A few days ago I wrote about Hollaback! (and its leader Emily May), the non-profit organization the mission of which is to end street harassment by empowering the targets. They recently hit the news in connection with a sofware application, namely a smartphone app called ‘Not Your Baby‘. This is a free app that is hoped to initiate dialogue around sexual harassment before they happen, but also during and after they happen. This unusual app was developed by Metrac, the Metropolitan Action Committee on Violence Against Women and Children, which prevents violence against diverse women and youth. Hollaback! was their partner a few years ago when they worked together on an online survey on responses to sexual harassment.
The app came out in September this year and got quite some media coverage. This is a screenshot from the app and there is more here in a Huffington Post article:
To be able to give an opinion I downloaded this app, but to be honest, I have doubts about whether it can work. You can type in where and from whom you are experiencing harassing behavior and a tailored advice pops up (along with a “random fact”) that suits the users needs, which derives from the above mentioned survey (200 people), but as the app grows, potentially more. However, to me it is unrealistic that in the actual moment I can just get my phone out and say/do something smart when I’m lost for words or simly, I’m too scared/bitten/hurt/embarrassed.
Nevertheless, I think such an app (or rather, incentive) can be useful for sharing information on what legal actions can be taken if harassment happens at the workplace, or what qualifies as harassment, or simly exchanging experiences and letting others know that they are not alone.
As this is my 4th or 5th post about street harassment, I need to say that I am very happy that I finally found a quote that touches upon a crucial thing when discussing this topic with others – Laura Bates, founder of the Everyday Sexism project, said: “Many people tend to think of it as not particularly serious, with victims being told they are ‘overreacting’ or should ‘take it as a compliment’.” This, sadly, many times comes from our friends, parents, etc. Harassment is not a compliment. Anything that makes someone scared or uncomfortable, cannot be a compliment.