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Join us in wishing the happiest of birthdays to fierce local activist, Nuala Cabral, working tirelessly alongside other activists to make Philadelphia, and this world, a better and more just place. Nuala is an educator, activist, and film maker who has made some powerful social justice films. One of her films, Walking Home, is a powerful and eloquent response to street harassment, and it is our go-to anti-street harassment film. Watch it below:
Co-Founder of FAAN Mail, Fostering Activism and Alternatives Now) she also focuses much of her work around media literacy. As defined on FAAN Mail’s website,
According to the National Association of Media Literacy Education (NAMLE), media literacy is the ability to access, analyze, evaluate and create media. Anyone can do media literacy. It can happen in classrooms and in your every day life. Media literacy is a tool we use to help us navigate a media saturated world. It helps us be more informed consumers who advocate for change.
To that end, Nuala works with high school students at POPPYN as they make films “news report” style, she has appeared on HuffPo live multiple times, and FAAN Mail hosts “talk backs” that help break down the media by which we are surrounded, and demanding accountability from the media creators. The talk backs have mobilized hundreds of people and contributed to corporations responding to the criticisms and withdrawing their support of specific artists and/or offensive songs. She has also used her film, “Who’s that girl?”, which discusses women of color and hip-hop, in her media literacy work around hip-hop music.
She is beyond impressive, and I am so happy to call her my friend. Though she has achieved so much, and has seen so much aggression, she still approaches her activism from such a positive, un-angry place. That approach makes her energy magnetic, and whenever we partner with her for street-activism in Philly, it is no surprise so many people show up to play a part. I personally have grown so much from knowing her, as my activism is often from a place of anger. Seeing her lead by an example that is free from judgment has helped temper my anger quite a bit, which really facilitates engaging men in discussions about gender-based violence, broadening the discussions I’m able to have about our work here at HollabackPHILLY. I could keep talking about how amazing she and her efforts are, but better to let her work speak for itself!
So, check out Nuala’s amazing work, follow FAAN Mail on Facebook and Twitter, and join in the next time you have the opportunity. She is amazing, and you will want to be a part of her work here in Philadelphia!
It’s finally here! Join us at Locust Moon Comics, Saturday, May 25, 2013 at 7:00pm for the premiere release of our comic book! Register at the Facebook Event Page: “Hollaback: Red, Yellow, Blue” Comic Book Launch Party!
We’ll have a table in Artist’s Alley, and we will be carrying around 16BitSirens’ “Cosplay =/= consent” signs to take pictures with various people in Cosplay, while talking to them about harassment at conventions.
By: Lula Lisbon, Guest Blogger
I distinctly remember walking down the sidewalk with my friends at the age of thirteen, getting honks and lewd comments hurled at us. I repeat: WE WERE THIRTEEN. Imagining ourselves cool and grownup, we would give offending drivers the finger and gleefully yell “Perv!” as loud as we could. After the shock of the first time or two, I considered it old hat in the nonchalant way that kids who don’t know better have. Maybe it had happened to me earlier even than thirteen, because I developed very early — but if it did, it was too traumatizing for me to not block out of my memory.
“I’ve heard it all, and I don’t care what the words are, I hate them all.“
Street harassment is not about compliments. It’s certainly not about being nice. It’s about intimidation and dehumanization, about objectification and making the recipient feel powerless and scared while the perpetrator feels powerful and aggressive. It’s about keeping its targets firmly in a place of submission and fear, and perpetrators (in my personal experience, they have invariably been men, of all races) in a place of power.
“You have no right to talk to me like that. Harassment is illegal in the workplace, at school, at home — pretty much anywhere that’s indoors.“
Christy Turlington-Burns in her Women’s Way Powerful Voices Awards Keynote Address, 2013: “The most powerful thing we can use is our voices. And, that’s free.”
