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New York City, NY (30th October, 2014) – When the street harassment video was launched earlier this week, we hoped that it would make an impact but never imagined that it would be viewed more than 15,000,000 times in the first three days. The response has been overwhelmingly positive. Many women feel a little less alone and a little more validated in their experiences and we have heard support from our partners, new and old.
Rob Bliss Creative donated time and labor to create this video and support our work. We are grateful for his work and the wide reach that his video has achieved but we feel the need to directly address other responses to the video.
First, we regret the unintended racial bias in the editing of the video that over represents men of color. Although we appreciate Rob’s support, we are committed to showing the complete picture. It is our hope and intention that this video will be the start of a series to demonstrate that the type of harassment we’re concerned about is directed toward women of all races and ethnicities and conducted by an equally diverse population of men.
Hollaback! understands that harassment is a broad problem perpetuated by a diversity of individuals regardless of race. There is no one profile for a harasser and harassment comes in many different forms. Check out our Harassment Is: Identities and Street Harassment guide on how individuals experience harassment differently. This video should have done a better job of representing this knowledge.
There are many more voices to add to this conversation and Hollaback! is committed to continuing to make space for those voices by providing platforms and amplification of people sharing their stories and finding ways to push back.
Second, there has been another problem which deserves further attention: the onslaught of rape and death threats that have been directed at the Shoshana B. Roberts, the subject of the video, are unacceptable but sadly unsurprising. When women are visible in online or offline spaces, they experience harassment. When women demand change, they meet violent demands for their silence.
We understand that violence exists on a spectrum that is played out on the street and online. We understand that it needs to change. We hope that you will work with us to end street harassment and to fight harassment wherever it is found.
Third, the coverage that this video has received shows how far we have come and how far we still have to go. Many outlets have used the video to have conversations about street harassment that would never have happened even five years ago. For many, street harassment is a real problem to be reported as such.
Other coverage, however, shows that sexism still shapes culture in a way that harms women. When journalists on major news networks reinforce, support, and normalize street harassment they minimize the violence and fear that women experience on the street.
We want to thank everyone for participating in this vital dialogue — and we encourage continued conversation and debate.
Published on October 30, 2014 at 12:25 pm10 comments
How did this PSA come about?
In August 2014, Rob Bliss of Rob Bliss Creative reached out to Hollaback! to partner on a PSA highlighting the impact of street harassment. He was inspired by his girlfriend — who gets street harassed all the time — and Shoshana B. Roberts volunteered to be the subject of his PSA. For 10 hours, Rob walked in front of Shoshana with a camera in his backpack, while Shoshana walked silently with two mics in her hands.
As part of Rob’s agreement with Hollaback!, Rob had creative control over the PSA and owns it with unlimited usage rights for Hollaback!. Hollaback! is grateful for Rob and Shoshana’s dedication to this issue, and for their volunteer service.
What is street harassment?
Street harassment is a form of sexual harassment that takes place in public spaces. It exists on a spectrum including “catcalling” or verbal harassment, stalking, groping, public masturbation, and assault. At its core is a power dynamic that constantly reminds historically subordinated groups (women and LGBTQ folks, for example) of their vulnerability to assault in public spaces. Further, it reinforces the ubiquitous sexual objectification of these groups in everyday life. Street harassment can be sexist, racist, transphobic, homophobic, ableist, sizeist and/or classist. It is an expression of the interlocking and overlapping oppressions we face and it functions as a means to silence our voices and “keep us in our place.” At Hollaback!, we believe that what specifically counts as street harassment is determined by those who experience it. If you’ve experienced street harassment, we’ve got your back!
Is Shoshana’s experience unique?
The experience of street harassment is different for everyone. Street harassment disproportionately impacts women, people of color, LGBTQ individuals, and young people. Although the degree to which Shoshana gets harassed is shocking — the reality is that the harassment that people of color and LGBTQ individuals face is oftentimes more severe and more likely to escalate into violence. These forms of harassment are not just sexist — but also racist and homophobic in nature.
For more information on how harassment impacts people different, please read our guide on street harassment and identity called #harassmentis.
Does street harassment only happen in NYC?
Street harassment happens everywhere, although our maps indicate that population density may be a factor for it. If you think about it, this makes sense: if one out of every fifty guys you pass is going to harass you, you’ll be far more likely to experience street harassment on Wall Street than in a Walmart parking lot.
Hollaback! has 79 sites in 26 countries around the world, from Alberta, Canada to Delhi, India. Every site is working to end street harassment in their communities and support individuals who share their stories of harassment. You can check out their stories (and provide support) here.
