Introducing, Shared Stories

Introducing: Lily!

“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!

introducing: lily! // hollaback! boston

Lily is a data analyst by day, and a biology student, suicide hotline volunteer, and DJ by night. She tweets (a lot) here and blogs (occasionally) here.

Tell us about yourself – what are you into? I’m into snacks, R&B, science, cuties, feminism, crime movies, saying “hi” to dogs, and my family.

Define your style: Minidress and combat boots is my go-to look.

Favorite Boston fact: So this one’s a little gruesome, but: there’s a book bound with human skin at the Athenaeum.

Your favorite place in Boston? The Isabella Stewart Gardner museum and Georges Island are my two favorites, but really anywhere on the water makes me happy.

Have you experienced/witnessed street harassment in Boston? What stood out most in your memory? So much! It’s so frustratingly pervasive and everyday that it’s hard for me to even remember individual incidents, except when it’s particularly funny or outlandish. The one that makes me laugh most to think about is once when I was wearing some low-cut jeans, a guy yelled “I can see your undies! (long pause as I continue walking by silently) … They’re blue!” (Reader, they were.)  That said, of course, usually it’s not very funny, just exhausting.

What’s your signature response to street harassment – your go-to Hollaback? Mostly I ignore it to save energy and avoid confrontations, though occasionally I give the middle finger or a withering glare.  But my favorite is when I am able to think of something to say that gives the harrasser pause or connects with them in some way.  Once a guy called me mean for ignoring his “hey beautiful, come over and talk to me for a second”, and I responded “If I stopped and talked with all the guys who hollered at me, I’d never get anything done!”  He seemed amused and taken aback and said he had never thought of that before.  I think that a lot of harrassers have never given too much thought to what they’re doing (not that that lets them off the hook, of course!!), so if I have the energy, sometimes I try and catch them off guard and encourage them to think about it a little more.

Your superpower is… Being irresistibly attractive to bugs of all kinds.

What are you excited about in 2013? I have a break from school coming up and I can’t wait to just read a book and drink a beer on my porch.

What inspires you? I’m unbelievably blessed to have a lot of impressive, brilliant and compassionate people in my life, with my family foremost among them. Their love makes me better.

If you could leave the world one piece of advice, what would it be? Do you! Nobody’s keeping score. Also, this is two, but it’s important: put some grapes in the freezer, they make a really good snack.

Lily, thank you!

image credit: Lily Benson

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Introducing, Jamie, Shared Stories

Introducing: Jamie!

“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!

introducing: jamie! // hollaback! boston

Jamie is a freelance writer, doctoral student, activist, volunteer and fanastic addition to the Hollaback! Boston team; she’ll be helping to facilitate workshops, table events and spread the anti-street harassment word throughout the Hub, and can be found on twitter and all around the internet.

Tell us about yourself – what are you into? I‘m very into how welcoming the activists and writers – queers, vegans, feminists – have been in this city. (And if we haven’t met please find me on twitter @jamiejhagen and let’s get coffee!) I also just turned 30, moved to a new city (from Brooklyn to Boston) and I’m about to be a full-time student for the first time in my life so I’m into all of that.

Define your style: I think it’s fair to say I’m a bit intense! This approach led me to a jaded activist phase I’m proud to say I’m on the other side of now. I think it took me awhile to discover how to make myself useful. Now that I have a better sense of my role, I work to stay involved in a number of different movements and don’t get swallowed by my work in one. And I definitely value finding awesome people to work with like the Hollaback! Boston group, as well as having fun!

Favorite Boston fact: I appreciate that the story “Make Way for Ducklings” actually received both praise and criticism for the feminist, independent nature of Mrs. Mallard who assures her stubborn husband she can raise their ducklings alone if need be. Also, those duckling statues in the park are the cutest!

Your favorite place in Boston? I’ve only been in Boston for about a month and a half so I’m still completely charmed by the experience of crossing over the Charles River on the T and seeing all those little sailboats out the windows.

Have you experienced/witnessed street harassment in Boston? What stood out most in your memory? I got a “Hey beautiful!” the other day while I was very lost walking from the Sullivan Station to Union Square. Being lost while being harassed is a special sort of uncomfortable isn’t it? I’ve only been in Boston for about a month and a half so it’s not unusual for me to be lost while I’m walking around Boston. Being lost already makes me feel more vulnerable, let alone having a stranger size me up and holler at me from a stoop. I think the anti-street harassment movement is well served in reminding those who may take for granted feeling safe on the streets to be more aware of how others may feel un-safe or vulnerable. This type awareness should educate how we interact with those in our community. Though often this issue is framed as a need to educate men about how to interact with women, it’s certainly also an issue in the queer community and takes on many different power dynamics regardless of sex or gender.

