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Are you going to edit my submission? What’s that about?
Answer: Hollaback! Brussels publishes every post we receive, and does not pass judgment on the circumstance – if a person feels they have been harassed, regardless of the context, we believe it is important to offer a forum to share that story. Encouraging discourse about street harassment as it is experienced in the city is our goal. HOWEVER, we review each submission first, before we publish it and we reserve the right to edit your submission for clarity, and to remove potentially offensive language that addresses race, class or other defining characteristics that perpetuate stereotypes about street harassment and marginalized people. We will not publish your submission if it doesn’t agree with our values and policies, so please read them first before sending us your story.
Some of the other Hollaback sites include images of harassers. Why not yours?
Answer: HollabackNYC and many other Hollaback sites make brilliant use of ‘caught out there’ pics of harassers. However, the law on taking pictures of people in public is different and every country, in Belgium it is not allowed and Hollaback!Brussels feels that culturally encouraging women (who might already be in a vulnerable position after an incident) to take a picture of the culprit might put her in further danger.
How related are all the sites?
Answer: We work as ‘sisters’ on the same platform (ihollaback.org) but are still autonomous.
What do you mean when you say “Hollaback”?
Answer: We like using “hollaback” because it is a slippery term with many meanings and possibilities. It is most popularly coined in the Gwen Stefani song “Holla Back Girl,” in which she says she “ain’t no holla back girl,” making a cheerleading reference to paying lip service to someone or allowing someone to walk all over you. (see Urban Dictionary’s definitions here) We’ve reclaimed “Hollaback” for the purpose of fighting street harassment, much the way other misappropriated terms (like “queer,” for example) have been reclaimed by marginalized groups to take back and redefine the power dynamic implicit in language.
Confronting street harassers could be dangerous. What about safety?
Answer: Studies have indicated that people who are aware of their surroundings, walk confidently and, if harassed, respond assertively, play an important role in combating street harassment. Direct confrontation with street harassers may be extremely dangerous, particularly when alone or in unoccupied spaces. While it is each individual’s right to decide when, how and if to hollaback, Hollaback! Brussels believes you should prioritize safety. Hollaback! Brussels serves as a forum in which a victim can publicly hollaback after safely exiting the situation. Should you choose to photograph or videotape a harasser, you may consider doing so from a safe distance, ensuring the harasser is unaware of your actions.
So let’s say a man sees a woman he thinks is attractive and tells her so. Are you saying that makes him a harasser?
Answer: Hollaback! Brussels does not define for others what constitutes harassment. Some find unsolicited comments like, “Hey sweetheart,” made in public to be downright annoying, intimidating or intrusive. Some do not. Keep in mind that women experience unsolicited comments, as well as violent verbal assault, from men in public spaces on a regular basis. Rather than deliberating the “grey areas” of street harassment, Hollaback! Brussels encourages you to treat everyone you encounter with respect. Check our Male Allies section if you are interested in some tips.
But if you wear a miniskirt or tight pants, shouldn’t you expect some compliments?
Answer: Compliments are very different from harassment. A compliment doesn’t make a woman feel badly or unsafe about what she’s wearing. While you should be able to wear whatever you want, to feel sexy and confident without reactions from the general public, this is not the current case. You may expect to be harassed, but any unwanted advances from another do not have to be accepted or tolerated.
Street harassment sucks, but it’s only a small part of the world in which we live. Doesn’t focusing on this specific issue detract from everything else we’re up against?
Answer: The violence and disrespect experienced daily by countless people in public spaces is a serious problem with real, material consequences. While Hollaback! Brussels is a project dedicated to this particular issue, it is committed to a coalitional approach and indexes street harassment within a larger social and economic framework of resistance. This project collaborates with a diverse range of anti-racist, LGBTQI & women groups, and anti-violence initiatives.
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