Hollaback! Eastern Connecticut

How can you talk to someone – or meet someone – in a public place like the street, a park or a bus stop without being a harasser?

With Valentine’s Day approaching and, soon after it, spring, this may be a question on your mind. This question is also often on the minds of men who read my blog Stop Street Harassment or attend talks I give aboutmy book. I am happy to answer it. After all, if you tell someone what is inappropriate behaviour, it is important to tell them what is appropriate.

While perhaps obvious, the most important factor is treating the person with respect. Do not use insults or sexually objectifying language. A hello, smile or gender-neutral small talk that does not include comments about their appearance (at least, not right away) are rarely going to offend anyone and can open up the door to further conversation. Avoid familiar terms like “baby”, “honey” or “love”. While some people may not find that offensive, many do.

Make sure there is consent in your interaction. Does their body language, including eye contact (not lack thereof), and tone of voice indicate they want to interact with you, too? If you are unsure, you can always ask, is it OK if I talk to you?

Consider if the context might make them feel uncomfortable if you approach them. For example, is it dark out or a deserted area? Are you larger or older than them? Are you with friends while they are alone? If any of these factors apply, be aware that they may feel a little unsafe or unsure if you approach. So make it clear that you mean no harm and then leave them alone if they look uncomfortable.

Do not curse, insult or hurt a person who turns you down. Most of the time, people in public do not want to meet or even talk to someone. They want to get from point A to B or enjoy fresh air. They may be in a hurry or be preoccupied. Therefore, chances are that a person you approach is not going to want to talk to you or interact with you. That has nothing to do with you personally.

Talking with young men about appropriate stranger interactions in public is especially important. Society often suggests that in heterosexual relationships, it is men who should approach women. Men’s peers, family members and the media may tell them that it is OK, and even flattering, to be aggressive or to sexually objectify women whom they encounter (no matter the men’s or women’s sexual orientation). I doubt most men want to be harassers, but if they take these messages to heart, they may become harassers.

Fortunately, there are a number of new programs that counteract these harmful messages. The Consensual Project in Washington, DC is one example. Founder Ben Privot gives workshops on college campuses about how to have consent when meeting someone and in hookups and long-term relationships. He and I recently discussed consent on the streets.

Last year’s campaign in Wales, "One Step Too Far", is another. Through a television ad and online forums, the campaign illustrated and prompted conversations about the slippery slope between harmless interactions and harassment in public places.

In India, the International Centre for Research on Women runs anexcellent initiative called Parivartan. Mentors work with cricket coaches and team leaders to reform harmful gender attitudes and to address the widespread problem of street harassment or "eve teasing".

To make public places safer, more respectful arenas to occupy and to meet people in, we can all think about and start conversations about appropriate ways to interact with strangers. What circumstances, words or actions make an interaction fun as opposed to annoying or scary for you? What approaches have you seen work that were respectful without being boring or impersonal?

Source Guardian


Many people think that because our project is called “hollaback,” we endorse yelling at harassers in every circumstance.  Not so.  Our site was founded because after yelling at harassers, we were left frustrated and angry.  We thought it if we told our stories on a blog, it would bring much needed attention to the issue, and ultimately, shift the culture that makes street harassment OK.  Our strategy seems to be working pretty well so far, but we understand that sometimes you want to do more than just tell your story.

For those times, we’ve adopted this guide from Holly Kearl’s Stop Street Harassment blog, below.  Holly has also included ideas from Martha Langelan, Lauren R. Taylor, and Dr. Bernice Sandler.  Let us know if you have ideas of your own, too!

To begin, there is no overall “best” way to respond to every harasser in every circumstance.  You have to make that call, and your safety is your first priority.  That said, here are a range of ideas for responses you can use that hold harassers accountable for their behavior.
How to talk to a harasser:

  • Always use strong body language: Look the harasser in the eyes; speak in a strong, clear voice. Using your voice, facial expressions, and body language together, without mixed signals, show assertiveness and strength.
  • Project confidence and calm. Even if you do not feel that way, it is important to appear calm, serious, and confident.
  • Do not apologize, make an excuse, or ask a question. You do not need to say sorry for how you feel or what you want. Be firm. Instead of saying, ‘Excuse me…’ ‘I’m sorry, but…’ or ‘Please…’, say directly, ‘Stop doing X.’
  • Do not get into a dialogue with the harasser, try to reason with them, or answer their questions. You do not need to respond to diversions, questions, threats, blaming, or guilt-tripping. Stay on your own agenda. Stick to your point. Repeat your statement or leave.
  • Do not swear or lose your temper: This type of reaction is the most likely to make the harasser respond with anger and violence and it also can make you seem like the one who is crazy or wrong when the harassment happens among a group of people, but no one sees what the harasser did to you.
  • Decide when you’re done. Success is how you define it. If you said what you needed to say and you’re ready to leave, do so.

