You’re going to want to learn the name Emilia Holden because we’re pretty sure she’s going to be the next American president. The 21-year-old Savannah, Georgia native has gained international attention since a video of her taking a man to task for groping her went viral last month.
Holden works as a server at Vinnie Van Go-Go’s pizzeria and was just nearing the end of her shift around 11 p.m. one night when a customer grabbed her behind while walking past her in the restaurant. In approximately three seconds flat, Holden grabbed the man, threw him to the floor and scolded him for his behaviour. The whole thing was caught on the restaurant’s surveillance system.
A coworker of Holden’s called the police and the man, identified as 31-year-old Ryan Cherwinski, was arrested and charged with sexual battery. He was out with his girlfriend of 11 years and is reportedly the father of twin girls.
“I was really satisfied when he was arrested,” Holden said on Savannah Morning News, “It not only felt like justice for me but justice for the other women who have had that happen.”
“I got what I wanted when they put him in handcuffs. Best wishes to your daughters.”
Aside from the events of the day and what transpired with Cherwinski afterwards, Holden has made the rounds of local media and she is saying everything we want to hear. She’s talked the #MeToo movement, why it shouldn’t matter how small her shorts were and how often these kinds of assaults happen in the service industry and get ignored. Basically, she’s our hero.
“Recently, there’s the whole #MeToo movement, and I think that’s really great,” she told local news station WTOC. “What I get from this is just how inspiring it is to other women. You have every right to stand up for yourself no matter who it is. No one has the right to put their hands on you. No means no. You have to have consent.”
“There’s been a lot of positive responses to this, but then there’s also been the few that are like, ‘those shorts are small,'” she also addressed. “That shouldn’t matter. It’s upsetting to see people that have that train of thought, but it’s really reassuring to see how positive everyone else has responded to it.”
She also acknowledged that not every woman would have gotten away with having the response she did. In many places, she could have lost her job for even bringing up the encounter, let alone having a physical altercation with a customer.
“I’m also very fortunate to work at a restaurant where I get a phone call like, ‘Oh, that was awesome,’ from the owner instead of being like, ‘Oh, well he’s the customer. Don’t put your hands on people like that,'” she said. “It’s the other way around: don’t put your hands on me. You don’t touch me, I don’t touch you.”
Emilia is also using her new-found platform to promote another cause she cares about: the Islands Feral Cat Project. She’s set up a GoFundMe and has received numerous comments on the page in support of her harasser take-down.
Cherwinski has since claimed that “it was an accident that he grabbed the waitress, that he was only trying to inform her to move because she was in the way.” You saw the video, we’ll let you make that judgement for yourself.