What is Hollaback?
The real motive of street harassment is intimidation. To make its target scared or uncomfortable, and to make the harasser feel powerful. But what if there was a simple way to take that power away by exposing it? By Holla’ing back!
Hollaback is a movement to end street harassment powered by a network of local activists around the world. We work together to better understand street harassment, to ignite public conversations, and to develop innovative strategies to ensure equal access to public spaces.
We envision a world where street harassment is not tolerated and where we all enjoy equal access to public spaces.
What is Street Harassment?
Street harassment is a form of sexual harassment that takes place in public spaces. At its core is a power dynamic that constantly reminds historically subordinated groups (women and LGBTQ folks, for example) of their vulnerability to assault in public spaces. Further, it reinforces the ubiquitous sexual objectification of these groups in everyday life.
Street harassment can be sexist, racist, transphobic, homophobic, ableist, sizeist and/or classist. It is an expression of the interlocking and overlapping oppressions we face and it functions as a means to silence our voices and “keep us in our place.”
At Hollaback!, we believe that what specifically counts as street harassment is determined by those who experience it. If you’ve experienced street harassment, we’ve got your back!
Why Hollaback matters:
Dedicated to fighting street harassment, Hollaback! has empowered people in over 82 cities and 25 countries internationally to respond to their harassers. We encourage victims and observers to speak up when they see harassment and to quickly documenting it in a short post (photo optional) and sharing it to a publicly viewable map. Anyone browsing the stories on the Hollaback! maps immediately understands 3 things:
1) If you’ve been harassed, you’re not alone,
2) Street harassment is used to exert control over others by making them feel scared or uncomfortable. It is much more than individuals just acting inappropriately.
3) There are street harassment “hotspots” in most cities often centered around high pedestrian traffic areas.
Hollaback! provides comfort to those harassed, and proof that street harassment is a serious problem warranting a serious response from policy makers.
Why you should Hollaback:
There are two reasons to Hollaback! : For you, and For the world.
Hollaback! is all about your right to be you: A person who never has to take it or just keep walking, but one who has a badass response when they are messed with. Someone who knows they have the right to define themselves instead of being defined by some creep’s point of view. Because none of us are as simple as a list of physical attributes. We have a right to be who we are, not who we are told to be. We have a right to define ourselves on our own terms when we walk out the door, whatever that means that day. That hour. That minute.
Street harassment teaches us to be silent, but we aren’t listening. We don’t put up with harassment in the home, at work, or at school. And now we aren’t putting up with it in the street, either. By holla’ing back you are transforming an experience that is lonely and isolating into one that is sharable. You change the power dynamic by flipping the lens off of you and onto the harasser. And you enter a worldwide community of people who’ve got your back.
For the world:
Stories change the world. Don’t believe us? Think about Rodney King, Anita Hill, or Matthew Sheppard. These stories didn’t just change the world, they shaped policy.
The internet has given us a new campfire. Each time you HollaBack, you are given a king-sized platform to tell your story. Thousands will read it and your story will shift their understanding of what harassment means. Some will walk away understanding what it feels like to be in your shoes, others will feel like they are not alone for the first time or that it’s not their fault. Your story will redefine safety in your community—it will inspire legislators, the police, and other authorities to take this issue seriously – to approach it with sensitivity, and to create policies that make everyone feel safe. Your story will build an irrefutable case as to why street harassment is not OK. A case strong enough to change the world.
But it all starts with the simplest of gestures: Your HollaBack!