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  1. Bitter Scribe
    Bitter Scribe July 8, 2010 at 3:01 pm |

    You had me until the last sentence. You’re going to digitally write up a guy for looking at you? Isn’t that a bit harsh?

  2. Astrid
    Astrid July 8, 2010 at 3:01 pm |

    First, I’m sorry you were harrassed repeatedly. My sympathies go out to you and to all other women who’ve experieced street harassment.

    As for the app, however, I’m concerend that this is an infringement of the offenders’privacy which may be unlawful. I hope the person who started the movement checked to make sure she was acting within the limits of the law by having photos of offenders posted to the Internet.

  3. Jadey
    Jadey July 8, 2010 at 3:15 pm |

    iHollaback will serve as a resource for law enforcement looking to cut down on the behavior, legislators trying to pass stricter laws against it, and activists holding the feet of both to the fire to actually do so

    As far as stats collection goes, this method would be flawed, as not all potential reporters would have the requisite technology and/or app in order to take part. I’m also not convinced about the utility of the legislation/enforcement model in dealing with street harassment – seems like a bad fit to me. Hard to enforce, turns it into the issue of one individual’s conduct at a time, and doesn’t deal with the structural forces at work.

    Taking a photo of someone could also spark escalation as much as confronting them verbally could, unless iPhones are actually way more subtle than the cells I am used to, so I don’t really see this as a replacement for confrontation either.

    And as far as a resource for other women, well, if it’s a street we live or work on, we can hardly avoid it. In my city, I know exactly where I’m likely to be harassed, and I go down those streets because I need to, not because I like hanging out there. I also know that I will possibly be harassed anywhere in the city, especially if I’m wearing clothing that makes other people deem me a target or holding hands with a girl. It’s not going to make me stop dating girls either, anymore than it’s going to make me stop going down those streets. I’m moving to a new city in a month, I’ve visited there for all of 3 days, and I already have a good idea of what streets I’m likely to be harassed on (again, any of them if I’m holding hands with a girl, etc.).

    I’m aware of street harassment as a major issue, although it is not as bad in the city I currently reside in as it is in New York. Personally, this app does not fill me with any particular hope. I am not comfortable using my cell phone that way (and being the cheapest phone I could get with the cheapest plan I could get, I’m not sure if it’s the kind of phone that could use an app), so I will just keep yelling/ignoring.

  4. RD
    RD July 8, 2010 at 3:16 pm |

    Surely if GoogleEarth is lawful…

  5. Bushfire
    Bushfire July 8, 2010 at 3:21 pm |

    I’m so proud of you for doing what you did! I’ve been harassed in the street three times: twice in London (Canada) and once in Toronto. I’m living in Toronto now so I know it will increase. I’ve never fought back because it always scares me but I always imagine myself doing what you did.

  6. Jadey
    Jadey July 8, 2010 at 3:25 pm |

    The more I re-read this article, the more frustrated I get actually, if only because this statement:

    pairing mobile technology with woman-powered guerrilla activism to end street harassment

    completely ignores that *technology* is not going to solve a problem that is disproportionately (though certainly not exclusively) experienced by people with the least access to that technology. Maybe I’m reading too much into what is actually just enthusiastic hyperbole, but the idea that a *cellphone app* is going to *end* street harassment has really gotten under my skin.

  7. Comrade Kevin
    Comrade Kevin July 8, 2010 at 3:27 pm |

    I witnessed street harassment first hand about two weeks ago, on a Saturday night. One man, periodically drinking out of a cup that I assume contained alcohol, kept screaming at this one girl whose discomfort was very plain to see. She ignored him, then quickly crossed the street.

    I also walked with a former partner through a rough part of town, who was thankful for my presence because she didn’t have to deal with such behavior while I was at her side.

    But I will say this. I may have stared a bit too much at an attractive woman a time or two in my life, though I usually can tell pretty quickly whether or not she finds me attractive and is receptive to it. Some guys are respectful and some are not.

  8. Megan
    Megan July 8, 2010 at 3:28 pm |

    Awesome!

  9. Amanda in the South Bay
    Amanda in the South Bay July 8, 2010 at 3:39 pm |

    iPhones (and their monthly plans) certainly aren’t cheap, so yeah, women who have some extra money lying around can afford it, but I also agree that it may be a bit classist.

    Plus, lots of cheapo cell phones have cameras in them. They may not be as good as an iPhone, but they’d still work. From the op-ed:

    “Think about it: If a smartphone can help you order your dinner, buy a movie ticket or connect with your friends, why can’t it be used as a 21st century tool to shame and stop the worst kind of behavior?”

    Because I’m too fucking poor to afford an iPhone or Blackberry?

  10. LN80
    LN80 July 8, 2010 at 3:53 pm |

    There was an article in make/shift (I can’t find it on the internet – it may just be in print), offering a very thoughtful critique of Hollaback, and the ways that this kind of picture taking replicates/adopts larger systems of state surveillance and the extent to which such surveillance will “solve” a problem.

  11. Alan Lamb
    Alan Lamb July 8, 2010 at 3:59 pm |

    Astrid – while laws may not be the same everywhere, and I’m certainly not a lawyer, my understanding as an amateur candid photographer is that it’s only unlawful to take a picture of someone if they are somewhere with a “reasonable expectation of privacy”. A public street doesn’t meet that description in any way.

    In any case, I’ll take dubious legality over sitting back and doing nothing any day. You’ve got to weigh the consequences of these things, and morally speaking, the right of offenders not to have their pictures posted on the interwebs is generally going to be trumped by the right of women to feel safe on their own streets.

