RELEASE: An Exhibition and Program Series on Gender Justice and Mass Incarceration

Leeway Foundation and Bread & Roses Community Fund present
RELEASE: An Exhibition and Program Series on Gender Justice and Mass Incarceration

       On View February 26 – June 30, 2015
       At the Leeway Foundation
       1315 Walnut Street, Suite 832, Philadelphia, PA 19107
       (Venue is wheelchair accessible)

brr elewayRELEASE is an exhibition and program series that explores the intersection of gender justice and mass incarceration. RELEASE aims to provide shared spaces for women, transgender, and gender non-conforming survivors of the prison industrial complex, local artists, cultural producers, and activists to critically reflect and build power for change.

The exhibit features No Selves to Defend, curated by Mariame Kaba and Rachel Caidor, and Lifers by Mary DeWitt (LTA ’10, ACG ’09, WOO ’03, ’00).

Exhibit Hours: By appointment only. MondayFriday, 10:00am – 5:00pm. Please call 215.545.4078 to schedule a viewing. 

About No Selves to Defend
No Selves to Defend features the stories of women of color who have been criminalized for self-defense. The exhibition also addresses the campaigns and mobilizations that emerged to resist their criminalization and demand their freedom.

About Lifers
For almost 40 years, Mary DeWitt has painted portraits and recorded the stories of women sentenced to life without parole in Pennsylvania. The selected pieces shown in this exhibit tell their stories and expose the injustices they have suffered before and after their sentencing.

HollabackPHILLY Officially Transitions to Feminist Public Works. Join them!

Cross Posted from HollabackPHILLY.

The members of the HollabackPHILLY team are separating from the main Hollaback! organization. We will continue to post street harassment stories at as it is a valuable story-sharing resource that contributes to the rich international network of activism, but all of our ongoing local and national activism will now take place through Feminist Public Works, an organization we launched in Spring 2014.

Our decision to leave the Hollaback! organization was catalyzed by the recent release of the “10 Hours Walking in NYC as a Woman” video. We were just as surprised by the content of the video (which had serious representation issues) as everyone else. Some important details:

  • The main Hollaback! organization, based in New York City, released the video independently.
  • None of the 79+ international branches were involved in or aware of the project.
  • While we all share a brand, each local Hollaback! branch operates independently and receives no funding or significant operational support from the paid Hollaback! staff at the main branch in New York City.

Feminist efforts are not successful unless they simultaneously address other forms of structural and institutionalized prejudices, like racism, ableism, and classism, alongside gender. A movement must have this kind of thinking at its heart to successfully promote the kinds of nuanced conversations necessary to create change that is as expansive, varied, and complex as the people the movement represents.

Despite the inspiration and growth we have enjoyed from our involvement with this international network of passionate activists, when our brand affiliations begin to call our intentions and integrity into question, and start to contradict our actions, we know we have a responsibility to act.

When our concerns were raised with the Hollaback! leadership in New York, they were not addressed sufficiently enough for us to continue the affiliation. We choose to release a statement publicly distancing ourselves instead of transitioning more quietly because part of being intersectional feminists means we cannot leave all the hard work for others. As we regularly discuss in our workshops, calling out those closest to you is oftentimes the most difficult, but also the most important, stand you can take.


The Walking Dead’s Laurie Holden describes her role in Colombian sex trafficking sting

The Walking Dead’s Laurie Holden describes her role in Colombian sex trafficking sting

Laurie Holden became famous playing the brave civil rights lawyer, Andrea, on the hit TV series The Walking Dead. But offscreen, the Canadian-raised actress recently took on the role of a lifetime.

Earlier this year, she took part in an undercover operation that resulted in the rescue of 55 sex slaves in Colombia, some as young as 12.

“I had a pretty good disguise — I had a wig and glasses,” said Holden in an interview with CBC News.

Her role in the sting was to keep the young girls distracted as armed authorities closed in on their traffickers.

Watch her interview here, describing the sting and how they busted the traffickers in Colombia.


GeeksForCONsent (a project of Feminist Public Works) Takes on San Diego Comic Con International.

GeeksForCONsent (a project of Feminist Public Works) Takes on San Diego Comic Con International.

