FAQ’s

We get a great deal of questions about our organization. Listed here are the most common, and our HOLLAresponses:

Questions about Hollaback!

Questions about street harassment – and our perspectives on it

Questions about reporting your street harassment to Hollaback!

Questions about our global site leader program

Questions about Hollaback!


What is Hollaback! all about?

Check out this two and a half minute video profiling our work.

 

Are you a bunch of crazed misandrists who hate men?

Actually, Hollaback! is a nonprofit organization comprised of all genders who believe in building communities where everyone feels comfortable, safe, and respected. We were co-founded by three men (and four women), and today, one third of our board members are men.  Many people, particularly men, are unaware of the frequency and severity of disrespect and intimidation that numerous folks, especially women and LGBTQ folks, experience in public spaces on a daily basis. Hollaback! aims to expose and combat street harassment and provide an empowering forum.

 

Do you have an annual report?

Yes! It’s called the “State of the Streets” report.  Please review our State of the Streets reports from 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2014.

 

What have you guys accomplished so far?

In our first four years of operation, we’ve exceeded every goal we set for ourselves. Here is a taste of what we’ve accomplished:

  •       Inspiring international leadership: Trained over 500 activists from over 80 cities around the world to localize Hollaback! to their community using the Hollaback! digital storytelling platform and on-the-ground resources. Our site leaders are young and diverse: 75% are under 30, 41% are LGBTQ and 33% are people of color. Activists receive comprehensive 3-month training prior to launch, and following launch, they receive ongoing training and technical assistance from our team.
  •       Digital storytelling: Released free iPhone and Droid apps that provide a real time response to street harassment and illustrate the locations of the harassment on Hollaback!’s publicly available map. The apps resulted in over 7,000 reports of harassment.  Incidences are mapped and used to educate policymakers about the prevalence of harassment in their districts and inform research and community based solutions.
  •       Engaging Elected Officials: Across the Hollaback! network, we meet with over 100 legislators per year to discuss community-based solutions to street harassment, including safety audits, trainings, public art projects, and workshop series. Our sites have collaborated with legislators to pass a resolution against street harassment in the Scottish Parliament, release mobile apps that will make NYC the first city in the world to document street harassment in real-time, and present in front of the UN and EU Parliament.
  •       Changing minds.  Globally, our site leaders have trained over 2,500 middle and high schools students in how to respond to and prevent street harassment.  To engage the broad public, we obtained over 1,200+ press hits, 40,000+ facebook fans, and 17,000+ twitter followers.
  •       Performing Research. Our site leaders have performed groundbreaking local research in over 38 cities. They use the research to demonstrate the prevalence of street harassment and to engage the community in solutions.

 

If I fund you today, what will my money go towards? What are you guys planning for the next year?

Here are some key milestones for 2015:

  •       In Depth Training for Schools to address street harassment.  The HOLLA 101 : Guide to Street Harassment for Educators and Students was published in 2014 and distributed to over 200 NYC schools. Following the guides release, we’re training teachers, counselors, and administrators on how to respond to reports of street harassment, and we’re working in the schools to provide extensive workshops, safety audits, and assemblies to talk in depth about how middle and high school students experience harassment, and what they want to do about it.
  •      HOLLA::Revolution, site leader retreat and public event. Our sites met for the first time in New York July 25-28th 2013 – where they gave short, inspiring talks at a public event attended by over 150 people, and then engaged in a three day retreat.  In 2014, we held our second annual conference, expanding the conversation and bringing in amazing local activists. In 2015, we’re holding HOLLA::Revolution in London and New York.
  •       Launch and Train 75 new leaders from 25 new sites. We currently have a wait-list of people in over 70 cities interested in bringing this movement home. Each site we launch costs the organization $2,500 and includes a comprehensive 3-month online training, technical assistance, and resources.

