment is a form of sexual harassment that takes place in public spaces. It exists on a spectrum including “catcalling” or verbal harassment, stalking, groping, public masturbation, and assault. At its core is a power dynamic that constantly reminds historically subordinated groups (women and LGBTQ folks, for example) of their vulnerability to assault in public spaces. Further, it reinforces the ubiquitous sexual objectification of these groups in everyday life. Street harassment can be sexist, racist, transphobic, homophobic, ableist, sizeist and/or classist. It is an expression of the interlocking and overlapping oppressions we face and it functions as a means to silence our voices and “keep us in our place.” At Hollaback!, we believe that what specifically counts as street harassment is determined by those who experience it. If you’ve experienced street harassment, we’ve got your back!
Is Shoshana’s experience unique?
The experience of street harassment is different for everyone. Street harassment disproportionately impacts women, people of color, LGBTQ individuals, and young people. Although the degree to which Shoshana gets harassed is shocking — the reality is that the harassment that people of color and LGBTQ individuals face is oftentimes more severe and more likely to escalate into violence. These forms of harassment are not just sexist — but also racist and homophobic in nature.
For more information on how harassment impacts people different, please read our guide on street harassment and identity called #harassmentis.
Does street harassment only happen in NYC?
Street harassment happens everywhere, although our maps indicate that population density may be a factor for it. If you think about it, this makes sense: if one out of every fifty guys you pass is going to harass you, you’ll be far more likely to experience street harassment on Wall Street than in a Walmart parking lot.
Hollaback! has 79 sites in 26 countries around the world, from Alberta, Canada to Delhi, India. Every site is working to end street harassment in their communities and support individuals who share their stories of harassment. You can check out their stories (and provide support) here.
Is Street Harassment a Cultural Thing?
Like all forms of gender-based violence, street harassers fall evenly across lines of race and class. It is a longstanding myth that street harassment is a “cultural” thing, perpetrated mostly by men of color. We believe that street harassment is a “cultural” thing in the sense that it emerges from a culture of sexism — and unfortunately — that is everyone’s culture.
It’s important to keep in mind that is this video only captures verbal harassment, and Rob and Shoshana can attest to the harassment overall falling evenly along race and class lines. While filming, Shoshana noted, “I’m harassed when I smile and I’m harassed when I don’t. I’m harassed by white men, black men, latino men. Not a day goes by when I don’t experience this.”
How do I get involved?
Share this message with your friends and donate. We can’t end this alone.
The following is an excerpt from You’re Fine by Gina Tron through Papercut Press. Available online and at selected indie bookstores.
When I met Dr. Machecho, I found that he was not nearly as funny as his name.
“Have a seat,” he said sharply as I followed him into a small room. He was a tall, intimidating man with a cold demeanor. He sat in a chair in front of me and skimmed through some papers in a file.
“I didn’t have the chance to look at your chart yet. Why are you here?”
“Cocaine, mostly. They said I have PTSD and that I’m bipolar.” I said it all very matter of factually and with as little emotion as possible. I didn’t want him to see that I was annoyed with the place because I figured that would make him less likely to help me.
“I want to get out of here. I only got to attend two meetings here and they were not at all helpful for me.”
He was glancing down at a piece of paper that I guessed was my chart.
“So, I see you got raped.”
“Next time, make sure not to put yourself in that situation again.”
“Don’t put yourself in that situation again,” he stated with the deadest of eyes.
“How do you even know I put myself into that situation?”
“Then how did it happen?” he inquired with a smirk.
“You don’t even know anything about it! I don’t have to take this bullshit! I’ve been hard enough on myself.”
I stormed out of his office, ignoring his cries to stop as I walked to my room. In the corridor, I kicked over the same garbage can that I had knocked over before.
“Déjà vu,” I mumbled, giggling.
Tyler was lurking around the medication window and witnessed my tantrum.
“What happened? Are you okay?”
I told him what had occurred with Dr. Machecho and he sighed.
“What an asshole. But look, you gotta be cool with him. He’s responsible for getting you out of here. Just have him sign the papers for you.” The ex-crackhead, Tyler, had more
of a voice of reason than I did.
Dr. Machecho walked up to us. I was glaring at him and he seemed as though he was aware that he had said something wrong. I guess he thought that he could abuse me until I fought back. He was no different from all these other motherfuckers who think they can abuse whoever they want until the “victim” shows their fucking teeth. I feel like a lot of people, sometimes even people in authority, treat people they consider to be beneath them as animals. Guess if I’m an animal, I’m a koala: docile, yet vicious when provoked.
“Let’s talk,” said Dr. Machecho.
“I don’t want to talk to you! If you want to fucking talk, then talk to me in the hallway, where people can hear what you’re saying. I don’t trust you.”
He was visibly shaking. Perhaps he did not expect me to react in such a way, but I didn’t feel like I was acting that angry. My behavior was nothing compared to Natasha’s.
She’d probably punch this guy out for coughing.
“If you want to leave, then you have to sign some paperwork with me. I’ll give you whatever prescription drugs you want. And you have to promise to set up outpatient with your social worker. I’ll get the ball rolling on that. What are they giving you?”
“Paxil. Seroquel. Vistaril.”
“Okay, so I will give you a month’s worth of all those prescriptions. That should hold you over until you get a new doctor at your outpatient.”
He was very polite at this point. He spoke to me with respect, like he was talking to another human rather than a dog.
“Lovely,” I sneered. I resented him for only talking to me with respect because I had demanded it. I hated him for being a person who would, I perceive, prey on the weak. “How generous of you to give me all the drugs I want. If I get raped while on drugs that are prescribed to me, do I still deserve it?”
“You shouldn’t talk that way,” he said, “It’s unbecoming of a young lady.”
I was walking my dog and a man yelled out the window of his house “Hey baby, what’s your name?” I kept walking and he yelled “Well fuck you too then, slut.”. What? How am I a slut for walking my dog?
One guy called out to me while I was walking, “hey working girl, come over here.” Ten feet later another said to his friend, “look at the ASS on that girl in the blue dress.”
A new report released today offers the first ever global legal resource on street harassment. Led by NGO Hollaback! and the Thomson Reuters Foundation and coordinated by global law firm DLA Piper, the “Know Your Rights” guide compiles the latest legal definitions and information on all forms of street harassment across 22 countries and in 12 languages. A monumental undertaking, the guide involved the efforts of 11 legal teams working in collaboration around the world.
Check out the guide below – and check out our FAQ for more information. You can download a PDF of the guide here: Street Harassment – Know Your Rights. Photo credit: A woman walks past a building decorated with a pair of eyes in the Crimean city of Sevastopol, February 29, 2012. REUTERS/Stringer