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There was an incident on the train when a man was talking photographs of a girl on his cell phone. He was sitting across from her and staring. Even though she made eye contact with him and other people, he wouldn’t stop. He was actually so brazen as to have the “click” sound on his camera every time he took a photo.
I wanted to do something, but I was terrified that he would get violent and turn against me. Fear for my personal safety is the only reason why I have been afraid to intervene.
On Monday night, the Hollaback! Boston team joined hundreds of Bostonians to take in a panel discussion on how women become political, featuring Gloria Steinem, Ayanna Pressley, Elizabeth Warren, Kerry Healey and Swanee Hunt. Many notes were taken, many memorable quotes jotted down for future inspiration, and we left inspired and invigorated. Thank you to Simmons for hosting, and to such rockstar women for participating!
Much of what was discussed got to the heart of what we’re doing at Hollaback! Boston – the idea of working, bit by bit, to influence the changes taking place in our communities every day for the better, even if backslides and backlash seem all too frequent, was a welcome reassurance.
For Want of a Nail
For want of a nail the shoe was lost.
For want of a shoe the horse was lost.
For want of a horse the rider was lost.
For want of a rider the message was lost.
For want of a message the battle was lost.
For want of a battle the kingdom was lost.
And all for the want of a horseshoe nail.
We’ll have more on those thoughts another, less hectic week.
We hope to see you out there!
image credit: Kate Ziegler
In August, we conducted an online, self-report survey open to all Bostonians, asking about their experiences with street harassment; based on the 543 responses, we’ve published our findings on the State of our Streets.
Read the full report, consider the results, and ponder our recommendations for next steps in Boston. We hope that this survey can be a starting point for broader research and discussion of street harassment in our city!
If you missed Britni talking street harassment and our survey on Boston Neighborhood Network News yesterday, fear not! We’ve got you covered.
Thank you again to BNN News! We hope we can keep the conversation going.
video credit: BNN News
If you’ve taken a peek out our new Events page, you know this coming month holds quite a bit of activity for us. We hope to see you out there!
In case you missed them, here are our five most popular posts from September:
Take a few minutes to get caught up, peruse our State of the Streets results if you haven’t already, catch Britni on Boston Neighborhood Network News tonight (channel 9) at 5:30, 9:30 or 11:00—and stay tuned for more to come this month!
image credit: Kate Ziegler
Our first-ever report on street harassment in Boston is live!
More than 500 Boston area residents responded to our survey with their street harassment experiences, and we’ve used that data to compile a report on the state of our streets. The data was sourced from our online, self-report survey, open to all August 1-31, 2013. Click through to take a look at the full report!
No time to read the details right now? Take a peek at this summary, too:
Data used to compile the graphic above is also based on our self-report survey; read more in the full report, then take a moment to learn the Four D’s of Bystander Intervention, share your stories, and let us know what you would add.
image credits: 1-Hollaback! Boston; 2-Natasha Vianna
We’re getting ready to release the results of our first-ever survey on street harassment in Boston next week. The data is compelling, disheartening, and inspiring—and based on the number of respondents who had witnessed street harassment as a bystander in the past year, but did not intervene, a review of Bystander Intervention 101 seems to be in order.
There are so many ways to step in when you witness harassment as a non-target, even in passive, non-confrontational ways. Let’s review the D’s:
- “Hey knock it off.”
- Tell the person you will call the cops if they don’t put that thing away.
- “Are you okay?”
- Go stand next to the person being targeted so they know they are not alone.
- Ask the target, “Are they bothering you?”
- Take a picture with your phone.
- Look disapprovingly at the person doing the harassing behavior.
- Offer to get off at the next stop with the target and catch the next train together.
- “Get away from her/him.”
- Don’t join in or laugh.
- Loudly say, “Ugh, that is so gross.”
- Talk to your friend later about why you thought what they did or said was uncool and problematic.
- Ask the target if there is anything you can do to help.
- Tell the harasser you saw some cops on the corner and you are worried they will get in trouble if they don’t stop.
- Tell the target that the harassing behavior wasn’t okay and you are sorry it happened.
- Find the Foreman on the construction site.
- Call the police.
- Tell a transit authority worker.
- Yell, “Somebody do something!”
- Get a group together to intervene.
- Text a friend who is on the subway with you and ask them to HELP!
- Make eye contact with some other bystanders and ask, “What should we do to help?”
- Give directions to other bystanders: “You, in the red shirt, call the transit police.”
- Ask for directions.
- Offer the target your seat.
- Start a flash mob.
- Act like you know the target and say, “I’ve been looking everywhere for you – we’re going to be late!”
- Drop your bags to create a commotion.
- “Accidentally” spill your coffee.
A note about safety: we don’t ever want you to get hurt trying to help someone out. Always think about safety and context, and consider possibilities that are unlikely to put you in harm’s way (calling 911, getting a group together, etc). In this vein, it’s important to consider a fourth “D”:
- When the situation has resolved, ask the target if they’re okay. Simply validating their experience by confirming that you witnessed the interaction can be incredibly helpful.
- Offer to serve as a witness if they would like to report the incident.
- Share your version of the events online after the fact, to help other victims of street harassment realize that they are not alone. Hollaback! Boston accepts bystander stories as well as those submitted by folks who have been the target of harassment.
Only got five minutes? Haven’t directly witnessed harassment lately? Here’s what you can do to help:
Stepping in to stop harassment as a bystander doesn’t have to be a grand—or dangerous—act. Simply letting a victim know that they’re not imagining the behavior can be a huge help! Read more about Hollaback!’s Green Dot initiative to track and report bystander actions, and find other ways to get involved as a bystander, on our Resources page.