  12. Faith
    Faith July 8, 2010 at 4:36 pm |

    “You had me until the last sentence. You’re going to digitally write up a guy for looking at you? Isn’t that a bit harsh?”

    I knew it wouldn’t take long for someone to jump in complaining about that.

    There is a huge difference between some dude just looking at you and some dude staring at you for a prolonged period of time. Men tend to think that a man has to be overtly harassing before he has crossed the line into dangerous territory. The truth for many women is that a man sitting and staring at you for a prolonged period of time can be just as intimidating and scary as a man yelling “suck my %^&*:” as you walk by.

  13. Perfect
    Perfect July 8, 2010 at 4:50 pm |

    Hi everybody, sorry I’m late. Has anybody seen my enemy, good?

  14. Amanda in the South Bay
    Amanda in the South Bay July 8, 2010 at 5:57 pm |

    I think there’s a difference between “suck my cock” levels of harassment, and the kind of harassment that, when it happens, you have a gut feeling its going to lead to some sort of physical violence. I tend to take comments like the former more or less in stride (though they usually tend to be transphobic ones) and really only care about the latter ones.

    The last thing I want to do is to escalate a situation by taking a pic/video, cause I don’t want a perp to think “oh shit, she’s gonna call the cops and I’m going to go to jail/prison” or possibly physically fucking me up and destroying my phone (though if you sent the video/pic as a text message to someone, destroying your phone wouldn’t work-but try telling that to an angry perp).
    Yay for filling the prison industrial complex with street harassers!

    A couple of years ago while on a bus I got threatened by one of the passengers. He made gestures and said stuff under his breath that indicated he wanted to beat the crap out of me. I suppose trans women early in transition are pretty tempting targets. The cameras on the bus, the driver, and the passengers did jack shit (boo to the good citizens of Santa Clara County and the VTA). I was scared shitless and if the shit had hit the fan, fumbling for my phone probably would’ve robbed precious seconds trying to run away off the bus, and probably have inflamed the guy wanting to beat me. So yeah, I was more concerned about running away (which I did at the next bus stop) rather than standing still and taking a good pic/video).

    I guess to summarize my feelings-I’m a little ambivalent about these sorts of things.

  15. April
    April July 8, 2010 at 6:17 pm |

    I have mixed feelings about this. I live in a rough neighborhood where even walking down a busy street in broad daylight doesn’t prevent me from getting harassed by several men (many times, groups of them at a time), but I did immediately think, “when will they make an Android version??”

    I, too, second the hesitance to take a photo of the offending douchebag. I don’t imagine being in a situation where I can do so discreetly while also not being afraid of potential repercussions.

    I do want to commend you on your response to the guy in your story, though. That took some serious guts! I’m usually too timid to react in such a way, and tend to either ignore them, or placate them enough to get out of the situation safely, which always makes me feel really disappointed in myself– which, I know, is no good at all, since I am not at fault for someone harassing me, nor am I at fault for prioritizing my safety.

    For people who live in the Twin Cities (Minnesota, USA), the TCAvengers has a page on their blog where you can submit the location and a summary of your street harassment experiences. I’ve used the service before. Reading through the others is incredibly depressing, but it should be required reading for all males who think that females want this kind of attention.

  16. Rose Kolodny
    Rose Kolodny July 8, 2010 at 6:21 pm |

    I’ve always felt better about verbal harassment when I’ve confronted it head-on than when I’d let it lie. Most people aren’t expecting that you’ll turn round and give them a telling off.

    I think my confidence in doing this has increased a lot since John Smeaton became a sort of Glaswegian hero for intervening in the attempted terrorist attack at Glasgow airport. Suddenly telling off someone for verbal harassment doesn’t seem like such a big deal.

  17. PrettyAmiable
    PrettyAmiable July 8, 2010 at 6:38 pm |

    Smart phone penetration: http://www.gpsbusinessnews.com/Nielsen-US-Smartphone-Penetration-to-Be-over-50-in-2011_a2154.html

    Just FYI

    I frankly don’t give a shit about their privacy concerns. It’s a neat idea, but not one I’ll use. And good for you for saying something. It’s super empowering.

  18. William
    William July 9, 2010 at 1:25 am |

    I doubt theres much of a privacy concern. If someone wants to avoid being photographed for a non-commercial purpose I’m pretty sure their only real option is to stay in spaces they control. As for street harassers, there seems to be a pretty sure-fire way to avoid having one’s picture taken in this context: don’t harass people on the street. No one really has an expectation of privacy in public when it comes to being photographed, thats especially true if they’re engaged in what could be construed aggressive/potentially criminal behavior. No one aside from the most reliably violent class of badge-wearing criminals really has an expectation of privacy in public. If you’re a cop, however, all bets are probably off. Hell, filming them on-duty (even if they’re committing a crime) is felony wiretapping here in Illinois.

  19. RD
    RD July 9, 2010 at 1:35 am |

    No one aside from the most reliably violent class of badge-wearing criminals really has an expectation of privacy in public. If you’re a cop, however, all bets are probably off. Hell, filming them on-duty (even if they’re committing a crime) is felony wiretapping here in Illinois.

    Yeah no joke. Anyone who has ever tried, or wanted to, do a copwatch, or even record something they are witnessing, knows how dangerous and scary that is. Cops react violently and/or arrest people for recording them even when it is not illegal to do that (record them). And the real kicker is you can sometimes be making it worse for the original victim of their brutality…hard to get their consent in that sort of situation.

