Hollaback! Boston, Noteworthy

HOLLA Worthy Link Round-Up

holla worthy link round-up // hollaback! boston

Another week, another round-up: here’s a bit of recommended reading from the Hollaback! Boston team:

Will Women Ever Feel Completely Safe on Mass Transit?

The “Divergent” Rape Scene: Here’s Why It Matters

6 Ways Trans Women Are Helping Deliver Gender Equality

55 gentle ways to take care of yourself when you’re busy busy busy

Women play #gendercard in solidarity with Wendy Davis

Stunning Self-Portrait Series Responds To Street Harassment In Perfect Way

–Catch Britni on 103.3! Loren’s Badass Chicks: Hollaback! Boston

Britni and I will be speaking at the Women’s Liberation Conference at BU tomorrow, talking consciousness-raising and collective storytelling in the Hollaback! movement, and don’t forget to catch Brenda at HOLLA Offline on Sunday  to kick off International Anti-Street Harassment Week if you’re free!

Have a great weekend,


image credit: Hollaback! Boston

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Hollaback! Boston

We Want YOU: to Help Us Holla!

Hollaback! Boston is entirely volunteer-run: our core team members are all volunteers, and we couldn’t do what we do without the broader network of holla-volunteers that help us organize, promote and do work on the ground in Boston.

hollaback boston

Have you been wanting to get involved, but were unable to attend our volunteer training last fall? Want to help out, but can’t commit to a hands-on role? Maybe you’re just not sure what we actually need?

Take a peek! We’re updating our volunteer survey, adding a page for opportunities and streamlining our process for getting folks up to speed. Do you have a particular skill you’d like to practice, or a project you have in mind? Let us know – we’d love to partner with you!

Things We Would Love: An Incomplete List

Male Facilitators: We often receive requests for male workshop facilitators, especially to work with youth. If you’re interested, we’ll happily train you in our basic workshops, and help you facilitate when the time comes!

Statistical Wizards: Our State of the Streets self-report survey last fall was a great starting point, but it was hardly scientific. Are you a student, professor or statistical hobbyist interested in helping us improve? We’d love to talk!

Film Fanatics: We’ve had some incredible videos put together by volunteers, but we’re always open to doing more: video is a really compelling way to spread our mission and message. Are you a film student, or an amateur or professional looking to share your talents? Get in touch!

Portrait Photographers: We can always use help photographing events, though our volunteers have done an amazing job so far (thank you!); right now, though, we would really benefit from a few higher-caliber team headshots.

Translators: We would love to be more accessible, and we get requests to make materials available in Spanish most often. Are you fluent in another language? Care to partner on a PSA or bystander campaign?

Grant Writers: We’ve had some luck securing small grants, but we’re by no means professionals. Do you have a knack for this type of writing, or a suggestion for a grant that would be a great fit for Hollaback! Boston?

Race Directors: An after-dark ladies-only run series is on our bucket list, but the logistics have been more than we can handle thus far. Do you have experience as a race director or organizing similar events? Please let us pick your brain!

Campus Evangelists: Next fall we hope to spread our work to more campuses in the Boston area, but we need contacts on the ground. Want to see holla work at your school? Let us know, and you may be just the introduction we need!

As always, you can email boston@ihollaback.org with any questions or suggestions. And a big, warm thank you to all our volunteers, for all that you do!


image credit: Hollaback! Boston

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Events, Hollaback! Boston, Local News

It’s Coming: International Anti-Street Harassment Week 2014

We’re prepping for a busy week in Boston next week in celebration of International Anti-Street Harassment Week, and we’ve got something for everyone! Meet us on the street to speak out about street harassment in your community, or to learn more.

international anti-street harassment week 2014 // hollaback! boston

Check out our lineup at the links below, and join us if you can!

