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Thank You 2nd Cohort and Welcome 3rd Cohort of Blog Correspondents

correspondents, SSH programs, street harassment | on August, 29, 2015 | by | 0 Comments

Many thanks to our second cohort of blog correspondents this year. They tackled topics like reproductive rights, school dress codes, slut shaming, hitchhiking, the generational divide, how technology can help street harassment happen, and several of them conducted interviews with street harassment activists in their community.

Meet the Correspondents of the Third Cohort of 2015

Eve Aronson, Amsterdam, the Netherlands

Eve Aronson Eve is the Director of Hollaback! Amsterdam and dedicates her time to raising awareness and assessing policy on street harassment in the Netherlands and beyond. Her recent work, “Psst Schatje!: Street Harassment in Amsterdam, Online and Beyond” provides a critical analysis of the street harassment landscape in the Netherlands and explores innovative, digital solutions to the problem. Driven by a passion to bring light to human rights abuses and different forms of gender-based violence, Eve devotes her time to shedding light on and combatting street harassment and human trafficking through her non-profit work, previous work as a journalist and on- and offline activism. Originally from the U.S., Eve recently completed a dual Masters program in Women and Gender Studies in the Netherlands and in Hungary. She is an avid backpacker and lover of languages. Follow Eve on Twitter at @evearonson or learn more about her here.

Meghna Bhat, Chicago, USA

Meghna BhatMeghna is a doctoral candidate in the Criminology, Law, and Justice program at the University of Illinois at Chicago, with a specialization in Gender and Women Studies. She is currently working on her dissertation, which focuses on representations of violence against women in a widely viewed form of Indian popular culture, Bollywood cinema. Having grown up in the metropolitan city of Mumbai (India) and having lived in the USA for 11 years, Meghna has witnessed and experienced gender-based oppression, including street harassment, from an early age. As a South Asian woman, these unsettling experiences motivated her to pursue this field and be an outspoken advocate for LGBTQI rights, prevention of hate crimes and discrimination, de-stigmatization of mental health taboos, and finding resources and safe spaces for survivors of gender-based violence. Meghna finds painting, walking by the lake, photography, traveling, and dance therapeutic for self-care.

Chelsea Cloud, Michigan, USA

Chelsea CloudChelsea is a full-time sales assistant for an advertising company in West Michigan and a part-time Graphic Design student. She is proud to call herself a feminist and feels passionately about speaking up for women’s rights. In the past few years, Chelsea has developed a habit of running (and actually enjoying it sometimes.) Her experiences with street harassment while out on her runs have prompted her to advocate through writing. Her passion for writing started at a very early age, when she discovered the power of words and how even a simple poem can unite and empower. Chelsea loves otters, adventures, reading YA fiction and The Walking Dead. You can find her on twitter @LitSmitten.

Sara Conklin, Washington, DC, USA

Sara ConklinSara is currently living, working, and dancing her way through Washington, DC. With an apparent aversion to land-locked states, Sara has lived in Boston, Miami, San Francisco, and Jacksonville. She professionally works in fundraising events, at an organization that empowers women who face homelessness through recovery, wellness training, and housing. Feeling constantly inspired at work by the tremendous amount of strength from these women, Sara chose to write for Stop Street Harassment to encourage dialogue and to help provide a space of empowerment for anyone facing harassment. In her personal life, Sara is an avid traveler and will have touched down on 6 continents as of October 2015 and plans to play with the penguins on Antarctica sometime in the near future. She runs her own photography company (saraconklinphotography.com) and a popular website that seeks to connect the world through pictures, sarapose.com.

Maryah Converse, New York City, USA

Maryah ConverseMaryah has an MA in Near Eastern Languages and Cultures, and was a Fellow at the Center for Arabic Study Abroad in Cairo. She lived three blocks from Tahrir Square during the Egyptian Revolution, an intriguing, unexpected utopia from street harassment. When that utopia abruptly ended, she became interested in understanding street harassment. She works for the Unitarian Church of All Souls in New York City, a liberal religious tradition deeply invested in social justice work, where she has provided particular leadership in the Racial Justice Initiative. She is especially interested in the ways that the activism of Black Lives Matter intersects with global justice movements for LGBT communities, disability rights, environmental protection, reproductive rights, gender equality, economic justice and Middle East peace. She also translates, teaches Arabic and writes memoir about her experiences living in Jordan and Egypt; occasional excerpts appear in her blog “Arabs I’ve Known.”

