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Hollaback! is proud to work with the New York Council to empower the public to take direct action in the face of all forms of street harassment and make their complaints count. This week we relaunched our apps in New York City, allowing users to report street harassment and bystander intervention to Hollaback!, and, if they choose, the New York City Council. In so doing, the City will be able to collect data and develop strategies to combat street harassment. That makes New York City the only large city in the world to proactively and systematically address street harassment.
We’ve received some questions about the app, and we wanted to take a minute to answer them here:
Question: What exactly is street harassment?
Answer: 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. Furthermore, 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 unnoticed. If you feel like you have been harassed, Hollaback!
Question: How did this revised NYC app come about?
On October 28, 2010 the New York City Council held the first-ever hearing on street harassment. Advocates in the room consistently requested a citywide study on the impact of street harassment, and the Council agreed. Hollaback! approached the Council with a proposal for a baseline study of harassment, a content analysis of stories already told in New York City, and an app where individuals could directly report their harassment and receive resources, including referrals to local community based organizations. Only the apps were ultimately funded by the city, at the urging of the Council’s Women’s Caucus.
We were able to work with Cornell to get some additional research completed, including, “When Street Harassment Comes Indoors: A sample of NYC service agencies and union responses to street harassment” and “The Experience of Being Targets of Street Harassment in NYC: Preliminary Findings from a Qualitative Study of a Sample of 223 voices who Hollaback!” We are currently advocating to get a baseline study of street harassment completed by adding a few questions about street harassment to the NYC Department of Health’s Annual Community Health Survey. If you’re interested in supporting these efforts, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Question: What are the goals of this app?
The app allows users to report street harassment and bystander intervention. The goals are:
1. To develop a platform where victims report street harassment in real-time to their local government so that there is system-wide level of accountability. The app will also educate people about their rights and community based resources.
2. To train and encourage everyday citizens to safely intervene when they see harassment happening. The free apps will provide resources on how to intervene safely and a platform from which bystanders can share their stories.
3. To analyze the robust data set collected through this project to inform our collective understanding of how street harassment operates and develop long-term policy and community-based solutions to end or at least significantly reduce street harassment.
Question: How does the app work?
When you open the app, you’ll be asked to select a language, your location, and for your email address. Here’s what the page looks like:
Set Language. The app is available in 9 languages: English, French, Spanish, German, Italian, Turkish, Czech, Dutch, and Polish. If you are interested in volunteering to help us translate the app into additional language, please reach out!
Your local Hollaback. We operate in over 60 cities in over 20 countries, and growing. If there is no Hollaback in your city, select “No Hollaback in my city” and consider starting one! You will only be able to access the NYC-specific changes to the app by selecting “USA – New York City.”
Email. Your email address will not be shared with anyone, ever.
Next, select “done” to move to the menu. If you want to change any of this information at a later date, you can change it by selecting the “Settings” button on the menu.
Once you’re on the menu, you’ll see seven buttons: Share your Story, Map, Donate, About, Settings, Resources, and Know Your Rights. To share your story, click on the “share your story” button. The first section of questions are the same questions Hollaback! asks no matter what city you’re in. All of this information is optional, so share only the parts you feel comfortable sharing:
I experienced this/I saw this (select one).
Type. This questions is about the type of harassment you experienced, and you can choose multiple. Options include verbal, stalking, homophobic, transphobic, assault, groping, racist, public masturbation, and other.
Name. You can also submit under a chosen name, handle, or pseudonym. If you submit your full name we will not publish your last name on nyc.ihollaback.org to protect your identity.
Your Story. You’re invited to include a narrative with as much or as little information as you want. Please keep in mind our anti-discrimination policy when writing, as we do not publish race or class identifiers.
Upload photo. This can be of the harasser, but oftentimes people upload a photo of the scene including a street sign, your shoes, or a passing car. We encourage you to be creative.
Location of incident. You can use GPS or manually input the address.
