Appalachian Ohio, Athens GA, Atlanta, Berkeley, Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Columbia MO, Des Moines, Fredericksburgh VA, Jacksonville NC, Los Angeles, New York City, NYU, Philadelphia, Palo Alto, Portland ME, Richmond VA, Rutgers University, San Francisco
Cross-Posted from Hollaback! HQ (March, 6, 2012)
When did you start your holla? Our Hollaback! started right after the Brussels’ Slutwalk in September 2011, launched unintentionally in March 2012 and officially in April 2012.
Why did you start a HOLLA and what does Hollaback mean to you?
I was living for a while in Stockholm, and there was this moment when I was walking alone, in a slow pace, at night, around 2 am, just enjoying the gentle breeze, being amazed by how lovely the night was, when I stopped all of a sudden and wondered ‘what is this amazing, extraordinary feeling that I’m feeling?’ and I realized, it was FREE-dom. Fear seemed to have left my body. Why? Because ever since I got here [in Stockholm] I never once got harassed, never once leered at in the street, there were never whistles, never vulgar stares, not at night, not during the day. Slowly, all my well-built defense-, protection- & ‘what to do when you go out’ mechanisms of years and years of experiencing street harassment had begun to crumble until I was finally out and about alone at night on the street, fearless. Once you experience a freedom (human right) like that, there’s NO going back, and going back was exactly what it felt like when I returned to Brussels. Hollaback! for me is a way to reclaim that right again, to reclaim it for EVERYONE.
(Important to note here: I’m not saying Stockholm is some sort of utopia for women, I just felt safe there cause I never experienced harassment or violence. This is a personal experience. Other Swedish women did tell me stories of the violence they experienced there. This proves what is so for one person, is not so for another.)
HOLLAfact about your city? Surrealism your name is Brussels. Weird, ugly and beautiful are synonyms here. You can see the world’s most daring contemporary dance piece in a venue nobody knows about, stand in line for 1 hour at the ticket hall in Central Station wondering why the bloody vending machines never work, discover the most brilliant piece of architecture standing next to a ‘who the hell built this crap’ building, speak 5 different languages, get lost in translation, and run into a night shop where the owner invites you to the ‘Bollywood’ party down the street… ALL in one day.
Say you’re Queen for the day. What would you do to end street harassment? Easy. That would be the global DAY where NO ONE experiences street harassment or sexual violence, a day of total peace, freedom, respect and bliss. It would let loose such a profound ENERGY into the world that it would be IMPOSSIBLE to return to how things were. To take away that sense of freedom would be simply unheard of, people would be outraged. BUT just to make double-sure, that day I would cast an ANTI-street-harassment-violence spell upon the world for which there is no counter-spell. Problem solved.
What was your first experience with street harassment? I feel harassment in one way or the other has always been part of my life as I was bullied heavily as a child, but I guess the 1st time (better said, the 1st time I remember) the harassment was of sexual nature or on the street was when I was 14, on a holiday with my parents, brother and a friend in a small village in Spain. A guy with a motorcycle was following my friend and me home, after we had sneaked out to go to the sea after dinner. He was circling around us, speaking in half Spanish and English, making vulgar comments, horrible hissing noises, being extremely threatening, roaring the engine of the motorcycle, riding fast away only to turn around and ride towards us. My friend and I walked super fast, holding on to each other for dear life, staring at the ground, and ran for it when we saw the house appear. He kept on screaming at us…
What’s your signature Hollaback? It all depends on the situation, how threatening it is and how many harassers there are. If I feel safe to Hollaback, I do it with a return stare that says ‘O don’t you mess with me. I have a superwoman power and it’s going to bite you’, it’s quite strong and effective. If they call me something nasty (in Brussels sometimes harassers call you ‘sale pute’ or ‘salope’ = ‘dirty whore’ or ‘slut’), I reply with a word that makes no sense at all like ‘fourgette’ (fork) or ‘dentifrice’ (toothpaste). This mostly throws them off balance cause they don’t know how to react to that, wondering ‘what the hell did she say?’
Define your style? My friends call it Ingrid-style : – ) , it’s basically a translation of how I feel with a lot of icing on top. Colors represent emotions for me. I don’t care what’s fashionable, acceptable, and what’s not. I can easily leave the house in a vintage 20ties ball gown for no particular reason, be in a bohemian hippie-style all week, discover a working girl 80s look, or just mix everything up.
My superheroine power is… Listening….. “It’s everything, it’s where you learn everything” or so Meryl Streep said once, and I feel the same. In addition, I’m also a hyper-fast power-walker and have a lot of imagination.. so sometimes I do magically end up in other worlds & places ; – ).
