Street harassment—catcalls, ogling, the occasional unwanted photograph being taken, and occasionally even groping—has existed since, probably, the beginning of time, or at least the beginning of cities. Women have generally put up with it, because what do you really do? In movies, perhaps, you confront your ogler. But in real life, usually you simply move on as quickly as possible so as not to "make matters worse," which is really sort of unfair. But it's a different world now, full of smartphones and civilian documenters and people who won't simply put up with things and move on. Enter Hollaback!, an app that women can use to upload photos of perpetrators, to tell their stories, and to generally make a statement against street harassers.
Hollaback! has existed for a while—the app and its co-creator, Emily May, have been written about in The New York Times, among other media outlets—but the time appears ripe for some renewed publicity. And that, it's gotten, partly because Council Speaker Christine Quinn and City Councilman Julissa Ferreras of Jackson Heights have awarded $20,000 to May's Brooklyn-based nonprofit, according to The New York Daily News, to help support the app and the cause. Hollaback! exists in 52 cities and 17 countries; according to its website, it's "all about your right to be you: A person who never has to take it or just keep walking, but one who has a badass response when she’s messed with. Someone who knows that she has the right to define her own self instead of being defined by some creep’s point of view. Because none of us are as simple as a list of physical attributes. We have a right to be who we are, not who we are told to be. We have a right to define ourselves on our own terms when we walk out the door, whatever that means that day."