We’re just trying to live our lives

A guy on a motorbike/scooter slowed down and stared at me as I was walking. just walking. Then he beeped his horn at me several times, still staring, and I didn’t even respond, I just glared. Then he stopped a few meters ahead of me and just revved his engine a bunch. I didn’t slow down, just kept walking. What’s especially scary is that this is near my house. He finally drove away, but not until I’d had huge pangs in my chest of fear. This happens far too often in this neighborhood, we’re just trying to live our lives, leave us alone!

I've got your back!

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Unacceptable at a SCHOOL!

Walking through my community college when a member of their custodial staff whistled and made a suggestive comment as I walked into the women’s restroom. Unacceptable at a SCHOOL! Reported to staff as well.

I've got your back!

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Hollaback at The Heartbreakers and Betties Burlesque Show

This past fall, Hollaback was invited to help participate in Smash Presents…Burlesque Review and we had a really fantastic time! This time we’ve been invited again to table and help with Smash Presents: The Heartbreakers and Betties Burlesque show at Eyeclopes Studios, Saturday, Feb 15, 7-10 p.m.

For some, it may seem confusing as to why a anti sexual harassment collective like Hollaback would be at an event that features an art form that essentially requires the audience to watch as a woman or man undresses. But actually, Burlesque has a long history, and a recent revitalization that really aims to empower the performer, and provide commentary on the way we view and experience bodies.

Burlesque first began in the mid 1800’s as a branch of vaudeville theater. Burlesque usually features comical satires of current events, often poking fun at social mores of the time. Towards the end of the 1800’s, Burlesque began to incorporate more of a “peepshow” attitude to it’s act, that featured carefully choreographed strip-teases or dances. In the early 1900’s many cities only allowed the nudity if the performer was standing still. The 30’s-50’s were a golden age for burlesque, featuring performers (such as the legendary Gypsy Rose Lee) giving performances that put the focus on the “illusion” of sexiness, often revealing very little skin (by today’s standards), and featuring jokes, songs, and dance. However, with opening social expectations in the sixties, burlesque fell out of fashion.

In the last 25 years there has been a massive resurgence in the Burlesque scene, often coming from female and male performers with a background thoroughly rooted in feminist ideals. Many see burlesque as a way to reclaim their sexuality, choosing what and what not to reveal to an audience while also celebrating body types of all different shapes and colors. Burlesque exists now as part social commentary, and part performance, not far from it’s original roots, actually. It is confronting the viewer with presuppositions of what they consider “sexy”, while the performer fully embraces theirs.

We hope to see you all there next week and it will be a lot of fun!


Navigating “yes!”

When talking about consent and pressure in romantic relationships, it can be easy to acknowledge openly that yes, consent is absolutely necessary. In practice? Not so black and white.

Especially with holidays like Valentine’s Day coming up, it is easy to feel weighed down by expectations of how we’re “supposed” to behave with a romantic partner. The way romance is portrayed in the media, relationships seem to involve a LOT of rose petals, bottles of champagne, chocolate, and overly dramatic statements of commitment. Obviously, these expectations don’t necessarily reflect any given person’s experience. Not to mention that all those roses and chocolates near bed sheets would probably just mean a lot of laundry for everyone involved.  But it goes beyond pressure to be materialistic in a relationship.  Really ,we might feel an overwhelming pressure to behave a certain way, even if it doesn’t feel right.

Does this feel okay? Do I feel comfortable with this? Are questions that are important to ask yourself in any relationship.

A little reminder on what sexual consent is: Sexual consent is an active choice to willingly engage in intimate behavior with a partner, and a shared responsibility to make sure that every party involved feels safe and willing as well. It means that we and our partners feel free to make a choice without verbal, physical or emotional pressure to do something we do not want. It should be in a situation where both individuals share the same amount of power and feel safe. A verbal yes is great, but make sure you address non-verbal signs that your partner is willing. If there is a lot of pressure or expectatuons it can be difficult NOT to say yes.  And consent can change. You are allowed, and should feel comfortable saying “no” to things you may have once said “yes” to.

Seems easy enough, but between expectations from media, peers, family, or even your partner, saying “Yes” or “No” can be complicated.

Here’s a few tips to help if you are in a situation where you feel pressured to do anything you aren’t comfortable with:

  • Turn down or change plans you don’t feel interested in
  • Talk to your partner about what consent looks like for you. Signals that we don’t like something can differ from person to person, find out what that means for you!
  • Giving a reason to say no is a good way to start if you feel nervous or uncomfortable, but DO NOT feel obligated to give one. It can help your partner understand where you are coming from
  • Scarleteen.com has a lot of excellent pointers on navigating consent at: http://www.scarleteen.com/article/abuse_assault/drivers_ed_for_the_sexual_superhighway_navigating_consent, which can help give you further pointers.

