A note from Emily May, executive director: I’ve spent the past 18 years knowing that my younger sister was the coolest girl on the planet. So when she reached out to me to start volunteering for Hollaback!, I shouldn’t have been surprised. I mean of course — she’s awesome. But I couldn’t help to feel angry at whatever turd inspired her new volunteering gig. I mean — how can someone street harass my little sister? The one whose diaper I changed when I was 12? I wanted to march down to North Carolina and give this turd a piece of my mind. But my super-smart sister was one step ahead of me. We would proudly join forces and fight street harassment together! Go, sis. You never cease to amaze me. The following is her college essay.
BY KIMBERLY MAY
Street harassment is not only a personal, local, national, or an international concern. It is all of them. Street harassment is any behavior that occurs between strangers that is unwanted, disrespectful, threatening, or harassing and is motivated by gender. Street harassment can range from strange looks and whistles to actual sexual assault or even murder. Statistics show that nearly 100% of females experience street harassment of some form, starting around age twelve and continuing into their 80s.
In 2005 my sister, Emily May, and a group of friends decided to try to put an end to street harassment. They started a blog called Hollaback! where women who are harassed share their story and sometimes a photograph on the website. This movement started in New York City, and now has chapters all over the world.
I have always supported Hollaback! because of Emily, but I did not really understand the full importance of ending street harassment. As I have gotten older and street harassment occurs to me, I have realized how important it is to create awareness of street harassment to try to abolish it. I now work as a volunteer for Hollaback! approving posts and comments that people send in. I edit the posts, give them a title, and then post them on the Hollaback! website.
I think it is terrible that women have to be afraid of going places alone because of the fear of being harassed. It is not fair that street harassment is just accepted as “the price you pay for being a woman.” Even in a small town like I am from women experience street harassment, and it is truly scary at times. I believe that we can work together to eradicate street harassment by being proactive, and I am very proud to be part of a movement that is attempting to accomplish this.