What’s your signature response to street harassment – your go-to Hollaback? If I engage at all it’s usually something like, “Are you serious?” or, “No thank you!”

Your superpower is… bulldog whisperer. Before moving to Boston I ran my own freelance dog walking business and for whatever reason about six of my clients were bulldogs. Bulldogs are a very special, stubborn breed and over the years I have learned their ways. If you need help with a bulldog, I’m your gal.

What are you excited about in 2013? Starting my doctoral program! And obviously all the exciting things in store for Hollaback! Boston. Also, moving to JP. That place is a magical wonderland.

What inspires you? I’m totally inspired by those who are politically engaged and also committed to their own self-care and happiness. I’m also truly inspired by women who mentor other women, in my case Mandy Van Devin, former associate director of NYC’s Girls for Gender Equality, and journalist Jina Moore.

If you could leave the world one piece of advice, what would it be? Ask for help from those who have what you want. Life is too short to worry about asking stupid questions. Humble and curious are two wonderful things!

Jamie, thank you so much, and welcome to the team!

image credit: Hollaback! Boston

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Brenda, Introducing, Shared Stories

Introducing: Brenda!

“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!

introducing: brenda! // hollaback! boston

Brenda is a local activist and blogger, and one of two new additions to the Hollaback! Boston team. As our Outreach Coordinator, Brenda will be handling Take Back The Bar, Safer Spaces and other programs, and can be found on twitter and at Boricua Feminist. Welcome, Brenda – we’re so glad to have you on board!

Tell us about yourself – what are you into? I am a Latina feminist activist and blogger. By day, I am a law school diversity professional which means I get to utilize my passion for equality and racial justice daily. I have spent the last seven months becoming obsessed with yoga and don’t know how I could live without it. Music is a huge part of my life and if I’m not singing or dancing at home, I’m probably at a concert. I unabashedly love pop culture and deconstructing media is one of my favorite pastimes. I believe Buffy is the greatest show that has ever existed and directly influenced my feminism. At the end of my busy days I enjoy snuggling up with a book (or the tv) while my partner plays his guitar.

Define your style: I consider myself cool and casual, on trend but not trendy. Tie dye or anything with hippy flair is up my alley. Moto jackets are a must. Long hair, don’t care! My tattoos are my accessory.

Favorite Boston fact: The Boston Public Library was the first large free municipal library in the United States. I love books and it’s great to know I live in the city that introduced free knowledge to the community before the internet.

Your favorite place in Boston? SOWA Open Market. My partner and I love to walk there on Sunday mornings to buy food at the farmers market and browse the crafts and antiques. Nothing like supporting your local farmers and artists.

Have you experienced/witnessed street harassment in Boston? What stood out most in your memory? Daily. I think what always stands out is the persistence. The willingness to keep at it even when the person is clearly not interested or has explicitly said no or stop. Recently a guy kept harassing this woman on the bus. He finally said, “I just want to be your friend.” And she said, “I have enough friends.” That shut him up. I wanted to give her a hug.

What’s your signature response to street harassment – your go-to Hollaback? I don’t have a signature response because I always like to be aware of my surroundings and my safety when responding. However, I do give a mean stank face and evil eye-sometimes that can go a long way.

Your superpower is… maintaining friendships across racial, ethnic, gender and sexual identities. Sadly in our society this is a power that everyone one has but so few choose to utilize. These relationships give me strength, hence my super power.

What are you excited about in 2013? I am excited to be an official member of the Hollaback! team. I am also excited to maintain my work with other women’s organizations in Boston in order to empower as many women and girls as I can. I am also excited to continue to make my voice heard on my blog and with my own music (for the first time, ahh).

What inspires you? Human love and kindness inspires me. Every day people look around and decide to make a change. Standing up for what you believe in can be difficult but I am constantly inspired by those who came before me in this fight and those who continue to speak truth to power.

If you could leave the world one piece of advice, what would it be? “Act the way you dream you could.” It’s from a song and I have it tattooed on my arm. I think we should always strive to be better to each other and to the planet. Change is possible, if you believe it’s possible.

