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She’s been talking to other locals, too, and shared the resulting video on her blog recently. Check it out!
How do you handle street harassment?
video credit: Susannah Blair
A few weeks ago I made the trip to Providence for Rhode Island Comic Con! This was my first Comic Con doing Hollaback! Boston work on my own and overall I think it was a great success!
I arrived around 1:30 and was surprised at the size of the crowd that was waiting outside in line, so many people were dressed in awesome cosplay costumes, I was getting giddy with anticipation! When I finally got inside I looked for Science Fiction Saturday Night (SFSN), who I had met at my last Con. While at Granite State Comic Con, I had my first podcast interview with SFSN. I was really nervous about being video taped, but think I managed well considering it was my first real interview! After the interview they asked if I would be making it down to Rhode Island Comic Con, and to look for them so I could put some Hollaback! Boston literature on their table. Which was so very very awesome, considering SFSN is the official podcast of RI Comic Con, Granite State Comic Con AND Boston Comic Con!
After putting a few things out at the SFSN table I decided it was time to walk around, sign in hand, to start the conversation on Cosplay =/= Consent.
I made only a few laps around the main function room and then the nods, smiles and thumbs up headed my way! I spoke with a few women who hadn’t experienced harassment personally, but had heard of harassment incidents through their cosplay circles. They were happy to sign the petition Hollaback! Philly had created for Cons to have anti-harassment units at each Con to support those who have been harassed while in cosplay and create a comprehensive plan to be sure their staff is equipped to appropriately respond to to reports of harassment. One woman spoke to me about a time when she and her friends were being filmed inappropriately, without their knowledge, while they were posing for pictures. When she confronted the man it was a long process for security at the event to take her seriously and eventually asked the man to delete the video from his phone. I will be reaching out to her, so she can submit her story on harassment while in Cosplay. She was very glad that I was there and spreading the message and supporting those who have been harassed.
After walking around for about an hour, I noticed a “free table” that some people had left, score! So I set up our cards, flyers, Hollaback! Philly’s comic books that we had for sale, balloons and candy I had left over from HOLLAween, and had a seat.
Something about having a table, makes people want to talk to you that much more. Person after person came up, inquired about what the sign said, if they didn’t know, or the were super excited to see Hollaback! Boston making a difference in their community. At one point there was a small line forming of people who wanted to look at the comic book, sign the petition, look at the bystander intervention flyers, and just chat about cosplaying.
In total I got 30 signatures, took some great pictures, sold a comic book, handed out 40 Hollaback! Boston flyers, spread the word of Cosplay =/= Consent and had a great time in Providence! Thanks to all who stopped by, shared their stories, and took pictures! Your participation means we are that much closer to ending harassment while in Cosplay! You can see more photos from RI Comic Con (and my cosplay experience as Susie from Rugrats) on Facebook.
image credits: Brandie Skorker
Let’s talk about fat-shaming, and how that relates to street harassment. We’re going to look at this ad from Boston Sports Club and use that as our example of What Not To Do if you want to advertise your business and not contribute to unsafe public spaces.
This ad is problematic for a whole host of reasons, but I want to tie it to street harassment and safety in public space. When you run an ad like this (an ad that appears not just in print, but in the window of your establishment), you are sending a very clear message. You send the message that it’s unacceptable to gain weight during the holidays; that it’s unacceptable for you to be anything but thin. This is a damaging message, and one that we receive from every magazine, TV show, and movie that we see. How does fat-shaming contribute to street harassment? We know that people are harassed for their weight.
“I was standing on the F train today, with my dad, headed to Coney Island for the Mermaid Parade (my dad was headed elsewhere). I had my earphones in, enjoying some quality time with the Star Fucking Hipsters’ most recent album, when my dad pointed to this guy and said “I think he’d trying to tell you something.” So I took out my earphones and looked over. The guy made a little running motion, then mouthed “one hour, every morning.” It clicked that he was telling me I needed to exercise more. So, loudly, I said “Are you telling me I’m fat?” Obviously, I am, and I know that, but I thought that would catch the attention of more people around us. My dad was like, “Is that really what he said?” So I (still loudly) said “He’s telling me I need to go running every morning.”” -Liza’s story, Hollaback! NYC
“I’m a big girl–overweight, fat, call it what you will… Suddenly, out of nowhere, my speaking was interrupted by a young man screaming out of his car window: “Get off that statue! You’ll break it!!” I felt my face get hot as my companions looked shocked, staring at the passing car as it drove away. I wanted to sink into the ground, I was so mortified. I share this so that people will realize that street harassment is not just about cat-calling conventionally attractive women. It’s also about shaming women you think are unattractive.” – Bulldog Bully, Hollaback! Athens, GA
When we send the message that it’s unacceptable to be anything but thin, we create a culture where it’s acceptable to shame and harass people that don’t fit the mold we think they should. We make streets unsafe for people of size to walk down. When we put ads in the windows of our gym that tell overweight people that something is wrong with the way they look, we make buildings that are unsafe for someone who is not stick-thin to walk into. Not everyone that works out works out to lose weight. Some people just want to get into better shape. Some people do want to lose weight, and that’s okay, too. But we shouldn’t be making people ashamed of the way they currently look.
