Monthly Archives: December 2009


What a year it has been! And, boy, do we need an excuse for a break. We will be on hiatus till early January. That doesn’t mean that street harassment stops or that you can’t submit your experience(s). We thought we would also take this time for some navel gazing. Enjoy!

A Look Back to 2009

Wow, this has been quite the year! It started off quietly, until January 29. That’s the day that we met to make Holla Back DC! a reality. Who knew that conversations over a pot of tea, salty oat cookies, and seaweed salad would get us to where we are now. Here’s a look back on this year:

  • Since our first post in March, we have collected over 300 street harassment experiences and had over 100,000 blog visitors
  • In April, we had our launch party at an institution known as a place where patron experience sexual harassment from other patrons. We raffled off gifts from Defend Yourself, Creatuitive Coaching, Rhonda’s Cupcakery, and Yong Studios. Over 50 people attended and we started talking about all the ways we could take our activism offline and build a community dedicated to addressing public sexual harassment
  • From June to August, HBDC! met with over 20 local activists and organizations addressing gender-based violence to figure out the needs of the community.
  • Through WIN’s Women Opening Doors for Women in June, HBDC! facilitated a dinner on street harassment at the house of the Director of Women’s Policy & Initiatives in the DC Mayor’s Office, Niambi Jarvis.
  • In August, HBDC! conducted two workshops with a wonderfully supportive audience- DC Rape Crisis Center’s hotline volunteers.
  • In September and November, we partnered with S.A.L.S.A. to provide two workshops on addressing street harassment and community-based solutions on ending street harassment.
  • During October, we presented at the American University’s Pubic Anthropology Conference where we discussed street harassment and grassroots organizing.
  • From September to December, we worked with George Washington University interns in social media, outreaching to the LGBTQ communities, and event planning. We brought in experts in various fields to talk to them about technology, empowerment, the international movement on street harassment, and the theories of self-defense. Last week, our wonderful interns organized a bake sale at GWU, where they raised $70 for HBDC! and passed out over 100 fliers on street harassment. We are proud of the movement our six amazing interns have started on campus and we will miss them.

We couldn’t do this work without the fiscal and emotional support of the DC Metro community. Through your connections, we’ve met amazing individuals, potential mentors, and excited donors. We are in the process of incorporating and becoming a 501(c)(3) in order to increase our efforts and bring more of the programs we have heard you all say DC wants and needs to make this metro area public sexual harassment and assault free.

Give the Gift of Safety

We are delighted (and hope you are too), that our sisters and brothers in New York City are assisting us in making the communities’ needs a reality! Right Rides wants to help us expand by bringing their amazing program to DC. Let’s give DC residents a choice in how they travel, with the option of a safe, free ride on Friday and Saturday nights.

Let’s make the DC metro area safer by giving the gift of safety this season by donating to Right Rides. Every penny counts, no matter what the amount of your donation is, you can help us reach our goal of $500! Click here.

We look forward to what the New Year has to offer.  Here is to many more safe walks, rides on the Metro and bus, and engaging conversations to end public sexual harassment and assault in the Washington, DC metro.

From the HBDC! family to yours, happy holidays!  We’ll see you in early January!

HBDC! Intern: Emily

We had Lauren from Defend Yourself discuss self-defense and model self-defense moves that you can use for street harassment. The result was a group of six young women excited to put the moves and theories to play. Side note: please make a 2010 resolution to take a class with Lauren. She is amazing!

Emily wrote thoughts about self-defense:

Before reading the information on the website [], I wasn’t really sure what self defense was. I figured it was simply physical skills one could use to defend themselves from threatening situations. I wasn’t fully aware that self defense encompassed mental and emotional training as well. I realize, now, that self defense is being able to set boundaries,  and being able to stand up for oneself. Being able to simply tell a harasser to stop saying degrading things is a form of self defense.

I feel as if women are hesitant to use self defense. The whole notion of women standing up for themselves can be viewed, oftentimes, as too aggressive. The way women are conditioned, they are almost more likely to shy away from such behavior in order to blend better into society. For instance, no one will really be called to a woman passively walking by a street harasser, whereas, more attention will be given to a woman who reprimands that same harasser. Just as in the blog post’s “How Do You Respond” comment by Cathy there seems to be the same passive choices, as described via her wife. She describes it as a “don’t feed the bully” approach. The way I view that behavior, is that it is a mix of a lack of confidence and the ongoing impression of a submissive female culture. Women in today’s society are so focused on being ‘polite’ and ‘feminine’ that they oftentimes overlook opportunities to stand up for themselves…In the same post “How Do You Respond” an anonymous source states that she normally defaults to being polite and just ignoring the situation.
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HBDC! Interns: Blaine

HBDC! was blessed to have six wonderful interns these past four months.  They assisted on our social media campaigns, reaching out the LGBTQ communities, and raising awareness about HBDC! and street harassment on their campus.  Each week, they were asked to read a scholarly paper on street harassment and tie it back to the experiences people share on this blog.  They wrote about how or if the theoretical melded with the practical, which widened their scope of understanding about gender-based violence.

