harassment, the movement, verbal

Open Letter to Britni…RE: #AbuserDynamics & Oppression Within The Hollaback! Organization

I am replying to Britni as another site leader tossing some opinions in the hat. It is not my preference to discuss this matter on twitter.

I am also replying in acknowledgement of your pain and frustration, Britni. I know that my response is not the one you’re looking for and that can only come from the people in charge of this organization. Even though your actions are extremely hurtful to me, I can empathize with wanting to be heard and wanting to have your pain acknowledged. I hear you. It is not my aim to tell you that your feelings don’t matter. It is not my aim to tell you that I don’t believe that you have gone through a traumatic experience during your time with this organization. I will however, put my foot down when I see misinformation being spread about things other than your personal experiences. I will speak up when I feel like the wrong person is trying to speak for me. I will speak up when I am able. This conversation can go on forever and most of this will not be resolved in public.


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HCC Diversity Summit table
HCC Diversity Summit table

What the heck have we been up to lately, anyway?!

For those of you that don’t follow us on Facebook, here’s a much needed recap of Hollaback! Houston’s latest activities:

    • We were a Co-Sponsor for International Anti-Street Harassment Week 2014!  The organization, Stop Street Harassment, has been coordinating this program since 2011.  Many of the other Hollaback! chapters were able to participate as well and you check out the official “Week In Our Shoes” report at the Hollaback! main site.

Across the globe, during the week of March 30th – April 5th, activists hosted various events to get the public engaged in ways to end the acceptance of street harassment in their communities.  There were so many creative ideas that sparked much needed conversation such as chalk walks, twitter discussions and wheat pasting.  Click here for the complete rundown of events from meetusonthestreet.org.

    • Hollaback! Houston kicked off the week with an event of our own on March 30th at Myth & Symbol in the Rice Village.  We began our touring exhibit project of prints we have from artist Tatyana Fazlalizadeh from her portrait series titled “Stop Telling Women to Smile“.  See the flyer below for more info as well as the facebook event page.


STWTS Opening event flyer

STWTS Opening event flyer

Photo courtesy of Nicole Caldwell

Photo courtesy of Nicole Caldwell

Click here for more photos from the Stop Telling Women to Smile event.  Don’t forget that the posters will remain up at Myth & Symbol until the end of April!

Hollaback! Houston is proud to have this collection of prints from Tatyana Fazlalizadeh. Originally intended as wheat pastes, we wanted to have as many people see these powerful images as possible and decided to ask permission of local businesses to display the posters inside to reach a broader audience.

In a city like Houston where car culture is dominant, those who use public transportation, are pedestrians or cyclists tend to experience public harassment at a disproportionate rate and therefore it is not a frequently discussed topic. Our goal is to bring awareness to Tatyana’s project, support those who have had traumatic experiences with harassment and get people to think differently about the normalization and misconceptions of street harassment in our culture and internationally. Each location will host the prints for one month.

Contact [email protected] if you would like to show the prints at your space.
Updates on locations will be posted here on our website and our facebook page.

About the Art

Stop Telling Women to Smile is an art series by Tatyana Fazlalizadeh. The work attempts to address gender based street harassment by placing drawn portraits of women, composed with captions that speak directly to offenders, outside in public spaces.

Tatyana Fazlalizadeh is an illustrator/painter based in Brooklyn, mostly known for her oil paintings. Having recently branched out into public art as a muralist, STWTS was born out of the idea that street art can be an impactful tool for tackling street harassment.

STWTS started in Brooklyn in the fall of 2012. It is an on-going, traveling series and will gradually include many cities and many women participants.

Street harassment is a serious issue that affects women world wide. This project takes women’s voices, and faces, and puts them in the street – creating a bold presence for women in an environment where they are so often made to feel uncomfortable and unsafe.

-From stoptellingwomentosmile.com/About


    • Prior to both of these awesome activities, we had the opportunity to meet with some dedicated faculty members at Houston Community College…Mikki Novak and Jennifer Graves.  These two are a powerhouse and are doing great things not only within the HCC community but throughout Houston as well!!!  Hollaback! Houston participated in a tabling event at the HCC Diversity and Inclusion Summit on March 28th with a preview of our International Anti-Street Harassment Week plans.
Look at all these commitments to being a better bystander!!!

Look at all these commitments to being a better bystander!!!

Click here to see the rest of our photo album from the Diversity Summit on Facebook.

Many thanks to everyone that helped us have an amazing first International Anti-Street Harassment Week!  We are thrilled to have so many new supporters and friends 🙂  WOOHOO!!

