A week in our shoes: March 23, 2012

Annie from Councilmember Ferreras' office and Natalie, our intern.

Hello Hollabackers!

We’ve had an incredible week. Our sites internationally have been moving and shaking for international anti-street harassment week, and we launched our ‘I’ve Got Your Back’ bystander campaign this week! You can read about the how the initiative got started hereAnd we need your help!  Take a second to:

1. Check out the resources we developed with Green Dot here (they have been translated into 9 languages!)

2. Download the new Droid app today (the new iPhone app is still being approved).

3. Click the button. One of our exciting new website features includes the ‘I’ve Got Your Back’ button which you can now click as a show of support when people post their experiences with street harassment. For example, Veronica and I got harassed this week (doing this work professionally doesn’t prevent it unfortunately!), check it out.WARNING: clicking the ‘I’ve Got Your Back’ button is super addictive.

4. Promote our campaign to your friends! Tag us ( in your tweet and we’ll retweet it, or post our new resources page on Facebook!

5. If you don’t do anything else, please, please, take a moment to share stories of when you’ve stood up for others being street harassed. We need to show people that this is possible! And if you haven’t tried to help some who’s been harassed yet, read our resources page and then get to it!

To celebrate the launch of this campaign (which we’ve been working on for a year!) we had an ‘I’ve Got Your Back!’ campaign launch party at the Branded Saloon in Brooklyn! If you couldn’t make it, you definitely missed out and were missed by us all! It was a great night of music, food (lovingly prepared by fellow Hollabackers), karaoke, street harassment trivia presented by the best trivia moderator, ever, and a bar filled with awesome folks and volunteers who are all about turning bystanders into walking advocates on the street! A big thank you to everyone who turned out last night, Branded Saloon, Miss Mona Mour, DJs Miss Bliss and Shuo and Tell, Dolly Trolly, as well as everyone who has helped us with this launch, especially Jill Dimond, Kevin Finity, Josephine Hall, the wonderful folks of Green Dot and our donors who helped make this launch possible!

From left to right: our board members Allison Sesso and Sam Carter, me, Natalie, and Veronica at the "Engendering Progress" Awards

We Got an Award! We were one of the Manhattan Young Democrat honorees on Wednesday night for an “Engendering progress” award! It was an honor to be amongst so many awesome New Yorkers who are fighting for gender justice!

We met with partners! We skyped with the amazing folks at METRAC in Canada this week about how to do community safety audits. They more-or-less invented them back in the 80s, and now they are considered a UN best practice for dealing with street harassment! We’re partnering with Councilmember Ferreras’ office to do them in Queens this spring!

We got press!  Their is an article in Today’s Zaman about our site leader in Istanbul, Kacie Kocher. Also, Julia Grey from Hollaback! London was quoted in this article about anti-street harassment week, Aishwarya S. and Hamsini Ravi from Hollaback! Chennai wrote this article about their project to photograph unsafe spaces, I did podcast for PreventConnect (listen here!) about the new bystander campaign, and The Afro also wrote a nice little piece about it. 

We spoke with kids! I was invited to do a panel on misogyny at Brooklyn Bridge High School in Canarsie this week with Charlotte Trouper from Women’s Enews, Amy Klein from Permanent Wave, and others!

Thanks for your support this week.  And remember, there’s still time to take part in International Anti-Street Harassment week! Find out where and how you can participate!

HOLLA and out!


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‘I’ve Got Your Back’ campaign launches today!


Since starting to map street harassment in 2010, we’ve seen a flood of little pink dots popping up all over the world. People are holla’ing back everywhere, and our collective voices grow louder with each one.

But over time the map also became a constant reminder that, despite our best efforts, street harassment is at epidemic proportions. It seems more common across cultures than access to drinking water. And with each dot, and each moment of resistance, comes another incident of violence.

“The stories are amazing, but our map is a bit depressing,” I said to our volunteer, Esty. “We need to map something happy, too.  We need to show people they can end this.”

We brainstormed about what kinds of happiness could come from being street harassed. Not much, is the truth. But after throwing out a bunch of ideas for ways to get people involved, Esty said, “What about when people stand up for you? You know, when people have your back?”

And so it was born.

In most of the stories on our site where bystanders are present, they either fail to act or do something that further traumatizes the victim (i.e. “you shouldn’t have worn that”, “where is your boyfriend?”, type stuff).  We wanted to build a platform where people didn’t feel like they had to strap on superhero spandex and swoop down and beat everyone up when they saw street harassment happen. We knew that the only good way to provide real-time relief to people who are harassed is to get bystanders engaged, but we also knew that bystanders wouldn’t act unless we showed them how.

Our concept was this: we’d develop resources, trainings, and we’d start mapping bystander stories in green dots. Then, we’d build an ‘I’ve Got Your Back’ button which users can click to show support. At the end of each day, the person who submitted their story will get an email telling them how many people have their backs.

We thought we’d map these stories in green dots, because you know, green looks good with pink (these things are important!). And then we found out there was a whole organization called Green Dot ( that trained people how to intervene, but didn’t do the mapping part.  We called them, attended their training, and fell in love with them.

