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Today marks the one year anniversary of the Boston Marathon bombings, two explosions meant to inflict terror on a population, to maim rather than kill, to break a city’s spirit and instill fear on our streets.
There is no shortage of coverage today, no lack of reflection, of story sharing or of tributes to those lost and those affected; there is no dearth of support for runners, past and present, and no scarcity of tears. We’re all proud of our city, with all its strengths and flaws, and Hollaback! Boston doesn’t have much to add on this day.
There is one notable parallel that comes to mind, though: terrorism is carried out with the intent of making a population feel unsafe and vulnerable in public. It instills fear and aims to change the way we move through space, hopes to break apart our communities and raise our suspicions of others.
Street harassment has many of the same effects, on women, girls, LGBTQ folks, people of color and other under-served and marginalized populations: it limits movement, restricts access to opportunity and silences groups with stories to tell. It instills fear and changes the way we move through public space. It raises our suspicions of others.
Boston is a strong city, and our communities have rebuilt in meaningful ways since last April 15. Terror did not succeed here, not this time, but street harassment and gender-based violence in public spaces continue. Read the words of others and hug your loved ones today, reflect on the strengths of our city and how far we’ve come in the past year, but don’t turn a blind eye to the work yet to be done for Boston to reach its full potential.
Holla love and Boston strength to you and yours,
image credit: The Boston Globeno comments
Read about the difference between flirting and harassment, in case you still weren’t clear, or check out this intellectual defense of sexual harassment (hint: there isn’t one). Check out these pieces about different intersections of identity and street harassment– one about weight and size and another about ability. Buzzfeed shows us what it would look like if girls hit on guys the way that guys “hit on” girls and Ivan E. Coyote gives us a glimpse into the very real and very scary harassment than many trans* people experience in public restrooms every day.
And, of course, we’re counting down to the 2014 Boston Marathon. You won’t want to miss this beautiful photo project called “Dear World,” which features survivors of last years’ Marathon bombings. And if you’ve ever been harassed while running, we’re asking you to submit your stories of run harassment for us to share on the blog during Marathon week.
And be sure to catch us presenting at the CLPP conference this weekend!no comments
Directors’ Note: We are so grateful for Brandie’s enthusiasm and support as part of our team over the past 10 months, and we’re sad to see her go! Brandie’s social media, networking and impeccable event planning skills will be sorely missed on our team, but we look forward to seeing the work the takes on next. Thank you, Brandie – because of you, we are stronger! –Kate and Britni
After much thought and deliberation, I’ve decided to part ways with Hollaback! Boston. The inspiration to organize, constantly develop and share my voice, build community, and most of all create safer spaces on the streets of Boston and in public space, has come from some really amazing folks that I have met these past 10 months. Friendships I hope to nurture and continue to be a part of, for a long time to come.
Throughout my time with Hollaback! Boston, I’ve been able to build the confidence, will power, and gain knowledge necessary in knowing that I am a valuable part of our community, with the ability to stand up to street harassment and help give a voice/support those who are unsure if they can do the same. Am I finished participating in the activist community in my hometown of Boston? Absolutely not, currently I am working on a few projects that I’m hoping to get off the ground that address feminism, rape culture, WoC empowerment, and a few others. Hollaback! Boston gave me the tools that I needed to grow and feel powerful enough to know that my experiences matter, that no amount of injustice and oppression that exists in the world will silence me, I have a voice and my voice matters.
If you know me, I’m sure you’re aware of my love of listicles. I’d like to include my top 5 Hollaback! Boston events to celebrate the time I spent help changing Boston:
Top Five Events with Hollaback! Boston
5.) The Goddess Walk, you can read my recap here.
4.) Rhode Island Comic Con, you can read my recap here.
3.) Break Out! Against Mass Incarceration, you can read Jamie & my recap here.
2.) International Anti-Street Harassment Chalk Walk 2014, you can read the recap here.
1.) The time I was so angry, being street harassed in my new neighborhood, I held my own bilingual chalk walk! There isn’t a recap, because I wasn’t part of the Hollaback! Boston team yet, but I was a badass in the making- that’s for sure!
