Movement Empowers Women: Hollaback (Con't)
“Hey you! Yeah, you! You in the car—you’re sexy!”
Several drunk men were hanging out the window yelling. She ran through her options: Can’t make a right and detour because the turn lane is separated by an island; can’t run the light because Broad is too busy for that. She opted to ignore them. The incident left her feeling “like crap” for hours afterward.
“The icing on the cake? When I left the house, I was expecting to be harassed in the parking lot or at the restaurant, but I wasn’t. To be harassed on the road while driving with my windows up is a new and frightening experience. I used to think my car was safe, but now I’m not so sure.”
These feelings and fears probably sound familiar to any woman who has ventured out of the house. Street harassment is one of the most pervasive forms of gender-based violence and one of the least legislated against. That’s why Hollaback! was founded.
Combining activism and technology, this nonprofit movement Hollaback is dedicated to fighting street harassment. Since January 2011, its founders have trained more than 150 leaders in 62 cities, 25 countries, and nine languages to be leaders in their communities and in the global movement to end street harassment. The movement has empowered people across the planet to utilize a smartphone/web application to post about harassment on a publicly viewable map.
From Hollaback’s website: “Comments from ‘You’d look good on me’ to groping, flashing and assault are a daily, global reality for women and LGBTQ individuals. But it is rarely reported, and it’s culturally accepted as ‘the price you pay’ for being a woman or for being gay. At Hollaback!, we don’t buy it.”
Hollaback poster Rachel wrote about an evening when she was verbally assaulted five separate times in one 10-minute walk on VCU’s campus. “People do not realize how these kinds of situations have honestly altered my lifestyle. I am actually fearful of walking from Point A to B, regardless of time or place. My paranoia is skyrocketing, things need to change.”
Hollaback Richmond organizers Jenn Gallienne and Victoria Meader want to expand the local movement to include in-person meetings and speak outs where people can share and heal from experiences like Rachel described.
“We want to bring the stories from online to the public,” Gallienne said.
Meader, who earned a degree in philosophy from VCU, started the Richmond chapter in 2011. Gallienne, a social worker, joined up in 2012 after moving from Baltimore, where she was involved with that city’s local group.
Upcoming events for the Richmond movement include an appearance and workshop at the 12th Annual Philadelphia Trans-Health Conference from June 13-15, and the Holla Revolution from July 25-28. For more information, visit their website.