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Week In Our Shoes: HOLLA Is Where The Heart Is Editon

Repost from 2/14/14 showcasing the latest greatest work being done by the global Hollaback! community:

Week In Our Shoes: HOLLA Is Where The Heart Is Edition

Hello Hollabackers! 

This week, our Executive Director, Emily May, was named an Ashoka Fellow!! Such a great honor. Check out this awesome video introducing her as an Ashoka Fellow, talking about Hollaback! and our work to end street harassment. Congrats Emily!! Also, Hollaback! launched the FIRST EVER Educator’s Guide to Street Harassment. The guide is geared toward teachers, guidance counselors, parents and other educators in New York City who want to address the issue of street harassment amongst middle and high school aged students. Alongside the release, our Deputy Director, Debjani Roy, wrote an article on Huffington Post titled “When Was the First Time You Were Harassed?”.

Here’s what the HOLLAs around the world have been up to: 

Hollaback! Boston will be attending SoJust’s Dating While Progressive event today as a support for anyone who feels uncomfortable and to promote Hollaback!’s safe spaces for all mission!

Hollaback! Appalachian Ohio gave four 45-minute workshops to twenty-seven 8th graders at Vinton Middle School on consent, deconstructing rape culture, gender stereotypes, and bystander intervention. Also, they will be holding a workshop today titled Geography of Street Harassment on the Female Body. Hollabackers Nancy Gomez and Priyanka Kazi will be exploring the relationship between personal experiences of street harassment and the public spaces in which these unwelcome encounters take place. Finally, today they will be distributing the empowering self-love Valentines (pictured above) that they created last week across Athens for students. Feel the HOLLA love!

Hollaback! Czech will be standing up against cyber bullying today. Join them in acknowledging the importance of cyber violence, strengthening the laws against it,  and demanding justice for victims.

Hollaback! Des Moines had a special Monthly Meetup this week where they were joined by representatives from One Iowa to discuss health care needs of LGBTQ folks in the Des Moines area. They have meetups on the second Tuesday of every month. Make sure to check out the next one in March! The will also be participating in the second annual V-Day One Billion Rising flash mob with One Billion Rising DSM and Kees Camp TODAY in the downtown skywalks!

Hollaback! Melbourne has a new home! Thanks to generous sponsorship, their office will now be located at The Electron Workshop in North Melbourne. The Electron Workshop is an inclusive and accessible co-working space in North Melbourne, with an emphasis on openness, collaboration, and building mutually beneficial relationships. They have a commitment to supporting women in business and are a welcoming and safe space. Congrats!

Hollaback! Philly has announced the presenters for their upcoming speaker series on human sex trafficking of domestic girls with various experts from across the country.  Speakers include John O’Neill (a homicide prosecutor in the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office), Tina Frundt (survivor of human trafficking, Frederick Douglass Award winner, and founder of Courtney’s House), and Dr. Mary Anne Layden  (psychotherapist and Director of Education at the Center for Cognitive Therapy at the University of PA). O’Neill’s talk, entitled ”How They Got There: dispelling myths about prostitution and sex trafficking”, will clarify the very engrained myths about prostitution and human trafficking. She will be speaking about her experiences with trafficking, both at the survivor and service provider levels. Frundt will be speaking about her experiences with trafficking, both at the survivor and service provider levels. Finally, Layden’s talk will focus on the beliefs surrounding male sexual demand and their contribution to the commercial sexual exploitation of sex trafficking in the United States. This series sounds amazing!!

Super exciting things happening in the HOLLA world! Til next week-

HOLLA and out!

– The Hollaback! Team

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Week In Our Shoes: The Last Edition of 2013

Check out what our global team has been up to lately!

Repost from Hollaback! main:

Published on December 31,2013 at 3:27 pm in The Movementno comments 



Hello Hollabackers!

During the last weeks of 2013, Hollaback! was featured by She RightsThe Vancouver SunThe Vancouver StraightThe ProvinceOttawa CitizenVelvet Butter BlogTruth Out and Jezebel (plus a few others that will surely be included once the holiday break is over and the press list is updated!).


Hollaback’s DD, Debjani Roy, was chosen as one of  20 women chosen to join the 2013  Progressive Women’s Voices Class at the Women’s Media Center. Congrats!


Here’s what the HOLLAs around the world have been up to:


Hollaback! Korea held their site launch party and got tons of great press covering the event! They posted lots of pictures and even some video of the event!

Hollaback! Houston also had amazing launch party called Holla From the Rooftop, check out their pictures of the event here!

Hollaback! Vancouver was interviewed for their first radio spot!

