I am sick of being harassed and intimidated on the streets! Whether it’s catcalls from drunk frat boys back on my school campus, or lewd gestures from randoms while walking home from work, I, along with every individual, deserve to feel safe and, hell, even sexy, while walking down the street. I know I am not the only one, as a group of women have launched the Hollaback! website, a Facebook page, and a movement that uses local activism and mobile technology to end street harassment. The movement asks, “Been holla’ed at? Hollaback!” They recognize that street harassment is one of the most prominent forms of gender-based violence (which is nearly never reported and one of the least legislated issues) affecting women, girls, and LGBTQ people, and is thus providing the tools necessary to fight back.
Here’s how it works – if you are witnessing or experiencing harassing behavior, text the occurrence to holla at ihollaback dot org, and send the type of act, location, and a picture of the person committing the act, if you can get one. A free app can be downloaded to your smartphone, which makes the process even easier. If you don’t have access to a phone, no worries; report it directly to the website at ihollaback dot org when you get home. This information can then be compiled and serve as accurate, location specific, tangible documentation of street harassment, which can be used as evidence to persuade our city, state, and national authorities to do something about the problem. On a personal level, further educate yourself and proactively take a stand with the online resources provided here, which include legal information, books and articles, and self-defense techniques.
Harassing behavior is all around us, it is not only on the streets of major cities and limited to overt actions. It can be found in rural areas, college campuses, and neighborhoods around the world, and can be something as simple as a whistle or as invasive as a grope. This behavior is unacceptable, and it is time that anyone who feels cast to the margins by stereotypes of gender and sexual orientation roles speak out and take our streets back. We will not stand idly by and allow this behavior to continue to be culturally accepted. This is definitely not the price I am willing to pay for being a woman (the preferred justification of harassers worldwide) and I will not apologize for what is between my legs, and you will not intimidate me because of it.
LSRJ Legal Intern
2L, Indiana University Maurer School of Law