Philadelphia’s City Paper has a tongue-in-cheek advice column titled “Ask Papa”. The premise of the column is for readers to solicit advice from the late Ernest Hemingway by sending their questions to the writer, Alli Katz, who then channels Ernest Hemingway via Ouija board to give advice. Last week, “Hemingway” tackled street harassment.
“Hemingway’s” advice was problematic, to say the least, we were inspired to channel his estranged mentor, Gertrude Stein; bringing back to life their famous feud.
This is what good old Hemingway-reincarnate had to say about street harassment in the City Paper’s April 27, 2013 “Ask Papa” column:
Dear Papa: Now that the weather is warm, I want to ride my bike more, but whenever I bike in a dress I get honked at. I’m sick of getting cat-called for just leaving my house! What should I do? —Bare-Legged in Bella Vista
Dear Bare: I don’t understand. What is the problem? Wear pants? Don’t ride your bike? Shout back? Tell each one to shove his own eye in his asshole? Marry them? That would surely cause suffering. But, really — why would you ask me this? The only reason I’ve ever worn a dress is to hear what a man had to say about it.
Ernest communicates with writer Alli Katz via Ouija board. Send her your questions for Papa.
Of course, we here at HollabackPHILLY couldn’t let that go without a response. We channeled his late mentor, Gertrude Stein, to bring in her expertise about Hemingway, and what it is to be a woman who is street harassed, both alone, and when walking with her same-sex partner. Check out the letter we wrote to the editor, enclosing Stein’s response!
Oh Mr. Hemingway. After hearing the call for my assistance in addressing this City Paper column, I had to respond. Perhaps had we not parted ways I could have saved you from responding to the call of this column. There is still much for you to learn. In reading and mentoring you on your work, it became clear you were one of these men, who envisioned women as things at which to stare, our humanity less than yours. Perhaps I should have taken the advice you give this woman, and told you then, when you were a mere 23 and possibly saved from espousing this drivel.
Many people who are harassed on the street take these things quietly, but still feel them deeply. The layers of oppressions often built-in to street harassment experiences make it less comfortable, and often less safe, for many people to respond to their harassers. Following your advice can extend the license men feel they have to verbally harass, and lead to physical and sexual assault to silence the people who dare to speak out against their behavior. The harassment I experienced as I walked alone was one thing, but the harassment when I dared to walk with Alice was entirely another. I am sure you can relate, since you slandered my name for my enduring relationship with Alice. Not knowing how our shouting at the man would be interpreted in these harassing situations, it wasn’t always the easiest, and was often far from the best, option. Regardless, it was not my error to correct or my shame to carry.Nor is this Bare-Legged In Bella Vista’s shame, it lays entirely at the feet of men who engage in this behavior, and those giving advice like yours, dearest Ernest. The shame is entirely yours.-Gertrude SteinWriter Rochelle Keyhan, Director of HollabackPHILLY, communicated with the late Gertrude Stein via Ouija board for assistance drawn from Ms. Stein’s relationship with Hemingway as his mentor, and personal experience as a woman in a life-long relationship with her beloved Alice.
Talented local film student, Kara Lieff, created a video tour of the chalk walk portion of Philadelphia’s Anti Street Harassment 2013 actions. Participants that day included representatives from Poppyn, GALS, FAAN Mail, Philly Youth Poetry Movement, Philadelphia Futures, and other local Philadelphians invested in ending street harassment. Checkout her other films about street harassment here and here.
Anna Kegler, HollabackPHILLY’s Media Projects Coordinator, wrote an article as part of the RaiseforWomen Challenge, a joint campaign between The Huffington Post, the Half the Sky Movement and the Skoll Foundation to raise funds and recognize NGOs that are empowering women. This campaign involves a new Half the Sky landing page at The Huffington Post’s website with targeted articles and news.
An excerpt of Anna’s article is below, but head over to HuffPo to read the full post!
…The message of Half the Skyis that we all have to work together to end these problems, and every person’s effort makes a difference.
