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Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Men who harass me: Sally's partial collection

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

A strong woman + a lifetime of harassment = a powerful Hollaback.

I'm so glad this site exists, so people can share there experiences and realise they're not the only ones - well done guys!!! I've had many unfortunately, but I will just mention a few. My city has no official blog yet.

As a introverted and shy teenager, I was carrying 2 heavy bags of shopping (and looking pretty rough, old jean and sweatshirt) in, A circle of at least 10 drunk guys surrounded me, blocking me and not letting me walk off. They were wearing novelty costumes (a stag night, maybe). I felt so intimidated that a froze. The "ring leader" came forward, and said, "we won't let you go until you give us all a kiss". I was still frozen. He started to move his face closer to mine, it was so disgusting. I squeaked, "I have a boyfriend" (I didn't) and pushed past them. And they were all laughing, I felt so humiliated and sick for the rest of the evening.

Not too long after that, another woman I didn't know and I were walking down a narrow street with scaffolding in the pouring rain and wolf whistles started from the builders. We both turned around and one went "No, not you, you train wreck" I don't know which of us the attention was aimed at, but again this made my day just a little worse.

Another time drunk guy in club maneuvered me into a corner and wouldn't let me go until I gave him my (fake) number.

To top this off, I went abroad to a certain foreign country (religiously conservative and by some standards 3rd world) for study reasons, where street harassment is the norm. In fact sexual responsibility and "sin" falls almost entirely on the women's side. Women are belittled, some are not allowed out on their own, and stared at constantly even if they are dressed extremely modestly (as I was). Some women particularly of minority ethnic origins, have stones thrown at them (I think since I was taller than most of the men, they didn't dare with me). Also if a man is staring at you, they won't stop staring even if you make eye contact - they think they have the right. They would talk to me, even though it is meant to be unacceptable to talk to women they do not know.

Yes, I was aware of this behavior before I went, I am aware it is a different culture and values and I am a guest in their country etc etc but it still made me feel sick and it doesn't make it right - I talked to many women who lived there and they all hated the harassment too, but they felt powerless about it. I felt under siege. Another sent flowers to my school and tried to negotiate with the school principal to marry me. Urghh. At a tourist festival, all the local men were photographing US, western women, more than we were photographing the festival itself. The one time that was almost funny was when I was visiting a local landmark and a rich looking man started filming us even though he was with his family! Then his wife saw and smacked him hard across the head and a torrent of verbal abuse was aimed at him by the women. Hah! That showed him!

It got more serious though. There was one incident where I felt my life was genuinely threatened, when I was stranded due to circumstances beyond my control. A man I didn't know (whose unwanted attentions and sexual threats I had rejected) accelerated his taxi at me, almost running me down while I was alone on a dark night and deliberately intimidating me, then drove off in the night. In that moment my brain flashed to the attacks that's had happened in South Africa, where a gang ran women down with cars to disable and rape them. I was so scared and numb. I stood for 10 minutes in the dark in the pouring rain, waiting to get in through the gate to my house (gatekeeper was in the toilet), all the time thinking he was coming back. The feral (and sometimes rabid) dogs prowling about added a nice atmospheric touch.

After 2 months of this, the effect on me, in addition to my other experiences, was profound. I'm sorry if this sounds cliche but I would be lying if I said I didn't feel tears pricking at my eyes as I typed the previous paragraph. Since I've returned home I'm very sensitive to street harassment.

When I go out, I tend to wear hoodies and jeans, and don't call attention to myself. I walk tall and confident and with purpose, but I don't feel that way, even though I'm 5'7 and reasonably attractive. I keep my face blank, carry keys or perfume in my pockets (for defence if needs be) and my phone in other. I tend to be hyper-vigilant and I get really angry, mostly inside, at street harassment, particularly by drunks. My body language becomes very defensive even if a man is being respectful and friendly in showing interest in me, I blank them and turn my head away.

Even now in my mid twenties I feel vulnerable going out alone wearing skirts and dresses (although I will with a group of friends, rarely, in house parties or places I feel safe), even though I love girly dresses, especially retro ones. I want to go out and feel beautiful within myself and respected, and you know what, one day I want to meet the right guy, get married and be happy - but if keep acting this way I worry I'll never get that close to a guy again. Its sad but I think I have had more negative contact from guys in my life than positive.

Things are getting a little better now, I feel happier and more confident than I have in years although the emotional distance is still there. I have travelled alone to many countries, made new friends, skydived, climbed mountains. If you met me in a social situation you would probably never guess any of it - I would come across a pretty, friendly girl, not a wallflower.

But I have to say this - Guys, please be considerate. Try not to be obnoxious assholes who stare and and yell and grope. I'm a nice, funny, person and although I try to be strong, I have a thin skin and these things still hurt me. And it has been these little incidents, the harassment which guys don't even seem to think about, and which still happen to me occasionally, which make it worse.

Submitted by A.

Monday, September 27, 2010

We're hiring and we're shaking it up!

