Positive Thinking

New Facebook Cover Photos!

Check out these awesome designs by supporter Sarah Foye. Now you can tell the virtual world that you don’t stand for street harassment, you Hollaback! at it! Download directly from this post , our multimedia page, or see all 7 designs on our Facebook page!

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Positive Thinking, Verbal

Brussels and Baltimore in Brooklyn!

We had a chance to sit down with Anna, a native Baltimorean and current site leader for Hollaback! Brussels. Awesome! We interviewed each other about all kinds of things, including the differences in street harassment styles in our respective cities, community involvement, future projects, how an empowered individual can make a difference for many, and why Hollaback! is so awesome!

This is part one of a 3 part series. You can find Anna turning the tables on Shawna by interviewing her here and here!

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Positive Thinking

We visited Hollaback! HQ

Yep, while on a trip to NYC we stopped by the Hollaback! headquarters and had lunch with Executive Director Emily May and International Movement Coordinator Veronica Pinto. We talked about the latest campaign, an initiative to get Hollaback! onto school campuses, that is currently in fundraising mode. With statistics like this:

According to the AAUW, 62% of women and 61% of men report being sexually harassed on college campuses. 57% of students say they would like their college to offer a confidential web-based method for submitting complaints.

it should be easy to convince people that an empowering tool like Hollaback! is necessary to keep women and LGBTQIA folks feeling safe at school. Finals are hard enough, so street harassment is the last thing these young people should be worrying about.

Of course, we’re set to launch another “class” of Hollaback! sites as well so look out for a bunch of new cities around the world to holla from!

Also, you can tell Emily is the Exec. Director because she is dressed fancy, whereas I’m in punk rock casual.

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Groping, Leering, Lewd Behavior, Positive Thinking, Stalking, Verbal

Stuff People Say to Teen Girls

Yeah, girls. Not women. Girls. Girls as young as 7 have submitted stories to Hollaback! Now, we could wallow in sad facts like that, but we’d rather get out there and do something about it. Lucky for us, Hollaback! Philly feels the same way. They made this honest, funny and yeah, sad video about the things people say to young girls. Sure, this meme came and went but the message that street harassment is detrimental to the well being of over half the world still needs to be heard. So, enjoy:

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Assault, Groping, Lewd Behavior, Positive Thinking, Transphobic, Verbal

Interview: The Artists Behind FORCE: Upsetting Rape Culture

By Shawna Potter

Rebecca Nagle and Hannah Brancato are organizers, artists, activists and educators working in Baltimore, MD. Hannah Brancato began working to end violence against women when she created an art advocacy program based in a domestic violence shelter. She received her MFA in Community Art at the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA), a program focused on art as a means to create social justice; and is currently an adjunct professor in MICA’s Fiber Department and Art History Department. Rebecca Nagle is an internationally exhibited and collected artist with works in the New Museum, NY and Ssamzie Art Warehouse, South Korea. Nagle organizes Baltimore’s four-day international radical Transmodern Arts Festival and its queer cabaret the Charm City Kitty Club.

I had a chance to sit down with them at Rebecca’s art studio, located in Station North Arts District.

I had a blast at your launch party for YES! Consent Is Sexy and I was hoping to share more information with all of HOLLA-World. Can you tell us more about the history of FORCE: Upsetting Rape Culture?

HANNAH: It started out as an exhibition we curated at the Current Gallery in the fall of 2010 There was a huge crowd and a lot of conversation and we realized it was really important and we should do it again. So, we’re currently formulating a proposal to have the show tour several different colleges, some of them falling onto the top 10 party schools according to Playboy. Our rationale behind that is that the kind of dialogue that happened around FORCE would be really useful in the college setting, where a lot of date rape is happening.

REBECCA: In addition to our effort to upset and challenge the culture of rape, we’re also working to promote a counter culture of consent via a new underwear line called YES! Consent Is Sexy. It’s that extra reminder to check in with people with you’re in the heat of the moment.

You screened the underwear yourselves, choosing really bright, even fun, colors. Why is that?

REBECCA: We’re riffing off of Victoria’s Secret PINK line, targeted specifically towards high school and college age girls. This fall they came out underwear with these flirty statements like “unwrap me” or “jealous”, but a few of them struck a chord with us because we felt they reinforced this idea that “no” means “yes”. One of them says “NO” in big letters, and underneath in small letters it says, “peeking”. Another says, “STOP staring” and the other that is really disturbing is “Give a little, get a lot”. So it is this young, liberated sexuality, but it is reinforcing these ideas that “No” and “Stop” are not ways for young women to set boundaries, but are ways for them to flirt, and that is not OK.

