A group of women are walking down the street when an unknown man repeatedly calls out to them, jeering and instigating an air of apprehensiveness for all parties involved. We’ve all seen it, and many of us have experienced it.
Hollaback! Boston (yes, like the Gwen Stefani song) is a grassroots organization aimed at raising awareness about street harassment, defined on their website as a form of sexual harassment that occurs in a public place. The group focuses on addressing this public harassment and what they dub the power of the bystander, providing tips on what he or she can do to prevent cat-calling on the streets.
“I was really sick of not being able to walk on the street without someone saying something to me,” says Britni de la Cretaz, Communication and Events Coordinator and founding member of Hollaback! Boston.
Hollaback! is the brain child of seven individuals who, like de la Cretaz, saw an opportunity to increase awareness and educate people about the issue of public sexual harassment. What began in 2005 as a simple blog to share personal experiences with the matter has spurred an international undertaking to shift the societal norms associated with street heckling. The organization’s web page still allows people to post their stories, but has expanded to 45 affiliates that have drawn a worldwide following from countries like South Africa, Nepal, and Peru.
So, want to get involved?
The Boston chapter of Hollaback! is extending its reach in Beantown and invites all men and women to its sponsored events, where attendees participate in activities and discuss strategies to best address (in the words of Gwen herself) “Hey Baby”.
Here are some upcoming Hollaback! events:
- Workshop at Cambridge Women’s Center – Wednesday, June 26- Cambridge, MA
- Freedom Trail Chalk Walk (check out their Facebook for details)- Saturday, July 6- Boston, MA
- HOLLAoffline Meet Up- Sunday, July 21-location TBD
You can also follow Hollaback! Boston events through daily updates on their Twitter