We’re creating environments that are dangerous and threatening for women to occupy. We’re giving people permission to harass them for the way they look or how much they weigh. There are plenty of reasons to want to join a gym like Boston Sports Club– but shaming people that don’t fulfill an often-impossible to reach aesthetic definitely isn’t one.
Check out Hollaback!’s #harassmentis guide for more about how different identities impact experiences of street harassment.
We’re hosting the filmmakers for a screening of this documentary about the founding of the Cambridge Women’s Center–join us to learn about an exciting bit of women’s history in Boston. We’ll provide snacks, courtesy Whole Foods Charles River Plaza. We hope to see you there!
image credit: Left on Pearl
On Friday, Hollaback! Boston hosted our first-ever HOLLAween Halloween party, and we were blown away. The turnout, the crowd, the support and the blame- and shame-free space were incredible.
We owe many, many thanks to the local businesses and establishments that sponsored the event through donations of supplies, snacks and raffle prizes, to Make Shift Boston for allowing us to take over their space, and to DJ Univers-AL for lending her incredible talents to keep the dance floor jumping all night. Thank you so much for your support!
Photos, courtesy Delia Harrington and Ivy Maiorino, are now on Facebook—take a look, tag yourselves, and stay tuned for our next shindig! In the meantime, of course, you can catch us offline at any of our upcoming events.
See you out there,
It’s election day! There are quite a few races being decided in Boston today, but the contest that has the city buzzing is for the next Mayor.
Hollaback! Boston is confident that either candidate will work to uphold their ELEVATE commitments to supporting community safety audits, and we look forward to collaborating with the new Mayor to make Boston’s public spaces safer for everyone. We’ll be reaching out with the new administration to work on safety audits, to offer trainings and support, and to hold public hearings on street harassment in a continuation of the work Ayanna Pressley has already begun. We look forward to the partnership.
That said, someone must be elected Mayor today—Hollaback! is not endorsing a candidate, nor is the ELEVATE Coalition, but your vote matters! Take a look at the ELEVATE responses from the candidates, read over this interview with Boston Magazine and this questionnaire regarding cycling in Boston, catch debate clips and consider the differences—then go VOTE. Today’s the day!
Who are you voting for today? What helped make your decision?
image credit: ELEVATE Boston
WHAT: HOLLAween Party with DJ Univsers-AL!
WHEN: TONIGHT, Friday, November 1, 8pm
WHERE: Make Shift, 549 Columbus Ave.
WHY: Because everyone deserves a Halloween celebration safe from slut shaming, victim blaming, and cultural appropriation!
We want our party to be a safe space for EVERYONE and are counting on you to uphold that request – read up here if you’re unsure what we mean. Doors are at 8. All ages, 21+ to drink. BYOB, pay what you can at the door. No one will be turned away for lack of funds. We’ll have an awesome DJ, DJ Univers-AL, who plays music that’s in line with our vision for this event and Hollaback!’s mission as a whole. Make Shift is wheelchair accessible.
We’ll also be hosting a raffle with prizes from Hubba Hubba, LUSH Cosmetics, the Museum of Science, Jaclyn Friedman, Veggie Galaxy, Tremont 647, Managia’s and more, and have pizza and sweets courtesy Managia’s and Whole Foods Charles River Plaza. Capacity is limited, so be sure to check in on twitter if you’re planning to join us later in the evening.
We hope to see you there!
image credit: Hollaback! Boston
Halloween is almost here, and so is our HOLLAween celebration! Head to the event page to read more about the event and the concept behind it – we hope you’ll join us on Friday at Make Shift to celebrate with DJ Univers-AL, a photobooth, snacks, raffle prizes and BYOB, shame-free fun.
If you’re still unsure of what costume might make the cut, or if you (like me) are forever waiting until the last minute to whip up a disguise, we’ve got a few suggestions.