Thank you so much, Brenda!

image credit: Hollaback! Boston

Have you taken our three-minute survey on the state of Boston’s streets? Please do, and share it with your networks – the more we know, the better we can serve our city!

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Introducing, Shared Stories

Introducing: Kristen!

“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!

introducing: kristen! // hollaback! boston

Kristen is a Boston blogger, research administrator and champion of local fashion entrepreneurs. You can find her on twitter, instagram and pinterest.

Tell us about yourself – what are you into? I am the blogger behind The Boston Fashionista, a Trustee of the Brookline Public Library and the Administrative Lead for the Department of Developmental Biology at a local university. In my free time, I love to read (Science Fiction), play with my cats (Truman, Clinton and Winston) and hang out with my husband.

Define your style: I think of my look as “Next Generation Brahmin.” I like classic tailoring and shapes in modern fabrics and colors.

Favorite Boston fact: Boston is home to America’s first public park, and the oldest public school – this city has always done its best to be in tune with the needs of its citizens!

Your favorite place in Boston? I love the Old State House, where the Declaration of Independence was first read aloud to the people in Boston. It’s amazing to stand in a place of such history, overlooking the site of The Boston Massacre, and see all the modern buildings and architecture that surround it. Also, this may sound silly, but I adore the view of from the Red Line as it heads over the Salt & Pepper bridge.

Have you experienced/witnessed street harassment in Boston? What stood out most in your memory? To me, the most upsetting thing is the frequency we experience street harassment, and the fact that everyone is vulnerable. Age, gender, race, clothing, location, whether you are alone or with someone…none of these factors is a detriment for street harassers (nor should they be reasons to be harassed). Recently, I was walking through the Longwood hospital area (a “safe” neighborhood), at 2:00pm (a “safe” time) holding hands with my husband (a “safe” person) and wearing a fairly conservative dress (a “safe” outfit). It didn’t stop someone from commenting on “my nice titties”.

I think the harassment that bothers me the most, however, is when someone calls out: “It’s a beautiful day, why don’t you smile!” or, “You look so lovely, can you give me a smile?” It is not my responsibility to walk around looking pleasant or friendly for others’ viewing pleasure. I don’t owe it to random passerby to fit their vision of perky, polite femininity.

Here’s the thing that some people just don’t understand: Street harassment is not complimentary. It’s accosting a stranger to assert some misconceived notion of masculinity. It’s about power, not being polite.

What’s your signature response to street harassment – your go-to Hollaback? God, I wish I could find a response that worked. I’ve tried everything, from snarky, sarcastic responses, to snarling “Back OFF!” I find any response besides patently ignoring the harassment results in my being called a “bitch” or “not having a sense of humor.” I’d love to hear people’s best retorts/responses! Leave them in the comments, or tweet me!

Your superpower is… I am excellent at the the That Guy Game. You know, when you’re watching a movie, and you see an actor/actress, and you sort of know them, because they played that one guy, in that one show, that was on that one channel? I can tell you how you know them (and I am not really a movie or TV buff)!

What are you excited about in 2013? My friend is getting married in Paris! My husband and I are attending, and then headed to Marrakesh for a little extended vacation.

What inspires you? Being around intelligent people, who aren’t afraid to try new things.

If you could leave the world one piece of advice, what would it be? Don’t spend your time trying to force people to say yes. Spend your time trying to understand why they say no.

Thank you so much, Kristen!

image credit: The Boston Fashionista

Have you taken our three-minute survey on the state of Boston’s streets? Please do, and share it with your networks – the more we know, the better we can serve our city!

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Introducing, Shared Stories

Introducing: Lei Ann!

“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!

introducing: lei ann! // hollaback! boston

Lei Ann is a Boston-based acupuncturist, kung fu sifu, occasional cosplayer, and fashion blogger at Lei Ann Off Duty. You can find her on twitter and instagram, and wandering the halls of Boston Comic Con today. Go say hello!

Tell us about yourself – what are you into? I’m definitely equal parts girly-girl who loves high heels, full/frilly dresses & plenty of makeup & then the geeky nerd boy side of me who loves kung fu, action movies, superheroes & other forms of bad-assery.

