Britni, Noteworthy

Things That Are Fun: Riding A Bike, Going To The Beach, Dancing. Things That Are Never Fun: Responding To Street Harassment.

Director’s Note: This post was originally published on Britni’s personal blog, but it’s a perspective we want to include here as well. The conversation about our individual blind spots as we work to make public space safer for everyone is an important one, and the response – including that of the Cards Against Harassment creator – has been open-minded, constructive and positive. Share your thoughts in the comments! And, see Lindsay’s response to Britni’s original piece at the end of this cross-post – we want to recognize her for being open to learning and criticisms, and for her thoughtful response. –Kate

Unless you’ve been living under a rock somewhere, you’ve probably seen something about Cards Against Harassment. The cards, and their creator, Lindsay, have gone viral on the internet in the last few weeks. The premise behind them is a simple one– when a man harasses you on the street, you hand them one of the downloadable cards with snappy comebacks on them. In general, I’m not against this kind of response to street harassment. In fact, Hollaback! Boston makes our own creeper cards that can be handed out to people should the victim of harassment feel safe enough to do so.

This last point is an important one. Responding to street harassment is a tricky thing and it is different for every person. We all carry different identities with us, and some of those identities make speaking up more difficult. Which is why I was horrified when @feministajones tweeted about the drop page last night, pointing out that this is what you see when you visit the homepage of Cards Against Harassment:

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*deep breath*, you guys. Because WHOA, do I have a lot to say about why this is incredibly misguided. I think that it is ignorant and dangerous to paint responding to street harassment as something “fun.” Even if you feel safe enough to respond in some way, this isn’t something fun. Responding to street harassment always carries a risk of escalation. It can be a very dangerous thing to do, and it is not for everyone. You never know how the harasser is going to respond and if they are going to get angry and lash out. Don’t believe me? I can cite example after example of women who were attacked or killed for standing up to harassers. Do you think responding to street harassment was “fun” for CeCe McDonald? Was it “fun” for Islan Nettles? What about for the 14-year-old girl who was run over by a car for refusing her harasser? I’m willing to bet that none of those women would tell you that responding to street harassment is fun.

Feeling safe enough to respond to street harassment requires some kind of privilege. The more marginalized identities you carry with you, the less safe you are to speak up when someone harasses you because the harassers know that people are less likely to care about you if something happens. All women are not created equal in the eyes of society. It’s important to acknowledge that a white woman carries more privilege with her than a woman of color. Cisgender women carry more privilege than transwomen. Women of color and transwomen run higher risk of their confrontations escalating than white cisgender women do. This is not to say that white cisgender women will never face escalation, because we all know that is untrue. I’ve experienced it myself. But what I am saying is that statistics show that women of color and transwomen experience violence at disproportionately higher rates.



My problem is not with the cards themselves. It’s with the fact that there is no disclaimer or seeming recognition that they may not be a safe solution for everyone to use. There seems to be no recognition of Lindsay’s own privilege or understanding that others may lack it. Yes, she links to Stop Street Harassment and Hollaback! as resources, but not everyone is going to click through to them. And this is not the first time that a woman of color has found issue with Cards Against Harassment’s intersectionality. Over at Autostraddle, Hannah Hodson writes:

…it is hard to ignore the plainly evident: the majority of the people Lindsey embarrasses are men of color. Despite protestations that she has approached both white men and women about street harassment, Lindsey’s videos clearly illustrate the disproportionate prevalence of street harassment in communities of color (read: poor and working class urban communities).

You can call it “pulling the race card.” You can call it “white-splaining.” However, it is clear there is a racial and cultural element that Lindsey is anxious to avoid by literally cutting Jared off. When a Black person says to a white person, something racist is happening, it is said white person’s responsibility to respond by saying, you might be right, please explain. Lindsey has been quoted saying, “Though I’m filming as I’m encountering experiences, I’m in no way attempting to target a specific demographic…Sexism is sexism.” Sure, Lindsey isn’t seeking to approach men of color (though, her daily commute involves public transportation, mostly used by people of color), but in the end these are the men who end up lambasted on her website. “Sexism is sexism” is exactly the kind of language used to deny any kind of intersectionality within the feminist movement. It is the kind of language that sparked #SolidarityIsForWhiteWomen. It is the kind of language that denies Black women the agency to approach problems that are prevalent in their own communities.