  20. BookishBeemer
    BookishBeemer July 9, 2010 at 3:04 am |

    Major props for telling that guy off! I bet he’ll think twice before doing that again.

    As for the commenters: iPhones may not be available to everyone, but I would hardly say any attempt to thwart street harassment should be degenerated for the means being “classist.” In fact, saying ownership of an iPhone and the app itself is classist is pretty stupid, considering it’s an adaptation of the website.

    Of course, the OP’s response is not a recrimination of those who do not react to street harassment. As is often said on feminist blogs: your safety comes first. I’ve encountered a lot of SH, starting when I was nine. Sometimes I’ve reacted, sometimes I haven’t. When I have reacted, I’ve felt a whole lot better than when I didn’t, because it feels damn good to release that anger directly at the source. Sometimes you can’t do that. Save it up for the next time you feel safe enough to do it.

  21. Bagelsan
    Bagelsan July 9, 2010 at 4:34 am |

    You’re going to digitally write up a guy for looking at you? Isn’t that a bit harsh?

    Not looking, staring. At least give a harassed woman the benefit of the doubt when it comes to reading creepy dudes’ creepy social cues! :p

    And it’s not like anything harmful to the stare-er will come of that photo — if we lived in a world where harassers faced actual consequences for their shitty behavior there wouldn’t be so damn many harassers…

  22. William
    William July 9, 2010 at 10:22 am |

    Not looking, staring. At least give a harassed woman the benefit of the doubt when it comes to reading creepy dudes’ creepy social cues!

    Exactly. Men learn the difference between a glance and a stare, we’re trained to know what each means. If Ms. Knox felt a gaze was being maintained throughout the time it took to write a post this long, then it most certainly wasn’t a guy just “looking” at her.

  23. Ostien
    Ostien July 9, 2010 at 10:27 am |

    I have mixed feelings about this app. On the one hand I like the social network model, it basically just condenses what you could accomplish in an blog into a single app. it allows a space for people to share experiences and develop a community that aims to protect victims and potential victims. It’s just a bit flashier and sleek now that’s it’s on the iPhone. Also if this spawns more community awareness and possibly grassroots action I’m all for it.

    I’m not concerned about the privacy issue because the harassers are in public and thus have no assumption of privacy (unless as stated before the harassers are police).

    LN80’s post sums up my concerns about this adopting of state surveillance methods (Though I’d like to see the article they mentioned). I’d be concerned about integrating it into state structures such as the police. Also the idea that surveillance in general solves problems is dubious at best and the problems created by surveillance are many. I’m always concerned about people becoming more complacent with surveillance in any case to the point they allow it when it is out of their control, usually by a state. Also, I’d definitely like to keep this out of the direct hands of a potentially abusive state apparatus (though I live in Chicago so I’m surrounded by blue light cameras already) to be used not for it’s intended purpose (“see something say something” to a whole new level). As it is now I don’t see any of those problems but just the topic of surveillance was one of the things that jumped out at me.

    Also other comments have been made about it potentially escalating the situation that would be part of my concern. However, this is something that really is taken on a case by case basis on what you feel comfortable doing for your safety.

  24. Dominique
    Dominique July 9, 2010 at 10:51 am |

    It feels good to do something, just anything, against these people. And it would be even funnier to post their photos with appropriate descriptions like “loser!!! staring at what he can never get and calling out because it’s the closest he’ll ever be to my fine self. Get a life!”

  25. Somebody
    Somebody July 9, 2010 at 11:24 am |

    You don’t need an application for this. My camera phone has worked very well for years. I have yet to feel intimidated by random guys in the street. They usually get quite nervous when they realize their photo is being taken.

  26. Kelly
    Kelly July 9, 2010 at 11:34 am |

    I feel very torn about this. Like nearly everyone above, I can’t imagine being able to take a picture of an offender in a way that won’t make the situation worse. On the other hand, it’s very empowering to apprehend harassers. I don’t know how I feel about the whole letting-women-know-which-routes-are-worst thing, either. Why should women have to avoid walking in certain areas? But, I suppose if one really just wants to avoid harassment at all costs, that could be a valuable resource… Meh. None of this applies to me, anyway. I’m too poor to afford any sort of fancy phone. To me, a phone with a camera is pretty spiffy.

  27. Alara Rogers
    Alara Rogers July 9, 2010 at 12:02 pm |

    I am, personally, disturbed that there are people who think that surveillance is so fundamentally wrong and “police-state” that they feel it does not have a place in righting wrongs against marginalized people.

    The thing about being marginalized is that your voice is suppressed, for one, and for another, when you do speak you are not believed. Videotape, at least, is *much* more likely to be believed than a claim by a marginalized person in the presence of a counter-claim by a person from the privileged class. In part, this is because privileged people may simply not experience the threats in question (such as the fact that men not only do not experience catcalls, but when they are with women, the women don’t experience them either… so men see catcalling behavior much, much more rarely than women do, if they don’t themselves or their friends do not engage in it.) And there’s the fact that the whole process of marginalizing people involves promoting the cultural understanding that what they have to say is just not as important or truthful, and promoting a lack of empathy toward them.