Define your style: Girly, but definitely with an edge…print mixing, bubble skirts, leather harnesses, poufy shoulders, thigh high boots…but not crazy lolita or Harajuku style…a *bit* more subtle than that :)

Favorite Boston fact: That you are allowed to duel to the death on the Boston Common, but only on Sundays & only when the Governor is present ^_^

Your favorite place in Boston? Chinatown! I train kung fu down there. I love eating at all the restaurants down there. With the new Chinatown Park/Greenway area where even food trucks park, it’s a much nicer place to hang out.

Have you experienced/witnessed street harassment in Boston? What stood out most in your memory? My weirdest experience with street harassment was back when I used to work at a hospital & was waiting for the bus wearing my scrubs…the most unattractive, least revealing uniform ever! When I would get whistled at while wearing the scrubs, it made me realize that it doesn’t matter what a woman wears; it’s the other person’s mentality that is the heart of that behavior. No one ever deserves that kind of treatment no matter what he or she is wearing.

What’s your signature response to street harassment – your go-to Hollaback? I just ignore it. I don’t let it bother me & walk away. I’ve never had any situation escalate from that point if I just walk away.

Your superpower is… green light karma! Seriously, my husband thinks it’s uncanny I can cruise through traffic lights that stay green while when he accelerates, it turns red on him…hahaha!

What are you excited about in 2013? I’ve had a lot of really great things happen to me this year. My adorable niece was born back in February. I went to Mexico for the first time. I’m already pretty happy with what this year has brought :)

What inspires you? People who worked hard all their lives, sometimes even 2 jobs, have never complained & are now able to enjoy the fruits of their labor, travel & live life easy in their “golden” years…in other words, my parents.

If you could leave the world one piece of advice, what would it be? Truly…don’t sweat the small stuff & it really is all small stuff.

Lei Ann, thank you so much!

image credit: Lei Ann Off Duty

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Brandie, Introducing, Shared Stories

Introducing: Brandie!

“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!

introducing: brandie! // hollaback! boston

Brandie is the latest addition to the Hollaback! Boston team – as Communications Coordinator, she’ll be taking the reins as our primary social media maven, and taking a HUGE weight off Britni’s shoulders. We can’t wait to see what we can accompish with her help. Thank you, and welcome, Brandie! –Kate

Hi! I’d like to introduce myself. My name is Brandie and I’m the new Communications Coordinator for Hollaback! Boston.

Tell us about yourself – what are you into? I’m an outgoing queer woman of color who has lived in Boston for the past year. Bostonian through and through, but I have moved around a lot since I was younger. Veganism, feminism, and being part of the LGBTQ community are all very important to me. I love animals, pole dancing, cooking and spending time with my friends. In the past few months I have become very passionate about being involved in empowering women, the LGBTQ community and people of color through various projects and community outreach.

Define your style: Very eclectic! There are times I enjoy the retro look; high waisted pencil skirts, bandanas and pompadours. Other times I enjoy wearing combat boots with fishnets and jean shorts. Other times I wear funky patterns, bright colors and leopard print. Gotta have the leopard print. It’s really a day to day way to express how I’m feeling and who I am.

Favorite Boston fact: Dorchester is the most diverse area in the city. Dorchester represent!

Your favorite place in Boston? Boston Common. There are some great rallies held there! I remember going to the anti war rally when I was a sophomore in High School. That experience was life altering.

Have you experienced/witnessed street harassment in Boston? What stood out most in your memory? Yes, since a young age I have been witness and experienced street harassment in Boston. It’s a very unnerving feeling. I use to be harassed and thought it was a compliment because that is what I was being told to think by my family and friends. “Typical guy behavior.” Even when I brought up the fact that they followed me, got out of their cars to “talk to me” or became angry and aggressive when I either ignored them or told them to leave me alone, some would blame it only clothes. “Why were you walking around late at the night?” What I would later learn was victim blaming. Something that always sticks with me was walking to a corner store when I was 9 years old, excited that my mother gave me a dollar to buy some candy. A man who was in his car beeped at me, slowed down and started to yell sexual things out of his window. Ignoring him I quickened my pace and thought I lost him when I got to the corner store. On my way back home, he appeared again and slowly crept along side me as I walked. While he continued to harass me out of his window, complimenting my thighs and body, I finally yelled, “I’m 9!” He looked embarrassed and (luckily for me) drove off.

