Monthly Archives: March 2010

Recapping Public Transit Awarness Month

Photo by frozenchipmunk via flickr

Since today is the last day of March, we want to recap what we learned over the last  month during Public Transit Awareness Month here at Holla Back DC!

  • We crunched the numbers from all the experiences we’ve received and discovered that sexual harassment is problem on our public transit systems in the DC metro area. However,  the problem is vastly under-reported, and when individuals do report incidents to authorities there are limited or no resources available and reports get pushed to side and ignored.
  • If you decide to report an incident to WMATA there are three ways to report.
  • DC’s public transit systems are WAY behind when it comes to educating individuals about sexual harassment and dealing with incidents.  We found three cities that the DC metro area could learn a few lessons from.
  • On a whole public transit systems do a poor job accounting for needs of women when considering ways to improve safety.
  • That public transit systems should study the theory of the Power of Context as a way to deal with crimes, including sexual harassment.

Just because March is coming to close does not mean we will stop talking about sexual harassment on our public transportation. We will continue to report on the problem and advocate for PSAs and improved sexual harassment policies. Holla back by helping us track the prevalence of public sexual harassment — submit your experiences (wherever they occur in the DC metro area).


Catcalling to Stalking

Photo by qmnonic via flickr

I was walking to the grocery store half a block from my house. Some guy started yelling, “Hi, baby,” and whatever from a car. I ignored him and went into the store. He got out of the car, followed me into the store, tracked me down, and started rambling at me in a not-all-there way. He wasn’t being verbally aggressive, just intimidating. So I stand there and let him ramble for a minute or two while I try to figure out what to do. Fortunately, there were a lot of people in the store, so I was relatively safe. While I was thinking, he introduced himself and asked me if I was married, and I said yes (I’m not). He ranted for a minute about what a shame it is that I’m married, then left the store.

Then another guy yelled at me as I was walking back from the store. Jesus Christ.

Submitted by FCB on 3/28/2010

Location: New Hampshire Ave NW and Gallatin 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.


The History of DC’s Anti-Street Harassment Movement

Check out our guest post on AAUW Dialogue blog on the history of the DC anti-street harassment movement:

While street harassment is a big issue these days, women have been fighting sexual harassment in Washington, D.C., public spaces for more than 80 years. As we celebrate and acknowledge Women’s History Month, we want to pay homage to the D.C. women who taught us what we know about street harassment and inspired us to organize and create a campaign to end public sexual harassment and assault in our nation’s capital.

Before there was even a name for catcalling or pubic sexual harassment, Alice Reighly established the Anti-Flirt Club in 1923. Composed of young women and girls who had been embarrassed by men in automobiles and on street corners, the club launched an “Anti-Flirt Week” in March 1923 to discourage the behavior.

Zip forward to the 1980s, when D.C. activist Linda Leeks produced anti-street harassment posters and fliers. Also about that time, Marty Langelan, one of our inspirations for starting Holla Back DC!, began doing more work on street harassment. Between 1985 and 1986, Marty and other D.C. women organized the Hassle Free Zone Campaign with the goal of making D.C. free of harassment. The group put a name to the problem and held numerous speak outs, educated perpetrators and police about the issue, and taught women how to verbally confront street harassment. Marty published Back Off: How to Confront and Stop Sexual Harassment and Harassers, one of the premier books on street harassment, in 1993. The book defines street harassment and covers everything from why perpetrators harass, how to confront harassers, and community solutions to end street harassment.

Continue reading.


“I don’t appreciate that.”

While waiting for the X2 bus a couple of nights ago, an older gentleman saw me approach and said, “woooo, your parents did a GOOD job with you!”, while looking at me up and down. I smiled politely and said, “I actually don’t like comments like that”. He was immediately apologetic, and I nodded and turned away, looking for when the bus was coming. After an awkward silence, he pulled out a picture of his family and said, “You know, I meant no disrespect. I am married, I have daughters, and I was brought up to respect women and give them compliments.” I was tired, I had had a long day, and simply had only enough energy to say, “I appreciate your apology,” before turning away again. He didn’t say a word to me again.

