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National Sexual Assault Conference 2014

Events | on August, 20, 2014 | by | 0 Comments

I’m at the National Sexual Assault Conference in Pittsburgh today to present the workshop “Getting Public Transit Systems to Address Sexual Harassment/Assault” with one of my mentors and long-time, amazing activists, Marty Langelan.

We’re looking forward to a lot of important conversations and hope we can see anti-harassment campaigns on transit systems spread nation-wide!

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USA: Exercising Outdoors While Female

correspondents, Stories, street harassment | on August, 20, 2014 | by | 0 Comments

Lorna M. Hartman, Spokane, WA, SSH Blog Correspondent

Image via Shooting Truth Bullets

The discussion has begun on the street harassment women experience when they exercise outdoors. Articles here, here and here (one by our own Holly Kearl here at SSH) describe this type of harassment, and plenty more are a Google search away.

Yet the pushback against this aspect of harassment is considerable. Exhibit A is the comment section of any article on street harassment of women exercising in public spaces.

Kearl’s article cited above gets this gem: “v9988, I don’t make cat calls towards woman and I don’t condone it. On a list of problems that a person could have, cat calls should be near the bottom. If common cat calls bother her then she should grow a thicker skin … She should be happy that she has the ability to run and is pretty enough to get a cat call once in a while. I used to run when I was younger and as a straight man I did not enjoy the occasional cat call that I got from men but it was no big deal.”

A couple of comments down, the attitude continues: “Wait til you lose your looks, become middle aged and the male attention stops. Then you’ll really have something to complain about. Lighten up honey. Not every woman considers a wolf whistle dangerous harassment. Geez. Lemme guess, you majored in ‘Wymyn’s Studies’ in college. Men are the enemy!”

Several more comments down there’s this excerpt: “If you choose to just run along the side of the road in spandex or tight shorts, you will receive catcalls. That is just human nature.”

A 2012 article titled “Running With Breasts: Why Won’t Men Leave Me Alone When I’m Jogging?” by Philadelphia writer Erica Palan describes her experiences jogging in public areas. First comment: “Another woman complaining about her boobs! There doesn’t seem to be one woman on this planet who likes her own boobs (or anyone else’s) … ” and it goes downhill for several paragraphs.

Writer Maghen Nicole says, “As a young, female cyclist, my safety and right to access transportation with dignity has been compromised by traffic and pedestrians,” in her article “Harassing Me While I’m Biking Is Still Street Harassment” published in mid-August this year.

She goes on to say, ““Street harassment is yet another way for men to exert their power over women, far too often without question or consequence. Cyclists have had enough. Women have had enough … cases as extreme as passengers in cars reaching out to touch and grab women biking have been reported … women have reported men making uncomfortable and offensive comments about the way they were seated on their bikes.”

Her article was met with responses such as:

* “Should you be harassed no. Is cat calling really so bad that it makes you feel un-safe? If it does make you feel that way you better just stay home with your mommy while she cooks you din-din”
* “So much women’s studies jargon just to complain about someone saying something to you.”
* “Words are words; learn to be an adult and not some sniveling 12 year old … Now it’s ‘Sticks & stones will break my bones; Words will devastate my inner child, because I’m sniveling cry baby!’”

A blogger named Mountaineer created a Twitter handle called @offsideplays where women can share their experiences of being harassed while bicycling.

She wrote, “Since I created Offside Plays (@offsideplays) as a site to expose the everyday discrimination (e.g. racism, sexism, homophobia etc.) that takes place in sport and exercise nothing has caught my attention more than the harassment that women face while biking … I am consistently surprised by the amount and type of harassment/abuse faced by women on their bikes.”

How do we raise the social and legal costs of harassing outdoor exercisers simply for being female in a public space?

* Push back verbally if it’s safe to do so—both men and women can do this.
* Report physical contact by harassers to police, whether it happens to you or whether you observed it happening to someone else. A harasser moving into someone’s physical space and touching them is breaking the law.
* Advocate for police to have training on what street harassment really is and what it’s really like, and expect police to follow it up when you report a physical assault or stalking situation.
* Press charges when we have opportunity to do so, if we can afford it financially and emotionally.
* Share your stories with friends and family. It gives them the choice: They can either voice their support, or lose the ability to be in denial.

