Britni, Events, Hollaback! Boston, Local News

On The SCOTUS, Buffer Zones, and The Fight For Bodily Autonomy: The Intersection of Street Harassment and Reproductive Justice

Unless you’ve been living under a rock the past week, chances are you’ve heard about two rulings passed down from the Supreme Court of the United States that strike large blows to our access to reproductive healthcare. The first of these rulings struck down the 35 foot buffer zone that exists outside of Massachusetts abortion clinics and the second ruled that employers could refuse to cover an employee’s contraception if it goes against said employer’s religious beliefs. Both of these rulings are troubling for a variety of reasons, and while it might seem obvious why an anti-street harassment organization is addressing the buffer zone ruling, we have good reason to be publicly addressing both of these rulings. Because street harassment and reproductive justice are two pieces of the same pie– both of these issues make up the larger fight against the patriarchy and our society that tries to control women’s bodies, along with the bodies of anyone trans* or gender non-conforming or queer, too.

be yourself, change the world: boston pride 2014 // hollaback! boston

According to research complied by Nikki Tuttle,  Hollaback!’s LSRJ Summer Intern, reproductive justice focuses on the “control and exploitation of women’s bodies, sexuality and reproduction as an effective strategy of controlling women and communities,” because controlling a woman’s body consequently “controls her life, options, and potential.”[1] Similarly, street harassment negatively impacts and ultimately controls women (and female-identified persons) by denigrating and exploiting their physical appearance (including gender presentation and bodies), their social and community status (through stereotyping), their sexuality, and their reproductive potential. We can, of course, expand this to include trans*, gender non-conforming, and queer bodies, too. We know that women are not the only people accessing reproductive healthcare, just like we know that women are not the only people whose bodies are commented on when they are in public space.

Both of these rulings by the SCOTUS are further attempts to control what marginalized populations do with their bodies, and this time that message has been sent from one of the most powerful institutions in the country. Is it any wonder that the fight to end gender-based violence seems futile at times? How can we expect the general population to get the message that everyone should be treated equally, that men are not entitled to women and trans* folks’ bodies, that harassment is a form of violence when the highest court in the nation is sending the opposite message? These decisions are basically making misogyny explicitly acceptable.

For our work here in Boston, the buffer zone ruling will have immediate effects, which we joined Mara Dolan on her radio show to discuss. By eradicating the buffer zone, any semblance of safety has also been eradicated. The buffer zone was the one thing that gave the impression to people entering clinics that their safety mattered and that there was some form of protection over it. If we’re striving to ensure safe public space for all through our work as Hollaback! Boston, this ruling is indeed a step back. Everyone should have the right to access necessary healthcare services or go to work without the threat of harassment, violence, and intimidation. And violence is a very real threat. Let’s not forget that the buffer zone was put in place following the 1994 murders of two staff members at Boston abortion clinics. Still not convinced? Read about Michelle Kinsey Burns’ experiences as a clinic escort. It’s frightening.

And it’s not just people entering the clinics that are affected by this ruling. In the week since it came down, there has been an uptick in protesters outside of the Planned Parenthood in Boston. These protesters disrupt the lives of anyone walking down the street. Protester Connie Cronin told the Globe that she can spot Planned Parenthood patients from down the street. “As soon as she sees her marks, Cronin is off, crossing the street to meet them long before they get to the clinic building. She begs them to reconsider, asks if they need help, keeps her pictures of fetal development ready in a Ziploc bag.” Not only is this disruptive to the people who actually are headed towards Planned Parenthood (and might very well be going for one of the many other services they provide; abortions make up less than 3% of their services), but it’s disruptive and upsetting to people who are just trying to go to school or work or the grocery store and aren’t even heading into the clinic.