March 30-April 5—Meet Us On The Street: International Anti-Street Harassment Week

March 30, 2pm—HOLLA Offline

April 1, 6:30pm—War Zone Film Screening

April 3, 8:30pm—MUTS Take Back The Bar: College Edition with Lesley University

April 5, 12pm—Meet Us On The Street: Chalk Walk

If you can’t meet us in person, perhaps joining us for one of Stop Street Harassment’s tweet chats next week would hold some appeal: check out the full schedule online!


image credit: Hollaback! Boston

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Hollaback! Boston, Noteworthy

HOLLA Worthy Link Round-Up

holla worthy link round-up // hollaback! boston

It’s been another busy week! In case you missed them, some recommended reads from the Hollaback! Boston team:

Did we miss anything awesome? Let us know in the comments!


image credit: Hollaback! Boston

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Hollaback! Boston, Kate, Local News, Noteworthy

Boston’s Bystanders Are Making Our Streets Safer

Boston has seen some incredible instances of bystander intervention lately, and it’s really important to highlight the impact that bystanders can have in creating safer public spaces in our communities. Perhaps even more than collective storytelling, bystanders can change the world!

On Monday night, a man stepped in to subdue a harasser who was escalating to physical violence toward two women on the T:

“Richard Botelho, 43, is accused of first verbally berating the women with insults, Transit Police said. The women moved to another section of the train, but Botelho’s alleged harassment continued. [...] A man intervened and subdued Botelho, holding him on a T platform until police arrived.

This is what people think of most often when they hear “bystander intervention” – it’s what we call direct intervention. If you feel you can step in without turning the situation toward violence, and especially if your privileges place you in a position to speak out safely against the harassment, direct intervention is an excellent option. We commend this man for intervening on the T!

That said, direct intervention is not for everyone, nor is it the only option. Also this week, a local T-rider demonstrated “delayed intervention” better than we ever have. In case you missed her scathing Craigslist Missed Connection, click through for a closer read:

boston's bystanders // hollaback! boston

Here, a bystander witnessed harassment, and stepped in after the fact both to support the victim by asking her what was wrong, AND to publicly share the story and highlight a specific incident and a broader problem that the community—locally and nationally—is now discussing actively. That’s awesome!

Curious about other ways, directly and indirectly, that YOU can be an active bystander in Boston? We’ve got a list for that – check it out! Have a bystander story of your own? Tell us about it! Solutions to street harassment lie within our communities, not in criminalization; active bystanders help make our streets safer for everyone. THANK YOU!


image credit: Craigslist

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Britni, Hollaback! Boston, I've Got Your Back, Shared Stories

Bystander Intervention Before The Fact

If there’s anything that running Hollaback! Boston has taught me over these last few years, it’s the importance of bystander intervention. We see bystander intervention as the solution to ending street harassment. Why is that? Because there are two things that allow street harassment to happen:

  1. A person who decides to harass someone else, and
  2. A community of bystanders who stand idly by and do nothing while the harassment occurs.

We believe that by creating communities of active bystanders, we can start to change the culture that tolerates and accepts street harassment as part of everyday life for women, LGBTQ folks, and people of color.

When we talk about bystander intervention, we often talk about the kind of intervention that happens when we see an incident of harassment happening. But there are other kinds of bystander intervention, too. One that I think is really important but often underutilized is the intervention that consists of having a conversation with our friends, family, or community members when we hear something problematic. This kind of intervention may actually be able to stop an incident of harassment from ever happening in the first place.

The other day, I overheard a conversation between two men and used the opportunity to step in and say something. The men were talking about what they should do that day and one says, “Let’s go sit in the Common, look at hot bitches, and get some numbers.”

So I decide to ask, “Is that really how that works?” Shocked, they looked at me in confusion. I continued, “I’m just curious if that tactic has ever worked for you. I’m asking because I know I’ve never given my number to some random guy in the park, and it actually makes me feel really unsafe when someone I don’t know approaches me in that way in public space.”

They looked at each other and neither said anything. So I said, “Anyway, just something to think about. Have a GREAT day! It’s a beautiful one to be hanging in the Common.” And I smiled and walked away.

Do I know if this conversation will actually stop them from hitting on women in the Common? No. But did I possibly give them something to think about? Yes. Now, it’s important to note that I felt safe to step in and say something to these guys. We were all at a salad bar in a public place and we’d already had a brief interaction that had broken the ice. If you decide you want to say something to someone, always assess your safety first! It’s important.

I think that these kinds of interventions are possible much more often than we realize. It’s possible to say something in a nice, non-combative way (or not, if that’s your jam!) and open a dialogue with people about their actions or beliefs about harassment and how to interact with people in public space.

