Des Moines’ 3rd Annual Chalk Walk to End Street Harassment!


April 12-18 is the fourth annual International Anti-Street Harassment Week, and to mark the occasion, we are rallying on Sunday, April 12 for our third annual Chalk Walk to end street harassment!

WHAT: Chalk Walk

WHEN: 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday April 12

WHERE: 12th and Grand, beginning outside the Pappajohn Center


Chalk walks are a super easy, inexpensive way to organize our Des Moines community to take a stance against street harassment. All it takes is some sidewalk chalk, anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours of your time, and some great energy!

Chalk Walk is your way to Hollaback!, your chance to turn the tables. Chalk Walk is us reclaiming the street, proclaiming our freedom, healing ourselves, and telling the the world, “I have the right to be here. To be me. To walk wherever, whenever, however I please.” We will literally use sidewalk chalk to reclaim our streets, by writing messages about our right to be there and to walk safely, without harassment. (See http://wechalkwalk.tumblr.com/ for examples!) We choose chalk because it isn’t damaging, doesn’t cost us much money, and the message lasts in our photos!

If you can’t make it on Sunday, take back your own street! Sometime in the week of April 12-18, go back to a street where you experienced harassment (or any street, really). Reclaim that space by writing an empowering message; then take a picture and send it to us at [email protected]! We’ll post all the photos to the blog after the event!

Still have questions?Email us at [email protected], find us on Facebook or holler at us on Twitter. We hope to see you soon!

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Stream Now: Hollaback! at Women on Wednesday


First of all, I want to extend major thanks to the amazing folks at St. Cloud State University Women’s Center for hosting a presentation and Q&A on street harassment!


I had a great time presentation at last week’s Women on Wednesday series, a weekly noon hour lecture series covering a variety of topics. And better yet, for those here in Iowa, my talk “Hollaback! An Exploration of Identity and Street Harassment in the Age of Online Feminism” is available to stream online now through the Women on Wednesday site!  Click here to listen now (and also check out some of the other podcasts on their site, because they’re awesome!)


In addition, be sure to check out some of the many cool projects and resources on street harassment mentioned in the Q&A. There are some really wonderful people doing wonderful work and/or having insightful conversations on how to end street harassment across the globe, and I could not shout them all out, but these are some of my favorites:



Whether you attended or didn’t, you can also leave additional questions in the comments below and I’ll be happy to answer them. (Or find me on Twitter at @Hollaback_DSM.)


HOLLA & Out!

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Invitation: open forum on new site leadership

It seems like only yesterday I was sitting at a table in Mars Cafe talking with three other volunteers about how we could make a difference in our community. We were just a small group of individuals with the radical idea that all people should feel safe to walk the streets of Des Moines. How could we make that happen?

Then we learned that people like us were doing extraordinary things to flip the script on street harassment around the world in their communities–and we decided we could take action, too. We decided we needed to because we care about you. 

We care that you are safe and feel confident to walk down your neighborhood streets — wherever you are, whatever you’re wearing, whoever you’re with. We know you care, too. And now we need you to step up.


Please join us for an open forum on Hollaback!s changing site leadership. To attend, please respond to this Doodle poll by Friday, February 27


In the last four years, the structure of Hollaback! has undergone significant growth and development both locally and internationally. So too have the individuals who helped to catalyze this movement in Des Moines. The conversation on street harassment has changed. The time to get involved is now.

As current leaders move on to new pursuits, there is great opportunity for Hollaback! Des Moines to progress under the leadership of new individuals. New voices. New catalysts for change.

To RSVP for the open forum and let us know you’re interested, please respond to this Doodle poll by Friday, February 27We will set up the time and date for the forum after the poll closes to accommodate the most schedules of all who participate.

If you’ve ever wanted to get involved in site leadership, are curious about running a Hollaback platform, or just have some great ideas you’d like to share, we’d love for you to attend! We’ll follow up with everyone who participates after February 27.