And here are some things that we don’t currently have funding for, and would need your donations, introductions, and support to bring to life:

  •       Work in schools: Over the next two years, Hollaback! aims to continue providing workshops and trainings to NYC educators and students. We will work alongside three NYC schools to measure impact and generate best-practices reports for NYC students facing harassment. With this increased training, we hope to provide a measurable change in school climate, increasing attendance and feelings of safety.
  •       Launch Online Harassment Bystander Platform: Recognizing that online harassment limits free speech, Hollaback! is creating a platform to encourage bystander intervention for online harassment. The platform is currently being built and tested.
  •       POC Leadership Pipeline: As part of our site leader training series, Hollaback! will continue to offer a people of color leadership pipeline, including support groups, thought leadership sessions, and targeted webinars and trainings.

 

To fund your local Hollaback! site, go your local site’s website. Our site leaders work as volunteers, and many of them have paypal sites set up to help them support their work locally.

 

Have you won any awards for your work?

Yes!

In 2013-2014:

  •       Hollaback! was named one of CNN’s top safety apps;
  •       Hollaback! was named one of Brooklyn’s top 15 tech stories by Technically Brooklyn;
  •       Hollaback!’s executive director was named an Ashoka Fellow;
  •       Hollaback!’s executive director was named one of Daily Muse’s “50 Fearless Minds Changing the World;”
  •       The Hollaback! app was listed on USA Today’s “4 free apps that could help prevent sexual assault;”

In 2012:

  •       Hollaback! received the TED City 2.0 prize for it’s app partnership with the New York City Government. They termed it “an idea on which our planet’s future depends;”
  •       Hollaback! was a finalist in the Ashoka’s  “She Will Innovate” competition;
  •       Hollaback! won the Manhattan Young Democrats “Engendering Progress” award;

In 2011:

  •       Hollaback! was named a finalist in the Green Mountain Coffee “Revelation to Action” competition.

Our executive director has also won many awards for her leadership. In 2013, she was named one of “50 fearless minds changing the world” by the Daily Muse.  In 2012, she received five awards in 2012 including one of twelve women to watch in 2012 by the Daily Muse, one of 20 women “leading the way” by the Huffington Post, a “Hero Among Us” in People Magazine, an AOL “Next Maker,” and one of Jezebel’s “25 kick-ass and amazing women we love.  In 2011, May was named one of Women’s eNews “21 leaders for the 21st Century”, which was presented by Dan Rather, received the “40 under 40” award from the New Leadership Council, was selected as a Top 10 finalist for the “Young Nonprofit Leaders of the Year” Classy awards, and was named an Ashoka “ChangemakeHER” joining such social change makers as Melinda Gates and Fran Drescher.  Additionally, and to our utter delight, when feminist icon Gloria Steinem was asked, “What women today inspire you and make you feel that the movement continues?” Her response was, “Emily May of Hollaback! who has empowered women in the street, literally.”

 

Who else are you funded by?

We have a full list of foundation funders on our funding page. Seventy percent of our donations are from individuals just like you in amounts of $10 or less.

 

What is your budget, and how many staff do you have?

Our budget for fiscal year 2014-15 was $380,000. We have three full-time staff members, one part time staff member, and receive over $250,000 in in-kind donations per year.  For example, our graphic design is done by Kristen Meloche, legal work is done pro-bono by the legal firm MOFO and Trust Law – all pro-bono.  These pro-bono calculations don’t include the incredible work of all our site leaders internationally.  We estimate that if we calculated their volunteer work into our organizational budget our annual budget would top $5 million. This work would not be possible without an amazing network of volunteers and supporters like you — thank you!

 

Questions about street harassment – and our perspectives on it

 


OK, but what exactly is street harassment?

Street harassment is a form of sexual harassment that takes place in public spaces. 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. At Hollaback!, we believe that what specifically counts as street harassment is determined by those who experience it. While there is always the classic, “Hey baby, nice tits!”, there are many other forms that go unnoted. If you feel like you have been harassed, if you feel like you have been harassed, we believe you, we support you, and we invite you to share your story!

 

So let’s say a man sees a woman he thinks is attractive and tells her so. Are you saying that makes him a harasser?