Feeling sexy? Try a nurse, a firefighter or a ballet dancer! Cheeky, too? Pour over Jillian Tamaki’s Sexy Little Halloween series. This collection from The Society Pages passes cultural appropriation muster, too, and Todrick Hall’s Disney villain adaptation of Chicago is snazzy inspiration.
Perhaps something literary strikes your fancy? Maybe something local and timely – a Boston Strong runner? A bearded Red Sox batter? (We love this #GetBeard guide if you need to paint or sculpt your own.)
It’s possible you’re looking for something a bit more…feminist; Rosie is always a safe (and doable last-minute!) bet, and Bitch and Bust both have some suggestions. You like your revolution with a side of pun? The Toast has got you covered (with some excellent illustrations to boot).
Is the thought of entering a costume purveyor this close to the witching hour enough to scare you off of Halloween entirely? Maybe try your hand at one of Goldie Starling’s incredible facepaint tutorials. (I’m considering the Mysterious Bird Lady, myself.)
In case it is unclear, Should I Dress In Blackface on Halloween has the answer. (Spoiler alert: NO.) For more on why you should not, maybe stop by here. Head over to our HOLLAween resource page for more background, links and the full lineup of anti-harassment Halloween graphics to share.
And, if you happen to occasionally enjoy pedal-powered transport in Boston, give your costume a test run in tomorrow’s Halloween Bike Ride!
See you out there, revelers! What are your favorite costumes this year?
image credit: Hollaback! Boston
This past weekend, Hollaback! Boston held their first ever comprehensive volunteer training. Among other things, we discussed definitions of street harassment, looked at a timeline of anti-street harassment victories throughout history, compiled various responses to street harassment and practiced methods of bystander intervention. I’ve been working with Hollaback! since May and I still came away with new information. To me, this emphasized the point that activism, with Hollaback! and beyond, is a never-ending process. There will always be more to learn, and we can all be those teachers.
That being said, while I think that attending a formal training workshop is beneficial for many reasons, it’s not the only way to educate yourself. What I mean to say is: if you couldn’t attend our training, don’t let that stop you from interrupting street harassment when you see it. First off, you can check out more of our website. We have tons of information and tips on everything related to street harassment. Is there a question that we haven’t answered? Ask us! Also, remember that we are just one voice among so many organizations. Click on “Getting Help” under our Resources tab to find out about these other amazing advocates.
I’ve had a lot of conversations with my peers recently about intervening in violent incidents. Violence can be physical, emotional or something else entirely. Workplace harassment is a form of violence. Racial slurs are a form of violence. We are taught that if we see something, we should say something. But, for one reason or another, that’s not always how it works. First of all, sometimes intervening can put us in danger. We should always assess the situation before intervening. Putting one’s body on the line is not always what makes the most sense. Second of all, sometimes we assume that someone else will intervene. This is human nature, social psychology shows that, but we should all be making active efforts to get out of this mindset. Assuming that someone else will step in is too risky and has, quite literally, killed people, Kiity Genovese and Connor and Brandon Moore, just to name a few.
However, the third excuse that I hear is one that we can fix right here, right now, with a change in attitude. The excuse is this: people feel as though they can’t intervene because they don’t have the vocabulary or the academic grounds on which to base their arguments. I’ve been guilty of using this one myself. But here’s the secret: IT DOESN’T MATTER! You don’t need to have read the State Department’s report on gender-based violence or be able to quote the latest Feministing article in order to be an active bystander. Using a lack of knowledge or experience as an excuse for not speaking up isn’t fair. It’s not fair to the person being harassed and it’s not fair to you. If you have assessed the situation and you feel safe speaking up, you can always say “Stop” or “Don’t say that” or “Don’t do that.” What you say doesn’t need to be a persuasive essay, and it may not stop harassers in the end, but at least you have marked the moment. You’ve made it clear that at least one person is offended. Moreover, you’ve validated the experience of the person being harassed. To that person, your few words can make all the difference in the world.
It’s one thing if you don’t feel safe, but you should never let an internalized sense of inexperience keep you quiet. I’m here to tell you that you all already have everything you need. If you want bonus stuff, that’s what we’re here for.
image credit: Kate Ziegler
Many thanks to HI-Boston for hosting our volunteer training in their beautiful community-accessible space!
It’s official! By popular demand, we’re headed to Allston tomorrow night to take back the bar at Tavern in the Square.
We’ll begin arriving at 8pm to beat the rush, but you can join the group at any point in the evening. Remember: this is not a protest or a confrontational event, just a low-key gathering to create a safe space within a traditionally less-welcoming space. Read our FAQs for more background, join the event on Facebook, and spread the word—we hope you can join us!
image credit: Take Back The Bar