See something? Say something! For more tips on bystander intervention, check out our guide. And if you have a badass bystander story to share, submit it to our site! We’re happy to share stories of bystander intervention along with the stories of harassment that tend to dominate our submissions.


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Hollaback! Boston, Noteworthy

HOLLA Worthy Link Round-Up

Some weeks, we really look forward to Friday; this week has been one of those.

holla worthy link round-up // hollaback! boston

If you’re wondering why we seem to be everywhere, take a peek at our upcoming events – we’re everywhere. Before you head off to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, remember that clothing (even “kiss me I’m Irish” shirts) never means someone is asking for it! Then, catch up on a few worthy reads from this week:

Have a great weekend!


image credit: Hollaback! Boston

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Hollaback! Boston, Local News

No Laughing Matter

This morning, DigBoston released its latest cover art: on the surface, timely and cheeky.

upskirting is not just for women // hollaback! boston

Then began the backlash.

As feedback poured in and the Hollaback! Boston team discussed, we were disappointed; making light of harassment and sexual violence, regardless of gender or what a person is wearing, isn’t okay.

It was just Monday that we wrote about legislative updates being just the beginning in changing the norms that condone upskirting and similar violations in public space. We were thrilled at the speed with which the legislature updated Massachusetts’ outdated peeping tom laws, and share the artist’s excitement that the illustrated behavior is now illegal—but especially now, less than a week after those changes, we can’t afford to make light of the very real experiences of victims of sexual harassment and violence in public.

There are so many ways that women and queer folks are violated in public every day beyond upskirts; there are so many ways in which men and trans* and non-conforming folks can experience the very same humiliating, degrading violation depicted cartoonishly, laughably, here; there is so much more work to be done.

Hollaback! Boston needs to respect the stories that are shared with us online, in workshops and at events. Collective storytelling is at the core of our mission, and we are continuously inspired by the courage of everyone who shares their experiences—their fears, their violations, their anger and their vulnerability—with us. These experiences are no joke, and unfortunately, this week’s cover makes light of and minimizes very real violations happening in Boston and around the world.

–The Hollaback! Boston Team

image credit: DigBoston

Brandie, Hollaback! Boston

Race, Street Harassment and Identity

This piece was originally published on Brandie’s blog, Feminist Fists, on March 6, 2014.

Last week the Hollaback! mothership (NYC) facilitated a much needed discussion on race and street harassment, using the hashtag  #harassmentis on Twitter. The panel included: @schemaly, @Besito86, @jamiaw, @fazlalizadeh, @jpercentie, @hollabackboston, @ihollaback, @jennpozner and @cocacy.

Street harassment, as defined by Hollaback!, “is a form of sexual harassment that takes place in in public spaces. At its core, harassment is a power dynamic that constantly reminds historically marginalized groups of their vulnerability to assault in public places. It can lead and contribute to violent altercations, other forms of sexual violence and hate crimes. It reinforces the sexual objectification of already subordinated groups in everyday life.”

Before the tweet-up started, Hollaback! encouraged those who were interested in participating to review the #harassmentis guide and rules, important for those unaware of the type of language used in conversations such as this, and the importance of knowing when and how to talk about issues regarding race, and when to take a back seat and listen.

Hollaback! Boston put together a reading list to show different ways race and gender intersect when experiencing street harassment. Here is the storify of the tweet-up, created by Hollaback!.

The release of the New York Times article  “On Being Both the Wolf and the Lamb” brought widespread criticism including this piece:  “Everything Wrong with Gentrification in One New York Times Article.” It seemed a better time than ever to call out racist responses to street harassment – digging a little deeper into how and why:

  • harassment of women of color is often overlooked and deemed “cultural.”

“Well for youth, black girls are seen as jezebels who want attention from men, therefore any harassment of them is jusified #harassmentis” -@fazlalizadeh

“I’ve received racialized sexist commentary from harassers in US, Europe, & the Middle East. Grip of white supremacy is global. #harassmentis”-@jamiaw

“I feel that when I get harassed, it’s more vulgar and aggressive because I’m a black woman. #HarassmentIs” -@DiennaHoward

Let’s face it, street harassment is a world-wide issue, which is why there is a movement to end it internationally. It is not only prevalent in India, it is not only in Brazil - these are problems created by patriarchy, which is the result of the colonization of people of color. It slithers its way into societies and it engulfs the communities that it takes hold over. It blames those who have been forced into its virgin/whore dichotomy, a perpetuating cycle that can only be dismantled after facing it for what it is: oppression, women being subordinate to men.

