New submission from Jessica

Everyday I walk to the bus stop so I can take the bus into work. At this intersection, whenever I cross the street, I am harassed. I have men stick their heads out the window. Drive slowly next to me while I walk. Circle around to look at me again. Yell things, give crude gestures, today someone made sexual moaning noises at me. It gets to the point where I don’t feel comfortable crossing the street anymore.

I can deal with the bit of harassment. I’m used to it by now. Men who won’t take no for an answer at the bar, who try to talk to me at the laundromat when I am clearly reading, who lick their lips as I walk down the sidewalk. But when I can’t do a simple thing like cross a street without being shouted at? Things need to change.

I've got your back!

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New submission from phone app

On I-10 to Tucson. Truck driver has a sign in the window saying, “flash me”.

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Internet Tidbits

According to the Huffington Post and a survey by Stop Street Harassment, 24% of American women do not exercise out of fear of being harassed or assaulted.

On Nov. 17, hundreds of people marched down the streets of Brighton in protest against harassment and to reclaim the night. The protest walk was organized by the Brighton Feminist Collective [The Argus].

Activists in Egypt are now harassing street harassers. After seeing too many men harassing women, the “vigilantes” took matters into their own hands, literally. Violence should never be used to quell violence, but it is encouraging to hear activists are protesting an issue that has been in large part ignored by the Egyptian government and police force [NYT].

Hollaback! founder Emily May was chosen as a “Next Maker” in AOL’s Makers: Women Who Make America Awards. Her story and efforts will be featured in a documentary. Congratulations Emily! It is so gratifying to see someone honored who truly deserves the recognition.

Note: I have to admit I am deeply impressed with the other volunteers and their efforts to make Hollaback! known in their city. I realize the SLO chapter has not reached its potential yet, but I am confident about 2013 and its new direction. We will be working with Cal Poly organizations to really make Hollaback! an integral part of SLO’s safety net.

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Homophobic harassment on Cal Poly campus

On National Coming Out Day (Oct. 11), someone wrote a homophobic slur on a street sign. While we cannot express how disappointed we are of the perpetrator, fortunately, groups and individuals on campus have declared their support for the Cal Poly LGBTQIA community. Many students took to Facebook proclaiming their disgust for the vandal, President Jeffrey Armstrong sent a campus-wide e-mail and the Gender Equity Center (GEC) has provided and will keep providing LGBTQI ally training.

More information can be found at the Mustang Daily website.


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A tumblr post about street harassment

The following post has been reblogged countless times on Tumblr. When I read it, I felt that I had to share it with you guys.

Click Here.

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commentary, get involved, hollaback! around the world

When the cops won’t budge

Concerning street harassment, one of the major issues people have to deal with is that frequently, the police force won’t help. Especially in countries where women do not have the same rights politically and/or culturally, women must often deal with the fear and trauma while realizing there isn’t a system backing them up. As far as street harassment goes, the news has seen a prevalence of comments by men and women claiming their city’s police force has shrugged their shoulders, or worse, laughed. And let’s not even get started on the security in Cairo…

According to The Daily Star, women in Lebanon have frequently commented on an increased issue with public masturbators. A member of the sexual harassment initiative, Adventures of Salwa, said public masturbation is often discussed in the organization’s workshops and meetings. Furthermore, the web forum Resistant Forum Lebanon has also seen a flurry of comments about the disgust and helplessness victims have felt when dealing with a public masturbator. According to the article, Lebanese law prohibits indecent public exposure, but there is no law to decree this behavior as sexual harassment. Women believe, as one woman tells The Daily Star, that the police will probably laugh at them since reporting it is so unheard of.

If I wanted to write down all the unresolved street/sexual harassment cases occurring in the past day, it would probably take me the entire day to do so. That is why Hollaback! is here. If we all spoke up about what’s actually going on in daily life to women (and more frequently than we think, men), and unified all our efforts, I think the Internet may become the watchdog and security necessary to finally abolishing this problem.

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Can women even travel to Egypt anymore?

A recent advice column in The Atlantic gave some drastic advice: women should not go to Cairo. Jeffrey Goldberg began his column by admitting his love for the city. However, within a few sentences, Goldberg said, “But I swear, if one of my daughters ever says she’s off to visit Egypt, I’ll lay myself down in front the plane.” His dramatic statement precedes a horrific story by journalist Natasha Smith, which I highly suggest anyone interested in street harassment to read. It is hard to imagine the fear and trauma that must occur on a daily basis in Cairo and even more difficult to know what the solution or solutions are. Thankfully, Natasha Smith is one woman who was able to escape the streets of Cairo, but it must be heartbreaking and terrifying for those who consider Cairo their home.

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commentary, news

When a bystander acts violently

Last week, a young woman named Kelsey (last name undisclosed) punched a man after he made a “rape joke” about a woman who rejected his advances. Afterwards, Kelsey took to her Tumblr and published a post about how she did not regret her actions and added a photo of herself grinning with a busted hand. The blog post created chaos; thousands reposted her words and hundreds were sending her messages. While Jezebel writer Katie J.M Baker deemed her a hero, Kelsey received so much negative feedback (including messages telling her that she deserved to be raped) that she posted a comment acknowledging violence as the wrong reaction, but admitted she still did not regret her actions. Kelsey explained, “I’m not telling people to go out and hit ‘everybody who offends you’ (though many of you are believing that was the point). However, I do believe that serious action needs to be taken towards rape culture.” The threats and harsh comments caused her to remove the blog and give her story to the police.

After reading a few blog reactions and comments about Kelsey, I was confused about how I felt. I was mainly disgusted by the negative commenters, who seemed to disturbingly loathe the twenty-year-old girl. I would never advocate violence from a victim or bystander, but commenters called her derogatory terms, said the man should have punched her back (if she wants life to be fair) and argued that she was just as bad as the man for reacting violently. I read several responses to Kelsey telling her to get the joke; he would have never actually raped the woman.

So here is my problem. Kelsey should not have done what she had done. Violence is never the answer ever. However, in no way is it acceptable for Internet users to victimize and degrade her for speaking out on her blog. I have to raise the question: if a man punched another man for making an obscene joke threat, would the Internet try to break him down? Would people threaten him until he felt the need to go to the police and rescind into anonymity? Kelsey acted irresponsibly, but a large amount of people decided to enact their own consequences upon her. Through bullying and harassment, they succeeded in quieting another voice. In my personal opinion, they behaved in a more dangerous manner than Kelsey did.  She went to the police, admitted her crime and now she’s just hoping she’s safe. What consequences will these Internet users receive for their actions?

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