Hollaback! started in 2005 as the project of seven youth (three men and four women). As the women told story after story of harassment, the men became increasingly concerned. Samuel Carter, who is now Hollaback!’s board chair, said quite simply, “you live in a different city than we do.” Collectively, they resolved to change that.
Around the same time, a woman named Thao Nygen bravely stood up to her harasser – an older, upper middle class raw-foods restaurant owner – who terrified her by masturbating across from her on the subway. She took his photo with her camera, and when the police ignored it, she posted it on flikr. The picture eventually made it to the front page of the New York Daily News, where it incited a city-wide conversation about street harassment. The youth were inspired by Thao’s story, and decided apply her model to all forms of harassment and to document these experiences on a public blog.
Over the next few, interest in Hollaback! grew. What began as a simple idea — a blog to collect women’s and LGBTQ individuals’ stories of street harassment — began to grow into an international movement. In May 2010, Emily May, one of the original seven youth, became the organization’s first executive director.
Since its inception, Hollaback! has witnessed a tremendous surge in interest and a rapid expansion in social, political, and cultural capital for the organization and the broader movement to end street harassment.