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About twelve years ago, at a leading New York cultural institution which shall not be named, I attended my department’s holiday party, at which no fewer than four of the men in attendance became drunkity-drunk-drunk. Things started out innocently enough, with everyone decorating the department’s hallways and boardroom with fake mistletoe and blue and silver tinsel and setting up trays of food and eggnog. Then someone decided to spike the nog and things went downhill from there. First people started talking in their outdoor, as opposed to indoor voices. Then there was the music switch from songs like Jingle Bell Rock to freak music, which although better to dance to, emboldened some of the drunk people to grab non-drunk members of the opposite sex and start grinding against them. Oh, and it didn’t end there… Before the party was over, these clowns were pulling women under the mistletoe with them, and saying things that would make a sailor blush. It was like these people had been let out of a cage, and it was their only chance to mate with the opposite sex. Needless to say, the professional fall-out from that evening rained down like ash from Mount St. Helens for months afterwards. Not pretty. And definitely not acceptable.
Does this kind of situation sound all too familiar? Whether it was you making that irreversible decision to get plastered or somebody else, there are some moments in life you just can’t take back. And how do you handle it, if a co-worker took advantage of the “everybody’s drinking” mentality and sexually harassed you?
In the moment, I’d suggest you don’t just go along with it, if it makes you uncomfortable, not only are you not being true to yourself, but you’re also enabling the other clowns in the room to think that type of behavior is OK. Even if it feels out of place to say “Stop,” say it and move away from them immediately. Try and join another group of partygoers who will respect your space. Now if the person, regardless of their professional superiority to you, dares to try and “follow-up” the shenanigans at a later time, when you’re both stone sober, I suggest saying something like, “You know, it got pretty crazy at that party the other night, but it’s not really something I’d like to pursue further.” And leave it at that. This is a noncommittal statement that shouldn’t offend any decent human being, because it doesn’t lay blame. After hearing something like this, a sensible person will know not to pursue you. If you feel that the co-worker/boss won’t leave it alone, then you have the option of responding via e-mail, which will then start a paper trail for HR if it should come to that.
Most situations never get this far, but a new report featured in Forbes this month mentioned how getting drunk at the office holiday party is on the rise, with all the inappropriate behavior that goes with it, mostly due to frustrations from the economic downturn. But this doesn’t excuse having a sense of personal responsibility when it comes to respecting each other’s boundaries. So have fun at this year’s round of parties, but always be safe!
Hi there, I just thought I’d share the following harassment story I recently experienced:
My mom and I live alone together. Our apartment is in the back of the building, so we face the back of another building. My mom was going to get dressed, so she went to draw the blinds and I heard her scream “OH MY GOD!!!!”
“What?” I asked her, pretty blase, since she often freaks out when she encounters pretty innocuous things.
“There’s a guy – in the building next to us – OH MY GOD – he was, you know…” After spluttering and freaking out for another minute or two, I finally got it out of her that she had seen a man masturbating in the next building, right in front of the window, so that anyone could see him.
The experience really disturbed my mom, and it really bothered me, too. While she was glad that she had been subjected to that sight rather than me, I was really mad that she had been exposed to it. The two of us have talked about it a lot and that’s made us feel better, but we haven’t really done anything concrete like reporting him. This is SUCH a frustrating experience!
Thank you for listening, I really appreciate it.
BY VICTORIA TRAVERS
It is truly awesome to see the creative ways in which activists are making themselves heard! Case in question: Governor Scott Walker and the Trojan Horse breakfast protest.
Last Thursday controversial Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker was shouted into silence by protesters posing as suits as he attempted to give a budget speech at the Chicago Union League Club.
Over 70 members of Stand Up! Chicago and Occupy Chicago ambushed the 11/3 Walker breakfast presentation on “Taxpayers, State Budget Reforms and the New Realities” at the Union League Club of Chicago in order to voice their opinions on Governor Walker’s union-busting and job-cut policies.
Protesters settled themselves down to breakfast and sprang into action following the opening remarks, using what they have dubbed as the “human mic.” The statement began:
“ It is an outrage and a shame, that we sit at this fancy breakfast to listen to someone who has wreaked havoc on the lives of working families. Governor Walker has vilified unions and insulted the 99% who depend on living wages and adequate benefits to support their families, while on the payroll of the right wing billionaire Koch brothers.”
After each statement the crowd repeated it, rendering the remainder of the room speechless. Walker encouraged his supporters to clap out the disruption but the protest continued, forcing the rest of the room to listen.
Check out the video for yourself and be inspired to make your voice heard and be a change maker!
I stumbled upon your website this evening, I can’t even begin to express how grateful I am for your efforts. I experience sexual harassment regularly as a young female which, combined with trauma from childhood molestation, often makes it difficult for me to cope with feelings of humiliation, frustration, and objectification. It had gotten so bad to the point where I began questioning if there was something wrong with ME. Was it the way that I dressed? Couldn’t be, because I dress rather conservatively. Was it my demeanor? I tend to keep to myself and certainly do not have a ‘come-hither’ attitude. I even began to question if it was my pheromones that were attracting creeps, as if I was the source to blame. Therapy has helped me cope with my past trauma, but there are some days when I don’t even want to leave the house or socialize in the outside world because I just don’t have the energy to put up with it anymore.