Your underwear has statements like “Yes”, “No, “Maybe” and “Ask First”, which your website says helps to “celebrate our belief that good communication creates good sex”, but some might ask: is it too late to emphasize communication when the pants are already off?

REBECCA: No! (laughs) I feel like that is the most important time to emphasize communication. I think that the whole consent conversation isn’t just whether or not you want someone in your bed. Sex is so complicated and varied, as are people’s personal boundaries, and a lot of unwanted sexual experiences come from assumptions. Someone assuming that because you’ve given the green light for this, you’ve given them the green light for this, that, and the other. I think our culture has this idea that rape is a very clear situation of someone physically overpowering someone else. The reality of a lot of sexual violence and coercion, the way that people are actually experiencing it, is a lot more confusing. I think the only way to combat that holistically is to promote an alternative, to promote consent and communication.

What about the times when gaining consent is not a priority, when there is a clear-cut perpetrator and victim?

HANNAH: We realize that rape is used as a weapon of war and that it can be perpetrated by strangers, and that there are a lot of issues besides this one part we are tackling. We are fully aware of that. But this is one of the ways in which a lot of people are experiencing rape and it is one of the ways that we feel that we can do something about it. We feel that we can actually change some of those perceptions. If this exhibition is successful, we can start to create some of those connections and solidarity with those people who are working towards ending gender-based violence at all levels. We know this is not the only way rape is happening, but it is one of the ways that rape is not being recognized for what it is, and that is the biggest issue. (more…)

Positive Thinking, Verbal

“Heeeey, Legs” ran away! – Ellyn’s story

I was walking to my building when I crossed the street and passed an older man standing on the corner. He had been staring at me from across the street, so I just didn’t look at him as I passed by. As I passed I could see him look me up and down, and then I heard him say, “Heeeey, legs!” as I was walking away. Usually, I just keep walking and try to brush it off. Not today though–I turned around, gave him a disgusted look and said, “That is COMPLETELY inappropriate, you don’t say that to people!”

I must have startled him because he immediately ran the other way and didn’t look back.

That is the first time I’ve ever said anything to someone harassing me on the street, and it felt good!

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Positive Thinking

Street Harassment: A Human Rights Issue?


By using the Universal Declaration of Human Rights there may be no confusion as to whether Street Harassment is a Human Rights issue. Article 1 states:

“All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.”

By telling a woman she has “ a great rack”, calling a gay man a “fucking faggot”, or removing one’s penis from its appropriate abode in public is not behaving in the “spirit of brotherhood”, not by any stretch of the imagination. Street Harassment is a Human Rights issue.

Article 2:

“Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, color, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.”

“Everyone” includes women and LGBTQ individuals, everyone has the right to express themselves freely in public spaces without fear of abuse from strangers. A transgender person has the right to identify his or herself in the way that feels natural to them, as a woman has the right to dress as she pleases without threat or aggravation. Street Harassment is a Human Rights issue.

Article 3:

“Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.”

Women and LGBTQ individuals have the right to live and express themselves in public spaces without worry of being badgered, stalked, flashed, groped, abused, whistled at, masturbated at or raped. Street Harassment is a Human Rights issue.

Article 5:

“No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.”

Calling a transgender person ‘it’ a ‘tranny’ or a ‘heshe’ is inhumane, degrading, torturous and cruel. Physically attacking a gay person because of their sexual orientation is inhumane, degrading, torturous and cruel. Putting your hand up a woman’s skirt on the subway is inhumane, degrading, torturous and cruel. Street Harassment is a Human Rights issue.

Perpetrators of Street Harassment may argue that it is their human right to express themselves freely, but at this point it is relevant to refer to the ‘spirit of brotherhood’ cited in Article 1, as connotations of brotherhood do not include any form of abuse be it physical or verbal. Street Harassment is unquestionably a Human Rights issue.

Question answered. Revolution Started.


Originally posted on iHollaback.org January 6th, 2012.

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Positive Thinking

Our choice of how to view street harassment matters

By Laurel Long for Hollaback Bmore!

In January of 2011, I started working on an undergraduate thesis on street harassment. This began with me reading everything I could get my hands on about street harassment. Unfortunately, there is not a lot of academic literature on the topic; what few articles do exist tend to be on the blogosphere, which is not a source a student can frequently cite for a paper. This shows street harassment, with its accompanying terror, is made invisible by the academy. Therefore, it is likely not mentioned in Women’s Studies or Sociology classes, limiting students’ likelihood of considering the subject of relevance. Yet, perusing academic literature, one can find articles on every aspect of sexual harassment in the workplace and school environments. Who benefits from street harassment being left off the table? Not women.

