Vassar College Digital Library
Street harassment, or sexual harassment in public places, is widely experienced by women and queer individuals as they move through cities across the globe. As a form of gender-based violence, street harassment prevents those who experience it from full participation in their cities, gendering access to and mobility in public space. Street harassment has implications for equity across genders with regards to the right to the city. This thesis explores the challenges of combatting street harassment through an examination of the creation of Hollaback!, a blog turned social movement organization based in New York City.
Hollaback! began addressing street harassment through the collection of personal stories, formation of a cyber community, and presentation of a model for response to harassment based on subverting the hostile male gaze through documentation and surveillance. Throughout, Hollaback! operated with the intent of translating their online innovations into an altered geography of access and safety for women and queer individuals in New York. I ask, what does Hollaback!'s choice of a web-based response to street harassment tell us about urban space and resistance in the internet age? Though problematically uncritical of the technology they employ, I find that Hollaback! has innovated novel ways to connect physically disparate actors and implement initiatives against street harassment on the ground in New York City. However, a substantial amount of work remains in researching the effectiveness of Hollaback!'s model for response.
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