Larisa Marina Cristea, Romania

Larisa is a master’s student in Marketing and Advertising, with a newly discovered passion for feminism and gender equality. She has volunteered with institutionalized youth and co-founded the “Drawing your future” NGO. She tends to consider herself a people lover and a pacifist. She has been writing fiction stories since she was 12. She loves reading good books – usually fiction, and afterwards fantasizes about the beautiful places in the books, wondering if she will ever get there. That’s why another passion she has is travelling and meeting new people. She loves to hear their stories, learn their way of thinking and acting and then, share what she’s learned with others. She feels inspired by music, feeling more confident and able to write better. She likes the little things in life, including spending quality time with good, enriching and inspiring people.

Roxana Geru, Romania

Roxana GeruRoxana is a 21-year-old who is studying psychology. She plans to do a master’s program in Sexuality and Gender Studies. She hopes to one day work within the LGBT community, with sexual workers and/or with people who are suffering from sexuality disorders. She enjoys volunteering and traveling. She likes to fight for human rights, because she truly believes that you should not punish or bully someone just because they different from you and also, because she wants to see a safe and fair world for the next generations. She recently had the chance to study in France for a semester and then received a scholarship to study at a summer school in Denmark. This changed her thinking: she had fear when she walked down the streets in France and Denmark, but in Denmark you really should not be worried. This helped her realize how stupid it is for her as a human to be afraid.

Hannah Rose Johnson, USAHannah Rose Johnson

Hannah Rose often feels like she’s floating through a slow, bright fog. In school she studied a collage of sociology, gender studies, art and writing. She has tea bags of feminism, queerness, madness, and longing steeped inside of herself. You can check her out on the collaborative artistic poetic sound project HotBox Utopia. Hannah will be writing from Tucson, Arizona and Lewiston, Maine (US) as she transitions from the Southwest to the Northeast for a career in sexual violence prevention and advocacy at the college level.

Fasiha Khan, Pakistan

Fasiha KhanEven with the background in Finance studies, Fasiha realized that she has a love for writing! She decided to do something productive and got a chance to be a Contributor for UN Women Asia & the Pacific. She writes about gender-related issues, mainly gender equality, sexual harassment, and economic empowerment of women. She is playing her part towards the betterment of women in the region and around the globe. She also serves as the Global Champion with UN Women’s program, Empower Women, which focuses on Women’s Economic Empowerment. They are aiming to make working norms equal & justifiable for the women & also highlight the female entrepreneurs who have worked against all the odds. Plus, they also help the institutions and governing bodies to devise better policies for women of the world. With Stop Street Harassment, she looks forward to writing to create awareness so we can work to build a healthy and safer society for women. She loves music, reading, writing and traveling. You can find her on Facebook and Twitter, @FasihaFarrukh

Marinella Matejčić, Croatia Marinella Matejčić

Marinella is a freelance journalist/writer, feminist activist, and soon-to-be administrative law student. Her feminist work is mostly oriented on sexual and reproductive health and rights and she is enrolled in the Women Deliver Young Leaders program. Marinella writes for Croatian portal on gender, sex and democracy called Libela.org and covers CEE stories for globalvoicesonline.org. Her favourite pastime is reading and discussing the essence of life with her eight-year-old daughter. Feel free to follow her on Twitter @mmatejci.

Smriti RDN Neupane, Nepal

Smriti is a feminist who dreams of a world filled with love, kindness and justice. She wishes that the world were a home without any boundaries. Smriti RDN NeupaneShe is an optimist and believes that every little thing we do matters. She coordinated Safe cities campaign in Nepal with a team of feminist activists of various organisations, networks and community groups from 2011 to 2014 and is still voluntarily engaged with it. She has been a part of the multi country research team pertaining to women’s engagement in unpaid care work. She advocates for recognition, reduction and redistribution of work burden of women to increase women’s representation at all levels. She is currently engaged in an action research and advocacy on women’s leadership in climate change adaptation focusing on women’s time use. Doing workshops and facilitating training with women and girls on women’s rights issues gives her energy and the drive to work on. She also believes that children and youth are the agents of change that we want to see in our world and engages with them whenever she gets an opportunity. She loves to read and write and has a blog which she intends to make active.

Brianne Patterson, Vancouver, CanadaBrianne Patterson

Born and raised in Vancouver, British Columbia, Brianne is the co-founder of a campaign focused on providing Canadians mental health resources as well as spreading daily positivity. She enjoys making a positive difference in the lives of others. Her past work includes a behind the scenes job with Entertainment Tonight Canada at the 21st Annual Gemini Awards, and she also works as a freelance makeup artist.