Hollaback! Philly will be featured in an amazing documentaryStreets To Call Our Own! The film will cover “the emergence of the anti-street harassment movement and the current efforts of HollabackPHILLY … through the lens of Philadelphia.” Check out the trailer on the kickstater page.

Way to close out 2013 HOLLAs!!!!
-The Hollaback! Team

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Awesome New Interview From Meredith Nudo!

Just before our launch party, Hermie had an opportunity to be interviewed for Meredith Nudo’s blog, Hardcore Nudoty.  Meredith is a cool person, smart writer and one of the previous founding Directors of Hollaback! Houston who now generously makes herself available for consulting with current and future HBH team members.  Thanks Meredith!!! <3

Here is an excerpt from the post:

Hollaback! Houston officially relaunched earlier last week, under the leadership of Hermie Escamilla. She has impressively thrown all her passion, enthusiasm and creativity into ensuring greater public safety for women, people of color, the LGTBQIA community, persons with disabilities, and other demographics frequently on the receiving end of verbal or physical street harassment – but, of course, stories from ones who aren’t still get accepted. To celebrate the new website and Sunday’s official launch party, Escamilla very kindly answered a few questions about her organization and what she hopes to accomplish in the years ahead…”

You can read the entire interview here:

Interview with Hermie Escamilla of Hollaback! Houston




P.S.  The launch party was also AWESOME!  Thanks to everyone that partied with us in that 30 degree weather!  A recap will appear soon with more pics!

image (3)

Slide presentation and Ornaments conducting sound check against the backdrop of downtown Houston! Photos by Jessica Miller.

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Dear John Letters

This past summer, July 25th, 2013 to be exact, the Hollaback! team held a conference in NYC…the HOLLA::Revolution! It was “the first ever international conference on street harassment” and brought together Hollaback! site leaders from across the globe, important speakers, supporters and even hosted workshops.  You can read all about it through the link posted above or what the heck….click here too.

Hermie was one of the viewers excitedly streaming the entire event online that day!  She certainly looks forward to planning attendance at next year’s conference.  What an awesome combo deal of inspiring speakers, good laughs and excellent research!  One item that was shared during the conference was the reading of a “Dear John” letter by the author.  Hollaback! has a collaborative tumblr filled with more entries.

An empowering perspective those of you who avoid the gym for similar reasons:

Dear John,

You’re not working out. Literally—you’re not working out, you’re just standing there watching me workout. Your eyes scan my body, taking it in against its will. I came to the gym for me, but instead you stand there, gawking as if I’m here for your entertainment. My movements are awkward, stunted even. I hardly move because I feel like you think every bend, every twist, every stretch is for your enjoyment, as opposed to being for my own self-improvement. But what do you care?

Despite the earbuds planted firmly in my ears, you try to say something to me. The battery on my phone has died so I can hear you, but I pretend that I can’t. The words, “Damn girl, you look tight” drip with so much sexual innuendo that I fear I might be covered in it. I look past you, at my reflection in the mirror. “It’s about me. This is for me, not him,” I remind myself. You lick your lips and I still ignore you. Then you get mad. You call me a “stuck up bitch” who thinks “she’s too good” for you, because to you, my presence in public is an implicit offering of myself to the first guy willing to approach me. I shouldn’t have standards, preferences or pride. I’m here for you to pick up, and when that fails, for you to put down.

I debate whether or not I should just move to another area of the gym. Or should I just go home, cutting my me-time short? I think, “I came here to become stronger, so why do I feel so weak?”  This just isn’t working out—I’m not working out.

Just as I get ready to give up and go home I see that you’ve gone back to your workout. You’re performing push-ups, your back dipping, revealing your spinelessness.  Your workout, your life, your day goes on, unaffected by my presence or rejection.  “Fuck this,” I think.  I put my stuff back into the locker and get ready to finish my workout, because at the end of the day, my presence at this gym—really, in any public place—is for me.

So John, you may think that you’re rendering me powerless with your stares, your name-calling and your obscene gestures, but really, all you’re doing is making yourself weaker. All of that wasted effort has taken away from your “you-time”, and it shows.

Forever Not Yours,



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Houston is 1 of 14 Sites Launching Globally Today!!!

We are so proud to be on this list of new sites today!  Some of you may have been following us for a while as we are one site that is in fact re-launching.  The founding launch for Hollaback! Houston was in 2011 and after a brief pause, it is back!  Also, don’t forget we are celebrating soon so check out our Facebook event page and join us on December 15th.

