Thursday, January 11, 2007

I Holla'ed Back

I was just walking to Hat Factory yesterday with a big load of laundry (yeah we have laundry in the building!) and these dudes just started yelling out at me- "Woof Woof!" and "Hey Slim!". At first I just ignored and walked by- the usual eye rolling moment. Then I remembered that, hell, I have a camera in my bag, I need to holla back. So I did. And I think they were a little surprised. This video is inspired by Brittany Shoot's HollaBackBoston, where she encourages ladies to turn the camera on their harassers and put it on the internet. So I holla'ed back! Maybe today they'll just say "Hello" instead of "Woof Woof" when I walk by.


Anonymous said...

'Cause you ain't no hollaback girl. You ain't no holla... no, wait. I guess you are.

Balls to the wall, sister. I'm glad no one threw a brick at you.

Anonymous said...

That was awesome! Good for you for sticking up like that. That's the good thing about carrying a camera with you at all times, you never konw what you're going to get on tape. I wish you could have caught them in the act. It sucks that women have to put up w/ this BS all the time!

Anonymous said...

You continue to be my hero, Ry.

Anonymous said...

That's way cool! No one should have to put up with verbal harrassment - and those dudes really shouldn't be doing that kind of thing, either!

Thanks for sharing, and for being brave!

Josh Leo said...

I imagine it is worse in big cities, but probably happens more often than people talk about... freaking ridiculous. It just shows how many broken people are out there and grasp at any chance to get/show power over other people to make themselves feel better

Anonymous said...

Kick. Ass.

This is going to be a great example for my / your upcoming class!

I love that the one guy apologized on camera.

You're a mythbuster. Some women wouldn't confront like that all alone, but no one turned into a raging freak and went off on you. Those boys were MEEK!

ryanne said...

i was SO not alone...i had my camera!

Anonymous said...

That was cool. Interesting how those guys had little to say when you confronted them.

jason talbot (jjfever5k) said...

they're lucky that you didn't throw a brick at THEM!

M. Matthews said...

You are so brave! Great what a camera and the internet can do in the world. Wow.

Anonymous said...

We need more women like you.

I'm a photographer... and female... and I'm afraid to shoot alone at dawn or dusk, when the lighting is best. It just completely sucks.

Your post is especially refreshing considering many young women today equate flashing their tits with female empowerment.

Flashing a camera that shoots video... now that's empowerment. ;-)

Anonymous said...

Not only brave, but you are my hero!!!

Anonymous said...

I forgot to say that what a difference makes it to have a camera 'on' on these situations.

Markus Sandy said...

right on!

rob parrish said...


Anonymous said...

Way to go girl.

Anonymous said...

Yeeeeeah! Wow.

Unknown said...

This is great!!!!!!

Bicyclemark said...

I loved it.. and indeed you rock.. but be careful in your faith of cameras.. crazy things happen and the camera cant stop many of those things.

i think ive been reading too much on oxaca lately. pardon me.

Anonymous said...

you KNOW as soon as you walked off, they were saying, "crazy white girl. comin' up in here wit a camera!"

LOL! glad you had the balls to do it.

Anonymous said...

You go girl! Thanks for doing this. I hate that guys out there act like this. It made me really uncomfortable to watch this.

Anonymous said...

That was awesome. You are powerful!

Zadi said...

oh man... it was great that you were able to confront those guys and capture it on camera. It's true that these guys never know what to do when a girl hollers back.

Anonymous said...

Well played, Ryanne. I wanna tell you a line from that movie "Point Break", 'cause it's what you reminded me of. Bodhi says to Johnny Utah, "You're like a bulldog, you don't back down", or something to that effect. 'Cept it only applies to you in spirit, since you're certainly not a dog and don't deserve to be barked at.

The only thing, though -- it's too bad this couldn't have been a more diverse group of workers. I mean, perhaps they didn't intend as much disrespect as you gathered. Cultural differences, you know? But then again, it seems to me that men at work shouldn't ever be barking at strangers. After hours, with an intimate friend, perhaps -- but not while working, and *definitely* not with a stranger.

Anonymous said...

ahaha hell yeah! They were such well behaved boys when they knew they were on camera. You rock. :)

tmw said...

'bout make me teary eyed... I dunno... sometimes people can be so abstracted from the real world, they don't stop and think about the fact that their actions have consequences... ;/

philip said...


now that there is some serious pwnage

Anonymous said...

