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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!
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!
For the second year, Hollaback! Boston is supporting a marching group in the Boston Pride parade – and we are SO excited. The 2014 Pride theme – “Be Yourself, Change the World” – is a perfect match for our work! Hollaback! is, worldwide, all about making our streets safe for everyone to be themselves.
We know that it’s not just women who experience harassment and gender-based violence in public spaces: LGBQ, trans* and non-conforming folks are at risk, too. Stop Street Harassment’s national report (released yesterday!) demonstrates this, as did our 2013 survey in Boston; the risks of existing as oneself in public are reflected in lived experience. When identities overlap, people can find themselves at an even greater risk of harassment from strangers in public, both sexualized and non-sexual in nature. All of this combines to make our public spaces seem unwelcoming at best, and worse, potentially dangerous – but we believe it doesn’t have to be this way.
Hollaback! Boston is not just for straight, white, cis-gendered women: our goal is to provide a platform to amplify ALL stories of street harassment in Boston, and to give you a space to make your side of the experience heard. We want to know how your identities are intersecting to impact the way you navigate Boston’s streets, and sharing your stories ensures that our team, our communities and our leaders can listen, learn and do more.
There will be beads. There will be ribbons. There will be signs and banners and plenty of Gwen Stefani shouted our way. Our marching group, just like our work, is not just for women – allies and friends and victims and bystanders are all welcome! We’ll be hosting a sign-making and parade planning meeting in Jamaica Plain on June 12; be sure to join the Facebook event for details.
image credit: Hollaback! Bostonno comments
Where did last month go?
We’re moving full-steam ahead into June (and Boston Pride!), but before you join us have a look back at the five most popular posts from last month:
What’s on your radar for June? Let us know in the comments!
image credit: Hollaback! Bostonno comments
We’re winding down at HOLLA::Rev and shipping up to Boston – but we haven’t had a chance to catch up on the internet this week! For a link round-up, check out some coverage of the UCSB shootings posted earlier this week; then, share your must-reads with us in the comments!
image credit: Hollaback! Bostonno comments
HOLLA::Revolution is back! Kate will be attending live today in New York, but the event will stream live starting at 2pm EDT and available wherever you are. Join us!
image credit: Hollaback!no comments
Directors’ Note: Kayla was our very first non-founding team addition, and we are so grateful for her help and patience over the last year—but as a recent graduate of Tufts, Kayla is moving out of the area and moving on from Hollaback! Boston. We’re finishing up a few majorly exciting projects she headed, and we can’t wait to share them with you! Kayla also still holds the record for our most popular post, ever: revisit I’ll Smile When You Stop Telling Me To in her honor. Congratulations, Kayla, good luck, and THANK YOU for all of your work and support! –Britni + Kate
Working with Hollaback! Boston this past year has meant so much to me, as a woman, as a feminist, and as someone who has called this place home for the last four years. When I first interviewed with Britni and Kate last summer, I remember asking where their offices were, and I remember them laughing out loud. “We don’t have offices…yet,” they said. Hollaback! Boston was still in its early days then, following in the footsteps of “The Mothership” in NYC. We still don’t have offices, but we have come so far since that coffee shop meeting.
I feel so proud to have stood with Hollaback! Boston this year as they pushed for key legislation, advocated for community partnerships, worked with area businesses to create a sense of accountability, and so much more. I want to thank HB for everything they’ve done, everything they’re trying to do, and everything they will do long after I’m gone. The work is unpaid, the days are long, and the progress is often slow, but it’s organizations like this one that hold cities together. The mission at Hollaback! Boston, and all of the Hollaback! chapters around the world, is to keep all community members safe from harm in public space. They do that by framing street harassment as something for which we are all at risk, and for which we are all responsible.