Here’s the latest from Hollaback! HQ below about what’s going on this sunny # GivingTuesday:


This # GivingTuesday we are celebrating the launch of 14 new Hollaback! sitesAustin,BangaloreChapel HillGuyanaHoustonIranMumbaiMunciePittsburghKorea,NiagaraTucsonUniversity of London, and Vancouver.  Celebrate #GivingTuesday and show your support for our new site leaders and for the millions of people that will be street harassed today by making a gift to Hollaback.

Here are two great ways that you can support Hollaback! this season:

1) Give the gift that keeps on giving: become a monthly sustainer! With a recurring donation of as little as $10 a month, you can support long term projects, new innovations, and training for movement leaders globally.  Become a recurring donor this #GivingTuesday and your gift will be matched by board member Raphi Rosenblatt.

Raphi writes, “I give because I want to live in a world where I never have to worry about being harassed for being gay. Until that day comes, I hollaback!.”  Let us know why you Hollaback!. Any amount you donate today will be matched by Raphi, doubling your donation and your impact!

2) Support the movement and fill out your holiday gift list by picking up some HOLLAwear. Proceeds from HOLLAwear go directly to supporting Hollaback! and the movement to end street-harassment and they look great too!  Check out The Vanity Project’s soft, stylish, and sweat-shop free Hollaback! V-neck shirts(seen on our site leaders above).  If you’re looking for some HOLLA jewelry, pick up our supporter 80/20 Jewelry’s HOLLA necklace and wear your dedication to end street harassment close to your heart.  And, if someone on your list LOVES hot pink, check out supporter Gina Tron’s “Hot Pussy is No Way to Say Hello” T-shirt.

Thank you for your support.  Every single action helps.  Donate today!

– The Hollaback Team

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Inspiration from DC!

A recent article in the Washington Post titled,

How should bicyclists handle harassment? D.C. area groups teach empowerment tactics.

showcased more great ground work being done by Collective Action for Safe Spaces in the DC Metro area.  A strong partner in education and support for individuals who experience street harassment, we truly aspire to foster this strong level of involvement and commitment in Houston.pin

Hollaback! Houston loves cyclists!  Not only is our Director a daily cyclist commuter, but so are some of our volunteers and supporters!  We know what it’s like to enjoy the freedom and exhilaration of self-propelled transport.  We also feel stressed, scared and angry sometimes at the way cyclists tend to be treated as an “other”.  An annoyance, an inconvenience or one of those lawless ne’er-do-wells.  Even the success of Houston’s new Safe Passing Ordinance tends to be overshadowed by the perpetuation of an us vs. them mentality depending on the slant the story is given.

As the cycling community in Houston grows, there is potential for people who had not previously encountered harassment on a normal work commute to unfortunately begin collecting stories.  So, on top of worrying about general safety, add to that dreading regular verbal harassment or intentional physical harm/intimidation and you can imagine why some people still haven’t warmed up to the idea of a regular bike/pedestrian commute.  Some of us don’t have the choice or means to own a motor vehicle; whether for disability or economic reasons or we simply prefer not to for simplicity’s sake.  No matter what the reason, we can all agree that opting to go out into the world does not mean we deserve or are asking for harassment and violence.

Of the many user comments that seemed to be in denial about the current state of the streets (from the Washington Post article), this assumption in particular was one that seemed to be a reoccurring sentiment:

“A lot of women face harassment by strange men, including unwelcome comments on their bodies. It has nothing whatsoever to do with bicycling or pedestrians.”

nothing whatsoever to do with bicycling or pedestrians

We hope this myth will not be pervasive as we reach out to our Houston communities.  Statistics directly from the article reference “A CASS study in May found that 90 percent of women and members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community had experienced some form of harassment while biking”.

Anyone that has ridden a bike or walked any small stretch can tell the difference one feels in exposure to ALL environmental elements compared to being in a personal motor vehicle.  Street harassment = harassment on the street/ public spaces…it’s that simple.  That’s not to say that motorists don’t experience their fair share of road aggression directed at them, however data collected by Hollaback! has distinctly concluded that There are street harassment “hotspots” in most cities often centered around high pedestrian traffic areas“.

We are currently collaborating to host our own version of a workshop for Houston bike/ped commuters in the new year!  Stay tuned and feel free to send us feedback as well at [email protected]

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Official Hollaback! Houston Launch Party!!!

Mark your calendars, friends!!  Our day to celebrate the relaunch of Hollaback!  Houston has been set.  We are so excited to really get down to business after all the hours we’ve put in with preparation of this website and planning for the event.  It will be a well deserved moment for us to collect on some very much needed hugs and high fives from one and all!

