Hollaback! Girl: Ending Street Harassment
Even if you’ve never heard of the term “street harassment” before, there’s a good chance that you may have experienced it, especially if you’re female or an LGBTQ individual. When we think of the word “harassment”, we usually associate it with offences done in private places where there are no witnesses and the victim cannot ask for help.
Street harassment, on the other hand, is exactly what it spells out: harassment that takes place in the street or a public space. Have you ever had something rude or sexually explicit called out to you when walking down the street? Have you had someone make advances towards you even if you’ve made it clear that you weren’t interested? Have you had someone follow or stalk you as you were minding your own business? These are all good examples of street harassment. And while many would say that it’s not a serious issue since it doesn’t lead to a “real” crime (even though it can and does escalate to one, i.e. sexual harassment), the fact that it puts the victim in an uncomfortable and powerless position is a source of concern. It is this concern that the Hollaback! movement wishes to address.
It’s Not About “What She’s Wearing” After All
When women speak out about being verbally harassed on the streets, one of the most common reactions of people is to ask “What were you wearing?” This sadly proves the patriarchal idea that a woman wearing something perceived to be provocative probably deserves—and is asking for—the harassment. One woman in New York City decided to put this belief to the test.
Wearing a black T-shirt and a black pair of jeans, she walked along the streets of Manhattan silently and decided to tape her experimental stroll. The result after hours of walking? Although there were plenty of harmless “Have a nice day” and “Hi, beautiful” comments, some forms of attention that she got from men were a little too disturbing. Some blatantly objectified her body, pressured her into a conversation and one even followed her for five full minutes.
Given the fact that she wasn’t wearing anything provocative, this proves that street harassment may not be about what she’s wearing after all.
Hollaback! Against Street Harassment
Just because street harassment is common doesn’t mean it needs to be tolerated. The Hollaback movement seeks to make this culturally acceptable type of harassment UNACCEPPTABLE. The movement seeks to accomplish this by gathering the voices and stories of women and LGBTQ members who have been—and continue to be—victims of street harassment. You can learn more about this movement and how you can support it at http://www.ihollaback.org/about/