Before joining the Hollaback! team, I considered street harassment an inevitable reality for myself and others. I recognized the divide between those who are regularly harassed and those who regularly do the harassing, but I didn’t have the words or the confidence to interrupt what I was seeing. After co-leading workshops, engaging people in new conversations, and brainstorming broad and specific solutions to this growing problem, I have a new sense of what it means to be a member of this community. I know what my rights are, even if those rights aren’t yet recognized by law. I know how to help someone in a hostile situation, and I know what wouldn’t help at all. I am indebted to the amazing people at Hollaback! Boston for teaching me, for being patient with me, and for forcing me to find my own voice and to tackle the issues that I care about most. I’m leaving Boston this week, and I couldn’t be happier that I’m leaving it to you and your allies.
image credit: Kayla Hoganno comments
We’re very eagerly counting down to HOLLA::Revolution on Tuesday, but this week held plenty of excitement, too. In case you missed them, a few of our favorite links:
Also this week, we hosted our second, worldwide tweet chat on bike harassment—check out the storify!—and conversations over public safety for pedestrians and taxi and livery customers in Boston are starting up, too. Do you feel safe on Boston streets? What constitutes “safe”? Have you ever felt harassed or unsafe in a cab or an Uber car? What about late night options? Share your thoughts with us!
We’ll be tweeting from HOLLA::Rev live in New York on Tuesday – if you’ll be in the area, don’t forget to grab your tickets! Otherwise, be sure to catch the livestream of the event; the lineup is terrific, and you won’t want to miss it.
Have a wonderful weekend!
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Boston is known as “America’s Walking City” due to the high density of our downtown, making walking a convenient and desirable mode of transportation. In fact, it’s one of the things that I love most about Boston. I was raised in Fort Lauderdale, where walking was nearly impossible due to the sprawling nature of the city (see also: LA). Boston appealed to me because I could walk everywhere I wanted to go, and I felt more connected to the city itself and the people living here. There’s nothing better than being outside on the first nice day of Spring, when it seems like the entire city has spilled out onto the sidewalks and into the parks to enjoy the weather. I get to know my city in new and different ways when I explore it on foot. This aspect of life in Boston is a huge asset and a huge draw for many of the people that live here. And so it’s important for us to consider pedestrian safety, especially if we are and want to continue to be “America’s Walking City.”
What makes a city “safe” for pedestrians? According to The National Complete Streets Coalition’s Dangerous by Design 2014 report, it’s the “number of fatalities and at risk walkers.” And by those measures, Boston ranks highest for pedestrian safety (interestingly enough, Fort Lauderdale, my hometown, ranks among the least safe). This is a great thing, but I’d argue that there’s something missing from the picture of what makes a city safe for pedestrians, and how we’re determining what qualifies as an “at risk” walker. Because even if pedestrians aren’t getting hit by cars all the time, there are plenty of other things that can make pedestrians feel unsafe– including street harassment.
Who has the privilege of feeling safe walking on the streets of Boston? We know that it’s not always women, LGBTQ folks, and people of color; just because they may not fear getting hit by a car doesn’t mean that they don’t have other safety concerns. When we released our State of the Streets Report last year, we found that 97% of respondents that had experienced street harassment in Boston had experienced it on our streets. And when we asked those people how that harassment made them feel, 80% said “nervous” and 64% answered “scared.” You can also click on any of the pink bubbles on the map to the right of our website and read stories of people feeling unsafe after being harassed on the streets of Boston.
The discussion of pedestrian safety feels incomplete if we’re not looking at all aspects of being a pedestrian. Sure, it’s great that folks walking in Boston can feel pretty good about not being hit by cars, but if a large number of people (mostly non-white and/or non-cisgender male) are worrying about being harassed when they’re walking down the street, do we really consider Boston “safe?” If people are seeking alternate modes like bikes, cabs, and/or Uber to avoid harassment, how safe do our pedestrians really feel?
And if pedestrians don’t feel safe in Boston, how can we address it? That’s what Hollaback! Boston is trying to do with our work. Besides providing a supportive forum for people to share their stories of harassment and raise consciousness around the issue, we provide workshops about what street harassment is and how we can make our streets feel safer through community-based solutions. But that’s not all we’re doing. As part of the Elevate Boston coalition, we asked Mayor Marty Walsh’s office to provide community safety audits as a way to assess and then address safety on our streets, and that’s something that’s moving forward. We’re also part of the Mayor’s Late Night Task Force, bringing the perspective of public safety after dark to the table.
