The Power to End Street Harassment in the Palm of Your Hand
HollabackNYC started in 2005 the way a lot of good revolutions must begin – as conversations with friends over a couple of drinks. The seven of us commiserated over being whistled at, cat-called, and propositioned, with each story earning a chorus of “uggg” “ewww” and “gross!”
The trouble was that we felt there was nothing we could do. If we walked on, we felt victimized. If we yelled, we felt angry. Witty comebacks had their charm, but they always came late, and street harassment was more or less protected under laws of free speech. Then we realized – why not take pictures of these street harassers and post them on a blog? And so, with the clink of our cocktail glasses, we launched HollabackNYC, a blog dedicated to giving women an empowered response to street harassment.
Since then, I have had the opportunity to watch the anti-street harassment movement grow worldwide. Hollaback now has sites in eight cities across the world, with new sites popping up in London and Hong Kong this month. Hollaback has outgrown its blog status, and in May I’ll become the first executive director.
Over the past five years I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about street harassment. What I’ve learned is that street harassment is on a spectrum of violence against women. Although it is less intense than other forms, it is oftentimes more pervasive. Many women report being street harassed three, four, even five times a day. And unlike many forms of violence against women, street harassment happens in public. For every woman that is harassed, there is a man watching her. For every woman that doesn’t speak up, there is a man thinking, well – if she didn’t say anything it must be OK. And if harassment is OK, then maybe groping is OK. And if groping is OK, then maybe beating is OK. And if beating is OK, then maybe rape it OK. Boys, I’m here to break it to you: violence against women simply isn’t OK.
Ladies, we’ve got to end violence against women were it starts. I know it’s not always easy to Hollaback and let’s face it: you shouldn’t have to. You should be able to walk down the street and feel safe, confident, and sexy, without the threat of harassment. Staying silent is easier, but it doesn’t get us any closer to the world we want to create.
We’re launching a new website and iPhone app so that we can map when and where street harassment happens. Then we’re going to use that data – which will be the first of its kind – to end it. We have a hunch that if we can end street harassment, we can put a serious dent in all forms of violence against women.
The women who came before us dramatically decreased harassment in the workplace in the 1980s. Now, in the 2010’s it’s our turn to decrease harassment on the streets. Let’s Hollaback now so our daughters don’t have to.
To help make this all possible and to learn more: click here: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/hollaback/hollaback