The joys of being a woman: little black dresses, motherhood, permission to go overboard at department store makeup counters (among countless other things). The downside: being on the receiving end of an unwanted catcall, hand-gesture or leering stare on the street. It’s offensive, unsettling and oftentimes downright scary.
Being the bigger person, we often put our head down, keep our mouth closed (even though we’d like to wallop the jerk) and walk on by. That’s the smart thing to do, right?
Wrong, says Emily May, Executive Director of Hollaback!, an organization and international movement dedicated to ending street harassment. Reacting, she said, makes you the change agent. “As women, we don't put up with harassment in our homes. We don't put up with it in our jobs. So why are we still putting up with it on the street?”
Much like workplace harassment in the Eighties, May (pictured above, right) believes street harassment is poised to be the next big women's issue of the coming decade. Her goal is to push change by spearheading a global comeback to this type of abuse using mobile technology.
iHollaback.org, currently boasts 10 locations and 10 more sites are rolling out this year in international cities like Buenos Aires and Berlin. The movement encourages women to react—safely—by providing an international platform for sharing stories via text, blog post or video testimonial. Past users have even snapped a photo of offenders, which Hollaback! will post (how’s that for public shaming?). Users can also help track harassment by documenting the where and when of the incident, which Hollaback! publishes and shares with its network.
And though the victimization of women inspired the movement, May’s long-term plan is to address all types of street harassment, including on-the-street discrimination against minorities and persons with disabilities. “I would love to use this model as a way to address different issue and causes,” May told AHAlife. “Because it’s the same issue—words hurt.” (To contribute to this global effort, click here.)
Up next is an iPhone and Droid application that will allow victims to report and share an incident immediately after the confrontation. All we have to do is resist the urge to remain silent and, well…hollaback. “Appealing to everyone doesn't change history, you do,” said May. “So stop hiding and embrace your inner badass. The world will thank you for it.”
from Brooklyn, NY