Sara Rigon, Italy

Sara is a registered General Practitioner in Italy and New Zealand; she also collaborates with NGOs that offer Sara Rigonmedical health care to migrants. A women’s right activist, she is the founder and current lead of the newly established Equally Different group within the European Junior General Practitioners Organization, the Vasco da Gama Movement, branch of the World Organization of Family Doctors. The VdGM Equally Different group tackles gender inequalities in everyday life. We fight conventional stereotypes and gender roles as built-in components of our culture and foundation of prejudice as well as gender violence. The group also collaborates with the VdGM Violence Against Women group to raise awareness on this tragic epidemic phenomenon. When she is not working Sara enjoys making and eating pizza, travelling and twitting @rgn_sr.

Takeallah Serena Rivera, Seattle, USA

Takeallah is a 25-year old queer/Afro-Latinx/Indigenous feminist activist, freelance writer, community organizer, mama, comic book nerd, and wanderlust; her efforts are usually focused on anti-poverty and anti-racism work, Takeallah Serena Riveradomestic violence and sexual assault awareness, and reproductive, sexual, and maternal health. She is currently pursuing degrees in Education, with hopes of becoming a High Science/English/ESL Teacher in a predominately low-income, People of Color area by day, college Gender Studies Professor by night, and Editor whenever she has free time! She joined Stop Street Harassment in order to share her stories from a Queer, Woman of Color perspective and to encourage other Queer Women of Color to do the same. Takeallah spends her free time exploring Seattle’s bookstores, binge-watching documentaries on Netflix, and perfecting her side-eye. Follow her on Instagram @BurningBraRadicalDoula, Twiter @The BurningBra, and check out her monthly column on The Trifecta Tribe, “The Burning Bra Chronicles.”

Yuriana Sobrino, Boston, USA

Yuriana SobrinoYuriana is a drummer and an advocate for domestic violence survivors. She’s from Mexico but is currently living in Boston MA. At the age of 6 years old she started playing music with her brothers. Since then music has been her life and the passion for it brought her to move to Boston in 2007 to study at Berklee College of Music where she graduated with a Performance Degree. In October of 2014, she started working as a domestic violence advocate at the Massachusetts Statewide Domestic Violence Hotline, Safelink, where she is currently the Assistant Coordinator. There she’s been learning about crisis intervention, safety planning, domestic violence and its effects, resources available for survivors and especially about how to understand and listen to them from a non-judgmental perspective. She is very enthusiastic about helping to end abuse in all its forms and specially in creating awareness about how to prevent it. Learn more about her at her website www.yurianasobrino.com and you can follow her on Twitter, @YurianaSobrino.

Tracey Wise, London, UK

Tracey WiseBorn and raised in London, Tracey is a graduate of City University. She has spent the best part of her life at gigs and festivals and obsessing about music. She considers herself outside of work, best described as alternative. Alongside this, she is politically aware. After a recent trip to a gig that ended with an act of sexual harassment, it seemed natural to combine her love of music with her political awareness. From this, she created the “Safe Gigs for Women” project. Currently based in London, but with plans to expand, her aims are threefold: Firstly, talking to venues to support them in making changes towards safer environments and taking complaints of sexual harassment seriously. Secondly, challenging prevailing attitudes of gig goers. Lastly, getting bands and artists talking about our work, in the hope it provokes wider debate.

 

 

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Spain/Ireland: In praise of (feminist) festes majors

correspondents | on August, 28, 2015 | by | 0 Comments

Rebecca Smyth, Spain, SSH Blog Correspondent

Oh how time flies. This time last year I was wandering about what was then my new Barcelona neighbourhood. Today I’m back home in Ireland wondering where summer is.

And oh what I could be doing in Barcelona if I were still there. It’s festa major season you see, and what a season that is.

(Maria di Mario, tefl-iberia.com)  And yes, that is a bunch of people dancing under fireworks.

(Maria di Mario, tefl-iberia.com) And yes, that is a bunch of people dancing under fireworks.

From the 24th of June (Sant Joan, for those of you taking notes) until, as far as I can tell, the 24th of June of the following year, every other day sees the celebration of a festa in one corner of Catalonia or another.

Festes Majors de Mataró, 2015 (Dani Ros)

Festes Majors de Mataró, 2015 (Dani Ros)

Festes are great. I want to import them here. For want of a better translation, they’re local, traditional festivals. They can be a one-day event or a two-week long blowout. What I like best about them is that there’s more to them than just the Degenerate Youth vomiting and brawling in the streets. You get kind of sick of seeing that if you grow up in Ireland. In point of fact, I witnessed no Degenerate Youth vomiting or brawling. Instead I saw people of all ages out until the wee hours of the morning taking part in processions and dances, watching open-air concerts, having water fights, having cook-outs in the street and generally just enjoying summer fun with family and friends. There may be some firework-related mayhem here and there, but what’s a lost finger or two among friends?

