Hollaback battles street harassment

Cat-calling is an institution in our society. For most, the idea brings to mind the iconic construction worker hooting at a model...

Cat-calling is an institution in our society. For most, the idea brings to mind the iconic construction worker hooting at a model in some perfume commercial, or a droning “Hey bay-bee” shouted from a car window. Half of you are aware that this institution has long since worn out its welcome — the other half have never had anyone demand sex or bark homophobic slurs at them from the safety of a moving vehicle.

“Many people who are less likely to be harassed on the street are unaware of the impact of that behaviour,” says Julie MacSween. MacSween is one of the people responsible for the creation of victoria.ihollaback.org, dedicated to combating street harassment in The Capital. Along with raising awareness, the site provides an outlet for those affected by street harassment to share their stories, and allows readers to voice their support for those who speak out.

The idea behind the site goes beyond shaming people who engage in street harassment, says Hollaback volunteer Rowan Hébert. “If we create a culture where we decide that street harassment is okay, we start to decide that other things are okay.”

People share stories about all kinds of harassment, and support from readers encourages those affected to react to harassment with confidence rather than fear. “If you see that 40 people have read your story and are behind you, that’s empowering,” says Hébert.

The stories collected on the Hollaback site since its launch on Sept. 6 shatter the image of the sleazy but charming construction worker. Experiences range from queer couples berated for being confident enough to walk down the street holding hands to 13-year-old girls being asked if they’ll “fuck for money” by a car full of young men. These stories represent all that is still vicious and crude in our society.

Street harassment isn’t about paying compliments or having a laugh on Friday night. It sets a precedent for public interactions characterized not by friendly smiles but by juvenile humour, bigotry, threats and sexual harassment. By refusing to brush this off as a routine hazard of walking around in The Capital, Victoria Hollaback is shouldering the burden of our collective failure to simply be decent to one another.

Anyone interested in becoming involved in Victoria Hollaback can visit victoria.ihollaback.org. M

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Orca 1
Orcas: Our Shared Future

Royal BC Museum dives into the world of orcas with upcoming feature exhibition

Frank Ludwig in a forklift with his long hair during Trooper’s heyday. (Photo submitted)
Humble Island beginnings blossomed into storied career for Trooper keyboardist

Frank Ludwig got his start as a boy pumping the organ in a tiny downtown Chemainus church

Joan Miller with the Vancouver Island North Regional Film Commission says there’s much room for optimism in the region rebounding from COVID-19 and is excited about what the future holds for the region. Black Press File Photo
North Island film industry optimistic about post-COVID rebound

Interest in filming here is still high, according to film commission, once things open back up

The 10-part Netflix series Maid, which is being exclusively shot in Greater Victoria, has been filming in Langford and Colwood over the past two weeks. On April 7, filming will take place on the east side of the Esquimalt Lagoon. (Black Press Media file)
Netflix series ‘Maid’ filming in Colwood

10-episode Warner Bros. production filmed exclusively in Greater Victoria

Victoria mural artists Joshua Lundrigan (from left) and Paul Archer join Rob Chyzowski, co-owner of Belleville’s Watering Hole and Diner in front of an Archer-designed mural that went up on Thursday at the Inner Harbour restaurant. (Don Descoteau/News Staff)
Positivity rules with new outdoor mural from Victoria artist

Paul Archer teams with Belleville’s Watering Hole and Diner for patio project

Thomas Kuecks, Bellamy Kuecks and Paula Foot have come together to create an album of stories for children. (Nina Foot photo)
Moments with Miss Paula creates musical stories for kids

Music and the spoken word from Island pair available on streaming

Author Eden Robinson poses for a portrait during an interview in Toronto, Wednesday, May 29, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Tijana Martin
Trickster trilogy author Eden Robinson hosts online conversation and reading

Haisla and Heiltsuk will join fans in event hosted by Vancouver Island Regional Library

Nanaimo author Lawrence Winkler’s latest book is ‘The Last Casebook of Doctor Sababa.’ (Bulletin file photo/supplied)
Nanaimo author wraps up trilogy following ‘antihero’ Island doctor

Lawrence Winkler presents ‘The Last Casebook of Doctor Sababa’

‘Frank Ney’ by Patrick Flavin, ‘Millstone River Upper Falls’ by John Collison Baker, ‘Labyrinth of Dreams’ by MA Molcan, ‘On the Other Side’ by Liana Ravensbergen, ‘December Snow’ by Laurel Karjala and ‘Jacks Point’ by Dana Smiley (cropped, clockwise from top-left) are among the works in the Nanaimo Arts Council’s latest exhibition. (Photos courtesy Nanaimo Arts Council)
Nanaimo Arts Council presents its first online gallery show

Submissions now open for upcoming ‘Ekphrastic Celebration’ show

Dorothy Sevcov’s exhibition ‘Having Fun With Acrylics’ is on display at Art 10 Gallery until the end of the month. (Josef Jacobson/The News Bulletin)
Experimental paintings now on exhibit at Nanaimo’s Art 10 Gallery

Dorothy Sevcov’s ‘Having Fun With Acrylics’ on display through April

Courtenay artist Christine Boyer presents Alongside My Path: Native Wildflowers of Canada at Gallery Merrick from April 9 to 23. (Photo courtesy Christine Boyer)
Island painter shows off the wildflowers of Western Canada in first solo show

Courtenay’s Christine Boyer presents floral exhibit at Nanaimo’s Gallery Merrick

Nanaimo Harbourfront Library librarian April Ripley led the effort to create a Vancouver Island poetry booklet in recognition of National Poetry Month. (Josef Jacobson/The News Bulletin)
Nanaimo Harbourfront Library publishes booklet for National Poetry Month

Collection features winners of ‘Poem in your Pocket’ contest

SENCOTEN language revitalizationist and filmmaker Renee Sampson’s short film, Bringing Our Language Back to LIfe, shows online during the Reel 2 Real International Youth Film Festival, April 14-23. (Photo courtesy Wapikoni)
SENCOTEN language featured in short film created on Saanich Peninsula

Renee Sampson film highlights importance of passing on traditional languages to youth

Most Read