Have you ever walked down the street and heard “God Bless You” even though you didn’t sneeze? Or been called “Mommy” when you are, in fact, not a Mommy? Street Harassment is a very common epidemic in New York City and across the world. Unfortunately, many people view Street Harassment as just one of the downfalls of being a woman or LGBTQ person and often discredit its seriousness.
It’s not exactly breaking news to inform you that Street Harassment has been normalized by our society. But there is one activist group in particular who refuses to accept Street Harassment as just comme d’habitude. Hollaback! is a movement founded by Emily May dedicated to ending Street Harassment. Local activists in 54 cities, 19 different countries, and in 12 different languages are fighting to end this form of aggressive violence towards women and LGBTQ people with Hollaback! and their organization continues to grow by the day.
What Hollaback! and other similar organizations (Stop Street Harassment, Incite Blog) are doing is addressing the problem (street harassment) as a problem. For years, women have have deterred themselves away from a low-cut top, or mini-skirt for fear that they might invite unwanted attention from leering eyes and harsh sentiments. But regardless of what a woman wears or any LGBTQ person wears in public, it does not invite unwanted attention and by no means should an outfit be an excuse for harassment or assault.
Because we live in an age of exploitation, we can exploit these offensive acts quite easily and advocate for change. I urge, beg and plead for people who find themselves victims Street Harassment to capture a picture or video and post it online, either at Hollaback!, another Street Harassment site, or better yet – start your own online campaign! Let others know that this is not okay. Call it what you will, cat-calls, jeers, whistles, or stares – Street Harassment is not allowed. It’s time we picked our heads up from the pavement, snapped a picture or video and became our own united front. After all, who says you need a cop present to police a perv?