As you know by now, HollabackNYC was developed in 2005 by a group of young adults. In 2010, I became executive director of Hollaback! and the project transformed from a series of local blogs into an international organization. Now, the Hollaback! is looking to hand the management of the NYC website to a group of ten 18-22 young women and LGBTQ individuals who are representative of New York City’s diversity in terms of race, socio-economic perspective, and educational background. The youth will receive six months of training, which will include everything from social media, to comment moderation, to event planning. At the end of the training, the youth will be integrated into Hollaback’s network and will be handed HollabackNYC to manage on their own.

We couldn't be more excited about this transition. Please help us out by spreading the word about the HollabackNYC Program Director position (or applying yourself!).

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Why I Hollaback: Emily's story

Friday, September 24, 2010

Scary, scary 2 train turd

I was sitting on the 2 train at approximately 8:45 pm tonight. This man very purposefully stood above me, though it wasn't a crowded train at all. He had his hand in his pocket, and was clearly touching himself while staring at me. He was holding honda 3-d glasses. I don't know why. I took this picture of his face and said "excuse me pervert" and got up and off the train. I am still nearly hyperventilating. Please post this. I don't want anyone else to feel this way.

Submitted by Annie

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Death Stare

This creepy little fuckface in the blue dress shirt was eyeing up every woman who either looked younger than 40 or was wearing anything that showed the vaguest sliver of skin. He seemed to particularly have a leg fetish- like a cutting up legs fetish, seriously, his gaze was so eerily intent. He's looking over there because there were three teenage girls whose conversation he was actively eavesdropping on. I wanted to scream out, "ASSHOLE WE CAN SEE YOUR WEDDING RING AND WE'RE NOT INTERESTED ANYWAY." FFS.

Submitted by Lucy

Marilyn Monroe I am not

Got another one for you: Yesterday evening I was running some errands on Broadway in SoHo, dressed in a flowy skirt and my running sneakers, when out of nowhere a storm suddenly moved in and a strong wind started blowing. I moved quickly toward the nearest subway entrance to escape the storm, but as the wind blew harder and harder, I struggled with both hands to hold my skirt down while still attempting to walk and carry my bags. Marilyn Monroe I am not, and I had already been having a really terrible day, so having to deal with sudden wind gusts possibly exposing my underwear to the world was bringing me very close to the end of my rope. It was just then, of course, that a disgusting man who looked to be in his late 50s (older than my father!) turned around and started stalking behind me, shouting, "Blow wind, blow!" and, "Show me some of that ass!" along with other obscenities. Humiliated, creeped out, angry, and on the verge of tears, I found myself wishing so hard that I had a third hand available so that I could punch the perv right in the face. Alas, had to weather his harassment all the way down the block, and there was nothing I could do to stop him. I still feel gross thinking about it.

Submitted by Carey

"This is the third time someone has reported this about him." WTF?

Earlier this afternoon, I was working on my laptop at the Steven A. Schwarzman branch of the New York Public Library, when I noticed a man, seated one desk away across from me, staring at me. I tried to ignore it at first, but he kept staring even when I stared right back at him to let him know I was aware of what he was doing. I noticed he had one hand on the desk and the other one under the desk, and suspected he was up to mischief. However, since I couldn't really see, I did not say anything. I did not want to change seats because I already switched seats earlier (another story). Besides, I did not want to be intimidated into moving. At some point, the guy got up from his seat and shifted some chairs around so that my line of vision to his legs were blocked. Moments later, he got up and moved the chairs around again to clear my line of vision and I knew something was up (no pun intended). A few minutes later, he was back in his chair, staring at me and masturbating.

I took out my iPhone to photograph him and he quickly shielded his face with his hand. He then got up to leave and all I got was a picture of him walking away, his face turned to the side. I followed him, knowing he would encounter a security check point. He walked through--the security guard seemed to recognize him and they exchanged goodbyes. I told the security guard what happened, who shook his head and said, "This is the third time someone has reported this about him." WTF? I looked at him incredulously and asked why nothing was being done, why he didn't go after the guy. He said he could not leave his station and shrugged. I insisted that he contacted some one through his radio--the man would have to go through another security checkpoint--which he finally did, but by that time, the guy--as I later learned--had already left the building.

I got my things and was escorted to the library's security office to report the incident. Two men in suits came to speak to me. As I was explaining what happened, one of them began to defend the guard for not leaving his station and said that the perpetrator had likely left the building. Meanwhile, the other suit whisked away my phone to another office without asking me. I insisted on knowing what was going on and followed the man who took my phone; he had plugged it into his computer at his desk. I politely reminded him that he had not asked for my permission and he returned my phone without, I think, downloading any files. It was not that I did not want to share the photo but that no one was telling me what was going on. One of them instructs a guard to begin filing a report. "For sexual harassment?" the guard asks. "No, for public lewdness."