What do you do when your not holla’ng? I’m sort of a full-time holla’er cause I’m a storyteller. And those stories I’m trying to tell are with words (writing, translating), images (film), and movement (performance). I’m also a traveler, nature-trekker, cake-maker, and knitter on the side.
If you could leave the world one piece of advice, what would it be? Stop using the earth as a dumpster. It’s not a dispensable thing we all happen to live on. S/he’s the home we share, s/he’s a living organism and the limit of us consuming it has long been reached. .. also.. Money is a fake rabbit. Try empathy for a change. It’s the greatest gift we humans have, if you develop it, it will make your life all the richer, and you will treat yourself and others all the nicer.
What inspires you? Everything! To name only a few: My mom. My brother. My friends. My fellow Hollabackers. My heroines… People who history seems to have forgotten (or worse, were burned on the stakes). People who live ordinary lives in respect for each other and nature. Who stand up against injustice, for others and for themselves. Who were bullied into silence, but kept finding ways to express themselves. Solidarity. Acts of kindness. Love…
Also in the HOLLAwho? section:
Cross-Posted from Hollaback Main (April 18,2012)
Why do you HOLLA? Because it makes me feel less a victim. Because it is a way to reclaim my right to be seen as a full human being. And because I like it when I take them by surprise.
What’s your signature Hollaback? Depends on the situation. Sometimes in German, because then no one understands, sometimes just “Fuck off”, sometimes “Don’t harass people”. What I did last time was “Jamais vu une femme? Pauvre!” (“Never seen a woman? Poor guy.”)
HOLLAfact about your city: Brussels has a large amount of beautiful Art Déco and Art Nouveau houses.
What was your first experience with street harassment? I was perhaps around fourteen, walking down the street with a friend of mine. A guy drove past, sounded the horn and yelled something unintelligible.
Define your style: Flowers, flowers, flowers on my clothes!
My superheroine/hero power is….. My dark, loud voice. As no harasser would expect this from the girl with the flower dress.
What do you collect? Memories.
Say you’re Queen for the day. What would you do to end street harassment? This might be a bit nasty, but: Force all the harassers out there to be for one day one of the persons they normally harass: women, LGBTQ people etc. So they see how it feels like.
If you could leave the world one piece of advice, what would it be? Don’t wait for someone else to push for change. Go start it yourself.
What inspires you? My three fellow HollaBrussels! girls. We’re a dreamteam!
Meet Anna, the thoughtful mover and shaker fighting street harassment in Brussels.
Why do you HOLLA? I Holla to show myself, my harassers and those around me that harassment is unacceptable. I Holla because it inspires me to be the strong person I can be. I Holla because it reinforces the fact that any large-scale oppressive treatment of a specific population simply can not be tolerated.
What’s your signature Hollaback? The one I’ve been sticking with lately is saying: ‘’Don’t talk to me like that’’ in a serious and authoritative tone. Although, I tend to flip the bird if I am caught off guard.
What’s your craft? I am infinitely intrigued by the human body and mind. Almost everything I do with my time involves the exploration of those things through various mediums and thought processes.
What was your first experience with street harassment? Witnessing: I remember being in Brooklyn and walking near McCarren Park. I saw a woman walking her dog and she had her cell phone out as well. There was a car slowly driving by and the guy said something to her. She immediately responded with something about how she was there to have a walk. Before she responded, I didn’t know if they knew one another or if the male driver was harassing her. I was so proud and in total admiration of this woman who responded, and I was so scared at the same time because I realized how a bystander like myself could let harassment happen because of fear and not knowing. Sometimes I can tell and I know I can do something. Sometimes I am unsure and then I am too slow to react or not brave enough. Now that Hollaback has the Bystander/Green Dot campaign, I feel well equipped to respond.
Define your style: Funky, comfortable, utilitarian and a little bit hippy. Nothing too fancy… and a bit of athletic gear mixed in b/c of heading to or from one activity or another. …Since I’ve moved to Brussels though, I wear a lot of black and a lot of pants to try to blend in– to avoid street harassment.
My superheroine/hero power is… Starting things: gathering people together, getting excited, supporting. …Although I’m working on fire breathing and flying.
What do you collect? Scents and sensations of experiences.
If you could leave the world one piece of advice, what would it be? Follow your intuition. Stand up for what you know deep down to be right. Support one another. Breathe. Keep going.
What inspires you? Seeing other people stand up for themselves or someone else. Seeing people work on issues they care about. Passion. Engagement. Care for oneself and others.