Thanks for your support of Hollaback! and we hope to see you soon!




Hollaback! Des Moines


P.S. We’re still holding monthly meetups! Join us at Smokey Row Coffee for a casual coffee and chat with other supporters this Thursday, February 26 from 5:30 p.m.-7 p.m.

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Bystander Intervention: “They were standing in the door waiting for the drunkest girls.”

I was out for Halloween with a friend and was sitting at a table near the door. These two guys hovered by me for about twenty minutes until one asked to buy me a drink. I already had a drink and wasn’t looking for extra company, so I said no. No big deal.

Eventually I moved to a different spot, but over the next few hours, I noticed these guys continuing to hover and basically zero in on every girl who walked through without another guy, especially the ones who looked pretty far gone. Most seemed like they could handle themselves, so I didn’t say anything until one tried to get physical with a girl who was really, really drunk and just trying to dance. She was dancing in a circle with her girlfriends and he came up behind her–uninvited–and started trying to grind all over her without saying anything. I was standing next to her, so I just put my arm between them and guided her towards her friends. They then helped guide her to a different area where he couldn’t touch her. One of her friends smiled at me and said, “Thank you, that guy was creeping me out.” I said, “No problem,” and they went about their evening.

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Stories, Verbal Harassment

Anonymous: “Smile! Beautiful.”

I was walking down the street and some guy told me “Smile! Beautiful.”
I also experienced it that the same guy was doing this exact thing to 2 or 3 other women 5 seconds before me, only he asked those ladies for their numbers.


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Stories, Verbal Harassment

Rebecca’s Story: “I marched right across the street and confronted them.”

Cedar Rapids, IA – I was 17 and walking in my workout gear to the local neighborhood school to walk around the track. A young boy, about 14, was with his friend on their bikes in their driveway. On my way to the track he yelled, “I’d love to see what’s under those clothes!” and “girl, you have no idea what i’d like to do to you,” etc., ad nauseum.

I did my walk around the track, thinking how angry I was that I just took the harassment and didn’t do anything about it. I made myself walk up that same street, and the boys were still there. One of them said something about masturbating and thinking of me and I marched right across the street to where they were and confronted them.

“Do you think that’s funny? Do you think I am not a person who hears everything you say?” they were stunned, looked at each other, gulped.

“Would you want someone yelling that crap to your sister or your mother? Well, WOULD YOU?”

“um, no. no… i wouldn’t.”

‘Then apologize to me.”

“I’m sorry. I’m really sorry.”

“OK. Don’t ever do it again. That is not ok.”


I walked back home. That felt so good, and I think it gave those boys a personal face to what they were doing. I think about that conversation a lot.

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stalking, Stories, Verbal Harassment

Anonymous: “He refused to take no for an answer.”

I went on a date with this boy in high school. I decided I’d rather be friends after the date, I was uncomfortable. I told him I didn’t like him like that, but he continued to pursue me. He told all my friends/ family we were together. I explained over & over I did not want to be his girlfriend, but he refused to take no for an answer. Now 5 years later I was at Rensfest with my bf, and the same guy came up to me and expected me to be all affectionate and hug him. It makes me so uneasy…


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Homophobia, Stories, Verbal Harassment

Clio’s Story: “They then proceeded to talk about how they were going to rape us.”

So I was on a casual bus ride back from Whole Foods with my friend on the 3, a popular bus route for students of Drake University like myself. At the Walmart stop, a group of 5 young (high school aged) boys got on the bus and sat around us. They started pestering us asking our names, where we went to school, etc. They then proceeded to talk about how they were going to rape us, saying things along the lines of, “Haha I’m totally going to rape them,” or “Wait till we tell (so and so) that we raped those girls on the bus.” In between these remarks, they made several homophobic comments, referenced incest and pedophilia, and jokes about sexual assault of elders. Overall it was a miserable experience. I guess it just goes to show that you can’t even go buy organic produce without being verbally harassed…

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