Ideas for what you can say to a harasser:

  • Name the behavior and state that it is wrong. For example say, “Do not whistle at me, that is harassment,” or “Do not touch my butt, that is sexual harassment.”
  • Tell them exactly what you want. Say, for example, “move away from me,” “stop touching me,” or “go stand over there.”
  • Use statements, not questions if you tell them to leave you alone. For example, say, “Leave me alone,” not “Would you please leave me alone?”
  • Make an all-purpose anti-harassment statement, such as: “Stop harassing women. I don’t like it. No one likes it. Show some respect.” Speak it in a neutral but assertive tone.
  • Use an A-B-C statement (and be very concrete about A and C): tell the harasser what the problem is; state the effect.; and what you want. Here is an example: “When you make kissing noises at me it makes me feel uncomfortable. I want you to say, ‘Hello, ma’am,’ from now on if you want to talk to me.”
  • Identify the perpetrator: “Man in the yellow shirt, stop touching me.” (This is especially useful if you and the harasser are together somewhere with other people around).

Source ihollaback.org


Hollaback! Houston busts street harassment myths.

Myth #1: Women/Womyn secretly enjoy street harassment.

Myth #2: Street harassment only happens to scantily clad women/womyn. They have it coming, because they obviously want the attention.

Myth #3: Street harassment only happens to young, conventionally attractive women/womyn.

Myth #4: Anyone who complains about street harassment is just jealous/obviously a man-hating, bra-burning psychofeminazi who hates freedom/needs a boyfriend/needs sex to loosen up/ugly.

Myth #5: Street harassment is a First Amendment right.

Myth #6: Only straight men/[insert ethnic stereotype here]/[insert socioeconomic bracket stereotype here] perpetuate street harassment.

Myth #7: It’s only a harmless compliment/flirting.

Myth #8: That’s just how men are. Deal with it. Telling them to behave otherwise is emasculating.

Myth #9: Women/Womyn are OK with street harassment if it’s from a man they find attractive.


2 Smelly Kids started as a distraction during art history lectures, but quickly evolved into an ongoing project by art student Mary Margaret. This comic documents a budding relationship between Mary and Zora with cute doodles and naughty humor.We tackle an array of subjects including sexuality, gender, and social taboos such as menstruation, as well as our quirky dietary limitations. All the while living in the middle of the conservative Midwest. 

2 Smelly Kids started as a distraction during art history lectures, but quickly evolved into an ongoing project by art student Mary Margaret. This comic documents a budding relationship between Mary and Zora with cute doodles and naughty humor.
We tackle an array of subjects including sexuality, gender, and social taboos such as menstruation, as well as our quirky dietary limitations. All the while living in the middle of the conservative Midwest. 


When I walked back from Exchange Bar in New London last night, I experienced street harassment. Three men on the opposite side of the row talked amongst themselves then walked across the street to where I was walking and started saying “hey baby,” “why you walking so fast?” etc. UGH. It made me feel disgusting. Thankfully I found a cab pretty shortly after and took it back home. Not that it should matter what I was wearing, but I was wearing a BIG coat, hat, gloves, scarf, etc. because it’s really cold! This goes to show it doesn’t really matter what you’re wearing. It doesn’t matter. This is not ok. I wish I felt brave enough to say something back to them.

 -Name Withheld.


No action is too small to make a difference in working to end the problem of street harassment. Here are some suggestions for what you can do in the moment and after/before the harassment occurs. Share your ideas in the comments section.

In the moment:

  1. Respond: If you feel safe enough to do so, assertively respond to the harassers calmly, firmly, and without insults or personal attacks to let them know that their actions are unwelcome, unacceptable, and wrong. Here is advice from Martha Langelan on dealing with drive-by harassers.
    1. If speaking feels too scary, you can also hand the harasser information about harassment. Here are some examples from Appetite for Equal RightsStreet Harassment Project, graduate student Sarah VanDenbergh, and Stop Street Harassment (Show Respect 1 | 2, Wait a Minute 1 | 2, Picking up Women 2).
  2. Step In: Intervene when someone else is being harassed to help them out of the situation and let the harasser know that their actions are not condoned by others. Men engaging in this tactic can be particularly powerful since men (majority of street harassers) look to other men for approval. Check out this great bystander campaign from the University of New Hampshire.
  3. Report to Employer: If the harassers work for an identifiable company, call or write the company to let them know that their employees are harassing people on the job and why that is unacceptable. (Here are three examples submitted to this blog about how women successfully did this. Even threatening to report harassers to their company can make a difference.)
  4. Report to Police or Transit Workers: Take actions that will create real consequences for the harasser, such as reporting the person to a police officer or other person of authority, like a bus driver or subway employee. [Here is a statute in New York against serial acts of public lewdness and in Independence, MO, it’s illegalfor drivers to harass pedestrians or cyclists]
  5. Report with your Phone: If you have a smart phone and are in the U.S., download theHollaBack phone app and report your street harasser and if you are in Egypt, use HarassMap to report harassers via SMS texting.