Next, you’ll be asked if you want to share your story with the NYC Council. If you choose “no,” none of the information you input above will be sent to them. If you choose “yes” a report will be sent to the Councilmember in the district in which you were harassed, as well as to the Council as a whole once you click “Submit.” If you choose “yes,” you’ll be prompted to answer additional, optional questions including:
Orientation. Options include: Straight, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Other.
Gender Identity/Expression. Options include: Male, Female, Transgender (Male to Female), Transgender (Female to Male), and Other.
Race/Ethnicity. Options include: Hispanic or Latino, American Indian or Alaska Native, Asian, Black or African American, Nat.Hawaiian/Pacific Islander or White.
Incident locations. This question is designed to help better figure out where these incidents are happening. Options include: Park, School, Construction, Subway, Bus, Ferry, Taxi, Street, Retail, and Other. Based on this information, if we see for example that most incidents are happening in parks, we can work with the department of parks to develop preventative measures. Here are examples of policy recommendations that we encourage: http://www.ihollaback.org/resources/policy-recommendations/
Reports made. Here we want to know if you have reported this incident through other outlets. Options include: 911, 311, Station Agent/Driver, or Other.
In addition to the option to share your story, the app includes a Map, where you see incidents of harassment mapped in pink dots, and incidents of bystander intervention mapped in green dots. You also find a resources section, where you can learn more about how to respond to harassment and be a better bystander, as well as a list of local NYC-based organizations that can help including the Ali Forney Center, the Center for Anti-Violence Education (CAE), Legal Momentum, Metropolitan Hospital Victims Assistance and Counseling Program, NYC Alliance Against Sexual Assault, Queerocracy, Right Rides, Safe Horizons, STEPS to end Family Violence, Turning Point for Women and Families, CONNECT, and New York City Anti-Violence Project (AVP). If you have suggestions of other resources we can include, please contact us at email@example.com. Lastly, you’ll find a “Know Your Rights” section of the app where you can get more information on how to report your incident to the NYPD should you choose to.
Question: What happens with this information?
If you only choose to send the information to Hollaback!, it will be approved by one of our administrators and mapped and publicly available at nyc.ihollaback.org. Your contact information will not be shared.
If you also choose to send your information to the Council, your information will be sent to the Councilmember in the district in which you were harassed through a program called “Councilstat.” Councilstat is a NYC-specific government database that tracks all citizen issues are brought to the attention of the Council. It was launched to make Councilmembers move responsive to their communities.
To ensure that these stories do not get lost in a government database, Hollaback! will issue semi-annual reports that look at issues and trends across New York City. We’ll use these reports to advocate for policy recommendations related to education and prevention. These include, but are not limited to, safety audits, improved street lighting, educational workshops in middle and high schools, and public service announcements on subways and buses. For a complete list of policy recommendations that Hollaback! endorses, click here.
Question: Does Hollaback! endorse increasing 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 LBGTQ. It is not to re-victimize men already discriminated against by the system.”
Question: What if I don’t want to report my harassment to the NYC Council?
You don’t have to! Reporting to the Council is completely up to you, the user. You are ultimately the expert of your experience and in charge of what you share. We understand that there are many personal, political, or safety related reasons why you may opt out of sharing information with the Council. In that case, you can simply post your story up on the Hollaback! site. It will be posted on the blog and mapped at nyc.ihollaback.org if you are reporting it within New York City.
Question: Does Hollaback endorse political candidates?
No. We are a non partisan non profit 501c3 organization. Our role is to educate policymakers on the best solutions to street harassment.
Question: Does my report also go to the New York City Police Department?
No. If you are interested in filing a report you must do it directly. Click on the “Know Your Rights” button on the menu for more information about how to do this. If it’s an emergency, dial 911 immediately.
Question: I heard something about your position on anti-racism. 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. 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.
Question: 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! receives e-mails of support and solidarity from around the world. 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.