After reading so many Hollaback stories, I now realize that this isn’t just a problem that I am experiencing alone, but an epidemic. It’s not me that’s the problem, but THEM. It’s empowering to know that there are other women who have experienced the same thing and are taking a stand against it. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for showing me that I am not alone, and that there are resources I can turn to to combat under-the-radar sexual harassment.
BY RAVEN NICOLE WILLIAMS
Today I witnessed one of the worst and most blatant abuses of a woman’s human rights ever caught on live national television.
During an episode of Discovery Channel’s “Lockdown” a male corrections officer is seen sexually assaulting a young woman in custody. The clearly distressed female is heard pleading “stop touching me” and the guard is seen groping her breasts twice, after the second grope the officer appears to be smirking.
The assault can be seen between 1:25 and 1:34 on the YouTube footage and it is clear that the guard touches the victim’s breasts twice intentionally. Look at the video below to judge for yourself, there is no question that he is committing a crime:
This is not right.
Prisoner or not, no one has the right to touch you inappropriately on your body; not a police officer and not a prison guard. Official procedure exists stipulating how to pat down a prisoner. As a former security guard for the port of New Orleans, the way that woman was violated is unacceptable. It is impossible that any of the officers were permitted to touch her like that. From my experiences with the prison-industrial complex, the only time a pat down is warranted is if the prisoner is being accused of a felony or has been found to have drugs in her/his possession.
Sadly, the sexual abuse of women, from my experiences with the jail system, as well as the countless other women who have been locked up in the prison industrial complex, occurs all too often. It is allowed because of prejudiced attitudes towards those, who in many cases have either never been found guilty and/ or accused of survival crimes, that are deemed no longer human or worthy of respect because they broke the law.
In most cases these types of victims do not feel that they have the voice to speak out, but today I ask you to join with me and give this woman a voice by signing the petition below:
Please help in the campaign to see that this woman gets justice by ensuring that this officer, who clearly committed a crime, is prosecuted for his offence and a strong message is sent that no officer is above the law.
I was enjoying an early evening (7:30pm) in New York City’s Madison Square Park on Wednesday 03 August; when I walked to the northwest corner of the park (near 26th Street & 5th Avenue) a man started yelling out obscenities to me; I walked away and took a seat further south (near 25th Street). I could still hear him yelling…and so could the other twenty or so people on the benches between this man and me. Eventually I stopped hearing him.
I kept my eyes open for a Park Employee thinking to report the man, but saw none in the area. I didn’t hear nor see the man and at 8:00pm I finished a cell phone call and decided to walk back to the exit at 26th Street & 5th Avenue.
Suddenly I heard the man again and saw him get up from his seat (in the dark shadows on the north side of the park) as I turned down the exit path. There were others still seated near the exit; even a man walking his dog whom I had to walk around to make my turn to the exit path.
The man was about 6 foot 2 inches (two inches shorter than me); but heavier than me; yelling “faggot” and slurred threats my way. He sped up to intentionally cross my path at this narrowed point (because of the man with the dog). Passing within a foot of me, he yelled “faggot” again and threatened to beat me over the head with a bottle he had in his hand.
I said nothing and hurried away from him toward the exit. He was still yelling obscenities.
The frightening thing to me is that this could happen in clear view and proximity to so many other people who were in the park. It was still relatively light out, as dusk was still falling.
It was a disturbing experience for me, which I still think of days afterwards as I walk the streets of New York, even in these “good neighborhoods.” This Madison Square Park is normally very safe and family-oriented.
It just reminds me that hatred and bigotry are still ever present in our world; no matter the “advances” we in the Gay Community believe we are making, and no matter the “acceptance” we seem to be seeing from the general population; we still have to be vigilant and cautious as there will always be people out there meaning us harm.
Thank you for reading my story.
I am holla’ing for my friend Brooklyn. We were walking in Union Square the other day when a man bumped into her. I thought he had actually just bumped into her, but when we walked away, she mumbled “Wow, I feel kinda violated.” I asked why, and she said “That man grabbed my vagina.” I told her to point him out so we could call the cops, but she didn’t want to; she said that she couldn’t point him out.
My mom warned me earlier that day about the large amounts of perverts and pedophiles in Union Square, and I didn’t really believe her at first.
So me and my sister were walking acrossed the street these 2 guys walked passed us and one said ‘Hey ladies’ we didn’t reply, he said ‘Then don’t say SHIT’ my sister said ‘Cause your ugly as fuck’ I’m only 14.
Bus stop at the corner of Nevada and Alabama, Bellingham. Red truck drove by and passenger yelled “damn!” out the window. Startled me.
This guy gave me creepy looks and said in a creepy voice, “mm sexy, I like, I like” as I walked past him on the street. I took a picture of the building he went in to. (the Hollaback I made right before this one). Then I turned the corner and was waiting for my friend that I was meeting, and who should come around the side of the building but my hollaing guy. He walked past me again, and made more comments, a little more disgusting this time (don’t remember exactly what he said). He was a mover and went to unload a truck. I walked right up to him and said, “oh hey, there you are! I was looking for you, let me get your picture! I’m going to put it on the internet and let everyone know what a creep and loser you are, since you have to go around hollering at women to make yourself feel good!” He mumbled something about “I just wanted to say hello.”