The suits then asked if I wanted to talk to the police and press charges, and since I felt like I wasn't sure what the library was going to do about the incident, I said yes. While waiting, one of the suits asks me to look at surveillance images of a library exit to identify the man (again, it was his profile image) and "as best as I could tell," it was him. 35 minutes later, the police came. After hearing my story, they explained that there was nothing they could do; even if they had caught him, no charges could be pressed since he had not "indecently exposed" himself. In the presence of the police officers, one of the suits told me that he had seen the perp around before, recognized him and will "ban" him from the library the next time he comes by. One of the police officers then walked me to a subway stop and advised me on how to respond should I ever see the man at the library again.

Years ago as a teenager, I had been harassed and was paralyzed with shock, fear and self-doubt, unable to respond. I'm glad that I had the presence of mind to react this time and not be intimidated, but oh, I am so angry with that guy for being so demeaning and for stealing my precious writing time. What upsets me more is that I had to insist before the security staff took any action and, worse, the security staff seem to have had previous reports about this man but never ever followed up because who knows why. Is it really too much to ask to be taken seriously when reporting an incident of sexual harassment?

Submitted by Fiona

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

I want to "train you"????

I went for a run this morning. I was walking to the park when two men in a van start yelling at me out their window. They were stopped at a light. They were yelling about my ass and how much they liked it. They were also saying something about how they wanted to "train me". I have no idea what they meant but whatever it was, it was disgusting. They were really hollering and honking at me for quite a while, and I turned to look at them twice. When I did, they just cheered and yelled more. It was awful. I wanted to yell at them but was far too upset and felt powerless. I mean, I've been catcalled before- but they couldn't even have defended these comments as compliments. They were just plain crude and perverse. I want to "train you"???? I am not a dog or your slave. I am a woman who deserves respect just like every other human being and animal on this planet. They thought they could yell at me because they were in a large moving vehicle and there were two of them. I wish I'd looked to see if it was a company vehicle, but I was way too upset.

Anyway, I felt like I wanted to cry, but I just kept walking on. I pass this fellow planting a tree outside an apartment building. He says, "Good morning pretty girl". So immediately I turn around and start telling him off. He turned out to be actually an okay guy. So I ended up apologizing for snapping at him, but still told him to reconsider his catcalling ways. I told him that women don't appreciate it, no matter how much of a compliment it is, and that he should think about what it's like to be a woman, namely: scary and disempowered. To drive the point home I told him what the ASSHOLES said about "training me", which made me immediately burst out crying. So then I ran off crying.

Great. Just how I want to spend one of my only mornings off from work.

Thank you Hollaback for being such an incredible organization.

Submitted by Eve

Video of harassers in Kensington, Brooklyn

Guy street harassing me from Sarah Liz on Vimeo.

This creep and his friends have been bugging me for years. Calling the cops every time it happened worked briefly. I thought videotaping it would deter them, but clearly it didn't.

Submitted by Sarah Liz

Men who harass me: Sally's partial collection

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Sometimes, no where is safe: One man's story of street harasssment

Although our site focuses on women and LGBTQ folks experiences of street harassment, the reverberations of street harassment impact us all. Hollaback! was co-founded by three men (and four women) and over the years we have seen some tremendous contributions to the movement on behalf of men. This is one of them.

My name is Tom; I am 30 and a Staff Sergeant in the U.S. Air Force. I grew up in Phoenix and have been stationed in Texas, Utah, and New Mexico. I have had a few uncomfortable confirmations with strangers over the years, but nothing like what you see on this site, until…

My boss and I went to a conference in Reston VA, a small suburb of Washington D.C. The conference lasted only two days, so we had one night to see the town and enjoy ourselves. The only thing to see in Reston is the Town Center; a nice, but small, outdoor shopping/commercial district.

After dinner and a little shopping, I recommended that we find a grocery store so we could buy a few snacks and some bottled water. We walked about 1 mile north of the Town Center to the nearest Harris Teeter’s. On the way we took some shortcuts through bushes and side streets. My boss said that she was worried because there was no one around and it was late at night in strange city.

I told her that of all the places I had been, sober or drunk, I had never felt safer. We did our shopping at the grocery store. It was one of the nicest grocery stores I have been to, by south Texas standards, and I felt completely safe waiting out front for the hotel shuttle.

Everyone we had seen up until this point had been well dressed and friendly. While we were waiting in front of the grocery store, a man between 25 and 35, wearing dirty clothes and a two day old bread walked by us and said “hey beautiful!” to my boss.

While she is one of the nicest and open people I have ever met, she is very uncomfortable around strangers. I could feel her awkwardness. We said nothing. As he continued to walk towards the store entrance he said “What, too good to talk to me?”

At this point I was a little shaken, but the incident seemed to be over, so we continued to wait for the hotel shuttle. About 15 minutes later he came back out of the grocery store with a 12 pack of beer in a bag.