Is Street Harassment a Cultural Thing?
Like all forms of gender-based violence, street harassers fall evenly across lines of race and class. It is a longstanding myth that street harassment is a “cultural” thing, perpetrated mostly by men of color. We believe that street harassment is a “cultural” thing in the sense that it emerges from a culture of sexism — and unfortunately — that is everyone’s culture.
It’s important to keep in mind that is this video only captures verbal harassment, and Rob and Shoshana can attest to the harassment overall falling evenly along race and class lines. While filming, Shoshana noted, “I’m harassed when I smile and I’m harassed when I don’t. I’m harassed by white men, black men, latino men. Not a day goes by when I don’t experience this.”
How do I get involved?
Share this message with your friends and donate. We can’t end this alone.
Published on October 27, 2014 at 7:21 pm34 comments
Our first ever online silent auction has launched! We are so excited to have you #HOLLAbid on all of the goodies we have to offer including yoga classes, jewelry, home baked brownies, public speaking training and much more!
You can make a #HOLLAbid on any number of cool gifts and services while also making an impactful investment in our organization. With the click of a mouse, you can generate both a recreational and social return on your investment in us.
Peruse our site, find some things that you love, and place your #HOLLAbid. The auction is running until Monday, November 3 at midnight EST.
- The Hollaback! Board
Published on October 27, 2014 at 2:32 pmno comments
So recently i moved to Padova Italy to work there for a while. And since i got here i noticed that the amount of catcalling and streetharrasment is much higher than it was in my home town, which is also a big town. It made me feel very unsafe. When i go out of the house i get catcalled almost every 15minutes. And last week a man followed me for at least 10minutes. Iv never been in a situation like this where is so overwelming and so constant. The friends iv made here are experiencing the same, and even worst than me. Today I saw a short documentary about catcalling and street harrasment and it was very inspiring. I usually ignore my harasser’s but talking back seems like an empowering thing to do naturally when a man grabbed my arm on the street not half n hour later all I did was run away and try not to make eyecontact. Baby steps.
Published on October 31, 2014 at 5:22 pmno comments
For the past 3 months, one man (in his 30’s, wears glasses, pretty non-descript) has verbally assaulted me on 3 separate occasions. Always in the same area and always around the same time (right when I leave my apartment for work).
This morning, the first thing I heard when I left the house was this man yelling “Go the fuck home” as I walked out of my apartment. I decided to confront him and said “Excuse me, what is your problem?” And he said, “You. You yuppie millennial scum are ruining this neighborhood.”
I was astounded because this was someone who was judging me solely because I live in Greenpoint. This person does not know that I am actually a NYC-native, born and raised. It is such an uncomfortable situation for me that I change my morning routine to avoid this person.
Published on October 31, 2014 at 3:48 pmno comments
I was walking down the street when I heard some guys yelling from a truck. I was used to that, so I didn’t turn around. Then, I felt something hit my butt — they’d thrown a little pack of ice at it. They cheered when they hit their target. For some reason, this made me feel really humiliated and foolish.
Published on October 31, 2014 at 1:35 pmno comments
Not very recent at all, but still relevant. Once when I was 11 or 12 years old, I was out with my mom when a man came up to me and asked me if I wanted to go out for drinks. The man was probably 40 years older than me. He followed us up the block before giving up. My mother didn’t try to defend me or get rid of the man, nor did she talk to me about it later. Because my mom blamed me and never tried to protect me from bullying in school, I assumed that street harassment was also my fault.
Published on October 31, 2014 at 11:17 amno comments
I work in the Financial District of Manhattan, a male dominated environment to say the least. As a female professional in this area, I am dressed in business attire daily, and I am frequently the recipient of verbal commentary and gestures on my walks to and from work, as well as on my walks to and from picking up lunch. Today on my walk back to the office from lunch, a man walking with a co-worker turned around as I walked by and yelled “Hey, how are you gorgeous?” and of course, I kept my head down and kept walking. To my utter disbelief, I then heard his friend say to him, “Come on man, have you see that video with the girl getting cat-called? You’re not helping our case.”
As feelings of satisfaction and purpose and joy overwhelmed me, I felt I had to share here to make it known that you are TRULY making an impact. Even if it remains this small–and it won’t–it was remarkable to hear this man calling his friend out for the unsolicited “compliment,” and it’s all because of this movement. THANK YOU for what you are doing, and thank you for spreading the message in a big way.
Published on October 31, 2014 at 9:37 amno comments