  • women of color are often blamed for harassment by  men because our bodies are hyper-sexualized, thus forced into a victim-blaming back and forth.

“@iHollaback WOC are hypersexualized and then blamed when their sexiness “provokes” harassment. Frustrating on many levels. #harassmentis” -@nualacabral

“Growing up I was always told that my body provoked unwanted attention in ways that slimmer girls’ bodies didn’t. #harassmentis” -@Besito86

“..we’re being harassed as hypersexualized women. And not just by men. We get harassed for our “otherness” by white women.” -@fazlalizadeh

#harassmentis street harassment has always been racialised for me – I once got told a man would “fuck me til I spoke English.” -@doloresonthedot

The trending #fasttailedgirls, created by Mikki Kendall, spoke of the hypersexualization of black girls, in which she mentions a great piece on this topic by @LexiScorsese: “The Myth of Fast Black Girls” [TW: Rape]:

“This is nothing new. Sexuality has been projected onto, used as a weapon against, and been a site of contempt for Black women at least since colonization. Inherently animalistic & hypersexual, impossible to rape, the antithesis of constructed virtuous White womanhood. While no identities of children or adults makes anyone impervious to predators, the intersection of gender & race has unique implications for Black & brown girls..”

This really hits home with me; as a mixed race girl, my first encounter with street harassment was when I was nine years old. My mother sent me to the store to buy candy on a hot summer’s day, wearing a tank top and shorts. A man pulled up in a car and started talking to me, eventually shouting sexual favors he wanted me to do for him. Of course I had no idea what he was talking about since I had never heard a lot of the words he was using in his solicitation. Ignoring him, I went into the store hoping that he would leave by the time I got out. To my surprise he waited for me and continued to creep slowly next to me as I made my way back home. At this point I had put together that the man thought I was much older than I was and wanted something from me. It wasn’t until I yelled, “I’m nine!” that he drove off with a puzzled (and ashamed) look on his face. When I told my mother about the experience she laughed a little and said that he probably thought I was a teenager because I was tall for my age. She didn’t tell me it wasn’t my fault or that the guy was a creep, she just made excuses for his behavior.

  • the recurring act (even within the tweet-up) of women of color being silenced by white women, who dismiss our experiences by insisting: “We all share a similar experience, living in a sexist society,” and when women of color voice their being uncomfortable, we are “misinterpreting” white women.

“WOC can & should decide if what we suffer is racialised, not WW. & tbh? 99% of street harassment I’ve received from WM IS racialised.” -@doloresonthedot

-@doloresonthedot they always think that everything that we experience is “universal.” nah, boo, our experiences aren’t one in the same.” -@xMissTanisa

-@doloresonthedot They try to push this ‘post-racial’ agenda when clearly we’re nowhere near. Also diverts all attention back to gender only.” -@ella_achola

Whilst participating in the tweet-up I didn’t catch these tweets from women of color that are specific to experiencing racist harassment. It’s tiring to point out the derailing of a few white women who thought it was important (or even OK) to remind people that we shouldn’t forget that we are women (most of us participating, anyway) and that sexism is part of the problem. Dear white mainstream feminists: please stop trying to remind women of color that we are, in fact, women. We were involved in the conversation to address the intersections of the two in this tweet-up, just because you don’t experience the racialized aspect doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist. Having two forms of oppression that are deeply-seated in patriarchy is work enough, trying to convince and educate you in addition is exhausting and frankly not our responsibility. This is the part where you listen, are supportive, awesome allies and spread the word to others in the white feminist/anti-street harassment movement.

  • the reality that holding multiple identities creates more experiences of harassment, as well as a higher chance of experiencing violence, i.e. a queer woman of color who is walking with a partner may experience: 1) racialised, 2) sexist, and 3) homophobic street harassment.

