Street harassment is a gateway crime that makes other forms of gender-based violence OK. Studies conducted show that between 80-90% of women have been harassed in public. With legal recourse to address school and workplace harassment, streets remain one of the final frontiers in addressing and affirming basic, guaranteed civil rights.
Comments range from “you’d look good on me,” to groping, public masturbation, and worse. These “compliments” aren’t about sex or about chivalry. They are about power. Young women are particularly vulnerable to street harassment, and at Hollaback! we’ve gotten stories from girls as young as twelve. Street harassment may be the social and cultural norm, but it is far from OK.
Street harassment teaches us to be silent, that taking action will only escalate the situation. While this isn’t bad advice, it has led us down a dangerous road. Ultimately, perpetrators realize they won’t be held accountable and continue to harass. Hollaback! was designed by a group of young folks who were tired of being silenced and sought a simple, non-violent response. What has emerged is a platform where thousands of stories of street harassment have been told.
We believe that by continuing to tell and map these stories, our voices will chip away at a culture that makes gender-based violence OK. Together we have the power to end street harassment, one Hollaback at a time.