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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
I have had over 5 instances of people on my streeet asking me for drugs, saying “hey gorgeous” “smile baby” or “God bless dat ass” as well as someone attempting to pimp me out while I was waiting for my lunch order to be ready at a local hallal deli a block from my apartment. I am angry. This needs to stop. It is not okay to start a conversation with a woman you do not know with unwanted, unwelcome sexual intent. No you weren’t just innocently complimenting me or attempting to start a conversation. You know better.
Published on November 1, 2014 at 7:50 amno comments
Short and simple. Walking down the street on a hot summer day, wearing a tank top because its 95 freaking degrees, not to get cat called at. This huge built man walks by, looks straight in my eyes and says “nice titties”. I couldn’t believe my ears. I forever hate that word now.
Published on November 1, 2014 at 12:08 amno comments
I had gone with my girlfriends to rainey street in austin and I was waiting outside the club in line talking minding my own business, when behind me I hear screaming of someone saying OH MY GOD this ass !!! this is perfection its the perfect ass, you are beautiful girl. I was not aware this yelling was directed to me until I felt a hard slap on my ass it hurt so bad that I turned around so angry, the guy saw I was not happy and just said ” Sorry I had to” and left.
Let me point out that even if I was wearing a short skirt or dress this is not ok, but I wasn’t I was wearing pants and a long shirt. Who thinks it’s alright to slap someone ? cuz you “had to ” ?? really ?
Published on October 31, 2014 at 11:45 pmno comments
The same night, I was followed down the street on the way to the metro by men calling after me. One of the men followed me and proceeded to try and “buy” me as if I were a prostitute. He said he had a beautiful room, comfortable bed, until another person grabbed me and said “no” (which I am still confused about). But after I tore away (as I am used to being grabbed), the fruit stand guy grabbed the guy who had been following me and stopped him. I will never forget him: someone finally helped.
Later that night, I went out clubbing and took a taxi home with friends because I was drunk. The taxi driver told me to stay in to pay, which my friend had already paid, and my drunk friends left, which is when he took advantage of my state. Sadly, this isn’t near the first time. I am tired of being raped, sexually assaulted, groped, stalked, etc. It needs to end, and people need to step up. Unfortunately, women often can’t speak out for fear of more violence. This is a moment where men can stop up and help women who are continually being victimized.
Published on October 31, 2014 at 9:38 pmno comments
I can’t remember the street because I was a tourist and it was 29 years ago, but it was the most blatant I’ve experienced of street harassment short of back ally.
I was six months and obviously pregnant. There was no mistaking it. I waddled. I was wearing a maternity sailors dress to my midcalf.I was not in anyway in a “come hither” fashion so any detractors can tuck that argument away. As I climbed the metro subway stairs to get to the sidewalk it was crowded but one man kept jostling me and I was afraid I would fall. He was very rough and I had to keep gripping the banister. I glanced back over my shoulder and he just looked at me and as we hit the top, he darted around me grabbing a fistful of my ass as he did so. He was gone into the crown before I could even get over my shock and humiliation. I just stood there feeling naked.
Something about being pregnant and alone made you a target for lewd behavior. I was asked to spend the night, things like, “Hey, don’t act so innocent. We know your aren’t.” and told by one guy “At least I can’t get you pregnant.” as he laughed with his friends. A drunk man at a cafe began talking to my belly and rubbing it and tried to kiss it before a Coast Guardsmen pulled him away from me.
Between these and some more personally deep history, people wonder why I believe in certain laws, or give my teen daughter pepper spray.
Published on October 31, 2014 at 7:13 pmno comments