Question: I want to hollaback and I don’t have an iPhone or an Android.
You can still tell your story on-line.
Question: Confronting street harassers can be dangerous. What about safety issues?
While everyone is vulnerable to stranger rape 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 hollaback, 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.
If you have additional questions, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We welcome your feedback and engagement in this conversation as we work together to make the streets safer for everyone.
followed by a number of males in a car shouting sexual comments and abuse. I had five similar encounters walking along this road in one day.
I want to thank Councilmembers Ferreras, James, Palma, Lander, Levin, and Reyna for their support, but I especially want to thank Speaker Quinn and her team. This is truly a historic day that wouldn’t be possible without their incredible vision, and on behalf of all New Yorkers, but especially women and LGBTQ folks, I want to say thank you.
As we stand here today, I am mindful that some of you have been sexually harassed during your life. Lewd comments, gestures, threats. Public masturbation, groping.
I am mindful that some of you have been harassed this week… and I am mindful that some of you were harassed today.
And I am also mindful that some of you — especially some of you menfolk out there — have never spent two seconds thinking about street harassment, but that most of the women and LGBTQ in New York City have been thinking about it since they were young.
I wish I could tell you that your experiences in some way unique. That the harassment you faced at age 12 isn’t being faced by today’s 12 year olds. But it’s not true.
The truth is, street harassment happens to between 70-99% of women at some point during their lives. And for many — it happens much, much more often.
Harassers love people who they can wield their power over. And if you’ve been harassed throughout your life, you’ve probably come to understand:
This is what is means to be a woman and to walk down the street.
This is what it means to be lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and to walk down the street.
This is what is means to be a person of color, and to walk down the street.
But today marks the beginning of a new understanding:
Even though we face harassment today and tomorrow. This can and will be changed.
Street harassment is such a widespread issue — and so under-researched. To target this problem, we need ways for New Yorkers to speak up and out on this issue. And we need Councilmembers that listen.
As recently as yesterday, if you wanted to report harassment in New York City, it would have taken you hours to file the complaint. With many people getting harassed as often as three or four times a day, reporting harassment could quickly turn into a full time job. It’s no surprise that so few reports came through.
Now, whether you’ve experienced harassment yourself or witnessed it and tried to help, you can make a report in under a minute. Your report will be publically available at nyc.ihollaback.org and if you choose — it will also be sent to the NYC Council and to the Councilmember in the district in which you were harassed.
With each report you make — you will make NYC a little more intolerant of the hate that underlies street harassment. And as those reports build and grow, each one strengthening the case of the last, we’ll work with the city to make sure public service announcements are in subway stations and educational workshops take place in schools.
With your support, we can make New York City a place where everyone has the right to walk safely down the street — no matter your race, gender, or expression. It starts with your story. We’re ready to listen.
App Will Provide New Yorkers the Opportunity to Immediately Report Harassment and City to Identify Possible Trouble Spots That Welcome Crime, Such as Dark Streets and Areas in Need of Repair
(August 19, 2013) – Emily May, Executive Director of Hollaback! was joined by Speaker Christine Quinn, her wife Kim Catullo, and Council Member Diana Reyna today to unveil a new, targeted system to report sexual harassment to New York City Councilmembers via iPhone and Droid app. Speaker Quinn also released a plan for assessing the safety of neighborhoods across the city, block by block, using community-led safety audits. By gathering information in a coordinated way, the city will be able to better direct resources and more effectively combat harassment.
Quinn stated, “People who violate women either by their actions or words won’t be able to hide any longer. We will know who they are, what they do, where they do it – and we will put it to an end. By coupling valuable information with targeted resources we will arm ourselves with the tools we need to put an end to street violence and harassment. Public spaces belong to all New Yorkers, and street harassment is not a price women and LGBT New Yorkers have to pay for walking around New York City’s neighborhoods.”