And beyond sexual consent, it is important to have a relationship where you do things you want to do, things that are fun or pleasurable. Just because shows like the Bachelor portray love/romance as a certain standard we all want, love can mean many different things for us.  And that’s exciting! Exploring ourselves and discovering our individual desires and needs are some of the best parts of sharing with a partner.

And while a lot of romance stereotypes can be fun, many put the power solely with one individual in the partnership. Share the power y’all! We create our own expectations and we deserve the power to make the “rules” on our terms!

And just for fun, a few “romance” stererotypes that seem kind of ridiculous in real life:

  • The “faithful” admirer: Actually having someone stand in your front yard blasting “In Your Eyes” by Peter Gabriel (ala John Cusack in “Say Anything”) would mostly take away valuable time to nap.
  • The last minute plea at a wedding-dreadfully awkward in practice, I’d imagine. Also a real waste of catering if you ask me.
  • Dedicating a song at a show-Embarassing only if the song is reaaaaallly bad.
  • Any of those weird rain make-out scenes-Not to sound like your Grandma, but you’ll catch a cold!!!
  • Following someone secretly to ask them out-SO CREEPY

What are your thoughts? Have you ever felt unnecessary pressure to behave a certain way with a partner? Why does media contain so many set stereotypes when it comes to romance?

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Know your Title IX!

This week Hollaback will host the second part of a two-part screening of Half the Sky. The first event was a great success and we look forward to discussion at the showing this Friday

The film does an excellent job of highlighting the struggles women face globally in obtaining an education–a right that often goes ignored.

Even in the U.S. access to a safe, healthy environment to learn is not something women can take for granted. Be it internal pressures from peers and teachers or the lack of support from schools themselves, school can be a precarious place for female-identified individuals.

But what many women and girls don’t realize is that there are more protections out there than you realize. Title IX, the landmark decision to improve sexual equality is more than women in sports. It protects women, men and people of all genders from sex discrimination, harassment and sexual violence.

Do you know your Title IX? This video is pretty much the best since it combines the Title IX basics and Amy Poehler’s (ahhhh friend crush forever!!) Smart Girls:Operation Nice has into an informative video letting you know your rights.

So next time you see,experience or just feel that something isn’t right at your school…speak up! You’ve got the law behind you.
know your IX

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Hollaback looks at college harassment

Hollaback recently conducted a look into harassment on college campuses. The results were interesting, but not necessarily surprising.

College attendance today is increasingly required for those wanting to succeed, but there are many factors that can make college a less-than positive experience for many. According to the study 67% of students reported experiencing harassment in college and 46% reported that harassment negatively impacted their experience in college. What about the twenty percent difference there? One has to wonder if those who didn’t say it was negative, reported that because of stigmas associated with college harassment, or perhaps even felt harassment was “to be expected.” Fear of reprisal and stigmas attached to reporting can be a major reason that many people don’t speak up when they experience harassment.

So what to do if you experience harassment?

  1. Stand your ground: It can be tough but articulate clearly and strongly that you are NOT okay with the way you are being treated. “Stop that, you’re harassing me.” Or “It is not okay for you to speak to me like that” are ways of firmly saying that someone’s behavior is inappropriate. People are rarely called out on harassment, and direct communication can have a huge impact.
  2. Ignore: It isn’t always easy, but walking away from the situation can help avoid conflict and gives the harasser no reward for their behavior.
  3. Keep moving: After telling a harasser you don’t want their actions, it is best to remove yourself from the situation to avoid escalation, and to get to yourself somewhere you feel safe.

But all of these tips can be complicated if you are in a situation with friends and peers, or even if your friends are the ones harassing you. What tips have you found most useful for deflecting harassment?

Do you think college harassment is an issue in Fredericksburg? What are your experiences?



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Thank you!

Thanks to all those that attended and participated at our “Half the Sky” screening last Friday, we were so impressed by the wisdom and insight gained from our panelists and audience members. We’ll be meeting again to pick up the conversation on Friday, December 6 (7pm at the Downtown Library).


Just a reminder of where we are on The Internet. Make sure to keep staying connected to our TwitterFacebook, and our main Hollaback page (you are here) for updates, stories, and related articles to street harassment. Last of all, Hollaback!! Share your story of personal experiences, stand to be a better bystander, and if you are still in the Holla-day giving mood- donate to our cause so our organization as an international whole can maintain this amazing work.



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In ONE week!


Join Hollaback! Fredericksburg and GIRL (Girls in Real Life) for TWO nights of a free screening of the documentary “Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunities for Women Worldwide” at the Downtown Library. Each night will feature one hour segment of the film and followed by an hour of community discussion with a fantastic panel board. Panel members include representatives from RCASA, UMW, Empowerhouse, Rappahannock Area Office on Youth, and more!
Friday, Nov. 15: Gender-Based Violence
Friday, Dec. 6: Education

6:30pm: Doors Open
7-8pm: Film Screening
8-9pm: Community Discussion

Join your community in discussing how we can take action on these global issues!

All ages, All genders welcome


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