After receiving no response to multiple attempts to contact the conventions, our project, GeeksForCONsent petitioned San Diego Comic Con International this past spring asking for a more thorough and effective approach to the Convention’s harassment issue at the July 2014 event. San Diego Comic Con did not respond to the petition, but in interviews stated that harassment was not a problem at the convention, and to put more energy into an anti-harassment effort would make it look like a bigger problem than it is. Their concern with bad press outweighed their consideration for the safety and enjoyment of the women and LGBTQ attendees of the convention.

So, the team flew out to San Diego (thanks to generous crowdfunding for their comic book campaign to send them to the convention). While at the convention, GeeksForCONsent posted “COSPLAY =/= CONSENT” flyers throughout the convention and the events downtown but outside the convention hall. Staff tore the signs down and threatened to kick them out if they continued to post them. The next day, the team decided to post “official” anti-harassment posters, to show the convention how easy a solution would be to implement.

cosplay posters sdcc sdcc policy poster

Throughout the convention they also gave interviews to NBC, CBS, The LA Times, TMZ, and even the Associated Press. They transformed the conversation from a handful of geeks shouting about harassment at the convention, into hundreds of thousands of people across the globe talking about harassment at conventions.

sdcc press montage


A few weeks later, New York Comic Con (another convention that had ignored GeeksForCONsent’s emails seeking collaboration to improve their anti-harassment efforts) convened a panel to revamp their entire approach to harassment. And New York Comic Con’s improvements to their anti-harassment policy is setting an incredibly example. The policy outlines unacceptable conduct in detail, provides clear mechanisms for reporting the harassment, and, via the addition to their convention app, allows for real time reporting for prompt response by convention staff at the location of the harassment.

nycc sdcc

GeeksForCONsent (a project of Feminist Public Works) modifies the gender-based safety audit for use in convention spaces

GeeksForCONsent (a project of Feminist Public Works) modifies the gender-based safety audit for use in convention spaces


GeeksForCONsent modified the United Nations best practice gender-based safety audits for more streamlined use and relevance in comic-convention settings. The United Nations recommended gender-based safety audit is a tool used by community groups and municipalities to audit public spaces for gender-based feelings of insecurity, incorporating objective observations of the spaces as well as subjective interviews of the people who interact with those spaces on a regular basis. The objective and subjective data is then compiled into an audit report and used to make recommendations for improved policy and suggestions for making the spaces feel safer. Safety audits incorporate desires of the people using the spaces, validating women and LGBTQ folks as experts of their own experiences, and minimizing the risk of new policies that could make the space feel less safe by incorporating subjective experiences into the decision-making calculus.

GeeksForCONsent changed the questions to be relevant to convention spaces and updated the objective inquiries for relevance. The first test run of their modified audit style was used this past weekend at San Diego Comic Con International. The GeeksForCONsent team audited the convention hall, the convention policies, and the overall mechanisms for gender-based safety in the convention space. The audit report is expected to be published late 2014, including data collected at the convention and recommendations for improvements for San Diego’s 2015 convention.

If you’re interested in auditing a convention near you, stay tuned in early 2015 for opportunities to use their streamlined model at your convention!

New bus shelter ad aims to undo VisitPhilly damage

Have you seen the new bus shelter at 16th and JFK? With a welcoming message, it lets visitors to Philly know that our city takes pride in its streets and that street harassing behaviors are not tolerated here.



HollabackPHILLY, a project of Feminist Public Works, designed this ad in response to a large billboard that GPTMC, Philadelphia’s tourist marketing company, ran as part of its VisitPhilly campaign in 2012. That summer, HollabackPHILLY protested the placement of GPTMC’s enormous street-harassing billboard on the side of a parking garage in a prominent location in Center City.

The billboard (pictured above), said “Dear Walking This Way: I like the way you move it move it. With Love, Philadelphia XOXO.” GPTMC justified this ad by saying that is is a play on a lyric from the song “I Like to Move It” from Madagascar 2. HollabackPHILLY, however, pointed out that there is a significant difference between “I like to move it move it” (a person having fun dancing) and “I like the way you move it move it” (unwanted commentary on passersby).

It also quickly became obvious that this was not GPTMC’s first ad to “accidentally” promote street harassing behaviors. Check out this example from 2010:


GPTMC refused to remove the “Walking This Way” billboard, stating that it was set to come down soon, but they did agree to meet with HollabackPHILLY to discuss the issue. The meeting resulted in an offer by GPTMC to work with HollabackPHILLY on the design and placement of a welcoming ad. However, despite multiple attempts by the HollabackPHILLY team to contact GPTMC following this meeting, they were unresponsive.

