Hollaback London was set up in 2010 by two friends, Julia Gray and Bryony Beynon. Now, it’s a collective of more than 30 people, and part of a global network dedicated to ending street harassment.
We use the term ‘street harassment’ to describe any unwanted sexual/sexualising behaviour that makes you feel uncomfortable as a woman or LGBTQ person moving through public space. This might include: Staring, leering, commenting, shouting, following, touching, grabbing, public masturbating, groping, flashing, assault.
This. happens. every. day.
Society perpetuates the idea that our bodies are public property, and that harassment, abuse, assault and daily fear is just the price we pay for leaving the house. We say: not anymore. We believe that everyone has the right to feel safe in public.
So what are we doing about it?
- This site and our mobile app enables any to post their stories and pictures, regaining some of the power that’s lost in the moment of harassment, highlighting just how often it happens and where, we work on changing attitudes and confronting the outdated cultural norms that say that harassment is ‘okay.’ Knowing that you are not alone; that this behaviour is not just something you have to put up with, is the first step to making it unacceptable.
- We work to create dialogue on the streets in our own communities by facilitating and leading workshops as well as speaking and debating at events.
- We initiate conversations through our own events and an independent publication called Langdon Olgar, which takes the female, queer and trans realities of existing in public space as its starting point for a diverse collection of words and art.
- We act as independent advisors to Project Guardian, a long term project set up to change how harassment is dealt with and reported on public transport, working closely with Southwark Council, Transport for London and the End Violence Against Women Coalition.
- We work with businesses that want to prioritise making their women and LGBTQ patrons feel comfortable, collaborating on landmark initiatives such as Fabric’s harassment policy – which has become our sister campaign – the International Good Night Out campaign.
frequently asked questions
There are probably/possibly many questions you might have about Hollaback, so here is a starter. It’s been put together with the help of the entire Hollaback network, but is specific to London. Got something else not covered here? email [email protected]
“What does “Hollaback” mean?”
Hollaback! is about answering back to people who take power from you and your ability to go about your daily business by harassing you in the street or any other public space. Because none of us are as simple as a list of physical attributes. We have a right to be who we are, not who we are told to be. We have a right to define ourselves on our own terms when we walk out the door, whatever that means that day/hour/minute. It means not feeling alone or disempowered when you are shouted at, groped or worse on the street, and knowing that a network of women who experience the same thing daily are fighting it, too.
Started in NYC by Emily May, the blog format allowing women and women-identified people to share their experiences has grown into a global movement based on confident responses and mounting a worldwide challenges to harassment of every kind.
PS. You’d do well to ignore this interpretation as its a different, totally irrelevant meaning (if BBC London can get caught out by it, so can you!)
“I posted a comment but its not been published. Why’s that?”
HollabackLDN has been going well for nearly a year now. It’s a support network, a platform to get out that witty response that evaded you moments previously (don’t they always) and a place to vent. Somewhere to find out what the law is, and feel less like a victim. But there are a few things it isn’t. HollabackLDN is not a forum to debate what IS and ISNT street harassment. It is not a place to call people out for how they did or didn’t respond to an incident. Comments of support or congratulations are of course welcome, but simply to maintain the safety of this corner of the internet as somewhere women and women-identified people of London can go and tell their story without fear of reprisal, our word on what comments get published is final. It’s not censorship, it’s sensible.
“I posted a Holla and it hasn’t been published, why is that?”
“Why don’t you just take it as a compliment?”
Because street harassment has nothing to do with compliments or flirting, and everything to do with power, and abusing that power. If a comment (however it was recieved: shouted across the street, whispered in your ear..) makes you feel uncomfortable, it’s not a compliment, and you’ve no need to ‘take it’ as such. You weren’t there, she was. The idea that it’s okay to make a comment on appreciating a person’s appearance in a public place to us just reduces women to bodies parts; market produce on display. It’s not okay.
“Some of the other Hollaback sites include images of harassers. Why not yours?”
HollabackNYC and many other Hollaback sites make brilliant use of ‘caught out there’ pics of harassers. However, the law on taking pictures of people in public is different and every country, and in the UK we feel that culturally encouraging women (who might already be in a vulnerable position after an incident) to take a picture of the culprit might put her in further danger. That said, if you do feel you want to include any kind of image with your post, e.g. one of the area in which your harassment happened, do feel free – you can upload them with your Holla.
“Can I contribute to / buy / stock Langdon Olgar?”
Yes! Please email us – [email protected]
“Who runs HollabackLDN?“
Everyone who has ever or will posted here is part of HollabackLDN, but it was founded by Julia Gray in April 2010 and is run on a daily basis by Bryony and Julia.
“How related are all the sites?”
We now work on the same platform (ihollaback.org) but are still autonomous.
“Can I interview you?”
Sure, Drop us a line at [email protected]
We are here to end street harassment. Join us and donate today:
Get in touch with the Collective: [email protected]