After Hollaback Appalachian Ohio! successfully launched its new blog and campaign to end street harassment, the new group got straight to work designing a new educational program to encourage bystander intervention from area bartenders, according to a news release.
They hope to train and certify at least five area bars over the course of the summer. Bar staff will need to attend one three-hour training that discusses rape culture, bystander intervention and self-defense techniques, and uses scenarios and activities to practice newly learned skills, the release said.
A discussion group comprised of staff from all participating bars will follow two months later in order to discuss changes and progress made as well as how to move forward into the next school year. "Bartenders will then be able to utilize the blog to publicly report their brave and compassionate acts of bystander intervention as they test out their new skills through real-life events," according to the release.
Participating bars will receive a window-sticker bearing the Hollaback! Logo and the words, "This Establishment is I GOT YOUR BACK Certified." This, the release said, will lend a sense of safety to patrons "in that they can expect that someone will have their back should a tricky situation arise whether it be late into a drunken night out or just sipping one drink during happy hour."
Participating establishments will also be listed in Hollaback! ads in local newspapers thanking them for their participation, according to the release.
"We're going to ground zero. Street harassment is a huge problem in Athens, just like it is throughout the world," Sarah Fick, program coordinator for the Sexual Assault Prevention Program and organizer for Hollaback Appalachian Ohio!, said in the release.
She added, "I've been avoiding going uptown during certain hours for years because the amount of harassment I have experienced from drunken college boys is obscene and extremely aggravating. We're doing something positive to change that. Bartenders see it day in and day out, and we'd like to empower them with the knowledge of effective skills with which to safely challenge bad behavior. If bar patrons know that someone has their eyes open and is ready to intervene, they may be less likely to behave in a sexist or threatening manner in the first place."
According to the release, Hollaback Appalachian Ohio! believes that street harassment is part of rape culture – "that living in a culture where inappropriate, intimidating, and disrespectful behaviors that cross personal boundaries are consistently allowed to happen in public spaces facilitates a culture where even worse things happen behind closed doors the release said."
For more information about the certification program or to find out how you can get involved, email the group at firstname.lastname@example.org. They also have a blog at appalachianohio.ihollaback.org.