It’s important to understand that my experience of sexism does not erase a man of color’s experience of racism. These are both completely valid understandings of our own lived experiences. Does a black man’s experience of racism excuse his harassing behavior? Of course not. But to ignore the reality of his lived experience is racist. Oppressions overlap. Shit gets complicated. But it’s not okay for me to tell a man of color that he’s not experiencing racism because of course he is. Society is racist. He experiences racism every day, in the same way that I experience sexism every day.

And this language of erasure that is used in the videos and website of Cards Against Harassment, this language that “denies black women the agency to approach problems that are prevalent in their own communities” is why Feminista Jones started #YouOKSis. She says:

…the movement still continues to be focused on white women, often opposite men of color or black men. Sometimes it gets into, These savage black men are preying on precious white women. That narrative in the United States has gotten many black men jailed and killed. I wanted to focus on black women’s experiences with [harassment] from anyone. It could be white men, Asian men, women—I’ve talked about being harassed by two lesbian women. But I wanted to center our voices, because I feel like black women’s voices are not always amplified.

As a white, cisgender woman, here’s what I want to say: we deserve to have a voice and we get to own our own experiences of street harassment. But we do not get to own a universal experience of street harassment. Because even though I experience harassment on a near-daily basis and even though I fear for my safety when that happens, I also have to recognize that my lived experience is not the same as a woman of color’s experience or a transwoman’s experience of a TWoC’s experience or a visibly queer person’s experience. And it is therefore not on me to pretend to know what that’s like. And when I create a movement that ignores the differences that we all have, one that does not acknowledge that those differences exist, I’m pretending to speak for everyone by omitting the fact that I don’t.

When I make cards that look like this, I’m missing an intersectional lens on my work:


It’s not just “poorly behaved children” who blurt out everything that pops into their head. That’s an ableist assumption. People with Tourette’s, dementia, or autism may behave this way. And children that *do* blurt out everything that pops into their head are not necessarily “poorly behaved.” They’re children. They’re learning. They’re using their voice. And that’s perfectly okay.

When I make cards that look like this, I’m missing an intersectional lens on my work:


Because as Feminista Jones points out:


I seriously hope that Lindsday has never handed that card about how someone’s mother failed to raise him properly to a man of color, when we know that black women have the highest rates of single motherhood. Not only that, not everyone has a mother and even if they do, I don’t like the idea of somehow blaming another woman for her son’s misogynist behavior.

So yes, maybe Cards Against Harassment are empowering to some people. And that’s AWESOME. But they are not empowering to all people, and they may not even be an option for some people. And that’s okay, but we need to acknowledge that. Responding to street harassment gets people killed. That is a very real reality for some people. They live with that fear every day. And making this sound like a game, one where you get to hand out cheeky cards to harassers to see how they respond, is dangerous. Because street harassment is not a game. It’s very much a matter of life and death for some people.


From Cards Against Harassment creator, Lindsay:

Thank you for the valuable feedback. Although there were in fact already several disclaimers on the site (see, e.g., the About page, which has not been edited) the unanticipated viral sharing of the project absolutely carries with it a heightened responsibility for more appropriate messaging than what I initially designed for myself. The originally playful tone of the site was adopted because my male colleagues, relatives, and friends have been very quick to label objections to street harassment as “humorless angry feminist” rantings; my hope was that by maintaining a playful tone in my site (which was designed for myself, the men I handed cards to, and my immediate peer group who didn’t quite get why this was an issue), men visiting the site would be able to focus on the underlying messaging rather than immediately write it off as unpalatable feminist ire. However, I too share a great deal of concern that this personal project has gotten the attention that it has when other established campaigns which are healthier and more universally appropriate have not gone as viral, transforming the original message (here’s something I did when I had had enough) into a more dangerous message (i.e. here is something other women should do.) (You may ask, why not pull the site altogether if I share that concern, and the answer is I’ve received thousands of emails from other women who do think the cards might be right for them, so I am trying to strike a balance.) I have updated the site with several more prominent disclaimers and to remove some of the language you noted as more problematic when viewed in a larger context. I am also going to be pulling the ableist card.