From my own experience, this happens alot in the big cities.

I'm sorry you see it as a form of harassment. You were right to speak out since you felt that way, but in my view they're just bored guys in a testosterone fueled environment just filling time.

In this particular case it doesn't seem like they were being overtly rude either. But I guess I can't tell what you've experienced from them before.

Yes I'm a guy so I guess my view is swayed.

- Cal

ryanne said...


i have a real hard time with your point of view. i've had a few guys say very similar things to me in the last couple days- one guy said i was being a real jerk to these guys who are just having fun.

to that i say-
it's obvious that you've never felt threatened or harassed by someone who could easily harm you if they felt so inclined- and kind of are only verbally.

and yeah, you didn't see them harass me so it's easy to judge me on my anger and call me the bad guy.

being bored (and having the shitty job of chipping at BRICKS) is not a justification for harassing women, EVER. any semi-intelligent male should know that.

Anonymous said...

I like your style. It's a good thing that it didn't get uglier than that. Keep on standing up for yourself and idiots like that need to be castrated.

Anonymous said...

Yeah. Well, I didn't see it as being about harassment per se. I saw it about successfully overcoming everyday evil. And the drama there made for good viewing, even though no doubt it was not fun to be in the midst of. You know, it's so easy to be a hater. I remember I had a phase when I was a little kid being the meanest punk to girls---saying the meanest things to them, in like 5th or 6th grade. And it was similar to these guys, in that there was a whole posse of boys engaging in this behaviour. Then one day a girl just looked at me with such a lack of giving a damn. I could see it just didn't bother her (or at least it looked like it didn't), and all the fun went out of it to me. And that (and a few more similar incidents) got me to change my behavior. These guys didn't get the memo in 6th grade, and maybe this will be something to help them change their behavior. I think what you did was really powerful.

Anonymous said...

The reason we run sites like is because harassment is a real experience that causes women and people in other marginalized groups to feel unsafe in public spaces. While it's clear some people don't think these things matter, if you read our site or our side blog, HollaBackTALK, you'll find that women internalize these incidents, and they very much contribute to how we feel about ourselves, as well as how we feel about being potential targets in everyday life. What Ryanne experienced shouldn't be questioned; historically, we accuse the victim/survivor far too often when we should stand together instead. Her experience is just that: hers. She did what she felt was right and necessary, and that deserves a lot of praise, not criticism.

On HBB, we don't define street harassment for others because that doesn't help anyone or solve any problems. We want historically oppressed groups to feel that they can fight back while maintaining safety. We want there to be a collective understanding about these issues as part of the spectrum of sexual violence, and we want to people to stop believing that permissive attitudes solve problems. We want negative encounters to be validated as more than something you're supposed to just ignore and get over.

Men of integrity learn how to communicate with women effectively, how to listen and understand these issues, even if they don't directly understand them because of the mediated impact.

Harassment does happen in cities, but it also happens in rural areas, other countries, and other cultures. It should never be assumed that unsolicited advances of any kind in public are welcome, warranted, or acceptable. Consent is hot, people. And Ryanne kicks ass.

Anonymous said...

Good for you. I understand the rage, but I'm not sure I'm really with you here. The problem is that you've totally missed the real power that you could have had. You had the camera in your bag, you should have gotten the original disrespectin' on film. Then the confrontation would have been much more powerful. All we have is your word that motherf**kers disrespected you, then a confrontation.

No man should ever treat a woman the way you way you've been treated. You could just be walking up to some random dudes, though... I'm just sayin' is all.

ryanne said...

yeah it's not easy to be thinking that fast when things are happening and you're trying to avoid being harassed. so i did what felt right at the time.

i assure you that the next time, and i'm sure there will be a next time, i'll grab the camera when it's happening. though generally when you do that, people will stop in their tracks and shut up, rather than continue to yell. so either way it woudl have been difficult to capture.

funny how it's all guys who are coming back like "oh you should have done this" or "you were really rude".

feel threatened much?
now you know how it feels i guess.

trust me, i know how much power my camera and i wield, and it's damn near enough to get a whole construction crew of big dudes to shut the fuck up and apologize.

Brad Neuberg said...

Ryanne, this was very cool; I'm sure it was scary to do. Good for you for confronting these guys.