    A victimized person recording their victimization, or an ally recording an experience in which someone is victimized for the purpose of shaming the tormentor, isn’t the same thing as state surveillance in the first place, and in the second place, the main problem with state surveillance is not that it exists but that the purpose it is put to is often to promote marginalization and the promotion of the status quo rather than justice. if we could trust state actors to use surveillance to identify people who are breaking just and reasonable laws and causing harm to innocents, and *not* using surveillance to identify dissenters against the status quo or to disproportionately punish already marginalized people for consensual or minor crimes, there wouldn’t be a problem with it. Obviously, history proves we can’t trust state actors, but frankly, we can’t trust them in the absence of surveillance either, and the main problem with state surveillance is the one-sidedness of it. As others have pointed out, police officers often flip out when they realize they are being recorded, and the reason is that surveillance is a tool by which the surveying party observes “wrongdoing” and brings it to the attention of others who weren’t there. When “wrongdoing” is defined as “anything that threatens the power of powerful men”, obviously, surveillance can be used for evil. When “wrongdoing” is defined as “the abuse of power by powerful people”, sometimes surveillance is the most powerful tool we can have.

    I was bullied when I was a kid. The principal refused to do anything about it on the grounds that kids would be kids, and it wasn’t very serious anyway. I used to fantasize about bringing a tape recorder in to school to record the bullying, so I could then bring it to the attention of the principal so he’d *know* how bad it was. Of course, in real life that might not have worked… but I’ll bet that threatening a lawsuit against the school, with the tapes as evidence, might have. But now I live in a state where victims can’t legally make audio recordings of their own victimization as evidence, because all recordings need to be consented to by both parties. I can’t help but think that there are probably a lot of “he-said-she-said” cases of domestic violence where if the victim had had the opportunity to set up a tape recorder in her home and leave it running to capture the incidents of violence against her, she would have had a much easier time in court.

    Obviously this isn’t perfect. Videotapes of rapes have sometimes *still* led to rapists being acquitted because the victim didn’t look sufficiently victimized. The fact that Rodney King’s police abusers were caught on tape didn’t get them convicted. But would Officer Mehserle have faced even so much as a slap on the wrist, let alone court, if someone hadn’t recorded his murder of Oscar Grant? Would Rodney King have even *gotten* as far as a day in court? Video and photography and audio recordings allow you to experience the world as someone else saw it, and if that someone else was a marginalized person, that may be the only way you will ever get their experience into your head, because you’ve been taught to ignore everything they actually say.

    So I agree with those who say that your personal safety is paramount and you should never feel like you *must* photograph street harassers, but I also agree that photographing street harassers can be a powerful tool in combating their behavior. I often think audio is even better, since what you’re accusing them of is usually found in their words and tone, not their appearance… but you can’t identify a person from audio, so audio is more about proving that your experience happened and less about being able to shame the person who did it. And I think that audio and video and photography are among the most powerful tools that marginalized, oppressed, or victimized people have, and *any* law which is intended to protect people’s privacy needs to be balanced against the need for victims to be able to demonstrate to the world what happened to them, and who did it.

  28. William
    William July 9, 2010 at 12:11 pm |

    I’d be concerned about integrating it into state structures such as the police.

    I think your concern there, in this specific case, is misplaced. The only way for something like this to be integrated into state structures would be for the state to believe it had an interest in limiting the kind of behavior being observed. Given that we live in a society that can’t reliably prosecute (much less convict) rapists I seriously doubt that the state is likely to try to incorporate a tool designed to combat harassment.

    Perhaps more importantly, I think you’re seeing the observation from the wrong perspective. Street harassment is essentially the public observation and policing of bodies and their movement. The harassers are themselves little motes of surveillance, just waiting to open their mouthes to dominate the space they watch. Street harassment is a means of exerting social control and telling people what their place is. Street harassment is no more about sex than rape is, its about saying “I am powerful, this is my space, your body is subject to my gaze and judgment.” If we want to talk about something being integrated into state power, I’d say harassment is the more likely candidate then this app simply because harassers are engaged in and supporting the same systems of power as the state.

    In that light, to me, this app looks less like potential state surveillance and more like outlaw journalism.

  29. Bitter Scribe
    Bitter Scribe July 9, 2010 at 12:34 pm |

    @Faith #12 and Bagelsan #21: Yeah, I guess I see your point. I remember when a friend related how frightened she was when she was sitting at a bus stop and a car pulled up and the passenger just stared at her for more than a minute. She had her baby in her arms, meaning escape wasn’t really an option. She was scared, and she isn’t the type who scares easily.

    How smart it would have been to snap a photo of the guy at that time is perhaps debatable, but there’s no question that she had a reason to be scared.

  30. LN80
    LN80 July 9, 2010 at 1:19 pm |

    I agree about using photos and videos as powerful documentation tools. The concern I have about the replication/adoption of state surveillance methods is related to the OP’s statement about it being a “resource for law enforcement” and legislators, and the extent to which this project is organized/led/contributed to by middle to upper class white women.

    The desire to engage with law enforcement to “remedy” acts of violence against women has been repeatedly critiqued by women of color led social justice organizations, starting with INCITE.

  31. LN80
    LN80 July 9, 2010 at 1:30 pm |

    To clarify: I’m not categorically opposed to the use of these documentation tools to publicize harassers’ behavior. But I think it is important to ask questions about the purpose of such a database, the racial and class identities of victims and perpetrators, and the impulse to rely on or engagement with law enforcement as an accountability mechanism.

    The article in make/shift does a much better job of addressing some of these issues, but I just can’t find it online, unfortunately.

  32. RD
    RD July 9, 2010 at 1:45 pm |

    I agree with Alara. Well said.

