Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Update: Hollaback - War Zone

This weekend I went out with a female friend of mine to a friend's show. It was another indie venue where one wouldn't expect the unapologetic douchebaggery of other clubs - just that pungent aura of hipsterdom (a little stale PBR, danger dogs and vintage clothing musk).

The venue is technically within walking distance of my house, but it becomes much too far a walk once the sun goes down. Which is why we spent a little while searching for parking. We initially saw a spot about three and a half blocks from the club, but my friend determined that it was "too far" from the club. At first, I thought that three and a half blocks was too far because she was wearing a skirt and the night had gotten chilly. But, when we left the show I was reminded that going out with my husband has resulted in me letting down my guard too much.

We ended up finding a spot about two blocks away on the side of the venue that has officially become gentrified, instead of the side that is still considered "transitional." But, before we could even cross the street, we were confronted by a young man blocking our path, asking "how we were doing," and how old we were. We had to dodge past him, while keeping watch on his two silent but lingering buddies, once the light changed. It was a pretty shitty way to end the night.

Which is why I think this documentary by Maggie Hadleigh-Wes is fantastic. Made in 1998 it is a precursor to Hollaback, but it also takes it a bit farther. Armed with a Super 8 camera, she confronts the men who make comments and leer at her and other women. Some are belligerent, some embarrassed, and some aren't even aware of what they had done. I wouldn't suggest confronting men as a daily practice, but it amazing how powerful a camera (or two) can be.

You can buy the entire movie from the Media Education Foundation, along with a bunch of other amazing documentaries.

Thanks to Ann at Feministing for the heads up.


  1. I don't know what I think about things like this. On the one hand, yes women should be able to walk around on the street without fearing for their safety. But on the other hand, none of the men in this clip seem to be posing any kind of threat, and many seem to be noticing her camera more than they're specifically noticing her. I don't know if it's fair of her to assume every guy that's looking at her with interest is doing so in a harassing way--I look at people all the time purely out of curiosity. Humans are social, inquisitive creatures, and it makes sense that we attempt to interact with one another. These dudes may be failing in terms of how they're going about interacting, but calling it outright harassment seems like an over-reaction...

  2. Agreed, some of the men may not have been aware of their actions, and people are curious creatures, but I think intention has a lot to do with what is socially appropriate and what is not. From personal experience, the frequency with which men have a poor intention behind their actions, trains many women, including myself, to be constantly on the defense.

    Also, I think there is something to be said about the amount of privilege one gender holds that makes it okay for them to consider another human being, not as a curious example within a common humanity, but as something to be critiqued, desired and possessed.

  3. Okay, so how do you measure intention?

    And is poor intention necessarily an indication of the impression that someone is a critiquable, desirable, posessible thing?


be nice.


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