“This isn’t just an app, this is history. Whether you experienced harassment or you witnessed it and tried to help, your report will make New York City safer for everyone. After we pilot this here, we hope to scale it to cities globally,” said Emily May, Executive Director of Hollaback!.
The app, launched today, will enable users to report valuable information on harassment in real time. The reporting builds on an existing app run by Hollaback!, a non-profit organization that works to end street harassment. The City Council allocated $20,000 last year towards creating an expanded version of Hollaback!’s app. The current app allows users to submit reports of street harassment, assault and violence but is limited to qualitative narratives; expanding the app to include quantitative data will provide new information for evaluation and will allow the city to direct resources where they are most needed.
Information to be collected on the app will include demographics, locational information and information on the specifics of an incident or attack, as well as what, if any, formal reporting process the person went through. With this new tool, New York City will be the first city to undertake an effort to gather the data needed to understand scope of street harassment and how to reduce incidents of harassment.
Quinn also committed to conducting neighborhood audits in order to identify the safety of individual communities and where improvements are needed. The city will work with local community leaders to form teams with a variety of backgrounds and expertise to survey neighborhoods and assess factors impacting safety and the likelihood of street harassment occurring. The surveys will result in increased community engagement and recommendations for concrete improvements specific to each neighborhood’s needs.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, non-contact unwanted sexual experiences including street harassment are the most prevalent form of sexual violence for both men and women. According to a joint study conducted by Hollaback! and the Worker Institute at Cornell University, 96 percent of respondents reported that they or colleague had been targeted by street harassment, with only five percent reporting the incident to security or a city authority.
Hollaback! is a non-profit organization that works to end street harassment and violence by providing training and developing innovative strategies. Since January 2011, Hollaback! has trained more than 200 young people to be leaders in their local communities in the effort to end street harassment.
Dear Hollabackers –
This week, we had our first annual staff retreat in New Paltz, NY. We ate vegan chocolate, drank local craft brew, and mapped out our work together over the next year. It’s gonna be our best year yet. Before we left on Monday, Debjani keynoted at the I-CASH conference (International Coalition Against Sexual Harassment) and Emily headed to DC to collaborate with the Women’s Health Network on mapping the movement. Here’s what’s been going on around the world:
Hollaback! Ottawa site leader Julie presented on being the underdog at Taking Charge of Change, an event in honor of International Youth Day. Julie was also interviewed on Talking Radical Radio– listen to the whole segment! Ottawa’s
street harassment study was featured in this piece on the Daily Xtra. Ottawa also received press in several pieces about their local transit authority, OC Transpo, failing to take action against the harassment happening on public transportation. Here’s one from the Ottawa Sun, where they were asked to respond to a high-profile sexual assault that occurred at a transit station, and two from the Ottawa Citizen.
Hollaback! Boston is hosting their first Take Back The Bar event tonight. They also had some great blog posts up this week– one about virtual harassment and another in their Introducing! series, where they spoke to Kristen, a local style blogger. They also attended an “anti street hollering” rally in support of another local organization!
Last but not least, check out this great video by Surayya Diggs, including a lot of great footage of our Anti-Street Harassment Week Rally in Washington Square Park:
HOLLA and out –
The Hollaback team
A barrage of BMXers came hurtling toward me walking down a main street in Cardiff. I kept my eyes front facing and held my course. One of them then gets so close he can ROAR in my ear, obviously intending to shock and humiliate, as he and his mates whizz past laughing and disappear. I’m a woman on my own who refused to look down or jump out their way so did he really feel I needed taking down a peg? No chance to react! Why do some men think this is OK? It’s street harassment and its cowardly!
Dear Hollabackers –
The global revolution rolls on! Debjani is at the “Forging Justice” conference in Detroit, Michigan today, presenting on how employers can better support their staff and clients who face street harassment. Emily is meeting today with community partners interested in developing a new safety app, and met yesterday with two new partners: The Healing Center about their work to address domestic violence in Sunset Park, and Creative Time and the Brooklyn Museum work with Suzanne Lacy’s new public feminist art project.