Some do not find comments such as “Hello, beautiful” or “Hey, gorgeous” offensive. Many do. Others may find them intimidating, intrusive, or just an annoying pain in the ass. Keep in mind that many women experience unsolicited comments, as well as violent verbal assault, from men in public spaces on a regular basis. As many as 25% of women are sexually assaulted before the age of 18. For them, street harassment can feel like ripping off a scab. Rather than deliberating the “gray areas” of street harassment, treat everyone you encounter with respect.

 

I heard something about your position on antiracism. What’s that about, and what does it have to do with street harassment?

Replacing sexism with racism is not a proper hollaback. Due in part to prevalent stereotypes of men of color as sexual predators or predisposed to violence, Hollaback! asks that contributors do not discuss the race of harassers or include other racialized commentary. If you feel that race is important to your story, please make sure its relevance is explained clearly and constructively in your post.

Initiatives combating various forms of sexual harassment and assault have continually struggled against the perpetuation of racist stereotypes, and in particular, the construction of men of color as sexual predators. There exist widespread fictions regarding who perpetrators are: the myth of racial minorities, particularly latino and black men, as prototypical rapists and as being more prone to violence is quite common. This stems in part from a tragic and violent history in which black men in the U.S. were commonly and unjustly accused of assaulting white women, and as such were lynched by mobs and “tried” in biased courts.

Because of the complexity of institutional and socially ingrained prejudices, Hollaback! prioritizes resisting both direct as well as unconscious and unintentional reinforcement of social hierarchies. Simultaneously, Hollaback! aims to highlight the interrelations between sexism, racism, and other forms of bias and violence.

 

Does Hollaback! endorse criminalization of street harassment?

No. We believe that it is our role as advocates to steer policy makers away from measures that would increase criminalization, and toward measures that engage communities in prevention. As explained in Hollaback!’s article by Deputy Director, Debjani Roy, “Criminalizing verbal harassment and unwanted gestures is neither the final goal nor the ultimate solution to this problem and can, in fact, inadvertently work against the growth of an inclusive anti-harassment movement. The criminal justice system disproportionately targets and affects low-income communities and communities of color, as evidenced by policies such as New York City’s Stop and Frisk program and other degrading forms of racial profiling. Our objective is to address and shift cultural and social dialogues and attitudes of patriarchy that purport street harassment as simply the price you pay for being a woman or being LGBTQ. It is not to re-victimize men already discriminated against by the system.”

 

But isn’t street harassment a cultural thing?

Street harassers occupy the full spectrum of class, race, and nationality. Sexual harassment, and street harassment specifically, is resisted by people around the globe: Hollaback! has sites around the world, and receives emails of support and solidarity from numerous countries and from every continent.  To condense another’s culture into vague assumptions about who and what they are is to generalize dangerously about a wide range of experiences and perspectives that exist within any one given culture.

 

If you show off your boobage, shouldn’t you expect some compliments?

Sure, expect them, but don’t accept them! Just because it happens doesn’t mean it’s okay. A compliment is not a compliment if it makes the recipient feel bad.

 

Sure, but if “the harasser” were hot, wouldn’t you like it?

This has nothing to do with sex, and everything to do with power.

 

You’re just a bunch of prudes, then?

Like we said, this has nothing to do with sex, and everything to do with power.

 

Questions about reporting your street harassment to Hollaback!

 


I want to share my story of street harassment with Hollaback! and I don’t have an iPhone or an Android, help!

The iPhone and Android apps are just one way to tell your story – but they aren’t the only way. If you want to share your story on the go from your cell phone, type the email address ‘[email protected]’ in the field where the number usually goes. Tell us where you are, attach a photo if you like, and your text will go straight to our email. From there, we’ll post it. Don’t have a cell phone? You can still tell us your story online.

 

Confronting street harassers can be dangerous. What about safety issues?

While everyone is vulnerable to street harassment and sexual assault, studies show that those who are aware of their surroundings, walk with confidence and, if harassed, respond assertively, are less vulnerable. Nevertheless, direct confrontations with street harassers may prove extremely dangerous, particularly if you are alone or in an unpopulated space. While it is each individual’s right to decide when, how, and if to respond to street harassment, do keep issues of safety in mind. Upon deciding to photograph a harasser, you may consider doing so substantially after the initial encounter and from a distance, ensuring the harasser is unaware of your actions.

