Hollaback! started in 2005 as the project of seven youth (three men and four women). As the women told story after story of harassment, the men became increasingly concerned. Samuel Carter, who sits on our board, said quite simply, “you live in a different city than we do.” Collectively, they resolved to change that. Around the same time, a woman named Thao Nguyen bravely stood up to her harasser – an older, upper middle class raw-foods restaurant owner – who terrified her by masturbating across from her on the subway. She took his photo with her camera, and when the police ignored it, she posted it on flikr. The picture eventually made it to the front page of the New York Daily News, where it incited a city-wide conversation about street harassment. The youth were inspired by Thao’s story, and decided apply her model to all forms of harassment and to document these experiences on a public blog.
Over the ensuing five years, interest in Hollaback! grew. What began as a simple idea: a blog to collect women’s and LGBTQI individuals’ stories of street harassment, began to grow into an international movement. In May 2010, Emily May, one of the original seven youth, became the organization’s first executive director. Since its inception as a nonprofit, Hollaback! witnessed a tremendous surge in interest and a rapid expansion in social, political, and cultural capital for the organization and the broader movement to end street harassment.
Our values, listed below, have been written and collectively edited by our community of site leaders:
We believe that everyone has a right to be their most badass self, and that the movement to end street harassment will be led like all the other movements that have come before it: by badasses who redefine the status quo ‘rules’ and create revolution. We embrace bold ideas and encourage risk-taking. We aren’t afraid of our own individual strengths and we aren’t afraid to use our collective power to make the world a better place.
We understand that the reason people shy away from trying to end harassment is because they think it’s impossible. We think that’s bogus, and we’re united in our belief that a world without harassment isn’t just possible, it’s imminent. Our job is to work together to speed the process up.
Movements require trust, and trust is earned. Whether you are a reader, a contributor, a funder, a legislator, a local leader, or a partner, we promise you honesty and transparency. We’re terrible liars, anyway.
Making revolution isn’t always easy. It’s scary to tell your story, and it’s scary to lead a movement that challenges the status quo. When times get tough, we stand as a united front against the forces that try to pull us apart. We embrace others’ perspectives, see debate as a learning opportunity, and we never, ever get holier-than-thou.
We will not fight street harassment at the expense of other movements. We are flamboyantly anti-racist, anti-classist, anti-homophobic, anti-transphobic and anti- all the other forms of discrimination that are designed to keep people ‘in their place.’ We seek to understand street harassment from every possible perspective, and seek to represent our movement with as wide and diverse a constituency as possible.
It’s not the leaders alone who build movements, it’s the followers. For proof, watch this. We are committed to supporting followers to become new leaders, who can then turn their followers into new leaders, and so on and so forth until street harassment is toast.