We know that Boston has been especially focused on ensuring that our public spaces are safe for people who occupy them. This ruling makes for very unsafe public space outside of our abortion clinics, not just for patients, but for staff and citizens, too. On the plus side, the ruling “does not directly affect the buffer zones in other states and cities, and the justices indicated that more limited restrictions could be put into place in Massachusetts.” Like the upskirting law, it appears that a loophole in the language of the law itself was the issue. Hopefully lawmakers can rectify that quickly, like we saw with the upskirting law. And according to Politico, “Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley said she had spoken with Gov. Deval Patrick, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh and state lawmakers shortly after the ruling, and all were committed to moving quickly to protecting women’s access to the five clinics affected. Massachusetts officials will seek court injunctions and other actions against protesters who threaten women’s safety, as well as work with law enforcement, Coakley said.”

Here at Hollaback! Boston, we stand in solidarity with all patients, staff, workers, escorts, and citizens who are affected by these rulings. And if you experience harassment outside of a clinic, whether you’re a patient, staff, or passerby, feel free to submit your story to our website. We accept stories of clinic harassment, too.

Supreme Rally For Women's Rights

In order to continue to fight, we have agreed to #jointhedissent. We’re sponsoring a rally along with ACLU of Massachusetts, The Connors Center, Mass NOW, NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts, Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts, and The Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice to send the message that these rulings are unacceptable and make our city and state unsafe for people living here. We are committed to our work to make Boston as safe as possible for the people who live here, and we plan to fight for everyone’s bodily autonomy. Join us at the rally TOMORROW, July 8th at 5 PM in City Hall Plaza.


[1] ACRJ, A New Vision for Advancing our movement for Reproductive Health, Reproductive Rights and Reproductive Justice (2005)(“historically and currently, a women’s lack of power and self-determination is mediated through the multiple oppressions of race, class, gender, sexuality, ability, age and immigration status”).

image credits: 1-Hollaback! Boston; 2-NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts

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Hollaback! Boston, Introducing, Pinar, Shared Stories

Introducing: Pinar!

We’re continuing to introduce our summer team – including Summer Fellow, Pinar! Pinar is currently a college student in Worcester majoring in Cultural Studies & Communication and minoring in Women’s & Gender Studies. She’ll be designing a series of posters for us this summer to help Hollaback! Boston raise awareness about street harassment, and we are thrilled to have her on board. Welcome, Pinar!

introducing: pinar! // hollaback! boston

Tell us about yourself – what are you into? I’m super into social justice and its activism – hence my summer project with Hollaback! Boston. When I’m not doing activist things, I’m probably either reading about physics, dancing, reading, or watching something!

Define your style: Clothing-wise, I’d say colorful and simple! I love bright-colored clothing items, and match them with accessories. I tend to stand out, which is not always something I like! Behavior-wise, I’d like to believe I’m very open –I’m trying to be less and less prejudiced about all things, so I try to ask questions to understand more about other people’s perspectives before explaining my own. Other than that, cheerful but quiet! J

Favorite Boston fact: That I’ve always felt at home and taken care of whenever I go into Boston! I live an hour and a half away, but whenever I get to go to Boston, I enjoy myself, and Boston somehow manages to work out my problems. I’ve had a lot of efficient thinking sessions on trains to and from, had wonderful days even when I was feeling down, and got help from residents when I needed anything.

Your favorite place in Boston? Although I’ve only been to some parts just yet, I do love Faneuil Hall and the New England Aquarium. I suspect Boston Common will be replacing them as my favorite spot once I get to go on a sunny day, though!

Have you experienced/witnessed street harassment in Boston? What stood out most in your memory? On my (unfortunately rare) visits to Boston, I usually take the T and walk very little, so I haven’t had to experience or witness any street harassment… yet? I hope not to, I have had enough of them in Worcester, where I live. Just the other day me and my friend were sprayed with water after being catcalled by two men in a car, which was more disturbing than any street harassment I have had to deal with.

