Having explored the feminist take on street harassment I was intrigued to look in organizations such as Hollaback and Right Rides that aim to mitigate street harassment. I began my research as any other technologically savvy person would, I used Google. Hollaback performs a great social service to the various communities that it serves internationally as they encourage women to share their experiences of street harassment and turn an isolated experience into one that can be shared. Thinking back to when we read Alondra Nelson’s The Black Panther Party and the Fight against Medical Discrimination, the Black Panther Party gained a community of supporters through providing social services such as free health clinic access to the Black community. Although the social aims of these two organizations differ, they followed the same strategy in creating a community of social activists.
To be honest, when I first heard about Hollaback I failed to see how radical this organization actually is. It’s not that I never experienced street harassment, in fact I am very bothered by it and it’s probably one of the main things that affects my mood and sense of security throughout the day. After hearing more on the occurrences of street harassment and specifically learning that its offenders exercise harassment as a form of dominance and power over women, I had experienced the same intellectual sensation when I learned about feminism. I knew I was being objectified and that the act of street harassment was wrong but the line between what morality and human rights I have as a woman and what happens in society was blurred. To put it simply, street harassment became a norm even though I always felt strongly about taking action against it. What seemed to a subtle and rather simple form of action, going online or on the mobile app that Hollaback has and sharing your story has turned into a collective movement before my eyes.
The more I learned about street harassment, the more I became aware of how often it happens, especially in NYC. After looking more into Hollaback, I realized that the power of collective action in this movement against street harassment is imperative. We don’t all need to start publishing books of feminist theory in order to make a positive and feminist change in our society.
P.S I also mentioned the organization called Right Rides in the beginning of this blog post without speaking about its goals. Right Rides is an organization that aims to provide women and LGBT people with safe and free rides home in order to combat the occurrence of sexual and gender based assault.