I’m back in the USA after 10 days of international travel, and I’m playing catch-up. Part of my catch-up is reading through google alerts and combing twitter for street harassment news.
I’ve come across many compelling articles… here are excerpts from 15. And by the way, they’re all just from the past five days. Heartbreaking, huh.
First, please sign the petition: Stop Sexual Violence Against Women in Egypt!
* The Washington Post, “Street harassment: Time for women to talk back”
“What upsets me most is the look on a harasser’s face when he’s said something hurtful. When I look past his sexually aggressive stare and see a self-entitled sneer. This isn’t flirting. It is verbal abuse. They aren’t interested in me, or any of the women they taunt. They do this because they think they can. They believe that women are defenseless, and are amused by our embarrassment and disgust. Every time I shut one of them up, I take a bit of my power back.”
* Spark Summit, “I’m Not an Object, and Neither Are You”
“I’m not buying that street harassment is something that is a result of any particular country’s culture, nor that there are stereotypical womanizers who can be identified by their society of origin. Obviously I am also not buying the idea that I should be flattered by being whistled at by some creeper yelling at me across four lanes of speeding traffic. As a tribute to the man last Thursday who ran his hands through my hair when I was walking through a group of people and the guy this weekend who touched my face and made me cry, I think that this is a topic worth talking about. I want to let everyone know that I am not an object to be touched and whistled at in the street. I’m not an object at all. Women are people, not objects.”
* Open Democracy, “Street sexual harassment: breaking the silence in Yemen”
“Young women’s rights activists are using new media to give a voice to the 90% of Yemeni women who face street sexual harassment. Yet support for the campaign has been far from unanimous; it has come face to face with a new form of patriarchy in the media, says Ghaidaa al-Absi.”
“We are a relatively affluent, well-educated society with myriad social supports, annual Take Back the Night marches, and most everyone has access to newspapers and cable shows that reflect the general consensus that violence against women, especially sexual violence, is abhorrent. Who could possibly still be unclear about that? We don’t live in a war zone. Why were two women sexually assaulted near my home this month?
I can’t begin to imagine what rationales go through people’s minds when they choose to violate another human being. But talking to my friend on the ride home, we both learned something about sexual violence in Canada.
He, a progressive, worldly, compassionate man realized that I, a savvy, independent, self-assured woman, have to watch my back every night that I go out. Some situations call for more vigilance than others. Some days I may not even be conscious of my vigilance. I’m used to weighing my odds. But until that conversation, I don’t think it had occurred to him that I, like most women, weigh my odds all day, every day to one extent or another.
Until that night, I hadn’t realized how literally foreign that experience is to my straight, white, male friend.”
* Team AWOT, “Street Harassment FAQs: An Imaginary Conversation”
Lauren Bravo breaks down why street harassment isn’t a compliment. The ending:
“So, if in doubt…
Say nothing at all. Yep, ’fraid so. And I hate to break it to you, but nothing catastrophic is going to happen if you DON’T toot your horn at that girl in the sundress. Her day will carry on perfectly well without you shouting ‘Awright sexayyy’ out of the window. If anything it will probably be better.
Wouldn’t it be nice if one day we could just tell women we think they’re beautiful without them feeling scared or objectified or pissed off?
Yes. Yes it would.”
* Faerye.net, “The 5 Stages of Street Harassment”
5. Blog fodder. Just another lovely reminder, folks! Patriarchy Makes Every Day Special!
* A year of living sensibly… “On silence”
“In reality, it happens no matter what I wear. It happens when I’m dressed up, when I’m out jogging, when I’m wearing jeans and trainers. It happens because it is not my choice.
For anyone who thinks it is just a bit of fun and that your freedom of speech is threatened, can you see how it controls me? Where is my freedom? To walk where I wish, to dress as I wish, to feel safe as I wish? How can those wishes threaten your freedoms?”
* Feministssa, “Street harassment – part of our daily life”
“In the past, I normally gave a fake telephone number to men who asked me for it -just to be polite. In an attempt to minimise the number of times I was harassed,I even became careful about how I dressed, I watched my conduct when I was in public and tried as much as possible to be inconspicuous. I have however realised that street harassment has got nothing to do with how women look or behave when they are in public. Street harassment has got everything to do with a society that endorses men to validate the appearance and conduct of women. I have therefore learned to stand up for myself and tell men who harass me to stop it.”
“But what those who defend the right for men to publicly treat women as sex-objects in the street forget, is that women don’t just live with lewd comments, which can perhaps be shrugged off, they live with the real threat of sexual violence. Every day. And sometimes it really is hard to tell the difference between the two.”
“If you want to give me a compliment, stay the fuck away from me. Give me the compliment of my autonomy and respect my desire to walk down the street unharassed. Work hard to change YOUR behavior even harder than the way I have to try and train myself to run and not freeze in fear. Anything else is your contribution to a culture of harassment.”
“Living for the past fifteen years in a country where sexual harassment is such a rampant problem that a rally for women’s rights was attacked by men, I had somehow come to assume that this daily harassment was something peculiar to the city I called home. I thought that these little day-to-day assaults – that aren’t really little at all but we learn to brush them off, just so we can actually step out into the street again – were products of culture, or poverty, or anything that simply didn’t exist in cities like Washington DC. It’s these small attacks, that chip away at the feeling that you deserve to be treated any better than this, that I didn’t expect to find here. I couldn’t have been more naive.
Gorman reminded me that walking while female in Egypt is the same as walking while female anywhere in the world – it means that, at any moment, you could find yourself on the receiving end of unwanted attention.”
* Cis white female, “On street harassment: if I wanted you to touch me, you’d know about it”
“I am following the example of many other feminists who have decided to record incidents of sexual harassment in order to raise awareness of the issue and to prove that it does happen often and in a range of circumstances. I’d encourage others to do the same; hopefully by doing this we can encourage people to talk about it when they do encounter unpleasant behaviour rather than feeling ashamed, and to prove to skeptics that this is a real and ever-present problem. Hopefully, this kind of attitude can go some way to tackling the myth that sexual harassment only happens to certain people and in certain circumstances, or that it only happens to people who invite it in some way. I’m certainly not willing to take any share of the blame when some douchebag decides he’s going to touch me without my permission; because if I wanted you to touch me, believe me, you’d know about it.”
* For Harriet, “Summertime, Sundresses and Street Harassment”
“I love and hate sundress season all at the same time. I love being comfortable in the summer, wearing pretty dresses, and showing off my curves. I don’t like being harassed because I don’t respond to a man’s advances in the manner he wished I would.
I have heard men say ‘If you don’t want that kind of attention, don’t wear what you’re wearing.’ I’m not a fan of that logic. Since when does our choice of clothing give men the permission to harass a woman?”
“DC’s ad-campaign is modeled after Boston’s MBTA’s award-winning anti-sexual harassment reporting and awareness efforts. It also joins other public transportation operators in U.S. cities including New York City Transit and the Chicago Transit Authority who have sought to acknowledge and tackle this issue by issuing PSAs. Some cities, such as New Delhi, India where I grew up wary and discouraged to use public transportation because I was female, have tackled the issue of rampant sexual-harassment on their metro system by providing women-only train cars. It’s an idea that is practical given the harsh realities of Delhi’s female-unfriendly culture, yet flawed in theory because it doesn’t serve as a deterrent to gender-based sexual harassment.”
“A D.C. woman who was sexually assaulted in Dupont Circle last week spoke out in a blog post that went viral…Liz Gorman, 25, says hundreds of women have contacted her, many sharing their own stories. ‘You should feel comfortable talking about this, going to the authorities, shining more of a light on this.’”Share on Facebook