Calling out catcallers
Women are speaking out about harassment they experienced with the hope that they'll make streets safer for everyone.
October 5th, 2012
06:30 PM ET

Calling out catcallers

By Emma Lacey-Bordeaux, CNN

(CNN) – Brittney Gilbert takes the bus most everyday in San Francisco.  It's not her favorite, but she doesn't have a car or a bike.

On the bus, she's learned to ignore unwanted attention, even harassment.

A few weeks ago Gilbert tried her best to ignore a man who she says was trying to talk to her.

And then something awful happened.

[:39] As I got up to de-board the  bus he put his hand between my legs. I had to take a wide stance to get around him and when I did he basically  grabbed my crotch.

CNN doesn't normally identify alleged victims of sexual harassment, but Gilbert wants to be identified.

She wants to speak out about what happened to her and she's not alone.

Emily May is the co-founder and Executive Director of Hollaback, a group devoted to spreading stories and knowledge about street harassment.

[3:14] We are using mobile technology to really transform those experiences from isolating to sharable. And to use them to advocate for further social change.

They hope that by speaking out about something that is often misunderstood or downplayed they can make the streets safer for everyone.

Editor's Note: Listen to the complete interview above and join the conversation below.

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soundoff (15 Responses)
  1. OrangePekoe

    I'd suggest a smash on the foot then a knee or shoe to the crotch. Repeatedly. There. That'll larn 'im.

    October 9, 2012 at 1:50 pm | Report abuse |
  2. doenerKing

    These chicks aren't wrong to feel the way the do but come on? The last chick sat on the train for 20ms with a guy yelling at her, doesn't tell the police but finds a way to blog about? dumbass

    October 7, 2012 at 10:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • bordeauxe

      I see what you're saying but may I ask, have you ever been in a similar situation? One of the troubling aspects of this story is the desire to judge these women's actions/choices after the fact. As they say, hindsight is 20/20.

      October 8, 2012 at 9:36 am | Report abuse |
  3. tcaud

    What we see here is the conflation of two completely different aims and motives: 1) the desire to protect people from invasions of personal space; 2) the desire to curtail the speech of a specific group (in this case, men). It is clear that Hollaback is using 1 as a vehicle for 2.

    October 6, 2012 at 2:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • bordeauxe

      Not sure I follow your logic but I can see that you have strong feelings about this. Do you have thoughts on how all might feel safer on the streets?

      October 8, 2012 at 9:38 am | Report abuse |
  4. James F. Andrus

    This report reminds me of the time in 1977 when I helped a crying woman being harassed by a man in Rock Creek Park in Washington, DC. As she walked on an asphalt footpath, he made repeated passes at her on his bicycle, slapping her rear on each pass. I confronted him and followed him on my bicycle, hoping to find a park police officer to arrest him. When I found one, the man got away while I stopped to talk to the officer. The park soon swarmed with lots of cop cars, but we never found him. Meanwhile, the woman disappeared as well, and I wished she had remained to report the incident herself. Back then, cell phones did not exist to help nail the guy faster.
    Business owners can help curtail this asinine male behavior by making street harassment an instant firing offense. Allowing such behavior on a work site should render business owners civilly liable and subject to expensive punitive lawsuits. Cell phone photos could enable women to launch their own civil suits as well. Such conduct should be made illegal to enable criminal prosecution. If men knew they would be formally labeled sex offenders for the rest of their lives for committing street harassment, they would get the message loud and clear to stop being jackasses.

    October 6, 2012 at 2:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • tcaud


      October 6, 2012 at 2:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • bordeauxe

      James, thanks for sharing that story. I think the element of expecting people to look out for each other on the street is an interesting one and a departure from relying exclusively on legislation or prosecution.

      October 8, 2012 at 9:34 am | Report abuse |
  5. tcaud

    The paradox of the use of mobile technology is that it brings the in-crowd together, while further isolating the out-crowd. As such, I find Emily May's comment ironic.

    October 6, 2012 at 2:03 pm | Report abuse |