Hollaback! Durham & Chapel Hill organizers are excited to announce the launch of our new local chapter. Hollaback! is an international organization dedicated to ending street harassment and harassment in public spaces.
Organizers from the teen-led Youth Against Rape Culture (YARC) activist collective have a lot to say about how street harassment affects the lives of young people in the area. “I was harassed by a guy on Franklin Street when I was 11 years old,” says organizer and Chapel Hill High School senior Hannah Hodge. “It’s messed up that some creep on the corner catcalling is what made me feel like a woman.”
Hannah’s experience of harassment is not unique. Street harassment is an often misunderstood phenomenon that affects all types of communities, whether suburban, urban, or rural. According to a 2000 survey, 87 percent of American women had been harassed by a male stranger; nearly half had experienced “extreme harassment” such as groping, following, or assault. Harassment is experienced even more often by LGBTQ-identified individuals, who are commonly left out of mainstream discussions of harassment.
Youth organizers have enjoyed both moral and logistical support from mentors at the Center. Executive Director Shamecca Bryant explains the Center’s interest in supporting this campaign: “We recognize the role that street harassment plays in creating a culture of violence against women and violence against marginalized individuals. We see our work as complementary to Hollaback and their mission to shine a light on the seriousness of street harassment.” YARC team mentor and Center staff Rachel Valentine echoes that sentiment: “Harassment – whether it’s sexist, racist or homophobic – gets its power from the threat of violence that lingers behind it.”