“Back Off!”: Why Holla Back Works


Check out our new header for HollaBack Australia, made by sajbrfem! She outlines the co-creation of HBA in her fifty two acts blog. The highlight is her closing line:

And to those who say “can’t you take a joke” I say – sure we can, here’s one right back at ya.


I haven’t got the book Back Off!” by Martha Langelan yet – it’s on the wishlist – but there’s a summary and review here at Brian Martin’s page.

Langelan couldn’t have foreseen ubiquitous cellphone cameras and Web 2.0, but her general ideas about addressing sexual harassment are very applicable here at Holla Back. Excerpts from Martin:

But what to do about it? Langelan at this point refers to a long experience of women’s nonviolent action against harassment, putting it into a tradition including Gandhi’s campaigns and, at greater length, the US civil rights movement. However, in formulating actual anti-harassment tactics, she draws at least as much on feminist self-defence theory. According to this theory, a tactic against sexual harassment is appropriate if it reflects the realities of women’s lives, if it builds on and expands women’s abilities, if it increases women’s mobility and if it promotes independence. Ignoring harassment or recommending that women stay at home at night do not satisfy these criteria.


When it comes to direct encounters, Langelan says that appeasement and aggression aren’t so effective, or are actually counterproductive. Assertiveness is not enough. In confrontation, a women immediately specifies the abusive behaviour, publicly describes it as harassment, and holds the harasser responsible for it.

And that’s what we’re doing, here at Holla Back. The behaviour is specified, publicly described, and the harasser is held responsible. We’re taking back the power, in this giant public space of the Web.

There is more on Why Holla Back Works here at Holla Back Talk, under the headings:

* Hollaback empowers women

* It is immediate and direct action

* Hollaback is a nonviolent, discrete, anonymous, and safe method of resistance.

* Anyone can hollaback.

* The posts are educational.

* It reclaims public space for women.

* Hollabackers have kicked off a global social movement.

Please spread the word about Holla Back Australia via your blogs and real life networks, wherever you can. That URL again is


Categories: gender & feminism, violence

Tags: , ,

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