I am 6’ 3” and 260 lbs, people rarely mess with me; but I hate confrontation, and I am terrified of strangers. When I saw him coming towards us I was afraid he would say something else. As he started walking by us he turned towards my boss and said “Hi, I’m Bill” and held out his hand towards my boss. She looked away and I said “We don’t want any trouble, please keep walking”. He said “I just want to say hi, who are you, her boyfriend?” He was not being friendly. I did not know what to do.

I felt that, as the man, I had to defend my boss. I know that sounds sexist, and until that moment I had never thought that way. I knew she was as scared as I was and I felt a sudden need to protect her.

Directly to our right was a large pet shop. I said: “look we’ll just go in here and wait until our bus comes” pointing towards the pet shop. As we started to get our bags together to walk inside, he backed off and just walked away.

I have told this story many times, and it always gets a lot of laughs because just minutes after I say “this is the safest place I have been, nothing will happen to us” we have a confrontation.

This was 2 years ago, and I have always felt ashamed that I did not stand up enough for myself and my boss. I feel that I backed down when I should have been in his face, and threatened to kick his ass. I am much bigger than he was and could have easily taken him, but that is just not who I am. In the end, nothing happened and I should be proud, but still I am ashamed because I let him make me feel fear.

Submitted by Tom

Friday, September 17, 2010

Is Street Harassment Worse in France? Part III

This is written by Anna, who plans to start a Hollaback in France!

I'm very sorry for what happened to Sabriya. I'm a French woman who has lived one year in New York City. I don't live in Paris, but I have to say that I've felt much more relax and safe during my staying in NYC that I had in my hometown. Maybe NYC is such a huge city that everyone is more or less anonymous: no one really cares about how the others are dressed, or how they behave. You don't have time to look at a stranger who looks unusual in the street and wonder "what do I think about this?" At least, it is the feeling I had.

I don't want to talk about a cultural difference between our countries as street harassment exists everywhere around the world. I've been street harassed in NYC a few times. Two men gave me the "Hey cutie", others the kissing noise, one put his hand into his pant and smiled when I walked by him, a truck driver honked at me and my girls friends, and, the most disgusting, a man masturbated in front of me in Coney Island.

From my experience, street harassment in France is more intrusive and happens more often. I mean men often come closer, engage a conversation with you. And they stay, they don't just pass by.

Unfortunately, I have very little information on street harassment in France, we actually don't even use the terms "street harassment"! The newspapers articles that I found treated it as a game or as a form of flirting. As for the forums/websites, they're often full of racist comments. That's one of the reasons I decided to start a Hollaback France. Here are the links of two articles (here and here) written by sociologists (in French) about violence in public spaces and women's fears.

"Ignore it:" The world's worst street harassment advice

I live in Richmond,Indiana. My name is Shannon Harding and people in cars love to shout,honk and even pretend to try to hit me with cars a couple of times.

I already have an anxiety disorder and this treatment is just causing me to feel lots of anxiety and anger.

Just yesterday, I was walking to the corner convenience store. A guy leans out a white truck and yells "I want to kiss you on your ****"(I didn't hear the last word)

I flipped him off.

The vehicles mostly drive so fast I can't get license numbers or anything else. I do not dress in a way that could be rationalized as 'the reason to yell' I often wear glasses and no make-up. I don't know what to do- I keep being told to 'Ignore it'

Yet the whole situation is just causing me so much stress and anger.

Submitted by Shannon

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Hollaback Pittsburgh is here!

We proud to welcome HollabackPGH to the scene! HollabackPGH is run by two smart, energetic, and dynamic organizers. In their introductory post they wrote:

"We hope that one day, everyone will be free from street harassment, whether it stems from your gender, race, sexual orientation, or anything else. We dream of a world where people don’t have to worry that others will harass them based on their appearance or identity when they’re just trying to get to work or to a party, and where everyone feels safe to walk alone and take public transportation without hearing phrases like “Hey baby, nice ass,” or experiencing the horror of being followed home or groped. We want to be a part of a movement that says that this is NOT OK, and we hope that HollabackPGH! can serve as a rallying point to fight back!"

Let your friends in Pittsburgh know, it's time to stop walking on and start holla'ing back!

Is street harassment worse in France? Part II.

I was very interested in the post submitted by Sabriya regarding street harassment in France. A year and a half ago I lived in Paris for 4 months, and it was the first time I had ever experienced street harassment. The stopping an staring, the groping, the crude comments--I was shocked by the extent to which this harassment culture characterized the Parisian men. I am not a woman of color like Sabriya (quite the opposite actually). I am very very fair with very blonde hair, and I stuck out from the crowd all the time. People would ask me where I was from all the time without me opening my mouth. After spending time in other European cities as well as Moscow (and having experience less harassment in these cities), I would say that street harassment in Paris (and the rest of France) affects all women, and it is a constant and sometimes frightening nuisance.

Some links to interesting articles regarding this topic:
Senior aide to French President Nicolas Sarkozy writes book about how to pick up women.

Le sport national français: (in english)

Submitted by Lauren

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Why I Hollaback: Ellie's story

Is street harassment worse in France?