At the time I saw the documentary, HollabackPHILLY was just starting to work on developing an anti-street harassment comic book in partnership with Philly artist Erin Filson. During the fundraising phase of this project, we had many people ask us “Why is this important?” Our response? Being harassed on the street reduces girls, women and LGBT folks to objects, causes fear,and restricts their movements in public spaces. …
If you’re interested in the comic book, stay tuned! Erin is putting the final touches on the cover and we should be sending it to the printers late next week! We expect to have it available mid-to-late June for general sale! If you don’t want to wait that long, you can pre-order a signed copy and your copy will be in the first shipments at the beginning of June!
Site Leader Rochelle’s Op-Ed was published in this week’s Inquirer! Check it out online!
Cross-Posted from Philly.com, originally posted Friday, April 12, 2013, 3:01 AM
For months, on my walk to work I passed a VisitPhilly.com billboard on Broad Street that read: “Dear Walking This Way, I like the way you move it move it. Love, Philadelphia, XOXO.”
On the mornings when I had already been harassed, the advertisement only reinforced how pervasive, accepted, and inevitable our city’s street harassment problem is. On the nights I was spared catcalls and whistles on the way home, this billboard reminded me to still be on guard and ready.
Street harassment is the most pervasive form of gender-based sexual violence. It limits the mobility of women and the lesbian-gay-bisexual-transgender community, and denies us the basic human right of feeling safe on public streets. Behind the “playful” language in the VisitPhilly billboard, and the dismissive “Can’t you take a compliment?” response, is the truth that sexually harassing comments in public are wrong. To say otherwise promotes the idea that people should not expect to feel safe on Philadelphia’s sidewalks.
The citizens of Philadelphia have had enough. From college and high school students creating public-service announcements, to community meetings where HollabackPhilly has been invited to speak, to an increasing number of reports of harassment on our blog and social media outlets, to large-scale rallies, Philadelphians are standing up and sharing their experiences with harassment.
It is time to move in a new direction. As a city, we need to start reversing the damage done by the negative, harassing behavior that too many find acceptable.
In response to the VisitPhilly billboard, HollabackPhilly decided to create its own ad campaign, coinciding with Sexual Assault Awareness Month and International Anti Street Harassment Week. We created public-service ads to start a broad public discussion about street harassment, and raised money to publish them on both the Broad Street and Market-Frankford subway lines.
The goal is to reach as many people as possible in a positive, accessible way. By familiarizing Philadelphians with the term “street harassment,” as well as the lasting effects of such behavior, we are encouraging a public conversation about how we can do a better job of creating a culture of support and safety. The next step involves a partnership with Philly artist Erin Filson to create an educational comic book to engage a younger audience about street harassment. We also hope to enlist more male allies to help us change the way Philadelphians interact in public.
We’re a small group of everyday citizens who are invested in creating a street culture all Philadelphians can be proud of. It’s time to stop ignoring street harassment. The longer we tolerate such behavior, the longer it will persist.
We invite you to add your voice to the conversation about how we can replace harassment with expressions of love and respect. As you ride the subway this month, keep an eye out for our ads and let us know what you think.
Don’t just walk on. Hollaback.
Cross-posted from Hollaback Halifax, originally published on April 11, 2013, at 6:47 pm.
Trigger warning: This article will discuss suicide, harassment, bullying, and rape. This can also be expected of current news articles and most other blogs that mention Rehtaeh Parsons.
Rehtaeh Parsons of Cole Harbour isn’t able to share her story with us herself. We learned her name and story along with the rest of Halifax this week, because her parents have shared them online and with the media after her death.
When Rehtaeh was 15, she reported that a group of boys had raped her. One of the boys took a photograph during the alleged assault, and it was shared with others in her school. According to her parents, in the subsequent months she was shunned and harassed by some of her peers. Rehtaeh died of suicide this weekend, at the age of 17.
Rehtaeh’s parents have said that the last year and a half of their daughter’s life were very difficult. They are certain that many of Rehtaeh’s painful experiences could have been avoided if she and her family had received more consistent support.
