Target: Hollaback! Executive Director Emily May
Goal: Commend the nonprofit for spreading awareness about and campaigning against street harassment
People of all stripes, but especially women and members of the LGBT community, have all manner of horror stories about street harassment, whether they experienced it personally in a physical or nonphysical way, or witnessed someone else being victimized by someone who felt entitled to that person’s attention. For 84 percent of women, the reality of this objectification is real enough that they feel compelled to alter their routine in an attempt to avoid such contact. Several years ago, Emily May decided to do something about it, creating a website called Hollaback! that allows people across the country to call attention to street harassment, publishing stories describing their encounters with harassers and often detailing location and time, and refusing to let harassment go unnoticed any longer. As an extension of this effort to raise awareness and reclaim the streets, Hollaback! released a mobile app that made the site’s functions available to mobile users, and ended up receiving a grant for $20,000 through the support of Julissa Ferreras, New York City council member and current chair of the Committee on Women’s Issues.
Recently, an updated version of the app was unveiled for users in the Big Apple, with the support of city council Speaker (and former mayoral candidate) Christine Quinn, which allows victims or witnesses of street harassment to report incidents in real time with location tags either plotted manually or via GPS. Users can also opt to add demographic information and a photo. The app includes one last optional but controversial feature: the ability to send an incident report to their district’s database and to CouncilStat, a site designed to streamline constituent concern reports. In a release detailing the unveiling of the app’s expansion, for which the city money was granted, Quinn said, “By coupling valuable information with targeted resources we will arm ourselves with the tools we need to put and end to street violence and harassment. Public spaces belong to all New Yorkers, and street harassment is not a price women and LGBT New Yorkers have to pay for walking around New York City’s neighborhoods.” While the optional reporting feature of the app is controversial, there is no doubt that its improvement will help to build a grassroots support network in the country’s biggest metropolis for spreading awareness about and ending street harassment. This will help ensure that all of the Big Apple’s citizens will feel free to enjoy their city without fear of public objectification and embarrassment.
By signing this petition, you are thanking Emily May and Hollaback! activists and contributors for their dedication to making our country’s streets a safer place for women, LGBTQ individuals, and everyone. You are applauding the work they have done in the service of spreading awareness about and refusing to accept street harassment. You are encouraging them to continue this important work.
Dear Emily May and Hollaback!,
Your work in spreading awareness about street harassment and giving a voice to victims is truly inspiring. Over these last few years you have been dedicated to providing, developing, and advocating for an outlet for women and LGBT individuals who struggle daily against being objectified. I am so grateful that you have persevered and created a revised app for those suffering from or witnessing street harassment in New York City.
Thank you for continuing to fight for the right of the objectified to their own agency and voice. Thank you for fighting for the creation and expansion of the Hollaback! app, and for spearheading the reclamation of our streets to make them safer for all citizens.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Anton Bielousov via Wikimedia Commons