in Web Issues

Holla Back: Mobile Vigilantes?

I’ve been reading the Holla Back New York City blog recently, a blog which a group of young activists (mostly women) started as a means to stop men (or women) making degrading comments, sex pests, or any form of sexual harassment, then post the results on a website.

They are fighting back with their own weapons: camera phones, blogs, online protests and forums, plus an action campaign timed for “street harassment season”.

The growing interest in the site, and the theme (described as ‘cyber vigilantism’ by critics) have raised questions about where we can draw the line between an innocent hello (or chat-up line) and actual ‘sexual harassment’.

In the eight months, about 100 camera phone pictures have been posted on the site along with text accounts, or ‘blogs’, of the harassment suffered under the banner: ‘If you can’t slap ’em, snap ’em!’.

“Holla Back” is a growing phenomenon that does raise the question of whether how far it will be taken? Will communication evolve or cease because you said “hello” and the next minute you’re on a blog being touted as some kind of sex pest? Who knows. It is certainly something to follow.