(February 4, 2015)
Alumnus leads movement to fight street harassment in New Orleans
SHREVEPORT, LA — Nathan Winner '07 may be a pastry chef by trade, but when he is not baking pies in his New Orleans store front, the Centenary alumnus is advocating for equality by way of Hollaback, an international movement to end street harassment.
Nathan Winner '07, Co-Founder of Hollaback New Orleans
An avid curator and social media sharer of stories about gender and racial equality, a friend noticed his interest and drive for change and asked if he would like to help start a Hollaback movement in New Orleans. In December 2014, Winner and several other locals took the plunge and launched a local chapter to help educate the community on how to eradicate harassment.
"Unfortunately, we're still at the point of getting people to realize street harassment is an issue," said Winner. "This is not 'just a compliment.'"
The international Hollaback website describes street harassment as "a form of sexual harassment that takes place in public spaces."
At its core is a power dynamic that constantly reminds historically subordinated groups (women and LGBTQ folks, for example) of their vulnerability to assault in public spaces. Further, it reinforces the ubiquitous sexual objectification of these groups in everyday life.
Hollaback offers a place for countries around the world to work together to better understand street harassment, to ignite public conversations that shift public opinion, and to develop innovative strategies to ensure equal access to public spaces.
"We're still having round table discussions with different organizations to see what success will look like for us," said Winner. "Our site leader's dream is that visitors will not have to mentally prepare themselves to be grabbed at or harassed when walking in the French Quarter. My personal goal is to introduce educational programs starting at the middle school and high school levels that will educate young men and women about street harassment and why it is wrong and teach them how to intervene effectively and not just be a bystander."
Eventually, Winner would like to see programs established at area college and university freshman orientations so that students would begin their educational experience with a positive social shift.
"What kind of campus would you want to live on?" asks Winner. "A safe one where you are valued, or one that is dehumanizing and objectifying?"
Hollaback around the world
Courtesy of iHollaback.org
In the meantime, Winner challenges others to exercise empathy, to verbally stand up to harassers, or even to physically place themselves between a harasser and his or her target.
Winner, a Caucasian, straight male, is the first to admit he is an unlikely candidate to be leading a movement that mostly affects women and those in the LGBTQ community.
"'I' am the main reason this is an issue," said Winner. "I am the mold of the harasser. As a privileged, middle class American, I have a responsibility to not just consume but to give back. It is well within my ability to make a change, and I'm failing myself and my community if I don't at least do that."
Winner was born and raised in Shreveport, Louisiana, and graduated with a degree in business and finance from Centenary in 2007. Upon graduation, Winner attended the French Pastry School in Chicago, Illinois. He eventually opened his own business, NOLA Pie Guy, where he bakes sweet dessert pies and sells to local and online farmers markets seven days a week.