What’s your signature response to street harassment – your go-to Hollaback? I don’t have a signature response, especially when I am caught off guard, but I have asked them to repeat themselves. By the time they do, I have come up with an empowering statement to share with them: “My name is not hey sexy,” “Women are not objects, I do not appreciate the way you are talking to me,” “Do not say those things to me, that is street harassment and that is not OK.”

Your superpower is… smashing patriarchy and challenging gender roles.

What are you excited about in 2013? All of the amazing campaigns that Hollaback! Boston is introducing to the Boston community. Take Back the Bar and Safe Spaces. I believe these are great opportunities for ideas to transcend the norm and challenge individual ideas of what is acceptable behavior in public spaces.

What inspires you? The women, people of color, and LGBTQ leaders that have come before me! Those who make a difference in the world every day! Seeing all the amazing news of people rising up against patriarchy, transphobia, racism and sexism.

If you could leave the world one piece of advice, what would it be? To be kind to one another, not to assume the worst. Stand up for yourself, empower women of color and the LGBTQ community by hearing what they have to say, and be allies to all oppressed people.

Brandie

image credit: Hollaback! Boston

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Introducing, Shared Stories

Introducing: Grace!

“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!

introducing: grace! // hollaback! boston

T.F. Charlton is a former evangelical Christian, recovering academic, spouse to a pink-haired musician, and mama to a wise-cracking 4-year old. She’s the founder of the religion and gender blog Are Women Human?, where she blogs as “Grace,” and a writer and commentator on media and culture from a black, Nigerian American, queer feminist perspective. Her work has been featured in The Guardian, Salon, EBONY.com, and other outlets. Say hi to her on Twitter at @graceishuman.

You write an awesome blog and tweet up a storm on The Twitter – what else are you into? Reading – mostly nonfiction and genre fiction. Fantasy is my favorite fiction genre (almost all of the fiction I’ve read in the past couple years, actually). I also read some sci-fi and, when the mood strikes, mystery/detective novels. The nonfiction I read is mostly sociology, history, that sort of thing.

I love karaoke – like really, really love it. I’m often a homebody, but you don’t need to convince me to come out for karaoke – I’m there. I even took voice lessons for a little while (and did a couple recitals and open mics with my husband, who writes and plays music in his spare time). That was nervewracking, but fun.

Once upon a time (read: before I had a kid) I was really into knitting and yoga. I’d like to get back to that.

Define your style: I like styles that are relatively simple and comfortable, but have a little edge or quirkiness to them. I think my personal style is, for lack of better language, on the “masculine” side of femme. I love the styles featured at tomboyfemme.com. But like other things about my post-evangelical life, expressing that style is something I’m still figuring out. I’ve been thinking about experimenting with more consciously butching up my wardrobe – ties, suspenders, hats, that sort of thing. The main obstacles are my laziness and aversion to shopping, lol. Clothes shopping takes a lot of time and money.

Favorite Boston fact: This is kind of a weird one, but a fact I knew long before I moved to Boston was that the song “Wake Up Little Susie” (The Everly Brothers) was banned in Boston when it came out in 1957, for being too suggestive. I like that fact because it subverts a lot of common narratives – about the “progress” of liberal social mores, and also about Boston as a bastion of liberalism (in fact the song was just one of many creative works banned in Boston over decades – and as recently as 1965). It’s both funny and sobering that a song that we’d think of now as quaint and old-fashioned in its roundabount references to (not having!) sex was considered indecent enough that it was banned by radio stations.

Your favorite place in Boston? I like the usual places – the Museum of Science, Boston Common. I also have to put in a plug for the Collection of Scientific Instruments and the Museum of Natural History at Harvard. I’ve spent a good amount of time in both as a former student in the History of Science prograam. But probably my sentimental favorite is Bamboo, the Thai restaurant just downstairs from our first apartment in Brighton,  which is also the apartment where our daughter was born. We were there for four years and the restaurant and the folks who owned it kind of became a fixture for us – they were super excited when our daughter was born and were just really welcoming. And the food was great, too! We should go back sometime.

Have you experienced/witnessed street harassment in Boston? What stood out most in your memory? One that stands out for me happened not long after we moved to Brighton. I wasn’t familiar with the area yet. I was getting off the T at Harvard and Comm Ave. I assumed – wrongly – that the train tracks divided the two directions of traffic, so I looked in the wrong direction before trying to cross. I very nearly got hit by a car going pretty fast – and then the driver, a white guy, yelled at me as he was going by. I don’t remember the exact words, but they definitely included “stupid cunt.” I get that the dude was probably really scared himself.  But it really shook me up and made the fact that I’d almost gotten myself seriously injured even more upsetting. Why would those be the words that come to mind when you almost hit someone with your car? And he said it with a vitriol that was really frightening.