I certainly don’t expect you to update your post because all of the criticism you note remains valid and an appropriate part of the conversation, but wanted to reach out and thank you for the feedback.

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Hollaback! Boston, Kate, Local News, Noteworthy, Shared Stories

“I was called a nazi bitch for refusing to tell a stranger on the sidewalk what medical care I sought.” | Kate’s Testimony

Last week, I was asked to share my story at a hearing on the recently filed bill to provide narrow protections of (and repercussions for impeding access to) reproductive healthcare clinics in the wake of the Supreme Court ruling striking down Massachusetts’ former buffer zone law.

As I sat waiting to give testimony, I noticed that the audience members sitting behind me were whispering furiously, and not terribly discretely, through any pro-choice testimony. As Megan Amundson of NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts explained to the committee that her written testimony also included the stories of several victims of harassment who wished to remain anonymous, I heard a clear snort of derision. “How convenient!” my neighbors sneered. “Anonymous testimony.”

In that moment, my reasons for testifying, for sharing my story publicly and for the record, were reaffirmed: talking about one’s own most vulnerable moments, those moments which left such a mark on the memory that they cannot be shaken even as we move beyond them, is uncomfortable. It is to reopen that vulnerability, to experience the fear and the fury once more, and it is – frankly – unpleasant. And yet, my clinic harassment tale was not one in which I was physically assaulted, nor which caught me at a particularly trying time in my life; at first, I laughed it off, only shared the odd experience with my partner, and moved on. But sharing our stories, just like the shared stories of street harassment submitted to Hollaback! Boston, begins to change the conversation; shared stories show the breadth and diversity of experience, and shared stories from those who feel safe enough to attach their real name lend a credibility and an individuality that strengthens the testimony.

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I am, fortunately, in a position to share. I am thankful to feel safe at home and at work, both physically and emotionally, and to have a strong support system; the repercussions and consequences I fear from speaking out, publicly and loudly, are not unfounded, but the risk is less than others may face. As a site leader for Hollaback! Boston, I regularly encourage victims and bystanders to speak up, to start the conversation, to testify; how could I, in good conscience, remain silent – especially faced with those whispered accusations of falsehood? “How convenient. Anonymous testimony.”

Here is my testimony from the hearing. It is not anonymous. It happened, to me, in 2008, and it was very real and very terrifying and very much NOT counseling, but harassment. Experiences like these are why protestors around clinics are a public safety concern. Experiences like these are why clinic patients and visitors and staff fear for their safety in public space. Experiences like these are why Hollaback! Boston has partnered with coalitions working to pass a replacement to the buffer zone law, and soon – because EVERYONE has a right to feel safe on our streets.

If you, too, would like to share your story of harassment and intimidation, at a reproductive health care clinic or anywhere else, Hollaback! Boston is here as a resource and a platformand anonymous stories are always welcome! We are honored to publish the experiences that Bostonians have entrusted to us, and we intend to continue offering a space to safely share, to learn, to testify, and to spark conversation and prompt change.


Chairman Brownsberger, Vice Chairman Markey, Members of the Committee – thank you for the opportunity to address you today.

I urge you to support the Safe Access Bill so people can access health care without feeling unsafe. Even when simply accessing birth control, protestors outside clinics are intimidating and threatening, and we need to ensure safe access to health care in the wake of the Supreme Court decision striking down the buffer zone law.

I’ve been on hormonal birth control, in various forms, since I was 18. From my first period at 13, my cycles were abnormal, irregular and wholly unpredictable; to regulate them, I was prescribed Yasmin, a dual-hormone daily birth control pill, and it worked wonders.

For a time in 2006 and 2007, my birth control costs, no longer covered by insurance while I was a student in Boston, rose above $70 per month. The increased price was a burden. In late 2007, in an effort to be more responsible with my money, I decided to seek out a less expensive alternative. Without a local OB/GYN, I headed to Planned Parenthood. I was prescribed a different dual-hormone generic at a much more reasonable price point, but I had to go to PPLM every month to pick up my pills.

And so, I did.

