Street harassment is a very real, and very troubling, reality in our society. With studies revealing that a staggering 80-90% of women have been harassed in public, it is a social endemic evocative of a culture that champions violence, and disrespects female-bodied people. Many consider street harassment, regardless of how subtle or flagrant it is, to be a “gateway” crime that makes other forms of gender-based violence socially acceptable. For decades, feminist scholars and activists have tackled issues surrounding street harassment, connecting this aggressive behavior with the “rape culture” that permeates our society.
Anyone, regardless of gender, race, body type, or orientation can be impacted by street harassment; it isn’t flattery or catcalling, but rather a means to exact control over another person by making them feel uncomfortable or afraid. It’s a form of violence that takes place every day, but what can you do to stop it? One group that is working to end street harassment and further violence in public spaces is called Hollaback, and it’s using the voices of real survivors of street harassment to increase awareness and empower people everywhere.
Hollaback is a non-profit organization powered by local activists in 64 cities and 22 countries; its name encourages members to stand up to public acts of violence, especially against women. Survivors of public harassment and sexual assault who have shared their stories have exposed a harrowing fact: this form of violence is a problem all around the world. Hollaback is a network of survivors and activists who aim to create social change by refusing to stay silent about street harassment.
According to the organization’s mission statement, “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.” Hollaback’s purpose is to be as much a forum for how to ignite social change as a safe space where survivors can share their stories to encourage others to stand up for themselves. It’s a global group of activists and allies, bound by a common cause.
To learn more about how to start a Hollaback in your community, or to read stories from survivors, visit the organization’s official website.