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Today is our official launching day! We are very excited about this.
I was invited by BBC Radio Humberside to talk about the launch of our Hollaback! Hull University this morning. It was a great opportunity to get people interested about our project in the Hull area but hear about what listeners think. Do they see street harassment as sexual harassment? Do they see it as an issue? How does it make people feel?
I will come back on a few points that I addressed during Lizzie and Carl breakfast show.
The show presented street harassment as, for example “wolf whistling and shouting rude things” in the streets.
I want to stress that street harassment is far from limited to wolfwhistling.
Sexual harassment is any behaviour of a sexual nature that is directed at you against your will.
That includes (but is not limited to): leers, whistles, sexual explicit comments, gestures, flashing, mooning, sexual touching, sexual assault…
Sexual harassment that happens in public spaces is called street harassment.
Because we are students and based at the University of Hull, we focus our work on students’ experiences of sexual harassment, either on campus, its surroundings or in Hull. We also want to hear experiences of sexual harassment in other public spaces, such as transportation, night clubs, bars… anywhere.
We are part of the big Hollaback! Movement and we are more than happy to hear about anyone’s experiences who want to share them with us.
We published today the results of the survey we launched in December 2013 (access the results here). It clearly tells us that sexual harassment is widespread but not recognised as such.
For example, 16% of students said they have already experienced sexual harassment on campus but in the meantime,
43% of students said they have already been touched against their will at least once during their student experience.
This is where Hollaback! Comes into play: revealing the dark figure of sexual harassment. Give victims, friends, bystanders a voice. Listen to their stories. Empowering them. Give them tools to hollaback!
Talking about sexual harassment is important, because it’s a thin line sexual harassment and assault.
Answering to someone who makes a comment about your body, it is sending a clear message to perpetrators that it is not acceptable to do it, and even less to go further than that.
It was great to take part in Lizzie and Carl show. We are glad that Hollaback! is starting a conversation about street and sexual harassment at the University of Hull and in the city of Hull at large.
–> Listen to the podcast here (Reportage and interview start at 01:09:43).
I was in front of Prospect shopping centre, at around 9.30 AM, unlocking my bike and about to leave, when this man walks behind me. And then I hear: “I love your ass”
Not loud enough for other people to hear, but loud enough for me to be sure of what I heard. I was so angry. I didn’t even have time to think properly, I immediately turned around and said: “Excuse me?”
In my mind I instantly thought: s***, what if he gets angry? What if he hits me?
The man turned around and looked super confused, not knowing what to say.
Me – “What did you just say?”
Him – “No, nothing…”. He walks away
Me – “Yes, that is what I thought”
He crosses the street. Then from the opposite sidewalk he says “It was a joke!”
I was still so angry, I wanted to answer something clever, but all I could do at that moment at that moment was to shout at him: “No, that’s not a joke!”
Now looking back at what happened, I realise all the thoughts that went through my mind. I asked myself whether I made a mistake. Whether I put myself in danger. I was not sure I did the right thing. Even though it was early in the morning and there were lots of people in the street, I still doubted about it.
But now I realise: I did the right thing. I might have not found the perfect rhetoric but I did the right thing. I can’t let an idiot make a comment about my ass like that. I couldn’t let him make me feel ashamed of myself, questioning my outfit, the way I was behaving (at some point I was wondering if it was my fault), while I know I am not the problem. He is.
At the beginning of the year, like most students, I was looking at joining sport teams and societies. I was thinking of one sport society in particular and therefore joined their Facebook group. The day before the first training, I asked a question about the equipment I should bring. One of the Executive Team members answered to me that the less I wore, “the better”.
I thought it was probably a bad joke and did not take it seriously – even though I have to say I felt quite uncomfortable and was hesitating to join a team where I was incited to wear as little clothing as possible…
On another occasion, the same guy made another comment of the sort. I posted a message asking if someone was going by car to Sheffield, as I really needed to go there at that point. He tagged one of his friends in his comment, saying that this friend would love to help to a “young innocent female in distress” and a lift in his car (because apparently, it was “his thing”). When I answered that I was not sure where he got from that I was innocent and why he was calling me such, he replied that by stating that I was not innocent, I was basically making my case worse and making myself even more attractive to his friend who loves young innocent females in distress.
The post was deleted before I could make a print screen. Probably someone understood he was going too far.
I think we should be free to post on Facebook groups without being always sent back to our condition as women and sexual objects…
I was going for a run the other day, it was about 8pm, and it was getting dark. About halfway through the run, on Cottingham Road Hull I saw in front of me a group of young men, about 7 of them. I think the average age must have been around 14/15. I tried to run past the group which was taking up the whole pavement. As I passed by, one of them started shouting at me “Why are you running at this time of night?”. He started following me on his scooter and then got really close to me and started harassing me with questions. One or two of the others from the group were also running beside him. Finally I said “Leave me alone, or I am going to push you over!”. He responded that he would push me over and I said that I would like to see him try. I had to keep on running faster to get away from the group but eventually they dropped off following me. Although I felt empowered for having responded I still feel really disturbed by the whole thing because in a couple of years these young men will be older. They will still be harassing people in groups, making others feel unsafe and disrespecting people for no apparent reason on the street.
We are so excited to announce that Hollaback! Hull University will be coming to your community soon! Check back in to share your stories and Hollaback! against street harassment!