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We’re back with our HOLLA-Who series, profiling the amazing site leaders who take on street harassment in their local communities. In the HOLLA-Who series, we learn about what street harassment is like around the world, and what activists are doing today to push back and fight for the right to equal access to public spaces.
Today we’re talking with the amazing Julia from Hollaback! London. Julia, and other members of the HB London team, have been running the site since 2010. That’s five years of standing up to street harassment and changing the face of street harassment activism across the pond!
Why did you start the Hollaback! site in London (five years ago!), what inspired you to join on?
“I started the London site because I was feeling fed up with the harassment I experienced in my home city, being made to feel I had less of a right to my own streets and spaces. I wanted to provide a non-judgmental space for people to share their stories, regain some power after their experience and hopefully achieve some sort of parallel justice. Hollaback! means to me true grass roots activism. Getting up and speaking out after years of being silenced. It’s the thing that allowed me to identify my feminism, it’s the thing that empowered me to stand up for what I believe in. It’s the thing that sparked a career in the women’s sector. So it means a whole lot.”
What’s been going on in Hollaback! London recently?
“Last year we launched the first project working with late night venues to train staff to better support customers in the event of harassment or assault. It’s called Good Night Out.”
Say you’re the Queen for a day. What would you do to end street harassment?
“I’d put men in women’s shoes so they could see.”
What was your first experience with street harassment?
“When I was eight, a boy who lived on my block told me I needed to start shaving my legs. He also punched my sister once and called us bastards because our parents weren’t married. He was a dreadful, dreadful boy!“
Given that you’ve had years to perfect it, what’s your signature Hollaback!?
“Just flip ’em the bird.”
We’re all about the right to wear whatever you want. What’s your personal style?
“I like to aspire to 90’s power woman, a lot of shoulder pads! Still getting there!”
Serious question time. Would you rather have a dragon or be a dragon?
“Be a dragon!! Come on!”
What is your proudest HOLLA-Moment so far?
“Launching Good Night Out, so so proud.”
If you could leave the world one piece of advice, what would it be?
“Don’t judge, and don’t assume.”
What are you excited about for 2015?
What inspires you in this work?
“All the women I meet and work with who quietly get on with changing the world for the better, piece by piece. Who do it with calm, and composure and passion.”
And finally, in the year 2020, street harassment will be…
“Will be high up on the political agenda, and will be frowned upon by society. Will be hugely diminished since we all started shouting about it years ago!“
A big thank you to Julia from Hollaback! London. We are also *so excited* about the upcoming HOLLA::Revolution London. You can pick up your tickets today for the June 23rd event and catch local activists and performers taking on street harassment in London.
Holla and out!
When was the first time you were harassed?
This year, we partnered with an amazing fourth grade classroom to talk about street harassment, personal space, and safety while creating #ensh artwork.
Starting on #givingtuesday, with every $500 we raise, we’re putting up one of their posters – with the goal of fully covering a public wall with their art! The campaign will run until December 31st – so please give today!
I went on a walk with my dog wearing long running shorts, an old, baggy t-shirt. A car full of high school boys was at a stop sign while I was a block ahead. They hung halfway out the windows and whistled and yelled at me. It wasn’t much but I was a 13 year old, innocent young girl and it scared the hell out of me. I felt ashamed, embarrassed for there were other cars in the intersection, and I felt like I did something wrong. I started running because I was afraid they would circle the block. I’ve been timid of walking alone ever since (it was a year ago), but finding Hollaback has given me the courage to know that I’m not alone and that I can stand up for myself.
Amazing short film from supporter Amy West! Thanks Amy! You rock!!
BY RITA PASARELL
When I heard of Hollaback a few years ago, my first thought was: “finally!” I was so glad to see a place for people to share their stories and speak out against street harassment— a place where the issue was taken seriously.
I remember thinking back to when I was repeatedly, loudly,aggressively street harassed for almost two years by a neighbor who was more than twice my age. After many confrontations where I told him to leave me alone,I became so fed up that I decided to report him to the police.The first time I described his behavior, the police would not take a report. No crime had taken place, they said. I told the police how this man had pulled his rusty, broken-windowed van next to me as I walked down the sidewalk, shouting “get in!” after months of explicitly shouting comments about my body. I told them he had been harassing other women, that I was embarrassed to walk in my own neighborhood, and that I was worried he would escalate. Ok, but did he touch you, they wanted to know. He hadn’t. I went home.
It wasn’t until after my third visit to the police station, many months later, that this man was finally charged – with stalking. I had given the police detailed lists of the street harassment I’d experienced, and I remember thinking “it shouldn’t be this difficult.” The charge was ultimately dismissed.
Although I am frustrated that the legal system failed to hold a serial street harasser accountable for his inappropriate behavior, Hollaback’s work gives me hope that in speaking out against street harassment, our voices do have an impact, even if not immediately.Every shared story of street harassment says I do not accept this and joins with other stories to make it clear that street harassment will not be tolerated. Hollaback reminds us that we don’t have to be silent, that our experiences deserve to be taken seriously, and also reminds the world to listen.