One month, on a weekday morning, I arrived at Planned Parenthood in Boston to pick up pills on my way to work as a Northeastern co-op. There were just a handful of protestors outside the clinic, lining the yellow buffer zone painted on the sidewalk, and I locked my bike a bit away from the entrance. As I approached, someone asked why I was there – I assured him it was a private question I didn’t intend to answer, certainly not on the street.

Before I could duck inside the clinic, this counselor escalated his rhetoric: “You nazi bitch, you should be ashamed!”

I turned, shocked, and asked him to repeat himself. He did, and added other vitriol. I asked, from the perceived safety of the doorway far within the yellow line, what he had against a woman seeking medical care, before ducking inside, shaking as I passed through the requisite metal detectors.

That protestor was still there when I left. I was terrified that he would follow me to where I had locked my bike, and furious that I felt ashamed and frightened leaving the clinic with the birth control pills that my doctors prescribed. All of this, on a weekday morning.

Let me reiterate:

I was called a nazi bitch for refusing to tell a stranger on the sidewalk what medical care I sought.

I was told to be ashamed for consulting with doctors about my own health care.

Though it would have been simpler, I never had the courage to stop by the Boston clinic on a Saturday to pick up my pills; the fear of a protestor singling me out, engaging me beyond the clinic vicinity, following me as I left, seemed too great, the possibility of confrontation too real, and I was only seeking medication. I was terrified to face harassment on my way out, or to spend time unlocking my bike or waiting for the T to finish my commute. Ultimately, I was driven to find a different provider to avoid the stress of the clinic; I am fortunate now to afford to make that decision.

What is at stake here is the ability of people, women and trans men and queer folks who might rely on clinic services for any number of reasons, having their options limited because someone else made them feel unsafe in public, and unsafe accessing their doctors. Please lend your support to the Safe Access Bill so that others can feel safer accessing health care than I have.

image credit: NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts

Britni, Hollaback! Boston, Local News, Shared Stories

Clinic Harassment? Hollaback and Help #ProtectTheZone!

You probably know that the basis of Hollaback! Boston’s work revolves around sharing stories of street harassment on our site. But did you know that we also accept stories of abortion clinic harassment? IT’S TRUE! We do. And if you have one to share, we encourage you to submit it to us. BUT WHY?


Recently, the Supreme Court of the United States struck down the 35-foot buffer zone that has existed outside Massachusetts abortion clinics since the 1994 shooting of 7 people at 2 Boston-area clinics. They determined that the buffer zone was a violation of protesters’ free speech.

But we all know that abortion clinic protesters are not just politely standing outside clinics asking you nicely to reconsider your decision. They use tactics like intimidation, harassment, and violence. And that makes for some very unsafe public spaces, which is what we are actively working to change here in Boston.

Luckily, Mass politicians are taking this issue seriously and are working on legislation to put protections back in place. This new legislation was filed earlier today by Senator Harriette Chandler. It’s titled An Act to Promote Public Safety and Protect Access to Reproductive Health Care Facilities.

However, in order to strengthen the case for protections outside of clinics, the courts need to know how necessary these protections are. And the way that we can let them know is to hear from YOU! Your stories can change the world and here is an opportunity to do just that.

Have you been harassed outside of an abortion clinic? Tell us about it. Feel free to submit anonymously if you’d like. Tweet us @HollabackBoston. Tweet using the hashtags #protectthezone, #jointhedissent, and #notmybossbusiness.

Every story matters, and every story makes our case stronger. Protecting the zone starts with telling your story to the world. You have the power to help us ensure that everyone in Mass can seek reproductive healthcare in safety.

Not sure what we’re talking about? Here are some resources:

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And don’t forget to check out coverage of the Supreme Rally, which we were proud to co-sponsor!


image credits: 1-NARAL Pro Choice MA; 2-Kate Ziegler

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Amy, Hollaback! Boston, Introducing

Introducing: Amy!

