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!

Hollaback!

One of my favorite organizations is at a pivotal moment in its growth today and I wanted to share something about them here. The group is called Hollaback and it has chapters all over the country.

I first became a fan at the age of 19 when on my first ever trip to NYC I was verbally harassed on the street outside Grand Central Station by a couple of guys. They whistled at me to get my attention and then one of them told me that he would “sure like to tap that.” As they started walking towards me, I froze. Being young and out of my element, I had no idea what to do. A woman in her late twenties walked up beside me and snapped a picture of the two men with her camera before telling them to back off in a loud clear voice. They called her a bitch and walked away.

I turned to thank her. She handed me a piece of paper with a web address on it and said, “no problem, check out the site.” What I found was an online community where women posted photos of street harassers and spoke out about their feelings after being catcalled. I checked the site a week later and sure enough, there was the photo of the two men who had harrassed me. The site has since grown into a nationwide movement.

Today, Hollaback is on the verge of getting an iPhone app, but they need money to get it. They have 1 day and about $1700 left to raise. If you are able, consider donating to them here: www.ihollaback.org

And if you want to learn more, check out this link for an interview with the amazing Miss DC, Jen Corey. You can watch a video of her on NBC discussing her experiences with street harassment.