These next couple of days, we will be showcasing their work.

…As men take away women’s rights to control, assertiveness, and her physical space, they make it easier to work they way in to dominate in even more terrifying ways: physical abuse, sexual abuse, and the omnipresent and paralyzing act of rape.

Street harassment is more than just catcalling and butt grabbing. It is the long-term and deeply instilled fear in the victims that is the reason rape makes itself so prevalent. When a woman is vulnerable, it makes her so much easier to take advantage of. The fact that a man can simply leave a woman so defenseless and outside of herself while she goes about her daily routine is simply put, unfair. The fact that rape can be instigated from the norms of everyday life makes me want to fight back, always protect myself and the women of the world, all of them. The fact that I can’t digs at me on a level I can’t even articulate.

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Leering Bus Driver

This may sound silly to people, but this makes me uncomfortable. There’s this driver of the 38B that goes through Georgetown around 5:40 in the evenings, and when we board the bus, he completely ignores everyone else but says “Hi, howya doin’?” to me. Then he stares at me a little too long for my taste. I have no problem saying “hi” to a bus driver if s/he says “hi” first—I do it frequently and thank them when I get off the bus. But when I’m being singled out for a “hi” each time, it makes me uncomfortable. It doesn’t matter if I’m the first, middle or last person to board, I’m the target of his attention each time.

One time I didn’t respond to his “hi,” and he gives a huge sigh and mumbles something under his breath. I don’t know why this driver is so desperate to get my attention. If it’s for what I think it is, then sorry man, I’m not interested in you like that. My only interest in you is for you to get me to my destination safely.

I can’t leave work early to take the bus at a different time, and I don’t want to stay later than I have to to avoid him. I shouldn’t have to change my routine to avoid him.

Submitted by Anonymous on 12/18/2009

Location: 38B towards Ballston


I was crossing the street, and this red and white cement truck was beeping like crazy. I knew the beeps were directed at me since the truck was at a red light and there was no significant traffic.

“BEEEEP!” I hear. I ignore it. “BEEP! BEEP! BEEEEEEEEEEEEEEP!” I continue to ignore it.

I got stuck at the median because the light changed, so when the driver of the cement truck realized I wasn’t going to respond to him and the light changed green, he drove off.

The truck had MD plates 202 6B3 or 683 (it was hard to tell). I couldn’t see a company name on it, but if I did I would’ve reported it. They need to put cameras in these trucks. These truck drivers harass women because there’s no supervisor watching them and they get away with it. If a camera were in the truck they’d be caught.

Submitted by Anonymous on 12/18/2009

Location: Rt. 29 (Lee Hwy) & N. Adams Street, Arlington

Do you have a personal experience with gender-based public sexual harassment you would like to submit? Just click here and fill out the online submission form. All submissions are posted anonymously unless you specify.

Catcalls and Insults

Photo from craigCloutier via flickr

Two guys dressed casually in their 30s are walking toward me on the side walk. I’m a regular 24 year old girl walking around during lunch break at my 9-5 office job. They start yelling, “hey baby, why you lookin’ so good” and “DAMN!”. Annoyed, I roll my eyes as they pass by – that sets them off. They immediately start yelling, “you don’t look -that- good anyways!” and “what an ugly ho!” and continue with insults for another block.

Submitted by Jaylin on 12/17/2009

Location: K and 14th NW

Do you have a personal experience with gender-based public sexual harassment you would like to submit? Just click here and fill out the online submission form. All submissions are posted anonymously unless you specify.

Call for Applications for Man Up, an International Summit

We would love to see one of our HBDC! male allies attend this!

Cross posted from feministing

Call for Applications for Man Up, an International Summit

Jimmie Briggs, an amazing journalist and organizer, that I got to know at the national conference of feminist men a month or so back, just let me know that applications are now open for his massive undertaking: Man Up, Young Leader’s Summit. In his words:

Delegates will leave the summit with a blueprint to create or scale-up self-designed projects addressing violence against women in their own communities. We will support their plans over the next five years with small seed grants, regional summits, technical support, and strong network development. These delegates will pave the way to what will become a global, youth-led movement to stop violence against women.

Man Up’s message is: “Violence against women is not just a women’s issue, it’s everyone’s issue.” Gotta love that.

With regards to the title of the campaign, which I can imagine some in our community might take issue with, I believe that Jimmie sees it as a reclaiming of the old masculine norms, represented by a phrase like “man up.” He has also talked about the difficulty of branding an event intended for a truly international audience. How do you pique the interest of teenagers in Cambodia, Cameroon, and Kentucky all at once?

The deets:
WHO: To be eligible, applicants must be age 18-30 and live in any of our 50 Man Up countries. Four delegates per country will attend the summit together with renowned human rights leaders, educators, artists and athletes.
WHERE: Johannesburg, South Africa
WHEN: summer 2010 on the occasion of the World Cup

Apply here.