Our third and final introduction for our summer team is our Collegiate Intern, Amy! Amy is a rising senior at Scripps College where she is studying English and Hispanic Studies. She spent last summer in New York City, where she first began to see the severity of street-harassment as a social problem. She’s ready to Hollaback!, and we’re so glad to have her on board to jump-start our Safer Spaces campaign and to help develop our Campus Ambassador program for the fall. Welcome, Amy!

introducing: amy! // hollaback! boston

Tell us about yourself – what are you into? I am a bi-coastal, feminist, extrovert, English major, going into my senior year at an incredible women’s college in Southern California. I am in love with my friends and constantly need to be surrounded by chaos. I am also the middle of five children, all of whom are conveniently among my best friends and most reliable sources of chaos.

Define your style: My style was once described by a friend as “preppy hippy”, and I’d say that is fairly accurate. I love flannel shirts, lady-like dresses, and (shamelessly) socks with my Birkenstocks.

Favorite Boston fact: I always thought it was fun that Boston streets were said to have originally been formed by cow paths, which were then paved over. It’s a random fact I like to tell my friends from L.A. when boasting about the charm and character of Boston. But as a Google search has just informed me, the “cow paths” explanation is likely a myth… I’ve been living a lie.

Your favorite place in Boston? My siblings and I do an annual Christmas-gift shopping trip to Harvard Square, and I love how festive that part of the city is around the holidays. But I’ve recently loved going out with my friends around there too, its a great crowd.

Have you experienced/witnessed street harassment in Boston? What stood
out most in your memory? I always feel the most uncomfortable and aware on the T into the city with my friends. As a group of young women, dressed up for a night out, this is often reason enough for (usually) drunk guys to start talking at us and asking nosy questions, and then being very dramatic about my unfriendliness. The “calm down, sweetheart” variety of remarks tend to piss me off the most.

What’s your signature response to street harassment – your go-to
Hollaback? I’m not sure I have really worked out a go-to response, it depends on the situation. I think more often than not my response is either ignoring the remark or giving the most, unimpressed, disgusted look I can muster. I respond to more relentless harassers or ones in a closer proximity (like on the T) with a very stern, “I don’t know you”.

Your superpower is… Arguing. Although it is not my most positive quality, I have an incredible ability to talk my way out of being wrong. It’s a blessing and a curse.

What are you excited about in 2014? Already I am excited about being home for the summer, I haven’t been back for longer than three weeks at a time in the past year, and I can’t wait to settle in and enjoy Boston for a few months. I’m also excited about a potential cross-country road trip at the end of the summer to bring my car out to school for senior year – definitely a bucket-list activity.

What inspires you? The women in my life have always been my constant source of inspiration and wisdom, and I am endlessly socializing as a result. Lately though I’ve given more thought to what the men around me also have to say, some of the most enlightening conversations I’ve had about feminism have been with my older brother!

If you could leave the world one piece of advice, what would it be? Write a letter to your grandma, it will be the most well-spent 15 minutes of your day.


image credit: Amy Cannistraro

“Introducing” is an ongoing series in which we ask bloggers, activists, allies, entrepreneurs and assorted Bostonians about their inspirations, motivations, super powers and experiences with street harassment. If you know someone you think we should feature here, please drop us a line!

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Britni, Events, Hollaback! Boston, Local News

On The SCOTUS, Buffer Zones, and The Fight For Bodily Autonomy: The Intersection of Street Harassment and Reproductive Justice

Unless you’ve been living under a rock the past week, chances are you’ve heard about two rulings passed down from the Supreme Court of the United States that strike large blows to our access to reproductive healthcare. The first of these rulings struck down the 35 foot buffer zone that exists outside of Massachusetts abortion clinics and the second ruled that employers could refuse to cover an employee’s contraception if it goes against said employer’s religious beliefs. Both of these rulings are troubling for a variety of reasons, and while it might seem obvious why an anti-street harassment organization is addressing the buffer zone ruling, we have good reason to be publicly addressing both of these rulings. Because street harassment and reproductive justice are two pieces of the same pie– both of these issues make up the larger fight against the patriarchy and our society that tries to control women’s bodies, along with the bodies of anyone trans* or gender non-conforming or queer, too.

be yourself, change the world: boston pride 2014 // hollaback! boston

According to research complied by Nikki Tuttle,  Hollaback!’s LSRJ Summer Intern, reproductive justice focuses on the “control and exploitation of women’s bodies, sexuality and reproduction as an effective strategy of controlling women and communities,” because controlling a woman’s body consequently “controls her life, options, and potential.”[1] Similarly, street harassment negatively impacts and ultimately controls women (and female-identified persons) by denigrating and exploiting their physical appearance (including gender presentation and bodies), their social and community status (through stereotyping), their sexuality, and their reproductive potential. We can, of course, expand this to include trans*, gender non-conforming, and queer bodies, too. We know that women are not the only people accessing reproductive healthcare, just like we know that women are not the only people whose bodies are commented on when they are in public space.

