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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!
image credit: Hollaback!no comments
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
There’s a piece that’s been going a little viral in the feminist corners of the internet that I frequent. Perhaps you’ve seen it? It’s pleading with women to stop saying, “I have a boyfriend” to deflect unwanted attention from men in public.
Yes, this may be the easiest and quickest way to get someone to leave you alone, but the problems associated with using this excuse far outweigh the benefits. There is a quotation that I’ve seen floating around Tumblr recently (reblogged by many of my amazing feminist Tumblr-friends) that goes as follows:
Male privilege is “I have a boyfriend” being the only thing that can actually stop someone from hitting on you because they respect another male-bodied person more than they respect your rejection/lack of interest.
This amazingly puts into one sentence what I have been attempting to explain to ex-boyfriends and friends (male and female) for years, mostly unsuccessfully. The idea that a woman should only be left alone if she is “taken” or “spoken for” (terms that make my brain twitch) completely removes the level of respect that should be expected toward that woman.
It completely removes the agency of the woman, her ability to speak for herself and make her own decisions regarding when and where the conversation begins or ends. It is basically a real-life example of feminist theory at work–women (along with women’s choices, desires, etc.) being considered supplemental to or secondary to men, be it the man with whom she is interacting or the man to whom she “belongs” (see the theory of Simone de Beauvoir, the story of Adam and Eve, etc.).
You know what, I COMPLETELY agree with this. Men should not leave us women alone just because they think we “belong” to some other man. Men should leave us alone because they respect the boundaries that we’ve set, and they respect the “no” that has just come out of our mouth. Men should leave us alone because they’re super into consent in all forms and at all levels.
But unfortunately for us, this is not the world that we live in. Which is why I have to politely disagree with the OP when she goes on to share her solution to these kinds of interactions and expectations.
So what can we do? I think the solution is simple — we simply stop using excuses. If a man is coming on to you (and you are not interested — if you are, go for it, girl!), respond with something like this: “I’m not interested.”Don’t apologize and don’t excuse yourself. If they question your response (which is likely), persist — ”No, I said I’m not interested.”
You guys, I wish it was that simple. But it’s not. And here at Hollaback! Boston, we’re firm believers that there is no wrong way to respond to street harassment. The best way to respond is the way that makes you feel safest. And so if the only way you feel like you can avoid an escalating situation with a guy who won’t stop talking to you is to pull the boyfriend card, then by all means PULL IT. Say that not only do you have a boyfriend, but that he’s a lineman for the Patriots. Say whatever it is that you need to say to safely extricate yourself from the situation. Your safety is the most important thing. Always. Yes, the OP is right that we shouldn’t have to say we have a boyfriend to get guys to leave us alone, in the same way that we shouldn’t have to ask guys to think of their mothers, sisters, or wives in order for them to have empathy for other women. But unfortunately, sometimes it’s the only thing that works.
And to the OP: instead of telling women that “we’re doing this to ourselves,” we need to be sending this message to the people who are really at fault for these non-consensual interactions– the men engaging in them. Telling us women that it’s on us to change our behavior to avoid harassment is akin to telling us that we should watch how much we drink or what we wear to avoid rape. Besides being textbook victim-blaming, we also know that that just flat out doesn’t work. Instead of telling us to change our behavior, we need to be telling the men that don’t respect our boundaries that they need to take “no” for an answer and back off when someone isn’t interested.
So ladies, if you’re being harassed by some guy that won’t leave you alone, do what you need to do to get him to go away. If that means that you say that you’re “taken” by another man, so be it. I just want you to feel safe and empowered.2 comments
We’ve been all about the bike this week, and since we’ve just kicked off Bay State Bike Week you can expect more of the same for the moment. Stay with us!
In other news this week, a few links worthy of your time:
What’s on your plate this weekend?
Make it a good one,
image credit: Hollaback! Boston
“I love the way you push those pedals.”
“C’mon, can’t I ride with you? Bitch don’t be that way.”
“Why don’t you ride me instead?”
“Awww, look at you on your cute little bike.”
I really, really love my bike. I love riding in Boston, and I ride almost daily, year round. I ride in spandex, in skirts, in stilettos and in snow gear. I ride because it’s faster, cheaper, more efficient, and because it connects me to my city and makes me smile. (Except in February. No one smiles on bikes in Boston in February.)
— Kate Ziegler (@KZiegs) May 1, 2014
But every time someone throws a new brand of gendered bike harassment my way, my blood boils. Just like street harassment on public transit, on the street, in nightlife and in public spaces throughout the world, street harassment faced by cyclists isolates, humiliates and makes shared spaces feel unsafe.
In honor of National Bike Month, and next week’s Bay State Bike Week, we’re celebrating the bicycle as an empowering transit alternative, and also examining the harassment that keeps women, LGBTQ folks and other marginalized citizens from taking up two wheels.
@HollabackBoston At Copley a man cornered me on my bike & said, “I want to lick your pussy” & “Come on, slap me” when I screamed at him.
— Stephanie (@SteffiLuke) April 9, 2014
— Stephanie (@SteffiLuke) April 9, 2014
If you’re looking for a roundup of bike-related submissions to Hollaback! Boston in the past, we’ve got an archive for that. If you’re interested in talking to us in person, stop by Bike Fridays in City Hall Plaza on May 9. Join us virtually for tweet chats focusing on bike harassment in Boston (5/13) and internationally (5/20); use #bikeSH to join in and ask questions of our panelists!
And, as always, never hesitate to share your stories with us, online, through the app, on facebook or twitter, or even just in the comments! By sharing experiences and starting the conversation, we can all help support safer public spaces for everyone.
image credits: 1-Kate Ziegler; 2-Hollaback! Bostonone comment