What’s your signature response to street harassment – your go-to Hollaback? A lot of the harassment I deal with is verbal, and most from people in their cars. I don’t feel safe enough to respond unless the person’s in a car, and when they are, I usually yell some sort of insult or gesture – and that’s only because I’d hate to let them get away without any reaction. If I felt safe enough I would challenge those people and ask why they do it, what they hope to gain… not that it would be a reasonable answer in any case.

Your superpower is… self-control. I can control my feelings/thoughts/actions really well, which has become very useful in a lot of situations! I can usually tone down everything and think logically, which helps me assess my security when I’m harassed, or come up with an eloquent response even when frustrated or upset.

What are you excited about in 2014? Apart from my project with Hollaback! Boston? Just being in the US, I guess! I have always been back home in Cyprus for the summers, but this year I get to live in my first apartment, cook for myself, own furniture and all those adult things! (The sad part is not getting to see my family a lot L)

What inspires you? Physics. Thinking about the universe, all that is out there, and what we are.

If you could leave the world one piece of advice, what would it be? Stop and think. Why do you think or do the things you do? What could make things better for everyone? Do that.


image credit: Pinar Barlas

“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!

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Events, Hollaback! Boston, Local News

Be Yourself, Change the World: Boston Pride 2014

On Saturday, the Hollaback! Boston team gathered with friends and volunteers to march in the 2014 Boston Pride parade, and we had a blast.

be yourself, change the world: boston pride 2014 // hollaback! boston

This year’s Pride theme – Be Yourself, Change the World – was a perfect fit for the Hollaback! mission of ending street harassment so that everyone can feel safe to be themselves in public, and we were so excited the bring that message to parade-goers!

be yourself, change the world: boston pride 2014 // hollaback! boston

We’d like to extend a HUGE thank you to the folks who joined us – we couldn’t do it without you! If you missed us, couldn’t make it to the parade, or if we had run out of them, here’s a peek at the eight-page zine we handed out on the route:

How did you celebrate Pride this year? What did the theme mean to you? Let us know in the comments!


image credits: Hollaback! Boston

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Hollaback! Boston, Noteworthy

HOLLA Worthy Link Round-Up

Happy Pride Friday (Priday?), Boston!

boston pride 2014 // hollaback! boston

It’s almost time! We’ve received our lineup location for the parade tomorrow, we’ve made our posters and printed our handouts, and we’re waiting for YOU to join us to march in celebration of safe public spaces for everyone to be themselves. Meet us at 704 Boylston Street (in front of the Lindt store) tomorrow by 10:00am to join the marching group – we’ll see you there!

Until then, while the rain (hopefully) moves right along, here’s a few of our favorite links this week:

See you tomorrow,


image credit: Hollaback! Boston

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Gina, Introducing, Shared Stories

Introducing: Gina!

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!

introducing: gina! // hollaback! boston

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!

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Events, Hollaback! Boston, Local News, Noteworthy

HOLLA With Us: Boston Pride!

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.

march with us! boston pride 2014 // hollaback! boston

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.

But most importantly today, head to Facebook and join our marching group for the parade on June 14!

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! Boston

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Hollaback! Boston, Noteworthy

HOLLA Faves: May’s Top Five

Where did last month go?

holla faves: may's top five // hollaback! boston

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:

1. What It’s Like To Be Pregnant In Public

2. If Saying “I Have A Boyfriend” Keeps You Safe, I Support Your Right To Yell It From The Rooftops

3. #bikeSH: Round Two

4. What Makes A City “Safe” For Pedestrians?

5. HOLLA On the Go: Bless That Ass

What’s on your radar for June? Let us know in the comments!


image credit: Hollaback! Boston

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Hollaback! Boston, Noteworthy

HOLLA Worthy Link Round-Up

holla worthy link round-up // hollaback! boston

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! Boston

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Events, Hollaback! Boston, Noteworthy


holla::revolution // hollaback! boston

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!

Join Hollaback! at Hollarev

image credit: Hollaback!

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Hollaback! Boston, Kayla

Moving On Up: Kayla’s Farewell

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

introducing: kayla! // hollaback! boston

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 Hogan

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