Both of these rulings by the SCOTUS are further attempts to control what marginalized populations do with their bodies, and this time that message has been sent from one of the most powerful institutions in the country. Is it any wonder that the fight to end gender-based violence seems futile at times? How can we expect the general population to get the message that everyone should be treated equally, that men are not entitled to women and trans* folks’ bodies, that harassment is a form of violence when the highest court in the nation is sending the opposite message? These decisions are basically making misogyny explicitly acceptable.

For our work here in Boston, the buffer zone ruling will have immediate effects, which we joined Mara Dolan on her radio show to discuss. By eradicating the buffer zone, any semblance of safety has also been eradicated. The buffer zone was the one thing that gave the impression to people entering clinics that their safety mattered and that there was some form of protection over it. If we’re striving to ensure safe public space for all through our work as Hollaback! Boston, this ruling is indeed a step back. Everyone should have the right to access necessary healthcare services or go to work without the threat of harassment, violence, and intimidation. And violence is a very real threat. Let’s not forget that the buffer zone was put in place following the 1994 murders of two staff members at Boston abortion clinics. Still not convinced? Read about Michelle Kinsey Burns’ experiences as a clinic escort. It’s frightening.

And it’s not just people entering the clinics that are affected by this ruling. In the week since it came down, there has been an uptick in protesters outside of the Planned Parenthood in Boston. These protesters disrupt the lives of anyone walking down the street. Protester Connie Cronin told the Globe that she can spot Planned Parenthood patients from down the street. “As soon as she sees her marks, Cronin is off, crossing the street to meet them long before they get to the clinic building. She begs them to reconsider, asks if they need help, keeps her pictures of fetal development ready in a Ziploc bag.” Not only is this disruptive to the people who actually are headed towards Planned Parenthood (and might very well be going for one of the many other services they provide; abortions make up less than 3% of their services), but it’s disruptive and upsetting to people who are just trying to go to school or work or the grocery store and aren’t even heading into the clinic.

We know that Boston has been especially focused on ensuring that our public spaces are safe for people who occupy them. This ruling makes for very unsafe public space outside of our abortion clinics, not just for patients, but for staff and citizens, too. On the plus side, the ruling “does not directly affect the buffer zones in other states and cities, and the justices indicated that more limited restrictions could be put into place in Massachusetts.” Like the upskirting law, it appears that a loophole in the language of the law itself was the issue. Hopefully lawmakers can rectify that quickly, like we saw with the upskirting law. And according to Politico, “Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley said she had spoken with Gov. Deval Patrick, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh and state lawmakers shortly after the ruling, and all were committed to moving quickly to protecting women’s access to the five clinics affected. Massachusetts officials will seek court injunctions and other actions against protesters who threaten women’s safety, as well as work with law enforcement, Coakley said.”

Here at Hollaback! Boston, we stand in solidarity with all patients, staff, workers, escorts, and citizens who are affected by these rulings. And if you experience harassment outside of a clinic, whether you’re a patient, staff, or passerby, feel free to submit your story to our website. We accept stories of clinic harassment, too.

Supreme Rally For Women's Rights

In order to continue to fight, we have agreed to #jointhedissent. We’re sponsoring a rally along with ACLU of Massachusetts, The Connors Center, Mass NOW, NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts, Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts, and The Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice to send the message that these rulings are unacceptable and make our city and state unsafe for people living here. We are committed to our work to make Boston as safe as possible for the people who live here, and we plan to fight for everyone’s bodily autonomy. Join us at the rally TOMORROW, July 8th at 5 PM in City Hall Plaza.