You can follow me on Twitter and Instagram @feministfists for updates on my new projects, or read my blog: feministfists.wordpress.com
That’s it for now!
Best of luck, love, and happiness to the Hollaback! Boston team!
We receive a LOT of stories about harassment on the T, and fortunately, the Transit Police are working very hard to combat this particular brand of street harassment. Their SeeSay app allows your to report harassment or assault from your phone, and they encourage riders to report incidents to Transit Police so that they can address them, and track them.
All of this work is terrific progress, but there are still many reasons that a victim of harassment or assault may not wish to involve authorities, and whether those reasons are personally rooted or community focused, we recognize the need to have other options. Not all street harassment is illegal, nor should it be—but that doesn’t mean the behavior can’t be threatening, instrusive and have serious impacts on how we move through public space over time. Hollaback!’s mobile app also allows story sharing on the go, annoymously, and the incident can be recorded without involving police. If a victim feels, after the fact, that they now wish they had reported their experience, our site allows you to do just that.
Why is reporting harassment and assault so important? Sharing your story helps Transit Police and organizations like Hollaback! Boston understand the problem, hear what’s really happening and focus our work accordingly. If you feel comfortable reporting to Transit Police, they are prepared to take your experience seriously and offer support; if for whatever reason you do not want to involve authorities, there are still other ways to make your voice heard and let us know what’s happening in our city.
Hollaback! Boston believes in community solutions to street harassment, not criminalization; we can’t build communities of active bystanders, ready to step in on the T and support victims of harassment, without first talking about experiences and reporting and sharing stories.
Inspired by Global Guardian safe transit week and HollabackPhilly’s recent transit ads, we put together some quick flyers to help identify harassment and provide tips to safely intervene as a bystander.
What common catcalls and harassing statements have we left out? Let us know in the comments! Click through the flyers for larger images to print and share on your own.
image credits: Hollaback! Bostonone comment
Throughout the week of March 30th to April 5th, Hollaback! Boston participated in an international movement to end street harassment. Folks all over the world stood up to bring awareness to street harassment and gender-based violence, and its negative effect on our communities. Throughout the week we hosted events all over our beloved city, including: HOLLA Offline at Boston Common Coffee, a screening of the documentary “War Zone” at Hosteling International, and a college version of TBTB at Hong Kong restaurant in Harvard Square. We even published our first zine! Our final event for International Anti-Street Harassment Week was our chalk walk in Copley Square on Saturday.
We couldn’t have been happier with the turnout for this event, we even ran out of chalk at one point and needed to make trip to get more!
At noon, I sat in front of Trinity Church and created a sign, so I could be visible for those who were interested in joining in the chalking festivities. A student who was living in Boston approached me: she was writing an article for her school paper and wanted to interview me. She asked me to talk a bit more in detail about the goal for our event, what other organizations were participating in International Anti-Street Harassment Week, and how I became involved in Hollaback!. After she was done interviewing me a group of 30 youth from InIt! Initiative of the YWCA in Copley (a social justice group for teens!) showed up in full force! The group leaders and I introduced ourselves and I gave a brief intro to Hollaback! Boston to them, the definition of street harassment, the goals of the chalk walk, and suggestions for slogans to write.
What they ended up writing basically brought me to tears: “I love my Dark Skin. I love my Light Skin,” “Just because I’m black, doesn’t mean I”m dumb,” “F***** is NOT my name,” “My Shape is Not my Character” and, “Trans is MORE than OK.”
They really understood and went above and beyond with their chalking; you can learn more about their organization and the incredible work that they do in Boston, here.
Soon after the group left, I realized we were really low on chalk, luckily Rosa and her friend Alice arrived, giving me time to run to a store in Symphony to get more!
When I returned with a whole lot of chalk (thanks, True Value!), we got down to chalking! The sidewalk in front of Trinity Church was completely covered with awesome slogans that got people walking by curious about the event and they eventually found us closer to the side of street by the library. With flyers in one hand, creeper cards in the other, Rosa and I answered their questions. A few even joined in with us, telling us their experiences of being street harassed and wanting Hollaback! Boston to come to their schools!