Have you ever used any of these tactics? Would you, if you witnessed harassment on the street? Let us know!
Jamie and I recently had the privilege of attending a screening of the documentary film Left On Pearl. I am a women’s history buff, I live in Boston, and until very recently, I had never heard about the event that the film documents.
On March 6, 1971, International Women’s Day marchers turned Left On Pearl and took over a Harvard University building at 888 Memorial Drive, Cambridge, declaring it a Women’s Center.
This action proved transformative for the participants and led to the founding of the longest continuously operating community Women’s Center in the U.S. Left On Pearl recounts this little known but highly significant event in the history of the Women’s Liberation Movement.
Wait…WHAT? Not only that, the Women’s Center that was founded as a result of that occupation is the Cambridge Women’s Center–our Take Back The Bar co-sponsor and friend! How did I not know this? Why did I not know this? The answer is simple–because women are often erased from history.
The film is triumphant. I found myself near tears for many parts of it. I laughed, I cheered, and I cried. This film is 12 years in the making and the women behind it do not want their story to be forgotten. Several of the women who were in that occupied building were at the screening to talk to us about the film and what it means to them. The filmmaker, Susie Rivo, has dedicated her time and effort into this film for almost no compensation (and she’s heard of Hollaback! Boston! Hi, Susie!). This film is a labor of love.
If you care about the feminist movement, or if you care about the gay rights movement, or you care about the rights of working class communities, this film is for you. They have several more screenings in the coming weeks and I highly recommend that you go see the movie. But first, they need your help.
The 888 History Project needs money in order to finish the film. They have an Indiegogo campaign set up so that you can donate. Please, please give whatever you can. This is our city, this is our history, and we need to make sure that it is documented for future generations.
video credit: Left On Pearl
The Boston Mayoral race is rapidly approaching preliminary elections tomorrow–do you know who you’re voting for?
Hollaback! Boston and ELEVATE Boston are not endorsing candidates in the preliminary, but you can stop by ELEVATE to see candidates’ responses to our questions on health equity, economic equity and safe communities for all, including addressing street harassment. Be sure to read up before you vote tomorrow!
If you’re not sure of your voter registration status, stop by the City’s website to confirm. You can also look up your polling place if you’re not sure where to go. Who has your support? Let us know in the comments or on twitter!
image credit: Kate Ziegler
Tonight is our second Take Back The Bar event! We’ll be taking over Middlesex Lounge in Cambridge. We’ll be there at 8 and cover (and line) starts at 9, so get there early. We’ve had a lot of people asking questions about the event, so we’ve put the answers in one place. Thanks to our co-sponsors, Boston GLOW and Cambridge Women’s Center.
What is our main goal in Taking Back The Bar? We want to empower people to reclaim space that is traditionally unwelcoming. So much of our movement through space is dominated by other people and the way we’re treated—we change our routes, avoid certain streets and neighborhoods, don’t go to specific clubs or venues—and we think that’s not okay. We want people to feel like they have the ability and the right to occupy whatever public space exists, and we’re doing our best to facilitate a safe and supportive space for people to do that.
Why we are taking space in areas we usually feel unwelcome/unsafe? This is more about empowering people to feel like they don’t have to avoid certain places. It’s about reclaiming space that has been off limits for whatever reason. It’s less about making a statement to the people in the bar and more about creating a safe, empowering space within it for our group to enjoy.
How are we going to proactively make people of color and the LGBTQ community feel safer at these establishments? By promoting TBTB to community organizations of color and LGBTQ organizations we can make sure they are aware that our events are inclusive. Our objective is to create a safe space, so although we cannot guarantee that the establishments themselves will be more welcoming, we can guarantee that our group will be a supportive one.
What are we going to do specifically when we are uncomfortable? Is this a confrontational statement? This is not confrontational if we can help it. It’s perfectly acceptable to say, “I’m not interested,” “Don’t talk to me that way,” or “I’m here with my friends.” If someone feels uncomfortable and they don’t feel safe to say something, they can and should look for support within the group. We are all there to have each other’s backs as much as we can, but there is also no shame in walking away from a situation if that feels right.
What are we going to do if there is a group of people who are particularly hostile? Don’t be afraid to walk away or to get a staff member of the establishment. The group at large also has your back. We’ll act in solidarity with whatever you decide to do. However, we don’t condone violence and meeting aggression with aggression is not what we see as the answer.
Why aren’t we talking to the spaces beforehand to let them know we are coming (in case an act of violence happens or an incident)? We aren’t talking to venues in advance because we’re not going to do anything abnormal or radical. We’re quite literally just hanging out in a bar, which is exactly what all other patrons are doing. We shouldn’t have to announce our presence, as it makes it seem even more like we don’t belong there. If there is an incident or an act of violence, we’ll report it to the venue immediately, and they are trained to handle those things, like they do when it happens to other people in their establishment. If we don’t feel like it’s handled appropriately, we can take action, whether it’s calling them out online or contacting authorities. The sponsors of Take Back The Bar are not responsible for the actions of individuals, and creating an event in the eyes of the establishments could lead them to single us out as a group if things go awry that we had no knowledge of or involvement in.
Who is invited to Take Back The Bar? Everyone. This event is open to all individuals who have ever felt unsafe, unwelcome or harassed in the Boston nightlife scene, and allies who want to support safer spaces for all.