[1] ACRJ, A New Vision for Advancing our movement for Reproductive Health, Reproductive Rights and Reproductive Justice (2005)(“historically and currently, a women’s lack of power and self-determination is mediated through the multiple oppressions of race, class, gender, sexuality, ability, age and immigration status”).

image credits: 1-Hollaback! Boston; 2-NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts

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Hollaback! Boston, Introducing, Pinar, Shared Stories

Introducing: Pinar!

We’re continuing to introduce our summer team – including Summer Fellow, Pinar! Pinar is currently a college student in Worcester majoring in Cultural Studies & Communication and minoring in Women’s & Gender Studies. She’ll be designing a series of posters for us this summer to help Hollaback! Boston raise awareness about street harassment, and we are thrilled to have her on board. Welcome, Pinar!

introducing: pinar! // hollaback! boston

Tell us about yourself – what are you into? I’m super into social justice and its activism – hence my summer project with Hollaback! Boston. When I’m not doing activist things, I’m probably either reading about physics, dancing, reading, or watching something!

Define your style: Clothing-wise, I’d say colorful and simple! I love bright-colored clothing items, and match them with accessories. I tend to stand out, which is not always something I like! Behavior-wise, I’d like to believe I’m very open –I’m trying to be less and less prejudiced about all things, so I try to ask questions to understand more about other people’s perspectives before explaining my own. Other than that, cheerful but quiet! J

Favorite Boston fact: That I’ve always felt at home and taken care of whenever I go into Boston! I live an hour and a half away, but whenever I get to go to Boston, I enjoy myself, and Boston somehow manages to work out my problems. I’ve had a lot of efficient thinking sessions on trains to and from, had wonderful days even when I was feeling down, and got help from residents when I needed anything.

Your favorite place in Boston? Although I’ve only been to some parts just yet, I do love Faneuil Hall and the New England Aquarium. I suspect Boston Common will be replacing them as my favorite spot once I get to go on a sunny day, though!

Have you experienced/witnessed street harassment in Boston? What stood out most in your memory? On my (unfortunately rare) visits to Boston, I usually take the T and walk very little, so I haven’t had to experience or witness any street harassment… yet? I hope not to, I have had enough of them in Worcester, where I live. Just the other day me and my friend were sprayed with water after being catcalled by two men in a car, which was more disturbing than any street harassment I have had to deal with.

What’s your signature response to street harassment – your go-to Hollaback? A lot of the harassment I deal with is verbal, and most from people in their cars. I don’t feel safe enough to respond unless the person’s in a car, and when they are, I usually yell some sort of insult or gesture – and that’s only because I’d hate to let them get away without any reaction. If I felt safe enough I would challenge those people and ask why they do it, what they hope to gain… not that it would be a reasonable answer in any case.

Your superpower is… self-control. I can control my feelings/thoughts/actions really well, which has become very useful in a lot of situations! I can usually tone down everything and think logically, which helps me assess my security when I’m harassed, or come up with an eloquent response even when frustrated or upset.

What are you excited about in 2014? Apart from my project with Hollaback! Boston? Just being in the US, I guess! I have always been back home in Cyprus for the summers, but this year I get to live in my first apartment, cook for myself, own furniture and all those adult things! (The sad part is not getting to see my family a lot L)

What inspires you? Physics. Thinking about the universe, all that is out there, and what we are.

If you could leave the world one piece of advice, what would it be? Stop and think. Why do you think or do the things you do? What could make things better for everyone? Do that.


image credit: Pinar Barlas

“Introducing” is an ongoing series in which we ask bloggers, activists, allies, entrepreneurs and assorted Bostonians about their inspirations, motivations, super powers and experiences with street harassment. If you know someone you think we should feature here, please drop us a line!