When I first arrived in Barcelona last year, the Festa Major de Sants was already in full swing. It’s not everyday that the new city you’ve just moved to throws a party for you, so I felt we were already off to a good start.

Festa de Sants street decorations 2014

Festa de Sants street decorations 2014

As part of the Festa Major de Sants many streets participate in a competition to see which one can come up with the best themed street design. I’m not entirely sure how or by whom it’s judged or whether anything more substantial than the honour and the glory is won, but that is irrelevant to this blog post (what is relevant will be revealed shortly, honest.) I wandered around for a couple of hours marvelling at the creativity, humour and effort that went into the street decorations, and marvelling all the more at the fact that groups of people get together and pick a theme and gather old bottles and clothes and scraps and cut and glue and stick and transform it all into Under the Sea or Pokémon or Angry Birds or Important Event in Catalan History or Witty Commentary on International News Events every single year because this is their neighbourhood and they love it and are proud of it.   And then they turn around and plan a bunch of events suitable for all ages to take place in the now-decorated street.

Festa de Sants Under The Sea, Boat in a Tree

Festa de Sants Under The Sea, Boat in a Tree

And this is just one neighbourhood. It happens all over Barcelona, in El Raval and Poble Sec and, most famously, in Gràcia. Apparently the street decorations there are a whole other level, but Muggins here can’t say for sure because Muggins here couldn’t really afford to stay in Barcelona until the Festa de Gràcia kicked off on the 15th.

All sounds peachy, doesn’t it? But there’s a but. There’s always a darn but, isn’t there?

Fortunately I didn’t experience any nastiness first hand, but this is patriarchy and that’s why we can’t have nice things. Assaults, harassment and general perviness ruin something that should be fun for far too many women and other Others.

Asamblea de Dones Feministes de Gracia 2014 campaign poster (No means No; my body is not an object.  Use non-sexist language.  We don't want paternalism.  We can do it alone.  Don't justify your machista behaviour by blaming alcohol.  You are not alone, it is the responsibility of all to act against sexual harrasment)

Asamblea de Dones Feministes de Gracia 2014 campaign poster (No means No; my body is not an object. Use non-sexist language. We don’t want paternalism. We can do it alone. Don’t justify your machista behaviour by blaming alcohol. You are not alone, it is the responsibility of all to act against sexual harassment)

In response to this, numerous feminist collectives based in different Barcelona barrios and beyond have drawn up anti-harassment protocols in recent years. In 2012 the Asamblea de Dones Feministes de Gràcia (Assembly of Feminist Women of Gràcia) started the ball rolling with a poster campaign. The following year, they launched an awareness campaign featuring leaflets, posters and even radio advertisements. That summer also saw them draw up a proposed protocol against sexual harassment during festes majors. Primarily focused on their own ‘catchment area’, Plaça del Raspall, their activities and the protocol inspired other collectives involved in the Festa de Gràcia to take similar action. In both 2014 and 2015 the Asamblea and other collectives continued to campaign against sexual harassment and to provide support services to those who experienced it. It also inspired the barrio of Poble Sec’s les dones de La Base to draw up a campaign and protocol of their own this summer, to which many important groups involved in organising the Festes Majors de Poble Sec signed up.

La Asemblea de Dones Feministes de Gràcia’s 2015 protocol outlines how best to respond to different types of sexual harassment: non-physical harassment, physical harassment without force and physical harassment with force. In the case of the first two, the perpetrator is first warned that their behaviour will not be tolerated and, that if they continue, they will have to leave. If they continue, they are expelled from the festivities. In the case of violent physical harassment, they are immediately expelled.

Significantly, the Asamblea states in its protocol that it’s the person on the receiving end of any form of harassment to call the shots. If they feel like it’s harassment, then it’s frickin’ harassment. Organisers should only do what the person who has been harassed would like them to do. It also emphasises the importance of everyone being on the lookout for anti-social, sexist behaviour. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, the Asamblea also makes the point that those involved in organising the festivities should look to prevent harassment before it happens. This gives a whole new dimension to what ‘inclusivity’ can and should mean. For members of La Trama, a Sants-based feminist organisation, their anti-harassment campaigns in recent years aim “to show the rejection of sexist or homophobic violence by the organisers and the barrio.” Safe spaces can be fun spaces and fun spaces can be safe spaces, one hopes.

