Today’s Vagina News is about an experiment. Somebody trying to do something about something most people think you can’t do anything about – Street Harassment.
We’ve talked about it before… It’s one of those open secrets, in that it’s happened to every woman countless times, and it happens in public, yet many men are totally oblivious to it – even to inadvertently participating in it. (Those are not absolutes. Not all women define harassment the same way, not all harassment victims are women, and there are plenty of men who are aware of it and doing their part to stop it. The point is to recognize the feelings of those who ARE negatively affected by it, and to make more people aware of the issue, and the need and opportunity for anti-harassment advocacy.)
So someone (I can’t find a name) started something called ‘Hollaback!’ There’s a website, an app, and FB/Twitter/Tumblr. profiles all devoted to sharing stories, photos, and videos of street harassment. The idea is that by sharing these things, we take away some of the feelings of victimization, isolation, and shame that street harassment can engender; It also denies harassers the anonymity and privacy they rely on to avoid being held accountable for their behavior; And it helps identify harassment ‘hotspots’, where a bit of concentrated effort might make a meaningful difference. (Like, if you show your friends a spot on the map where you and lots of others have been harassed, you might all be more attuned to it next time you’re there, and more inclined to speak up against it.)
Will it make a real difference? I have no idea. But I had no idea whether Vagina News would matter to anyone when I started it, and it turns out it does. So here’s hopin’!