Our plan was off to a great start. Only one snag: we needed funding to partner with them. We applied to one foundation and got turned down. So we applied to five more foundations, and got turned down again.  Not liking to be told ‘no’, I did what any self-respecting executive director would do: I called them and begged.  And it worked!  A month later, Green Dot was on a plane to New York.  We spent a week conceptualizing the project, and although some things are still on hold, pending additional support, we got a lot of pieces up and running.

Thanks to Green Dot, 268 donors, and our pro-bono team of developers which include Jill Dimond, Kevin Finity, and Josephine Hall, we’ve revamped Hollaback!’s website with bystander resources and are working to train Hollaback!’s 150 sites leaders in 44 cities and 16 countries on how to do bystander workshops in their communities. Successful bystander stories are now collected through and Hollaback!’s newly re-released iPhone and Droid apps, and the ‘I’ve Got Your Back’ button is awesome and being clicked as we speak.

This campaign is still in its infancy, but we’re pretty confident: the ‘I’ve Got Your Back’ campaign is going to put a serious dent into street harassment by shifting the culture that’s made it OK for way too long.  Everyone has a role in this movement — so start intervening and share your story today at

Join us at our “I’ve Got Your Back” event tonight in Brooklyn, details are here.


This is what street harassment looks like.

Street harassment makes us rage, but don’t forget: we have solutions.

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Article, demonstration

Briana’s story: I’ve got your back!

We are proud to announce this is our first-ever bystander story submitted! Yipppeeee! For more information on our ‘I’ve Got Your Back’ bystander campaign, click here.

I was about 15 years old and I saw a young woman being screamed at by a man who I think may have been her boyfriend. He was alternately shoving her and grabbing her by her arm. It was a weekend during the summer, busy and hot, the street was full of people (mostly tourists I think) who had nothing better to do than browse shops or wander through museums. I stood there for a moment just watching the scene, amazed at all the people walking by and ignoring what was happening. People were actually crossing the street so they didn’t have to come near them.

When I realized no one else was going to do anything to stop this from happening, I decided to. So I walked up to them and said something like “Hey, get your hands off of her!” Then pulled the young woman aside and asked if she wanted my help. She said yes and I asked if she wanted that man to go away, and she said that she did. I told the man to leave, he was angry and I thought for a moment he might hit me or something – but my involvement in the scene for some reason made people stop and watch while they’d been ignoring it before. The man turned away and stomped off.

I walked some distance away and sat with the young woman until she’d calmed down, offered her buss fair, and ended up lending her my phone so she could call for a ride.

Looking back I still can’t believe how apathetic those other bystanders were, and I hope it shamed them a little that a lone young girl had the balls to stand up and do the right thing while grown men and women (some in fairly large groups) turned away from another’s pain or twiddled their thumbs in indecision.

I've got your back!

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Cats Against Catcalls!

This is cross posted from Hollaback Ottawa!  They said:

Today’s creative response to street harassment comes from an anonymous source with a penchant for internet memes! We dig.

Every day for International Anti-Street Harassment Week, we’re collecting your creative responses to street harassment and posting them here and on our social media to inspire others to hollaback, too!

Send yours to

Do it! The revolution needs more kitty cats and puppy dogs.

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Black Woman Walking: Dedicating this first day of International Anti-Street Harassment Week to the memory of Adilah Gaither

Originally posted on My So Called Writer’s Life, by Sandria311.

Focused and determined. That’s how I would describe my stride and my gaze walking through Oak Park on an unseasonably warm March afternoon.  I heard the rattling from the bass of the car’s sound system approaching behind me, but I kept my attention forward. It’s crazy when you stop to think about it—hearing a noise, but not responding to it. It goes against natural reflexes, but in all my years growing up female, I’ve learned to adapt and develop new reflexes.  I felt the car slow down somewhat as the driver and his passengers passed me. But, I guess I did a thorough enough job of looking absolutely preoccupied and disinterested because they continued on without saying a word. Thank God for exceptions to the rule.

Growing up, I don’t remember ever being taught how to respond to or deal with street harassment. For me, I learned by trial and error.
Ignoring the comments and advances may get you called a bitch or stuck up. It’s okay to smile and be polite; sometimes boys/men are genuinely just giving a compliment and being friendly.  Don’t look in every car that passes or turn around at the sound of car honks or general “Ay you, in the blue,” “Hey shawty,” or those annoying bird-sounding calls. You are not a street walker…or a pigeon.

As women, the catcalls and advances are so commonplace that they’ve become a justifiable normality—almost to be expected, as if street harassment is an understood risk we voluntarily take anytime we step outside our front doors.  I know it happens all the time to women of all races, but as a black woman I sometimes feel like I’m in the minority of experiencing this. We don’t really talk about it. It’s not discussed at length in our magazines and media outlets. So today when I came across this documentary Black Woman Walking on the Stop Street Harassment site, I did a little happy dance. Other sisters openly expressed and shared my same concerns.  Where on earth has this documentary been hiding all these years???

At a mere eight minutes long, Black Woman Walking is a 2007 documentary by Tracey Rose featuring interviews with women of color about their experiences with street harassment. Like me, these women shared stories of being harassed in their everyday lives, doing simple things like going to work or walking down the street. Simple things like just being alive and being women.

