Take Back the Oppression

We know, we know, we're maybe the last to blog about this, but we wanted to do it a little ceremoniously in honor of today's beloved holiday.

As you may have heard, the Independent Women's Forum is organizing a "Take Back the Date" Campaign. That's right, the language is supposed to remind you of that venerable campus movement that has transformed many a young women's experience at higher educational institutions. But what they are actually seeking to counteract is V-Day; they want to take the vagina out of February 14th.

Their motives are, in a word, to counteract the male-bashing and sexual freedom on which the Vagina Monologues and its offspring have built their strength. What the IMF misses though, and is so clear to us, is that their reported discovery of the prevalence of "random hooks ups" at colleges and universities says less about the impact of feminism on campuses, but in fact more about the pervasive dearth of it there.

We wish the IMF and the "Take Back the Date[rs]" would just come out and say what they actually mean: We need to "free cupid," "restore chivalry," and sit around expecting flowers (all their messages) in order to return to the time when women found their husbands at college. If instead they attend, achieve advanced degrees, and graduate single, we will have society running amok! Right? Damn, just SAY it.

We've decided that this V-Day what we are going to advocate resurrecting is not arcane gendered ritual but Veronica A. Shoffstall's powerful 1971 feminist manifesto of independence, "After a While":

After a while you learn the subtle difference between holding a hand and chaining a soul and you learn that love doesn't mean leaning and company doesn't always mean security.
And you begin to learn that kisses aren't contracts and presents aren't promises and you begin to accept your defeats with your head up and your eyes ahead with the grace of woman, not the grief of a child,
and you learn to build all your roads on today because tomorrow's ground is too uncertain for plans and futures have a way of falling down in mid-flight.
After a while you learn that even sunshine burns if you get too much so you plant your own garden and decorate your own soul instead of waiting for someone to bring you flowers.
And you learn that you really can endure
you really are strong
you really do have worth.

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Freezing the harassers off

For those of you who are not local, let us share with you: It's FREEZING here in Boston. Which leads us to ask a few questions:

Where did all the holla'ers go? Were the naysayers right? Does the cold weather really curtail harassment?

The reason we're asking is because visitors to HollaBackBoston, or any of the HollaBack sites, can detect a noticeable decrease in posts in recent months. While there could be a number of reasons for the drop, we're tempted to wonder whether there's another trend at play: are harassers in hibernation?

Asking this question goes against our understanding of the pervasiveness of street harassment. We know and have heard testimony from countless others that the "eve teasing" happens in a big, puffy down coat in the snow just as much as in a skimpy tank top in the hell hot of summer. It keeps happening to us, as well as our friends and allies. But it does seem odd that most harassment reported our way happens indoors or in much warmer climates.

Last winter, RightRides in New York City shut down during the winter due to lack of volunteers but also didn't resume service until July [source]. Boston's Hyde Square Task Force goes on a street harassment combat break for the winter months.

Which leads us to ask: Are we just too busy surviving the city's cold to bother each other?

We think not, but hit us up in the comments and let us know how it is for you. Or better yet, send us your holla back story to post!

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