Our goal is to make the streets of Boston safe for everyone, and that’s not going to be a reality until all residents of Boston can walk down the street without having to worry about being harassed, followed, or assaulted. Physical safety from motor vehicles is indeed one aspect of safety on our streets, but emotional safety and physical safety related to gender-based violence is just as important in making a city a true “walking city.”
image credit: Kate Zieglerno comments
I find that, as a female, my body is always public property. Unsolicited commentary on my ass seems par for the course if I plan to leave my house, and it’s something that I’ve come to expect from men on the street. It’s exhausting and infuriating and I really, really hate it. But I’m currently a little over 8 months pregnant and I find myself wishing for the days when occasional comments about what I’ve got in the back were some of the only unsolicited comments flung my way.
When you’re pregnant, your body is still public property, but now it belongs to everyone– men, women, and children will take equal opportunities to comment on my pregnant body. Suddenly my due date, the sex of the fetus I’m carrying, the name I’ve chosen for my baby, how much weight I’ve gained, how I’m feeling, and the puffiness of my face all become appropriate things for people I don’t know to speak to me about.
Walking down the street now goes something like this:
“When are you due?”
“What are you having?”
“Is it a boy or a girl?”
“It’s a baby.”
“It looks like you’re carrying a girl.”
“Because you’re all belly.”
“Boy or girl?”
“Why are you wearing your coat? Aren’t you hot? I bet the baby is hot.”
“Hey, mama! Lookin’ good!”
“Your face looks so fat!”
“How much weight have you gained?
“I don’t know or care. Why would you ask me that?”
“Mmm, mmm. Seeing your belly makes me want to go home and have sex with my girlfriend!”
“Seriously, your face is so fat/puffy/pudgy/swollen/round/chubby/chunky.”
“You look so plump and juicy, mama. Damn!”
Ad infinitum. This is EXHAUSTING, on top of the exhaustion I’m already dealing with just by virtue of being 8 months pregnant. I really, really want to be able to walk down the street and not have to answer intrusive questions about my body. But I’m often too tired and too overwhelmed and, yes, just too damn nice to say anything. So I nod. I fake a smile. And I walk into the McDonald’s on the corner and I cry.2 comments
Happy Bay State Bike Week! We’ve had some gorgeous weather (finally) despite today’s cool down, and it’s made for great riding. Unfortunately, with warmer weather we also see an uptick in reports of all kinds of street harassment as more people are out sharing public space.
Today, though, we’re focusing on the bicycle: bikes can be empowering, accessible and affordable transit options (based on the cost of a monthly T pass, I could buy TWO of my current bike, brand new, every year for less!) but women make up a fraction of ridership.
Marginalized populations are at risk for harassment when they are on two wheels just as when they walk through public space, and even if the getaway is often faster, the pervasive sense of vulnerability is just as potent and changes the ways we move through our city and interact with our communities. As a year-round rider, I’m really excited to extend our work for safe public spaces to this specific type of gender-based street harassment.
We’re joining a group of local riders and advocates as a panel to facilitate today’s discussion, which is just a starting point for this conversation in Boston. There’s much more to dig into—the power dynamics of gender, race, vehicle and infrastructure, for example—but the tweet chat is just the tip of the iceberg. We’ll post one question every six minutes for the hour, and will all engage using the #bikeSH tag. Follow our panelists, tune in to the hashtag, and share your experiences with us!
Follow our panelists!
Josh of @BikeSafeBoston
Megan of @BIKABOUT
Benjy of @hubway
Also tune in for a second chat next week, on May 20 at 3pm EDT - this one will have a global panel and broader focus, and will also be found under #bikeSH. We’d love to have you!
UPDATE: We’ve had some requests to list the questions from the chat in a centralized place, so that the conversation can continue. Here they are! Use #bikeSH to join the discussion, swing by again next Tuesday, and many, many thanks to those who helped facilitate today’s chat!
image credits: Hollaback! Boston2 comments