I'm a New Yorker living in France and I was wondering if you had any information/statistics/articles on street harassment in France. The reason I'm inquiring is because, yes, obviously as a woman (of color) I've experienced this type of thing everywhere, but I've seriously never experienced it to the degree that I do in France and I'm wondering what is up. Just today, during my 1.5 hour trip grocery shopping, I was followed by a guy who kept telling me I was elegant, a guy stopped dead in his tracks to watch me walk by, a guy yelled from across the street that I was "ravishing", a guy purposely (and obviously) went out of his way to brush up against me while with his WIFE in the pasta aisle, and the finale: a man waiting at a stop light in his car psssssssssst-ed and called me over.. as if!! I'm tired of people telling me I should feel complimented or that it's because I'm attractive or because of what I'm wearing. I hadn't showered, had no make up on, had my hair up and was wearing a T-shirt, cardigan, jeans, flats. It's seriously at the point where I HATE leaving my house and it doesn't help that a month ago a guy in a secluded area of a park approached me and lifted up my skirt. I've started warning friends that I can't stay out past dark bc I already know I WILL BE harassed by someone on my way home. I want to think that there's no difference in male privilege/entitlement between the two countries, but my experience is telling me otherwise. I have never felt so intimidated by this type of harassment.

Submitted by Sabriya

EDITOR'S NOTE: We don't speak french, but if you know of any resources please send them to us and we'll pass them along to Sabriya.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

HOLLAsuccess with the USPS!

Here is the response I got from the USPS regarding the harassment that took place. The woman took this very important matter seriously and handled it effectively like it should be. Below is their response.

September 14, 2010

Dear xxxxx,

This letter is in response to your Officer Inspector General inquiry dated September 7, 2010 regarding sexual harassment by a postal employee.

The issue you raise about employee behavior is one that concerns every postal manager. Postmaster General John Potter has continually stressed the seriousness of sexual harassment against or by any employee.

Every customers should immediately report such incident of unacceptable behavior immediately to a supervisor, station manager, or a postal official that is on the premises who can promptly address the issue, such as you have done. The manager has taken the appropriate action to ensure that this employee’s behavior is corrected.

If you experience such an incident in the future, please do not hesitate to contact the Office of Inspector General to ensure that immediate action is taken.

Please accept our apologies for having to endure such unacceptable behavior.


Mrs. xxxxxx

Consumer Affairs Investigator

Los Angeles District

Submitted by Raven

EDITOR'S NOTE: When you experience harassment by someone working for a company that you can hold accountable - by all means do so! We've had a lot of success with that on the site - and this is another great example of it.

A world where good morning means good morning

Sunday, September 12, 2010

You win a Hollaback iPhone cover; we all win a new website!

The deadline for the Justmeans Paperless Challenge is Wednesday the 15th, and Hollaback! is so close to winning! But we need your help. To help us reach our goal, we are giving away FIVE Hollaback iPhone 3GS covers.

To enter:

1. Vote for Hollaback!, and comment on why street harassment matters or why Hollaback! rocks.

2. Link to the competition on your facebook or twitter page, using this link ( and our handle. We are @ihollaback on twitter, or Hollaback! on facebook.

If we win, we'll use the funds to overhaul our website (and say goodbye and good riddens to pepto-bismol pink). We'll announce the winners of the competition on September 16th.

Thank you for all your support. We couldn't do it without you!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

HOLLAhappy hour with Envision Williamsburg and Feministing!

On October 12th, we are collaborating with Envision Williamsburg and Feministing to bring you the best happy hour ever! Envision Williamsburg recently completed a community research project that showed street harassment as the form of sexual violence that caused the most concern for Williamsburg residents. To tackle this, Envision Williamsburg is looking to do a number of community-based interventions, but their awesome efforts have been stifled by a cut in funding to their parent organization, the New York City Alliance Against Sexual Assault. Your $5 suggested donation will go towards directly supporting Hollaback! and Envision Williamsburg's efforts to build a street harassment free city.

If you are able to volunteer for this event, we need your help. We're holding a silent auction at the event, and we'll be giving free Hollaback! iPhone covers to anyone who brings an item (or items) valued at over $50. Can you contribute? Contact us at holla (at)

Stop Street Harassment. Starting now.

I was actually harassed moments after leaving tonight's book release on "Stop Street Harassment". It was the strangest thing it was almost as if the whole thing was planned as an ironic joke or something. But I guess I was so angry after the talk that before this guy even finished his sentence I flipped out on him! I saw him leering a me as he was walking towards me and he started to say "Damn baby, you look...." I just lost it. The thing is that I have always had a mixed bag of reactions when dealing with this sort of thing, some of the time I would say something but most of the time I would say nothing and just let it happen to me. It was invigorating to put that guy in his place, especially since I could see that he honestly didn't expect it! He was with two other guys who said nothing during the whole exchange which may have proven to have humiliated him in front of his friends. I hope this story inspires all women or rather all victims of street harassment to stand up for themselves whenever it is safe for them to do so and to never miss that opportunity. Tonight I was glad that I didn't.