Another time I was walking home and a car full of white men pulled up next to me while I was waiting to cross the street. As soon as the light changed the one in the passenger side seat yelled “Smile!” and took my picture. Really, really creepy and unsettling.

I’ve definitely witnessed situations where other women are being harassed – in one case I saw a Black woman down the street from me walking at top speed to get away from a Black man who had followed her across the street to harrass her.

What’s your signature response to street harassment – your go-to Hollaback? The most memorable incidents that have happened to me were both over so quickly that I had no time to respond. In other situations I generally ignore the person harrassing me – avoid eye contact, keep walking. Between having anxiety and being an introvert, I’m not a terribly confrontational person.

Your superpower is… Writing many, many words. There’s nothing that can be said with five words that I can’t say with ten.

The way I think is very big picture, holistic, networked – it’s one of the reasons why I tend to have so many words to say when I write, because my brain is always looking for points of connection between different issues and ideas. It makes being super concise sometimes difficult, but I think it’s also an asset – sometimes I see an unexpected angle or link on an issue that someone else might not see.

Editing – there’s something really satisfying about honing and polishing a piece of writing into its clearest and most effective form. I’m pretty good at it. I also do it on a freelance basis, so if you’re looking for an editor…hit me up!

What are you excited about in 2013? I’m excited about new possibilities. When I started Are Women Human in 2010 it was in part to have a place to write about things that really mattered to me, but I felt like I didn’t have room to talk about in my day-to-day life. I was also frustrated by not seeing much analysis that addressed my particular experiences and perspectives as a Black woman and a feminist who had come out of white evangelical Christianity. I thought maybe if AWH did well, I could someday write for a broader audience on these issues and connect with other people doing similar work.

That’s started to happen for me over the past year. I’ve had some writing opportunities, and it looks like I’ll be doing some part time research on religion and social justice issues this year. I also have a couple book ideas in me, and I’m thinking about working on a book proposal this year.

I’ve also met some amazing people and made wonderful friends through blogging who I’m excited about meeting in person this year (like the amazing and brilliant scatx/Jessica Luther).

What inspires you? Creativity. Cogent, clear writing that distills the essence of something into a few words – writers like Audre Lorde and Dorothy Sayers had this skill. They could write a sentences that had so much truth and power and clarity to it that I could almost feel the impact tangibly. I just read Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God for the first time and got the same feeling from a lot of it – just breathtaking sentences packed with so much insight into human experience and nature.

I’m inspired by the power of words to create connection. There’s something really powerful about seeing yourself in someone else’s words, and someone seeing themselves in yours.That’s the magic of words – they can speak truths (and lies) into being. They can help us do the work of self-exploration, of validation, or healing. They can make us feel less alone.

My partner has been a huge inspiration and encouragement. I’m prone to second-guessing myself, and he’s always affirmed my interests and intuitions. He encouraged me to start blogging, and he’s been super supportive of my writing endeavors and trying new things in really concrete ways.

If you could leave the world one piece of advice, what would it be? It’s the same advice I would give myself – be present. Our daughter has this book “What Does It Mean to be Present?” that a friend of ours got her as a birthday gift – it’s all about practicing being mindful of what’s going on around us, seeing the people and world around us clearly and being engaged. It ends with the statement that if everyone learned to be present, the world would be a much better place. I think there can be a lot of privilege involved in this kind of advice, but I also think that a lot of us who have time to pause, to be reflective, to listen, to really be engaged in what we’re doing and what impact it has often don’t take the time to do that. It’s something I’m trying to improve in myself.

And for folks who grew up like I did in highly controlling religious communities and families – I think one thing I really wish I’d realized when I was younger is that these communities work by making young people especially internalize “the rules” to the point where even in situations where we have some options available to us, we feel like we have no choices. It took me until I was 25 (and not coincidentally – a new mother with someone else to advocate for besides myself) to realize that I could tell my parents no, and really I was in a position to set boundaries with them many years before then. I just didn’t know it. It’s definitely come with a cost- but it’s also been worth it. So I guess my advice is really think about whether you, as an adult, have to do what your church/parents/whomever say – sometimes the answer is yes, you do, because the costs are too high. But maybe not always.

