Armed with camera phones, a new generation of women are using the net to exact revenge on unwanted catcalls and being treated like a piece of meat.
Litterbugs, bad drivers and rude salespeople have already been subjected to shame through camera phone vigilantism. Snap 'em and post 'em to the web to let the world know of how they have misbehaved.
Now women who are being harassed in public are taking photos and videos of the offenders and posting them up on HollaBack blogs.
As the Hollaback Chicago blog states: "You have the right to walk down the street without being the object of some turd's fantasy!"
The phenomenon began in New York last year when a woman snapped a cellphone photo of a restauranteur staring at her on the subway while he was masturbating. The woman posted the photo to Laundromatic.net.
Word spread fast and within a week, 45,000 people had viewed the photo. Among them were 7 Brooklyners who created the first Hollaback blog site. The feminist media soon picked up on it as well, everyone from Ms. magazine to Girls Against Cat Calls on MySpace. Currently there are over a dozen cities participating in the HollaBack program, including one in Europe. The original New York HollaBack, the one that began it all, receives 75,000 hits daily.
Using anonymous screen names, women can post photos or videos of men who have verbally and/or physically harassed them on the street.
One woman posted about a man who ran his hand up her skirt while they were crossing the street. Another wrote of a man who grabbed her arm on the street and said, "I just like to touch pretty ladies."
The HollaBack phenomenon is creating concern that women are becoming so overly sensitive that you cannot even compliment them on their looks without getting labelled lecherous. The concern comes primary from the single male sector as you would expect.
A construction worker who moonlights at a tiki bar said: "I'm probably the biggest flirt of all time; I give my number out to three girls a week. But now maybe I shouldn't do that because it can be construed as harassment."
He felt that a man who is inept at pickup lines should not be condemned to the HollaBack "creepy guy hall of shame."
So could a poster on HollaBack ever be sued for defamation? According to a New York lawyer, it is very doubtful. A man could try to sue but a jury would still have to be convinced he did not behave offensively.
"Then it becomes an issue of opinion--her opinion versus his--of what's creepy."
A San Francisco lawyer who specializes in sexual harassment and employment law said what is considered offensive is absolutely clear cut in the work environment. "What's considered an offensive comment in the workplace is defined by the person on the receiving end, not the person who said it."
However, out on the streets, no such similar laws exist.
Women have reported on everything from being touched, cussed at and sexually propositioned on the HollaBack blogs. Some have even written about encounters where they feared they would be raped. HollaBack seems to have given many women an outlet to vent their anger and frustrations.
"It can be risky to say something back when it happens, but now I have a way to deal with it that is more entertaining," as one poster expressed it.
Maybe HollaBack won't change men who behave lewdly but it might bring about changes in the law regarding that type of behavior.
"Sometimes laws can start to formulate through popular culture because of things that people are bringing to light."
DJ members are most welcome to give their input on this as I am sure you will.