Anyone who has written a serious academic paper knows that it is your job to explain exactly why your findings are relevant. Clearly, street harassment is of importance because it (negatively) affects so many women, but it is also significant as it plays a role in keeping women subordinate to men. I believe it’s important to not just hold individual men accountable for their behavior, but to step back and look at what role men’s street harassment of women and other target groups plays in a patriarchal society. We need to ask: why is street harassment used as a weapon against women? In my opinion, part of the answer to this is that it keeps public space marked as male territory. It also is part of a larger set of male violence against women, as the reason women are afraid of what might seem like minor cat-calling to men, is that sexual innuendos are backed up by the threat of sexual assault. Many women, including street harassed women, are survivors of sexual assault, battery, and rape. As Turkheimer notes, “A hierarchy looks very different from the bottom than from the top.” Thus, in order to help women feel comfortable sharing their experiences of street harassment, I limited my groups to women only.

Several of my participants proposed “raising your kids right” as a way to prevent street harassment. However, children do not exist outside of the society in which they live. When there are rewards for harassing women—respect from peers, affirmation of a dominant, heterosexual identity—how one is raised doesn’t get to the root of the problem. It also doesn’t take into account that street harassment is one part of a male-centered, male-identified, and male-dominant society. Nor do parental actions do anything about the fact that there are zilch consequences for almost all street harassers. If men gain from harassing, and can do so with impunity, what incentive is there to stop?

Most women I interviewed did not think that legal measures against street harassment can be feasibly implemented. One reason for this is that street harassment is currently such a vague, subjective term. Yet, sexual harassment in the workplace and schools is prosecutable, although women do not monolithically agree on what constitutes sexual harassment. While I am also wary of involvement of the legal system, I do think having a law in place says that women matter and that we cannot be hurt in this way. Even having signs up about such a law might ward off some men from harassing women and other target groups. We need to remember that once issues such as incest and battery seemed overwhelming to deal with. Think how far we have come legally on these issues in a matter of decades. Then think where we can be in another few decades with the issue of street harassment. Re-starting consciousness raising (CR) groups to talk about street harassment and other issues that affect women’s lives would no doubt be helpful as well. As long as we keep quiet about street harassment, declaring it not important enough to talk about, it will never be defined as a problem. I am positive that we will figure out a way to deal with the problem posed by defining street harassment when working to end street harassment. Don’t take that to mean I need to be ordered to “smile, baby,” just because I am optimistic about the direction of this movement.

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Positive Thinking

Our first annual “State of the Streets Report”

We’ve had an incredible year, and we want to celebrate it with you. Without you, none of this would have been possible. With you, everything is possible. Thanks for everything. We can’t wait to see what we create together in 2012!

Check it out below:

Open publication

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Positive Thinking


BY EMILY MAY, executive director of Hollaback!

Over the past year and half I have struggled, celebrated, struggled, and celebrated again in the process of getting Hollaback! off the ground. There were those first eight months when I didn’t get a salary and ate a lot of rice and beans (I hate rice). Then there was the ridiculous amounts of press we got (People, Time, CNN, ABC, NPR, what! what!) or me flying around the world to spread the gospel. If you’ve ever met me, I’ve probably tried to convince you to volunteer for Hollaback!. So many of you did, whether it was a little tweet or a major undertaking.

Today the result is nothing short of an activist fairytale. We are in 45 cities, in 16 countries, and in 9 different languages. We’re partnering with government, we’ve taken down four major corporations to date (for being jerks), and on any given day there are over 200 people around the world working to bring Hollaback! to life, even though only two of us get paid. Here’s the funny part about starting a revolution though: only awesome people get it. Institutions? Not so much. People with tons money? Very rarely. We’re working overtime to fix this little problem and bring on an earned income revenue stream, but for right now we’re staring down a budget gap the size of disaster in January. It’s super scary, I’m not going to lie.

So I’m heading straight towards the honeypot of awesome on this one (that is you). We’re having a campaign right now to raise $25,000 before December 31st to keep this movement moving. I want you – yes you – to give. Scratch that: I NEED YOU TO GIVE. And I need you get everyone else you know to give too. We’ve got 25 sites already signed up to launch this Spring, and we can’t stop now. Please donate. And let’s end 2011 with a bang.

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