The conversation continued in the media, too. Bitch Magazine wrote about HOLLA::Revolution. A blogger at Star of Davida compiled her thoughts on HOLLA::Rev as well: the introduction, part 1, and part 2. Author Yann Patel has dedicated their book Indie: A Female Vigilate to “Hollabacks worldwide!”
HOLLA around the world:
Hollaback! Des Moines marched and danced with One Billion Rising in the Iowa State Fair Parade this week! They also had an event to discuss personal safety products, which they partnered with local agency Damsel in Defense for. Next week is their anniversary open mic event!
Hollaback! Bmore attended a community meeting for the FORCE – Monument Project to ensure that people remembered that street harassment is on the spectrum of gender based violence. They also interviewed some Bronies at BronyCon about harassment and plan to release a video in early September. Tomorrow they’re carpooling down to Slutwalk DC!
Hollaback! West Yorkshire had a meeting with Bradford victim support & women’s network as to how to collaborate & work with women outside student community.
Hollaback! Boston had a lot going on this week! On their blog, intern Kayla has a post about porch heckling and site directors Britni and Kate talk about their experience at HOLLA::Rev. The team also went to Boston Comic Con this weekend in support of Hollaback! Philly’s work and you can read their recap of the event, as well as an interview with local cosplayer Lei Ann. Boston also released their first ever survey on street harassment, which was picked up by the Boston Metro. They also received a grant for their T campaign and wrote a piece for local online publication The Media.
Hollaback! Winnipeg site leader Jodie was on CBC The National talking about trolls, Hollaback!, white privilege, and #twittersilence on CBC The National (starts at 8:05). She also gave a TEDx talk on rape culture and sex positivity.
HOLLA and out –
The Hollaback! team
We were walking & holding hands when a man, 20s, 5’8″, muscular, with very short blonde hair, grabbed us & pulled us apart, then gripped my arm & yelled in my face about how we couldn’t hold hands because this is a Christian nation. He was extremely aggressive and clearly looking for an excuse to punch me. We broke away from him, but he did it again 2 blocks later. He threatened to keep following us and prevent us from touching until a bystander stepped in & we slipped away.
HOLLA::Revolution, the first international speaker’s series on street harassment, was held on July 25th at NYU and live-streamed on ihollaback.org/hollarevolution/. It was an historic event, with 18 speakers presenting topics ranging from “un/doing masculinity: street harassment and boihood” and “media representations of street harassment” to “the future of funding the feminist movement” and “youth organizing around street harassment”.
Hollaback! would like to thank their sponsors for their support in making HOLLA::Revolution happen:
Catapult: Catapult is young crowdfunding platform that’s already making a huge impact for girls and women. Catapult connects a new global audience directly to organizations working on the frontlines for girls and women’s rights. Since launching in October 2012 Catapult has already funded hundreds of projects worldwide. Catapult helps people use the open democracy of the web to choose girls and women’s projects closest to their hearts, and track progress and results. This approach – participating in the solution – is key to today’s young and rising global citizenship movement.
Despaña: Despaña is a New York based food and wine shop and provided us with the beautiful wines for our cocktail hour.
Internet Garage: Internet Garage is a great internet and printing shop in Brooklyn and provided us with the signage for the event.
Lagunitas: Lagunitas is a solid brewing company that supplied the tasty beer for the cocktail hour
Lifeway: Lifeway creates amazing kefir products. Like all good missions, theirs is simply expressed: They’re here to provide the best in probiotic and nutritious foods. They’re here to improve the health of our customers. And they’re here to leave the world a better place than we found it.
Thank you again to our sponsors and to everyone who came out to HOLLA::Revolution or watched the live-stream online.
I was waiting outside to leave with my partner and a man whistled at me from a truck. I flicked him off