Chiquita Brooks, the incredible founder of The Goddess Festival: Oshun Returns, speaks to me and gives me life with her piece: “Street Harassment and Race: A Sliding Scale.” She goes on to say:

“It has become common place that cat calling or street harassment is something that as women we “have” to deal with, preferably in silence. Those of us who identify as LGBTQ are also subject to street harassment, especially if we refuse to wear clothes that are gender specific I personally experienced the most vicious street harassment, as a queer woman of color.  From threats of rape & even death threats simply because I was walking with my partner.”

To many, homophobia (and homophobic attacks) are a serious safety issue when existing in public space, in Chiquita’s story she is terrorized with sexual assault and violence because her relationship with another queer individual interrupts and threatens the (cis-hetero) “male gaze.” Patriarchy has allowed men to think they are entitled to view, objectify and act upon women’s bodies, regardless of their objections, consent or desire.

The conversation on race and street harassment is far from over: the #harassmentis tag is still available to use for identity-related tweets on your experiences with street harassment and harassment in public space. Hopefully in the future we can have more centralized discussions, that will use hashtags from people’s own personal narratives, rather than incorporating them into a broader consciousness. Derailment, by voicing white women’s opinions on how women of color should react, feel or respond, creates an unnecessary divide. Our identities are important to us, all of us, and homogenous platforms that are used to voice them only do a disservice to those who are already marginalized by the oppressive structures we are hoping to dismantle.


This piece was originally published on Brandie’s blog, Feminist Fists, on March 6, 2014.

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Hollaback! Boston, Kate, Local News, Noteworthy

Outlawing Upskirting is Just the Beginning

This morning, before I left the house, I got dressed. One might argue that by putting on clothing, barring a wardrobe malfunction, I could reasonably assume my privates would stay private even as I move through public space.

Last week, the court ruled that under existing Massachusetts law, up-skirt photos—photos taken surreptitiously, without consent of the subject, up skirts or down shirts in public space for private or public viewing—were not illegal.

There was immediate public outrage at the ruling—but let’s not lay blame with the court. Massachusetts’ rules were outdated on this subject, along with most states in the country. Lawmakers very quickly jumped to support changes to the phrasing of the law, in which photos taken up the skirts of fully-clothed adults failed to meet the “nude or partially nude” litmus; this flurry of action is a good sign. Technology advances rapidly, and our legislation can’t always keep pace—which is why it’s so crucial, right now, this very minute, that we commit to updating other loopholes and legislative gaps to reflect modern threats.

Our focus should lie with thoughtful, thorough solutions: updates to legislation that protect citizens from this new technological violation as well as others, which also consider the impacts criminalization can have on marginalized communities. The law needed to be updated, in short order, absolutely—but we need more than a rapid response to public outrage that will burn out and lead to other, similar legislative changes taking a back burner.

Why did previous proposals to update peeping tom laws in Massachusetts languish? What other, new ways are women and girls and people of color and the LGBTQ community being violated in public? What other outdated laws need to be updated, loopholes for modern realities closed? These issues need our collective energy and attention, too, and not just for the brief days it took to make upskirting, specifically, illegal.

When we allow protections like an updated, modernized peeping tom law to take a back seat, we reinforce a societal norm that devalues the experiences of already marginalized citizens; by declining to keep our codes current, we refuse to offer means of recourse or support for victims of creepshots and up-skirt and down-blouse photographs. We reinforce the widespread belief that assault, harassment and violation are an invariable fact of life for a large portion of our population and support the assumption that to enter public space is to risk mental or physical harm. Hollaback! Boston works alongside myriad other organizations to challenge these norms, locally and globally, every day: shouldn’t everyone be entitled to feeling safe in public space, on public transit, and to have access to various means of recourse if we do not feel safe?

Yes. We should.

Last week saw an enormous amount of outrage over the ruling, and understandably so; individuals, and lawmakers, assumed we had a right to privacy beneath our clothes, and we’ve seen again what happens when you assume. The court has highlighted the need for this specific update and the challenge our legislative system faces in keeping up with technological advances that may or may not be covered under current laws.

Until we dig deeper, and sometimes test them in court, it’s difficult to set priorities among so many proposed laws. What this instance should highlight for everyone is that, despite our communities’ best work to eradicate the sexual and gender-based violence that colors our movements through public space, there are new and unregulated means of violation that must also be addressed. Let’s not allow the outrage cycle to turn the important discussions surrounding last week’s ruling into a flash in the pan.


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