Before or after being harassed:

  1. Share your Stories in Person: Talk about your street harassment experiences with family, friends, coworkers, and acquaintances. A lot of people don’t realize how often it happens and how upsetting it is. Maybe if more people knew, it would happen less.
  2. Share your Stories Online: Post your street harassment story or tactic suggestions on a website or blog to raise awareness about the problem and/or to offer advice to others. Start your own regional anti-street harassment website.
  3. Tweet your Stories: Tweet street harassment stories on Twitter. Add @catcalled #hbnyc or #streetharassment to your post and it will be added to @Catcalled@ihollaback, or @StopStHarassmnt’s respective thread of harassment stories. Keep your own log of harassment experiences the way @streetharassmnt does.
  4. Post Information Offline: Put up anti-street harassment fliers,posters or signs (click on link for street signs) or hand out anti-street harassment fliers. Here’s another example of a street harassment poster.
  5. Write about It: Write and submit an article or op-ed about street harassment to a magazine or newspaper. An op-ed that journalistElizabeth Mendez Berry wrote in the fall of 2010 led to the first ever city council hearing on street harassment in New York City!
  6. Map It: Start mapping where you are harassed (google earth offers a free tool to do so with a tutorial) or contribute your story to someone who has a map to help visually show its volume. If there are patterns about where it occurs, then you can ask the police or a local business to help intervene in that area.
  7. Mentor Boys and Girls: If you are in a position of mentoring (as a family member, teacher, or friend) educate boys not to speak with disrespect to women and empower girls to stand up for themselves and challenge disrespectful behavior.
  8. Be a Male Ally: Men, we need you as allies! Read about how men can help stop street harassment. I also recommend reading Brian Martin’s “Men: Help stop public harassment,” Jackson Katz’s The Macho Paradox: Why Some Men Hurt Women and How All Men Can Helpand Todd Denny’s Unexpected Allies: Men Who Stop Rape.
  9. Support Orgs & InitiativesVolunteer time or donate money to fund anti-street harassment organizations, workshops, or community projects.

Read more.

Source streetharassment.wordpress.com


February 27, 1923. “Miss Alice Reighly, 1409 Harvard Street, president of Anti-Flirt Club, which has just been organized in Washington, D.C., and will launch an ‘Anti-Flirt Week’ beginning March 4. The club is composed of young women and girls who have been embarrassed by men in automobiles and on street corners.” 

February 27, 1923. “Miss Alice Reighly, 1409 Harvard Street, president of Anti-Flirt Club, which has just been organized in Washington, D.C., and will launch an ‘Anti-Flirt Week’ beginning March 4. The club is composed of young women and girls who have been embarrassed by men in automobiles and on street corners.” 


NEW YORK; January 31, 2011 – Local activists, frustrated by the prevalence of street harassment in their own communities, will launch Hollaback sites in ten locations around today. The blogs will be launched on ihollaback.org, and will include local maps of street harassment in each location.  

Inti Maria Tidball-Binz, the leader of Hollaback Buenos Aires said, “For many of us in Buenos Aires “Piropos,” or “catcalls” are aggressive and intrusive. We need a fresh approach to local issues, and knowing that the strength of the international Hollaback movement is behind us gives us the impetus to make changes.”

Inti Maria is one of over 20 activists that are planning to launch Hollaback sites today in six U.S. locations: Atlanta, Baltimore, El Paso, Houston, Portland, and SoCal, and four international locations: Czech Republic, Mumbai, France, and Buenos Aires.  In addition, the New York City and London sites will be moving to the ihollaback.org platform to join the growing global network.

Shawna Potter, the leader of the Hollaback Baltimore said, “I’ve traveled a lot over my life and noticed that no matter where I go, street harassment follows. I hope Hollaback Baltimore will help fuel the discussion of appropriate behavior towards women and inspire others who have felt helpless or frightened to know they have a badass response.”

Hollaback is currently recruiting activists for their next launch, which is slated for April.  The group already has been contacted by activists in thirty cities internationally who are interested in bringing Hollaback home this Spring.

About Hollaback!

Hollaback! (iHollaback.org) is a worldwide movement dedicated to ending street harassment using mobile technology.  Launched in 2005 in New York City as a blog, Hollaback! has now transformed into an international movement against street harassment.  Their iPhone and Droid apps give victims a real-time response to street harassment and break the silence that has perpetuated street harassment internationally.