Hollaback! for Net Neutrality

This week I got to check out Holla::Revolution 2014, a Hollaback!-organized event featuring activist speeches, spoken word, dance and comedy dedicated to ending street harassment.

The open Internet and Net Neutrality have helped fuel #HollaRev and enabled this online community to share stories, make connections and build the power it needs to combat incidents of everyday harassment.

Hollaback! activists use a decentralized, Internet-based platform to connect, communicate and organize. Specifically, they’re “documenting, mapping and sharing incidents of street harassment,” which they use to encourage local elected officials to create safe public spaces for everyone.

Unfortunately, all too many people face routine harassment and violence when going about the daily business of commuting to work, going to school or seeing friends.

As television pundit and emcee Sally Kohn said, it is especially poignant that we gathered on the heels of this week’s murders near the University of California, Santa Barbara, because “the threat of similar violence is behind street harassment,” which itself intersects with race, class, gender, sexuality and much more.

Moreover, street harassment and other forms of verbal and physical abuse are tools that people use to silence women and feminine-identified people in public — a theme found in the rants of Elliot Rodger, the alleged Santa Barbara killer.

Hollaback! speakers and attendees know the power of the open Internet to combat harassment and organize against it. Dr. Karla Jay of Pace University gave the audience a historical perspective on street harassment and urged the audience to continue using the Internet as an organizing tool.

And vlogger Kat Lazo, creator of YouTube channel TheeKatsMeoww, said that she discovered feminism on the Internet and it helped her connect with other activists and fight back against street harassment. Online communities helped Lazo realize she wasn’t alone — a vital first step in getting active in a movement for social change, especially since the mainstream media typically ignore issues facing women and girls.

As Jay and Lazo made clear, the Internet is an important part of making our world a more just place. That’s why we at Free Press are working to make sure that it remains an open, accessible platform for political and social organizing rather than a playground for corporate gatekeepers like AT&T, Comcast and Verizon.

I left the event reinvigorated to continue the fight for Net Neutrality. We need to fight so that activists and organizers working to make our streets safer can work online without fear of discrimination. I hope that you will join me and the millions of other people who have already spoken out in support of the open Internet.

Take a minute to Hollaback! against street harassment and holla at the FCC in support of the open Internet. 

People + Policy

= Positive Change for the Public Good

people + policy = Positive Change for the Public Good