Sarah Welch

Sarah Welch and local printer Mystic Multiples

Sunday December 15, 2013.  

The event, “Holla from the Rooftop” will be all-ages and run from 5 pm – 10 pm at Khon’s rooftop (2808 Milam St.) and include an introduction to the Hollaback! Houston organization, overview of new website resources and free mobile app, guest speakers, local artists, empowering activities, a fun photobooth, partner organizations and live music!

Jeff Hunter with Local Live Houston Radio will be broadcasting live from the event from 8 pm-11 pm!!!

In case you can’t join us in person, you can listen online or download the mobile app, TuneIN at: http://locallivehouston.com/

The rundown of guests so far:

***Graphic Artist Sarah Welch will be in attendance with some of her artwork. In particular be sure to chat with her about her illustrations in “Pedestrians” where she recounts some of her amusing to uncomfortable and completely relatable encounters on public transit in Chicago and Austin.

***Also meet local printer Mystic Multiples at Sarah’s table and find out about their services and see examples of their beautiful work. “We’re a full service letterpress and risography publishing service located in Houston, Texas. Begun in 2013, Mystic Multiples exists to produce challenging, new work in print for designers and artists.”

***Photo Booth will be provided by professional smile-maker and photographer, Sindy Lagunas of Photo Libre!!

***Super Duper Special Guest Partner organizations: More TBA
Meet more hard-working people in our community and learn how you can get involved in their mission as well

*Local Live Houston Radio
*Texans Together

*Better Future Project / Ride for the Future

*Houston Clinic Defense Team

*Houston Area Women’s Center

***Rad Music Schedule
6pm: Ornaments
7pm: Amazing Technology
8pm: Brown Velvet
9pm: Kosé

All of our bands will have 30 minute sets and we will have presentations in between!

If you are an artist, non-profit or writer with some words to say and you want to show your support and have a presence, email Hermie at [email protected] with questions and ideas.

CLICK HERE to go to the Facebook event page where, if you have a Facebook account, you shall promptly click “Join” and then feel giddy with anticipation for the celebration!

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Updates from NYC!

Week In Our Shoes: Wins Edition!

Hello Hollabackers!

WP_20131114_009In the past week Hollaback! was featured by New York Observer, Stop Street HarassmentImpower YouVitamin WShe FindsHuffington PostJezebel, YahooDaily CollegianPR DailyNewsFixCTV PrimetimeThe LoopAOL onlineTotal BeautyFeminist Wednesday and The Prospect, who wrote a great piece on the normalization, embarrassment, confusion and reporting complications of public harassment.

Hollaback! started a petition requesting Burt’s Bees change its crudely written labeling. The change.org petition reached  2,000 signatures in only a few days and became a story noted across the blogosphere. We won! Burt’s Bees and Gud eventually offered a sincere apology for their offensive marketing and agreed to no longer put such offensive language on future products. Check out the storify here!


Here’s what the HOLLAs around the world have been up to:

Hollaback! Boston hosted their last Take Back The Bar event of the year and had a great turnout. They facilitated a workshop at the New England Women’s Center Conference about how story sharing contributes to the creation of safer spaces. They’re also hosting workshops at two colleges this week: Emerson College last night (Emerson also hosted a HB-themed photoshoot this weekend) and at Tufts University.

Hollaback! Appalachian Ohio  delivered four lessons to the 8th graders at Vinton Middle School in McArthur Ohio. HB!AO was featured on Athens Community Television. Devin and Sarah were invited onto an interview show where they spoke on the Sexual Assault Prevention Program, Hollaback Appalachian Ohio!, the 4 D’s of self defense and Athens Rock Camp for Girls. It’s an hour long, and in two segments, the interview is available on YouTube, as well as being aired EVERY DAY for two weeks starting on Nov 30!

Hollaback! Ottawa held its Cosplay =/= Consent event!

Hollaback Melbourne held a free self defense workshop!

Hollaback Belfast   was featured in The Tab and represented at the Outburst Arts Queer Arts Festival. On Sunday, Helen Mcbride of HB!B spoke on a panel discussion about activism following a showing of the movie Lesbiana. As a part of the festival, the team also published a zine!

Hollaback! Alberta was featured on CTV’s Alberta Primetime, who hosted an interview with Lauren and Renee on street harassment.

 Hollaback! Bosnia & Herzegovina also had an amazing win this week with the first case of street harassment properly reported to police and processed in a court room! A huge step for Sarajevo city!


Congratulations, everyone! Great Work!

HOLLA and out!

-The Hollaback! Team

(from ihollaback.org home page 11/23/13 )

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