  33. Amanda in the South Bay
    Amanda in the South Bay July 9, 2010 at 3:11 pm |

    “In fact, saying ownership of an iPhone and the app itself is classist is pretty stupid, considering it’s an adaptation of the website. ”

    Thank you for telling my under-employed often discriminated against trans ass what class privilege is. I’ll go to the Apple Shop first thing after work and pick up an iPhone.

  34. Marksman2010
    Marksman2010 July 9, 2010 at 5:28 pm |

    If the police do next to nothing when a woman reports a rape, what makes you think showing them a pic and complaining about harassment will bring results?

    I have a more effective stratagem:

    1) Acquire a license to carry a concealed handgun. If you live somewhere where the government doesn’t permit you to own and carry firearms, move.

    2) Ignore the creeps who harass you on the street. When you acknowledge their existence by hurling insults and foul language, you’re lowering yourself to their level. Just stare straight ahead and ignore them. They’re trash. You’re not.

    3) If indifference doesn’t work and the creep attacks you, shoot him. Make sure to load your firearm with JHP’s and strike his CoM, preferably with multiple shots. You can use your iPhone now to call the police and clean up his mess.

    Many of you will label this method extreme, but please remember that I tagged this as an “effective stratagem” right from the get-go. Uploading pics isn’t effective. If I took pictures every time I was forced to deal with an asshole or idiot, you’d think I worked for National Geographic or something. Snap. Snap. Snap. Snap. Christ, that’s all I would ever do.

  35. Ostien
    Ostien July 9, 2010 at 5:33 pm |

    @William, I was more talking about this type of system to be used not to prevent street harassment (its laughable the police would care) but for activities more in line with the interest of the state, which may be to further subjugate marginalized communities. So I was not thinking for a moment the police would wish to help marginalized communities but use it against them such as the homeless for example. I was more musing about the idea of this type of surveillance in general and our views of its acceptability when it is used by the state. This really was sparked by comments in the OPs post and others about it being a resource for law enforcement (again not thinking they would have interest in useing it for that purpose). So my concern what the comfort level with that type integration (which would just be for show/good PR, “see we are helping women aren’t we such good police?”) that then could be used as a justification for the state to roll out new surveillance methods to crack down on other “dangerous” elements.

    I’d rather this stay in the public’s hands and not be integrated into state surveillance. Perhaps my concern was poorly worded on my part as I don’t think our positions are that dissimilar.

    I wholeheartedly agree with the outlaw journalism point and touched on a similar point in my first paragraph.

  36. PrettyAmiable
    PrettyAmiable July 9, 2010 at 6:13 pm |

    Does having privilege automatically make you classist? (Or, I guess, in other veins, racist, ableist, heterosexist, and so on?) My understanding from 101 sites and the community has been that those are disparate, but if they’re not, I need to adjust my language usage. For instance, I don’t think discussions that only pertain to men are sexist, but are indicative of privilege in that they further an already dominant voice. This might not be directly comparable, however. [/derail].

    As far as the glancing/staring – I get creeped out when people look too long, but do want to point out that sometimes it’s a cultural issue as well. My RA freshman year grew up in the Ukraine and apologized in advance to us that they look longer at someone’s face than is normal in the US. She had gotten that a lot the year prior from her US classmates, that she was making them uncomfortable.

    I imagine 9x out of 10, it’s a person trying to make you uncomfortable, but I like to imagine it’s less frequent than that because it makes it easier to go out in public without anxieties. I hope it helps other people.

  37. preying mantis
    preying mantis July 9, 2010 at 6:52 pm |

    “I don’t know how I feel about the whole letting-women-know-which-routes-are-worst thing, either. Why should women have to avoid walking in certain areas? But, I suppose if one really just wants to avoid harassment at all costs, that could be a valuable resource… Meh.”

    It’s hard and more than a little unfair to insist that everyone do the “the world must change, we will not!” existence-as-political-act thing all the time, though. No, women shouldn’t have to avoid walking in certain areas. It’s bullshit that this discussion even has to happen.

    But for the actual people living in the actual world as it is now, I imagine there are going to be times in their lives when they just want to preserve what’s left of their mental health and emotional energy for the rest of their day. I doubt it will result in women en masse deciding not to go down this particular street because the construction crew on site halfway down it are being really awful this week. It may result in individual women who are having issues with anxiety or PTSD or just a really, really shitty day avoid further douchebag-induced stress that day, though.

  38. Faith
    Faith July 9, 2010 at 7:10 pm |

    “3) If indifference doesn’t work and the creep attacks you, shoot him. ”

    Awesome. That way I can get charged with murder every time some asshole harasses me. That’ll surely fucking help my situation. Being in jail for life or ending up with the death penalty for murdering random men on street is totally what I’m looking forward to in life.

    Seriously, if we women with our little lady bits and our silly little heads honestly thought guns might help, most of us would be armed. They won’t help. They will only make the situation worse. 9 times out of 10 that’s all goddamn fucking guns ever do. I’ll take shooting some asshole on the street with a camera over shooting him with a gun any day of the week.