A young woman from CA stopped me while I was chalking, “If we look uncomfortable we probably are,” and asked what organization we were with. She nearly jumped up and down when I replied, Hollaback!. She said someone really needs to start one in the Bay Area, and I told her there was one in San Francisco!
One family joined in and chalked, “Not all Muslims are terrorists!” A nice young man who was sitting on a bench for a bit came over and chalked, too! He really enjoyed it when I chalked, “You put the ass in harasser.”
We ended the event writing in rainbow colors, “The LGBTQ community deserves to feel safe!” and “International Anti-Street Harassment Week” for those who weren’t sure what all our chalking was for, and took a few pics of our rad volunteers! You all are great, thank you so much for taking the time to come down to Copley to tell folks they can Hollaback! to end street harassment in Boston.
image credits: Brandie Skorker2 comments
We’re winding down International Anti-Street Harassment week with a tweet chat about teens and street harassment hosted by @MenStopViolence and @MandyVanDeven at 2pm EDT, and are gearing up for our final event: a chalk walk in Copley Square on Saturday at noon. We’ll provide the chalk and some slogans to get you started; bring your inner child and share your experiences to reclaim Boston’s streets! If you’re wondering what a chalk walk looks like, hop over to Facebook for some photos from past walks.
Street harassment has been all over the internet this week! Here are some things you might have missed:
But wait, there’s more! There is still time to sign up for BARCC’s annual Walk for Change—or, support Communications Coordinator Brandie’s fundraising, or HOLLA volunteers Liz and Delia. Plus, the 30th annual Boston LGBT Film Festival started yesterday, and is on through April 12 – check it out!
Is there something we didn’t catch? Let us know in the comments.
Join us tomorrow, and have a great weekend!
image credit: Hollaback! Bostonno comments
So far during International Anti-Street Harassment Week we’ve met up offline, screened and discussed War Zone, and debuted our first zine; tonight, we’re talking consent and street harassment with Lesley students, and heading to Hong Kong (in Harvard Square) after the workshop for a special college Take Back The Bar gathering. Join us!
There’s still time to join the conversation online: share your story, or chime in on twitter! On Saturday, our grand finale for the week will be a chalk walk in Copley Square – you won’t want to miss it.
See you out there!
image credit: Hollaback! Bostonno comments
I left my office to run down the street and get a copy of DigBoston because I knew that Hollaback! Boston’s piece in response to the Dig’s “upskirting” cover was being printed that day. I was walking back to my office with my copy of the Dig in my hands when I was confronted with my two least favorite forms of harassment in one sentence.
A man yelled, “Hey baby, I like your hair!” I turned and yelled after him as loudly as I could, “MY NAME IS NOT BABY, MOTHERFUCKER!” Unfortunately, I didn’t have time to add, “and I don’t care if you like my hair” to the end of that, because he had turned the corner and was out of sight.
I feel like it’s pretty well-established why calling women “baby, sweetheart, or ma” is condescending and unacceptable. It’s probably less clear why a seeming compliment about my hair would be so upsetting to me. My hair is usually dyed some form of fire engine red, purple, or hot pink, so I get comments on it a lot. But what makes the comment “I like your hair” a form of harassment when it comes from (most) men is that the comment comes with an expectation attached– they expect me to be grateful, to stop and talk to them, to give them my number, to bestow my attention on them somehow. A true compliment comes with no such expectation attached– it’s for the receiver, not the giver.
It’s okay to pick favorites—and this month, dear readers, you did. In case you missed them, here are the five most popular posts from March, neatly divided between two distinct topics:
We can take a hint.
To learn more about ways you can be an active bystander, and help encourage other bystanders in your community, revisit Bystander Intervention 101, and stay tuned for more ways to support safer spaces in transit beyond upskirting.
April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, and we’re looking forward to working with other local organizations to spark conversation and support change. What does the coming month have in store for you?
image credit: Hollaback! Bostonno comments
We kicked off International Anti-Street Harassment Week yesterday with a casual HOLLA-offline meetup over coffee. Join us later this week for other events in Boston, or catch us at the tweet chats and elsewhere online. We hope to see you out there!
image credit: Stop Street Harassmentno comments