Hey Baby! Street Harassment Thrives in NYC

“Oh baby you’re turning me on. Is it past your curfew?”

“Damn you got some legs on you.”

“You gonna work out? I’ll work you out, all night.”

Comments such as these in addition to catcalls, groping, whistling, vulgar gestures, flashing, following and public masturbation are all forms of street harassment that women around the world face every day by simply walking down the street.

While many ignore such comments and go about their day, doing so has created a culture where this behavior is accepted. Well, not anymore.

Enter Hollaback!, a movement dedicated to ending street harassment using mobile technology. Hollaback collects women and LGBTQ people’s stories and pictures of street harassment to raise awareness of the issue and map out areas where the problem is most prevalent.

Hollaback has also undertaken research on street harassment in partnership with Cornell University to understand the problem more in depth. The first study found that not only is street harassment extremely prevalent in New York City, but agencies do not have the tools to address the issue.

The study surveyed 110 service providers and found that 86 percent of respondents had received reports of street harassment from a client, constituent or consumer. Additionally, more than 92 percent of respondents reported an interest in receiving increased resources for how to deal with street harassment.

A second Hollaback! study reveals that:

  • 55 percent of reported sexual harassment happened in the street or park; 16 percent public transportation; 14 percent in other public places (bars or stores)
  • At least 75 percent of all scenarios involved a female target and male perpetrator
  • Bystanders were present in 31 percent of incidents; 26 percent of the time they have a positive effect; 22 percent of the time they had a negative effect, and 19 percent of the time they took no action
  • 57 percent of scenarios included verbal interactions; 29 percent included physical touching; 12 percent included groping or attempted groping; .4 percent included nonverbal actions such as staring or taking photos
  • In response to incidents victims reported feeling angry (20 percent), fear (14 percent), surprise (7 percent), embarrassed (3 percent), and helpless (2 percent)

While there are clear structures in place to combat sexual harassment at home and at work, what happens when harassment happens on the streets? Without a clear framework to report catcalls, groping, and the like often times harassment that happens on the streets goes unreported. Luckily, Hollaback! is providing the framework for such a structure to exist so that everyone can walk down the street without fear of harassment.

What can you do to help stop street harassment?


Photo used under a Creative Commons license.


Richard S.
Richard Spain5 years ago

This is all garbage, with everything highly exaggarated, and everything blown way out of porportion.

Richard S.
Richard Spain5 years ago

This is all garbage, and gets highly exaggerated. Don't believe of this hype. Everything is blown way out of poportion.

Kathy Perez
Kathy Johnson5 years ago

I get this sort of stuff all the time. Men can be pigs.

Sarah W.
Sarah W5 years ago

As with many things ignore them and eventually they will go away..... Reaction usually just inspires them all the more

Dagmar Breg
Past Member 5 years ago

I've been street harassed before and it is so demeaning. I'm not a piece of meat you know. I'm not saying everyone is like this, but a lot of people are. Stuff like this has even happened at my workplace. You know how uncomfortable that is?

janice b.
jan b5 years ago

I heard one woman say that when she was 30 years old then she hated sexual harrassment of any kind. When she turned 60 years old, she said she would be thrilled.
( Kidding---its a joke)

Colleen Prinssen
Colleen Prinssen5 years ago

to bad I don't find many guys hot. I'd like to test this out the other way around and be all "hey babybaby oh lala" to them. or "love me or I'll hit you with a frying pan sweetcheeks"

Christine Stewart

Too bad you can't pepper spray someone for being a jerk...

Christina B.
Christina B5 years ago

Depending on my mood, I either pay no attention to the harassment (but only if it's a verbal one) or I respond aggressively. On two occasions when a guy tried to rub his penis against my thigh on the bus, I spoke out loud, letting him know that I was onto him. These people are cowards, once they see you are going to stand up to them, they just leave you alone.

Veronique L.
Veronique L5 years ago

I don't agree with you .. (no name, no picture!) I thought New Yorkers were very polite and helpful!