Thank you so much, Grace!

image credit: Are Women Human?

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Introducing

Introducing: Georgina!

“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!

introducing: georgina! // hollaback! boston

Georgina is a Boston-based writer, blogger and fashion maven, and can be found at Notes on Lifestyle by Georgina, twitter and instagram.

Tell us about yourself – what are you into? I do my best to maintain a healthy lifestyle so incorporating exercise into my daily routine is essential. I ride my bike to and from work most days, workout during my lunch hour and love taking the occasional dance or yoga class at varying studios. Writing is my passion and during 2012 I finally took the plunge into the freelance world. It has been incredibly gratifying to be paid to do what I love, and reassuring of my talent!

Define your style: Classic, feminine, very much body-type specific incorporating bright colors as often as I dare.

Favorite Boston fact: I love our rich history (we built the first subway system in the US so give the T a break) and everyone’s palpable pride in our city. Our gorgeous architecture is another aspect that I am grateful for, especially along the wharf.

Your favorite place in Boston? The South End: it is the perfect location, surrounded by residential nirvana Beacon Hill, culinary Mecca The North End and shopping hub Newbury Street. Within it however are gems like Bee Hive, Red Lantern, Flock and Estelle’s.

Have you experienced/witnessed street harassment in Boston? What stood out most in your memory? Unfortunately yes. I have faced everything from men gripping my arm in an attempt to get my attention to rude remarks that would send anyone running. I get a lot of honks while riding my bike also, the latest was a man that slowed down and told me I “Rode my bike very well” in a manner that made me absolutely disgusted.

What’s your signature response to street harassment – your go-to Hollaback? An incredibly stern look. It usually has the power to make men pause almost instantly. Other than that I usually ignore it all.

Your superpower is… My ever-present optimism. I have undergone some pretty life-changing experiences in the past five years. Maintaining a positive outlook helped me to see each as a learning opportunity.

What are you excited about in 2013? Working on my book, continuing to cultivate my freelance writing career and travel!

What inspires you? I see inspiration everywhere. For the longest time I was driven by fear of failure and disappointing my parents who are incredibly intelligent and have found a great deal of success. I have thankfully been able to morph that motivation into one based around my needs and personal aspirations. I am inspired by the underdog, my peers and all of those currently in a place I one day hope to be.

If you could leave the world one piece of advice, what would it be? Be yourself, you have something wonderful to offer unique from anyone else. Be proud of each success and embrace the failures. Live in a way that you will look back on your life with pride and very little regret regarding what you did not try.

Georgina, thank you so much!

image credit: Notes on Lifestyle by Georgina

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Introducing

Introducing: Julia!

“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!

introducing: julia! // hollaback! boston

Julia is a Boston runner, blogger, volunteer and sports fanatic; you can find more from her at It’s Not That Weird and on twitter.

Tell us about yourself – what are you into? I’m super into running, and since I moved back to Boston I can frequently be found running along the Charles or the Chestnut Hill Reservoir. I’m currently training for the Chicago marathon. I’m also a huge Boston sports fan and a beer nut, so when I’m not running I can likely be found in a bar watching some game or other and sampling a new brew. I did a lot of sex positive education in college and I try to stay active in the space by volunteering with an incredible educational performance group in Maine called Speak About It and writing my blog, It’s Not That Weird, which focuses on sex positivity, feminism, and comedy.

Define your style: Casual, definitely. I’m not a naturally creative dresser but my mom buys me awesome clothes so I often have cooler outfits than I should. I’m very partial to bright colors when I run, not just for safety but also because I assume it makes me look faster.

Favorite Boston fact: I grew up in Lexington so I love the history of the American Revolution. My favorite Boston fact is that Charles Ponzi, the original Ponzi schemer, set up his now-infamous scam in Boston.

Your favorite place in Boston? I love walking around the North End. Also Fenway Park is one of my favorite places ever.

Have you experienced/witnessed street harassment in Boston? What stood out most in your memory? I just moved to Boston and I feel fortunate that I haven’t experienced or witnessed much street harassment. A few times I have experienced men yelling at me while I’m running which I normally shake off because I’m going faster than they are. One time a guy yelled something at me while he was on a bike, however, and that really caught me off guard because I felt acutely aware of the fact that I probably couldn’t outrun him.