Post your stories to public online places like @offsideplays, the Hollaback website and Hollaback iPhone and Droid apps, following Twitter account @EndStHarassment and tweets tagged #endstreetharassment, following and submitting your stories to StopStreetHarassment and Fuck You Street Harassment on Tumblr, and many more.

There’s a lot of work to do before women exercising outdoors are treated with the respect due to any human being. But we are doing the work, and we can achieve the goal with perseverance.

Lorna is raising three young, kindhearted male allies and has worked on rape and interpersonal violence since the 1990s, including serving on the local rape hotline, answering calls, and driving to emergency rooms to advocate for victims and connect them with resources they needed.

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Street Harassment is NOT a compliment

News stories, street harassment | on August, 19, 2014 | by | 0 Comments

I am really floored that after the NY Post published an article about street harassment being flattering (and women should just deal with it), major outlets like USA Today, Time and Salon.com all ran pieces this afternoon disagreeing, as did sites like Bustle, the Frisky,

This would never have happened a few years ago, hell maybe not even last year. This is an incredible shift in how street harassment is viewed!! WOW. Let’s keep speaking out!

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“Seriously, your breasts look delicious.”

Stories, street harassment | on August, 19, 2014 | by | 0 Comments

I was at Otakon (an anime convention) with my friend a few weeks ago and we decided to cosplay. We were both wearing low cut dresses because it’s hot outside and it worked for our costumes. The people at the convention were nothing but nice to us luckily, but as a lot of cosplayers know walking around the city outside of the convention center invites a lot of attention from strangers… which is typically pretty understandable when people ask to take your picture or ask you about the character you’re dressed like.

Outside of the convention center on our way to grab lunch a man approached us in the crosswalk and said, “I just want you ladies to know that your breasts look amazing. Has anyone told you that today?” I wanted to reply, “No, no one else has been that rude,” but I just laughed him off because I was in a good mood and didn’t want to start a fight with a stranger in a crosswalk. Then he told us that he saw us walking and HAD to get out of his car to tell us how great our breasts look… as if he wouldn’t be able to sleep at night if no one commented on our boobs today.

I mustered, “Um thaaaanks?” as sarcastically as I could and we kept walking. He ended on, “Seriously, your breasts look delicious.”

I was grossed out and really alarmed that someone would get out of their car at a red light to harass women in a crosswalk. We laughed that he would have been slicker to just ask to take our picture and not comment on our breasts because we probably would have said yes (since we were in costume after all) and he could have had a photo to remember our “delicious” breasts by.

Not an hour later, another guy did exactly that. He approached us, said we looked beautiful and asked to take our picture and as he was taking it we noticed the camera slide down from our faces towards our chests. We probably wouldn’t have noticed had we not just joked about how the other guy should have done that to be more “slick.” If I was alone I would have been scared, but with my friend there I was able to just laugh it off. I’m seriously considering bringing my husband next year to avoid getting harassed again, even though he really isn’t that interested in attending the convention.

Optional: What’s one way you think we can make public places safer for everyone?

The only way street harassment is going to stop is if we share our stories and shine a light on this kind of behavior. We need to let people know that this is NOT okay and that’s never going to happen if we keep sweeping it under the rug.

- Anonymous

Location: Baltimore, MD

Share your street harassment story for the blog.
See the book 50 Stories about Stopping Street Harassers for more idea

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“I see. Sorry, I’m not interested.”

Stories, street harassment | on August, 18, 2014 | by | 0 Comments

I was standing at the intersection near my apartment, waiting for the light to change. I’m autistic, and was flicking my fingers in front of me. I may have given the impression I was stoned.

A man walked up to me and asked, “Are you going to HempFest?”

I said, “No.”

“Do you want to go to HempFest?” he asked.

“No.”

“Let’s get coffee.”

“I’m not interested.”

“Well, you see, my therapist told me that when I met somebody I thought was attractive I should just go up to them and ask them out. I thought you seemed really nice and attractive. You don’t understand how big a step this is for me.”

