New York Anti-Street Harassment Group Asks Women to Hollaback!


Mobile Technology New Weapon in Fight Against Fiends

"Hollaback is a quantum leap in our ability to have success over this problem," says Nicola Briggs, a blogger for the iHollaback site and a tabloid heroine in her own right. "Here's why: It's all about communication. Rapid and accurate communication."

Briggs knows the value of "rapid" response. Her sensational verbal takedown of a sexual predator on a crowded subway in November, 2010, included a call for the men on the train to block the doors and create space and time for the police to arrive. They eventually did, trapping the 52-year-old Mario Valdivia, who was arrested and then deported early this year.

"It's imperative for men to be involved," she says, as her colleagues pass out cards soliciting donations to the "I Got Your Back" campaign.

"I do consider myself a feminist, but I think that basically every man can be a feminist as well, in that you can't really have equality unless you have the other half of the entire population, the male gender, supportive of equality."

Solidarity is the bedrock of Hollaback's brand of feminism. Five of their 17 board members are men, the chairman foremost among them.

Bearded and dandyish, Samuel Carter, who also works as the assistant director of the Institute for Public Knowledge at NYU, speaks pointedly about the group's new "bystander project."

"Bringing in a camera to the situation is like bringing in a bystander. It's just sort of an anonymous third party," he says. "Now what we're encouraging is that all the other people who around, who are actually witnessing might play a role in stopping this."

The work might be difficult, but the goal, he says, is simple: "Shape and create cities that are safer, that are more comfortable to live in, that are more convenient, and that will just be better places for us all to live."

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