Anonymous said...

If testosterone and boredom are an excuse for barking at a woman (the "slim" is a classy touch too), what else might we allow - and definitely have we allowed - it to excuse?

And if you flip that script, we see where the endless and inane "you're just pms'ing" comments originate. I'm bored and overrun with estrogen. Watch out.

This is awesome Ryanne. I haven't checked in with you in awhile...glad I did!

Carl Weaver said...

Way to go, Ryanne! What's cool is that you didn't give it back, just tried to hold them accountable. You are my hero.

Anonymous said...

Good for you! I've been watching all the videos that are backed up on my fireant from Christmas break, and I just about fell out of my chair laughing when I saw this vid. Awesome!

Anonymous said...

I can't believe the asshole comments that some of these guys are making. What fucking century do these guys live in? How can they possibly justify a GROUP of men standing there giving shit to a woman as she just happens to walk by? Can they not feel just the slightest tinge of apprehension that you wuld be feeling as this happened? As a guy myself, I couldn't help but feel a whole lot of apprehension when you walked up and confronted these guys. I was nervous for you. I know how stupid guys can be in that situation and I could see how one of those guys might have walked up to you and slapped you in the face. To read these guy comments that try to dance around the issue is very disappointing. No, diversity, other cultural mores, you making it up, etc., is all wrong, just like the assholes who gave you shit on the street. Don't try to come up with excuses for this kind of crap. There is no excuse.

Anonymous said...

Yarr! I can't open this and I *so* want to see it. Do I need to download something for my dispicable non-mac?

And yes, the Xacti is super sweet! That's what Aaron got for me.


ryanne said...

hey heather
this is the flash version on

you might need to update your QuickTime to version 7:

it's free!

Anonymous said...

have you seen this:

Anonymous said...

You are my HERO. Seriously!

I advise the individuals who are questioning your reaction to the situation and/or making excuses for the harassers to kindly return to their swamp of origin.

Again, kudos for standing up to those cretins.

Levois said...


Bill Cammack said...

Congratulations on successfully standing up for yourself. I'm glad things worked out for you. :)

Long version of comments: HollaBack Girls

Anonymous said...

have you seen these two posts also?

ryanne said...

yes i have see these
and i've been conversing with both kenyatta and tricia on email and in comments.
i encourage others to do so too.
they bring up interesting points.

Anonymous said...

Further analysis

You did the right thing, Ryanne.

Anonymous said...

this is an email I sent to Ryanne as part of our conversation of my .
hey Ryanne.

I think it's a great idea to keep talking about this.
I am sorry I hurt your feelings and am I am sorry it bothered you, but your video also bothered me. I figured that you were open and brave to post your video publicly- that I too could post my comments, like your other commentators, publicly about how I felt about the video. I also felt responsible for posting my thoughts as it does give another point of view that I didn't see in your comments.

I don't think cat calling is acceptable or excusable. When I was first confronted with it, I had your exact reaction! I totally understand what you were going through. Anger Anger. But I thought although it's not acceptable, how do I not impose my values on them? And at the same time I also can't excuse their behavior. I was in a dilema because I still had to find a way to get them to stop becuase they were being sexist but I didn't want to impose my values on them either. I mean this was a serious problem for me - because I had never dealt with it before in California.

it was horrifying walking down the street and having men say "I want your Chinese pussy. Hey mama, let's make Japanese babies, hey sexy I like your ass, gimme some of that." Then they would get mad because I wouldn’t respond and they said that I must think I was too good for a black man.

My first impulse was to curse them out and tell then how sexist they were. But where would that get me? the problem was that they didn't see me as human being to respect in the way that I wanted to be respected.
my other implulse was to run away and find another back street to work or home. but that wasn't an option as other streets were not safe and were out of the way - and then that would mean I would allow them to have power over me.

So what did I do? Eventually after a month - I went up to them and confronted them and said "look, I see you everyday and we go through this everyday - it's getting tiring now. you saw the same thing and there's nothing special about what you are saying. I'm not impressed and I don't like it either. So how about next time you see me, if you want me to respond, how about you just say hello - and I will say hello back."
the guys were absolutely shocked that I went up to them and said that.
From their perspective - the guys who hang out on the street or work near the street are just looking for some excitement. they just want to be acknowledged- so they just want some human interaction. Obviously their method of cat calling is unacceptable, so why not tell them another way to interact?