Leah Parsons, Rehtaeh’s mother, on CBC Maritime Noon:
I think the thing that meant the most to her, one day a group of guys that she grew up with [inaudible] she knew in elementary school, they came up to her and said “Rehtaeh, we believe you. We know that this happened to you.” They said, “We know that you would never do anything like that, and we believe that those boys raped you, and we just wanted you to know that.”
Glen Canning, Rehtaeh’s father, on his personal blog:
I had to write something about this. I don’t want her life to defined by a Google search about suicide or death or rape. I want it to be about the giving heart she had. Her smile. Her love of life and the beautiful way in which she lived it.
I found out this afternoon my daughter saved the life of a young woman with her heart. How fitting.
The blame for any assault should always lie with the perpetrator. Despite this, public discussion often turns to blaming the victim or her parents, or follows red herrings like sexting, cyberbullying, and underage drinking. All of these deserve attention, but they are not what caused this. The causes of suicide are often complex, and we cannot account for all the factors involved, but the instigating event for Rehtaeh’s trauma was the assault itself. We need to pay attention to how this was able to occur. Sexualized violence is a reality in our schools, in homes throughout our communities, and in public spaces like our streets and the internet, but it doesn’t have to be. We refuse to accept it as an inevitability. Every one of us deserves better.
Beth Lyons at Shameless Magazine:
Where [sic] there elements of bullying in what Parsons endured? Absolutely. Is focusing on “cyber-bullying” as the primary concern brought to light by her death accurate or even useful? No.
When a sexual assault, circulation of documentation of an assault, and vicious victim-blaming for an assault are subsumed into the bullying narrative, it obscures the truth of what happened. If such things are filed away under bullying, we fail to name them as instances of gender-based violence, exploitation, and harassment that are enabled by a culture that minimizes, dismisses, and normalizes violence against women.
Emily Williams at The Chronicle Herald:
We brush off and downplay sexual harassment, saying it was just this or only that. We make excuses for the perpetrators, saying that they were drunk or that their target encouraged them. We mock victims, saying that they are overreacting or that they should have enjoyed the attention. We do not take street harassment seriously, telling women that catcalls are a compliment and that they should just smile and go on their way. We do not speak up, our silence an implied endorsement.
We want justice for all victims of sexualized violence, whether we know their names or not. We want people of all ages to be certain that they can’t hurt others without consequence, and equally certain that if they are harmed by others they will be supported by their communities. We want schools to offer comprehensive education about consent. We want all levels of government to develop an appropriate response to sexualized violence. We want community services to receive sufficient funding so that they don’t have to have months-long waiting lists for vital programs (or cut them altogether).
We need to work together to prevent violent acts from happening in the first place, and not just react to them after the fact.
There are so many people who are ready to have your back. You have no idea how many. We’re including a list of resources at the end of this post.
(We’re sure we missed some; give us a shout if you know of others we should add.)
Be bold! Be daring! Be your most awesome self.
Talk with your friends and family about ways to help people out, so that if you’re in a tight spot you don’t have to come up with a solution from scratch. Make sure the people close to you know they can count on you in a crisis. If you’re not there when stuff goes down, but you find out afterwards, offer whatever support you can — be like the friends who stuck by Rehtaeh and the boys who told they believed her.
And if you’re not sure whether someone’s okay or not, ask. “Are you okay?” “Do you need help?” You can use these questions to let people know they’re not isolated, and that you’re a safe person for them to reach out to.
If it’s not safe for you to help someone yourself, if you don’t know how, or if they need more help than you can give them alone, it’s okay to call for reinforcements. You don’t have to do everything. You just have to do something.
Be the person who runs for the teacher, who calls the crisis line, or who talks to other bystanders and says “they’re in trouble; they need our help.” You will be in this position one day, and it could be one of the most important things you ever do.
If you’re in Halifax, you can call one of these numbers for emergency assistance: