Finally, there’s a solution for when you don’t want to give your phone number to creepy people, but don’t want to be rude either because as the bell Hooks hotline explains, “because we’re [women] raised to know it’s safer to give a fake phone number than to directly reject an aggressive guy.”
Feminist author bell Hooks has created the Feminist Phone Intervention Hotline for anyone to use when faced with the dating dilemma of giving out your phone number to a stranger. When you’re just not that into the suitor, you can just give them the phone number (669) 221-6251.
When they call the next day, they will get a quote from bell Hooks herself like, “Sometimes people try to destroy you, precisely because they recognize your power — not because they don’t see it, but because they see it and they don’t want it to exist. This quote is brought to you by bell hooks.” If they try to call or text you immediately so you have their number, there’s no safety net in this case. You better book it to the bathroom or explain that your phone just ran out of batteries.
The bell Hooks hotline receives thousands of calls a day.
The project was inspired by Eliot Roger’s killing spree that focused on punishing women for thwarting his sexual advances. The hotline is a way to discourage male entitlement, sexism and aggressive attention. (And for the record, while the project focuses on men as the primary aggressors, women, too, are sometimes culpable too.)
Don’t think women should be afraid of dolling out rejection? Well, in May this year a woman in eastern China was killed by four men in a cult for not giving them her phone number.
It hangs up the call immediately afterward. Though, I would be curious to know what type of messages the callers would leave? This might be a missed opportunity as it would highlight just how much men can be aggressive towards women when they find out they’ve been rejected. With such evidence of a violent and pervasive culture, maybe reporters and people would have empathized with Roger less and more with women.
And while I love this idea and could of used it back in my single days, I’m a little worried that the suitor calling is going to be super confused when they hear, “Whenever domination is present love is lacking. This quote is brought to you by bell hooks.” It doesn’t really explain why the caller is getting this message when they expected to get the person they met.
After the quote I propose there be some explanatory follow up like, “You’re receiving this message because (as the website explains its projects motivations)…‘because we’re [women] raised to know that evasion or rejection can be met with violence.’” Or “because women are still threatened and punished for rejecting advances.” That way the passive message of “it’s not me, it’s you” will come across a little better. Rejection without explanation…well, nobody likes that.
The project is very similar to the business cards that women can hand out to street harassers. A project conceived by Lindsey from Minneapolis in 2014 called Cards Against Harassment are business cards that anyone can get and hand out to street harassers to explain how their actions negatively affect women.
I also just learned about social cards. They’re like business cards but with personal numbers for desired suitors. If you’re someone who gets a lot of unwanted attention, you could always print up some cards with bell Hooks number.
There’s also Tatyana Fazlalizadeh’s art project, Stop Telling Women to Smile that similarly addresses the issues of street harassment. Regarding the bell Hooks hotline, she says, “A lot of people say you know you shouldn’t give out a fake number, you should take agency over yourself. (Forbes.com)” It’s a fair point, though belle Hooks seems to be taking up the agency torch for a majority of women who are still faced with the fear and stigma of rejecting unwanted advances.
And it turns out that women need this service all over the world. There are seven numbers available in five different countries, with Germany on the way. They even provide support on how others can set up similar services in their own country.
In a perfect world, women would not fear the repercussions of rejecting others. They would not be overly concerned for their safety when out publically or interacting with new faces. And in a perfect world, the messages these projects are trying to communicate would eradicate street harassment and aggressive attention. If you disagree with this, feel free to call me and complain. Here’s my number: +1 917 512 2833
To protect yourself from the potential repercussion of rejection towards unwanted advances, here are the local numbers you can use:
New York, NY: +1 917 512 2833, Chicago, IL: +1 312 697 1778, London, GB: +44 20 3095 4193, Toronto, ON: +1 647 496 0921, Montreal, QC: (438) 793-7247 (in French!), Monterrey, MX: +52 81 4170 7141, Tel Aviv, IS: +97237630163