  39. eilish
    eilish July 10, 2010 at 1:01 am |

    Reasons suggested in this thread for why we shouldn’t support this application:
    – it will not solve the problem of street harrassment in one fell swoop
    – perfectly lovely men who are innocently looking at women will be unfairly denounced as harrassers. Anything which stigmatizes men who are just going about their daily business is obviously totally wrong.
    – the pictures will be used by The State to further oppress the men who have the time to hang around on the street harrassing women. As much as we appreciate the difficulties sexism cause for women, the difficulties caused for men by racism and classism are much more important and we must do everything in our power to prevent their increase. We cannot possibly take action that will benefit women if it means men will lose.
    – the information will just make women more afraid of harrassment. Women have the right to go wherever they want. If women are frightened or discouraged by the behaviour they face, they should just harden up, ignore it and stop complaining.
    – women who take photos will face increased violence. When confronted, men attack. Men are dangerous. Women should be afraid of them. We can never win. There is no way to escape the relenting hatred and violence in women’s lives, except by resorting to further violence.

    Taking action to address social injustice is not easy. When the first march for votes took place in England, the women were attacked by bystanders and police. Many were sexually assaulted in broad daylight. After that, women preferred to throw stones through windows and dig up golf greens because it was safer.

    If this application can help women feel less angry, helpless and ashamed after being harrassed; if it makes men consider their actions and stop harrassing women, it will be a bloody great step forward for feminism and is a totally brilliant idea.

  40. Siah
    Siah July 10, 2010 at 2:22 am |

    “iPhones (and their monthly plans) certainly aren’t cheap, so yeah, women who have some extra money lying around can afford it, but I also agree that it may be a bit classist.”

    Precisely.

  41. Ostien
    Ostien July 10, 2010 at 11:33 am |

    @eilish, I think you may be oversimplifying just a bit. I can only speak on the point I brought up which was to leave this out of the hands of the state, keep it within a public community. I only disagree that it should be part of law enforcement because it is bound to be missed and distorted by the police. Sure the police can act on th information if brought to them but this should not be integrated into the state, it should not be seen as acceptable for the state to use these methods because they will invariably be expanded and misused to the detriment of us all. That is all. I actually support this app overall if you care to read my posts with more comprehension (bringing up potential problems is not endorsing that those are current problems), I just don’t trust law enforcement to use it directly, it should be a resource for community activism that can result in legal action. Feel free to disagree but don’t distort my position for your own agenda.

  42. LN80
    LN80 July 10, 2010 at 3:17 pm |

    I agree Ostien.

    Moreover, we should expect ourselves and fellow feminists to integrate race and class analysis – and use of the criminal punishment system – into their strategies for holding harassers accountable.

    It’s not being protectionist of men to expect that.

  43. eilish
    eilish July 10, 2010 at 10:21 pm |

    Our legal systems are so weighted against women bringing charges of assault against men that police have difficulty summoning up the energy to investigate rape cases with witnesses. The notion that they are going to use Hollaback to charge men with street harrassment is a stretch of imagination for me. I therefore assumed that the application was purely for use in the community. I have made a note to feel bad about making rash assumptions, right after being deeply ashamed of my poor reading comprehension skills, I promise.

    When I integrate race and class analysis into my strategies for holding my abusers accountable, I come to the conclusion that in the interests of race and class solidarity, I really shouldn’t do anything that will contribute to their oppression.
    I find that an unacceptable conclusion. (Does that mean I have a radical feminist agenda? I’ve always wanted one of those)
    It doesn’t seem to occur to my abusers that in the interests of solidarity they should refrain from abusing me. Why is that? Because they see me as less than them, not one of them?
    I’ll be more than happy to address the wider social injustices experienced by my brothers, right after I feel safe walking down the street.

  44. Bagelsan
    Bagelsan July 11, 2010 at 1:36 am |

    Sure the police can act on th information if brought to them

    I’m trying to imagine what they could even do with it… send a patrol car to hang out in particularly bad spots? (I can’t imagine a photo of a putative harasser would be legally actionable in any way, unless he were actually caught obviously physically assaulting someone on camera.)

    I would be okay with the police using data like this as a way to refine their methods, better distribute their resources, train officers about what to look for when they’re out and about, etc. Or they could maybe translate it into some sort of more formal public service announcement type stuff like “see what this dude is doing? That’s harassment! If we see that you’re getting handcuffed!”

    But as for actual arrests I’m not sure it would work (nor am I sure I’d want it to.)

  45. William
    William July 11, 2010 at 4:07 am |

    I would be okay with the police using data like this as a way to refine their methods, better distribute their resources, train officers about what to look for when they’re out and about, etc. Or they could maybe translate it into some sort of more formal public service announcement type stuff like “see what this dude is doing? That’s harassment! If we see that you’re getting handcuffed!”

    But as for actual arrests I’m not sure it would work (nor am I sure I’d want it to.)

    Thats precisely the problem with police involvement, though. Police are a blunt object. They do exactly two things: fill out paperwork so it looks to the middle classes like they’re doing something, and arrest people who violate social rules in ways that specifically hurt or annoy the people who have the power to make laws. I wish police were interested in doing something about street harassment, but I can’t help but suspect that their involvement is going to fail at doing something about harassment while becoming a pretext for arresting people they don’t like because thats all police are really capable of. After all, if they were in the business of helping women they would take rape seriously and do little things like actually run rape kits that doctors collect.

    I’m all for doing what we can to change behaviors, to raise awareness, to shame people in public and in their communities for offensive acts, but at this point I don’t really think police can be trusted to be involved in a way that would be either productive or civil. This isn’t even a “what about the menz” objection: if I thought for a moment that police involvement of any kind might help women I would feel differently, I just don’t see any evidence to suggest that the armed enforcers of state power give a shit about women. In fact, I think it would be likely counterproductive as it would give people who want to sweep the problem of harassment away a powerful rhetorical tool (“look, the police arrested X street harassers last year, clearly we’re doing all we can”). I’d like to see this kind of data used to train officers or refine their methods, but I’m pretty sure any police involvement would boil down to “lets arrest some brown dudes” and “if we say he hooted at a woman we can justify a search.”

  46. Sheelzebub
    Sheelzebub July 11, 2010 at 6:39 am |

    OK, folks, so what do you suggest we do? I mean, we have to deal with this shit every. single. fucking. day. It ranges from annoying to threatening–and it’s a very specific type of discrimination considering the fact that straight-seeming, cis men do NOT have to deal with this. So, besides Dirty Harry scenarios of shooting them or trying to beat them up (which will get you arrested and possibly hurt yourself), or our parent’s bad advice to ignore them (which doesn’t work), what do you suggest we do?

    Yeah, the state isn’t a great apparatus for apprehending these fucks, but it’s not as if my supposed allies are much better.

  47. LN80
    LN80 July 11, 2010 at 9:46 am |

    “Back Off!” is a great starting point for implementing individual and collective strategies for effective confrontation of harassers.

    http://www.amazon.com/Back-Off-Confront-Harassment-Harassers/dp/0671788566/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1278859050&sr=8-2

    This is a long-term problem which requires long-term resistance, using many methods. I just don’t think involving the cops at every opportunity should be one of those methods.

    When I lived in Washington DC, I once saw a white woman say to a Latino man (who said something to her, but was not physically near her), say “If you don’t shut up, I’m going to call the cops and get you deported!” I hope the creators of Hollaback condemn such responses, and I also hope they realize that many white women are not hesitant to use them. THAT’s another reason I’m worried about this kind of database.

  48. Big Sister 2.0 | The League of Ordinary Gentlemen

    […] public decorum and the surveillance culture (two recent subjects), over at Feministe they’re telling us about the ihollaback iPhone application, which allows the user to photograph street harassers with the phone (à la hollabacknyc) and send […]

  49. Marksman2010
    Marksman2010 July 11, 2010 at 4:11 pm |

    “3) If indifference doesn’t work and the creep attacks you, shoot him. ”

    Awesome. That way I can get charged with murder every time some asshole harasses me. That’ll surely fucking help my situation. Being in jail for life or ending up with the death penalty for murdering random men on street is totally what I’m looking forward to in life.

    I stated that if “the creep attacks you” you should employ deadly force. Attacking and harassment are two different things. Moreover, I wasn’t condoning “murdering random men.” Men who attack and rape women aren’t “random men.” These are sadistic, violent, ruthless people who, in my opinion, need to be killed. And I don’t think there’s anything wrong with me for believing that.

  50. Sheelzebub
    Sheelzebub July 11, 2010 at 6:58 pm |

    LN80, I’d like to remind you that quite a lot of the street harassment is by WHITE men aimed at women of color. And if you think that they don’t hear shit like, “Bitch, I’ll get you deported if you say anything,” (or other stuff that I’d rather not quote, but just think of the most convenient racist and sexist stereotypes about Black, Asian, Latina, and Native women and go from there), think again. In fact, women of color seem to get it a lot worse than White women. I have had Black women friends who were hassled by curb crawlers when they were walking to the train to get to work. They’re wearing business suits and carrying a briefcase, but no matter, some White d00d just figured she was good for it.

    @Marksman, why should we have to deal with harassment at all? Why do men feel so entitled to do this? There’s a lot to be said for erring on the side of shutting up and looking away.

  51. Sheelzebub
    Sheelzebub July 11, 2010 at 7:04 pm |

    Also, LN80, while that book makes a good case for confrontation, it’s been pointed out by women on this thread that confrontation is not always a good idea. It can and it has resulted in violence.

    It’s really easy to say that all we have to do is confront harassers or snap their picture or ignore them or what-the-fuck ever, but if there’s blowback and it’s violent, guess who’s going to get blamed and pilloried? Rape culture says the women who confronted the harassers–because were supposed to ignore it or be flattered.

    You know what would stop this shit? If MEN held other men accountable and told them it wasn’t cool. It like rape culture–I can do everything I can to try and keep myself safe, but until men hold other men accountable, putting the onus on women who are targeted to stop it won’t do anything long-term.

  52. LN80
    LN80 July 11, 2010 at 7:17 pm |

    @ Sheelzebub: I am a woman and I’ve been sexually harassed like every other woman commenting on this thread – you don’t have to convince me of the seriousness of harassment.

    I agree 100% that this kind of harassment and violence is men’s responsibility to stop by holding other men accountable.

  53. Faith
    Faith July 11, 2010 at 7:29 pm |

    “I stated that if “the creep attacks you” you should employ deadly force. ”

    You’re missing the point. Even if a man attacks me, I can still be charged with a crime. I have to -prove- that he attacked me first, which isn’t always easy to do.

    “Men who attack and rape women aren’t “random men.” ”

    Depends on how you look at it, actually. If it’s a stranger on the street, as far as I’m concerned, it is a random man.

    “These are sadistic, violent, ruthless people who, in my opinion, need to be killed. And I don’t think there’s anything wrong with me for believing that.”

    Well that’s your bloody opinion, isn’t it? I have no desire to kill anyone. You’re also missing the point that if I pulled a gun on a man, I could very well end up the one getting hurt worse. I don’t want to fucking hurt men. I want men to stop fucking hurting me and other women. It isn’t my goddamn responsibility to arm myself and make sure that other people don’t hurt me. It is the responsibility of MEN to make sure that they don’t hurt me. I refuse to allow men to bring me down to their level by engaging in violence. You stated that women shouldn’t bring ourselves down to men’s level by acknowledging their harassment, yet you want us to bring ourselves down to their level by engaging in violence to stop violence? Hypocrite much?

    Regardless, it really isn’t for you, a man, to tell women how we should handle these things. You are not the one who has to live with this. You are not the one equipped to tell us how to stop it.

    You want to help? How about educating the men that you know in how to not behave like an asshole. That would be a helluva lot more effective and far less rude and condescending than trying to tell women how we should be defending ourselves.

  54. Bagelsan
    Bagelsan July 12, 2010 at 1:46 am |

    Yeah, the state isn’t a great apparatus for apprehending these fucks, but it’s not as if my supposed allies are much better.

    Cosign. I understand that the police and the state have a lot (a LOT) of problems and that these problems disproportionately fuck over certain groups. But if the only alternative is to to say “forget it” and toss the entire apparatus that’s anarchy, yeah? And then we might as well all just carry Uzis and wear full-body chastity belts and travel in packs because we’re screwed.

    It’s like the problem with the Republican approach to social services — yeah, the various government problems aren’t perfect but your cute little “individual charity!” doesn’t freaking work so now what? Relying on people at large to suddenly start helping each other out in public hasn’t worked for thousands of years; men haven’t stepped up to the plate enough in combating harassment to make state intervention unnecessary.

  55. William
    William July 12, 2010 at 1:17 pm |

    Cosign. I understand that the police and the state have a lot (a LOT) of problems and that these problems disproportionately fuck over certain groups. But if the only alternative is to to say “forget it” and toss the entire apparatus that’s anarchy,

    If I honestly believed that bringing the apparatus of state power into play would help stop street harassment I’d say do it and focus on making that apparatus accountable for it’s bad behavior. My problem is that, given the fact that police can’t be bothered to even fake an interest in protecting women unless the offender is a big enough name to make a career, I doubt they’re going to help with harassment. I’d be willing to bet money that bringing police in on harassment is going to do two things: 1) it will allow officials to deflect criticism for not doing anything about harassment by allowing them to look busy on the subject, 2) it will provide police with a tool to use to oppress other groups while not actually doing anything about harassment. Again, if I thought police would actually do something I’d say that we should be demanding they act and holding them accountable for abuses, but I don’t see that miraculously happening over harassment when they’ve already failed with rape, DV, child abuse, human trafficking, and just about every other thing I can think of. I wish the state could help, but I have literally never encountered a situation in my lived experience (outside of the county hospital system, and social programs which give people actual monetary resources) where the state getting involved has done anything but advance the interests of the state. I’m not arguing for anarchy, I just think that the state isn’t likely to be useful here.

    I don’t know what the answer is, I wish I did. I do what I can, I call out men who I see harassing on the street (though that can sometimes lead to different issues) even when they’ve been my friends.

  56. Mike
    Mike July 12, 2010 at 1:28 pm |

    Why is an app needed? The Holla Back folks could easily set up addresses that people could send e-mail or text messages to, containing the same set of information: pics, location, description, etc. That makes the same service available to anyone with a basic camera phone.

  57. Sheelzebub
    Sheelzebub July 12, 2010 at 2:00 pm |

    They already do that on their website, Mike.

  58. The Wholestyle Network » Blog Archive » iHollaback: A Street Harassment Prevention App

    […] really is an app for everything, isn’t there?  Shelby Knox reports at Feministe that a new application for the iPhone is about to be released that allows you to report street […]

  59. Sayeh
    Sayeh July 21, 2010 at 8:33 am |

    1. People without Iphones can’t use this Iphone App, sure – but they can text their situation to the Hollaback email as it’s happening, or email Hollaback when they get home – and thus can still participate.

    2. A picture isn’t necessary, people can still post what’s happening as it happens without taking a photograph, and that would still serve the purpose of real time announcement of harassment with the geographic location cataloged. So, while I agree photographs will likely escalate the situation – posting without a picture will not, and is nearly as effective.

    3. The efficacy I see in this Iphone app is that it creates a web of areas where the harassment is occurring which is great for a number of reasons.
    –it will create a meaningful study on street harassment at a comprehensive level (time, frequency, location, degree) not yet accomplished by any I’ve come across (and I’ve done a lot of research).
    –if there are areas where street harassment is more rampant, or particularly more aggressive/dangerous – law enforcement can respond by assigning more beat cops to the area to dissuade it. (or we can use that statistical analysis as persuasion to demand they take it seriously enough to actually patrol such behavior)
    –unique to the Iphone app live posting (so yes certain classes may be excluded-which sucks) is the ability to document the time/place harassment is occurring, and the description announces the degree of discrimination. this will really allow a comprehensive look at discrimination on a broad scale and hopefully help us create an equally comprehensive solution/plan of attack. If we can get people in charge to take street harassment seriously enough, hopefully that will help augment the online posts from non-iphone users and allow the response to filter down to their locations/times as well.

    4. There is no privacy in behavior in which you choose to engage in a public forum, because there’s clearly no intent for that behavior to be private since it’s done IN PUBLIC. If someone wants to publicly harass – that person should be prepared to deal with the consequences because no law protects their actions in the name of “privacy”.

    Every movement has to start somewhere – I’m pretty excited about this one.

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