Meet Rebecca, the rebellious Internet queen fighting street harassment in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
Why do you HOLLA? Because I’m tired of turning away, crossing the street, watching shadows, and resorting to learned behaviours of invisibility. I’m sure I’m not the only one.
When I learned about Hollaback, my first thought was to wish we had it where I lived. So I’m bringing it here myself.
What’s your signature Hollaback? In the past it’s been a swift getaway and staircase wit, but I’m getting better at responding in the moment.
What’s your craft? English-to-English translation. Also preserves; my plum-ginger jam could probably win prizes.
HOLLAfact about your city: A ceremonial cannon is fired every day at noon at the Halifax Citadel, a historic fort on a hill that looks over downtown. (I love that cannon. Wouldn’t you?)
What was your first experience with street harassment? I first witnessed street harassment when I was very young. I was walking with my mother and some young men across the street yelled racial slurs at her.
There were many later incidents that, in hindsight, were definitely racial and/or sexual harassment. In particular, there was schoolyard bullying that often had a sexual tone. I didn’t identify it as harassment at the time, though. They were “just” being creepy, or rude, or pushy, or ignorant, and I didn’t know how to respond to it. The pattern didn’t become clear until I got older and learned that these things happened to a lot of other women too, not just me.
The first time I immediately identified something as harassment was when I was about 23. I was travelling alone across the country, and got stranded in northern Alberta for a day because of a mishap with the Greyhound schedule. It was Sunday, so almost every business was closed and the streets were deserted. I walked towards downtown, and some guy drove his car up beside me, slowed to match my pace, and then leaned down so he could get a better look at me through the passenger window. He didn’t say anything, he just leered and followed me for about a block.
Define your style: I’m a wordy and enthusiastic introvert who favours colour-blocking, mixed textures, and asymmetry. I used to be afraid of being noticed, but a few years ago I decided to become impossible to ignore. Refusing to be invisible is a political act.
My superheroine power is… Curiosity. I want to know everything.
What do you collect? I collect books more or less deliberately. I collect tiny pieces of paper completely by accident.
If you could leave the world one piece of advice, what would it be? June Callwood said that she believed in kindness. I can’t think of anything better than that. So, be kind. Oh, and be daring as well.
What inspires you? People who try to change the world.