 

Do I really need to take a picture of my harasser?

The picture is about telling the story. We live in a world where the first public reaction to most reports of violence against women is doubt. A picture can help people see the world from your eyes. Over the year we’ve gotten pictures ranging from the street sign nearby, to your shoes, or to the skyline. For most folks, it’s not about catching your harasser—it’s about having a badass response. That said, taking a photo is not right for every situation. If you don’t feel safe, don’t do it.

 

What should I do if I recognize a person or business in one of the photographs?

We definitely appreciate your enthusiasm, but we’re on potentially shaky ground here. Hollaback!ers aren’t police officers and we are no court of law. Our site is premised on the idea that women tell the truth, and in over ten years we’ve never had anyone contact us and say “that’s not me.” We want to keep this site a safe, empowering space. If you think you know someone, email us at [email protected] and we’ll reach out to the person who sent in the submission and see what she would like to do with your information. After all, it’s their response to street harassment. Shouldn’t they be the one who gets to make the call?

 

Isn’t street harassment the price you pay for living in a city?

No, local taxes are the price you pay for living in a city. We would love to see some portion of our local taxes go towards preventing street harassment, but alas, they don’t. In fact, street harassment is not confined to urban areas. It occurs in shopping malls, schools, cars, parking lots, public parks, airplanes, fast-food restaurants, gas stations, churches, and numerous other public spaces.

 

Questions about our global site leader program

 


What is your global site leader program?

Through our site leader program, local leaders can apply to launch a Hollaback! site in their community.  As of 2015, we have trained over 500 local leaders and are currently operating in over 80 cities, 20 countries, and 10 languages.

 

Through this program, leaders from around the world work with Hollaback to set up their own sites on Hollaback’s website, where they curate and post stories from their communities so that we can continue to find solidarity in people’s experience with street harassment around the world. When site leaders are not posting stories, they are out in their communities, raising awareness about street harassment and putting a face to the movement. They engage others in their work, talking to the media, and holding events because we believe that the more people working to end street harassment and empowering others to join them, the quicker we’ll see an end to it once and for all!

 

Why is it important to have so many leaders in the movement?

Movements require a lot of voices moving in the same direction, but oftentimes not saying the same thing.  We believe there is value in these divergent perspectives.

Hollaback!’s decentralized leadership structure gives people who aren’t paid to do the work the same amount of room to lead as the people who are. Contrastingly, traditional nonprofit best practices would have you believe that a tight and coordinated messaging strategy is the only way to go.  From a business perspective they might be right: a clear coordinated voice can be a powerful thing to the media especially.  But the one-message strategy leaves too many silenced.  The result is multiple nonprofits popping up around the same issue with slightly different messaging strategies, each one trying to ensure that their unique voices are heard. The new nonprofits make the same mistakes as the old nonprofits–allowing room for only one, coordinated message.  This creates redundancy, and the lack of true voices and representation still isn’t solved.

 

What does the training entail – and how do I sign up?

Running a Hollaback! site is much, much more than just running a website — it’s taking ownership of a movement.  During the startup and launch phase, you should expect to commit 5 hours a week, either on your own or, better, shared with a team of two or more holla-activists!  Here are some specifics on what will be expected of you:

  •    A member of your team will be required to attend each of our five webinars during the launch phase, which will cover everything you need to know to run a successful site.  After the launch phase, you will be expected to regularly attend advanced training webinars.  Webinars usually take place on weekends at 1pm EST to accommodate most time zones, and are recorded as well.
  •    You will be added to our HOLLAworld listserve and private facebook group, where you can collaborate, learn about street harassment in other cultures, and create campaigns with other Hollaback site leaders internationally.
  •    You will be responsible for localizing the movement to end street harassment to your community.  This means you will find other community groups that you can collaborate with, translate materials into your local language, hold events in your community to engage people off-line, and meet with local legislators (if you don’t know how to do these things, don’t worry.  We’ll teach you).
  •    You will set goals annually for your site, and check in with our team periodically on your progress towards your goals.