So I got to know every cat caller :) When I walk down Bruckner Blvd in Hunts Point-South Bronx, the auto guys know not to do cat call me because I have spoken to them and they know I work there and am part of their community. I work for their neighborhood and I take care of their kid's education. now the guys on my block in Sunset Park-Brooklyn even kept an eye out for me. I personally felt safer with them around because I knew they had my back. I saw them everyday - and they knew every person on the block. I knew I won't get mugged and I wouldn't get followed with them around. They became my personal bodyguards :) they said what's up, I said hey. That's it. there was one time, when one of the guy warned me that there was a drug war going on - and I should be careful and not come home so late for the next few weeks. and he was one of the worst cat callers in the beginning!
now that doesn't mean I don't get the occasional cat call, but my situation parallels yours where my catcallers were the same ones I saw everyday in my own neighborhood and my work. So you might as well get to know them. I think you did somewhat of the same thing - in that we both confronted our catcallers - but in your video - I think you approach wasn't as constructive b.c of the tone.

In your video you were very angry (rightfully so), but that's where the video ended also - on angry emotions and hints of future retribution. Bad things have happened to people in the past when confrontations are left at anger - which is where I felt your video left off and and then your commentators took on a mob mentality.
I felt of lot of your commentators didn't see them as human beings - calling them "morons," "assholes", and judging their work as "shitty" brick chopping, and that they didn't get an education in 6th grade on acceptable behavior. It really made me upset - b.c being a cat caller does not correlate to bad education and low levels of intelligence. The cat call itself is sexist, but it was out of line for your commentators to jump on the bandwagon of making a value judgements on the character of these 4 men - who are black - as morons and doing un-valuable work. Although those kind of comments are out of your control, as a role model and as the vlogger, you can keep those kind of people in check by calling them out on their statements.

cat calling is inexcusable. That being said, you can't excuse people for behavior that you wouldn't do. that is why your intentions of confronting them are genuine and set a great example for women.
But in dealing with it you have to recognize where they are coming from. It is acceptable out on the stoop in Bed-Stuy to cat call at girls walking by and the girls respond if they like them. It is accepted in certain cultures.
The bottom line is , there are cultural differences and that's what makes America so unique. At the same time, these differences are not always rooted in equality or ways that someone from the outside can understand. Many cultural practices have roots in sexism and patriarchy. That being said, when confronted with practices from another culture that are disagreeable, there is a difference between imposing your own values versus trying to bring about understanding of each other values.

So in understanding that it is definitely a cultural "thing," you can tell them how their actions made you feel with more understanding. You can't hold people to your own cultural standard. But you can tell them, like I did to my own cat callers, that it was not acceptable for them to treat me like that and although they may do it to others, don't do it to me.

I know you were pissed off when you did it, but it in the end it carried of tone that you had power in this camera and were going to document this situation for future punishment and revenge. Now I totally believe in empowering one's self with media - my background is in empowering youth with digital video tools, but there's a difference between documenting for purposes of empowerment/understanding vs. punishment/anger. There is a time and place for both - it's just in your situation I thought it took on the tone of the latter, and it just scared me and your viewer's comments also scared me.

Now it doesn’t mean you are not ALLOWED or shouldn’t keep cat callers in check! I think it so brave that you took a camera with you to confront them and I think more women should do it- but I don't like the tone of the overall video and the comments you made walking away that took on the tones of citizen vigilance. the key is, how can you get them to understand your perspective that cat calling is not cool? By cat calling you, treats you like an object. the goal in the confrontation is not to scare them off, but to get them see you as a human being, worthy of equal respect that is given to men. You can't change their behavior - they will cat call other women, but if you can change how they treat you - that's the start for getting them to see their own sexist behavior.

I would like to post my comments on my blog. I think we should let people see our dialogue on this already public discussion. It gives yours and my view points which I think are equally important and shows that both of us are working through our thoughts together.
I don't want people to think we are enemies - I actually think it would surprise people that we can talk about this without attacking each other.
Are you ok with that?

Ok ciao for now

Anonymous said...

Men just have no clue. And, I'm glad you said what you had to say. It would be great if they could ultimately see you as a real person, a neighbor, not a target to hit on in ANY particular way...but even if they never do, expecting respect is right on.