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Why HollabackPHILLY Became Feminist Public Works

February 9, 2015 Category: MethodPurpose

Back in November of 2014, HollabackPHILLY officially split from the Hollaback! movement and transitioned into becoming Feminist Public Works. Hollaback! is an international nonprofit and movement to end street harassment that is powered by a network of local chapters from around the world.

The separation in part was sparked by the recent release of the “10 Hours Walking in NYC as a Woman” video, which was released independently by the main Hollaback! organization. On its website, Feminist Public Works said they were “just as surprised by the content of the video (which had serious representation issues) as everyone else.”

However, the women behind the Philadelphia branch realized before the release of the video that the focus of their work had expanded beyond street harassment. They created Feminist Public Works in the fall of 2013 and began officially transitioning to the brand in early 2014.

“Over the past four years our work has grown to include a more prominent focus on intersecting oppressions at play in peoples lived experiences in public spaces,” said Rochelle Keyhan, director of Feminist Public Works, in an email. “This has also lead to a broader programming focus to include human trafficking, harassment and assault within comic convention spaces, and the incorporation of gender-mainstreaming and community based safety audits into our long term plans.”

The team also felt that the Hollaback! movement’s narrow focus on street harassment made it more difficult to get grants.

“We felt that the messaging of the Hollaback! movement impacted the strength of our grant applications because we were seen as a narrowly focused organization. Additionally, we wanted to be able to formally incorporate as our own nonprofit so we could allocate 100% of the grant funds to our programming.”

In January, Keyhan gave a workshop on street harassment at Temple Contemporary.

“We talked about some of the history of street harassment experiences, ways people have responded, ways harassment has escalated or ended after they responded, and strategies moving forward,” Keyhan said.

Next up for Feminist Public Work’s in 2015, according to Keyhan, is coordinating a gender-based safety audit of Philadelphia (which it’s hoping to have planned by the end of the year) and planning for the 2015 comic convention season.

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“We are looking to work with conventions and convention goers to continue pushing conventions to adopt thorough anti-harassment policies and enforcement procedures, as well as to talk to fellow convention attendees about respecting each other within the space,” Keyhan said.

Image via Feminist Public Works

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