March 7, 2008
Hollaback Australia – anti street harassment blog
After hearing about a friend’s recent experience of public harassment, Lauredhel (of Hoyden About Town) identified the need for an Australian version of the successful American anti-harassment blog Hollaback NYC. So together we are moderating the new Hollaback Australia, a place where people can share their stories of sexual harassment experienced in the public spaces of Australia.
My original plan for this weeks piece was to create the header image for the site (which I did, and it is now up) but on reflection I decided that the whole site was a wonderful act of collaborative cyberfeminism, so I am including it in its entirety.
From the site (Lauredhel’s fabulous words):
Holla Back Australia empowers Australian women to holler back at street harassers. If you’ve been harassed or groped on public transport, playing sport, eating out, working, walking between classes, dancing the night away, walking the dog, or enjoying the beach – you have the right to feel safe and to be safe. You don’t need to pretend that it didn’t happen – HOLLA BACK! Keep your cellphone at the ready, and send us pics and stories of your encounters with the pillocks, numpties, asshats and douchebags of the Australian streets.
I think this site is a really important resource for Australian women, we live in a culture where women are simultaneously expected to feel shamed by explicit comments thrown their way all the while being ‘good natured’ and able to ‘take a joke’. Both of these expectations ultimately mean the one thing though, that women are expected to keep quiet and silently take responsibility for the actions of others.
I believe there is another way, I believe given a supportive environment we can speak up about the harassments that are so common that they are an everyday part of life for many people. I don’t expect this blog to extinguish public harassment (though that would be nice) but I do believe it will give women (and men who have enough gall to step outside of expected gender lines) an opportunity to be heard.
And to those who say ‘can’t you take a joke’ I say – sure we can, here’s one right back at ya.