Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Holla Back CT

HollaBackCT is now up and running!

Submit stories and/or pictures to HollaBackCT@gmail.com

What is HollaBack?
HollaBack is a collective comprised of women and men who believe in building communities where everyone is comfortable, safe, and respected. Many people are unaware of the frequency and severity of disrespect and intimidation that numerous folks, especially women and other marginalized groups, experience in public spaces on a daily basis. HollaBack aims to expose and combat street harassment as well as provide an empowering forum in this struggle. HollaBackCT is a watch-dog blog that serves to call out all forms of street harassment that occurs specifically in Connecticut.

What is street harassment?

Street harassment is a form of sexual harassment that takes place in public spaces. At its core, street harassment is a power dynamic that constantly reminds historically subordinated groups (women and LGBTQ folks, for example) of their vulnerability to assault. Further, it reinforces the ubiquitous sexual objectification of these groups in everyday life.
At HollaBackNYC, they believe that what specifically counts as street harassment is determined by those who experience it, and HollaBackCT agrees. While there is always the classic, “Hey baby, nice tits” there are so many other forms that go unnoted. If you feel like you have been harassed in any way, HOLLA BACK!

What does racism have to do with street harassment?
Replacing sexism with racism is not a proper holla back. Due in part to prevalent stereotypes of men of color as sexual predators or predisposed to violence, HollaBackCT asks that contributors do not discuss the race of harassers or include other racialized commentary. If you feel that race is important to your story, please make sure its relevance is explained clearly and constructively in your post.

Aren't you just dismissing and belittling another person’s culture with your definition of street harassment?
Street harassers occupy the full spectrum of class, race, and ethnicity. Sexual harassment, and street harassment specifically, is resisted around the world. To condense another’s culture into vague assumptions about who and what they are is to generalize dangerously about a wide range of experiences and perspectives.

Confronting street harassers can be dangerous. What about safety issues?
While everyone is vulnerable to stranger rape and sexual assault, studies show that those who are aware of their surroundings, walk with confidence and, if harassed, respond assertively, are less vulnerable. Nevertheless, direct confrontations with street harassers may prove extremely dangerous, particularly alone or in unpopulated spaces. While it is each individual’s right to decide when, how, and if to Holla Back, do keep issues of safety in mind. Upon deciding to photograph a harasser, you may consider doing so substantially after the initial encounter and from a distance, ensuring the harasser is unaware of your actions.

Does my Holla Back have to be about an incident in Connecticut?
Well no, of course not :) The site's focus will be primarily CT but we will accept stories about any location. However, if your incident is about an experience in another city that has a Holla Back site, please feel free to email them (see other Holla Back site's linked on the HollaBackCT main page).

Don't women like the attention they get? Why else would they dress like that? Also heard as "If you show off your boobage, shouldn’t you expect some compliments?"
Sure, expect them, but don’t accept them! Just because it happens doesn’t mean it’s okay. A compliment is not a compliment if it makes the recipient feel uncomfortable.
How a woman (or man) is dressed is never an invitation for street harassment, offensive conversation, flirting, groping, or any sort of unsolicited attention.

Questions and answers
are adapted from HollaBackNYC


Sarah J said...

Hey ya, gorgeous.

Blog Awards again :)


Hey there!

I wrote a post two weeks about about the acceptance of many black women regarding objectification and fetishization and the consequences that exist for the continued acceptance of it.

How a person dresses IS NOT an invitation for groping or harassment but a person should understand that their choice of dress WILL create a message in the minds of those who are watching...

Many men will often assume that a woman who fetishizes herself is sending a message that it is acceptable to engage with her at that level. Is this assumption INCORRECT?

Peace, blessings and DUNAMIS!

phd in yogurtry said...

I had heard of HollaBack but didn't know what it was .. now I do .. and what an excellent implementation of a great concept. Thanks (once again). for putting this in your blog

One of the good things about leaving my 20's and 30's behind is that these kinds of harrassing comments slow down immensely. I feel safer and freer walking down the street. Not safe and not free, just a bit out from under the feeling that I'm being watched and objectified. It was then, in retrospect, I realized what a burden I carried and all women carry in ordinary, daily movement.

phd in yogurtry said...

I checked the Texas Hollaback and it appears defunct. Due to harrassing comments. Sigh.

Lindsay said...

For serious, I am all over HBCT. I love HollaBack.

Habladora said...

It is so hard to explain to men that catcalls aren't really about 'complimenting' - they're about intimidation and power. Deep down inside, I think even the most obstinate defenders of street harassment can spot the different intents behind a true compliment meant to make the recipient feel good, and 'hey, baby, nice tits'...

As for the 'but just look at how she's dressed' - nonsense. That sort of victim blaming makes me really angry. Besides, I've been harassed while bundled up to walk in the snow - so we're back to the 'it's actually about intimidation and power' line.

Renee said...

damn right call out the street perverts that make our lives so difficult

Smirking Cat said...

"You're a piece of meat" is not a compliment, and I don't know how else a sexual comment tossed out on the street to impress your belligerent, dim-wittede friends can be taken.

If you want to compliment me, remark on my ravaging intelligence.

Black Thirteen said...

One thing I wonder, though:

Why doesn't anyone ever write about women harassing men? Or is it only considered harassment when it's a man saying something to a woman?

FeministGal said...

black thirteen, your question is a common one, and the answer is because it's about power. i'll use HollaBackNYC's response, hopefully it will help explain this better:

Question: I am a man who was recently sexually objectified by a woman on the street. I think this is reverse harassment. Why won’t you post my story?

Answer: While a woman making unsolicited sexual remarks to a man is certainly conceivable, the power dynamics of such an encounter are very different in a society where women comprise a historically subordinated group. HollaBackNYC is a project dedicated to combating a particular form of violence that designates subordinated groups (such as women and LGBTQ folks, for example) as targets in public spaces or otherwise vulnerable to unsolicited, nonconsensual encounters with strangers. It is thus not a forum for reporting other unpleasantries.