For some men, I think being female is enough to warrant their attention. During my same walk through Oak Park, I got “holla’d” at by a group of men that were gathered at least a block and a half away from where I was walking. A block and half. Who does that? Apparently those dudes. They couldn’t see my face to gauge my attractiveness. I was wearing a long Maxi dress, with a jacket tied around my waist, so they really couldn’t see my figure. The ability to see me from that distance and make out that I was a woman was enough to garner all types of “Hey ma! Hey ma! Yooooooo! Slow up!” from them.

I lived to tell about it, but 16-year-old Adilah Gaither wasn’t so lucky. Black Woman Walking is dedicated to the memory of young Adilah, who was shot and killed in 1998 while standing at a bus stop because she wouldn’t give a boy who was trying to holla her phone number. Almost as heartbreaking as the incident itself is the fact that there is very little information about Adilah’s story on the Internet. In 1998, social media wasn’t a phrase in most people’s vocabulary, so it’s not surprising. It is still very unfortunate, nonetheless.

I hope that during this 2012  observance of International Anti-Street Harassment Week (March 18-24) women and men will take time to talk candidly about street harassment and send a prayer up for Adilah and all the young girls and women like her just trying to walk through life unharmed.

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Interview With Nancy Schwartzman and Deb Levine, Winners of the White House “Apps Against Abuse Technology Challenge”

Hollaback! got the chance to chat with the creators of a newly released smart phone app, designed with college students in mind, to keep people connected with their friends as a way to prevent violence before it happens. The “Circle of 6″ app is available free to download from iTunes. Find out more details about this app here!

Where did the idea for creating the “Circle of 6″ mobile app come from? What inspired your collaboration?

Nancy Schwartzman, founder of The Line Campaign, brought the Apps Against Abuse challenge to Deb Levine’s attention. Deb is the founder of ISIS, Inc.. Both women have had a deep commitment to ending violence against women, to working with youth and young adults, and to using 21st century communication to achieve these ends. Nancy brought in Thomas Cabus, international award-winning designer to the team, and Deb found Christine Corbett Moran, an MIT-trained engineer on an mWomen (mobile women) listserv. That’s the Circle of 6 team!

Congratulations on winning the the White House’s “Apps Against Abuse Technology Challenge”, last month! What do you think set the Circle of 6 app apart from the other proposals in the competition?

Circle of 6 has two parts: a public pledge campaign to end dating violence and sexual assault in your own communities ( and a mobile app that college students can use with their friends for in-the-moment support. The look and feel for the app is definitely created for 18-29 year olds with a hip, purple based design using “everyday” icons, rather than the more traditional look for safety in red using icons that represent danger.

You have mentioned previously that there may be possible add-ons, following the release of the Circle of 6 app. Do you have any ideas yet on how this app may be expanded?

We have built the app such that it can be modularized for other populations such as teens, U.S. immigrant communities, and international women.

What is the ideal long-term goal for this mobile app on college campuses? How will you measure your success?

We are aiming to reach 30,000 women in the U.S. in our first year. We will measure success by the number of downloads, usage of the app, press coverage, and pledges on our Facebook page.

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Street harassment! The problem and some solutions.

Thanks to @rev_melissa for her thoughtful analysis of the problem, sassy style, and shout-out!

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It’s International Anti-Street Harassment Week!

photo coutesy of

This week, March 18-24th, Hollabackers around the world are banning together to commemorate International Anti-Street Harassment week. On March 22nd, we’ll be launching our “I’ve Got Your Back” bystander campaign across our network of 44 sites.  Check out some of the other events our site leaders have planned:


Hollaback! Croatia will write an op-ed and hold an event to commemorate the launch of our “I’ve Got Your Back” campaign.
Hollaback! Philly will is partnering with local organizations to host four days of events including a self-defense class, film screening, benefit show, and awareness-raising street teams.
Hollaback! Buenos Aires will have a stand at the Women’s Counsel (el consejo de la mujer)’s monthly fair, where they will hand out information about anti-street-harassment week.
Hollaback! Montreal is hosting a screening of the street harassmnet documentary “War Zone.”
Hollaback! New York City will host an “I’ve Got Your Back” launch party in Brooklyn and join other local organizations in participating in an anti-street harassment rally with Councilmember Ferraras.
Hollaback! Mexico DF will be distributing information about the week following a caberet show.
Hollaback! Ottawa is putting up posters around town and posting photographs of people with their favorite ‘holla’ each day for the week. Submit yours today!
Hollaback! Chennai is collecting photos of all the locations in Chennai, India, where people feel unsafe. The photos will be posted to their facebook page throughout the week.
Hollaback! Bmore will gather volunteers to do mud stenciling (eco-friendly public art) around Baltimore.
Hollaback! Istanbul will host a panel discussion and screening of the documentary “War Zone” at universities, as well as a meet-up where people can discuss their stories of street harassment.


For a comprehensive list of things going on in your community, check out the “Meet Us on the Street” website.  And remember to keep holla’ing back!

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