“I see. Sorry, I’m not interested.” (There are so many ways I could have said, “Your therapist is wrong and you are creepy.” I did not feel safe enough to do any of them in the moment. I apologize if this makes me a Bad Feminist.)

“Well, I’m interested in doing anything outdoors.”

“I’m already in a relationship.”

He immediately got apologetic and said, “Sorry. I didn’t know. Have a great day!” He left right after that. Because my repeated statements that I was 100% not interested were obviously meaningless, so long as I’m designated Available.

- KA

Location: Seattle, WA, USA

Share your street harassment story for the blog.
See the book 50 Stories about Stopping Street Harassers for more idea

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New Opportunities to Join Us!

SSH programs, street harassment | on August, 17, 2014 | by | 0 Comments

Do you want to do something about street harassment? Here are several ways you can join up with us in the mission to document and end gender-based street harassment.

1. Apply for our September – November 2014 Blog Correspondents Cohort. Apps due August 29, 2014. It’s an unpaid, volunteer position. 

2. Apply to join our Board of Directors for the 2014-16 term. Apps due September 8, 2014. It’s an unpaid, volunteer position.

3 & 4. — We’re looking for new dedicated volunteers! To apply, please send your resume/CV and a cover letter to Holly Kearl, HKearl@StopStreetHarassment.org.

3. SSH Social Media Manager:

SSH needs help managing the Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest, and Instagram accounts. The position will entail a little bit of work on the Facebook page, too. Applicants must have experience with each platform and be able to devote around three hours per week to managing these accounts.

The person must be able to manage these accounts through at least the end of 2014, ideally through the end of Spring 2015.

This is an unpaid volunteer position.

Apply by September 13, 2014

4. International Anti-Street Harassment Week Manager:

International Anti-Street Harassment Week will be held April 12-18, 2015. It will be the fifth year of activism.

Leading up to the week (Dec – early April): We need someone who can help manage the #EndSHWeek social media-specific accounts, reach out to groups and people to invite them to participate, follow-up with past participants, update the website, develop new flyers for 2015, work with translation volunteers to translate materials, find media contacts and outlets to pitch, and other duties as relevant. You will have weekly check-ins with SSH Founder Holly Kearl.

During the week: We need someone who can help dedicate time every day to searching online for photos and articles about activism happening by participants (they are often slow to send links or never do – so SSH has to do a lot of searching) and then sharing them on the SSH blog, photo album, and social media accounts, help manage the daily tweet chats, and also, ideally the person will hold or participate in an offline event.

After the week (late April): Following up with participants to hear about their events. Continuing to look online for actions that took place. Compiling links.

This position will require about 5-10 hours/week leading up to April. During April it could be up to 15-20 hours per week.

The position would begin in December 2014 and run until the end of April 2015 (5 months). This position will pay a small stipend of $500/month ($2,500 total).

Apply by October 1, 2014.

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“Girl.. you have the finest ass I have ever seen.”

Stories, street harassment | on August, 17, 2014 | by | 0 Comments

I was walking to the subway in NYC to run work errands when a guy told me, “Girl.. you have the finest ass I have ever seen.” I was annoyed but honestly- I have heard this before on the street and kept walking.

When I came back from the errand I saw the same guy and he yells, “Twice in one day! I am so lucky.”

Now I am feeling like I am trapped seeing this man. It was almost like we had a relationship somehow the way he talked to me.. like he knew me and we were friends.

I had to deal with the fear that I was going to constantly have to see him and keep hearing from him. Three days later he drove by and stopped at the light near me. I had a moment when we saw each other. I waited .. knowing if he was going to say something he would have to yell it across the street where many people would hear it. I was ready to be humiliated. He yells, “I like your dress!” and I felt relieved that my ass stayed out of the subject.

Optional: What’s one way you think we can make public places safer for everyone?

Change cultural norms.

- EE

Location: NYC, Meatpacking District

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See the book 50 Stories about Stopping Street Harassers for more idea

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Comment Policy

SSH will not publish any comment that is offensive or hateful and does not add to a thoughtful discussion of street harassment. Racism, homophobia, transphobia, disabalism, classism, and sexism will not be tolerated. Disclaimer: SSH may use any stories submitted to the blog in future scholarly publications on street harassment.