There’s No Wrong Way

Cross-Posted from HollaBack! Boston

Here at Hollaback!, we often talk about, well, holla-ing back! And we all agree that it’s important to speak up and to fight back. But we also agree that it’s unrealistic to expect that everyone will do that. We also agree that it’s not always safe, because the situation could escalate. And we know that some days you’re just too tired to tell yet another harasser to STFU. And we know that some people just plain don’t want to say anything! And all of those things are a-okay!

When we tell people that there is a “right” and a “wrong” way to handle street harassment, we get into that victim-blaming rhetoric that we all hate so much. Recently, a guy responded to something on my Facebook by telling me that if I just “took control of the situation” by telling a guy to go away or [asking another male for help] that I could “end street harassment.” There is so much wrong with that line of thinking, but what I want to focus on is the idea that if I just acted a certain way, this harassment could and would stop. It’s the implication that I’m somehow to blame for the harassment because I didn’t react to it properly, which is no different than telling me that I should have worn something different/walked somewhere different/done something different in order to avoid harassment/rape.

Ruth Graham says:

The message behind this is simply this: whatever you need to do to feel safe, just to do it. You’re under no feminist obligation to shout ‘em down every time they shout up. But just know that you do not have to take it as a compliment, you do not have to feel that you have done something wrong, worn the wrong thing, or behaved in the wrong way. And most of all, you do not need to accept it. You are not wasting time if you make a complaint, and what they have done is not okay. 80 – 90% of women have experienced sexual harassment, and though we might describe it as ‘low level abuse’, it is still fundamentally wrong, and it’s time society started fully recognising that.

Read the rest of her post here.

So even though we love and encourage you to hollaback and to share your story with us on this site, we also want to assure you that, just like eating a Reese’s, there’s no wrong way to respond to street harassment. We trust that whatever response you choose is the right one for you in that moment, and makes you no less a part of our movement to end street harassment!


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