Submitted by Esmeralda

Editor's Note: Thank you to Esmeralda and everyone else who came to the "Stop Street Harassment" book launch last night! It was great to see so many people there, and a big congratulations to Holly on this important contribution to the movement!

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

To all the "thin skins," you're just as strong as you ever were.

If you've complained to others about street harassment, you've probably been told to "toughen up" or "get a thicker skin." Like as if somehow, the fact that street harassment hurts is your fault. It's a decision that you make, and if you were just a little stronger, and a little less of a "girl," the problem would be solved.

When street harassment hurts, it's not because we're not strong enough. In fact, I think it's our strength that makes it hurt more. Street harassment shatters our perspectives on who we are: smart, dynamic, bold; and instead focuses on who we aren't: bitches, whores, and pairs of tits. So -- too often -- we just try to ignore it. And it works, sometimes. But most of the time it doesn't, and the hurt just sits inside us, "like molton lava boiling right underneath the surface of my skin."

In this incredible piece called "Thinner Skin" the writer talks eloquently about how you can't just make the hurt of street harassment go away. How it lives inside us. She tells the story of her own sexual assault and writes: " I’ve been threatened. I’ve been hurt. My friends have been threatened and hurt. I regard any man invading my space and disrespecting me as a direct threat to my well being. Every single time I get verbally accosted, every single time a man sits too close on purpose. Every single time I catch a man, out of the corner of my eyes, sizing me up as bait. I feel that same rage. I am there again." For survivors of sexual assault, street harassment can feel like ripping a scab off - three, four, five times a day. Any doctor will tell you that's no way to heal.

A thick skin would be helpful if we wanted to ignore the world's problems, internalize our pain, and just stay at home. But for the world we're trying to create, the skin we've got will do just fine. We need to be OK with the fact that it hurts because we're strong, not in spite of it. Because if we keep this myth up that street harassment hurts because we're weak, it will continue to get passed down generation to generation. Just like it did to us.

We have an unprecedented opportunity to transform street harassment from something that is lonely and isolating, to something that is shareable. The internet is our new campfire, and if we're going to solve this we have to start by talking about it, by responding to it, by holla'ing back. The world won't listen if we keep pretending that our silence means it doesn't hurt.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Street Harassment Bingo: The only game where everyone loses!

If you're not getting an ample supply of street harassment during your commute, while biking, while walking, while shopping, eating, praying, loving, or just generally breathing, then print out this new game from Scary Godmother and enjoy round-the-clock misogyny. Wait, what's that? You already do? Well maybe you'll just have to send this link to anyone who's ever asked why you can't just take a compliment, then, and hope they'll get the hint.

London Mayoral Candidate Oona King writes Street Harassment into her Policy!

In London, Vicki Simister from the LASH campaign has been meeting with policy makers for Oona King (pictured here). King is running for Mayor in the 2012 election - and has recently promised to write street harassment into her policy!

To our knowledge, this is the first time that street harassment has become a major campaign issue. This tremendous leadership is incredible for London, but it is also a model for how street harassment can be addressed in other cities. Her policy even proclaims that street harassment is a "gateway to more serious forms of violence," something that we've been shouting off the rooftops for years now.

Reading policy has never made us swoon more:

"Commission Police reports across the capital about the extent of street harassment, and include it within anti-social behaviour programmes"

The policy also says:

"Taking street harassment seriously

Street harassment is a regular occurrence for women in London, but is barely mentioned in government policy in the past. It is completely unacceptable that women should be expected to put up with casual intimidation, from unwanted sexual comments to being followed or even groped, simply as a result of going out in public. It is also likely that this behaviour acts as a gateway to more serious forms of violence, and so we simply cannot afford to let it go unchallenged. The Mayor should promote a culture in which street harassment is recognised as unacceptable, and women do not have to suffer it in silence. Working with police, boroughs and Transport for London, effective action should include:

• Ensuring that local authorities recognise sexual harassment as a from of violence
against women, and incorporate it into their training and policies

• Identifying London’s “harassment hotspots” and putting more police and community
support officers where they are needed

• Coordinating a poster campaign to challenge this form of behaviour and encourage
women to report it

• Establishing best practice in police responses, including consistent monitoring and
enforcement where there is evidence of persistent harassment

• Working with local councils and community groups to ensure consensus on the unacceptability of street harassment"

Kudos to Vicki from the LASH campaign for making this happen!

