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Kate and I had the pleasure of attending Allston DIY Fest this weekend. It’s a local festival where artists, musicians, and activists come together for a day of music and fun. We had a table set up and facilitated a “skill share” where we shared tips for responding to street harassment and being an active bystander. It was a great day full of supportive and enthusiastic people. We met a ton of super rad people and even had people participate in our photobooth!
Unfortunately, I was harassed at the event, which really just proves why this work is so needed. I was working the Hollaback! Boston table alone and this guy came over and asked me what Hollaback was about. I told him. He started arguing with me, telling me that when he “sees something” he likes, he has to go after it because “men are hunters.” When I (much too politely) told him that I am not a “thing” or a piece of meat to be hunted, he told me that I wouldn’t understand because I don’t have to do the “hunting,” because I am “a pretty lady with ample breasts.” That was when I told him to get the fuck away from my table.
Around that time, a guy manning a table a couple down from us came over to make sure I was okay. We saw the guy talking to another girl, and the supportive guy went over to make sure it didn’t escalate. I started to get upset with myself because I hadn’t taken it to the organizers and I got paranoid that if he harassed another girl, it would be my fault. No matter how much you know about taking action and standing up for harassment, sometimes when the time comes, you just freeze. That happened to me.
But then I tweeted at the event organizers about what had happened, because I had to do something. They came over to our table immediately, made sure I was okay, apologized for what had happened, and got a description of the harasser. One of them went to find him and have a conversation with him and eventually asked him to leave. I was not the only woman that he made uncomfortable at the festival today, either.
What a great example of several forms of bystander intervention and of creating a community where people feel safe! I’m super grateful for everyone that had my back and am so, so stoked to have witnessed people coming together to stand up for someone (and not just because that person was me!). We saw some old friends and met some new ones and I hope we’ll be able to represent at the festival next year, too.
image credits: Kate Ziegler
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