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Events, Hollaback! Boston, Local News

Be Yourself, Change the World: Boston Pride 2014

On Saturday, the Hollaback! Boston team gathered with friends and volunteers to march in the 2014 Boston Pride parade, and we had a blast.

be yourself, change the world: boston pride 2014 // hollaback! boston

This year’s Pride theme – Be Yourself, Change the World – was a perfect fit for the Hollaback! mission of ending street harassment so that everyone can feel safe to be themselves in public, and we were so excited the bring that message to parade-goers!

be yourself, change the world: boston pride 2014 // hollaback! boston

We’d like to extend a HUGE thank you to the folks who joined us – we couldn’t do it without you! If you missed us, couldn’t make it to the parade, or if we had run out of them, here’s a peek at the eight-page zine we handed out on the route:

How did you celebrate Pride this year? What did the theme mean to you? Let us know in the comments!


image credits: Hollaback! Boston

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Hollaback! Boston, Noteworthy

HOLLA Worthy Link Round-Up

Happy Pride Friday (Priday?), Boston!

boston pride 2014 // hollaback! boston

It’s almost time! We’ve received our lineup location for the parade tomorrow, we’ve made our posters and printed our handouts, and we’re waiting for YOU to join us to march in celebration of safe public spaces for everyone to be themselves. Meet us at 704 Boylston Street (in front of the Lindt store) tomorrow by 10:00am to join the marching group – we’ll see you there!

Until then, while the rain (hopefully) moves right along, here’s a few of our favorite links this week:

See you tomorrow,


image credit: Hollaback! Boston

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Gina, Introducing, Shared Stories

Introducing: Gina!

This summer we’re welcoming an inspiring group of interns and fellows to our team to lend a hand. Gina is our summer Communications Intern, a student journalist and member of her campus arts community, and will be taking over social media (among other things) during her break from Amherst College. We’re excited to have her on our team – welcome, Gina!

introducing: gina! // hollaback! boston

Tell us about yourself – what are you into? I’m into online journalism, early twentieth century American literature, and going out for ice cream.

Define your style: I can’t tell if I’ve finally achieved the kind of effortless style that revolves around really great basics …or if I just wear the same clothes every day.

Favorite Boston fact: Milkshakes are called “frappes” here. That’s important to know.

Your favorite place in Boston? The Swan Boats!

Have you experienced/witnessed street harassment in Boston? What stood out most in your memory? I’ve only been in Boston for a few days for the summer, but someone honked at me while I was running the other day. I was so pissed because that type of thing always happens so fast I can’t even flip them off.

What’s your signature response to street harassment – your go-to Hollaback? The disdainful, withering glare, sometimes while shaking my head no. But my favorite move is being an active bystander. Once I was walking with a friend at night and I saw a girl walking alone on the other side of the street – unfortunately, so did a group of rowdy guys, who proceeded to harass her. I won’t write exactly what I yelled at them, but it was something along the lines of “leave her alone.” It wasn’t much, but I just wanted to let her (and them) know that other people were paying attention to the harassment.

Your superpower is… I can get ready really quickly. Like, shower, get dressed, all that. I don’t know how great of a superpower this is because it usually means waiting for other people to finish getting ready but it’s always good in a pinch.

What are you excited about in 2014? I’m studying abroad in France in the fall!

What inspires you? I’ve always been inspired by fiction more than anything – books, movies, and the like. For example, I swear I wouldn’t be the kind of student I am if it weren’t for Hermione Granger and Elle Woods. Fictional characters are inspiring to everyone, I think, and most of all when you can see yourself in them. That’s why representation is so important.

If you could leave the world one piece of advice, what would it be? Don’t be sorry, be better. I read that on the wall of a bathroom stall.


image credit: Gina Faldetta

“Introducing” is an ongoing series in which we ask bloggers, activists, allies, entrepreneurs and assorted Bostonians about their inspirations, motivations, super powers and experiences with street harassment. If you know someone you think we should feature here, please drop us a line!

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HOLLA Worthy Link Round-Up

There is so much internet this week.

holla worthy link round-up // hollaback! boston

If you read one link in this round-up, make it this – words matter, stories matter, and so does the full spectrum of gender-based violence.

“We tend to treat violence and the abuse of power as though they fit into airtight categories: harassment, intimidation, threat, battery, rape, murder…we need to address that slope, rather than compartmentalizing the varieties of misogyny and dealing with each separately. Doing so has meant fragmenting the picture, seeing the parts, not the whole.”

–The Feminist Battle After The Isla Vista Massacre

Plus, Stop Street Harassment released the findings of their national survey of street harassment in the US earlier this week. Please don’t stop there, though – there’s so much worth your time! Here are some of our favorites:

What’s resonating with you? Let us know in the comments!

Have a great weekend,


image credit: Hollaback! Boston

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