Monday, September 06, 2010

Reactions and Racial Tension

Despite the fact that I don't live anywhere near New York, I'd like to submit my experience;

I'm a young caucasian girl and pretty oblivious at times. It was dark and I was taking the city bus home from a peer-education group meeting. I nearly always sit in the back of the bus because the drivers like to talk to pretty young girls if they're sitting close enough. My city is pretty racially segregated and I happen to live in the 'black' part of town that's up at bat for gentrification. The racial tension in the neighborhood is hideous and, at times, I'm ashamed of the color of my skin. This bus was predominately occupied by african-americans. I was feeling eyes crawling on my stupid whit skin and I was trying not to look as uncomfortable or out of place as I felt. I was listening to my ipod and texting my friend and trying to feel ok when I noticed these two older guys looking at my chest. One of them had dreadlocks with a receding hairline and the other had a cigarette tucked behind his ear. About thirty seconds after I noticed them, they both pulled their sunglasses over their eyes. They were talking to each other but I couldn't hear what they were saying so I casually turned the volume of my music all the way down. Then Mr. Dreads pulled out his phone and they started talking about the camera function. Mr. Cigarette was saying something to the effect of 'Oh that's nice! Look at that resolution!' The camera lens was pointed at my chest. I didn't want to say anything and I didn't want to move. I know that if the guys had been my same race, I'd have felt confident enough to yell at them but because of the pre-existing tension, I was unsure of how to deal with them. I didn't (and don't) want to be painted as racist but I felt it then. I was a minority in the situation but those men would have claimed me to be the aggressor. After a bit of thinking I worked up the courage to zip up my sweatshirt and turn my body slightly away from them.

I haven't seen them since and hopefully won't again. I've never been so uncomfortable and unsure of myself. I couldn't even tell my mom about it for fear she would revoke the little freedom she gives me.

Submitted by Casper

NOTE: As part of our anti-racism policy, we do not identify the race of the harassers in the post, unless the relevance to the story is "clearly and constructively" explained. We felt this was a good example of that.

Sunday, September 05, 2010


After a short hiatus, ‘this week in street harassment’ is back with a whole bunch of updates.

First of all, we have two internship opportunities for anyone who is interested in getting more involved in the movement to end street harassment:

Hollaback!NYC is looking for a Policy, Research and Development Intern to join our team of volunteers. Check out the details here and send cover letters to

RightRides for Women’s Safety is currently looking for a Media and Outreach Intern. RightRides for Women's Safety builds safer communities for women and LGBTQ individuals through community organizing, policy advocacy, direct service programs, and anti-violence education with the goal of fostering greater safety awareness and individual empowerment in New York City. The full job description is available here.

Check out this fantastic article on street harassment in London. This piece in The Guardian discusses how widespread street harassment is and the impact it has on women, as well as providing information about the anti-street harassment movement. Organizations like Hollaback! and the LASH campaign are leading the charge as women and LGBTQ folks speak out and the world starts to pay attention.

Also from the Guardian, some women, tired of being harassed while biking around the city, have started a Hollaback! style mapping project! Awesome. Also, why are there so many men out there who think that “hey- you should ride me” is a good line to use on cyclists???

Our own Emily May is interviewed at No Country for Young Women and reminds us that Hollaback! is all about creating a response. The situation can escalate if you yell and walking away gives you that horrible I-can’t-believe-I-have-to-internalize-this-crap-everyday feeling, but Hollaback gives you a way to respond and a community to support you!

This street harassment based webcomic could be my life on a bad day. Thank to the always entertaining and irreverent ladies at Jezebel for posting it - as they point out, having your experience dismissed and belittled can be as frustrating and painful as the original harassment.

Indonesia is the latest country to introduce women-only spaces on public transportation. While this obviously doesn’t do anything to address the larger issues that have made groping on trains such a problem (except perhaps for acknowledging that harassment is a serious and wide-spread issue that affects numerous women), it is a welcome relief in the mean time.

Finally, I know that this creep who has been walking around squirting semen on women is old news at this point, but on behalf of everyone here at Hollaback!, let me say EW.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

ON-THE-JOB: How to tackle drive-by harassment

I have a trick for you. Get a camcorder (I got a handheld mino camcorder) and when someone who is ON THE JOB, especially if it's "drive by harassment" and they're driving a company vehicle, take down the name (if possible) and license plate (definitely a must!) and report them! I have done it so many times (Well, not that many, lol) that I've gotten rid of some bad apples. Hell, the threat alone will scare them. AlSO, ALWAYS have a recording device. I do, and it scares them faster than a gun (especially if they're job is on the line or they're driving) I don't know if it will work in NY, but I know it works in Cali like a charm and better than any gun or pepper spray! Below is my street harassment report by an employee and how I'm handling it.

Dear Sir or Madam:

I want to report sexual harassment and outrageous behavior by your employee, G***, while on the job. On September 1, 2010, between the hours of 6:48 pm and 7pm, I was driving down Whilshire, away from Santa Monica and headed towards Beverly Hills when I noticed that your employee, took my picture, while he was driving. I inquired G*** as to whether he did it or not. He proudly said, "Yes, I did take your picture," with glee. When I started recording him, that is when he took off. I was able to get a pic of him and of his license plate, a Virginia license plate. I feel strongly that what he did was not only morally and ethically wrong and reflects badly of your company, but reflects an absolute disrespect for women and a perverted, predatory attitude towards us. Who knows how many women he has done this to as well as what he is doing with those pictures. Based on how G*** proudly proclaimed that he did it, it's obvious that he has done this predatory behavior in the past and has gotten away with it, which is why he felt so comfortable admitting to this. Women are not objects and I want to see Gene strongly reprimanded so that he won't do this behavior again or else the next time he does this, instead of the next victim reporting it, they'll decide to sue. In attachments are two stills from the video I took. My name is Raven Williams and my phone number is (witheld). Thank you for taking the time out to read my complaint and please take this matter fastidiously.

