Last Thursday, I had the honor of attending a New York City Council hearing held specifically about street harassment. Not only was it the first time that I had publicly shared such stories of harassment that I had for so long kept hidden inside, but also the first time I was able to see the wide rage of people street harassment truly affects. It isn’t just the girls my age with whom I’ve usually shared my stories. It’s the mothers trying to stay strong for their daughters through their own experiences of harassment, as well as the young sons who see their mothers harassed as they walk down the street. This is a problem that affects everyone, apparent or not.
Being able to share my story was something I never thought I would be able to do. I never thought it mattered enough to be shared or heard by anyone, let alone a city council. I think that through delivering my testimony, I was able to find a certain closure to the experiences felt by the constant harassment I experience from men on the streets and the subway every day. It gave me the ability to know that I was helping to stop these crimes in some way. By spreading the word, I was making a difference, which is something I never thought that I was capable of doing.
During my time at the hearing, I was interviewed by CBS and the New York Post. Both of these experiences were what I was most nervous about. I had never really given an interview before, so I tried to keep in mind on the women’s media training my feminism class received before the SPARK Summit. I was nervous that the importance of this case would get lost in my words. But even the fact that I was being interviewed by media sources helped me to understand that I was truly helping a cause, and the word was publicly being spread through the media.
I would also like to thank Ileana Jiménez, my teacher, for inviting Hollaback to talk to our feminism class, for helping me with my testimony, and for supporting me through the council hearing and the interviews last Thursday. I now know that if at 16, I can deliver my story to an entire council, then I am able to make New York more conscious of the harassment taking place today. I now know that I can do so much more than I ever thought possible in the future.