I felt like this situation was dealt with better than I have treated other moments of street harassment (I got myself in trouble for flicking off a leering, creepy man on the street). But I wish I had taken the opportunity to tell him how his comment had made me feel (objectified, shallow, violated, not the way this man would allegedly want his daughters to feel). But I felt slightly satisfied for shaming him somewhat. Hopefully he’ll think twice before ‘giving compliments’ to strangers again.

Submitted by anonymous on 3/26/2010

Location: H and 7th 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.


“You have beautiful hair.”

I was waiting for a bus towards Friendship Heights yesterday, and the traffic was slow. This guy in a brown van started telling me he loved my locs, that I had beautiful hair, who did my hair, and so forth, and he started making kissy faces at me. I gave him the “talk to the hand” (outdated, yet effective) and turned my head away. I then pull out my phone (the traffic was too slow for me to miss getting a photo of him) and he smiles, thinking I want his photo so I can admire how handsome he was. HELL NO! Did he not read the look of disinterest and disgust on my face? This man was clueless.
Out of all the people waiting for that bus at that stop yesterday, why was I singled out? Man.

Submitted by Anonymous on 3/26/2010

Location: M & 31st Street

Upcoming Events!

Mark your calendars! We’ve got three exciting HBDC! events you won’t want to miss.

This Saturday, March 27th: We’ll be presenting a workshop at Visions in Feminism

What: Everyday, strangers sexually harass women and LGTBQ individuals on the streets and in pubic spaces of the DC metro area. This type of harassment, often termed street harassment, can lead to more serious crimes like sexual assault, stalking, or cyber-harassment and limits individuals’ access to public spaces.  When seeking help with the police or public transit authorities, claims of harassment or assault are often overlooked and belittled as “not a serious crime.” This workshop will create a space for attendees to define public sexual harassment, share tools that have worked to engage state actors (and perpetrators), and develop creative community solutions to address this problem.
When: 10:00AM
Where: American University Ward Building
4400 Massachusetts Ave NW

Sunday, April 11th: Theta Nu Xi Multicultural Sorority, Inc, Unidad Latina, and  HBDC! present a screening of Dreamworlds 3: Sex, Desire, and Power in Music Video

What: Dreamworlds 3 is a thought-provoking documentary that questions femininity, masculinity, and sexuality in American society as defined in music videos. Writer, editor, and narrator Sut Jhally examines music videos in a wide range of genres to address the influences on today’s popular culture.  This documentary screening is free and open to the public.
When: 8:00 PM
Where: Busboys and Poets – Shirlington, 4251 South Campbell Ave

You can RSVP here or add this event to your calendar please visit:

Thursday April 29th: Holla Back DC! speak out against public sexual harassment and fundraiser for the mural project.

What: In honor the HBDC! blog turning one, we are hosting a speak out against public sexual harassment. If you are interested in doing spoken word or reading a poem about gender-based violence, please email us a  More details to come over the next few weeks! There will be a suggested donation, which will go towards the HBDC!/CHARTS mural project.
When: 6:30PM-8:30PM
Where: The basement of Cafe Collage (our favorite neighborhood hangout)



Photo by nikoretro via flickr

Cross posted on Stop Street Harassment Blog

When leaving work yesterday, I crossed the street past these chunky, middle-aged men. They were checking me out…gross. When I turn my head, knowing they were going to continue watching me from behind, I caught them still staring at me. “Ew!” I said.

Then they tried to save face. “We were thinking the same thing about you!” Yeah, right!

I hate how men will bend over backwards to check you out, but when you call them out on it it becomes “Well, you’re ugly anyway!” All I can do is shake my head at this.

Submitted by anonymous

Location: NW DC

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.