If this sounds like fun and you share our values, join us by filling out this form with some information about yourself, your interest in Hollaback!, where you want to run a Hollaback!, and why you think your area needs a Hollaback!. From there, we’ll be in touch with next steps. Thanks for your interest and we look forward to hearing from you soon!  The revolution has been waiting for you.

 

Why are Hollaback!s being launched in classes? I mean, how hard can it be to launch a blog?

Hollaback! isn’t just a blog, it’s a movement!

When we started Hollaback! in New York City in 2005, people just like you wanted to bring Hollaback! to their communities. We thought that was awesome because although the internet is a great place to organize, change happens on the ground with real people rooted in real communities. We developed a start up packet with everything we knew about running a site in it, and sent it anyone interested.  Between 2005-2009, 20 sites launched but only three were successful.

The problem was there was no connection between the site leaders. No community.  No sharing ideas. No training. Nothing. The work was lonely, and many people gave up despite their best intentions.

When Hollaback! got its first executive director in 2010, the team took a long hard look at the process. They came to the conclusion that Hollaback! is a hyper-local, hyper-personal response to a global issue.  Our Hollaback! site leaders don’t just run blogs, they led the movement to end street harassment in their communities.  And to do that – they need training and community.

In 2015 we hired a consultant to review our current site leader program and ensure it is situated for long-term success. If you have feedback on how this program could be run better — please let us know!

 

Do you recruit site leaders?

No.  To date, all of these site leaders approached us (none were recruited) and we were pleased to find that people who traditionally have the least access to traditional power were the most eager to bring Hollaback! home.  Our site leaders are:

  •       75% under the age of 30;
  •       50% under the age of 25;
  •       41% LGBTQ; and,
  •       33% people of color.

The demand for site leader growth and training has long outweighed our capacity to provide this training – and we typically have a waitlist of between 25-75 local leaders waiting to be trained.

 

Is it free to launch a site?

Yes We committed to keeping it free to launch a Hollaback for you, but it costs us about $2,500 every time we launch one.

Why so much? Our team has to customize your site, our graphic designer has to make your local logos, our media expert has to train you, and our team has to coordinate the whole operation, and provide hands-on support to you. It’s a big operation, and it could easily cost a lot more money.  By streamlining the operation through webinars, classes, and deadlines, we save money on the process so we can launch more sites in the long-run.  To keep it free for individual activists, we rely on the support of individuals and foundations, who make tax-deductible donations to us.  Over 85% of our donors donate $10 or less, so this truly is a grassroots led and supported movement. Be a part of the movement by donating now.

Most of our sites are run by individuals, however, several of our sites are run as projects of larger nonprofits or other incorporated entities.  For sites run by nonprofits and other incorporated entitles whose annual Hollaback! project budget exceeds US $1,000  – we ask that they donate 10% of their budget back to the organization as a way to pay it forward. This funding is allocated directly back to our site leader program so that we can continue to launch sites and provide ongoing training and infrastructure.  This arrangement was developed after reviewing the organizational structure of groups like Planned Parenthood, NOW, and the YWCA, and it is outlined in our brand license agreement that all local leaders must sign prior to launch. As of 2015, we only have three sites who annually donate to Hollaback!.

 

Are site leaders paid?

No, all of the site leaders are volunteers.  To increase accessibility of our site leader program, we do several things, including: a) ensuring that our site leader training and our annual conference HOLLA::Revolution is free for site leaders, b) holding fundraisers to secure travel funding to attend our annual conference, c) hosting the “Innovation Challenge,” where winners receive $1,000 to launch the project in their community and $1,500 in travel funding to go to our annual conference and present on their project, and d) training on how to apply for grants, make money doing speaking engagements or writing op-eds, and how to hold fundraisers in their local community.

We envision a future where the street harassment movement has enough funding to sustain the work of local leaders, but that isn’t the climate that we’re currently operating within. A lack of funding for social change work – especially work done by women — is an issue that extends beyond Hollaback!, but we feel the impacts of it deeply. For example, although we are in over 20 countries globally, Hollaback! has only ever received project funding for its work in the United States. Most of Hollaback!’s work with site leaders (including training, technical assistance, technology maintenance, resource development, etc) is either unfunded or funded through general operating support and individual donors. If you would like to donate to site leader’s efforts in your community, check out their individual paypal pages to help out — or reach out to our team and we can connect you with them directly.