Submitted by Raven Williams

Your 'pathetic willy,' my badass Hollaback.

This morning I was waiting at the bus stop, on my way to work, when a skeezy looking dude sat near me. Out of the corner of my eye I could see that SOMETHING was going on. When I looked, he had everything out and was, shall we say, choking the chicken. I was the only person around. For a moment I was just shocked and didn’t know what to do, but then I remembered reading about street harassment and how important it is to react. So I did. I yelled and caused a scene. Sadly, no one else witnessed my brilliant display of swearing and gesticulating, but anyway, he left. I only wish I had said something clever about his pathetic willy.

I have had people yell out of car windows, make comments while walking next to me (‘do you like wearing g-strings?’ - I held eye contact and didn’t say a word until he freaked out and crossed the road) and all the rest of it happen to me, but I’ve never seen someone actually whip it out and give it a tug. Truly, what the hell?

Submitted by Sarah
Sydney, Australia

Street harassment teaches us to be silent. I refuse to listen.

I thought I'd submit this because it happened a few days ago and I'm still pissed off about it. I wish I knew what I could have done to make it better. I don't know if you'll be able to use this or not, but here goes.

My three roommates and I are coming back from a wonderful late dinner. We're all girls in our early twenties. I keep writing defensive sentences about our appearance ("we weren't dressed as clubgoers, we're all pretty average schlumpy nerds actually") and I really hate that I feel the need to do that, but anyway. As one of us is getting out her keys to get into the building, some scrawny young dude in a white t-shirt walks up to us, alone. "Hey. Hey. Hi. Hi. Hello, girls. Hi."

There goes the residual happiness from our awesome dinner out! We all do the classic 'oh fuck' maneuver of putting our heads down, turning away, ignoring every word and hoping the unwanted stranger goes away. A sick feeling of tension spreads through the group because we are awkward and afraid. I get so ANGRY, though. I am FURIOUS. If we'd had even one guy with us, I bet this scrawny fuck wouldn't be talking shit because he'd be scared, but a group of four girls is nothing, right? (Even though we could so take him. I bet we could so take him.) But to him we're nothing, and the fact that there is zero conceivable reason that four young women would want to communicate with some random strange guy at midnight on the Upper East Side just hasn't penetrated this fellow's thick cranium. What the hell doesn't he get? Why does he think this is okay? Does he get off on knowing he frightens and alarms us? (Yeah, probably.)

And this always happens. You always shut up because you don't want to say anything just in case you're talking to some crazy dangerous guy who'll flip out. You don't want to cause a scene, you don't want to embarrass anybody, you don't want your attempt at defending yourself to backfire. You want to close your eyes and for the issue to go away and then later you think, "I wish I would have said something. I could have said something."

Well FUCK THAT. I'm so SICK of shutting up all the time, and I want him to know that his actions are bloody unwelcome, so I DO say something. "It is midnight, and we are trying to get into our apartment. Nobody wants to talk to you. Go away," I snap at him furiously. My friends are all still quiet as the one roommate fumbles her keys in her nervousness. No one backs me up.

"Aw, now how you gonna talk to me like that? What if I was crazy and had a gun or a knife? What if I was one of them crazy guys that would just go all crazy on you?"

So many responses spring to mind ("Yeah, you wanna be crazy around the corner from a packed bar? You wanna act crazy in the middle of the street? You wanna watch me dial three crazy numbers on my crazy cell phone, idiot? Yeah, if you had that shit, wouldn't you have used it by now?"), but the tension is so thick and sour in my throat. I don't want to give credence to this fool's statement by engaging him in conversation. He isn't worth any of my time. He's obviously not there for any reasonable reason. No debate will register with this one, no argument will work. I don't want to act sweet or nice. I want to be that one mean-faced Bronx bitch you don't fuck with 'cause she's obviously crazy (read: can and will defend herself). But the roommate finally gets the keys to work, and we pile inside, shutting the door behind his insipid questions and implicit threats.

None of us bring this up ever again. It was our last night at the apartment, by the way, and our last dinner as a group, because the lease expired and we were going our separate ways. And it was one of the girl's birthdays, to boot. She turned 20. I still wish I could have said or done something that shut his cravenly, smug face up and make him rethink EVER harassing ANY female EVER again. FUCK him.

Submitted by Nathalie

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Minding my own business

I was walking to the office, minding my own business, and two guys from the other side of the street look at me. One of them yells, "Hey there lady!"

They were out of sight by the time I pulled out my camera.

Submitted by K.
Atlanta, GA