Got Harassed? Hollaback!

I am super excited to announce that I have joined the Board of Hollaback, an international movement dedicated to ending street harassment using mobile technology. I’m hoping you’ll join me in financially supporting a very exciting campaign going on right now specifically to end harassment on college campuses. Learn more about the campaign or DONATE by clicking here.

Its co-founder, Emily May, and I have been friends in the women’s movement for a long time…so it’s so exciting to join forces in a more official way. Since you’ll be hearing more from me about the great work of Hollaback in the future, here’s a little more info about them in their own words from Hollaback website. If you feel moved to get involved, please support the campus campaign!

Street harassment is one of the most pervasive forms of gender-based violence and one of the least legislated against. Comments from “You’d look good on me” to groping, flashing and assault are a daily, global reality for women and LGBTQ individuals. But it is rarely reported, and it’s culturally accepted as ‘the price you pay’ for being a woman or for being gay. At Hollaback!, we don’t buy it.

We believe that everyone has a right to feel safe and confident without being objectified. Sexual harassment is a gateway crime that creates a cultural environment that makes gender-based violence OK. There exists a clear legal framework to reproach sexual harassment and abuse in the home and at work, but when it comes to the streets—all bets are off. This gap isn’t because street harassment hurts any less, it’s because there hasn’t been a solution. Until now. The explosion of mobile technology has given us an unprecedented opportunity to end street harassment—and with it, the opportunity to take on one of the final new frontiers for women’s rights around the world.

By collecting women and LGBTQ folks’ stories and pictures in a safe and share-able way with our very own mobile phone applications, Hollaback! is creating a crowd-sourced initiative to end street harassment. Hollaback! breaks the silence that has perpetuated sexual violence internationally, asserts that any and all gender-based violence is unacceptable, and creates a world where we have an option—and, more importantly—a response.

 

A badass response to street harassment

Emily May is the founder and Executive Director of Hollaback, a non-profit organization dedicated to ending street harassment around the world.

Hollaback! was founded because we were pissed off about our inability to fight back against street harassment.  When we walked on we felt weak, when we yelled at guys the situation escalated, and the police didn’t care.

We were haunted by the idea that this was the price we had to pay for living in a city, or being a girl, and we were tired of pretending that it didn’t hurt.  So we started Hollaback.

And after six months of snapping photos and blogging about our experiences, the funniest thing happened: we stopped getting harassed as much.  At first we thought it was a fluke. But then it just kept happening: holla’ing back resulted in less harassment.

How does this happen?  For me, it was psychological. Once I knew I had a badass response to street harassment, it didn’t scare me anymore. Whereas I used to walk down the street thinking, “please don’t say anything please don’t say anything” on repeat in my head, Hollaback changed my tune.  Instead of coming from a position of fear I started to walk down the street with my cell phone camera in hand thinking, “just try me.”  It was a framework shifting.

I’m not saying I don’t still get harassed, I do.  But knowing that you can fight back, and that’s it’s not your fault, is an awesome thing.  And this is what Girls Fight Back is all about.  It teaches us that we have a response.  That we don’t just have to be silent. That we can fight back.

On behalf of all of us at Hollaback!, I want to wish a very happy 10th birthday to Erin Weed and the Girls Fight Back team.  Here’s to another 10 years of kicking butt, and reminding all of us that we can too.

Note from Erin: How I love me some Emily May! We recently enjoyed dinner and wine at the cutest French cafe in New York City, and talked for hours about a world where women felt safe enough to walk down the street. To support Hollaback!, check out their new “I’ve got your back” campaign that is designed to engage bystanders in the fight against street harassment.  And if you’re able, please donate!