 

Once we launch, how much autonomy do I have? Do I have to get approval for stuff?

The whole point of Hollaback!’s model is that you know what your community needs most.  We all bring different skills and perspectives to the table, and that’s what makes this a movement. We are a strongly connected community with a decentralized structure. You don’t need to check in with us before you do media, present workshops, or write blog posts – but we do expect you to share your awesome ideas and adventures with the community so that they can be inspired by your great work.

All this said – site leader must agree and sign onto our values and our anti-discrimination policy, and our comments policy – otherwise, starting a Hollaback! site isn’t for you.

 

Being based in the US, how do you ensure your programming is culturally competent?

Hollaback! operates under a decentralized leadership structure — which means that we believe individuals in local contexts are best suited to provide local solutions.

At the Hollaback! headquarters, we create optional resources for our site leader community, including apps, research, and guides.  Where possible, we seek site leader feedback and input into the development of these resources. For example, when we created #HarassmentIs: An exploration of identity and street harassment, we held a webinar to go over some questions and encourage folks to add to the material or create a new guide with their own cultural context in mind. When we did a global research survey (to be released in Spring 2015) or when we developed the new app and website (to be released Summer 2015) we sought site leader feedback before and after the development of the survey instrument. We believe this insight is key to improving our resources – as well as our work.

Our staff of three speaks three languages and comes from four countries. As we grow our team, we will continue to prioritize a diversity of experiences and identities. Want to contribute? We’re also looking for groups worldwide to partner and collaborate with – and we want to hear your ideas! Feel free to reach out to us ([email protected]) with contacts, upcoming projects, or ideas at any time!

 

I feel like there is so much to learn about how to run a Hollaback! site. How can I learn it all during the launch process?

There is! And you can’t. That’s why we provide ongoing optional monthly webinars from experts on things like engaging bystanders, rape culture, event planning, street art, community organizing, and other topics suggested by our community. While the initial training webinars are mandatory, these webinars are optional for site leaders.

 

Why are training webinars mandatory? And what’s up with these deadlines? This isn’t corporate America, this is the revolution!

You’re right – this isn’t corporate America – but behind the movement is a small, lean non-profit working on a shoestring budget to support the work of site leaders around the globe.  All movements must make decisions so that we move forward together. But the important part is that we move forward. Therefore, we have to set timelines and deadlines so we can keep things moving while allowing for enough time for site leaders to give input.

 

What happens when site leaders leave? Are stories erased?

When site leaders leave the network, we work with them to find replacement leaders in their community. If that fails, we work with the leaders to develop a plan for shutting the site down – including communicating with their constituency and transitioning leadership.

If a site leader leaves and is unable to find a replacement, we close their local website but it is important to note: stories are never lost or erased. Stories are available at ihollaback.org on our global map, and once a replacement local leader is found – will again be available on the local site.

How do you promote the work of your site leaders?

We are committed to elevating the voices of local leaders, particularly the voices of people of color and LGBTQ individuals who are often marginalized in these conversations. To that end, we release a public blog post every week called “A Week in our Shoes” highlighting the work of our site leaders globally. We also issue a monthly email to our list of 10,000 profiling site leader work and accomplishments (Sign up for the monthly email at: ihollaback.org), and then we profile the work of 3-5 sites annually in our State of the Streets report.  Beyond that, local media opportunities are shared with the site leaders serving those communities, as are local speaking requests wherever possible. We also have a people of color leadership pipeline that meets regularly, and we are hoping to provide an LGBTQ leadership pipeline group in the future, pending additional support. Though we have limited capacity, we are always looking for new and innovative ways to amplify the work of our leaders all over the world. We count on people like you to help us share the incredible work of our global leaders — and encourage you to follow us on facebook and twitter, and to sign up for our newsletter, for the latest updates.

 

Disclaimer: Hollaback! is not responsible for the accuracy of individual postings. All views and positions expressed in posted submissions are those of individual contributors only.

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