Founded in 2005 by seven New York City residents, inviting the public share stories of ‘street harassment’ – or the harassment of people in public spaces. Having moved from a blog to a website, it identifies itself not only as an ‘organisation’ but as a ‘movement’ which relies on a network of local activists to ‘better understand harassment, to ignite public conversations, and to develop innovative strategies to ensure equal access to public spaces’ (Hollaback! 2016).
Local Hollaback! Chapters now operate in 84 cities, 31 countries and in 18 different languages. The 2014-2015 annual report documents the popularity of the movement, boasting over 40,000 Facebook fans, 17,500 Twitter followers and over 9,000 stories having been shared on the various websites since the movement’s inception (Hollaback! 2015).
The Hollaback! website is organized by seven drop down menus: Home, About, Take Action, Resources, Research, #100DAYS100DINNERS, and Donate. The main body displays its GPS mapping feature, where the public can literally ‘map’ where they were harassed. Further down are links to where one can ‘Join the Movement’ (involves taking pledges to help those being harassed, educate themselves on what harassment is, and share their stories) or ‘Support the Cause’ (by donating money). Further down is an area where users can share their story, read others stories or download the app.
A new feature of the website is the ‘HeartMob’ platform, which provides real-time support for those experiencing harassment.
Information is also provided on how to start your own chapter of Hollaback! is also available.
Hollaback! is a grassroots movement which is valued because it gives people a voice and a safe, anonymous place to share stories of harassment – stories which perhaps might not be taken seriously elsewhere. It is also useful for raising awareness of what street harassment is, and its impact on the lives of its victims, which includes avoiding certain places, quitting certain activities (jogging, jobs), blaming themselves, or feeling unsafe and insecure in the world around them.