Disappointed but unfazed, the HollabackPHILLY team decided to incorporate a new spin on GPTMC’s offensive “Dear Walking This Way” ad into its April 2014 anti-street harassment ad campaign. The new ad (which had previously been proposed to GPTMC) reads: “Dear Walking This Way: Welcome to the city of brotherly love (and sisterly affection). Our streets are your streets. With love (and respect), Philadelphia XOXO. PS: #ENDSH.” This new ad was specifically designed to show – despite past mistakes by our city’s tourism marketing company – that Philadelphia is proud to be making steps in the right direction to make sure that all people walking its streets feel safe and comfortable.

HollabackPHILLY welcomes your thoughts on this ad, and its entire 2014 campaign.


Street Harassment: Getting the Message

Anna Kegler, Deputy Director of Feminist Public Works and HollabackPHILLY and founder of the Feminist Messaging Project, wrote an excellent piece for the Huffington Post about effective messaging for social change. This methodology and research were used to maximize the impact of our current public transit ad campaign.

An excerpt of the piece is below, but click through to read the whole article!

The following ads give examples of harassing statements, and pointedly shift the responsibility to respond from the victim to the bystander:





Some of the ads focus on calling out a stranger on their behavior or giving support to a victim after the fact, while others focus on how we can react when those closest to us — our friends — are engaging in harassing behaviors. All of these ways of intervening are powerful and important. If we want to see social change around street harassment, we need to start building up social pressure both out in public among strangers, and privately within our inner circles. This means it’s time to start stepping in when we see harassment happening, because simply being a person who doesn’t harass is not good enough. According to the principle of social proof, our silence when we see harassment happening to others is easily read as acceptance, and reinforces in the harasser’s mind (as well as others witnessing the behavior) that the harassment is socially acceptable.

The shift from individual responsibility to a community sense of responsibility is commonly known as a bystander intervention approach, which has become a gold standard for gender-based violence prevention. Viewing the problem of street harassment as a shared responsibility is a revolutionary shift, not only because our culture emphasizes individuality at every turn, but because this shift puts the focus squarely on the harasser. If we’re active bystanders, ready to intervene, it’s because we see someone (the harasser) doing something wrong. What the victim is doing or wearing is not even part of the equation.

The full post is available here.

Anti Street Harassment Week 2014


International Anti Street Harassment Week (#EndSHWeek) 2014 is March 30 – April 5th. For a list of actions planned by organizations all around the world, see Meet Us On the Street.

If you’re in Philadelphia, keep an eye out for our expanded SEPTA ad campaign, launching this week! Please also join us for an amazing Get Lucid! dance party on April 5th, to benefit HollabackPHILLY‘s anti street harassment efforts (facebook event).

And, not officially affiliated with HollabackPHILLY, but completely on-point for this feminist themed week, check out the South Philly “Daughters of Riot Grrrl” exhibit!

  • Alien She (exhibit): Vox Populi, 319 N. 11th St., noon to 6 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday. 215-238-1236 or Through April 27

We have been joining with local activists, organizations, and community members in April for the past three years to bring attention to the problem of street harassment in Philadelphia. To see photos and videos from these events, click here.

2014 SEPTA Ad Campaign Launched!

On April 1, 2014, HollabackPHILLY (a project of Feminist Public Works) launched a transit ad campaign in the city of Philadelphia to increase public understanding of the problem of street harassment. Our 2014 campaign includes subway car interior ads, subway station ads, and bus shelters.

The campaign’s messages are designed to familiarize the public with the term “street harassment” (gender-based harassment by strangers in public spaces) and define it as a solvable problem, as opposed to an inevitable “fact of life.” Sexual harassment in the workplace used to be commonly accepted, but that is no longer the case. We hope to see street harassment follow the same path of being recognized as a problem through increased awareness, public conversations, and bystander intervention.

We would love to hear your feedback on this campaign via a brief 3-minute survey:

We also invite you to leave your thoughts and reactions to the advertisements on our Facebook page, and if you see our ads out in the world, take a picture and tag us on Facebook/Twitter. Join us in spreading the word and talking about ways to change the culture surrounding street harassment.

