I’m sure the majority of you have experienced some form of catcalling or street harassment at some point in your lives. In fact, ihollaback.org suggests between 77 percent and 99 percent of women have been harassed in public. NINETY-NINE PERCENT! That’s a disgusting amount of injustice right there. So, what makes people think that hollering at someone or being hollered at is okay?
Street harassment sends a certain message, and that message is that women aren’t allowed to be in public as often or as comfortably as men. It’s a global reality for all individuals and is culturally accepted as the “price you pay” for being a certain gender or sexual orientation.
As Americans, we’re given the right to freedom of speech and expression under the First Amendment — the fact that some speech deeply upsets or offends some people is not a justification for banning or limiting that speech. But when supposed free speech or expression becomes so pervasive and objectionably offensive that it effectively bars a victim’s ability to feel safe in public, something must be done to stop it.
Rather than teaching individuals to be careful, we should be tackling the source and teaching potential offenders how to act responsibly and courteously in public. So here I have compiled a neat how-to list for any would-be catcallers faced with certain temptation:
1. Just don’t do it. What are you, a creep?
2. Don’t do it! What are you, a SUPER creep?!
3. Whether it be in a box, with a fox, in a house, or with a mouse, here or there, or really anywhere, DON’T HARASS PEOPLE! Are you serious, did you really not know that this was a not-okay thing?
Last year, I actually headed a spin-off project based on ihollaback.org’s mission and created a Facebook page called HollaBack UF! to help create a safe space for those who have experienced street harassment in the Gainesville area. Check it out in addition to other resources I’ve cited down below!