What’s your signature response to street harassment – your go-to Hollaback? I typically just ignore it – but when I feel emboldened or it seems particularly egregious I say “Not interested.” I am more likely to try to say something when I see someone else being harassed – in that instance I typically ask the person if they are okay so they know they’re not alone.

Your superpower is… Making other people feel comfortable! I’m short, loud, and make frequent jokes so I’m good at easing tension.

What are you excited about in 2013? The Chicago Marathon, my first ever marathon! Also I’m looking forward to watching baseball playoffs in Boston instead of New York City, where I lived for the past three years (only so much Yankee country a Boston girl can handle).

What inspires you? My mom inspires me because she defines success as a life lived learning. She’s always taking a new class and learning something exciting – it reminds me to never be complacent and to seek out new opportunities and new people every chance I can.

If you could leave the world one piece of advice, what would it be? Above all, be genuine. Don’t let other people’s issues, doubts, regrets, problems, or pettiness get in the way of living your life for you.

Thank you, Julia – good luck with marathon training!

image credit: It’s Not That Weird

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Introducing, Shared Stories

Introducing: Asha Isabella!

“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!

introducing: asha! // hollaback! boston

Asha Isabella is a Boston-based designer and the force behind Tosser Magazine – you can find her on twitter, facebook and instagram.

Tell us about yourself? What are you into? I’m a storyteller – fiction writer, clothing designer, magazine publisher.

Define your style: Errm, that’s really tough. It changes all of the time, literally like weekly. I like being tall, even though I’m already 5’10ish, so I’m always in some type of ridiculous platform shoe… or a small strappy one. See, already inconsistent. I like black, I like really loud colors (contradicting myself again). I guess “loud” – I think I can be a bit visually loud sometimes. Although, I think I’d fit right in in London, just saying. I’m huge on nostalgia and playing around with mixing different decades (including the future) into my wardrobe.

Favorite Boston fact: Hmm, let’s see how little I know about Boston right now. Ergo, I just googled “Boston facts” to pick my favorite. Well, just realized I never want to go in the Ted Tunnel again – it’s really the deepest tunnel in North America?! No, thank you.

Oh bam, I did know this – Boston is home to the largest art theft in US history – $100 mil from Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum by two thieves. One, that’s my favorite Boston museum, I go there just to sit sometimes. And two, I have a strange obsession with crime.

Your favorite place in Boston? Anywhere I can see the Boston city line. We really have a beautiful city here so anywhere I can take that in I really appreciate. Along Memorial Drive, rooftops on Beacon Hill or in the North End is usually pretty great for that. My roof also has a pretty decent view of Brookline. So, you know, slightly hovering above the city is my favorite place. I’ve never been to Top of the Hub but I bet I’d appreciate it.

Have you experienced/witnessed street harassment in Boston? What stood out most in your memory? I honestly haven’t experienced it myself, which is a bit of a blessing but I have a couple of friends that have run into issues, usually related to homophobia which is disgusting. I get so incredibly frustrated that that type of closed mindedness still exists. It makes you just really want to shake the shit out of people sometimes. But really, people are just aching for a reaction – bored with their own pathetic lives I guess. Go read a book, you know.

What’s your signature response to street harassment – your go-to Hollaback? I honestly think being witty and educated on random facts helps. People are stupid, so develop a thick skin and two, nonchalantly shut them down. Responding to “wearing jewelry is gay” with a “Uh, no tough guy – men were the first to wear jewelry as a status symbol for good luck to aid them in battle, so read a book” is a witty shut-down. And just acting like you don’t care, being really nonchalant. People just want to get a reaction out of you so…don’t give them one.

Your superpower is? I can tell the future. No lie.

Seriously though, I have a very calm demeanor and things don’t really bother me – tough words, stress, opinions of others. I just don’t have time for that. And I don’t think it’s tough to develop – just thinking how miniscule a person or event is in the entire scheme of things. Eh.

What are you excited about in 2013? I’m really excited to see Tosser Mag grow. We’re doing a lot more in Boston within the upcoming months.

What inspires you? Music, film, history, the sound of the wind, the smell of the ocean… I mean what doesn’t, you know.

If you could leave the world one piece of advice, what would it be? There are right and wrong people… surround yourself with the right ones. Leave the ones that don’t fit alone.

Thank you so much, Asha!

image credits: Asha Isabella

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