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by Becca Lee
We are officially ONE WEEK AWAY from the first-ever HOLLA::Revolution, a 1-day anti-street harassment conference being held at New York University! The conference is featuring TED-talk type speeches from international Hollaback! site leaders, including founder and Executive Director Emily May, Ottawa’s Julie Lalonde, Philadelphia’s Rochelle Keyhan, and many more, as well as some heavy-hitters in the feminist world: Jennifer Pozner, Samhita Mukhopadhyay, Jamia Wilson, Nicola Briggs, and still more! Yes, this is a day dedicated to channeling some major energy against street harassment, and the best part is….
I GET TO BE THERE!
Yee haw, this little ole Iowan gal gets to pal around with Hollaback peeps in Hollaback’s very own birthplace, the Big Apple! New York City, baby!
Needless to say, I’m excited.
Perhaps more needless to say…my mother is freaking out. Because of the pimps and shit.
Going to an anti-harassment conference = panic over harassment that could happen in transit. Oh, the irony!
I don’t share really personal stuff all that often, but this seems relevant. To be very clear: my mom is a HUGE Hollaback supporter, and on any other day, she could not be more proud of this little loudmouth she’s raised. (And she’s still beaming with pride, that’s not the point.) But she’s also a mom–a good one–who has raised her daughter in a world that is saturated with harassment and rape culture. What does any good parent do? You protect your kid from what threatens to harm them.
My not going could protect me….potentially. But my going is what will protect my daughter, and your daughter, and your gay brother, and your transgender niece, and people you will never even know exist in the future, but who deserve to be safe.
(And obviously, staying in Iowa, the good ole Midwest, has not protected me anyhow, or else Hollaback! Des Moines would never have been born under my co-leadership.)
Parental fears are natural, but they also prove exactly why it is we need this HOLLA::Revolution. Everyone takes safety into account when they travel, sure, that’s a given. But when our fears are specifically for our daughter, who is traveling alone to a large city that looms with threats of sexual violence and minimal protections (particularly while in transit), the solution is all the more to let her go.
A moment free from worry that your kid will be groped on a subway = happy, supportive momma!
I read all our blogs, all our submissions, from across the world. I know that harassment in New York City is very real. But I also know harassers want you to stay inside, to think twice before you move through public space. They want you to plan your day, and your life, in consideration of their power.
I defy the threats of violence and your rape culture. If some creep shouts at me next Thursday, I will gladly stride past, knowing his days are limited because in a week, or a year, or ten years–sometime soon–the sound of the revolution will forever silence the destructive, oppressive forces that currently cheer him on.
Don’t believe me? There are currently more than 60 cities on a waiting list to join the Hollaback movement. When they all launch, we will effectively double our numbers. Oh yes–oh fucking yes–we are turning up in droves against the “pimps and shit” who haunt our mothers’ nightmares.
Neither your silence, nor your stillness, nor your “safe” city will protect you. Who will protect you are your sisters, and brothers, waiting with open arms to join you in solidarity. Hopefully you find some of these people in your own hometown, but other times you need to venture out. Brave uncharted flights, streets, and train stops, because perhaps the act of going to the revolution is a revolution in itself.
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