Want to know what we were thinking when we decided to publish the “In a perfect world” ad? Check out the post about our creative process here.

This campaign is a significant expansion of the small 6-advertisement pilot campaign that HollabackPHILLY launched on April 1st, 2013 in the Philadelphia subway system.

Though small, the 2013 pilot campaign quickly went viral online and attracted significant press:

On April 13, 2013, Philadelphia organizations and community members participated in International Anti-Street Harassment Week. The day consisted of sidewalk chalking, discussing the ad campaign with subway riders, and a debrief in LOVE Park.


HollabackPHILLY’s 2013 SEPTA ad campaign finalist for Avon Communications Award

We are proud to announce that HollabackPHILLY (a project of Feminist Public Works) was selected as a finalist for the 3rd annual Avon Communications Awards: Speaking Out About Violence Against Women for its outstanding work on an anti-street harassment campaign to bring attention to the need to end violence against women.

A finalist in the Innovative Campaign Award category, HollabackPHILLY is one of 20 global organizations to be chosen as a finalist for the prestigious awards, which recognize outstanding communications campaigns that are helping change communities, policies, institutions and behaviors to end violence against women. The five winning organizations will be chosen by an expert panel of judges and announced at the end of March. Each will receive a US $5,000 grant from the Avon Foundation for Women to fund the continuation of their work.

Our SEPTA ad campaign last year, while small, garnered significant attention both on- and off-line. The full slideshow of the ads (below), includes the full 2013 campaign which ran inside Philadelphia subway cars on the Market Frankford and Broad Street lines:

This is street harassment (2013)

Picture 1 of 7

Hey Sexy Hey Baby THIS IS STREET HARASSMENT Lookin' Good Mmm Look at you Look at those legs THIS IS STREET HARASSMENT Hey, you a man or a woman? You a dyke? THIS IS STREET HARASSMENT Can I have a smile What's your name You got a boyfriend Where are you going Come Here Let me get at you Oh you're ugly anyway THIS IS STREET HARASSMENT

As a result of the success of this small pilot campaign, HollabackPHILLY is currently preparing to launch an expanded ad campaign in April 2014, with ads in subway cars, on platforms in subway stations, and in bus shelters.

The top finalists were selected from more than 870 submissions to the Communications X-Change by 303 organizations in 78 countries, ranging from Albania to Nicaragua to Vietnam. The Communications X-Change is a digital global communications library that enables organizations and advocates throughout the world to find, share, and learn from the best communications material focused on ending violence against women and children. The Communications X-Change was developed and is managed by Futures Without Violence and funded by the Avon Foundation.

“The Avon Communications Awards are casting a spotlight on issues that affect one in three women across the globe,” said Carol Kurzig, Avon Foundation for Women President. “Communication and education are critical elements to ignite bystanders into action, and without public awareness and education, bystanders often do not intervene to help in abusive situations. We congratulate them on their selection as a finalist from a very competitive selection process with so many outstanding entries.”

“We commend HollabackPHILLY for their innovative use of communications to prevent and ultimately end violence against women and children in every corner of the world,” said Esta Soler, Futures Without Violence President and Founder. “Since the launch of the Communications X-Change, we’ve been continually impressed by the creativity and caliber of the submissions. These campaigns are an inspiration to the violence prevention community across the globe and a catalyst for change.”

Click here to see the full press release. The finalists and descriptions of awards are included below:


The Innovative Campaign Award recognizes innovative and original approaches to presenting messages about ending violence against women and girls through the best information technology, including mobile technology.


The Break the Silence Award recognizes communications campaigns that effectively encourage people to step in to help or speak out against violence against women to promote a shift in attitudes or practices at the individual, family or community level.


The Community Change Award recognizes campaigns on ending violence against women and girls that involve the participation of both women and men, or girls and boys, to develop solutions to violence and discrimination against women and girls.


The X-Change Award for Outstanding Government Communication recognizes a Government or its responsible Ministry or Department, whether national, regional or local, for communications efforts and campaigns to end violence against women and girls.  It highlights the essential role that Governments play to end discrimination and violence against women and girls.


The Global Award for Excellence in Communication recognizes a campaign from an international NGO in the violence against women arena that is global, multi-year, and creates approaches and messages that may be easily adapted in other countries.

To view the 20 finalists’ campaigns and other educational information about gender-based violence, please visit: