Hollaback wants you to share photos of street harassment in Vancouver

Less than a year ago, Alexa Dredge helped create a website to share stories of sexual harassment from public transit riders across Metro Vancouver.

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Now, the recent Simon Fraser University graduate is joining an international movement that’s fighting back against street harassment targeting women and LGBTQ folks.

Dredge told the Georgia Straight that she’s volunteering with Hollaback, a New York-based organization that is launching its Vancouver chapter this Saturday (July 12).

“Much the same way that we did with our Harassment on TransLink blog, Hollaback is trying to collect stories and submissions from people who have experienced street harassment, trying to foster a sense of empowerment and ownership of public space,” Dredge said by phone from her home in North Vancouver. “So they’re trying to collect more stories and trying to provide resources as well, so that people know how to react and how to feel more comfortable and safe in their environment.”

According to its website, Hollaback is active in 79 cities and 26 countries, including Toronto and Victoria in Canada. The organization’s vision is a “world where street harassment is not tolerated and where we all enjoy equal access to public spaces”.

Locals can use the Hollaback Vancouver site to submit their own stories of assault, groping, stalking, verbal abuse, and other forms of harassment, including racist, homophobic, and transphobic incidents. Hollaback also has iPhone and Android apps.

“They encourage you to take a photo of the harasser if you feel comfortable, but not if you feel that it would escalate any sort of violence or intimidation,” Dredge said.

One story posted on May 28 to Hollaback Vancouver recounts one woman’s experience on the Georgia Viaduct.

“A car drove by full of guys who were hanging out the window of the car holding a Canucks’ flag,” the post reads. “One of them yelled at me ‘show us your p***y.’When I flashed the middle finger, they called me a f**cking bitch and slammed on their brakes. They yelled out that they were going to kill me then drove off the of Viaduct and pulled a u-turn on Main in order to circle back up. I could see from the bridge that they got stuck and then headed back to towards town to try to come back. I ran the whole way home with my hoodie covering my head.”

Hollaback encourages everyone to take action to stop street harassment.
Hollaback Vancouver

Dredge said Hollaback Vancouver is aiming to “decrease the sense of entitlement to other people’s spaces”.

“Most women have experienced some form of street harassment, and it jeopardizes their sense of safety and security in public spaces and can even change how they navigate their cities and limit what they do in their cities, because of their discomfort,” Dredge said. “So we’re trying to mitigate that and empower people to feel like they can stand up to that kind of harassment, especially in summer too, because there is often a bit of victim blaming with the way that people dress with having hotter weather.”

Dredge noted that the Hollaback Vancouver site offers pages of resources about how to respond to harassers and how bystanders can take action when they see harassment.

When talking to harassers, the site says, people should “always use strong body language”, “not apologize, make an excuse, or ask a question”, and “not get into a dialogue with the harasser, try to reason with them, or answer their questions”. Bystanders can intervene by telling harassers to “knock it off”, standing next to the harassed person, or taking a photo of the incident with their phone.

On Saturday, the Hollaback Vancouver launch party will take place at Heartwood Community Café (317 East Broadway) from 6:30 to 10 p.m. Admission is a suggested donation of $10.

Comments (11) Add New Comment
Dave Dawson
Great, I'm harassed on the street all the time by people seeking donations, panhandlers, pushing religion...
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Irrational Counterrevolutionary Views
There is nothing inappropriate or unlawful about a man seeking sex. "'sup baby" is not "harassment." These women have taken too much gender studies koolaid.
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OfficerBob
Previous commenters: lack of empathy is one trait of psychopaths.
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@OfficerBob
Last century there was a sexual revolution. The prudish, ridiculous, church-based morality was cast aside, and people decided that the real issue was enjoying themselves, rather than having all sorts of hangups. Now it seems we have a new priesthood, one that is perhaps more sexually repressive than that which came before. What is the idea here, that talking to women on the street is inappropriate because there have not been formal introductions at some sort of high-society ball? What is the idea, that tho some men will say "sup, baby", and if rebuffed, take the hint, some will not, so all must be prohibited?

On the general issue of harassment, CSIS would call people's employers. I can't remember if it was their head or not, but he said they were not harassing them, they were calling three times or so, not twelve times. So "sup baby," "no, really?" "aw, are you sure?" and then exit stage left is not harassment. Thinking it is not harassment is not at all pathological---in fact, it is more likely that those opposed to public conversation between adults have some sort of pathological fixation.
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uhhh
Go to club 560 on friday nights and see how women present themselves to men. Some don't even wear bottoms.

Change the attitude of women first and men will follow , they have no choice. If a woman can have respect for herself, everyone around ups the level.

I have had many "hey baby" aimed at me and I'm ok with light flirting from woman.
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RUK
Somehow I don't think that Hollaback is meant to curtail "light flirting" but rather to highlight and address situations where women apprehend being harmed.
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Renee
Many of the men leaving comments are clearly demonstrating why this is an important issue. I doubt you guys have had to deal with men approaching you on the street demanding sexual attention and threatening sexual violence, but judging from your comments it seems like you wouldn't mind it?
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Tommy Khang
Yes because posting harassment stories on social media will get a harasser to stop. Typical passive-agressive Vancouver. I am glad that the site posts resources and really think that should be highlighted. If you see something do something about it, don't wait until you go home to write about it on the computer.
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@Renee
If they hadn't written that ridiculous "No Sup Baby" sign, I might agree with you. But that tips their hand. This is ridiculous sexually repressive behavior that conceives of normal human flirtation/courting as harassment. Is it the words "sup baby" that renders it harassment? Is it harassment if the fellow uses a different class's language? What if he notices a young woman reading a book and asks her if it is interesting, is that OK because it is highfalutin' or is that harassment because he has not had a proper introduction?

It is completely healthy for an adult male to display sexual interest in an adult female. All species that mate do it somehow. Humans tend to use language. Whether it is "sup baby" or "I read that book, would you like to have a cup of coffee and talk about it?", harassment isn't present _even if_ it is all a pretext geared toward sex. These are not "demands" for sexual attention. Normal, sexually well-adjusted people call these sorts of things "flirting" or "courting."

Threats of violence are of course inappropriate. The idea that every man who clumsily flirts with a woman is going to become violent is ridiculous. And, frankly, this is the reason that a lot of men don't engage in perfectly legal flirting behavior in Vancouver: they know that for whatever reason a lot of the women here will feel harassed, and they are nice guys who don't want to make women feel harassed.

Culturally, the progression has been to remove flirtation/courting from office environments, and now it is to be removed from public? Where are people supposed to meet? No wonder western nations have declining birth rates if this sort of nonsense prevails. The idea that approaching a woman with the intent of having voluntary sexual intercourse with her is somehow "dirty" is more offensive today than when the Church preached it. At least the Church had the excuse of longstanding ignorant custom. We had a sexual revolution last century. It's about pleasure. Men who want to have sex with women are not "sinners" as is the tenor of this app.
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Hannah
As someone who's been facing street harassment bordering on physical and sexual assault (sometimes not even bordering) since I was in elementary school I'm happy to see movements like this. This isn't about trying to oppress men, this is trying to foster a safe environment in public spheres.

I don't feel threatened by guys casually flirting with me - I feel threatened by guys repeatedly groping me and then telling me its because the bus is crowded. I feel threatened when I reject (or just don't respond to) those casual advances and get abuse and degrading names thrown at me because I had the audacity to not be interested. I feel threatened when guys follow me off the bus, walking ahead of me then stopping so I have to keep walking past them while they jeer and spit at me, getting increasingly angry the more I try to ignore them and get on with my day.

All of those are things that have happened to me THIS MONTH. If you think your advances are harmless, and that the person they're directed to is over reacting - consider what they've come to expect from that sort of attention in public. If you don't think you're part of the problem, be proactive and start stepping up and stepping in.
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borg
"Bystanders can tell the harassers to knock it off"

If you do this be prepared to fight a car full of drunk goons who will probably put you in the hospital. Whenever drunken groups "lose face" in public, like being rejected by some girl they immediately look around for somebody to take it out on. If you're that guy standing at the bus stop they're going to say "What are you looking at goof?" and come pouring out of the car to violently assault you. Because of our ridiculous laws you aren't allowed to conceal carry a weapon to defend yourself so unless you have a personal forcefield or illegal gun hidden in your pants you can't get involved, nor should you. These clowns always eventually move on after goading everybody within the area to a fight and nobody takes the bait.
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