Hollaback! Baltimore

Ending Street Harassment

Hollaback! Baltimore is the Baltimore chapter of an international movement to end street harassment. Hollaback! has been active since at least 2005, and has been operating in its current form as a nonprofit since 2010. According to their website, the motive of street harassers is intimidation; they strive to make the target feel threatened or disempowered as a way to make themselves feel more powerful. The goal of Hollaback! is to expose street harassment for the pitiful and problematic display of power that it is. By using technology like apps, maps, and web-hosting, Hollaback! has created a community for victims of street harassment to join in solidarity and hold their harassers accountable by sharing their stories.

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Technology, Collectivism, & Accountability

Hollaback! is focused on using mobile technology to create a crowd-sourced movement to fight street harassment and ultimately all gender-based violence. Using these technologies, Hollaback! has helped establish a network of local activists around the world and strives to create public conversations on the reality of street harassment. In creating these dialogues, Hollaback! aims to develop innovative strategies to ensure equal access to public spaces. The website and the app give users access to an interactive map that documents incidents of harassment and according to Hollaback!, any user of this map will immediately realize these three things:  

1) If you’ve been harassed, you’re not alone,

2) Street harassment is used to exert control over others by making them feel scared or uncomfortable. It is much more than individuals just acting inappropriately.

3) There are street harassment “hotspots” in most cities often centered around high pedestrian traffic areas.

This map illuminates the prevalence of street harassment in specific areas, not so that those areas can be avoided, necessarily, but so that users can collectively emphasize the need for direct action.

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So Who are Hollaback!’s Activists?

This movement is active across Baltimore and D.C., but Hollaback! has trained over 150 leaders in 50 cities, 17 countries, and 9 different languages to be leaders in their communities, and in the global movement to end street harassment. Of those involved in Hollaback!, 75% are under the age of 30, 44% are LGBTQ, and 33% are people of color.

Site leaders at Hollaback! work to establish their blogs as meaningful resources in their communities and they receive monthly trainings in everything from rape culture to blogging, managing volunteers, and holding events. Site leaders and participants in Hollaback! are certainly considered activists, and their website outlines their activist model. The model has four components:

First, to “break the silence” by providing victims with a convenient and safe platform to share their stories and support one another.

Second, to inspire international leadership by training women and LGBTQ individuals around the world to build and lead their own grassroots movements against gender-based violence. They teach these new leaders how to use technology to their advantage and how to create an effective plan for action.

Third, to shift public opinion by educating and inspiring the public to take action to end street harassment. They provide educational workshops, host rallies, and even have a “Safer Space” campaign dedicated to turning public spaces into places where women and LGBTQ people can feel safer.

Fourth, to engage elected officials and persuade them to take action against gender-based violence on the legislative level.

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via Kelly Purtell and Lane Kennedy

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