Street harassment of women in cities has been a problem for a long time. Now, a group called Hollaback is bringing the issue to the forefront and trying to do something to do something about it.
If you’re a woman living in an urban area, chances are you’ve been the victim of street harassment. It may take the form of verbal assault like catcalls or physical harassment such as groping; frequently the predator exposes himself or masturbates in front of you.
Typically women have learned to ignore these behaviors, since a reaction or response is what the perpetrator wants. But why should we put up with it? What did we do to provoke these sexual offenders? Is being female and walking down the street or riding the subway “asking for it”?
Emily May (no relationship to the trailblazing microbiologist Dr. Meghan May) and Oraia Reid, founded Hollaback in 2005 to use technological advances, most notably mobile technology allowing women to share their experiences in specific and inarguable ways. I mean, it’s hard to argue with a cell phone camera or a recording done via voice notes.
From Hollaback’s NYC website (there are also sites for Australia, Savannah, Chicago, and Toronto, among others):
HOLLA BACK NYC EMPOWERS NEW YORKERS TO HOLLA BACK AT STREET HARASSERS. WHETHER YOU’RE COMMUTING, LUNCHING, PARTYING, DANCING, WALKING, CHILLING, DRINKING, OR SUNNING, YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO FEEL SAFE, CONFIDENT, AND SEXY, WITHOUT BEING THE OBJECT OF SOME TURD’S FANTASY. SO STOP WALKIN’ ON AND HOLLA BACK: SEND US PICS OF STREET HARASSERS!
Let me tell you, this site is so cool (in a disturbing way)! You cannot imagine the crazy stories on here … I honestly lost track of a fair amount of time perusing them. And what a concept … technology being used to fight crime. Perhaps it’s time for a new superhero or something—The Kamera Kid, maybe, or The Blue BlackBerry.
We commiserated over being whistled at, cat-called, and propositioned. 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, 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.
That is just freaking genius! So, yeah, if you want to be a Hollaback girl and take a picture of any b-a-n-a-n-a-s that might be wagged in your direction (I’m sorry, Gwen Stefani, but I just couldn’t resist), submit your pictures to this wicked cool group right here.
What are your thoughts on this? Do you think it will solve some of the street harassment problems? Do you have any other ideas that might work better?