There are two reasons to hollaback: for you, and for the world.
For you: Hollaback! is all about your right to be feel safe and confident on the streets of Mumbai. It is about your right to speak up; to be a person who never has to take it or just keep walking, but someone who has a response when she’s messed with. Someone who knows that she has the right to define her own self instead of being defined by some idiot’s point of view. Because none of us are as simple as a list of physical attributes. We have a right to be who we are, not who we are told to be. We have a right to define ourselves on our own terms when we walk out the door, whatever that means that day. That hour. That minute.
Street harassment teaches us to be silent, but we aren’t listening. We shouldn’t put up with harassment in the home, at work, or at school. And holla’ing is about saying that we won’t put up with it on the street, either. By holla’ing back you are transforming an experience that is lonely and isolating into one that is sharable. You change the power dynamic by flipping the lens off of you and onto whoever is making you feel less uncomfortable. And in doing so, you enter a worldwide community of people who’ve understand where you’re coming from.
For the world: The Internet has given us a new campfire. Each time you hollaback, you are given a king-sized platform to tell your story. Thousands will read it and your story will shift their understanding of what harassment means. Some will walk away understanding what it feels like to be in your shoes, others will feel like they are not alone for the first time or that it’s not their fault. Your story will redefine safety in the Mumbai community—it will inspire legislators, the police, and other authorities to take this issue seriously – to approach it with sensitivity, and to create policies that make everyone feel safe. Your story will build an irrefutable case as to why street harassment is not OK. A case strong enough to change the world.
But it all starts with the simplest of gestures: Your hollaback.