Leveraging Mobile Technology to End Sexual Harassment
Hollaback! is a movement dedicated to ending street harassment and assault using mobile technology.
Street harassment is one of the most pervasive forms of violence against women, and one of the least legislated against. Comments from “You’d look good on me” to groping, flashing or assault, are a daily, global reality for women and LGBTQ individuals. But, it’s rarely reported, it’s just culturally accepted as ‘the price you pay’. As a result, street harassment is invisible to policymakers and the public. This effective “OK’ing” of street harassment has deep impacts on all forms of gender based violence. If street harassment is OK, then groping is OK. If groping is OK, the beating is OK. If beating is OK, then rape is OK. And any sexual violence is simply not OK! We all have the right to feel safe, confident, and sexy, without being objectified.
By collecting women and LGBTQ folks’ stories and pictures in a safe and share-able way with our soon-to-launch mobile phone application, Hollaback! is creating a crowd-sourced initiative to end street harassment that breaks the silence that has perpetuated sexual violence internationally, pronounces that any gender-based violence is unacceptable, and creates a world where we have an option, and more importantly, a response. And the world is behind us – The UN’s #3 Millennium Development Goal: Promote Gender Equality and Empower Women.
WHAT? – Mobile and Social Innovation, “A Movement Brought on by an iPhone App”
The Hollaback! 2.0 platform transforms girls, women and LGBTQ individuals into open-source activists with the touch of a button. Participants can submit photos and experiences of harassment through three easy portals: a) the Hollaback! mobile app, b) a text form, and c) directly to the Hollaback! website, which will also be accessible to other smartphone users through their mobile browsers, and will link to our dynamic mapping system. We’ll track street harassment through data points to quantify and communicate its impact to legislators. The Hollaback! app creates a safe, action-oriented response to street harassment, and with powerful reporting features, it will finally put a face on everyday harassment and assault. By using data to establish the case against street harassment, Hollaback!’s social change efforts will ultimately result in significant improvements in policy and a reduction in crimes against girls, women and LGBTQ individuals.
WHY 2.0? – To make it easier to ‘Hollaback!’ and to prove we need social change.
From postings-to-impressions data collected on Hollaback since 2005, we know that each time a survivor shares their sexual harassment story on the site, the post is read by over 1,000 others. Hollaback! 2.0 combines the democratization of the cell phone with tech innovation including geo-mapping and the mobile app to create an entirely new way to mobilize social change. A 2009 Newsweek study showed that over 85% of Americans own cell phones, and worldwide the UN reports 6 in 10 people own a cell phone. The ability to influence the thinking of thousands of people from one shared experience is something that most social projects rarely accomplish.
WHERE? – It happens on your street, in your city, in our country, and everywhere else too.
Hollaback! is the first internationally-minded organization to address street harassment and assault and is the only known social project that will document it, creating a unified reporting system via geo-mapping that can be scaled globally. Because, there’s no mistaking it, this is a global issue. It will pilot in NYC, then expand nationally and globally where there is already expressed interest in partnering with us on existing anti-harassment movements, including India, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt.
WHEN? – Summer 2010
Hollaback! 2.0 will Beta launch in NYC, then begin to expand to other cities in September 2010. We will grow to a minimum of three cities worldwide each year. In two years, we will track over 5,000 stories of harassment and assault that would otherwise be internalized and overlooked.
WHO? – The Hollaback! Leadership Team
Oraia Reid and Emily May are nationwide experts on public safety for girls, women and the LGBTQ community. Oraia is executive director and founder of RightRides for Women’s Safety and Emily is co-founder of HollabackNYC.com. RightRides for Women’s Safety (www.rightrides.org) is an award-winning nonprofit whose flagship RightRides program offers free, late-night rides home to women and LGBTQ individuals in NYC and is currently expanding nationwide. HollabackNYC.com is a website with 8 chapters worldwide that is dedicated to ending street harassment by giving girls, women and the LGBTQ community the opportunity to submit stories and pictures of their street harassers to an online blog.
Oraia and Emily are frequent commentators in the media, appearing as sources over sixty times, including ABC, CNN, NBC, the New York Times, and authoring op-eds in national papers. Oraia has executive education certificates from Harvard and Columbia’s Business Schools and is a Junior Fellow at the Nonprofit Leadership Development Institute. Emily has a MS in Social Policy from the London School of Economics, is a winner of the 2008 Stonewall Women’s Award, is a Progressive Women’s Voices Fellow, and is co-chair of the Board of Directors for Girls for Gender Equity. Oraia is a 2010 recipient of Women’s eNews 21 Leaders for the 21st Century. Emily was recently selected as one of thirty “women making history” by the Women’s Media Center, along with Rachel Maddow and Nancy Pelosi.
FAQs? – Yes, we’ve heard em’ all.
Question:Are we a bunch of crazed feminazis who hate men?
Answer: Actually, HollaBack is a collective comprised of men and women, in 8 chapters, from a variety of backgrounds who believe we all have a right to be safe, sexy, and confident on the street! The team is made up of professionals in Activism, Social Policy, Engineering, Design, Publishing, Marketing, Social Media, and Film.
Question: OK, but what exactly is street harassment?
Answer: While there is always the classic, “Hey baby, nice legs,” we believe that what counts as harassment is determined by those who experience it, and can be any form of sexual harassment in public spaces. At its core is a power dynamic that plays on womens’ and LGBTQ folks’ vulnerability to assault.
Question: Isn’t street harassment the price you pay for living in a city?
Answer: 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, it isn’t confined to city life. It occurs in shopping malls, cars, parking lots, public parks, airplanes, fast-food restaurants, gas stations, churches, and just about any public space we go.
More Questions in Mind? See our FAQ page.
Ready to help make this happen? Contact Emily May at [email protected].
c/o RightRides for Women’s Safety
26 Court St. Suite 505
Brooklyn, NY 11242