Writing this as my last blog was very much a deliberate thing: obviously it ties in nicely because the festes are currently ongoing, but most of all I wanted to write about something positive and something that reflected on the impressive grassroots activism that informs everyday life in Barcelona. Groups like La Trama, La Base, La Asamblea de Dones Feministes de Gràcia and many, many more have drawn upon and, to my mind, updated what can seem like fuddy-duddy concepts of community spirit and civic duty by giving them an intersectional feminist twist. It’s something I think we can all aspire to replicating in our own neighbourhoods, towns, university campuses and other communities. Failing that, we can all just move to Barcelona. Lovely weather you know.

The following article was a most helpful starting point and point of reference in writing this post.

For more information on the organisations mentioned, visit their websites:

* Asamblea de Dones Feministes de Gràcia

* La Base

* La Trama Feminista de Sants

Rebecca is currently living, working and stumbling through ballet classes in Barcelona. Originally from Kilkenny, she has a degree in European Studies and a Master’s in Gender and Women’s Studies from Trinity College Dublin, and will be doing an LLM in Human Rights Law in Edinburgh this fall.

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Labour candidate Corbyn wants to tackle street harassment in the UK!

News stories, street harassment | on August, 26, 2015 | by | 0 Comments

UPDATE: His campaign sent me this on 8/28:

Here’s a quote we just gave to the Guardian on the women-only carriages controversy specifically: “This is one of seven policy ideas that have arisen from issues raised by women, asking women for their views on how best to deal with harassment in public spaces. These policies are all driven by the knowledge that we must tackle harassment by changing men’s behaviour, not blaming or penalising women – this is why they include proposals for better holding men to account, for ensuring women can report incidents without fear of being dismissed, and for better equipping public officials to prevent harassment.  At last we are having a national debate about the problem of harassment in our society – it has been overlooked by the political and media establishment for too long. Our policy in this area will be driven by the views of women.”
 
The full policy doc is here:  http://www.jeremyforlabour.com/end_street_harassment What it says about carriages specifically is: “Consultation on public transport: Some women have raised with me that a solution to the rise in assault and harassment on public transport could be to introduce women only carriages. My intention would be to make public transport safer for everyone from the train platform, to the bus stop to on the mode of transport itself. However, I would consult with women and open it up to hear their views on whether women-only carriages would be welcome – and also if piloting this at times and modes of transport where harassment is reported most frequently would be of interest.”

Jeremy Corbyn, Labour leadership candidate in the UK, revealed his platform to end street harassment yesterday. I applaud him for doing so and see his actions as a sign that compared with just a few years ago, more people are recognizing that street harassment is a human rights violation that limits harassed persons’ access to public spaces.

In fact, this significant shift in just a few years is the topic of my new book (out in 4 days!) Stop Global Street Harassment: Growing Activism Around the World.

I support many of Corbyn’s suggestions, like running an advertising campaign about street harassment, fostering cross-sector collaborations to address the issue, and ensuring that public safety issues are represented and addressed by local and national political leaders. But he also wrote that he would consider women-only public transportation, something he said “some women have raised with me.”

While I am all for conversations around street harassment and solutions, one idea that troubles me is sex-segregation on public transportation. I write about this in-depth in my forthcoming book, but in short: it’s a band-aid solution that puts the onus on women to try to stay safe instead of challenging the bad behavior and it does not account for men’s experiences with sexual harassment and assault, which, while overall happens less, does still happen. This is especially true for men who are or who are perceived to be gay, bisexual, queer, transgender, and/or effeminate.

While I applaud any person, including politicians like Corbyn, who wants to address street harassment (and I thank him for the very kind shoutout to Stop Street Harassment for our work), I want to suggest to anyone who wants to create policy on this issue that instead of sex-segregation, we need education in schools about all forms of sexual harassment, about respect, consent, and what one’s rights are if one faces harassment. We need public service campaigns encouraging communities to not tolerate harassment and to speak out when friends, family, and colleagues engage in inappropriate behavior. And we also need media outlets and companies to stop portraying street harassment as a joke or compliment in tv, movies, songs, and advertising.

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Los Angeles passengers under 18 years old face high rates of unwanted touching

News stories, public harassment | on August, 25, 2015 | by | 0 Comments

Here is the latest study about harassment on the Los Angeles, California, transit system (via the LA Times):

“Recent survey data from the Metropolitan Transportation Authority suggests nearly one in five riders — 19% — has experienced some form of harassment this year. Seven percent have been fondled or groped, and 8% have been subject to indecent exposure.

The data, from nearly 20,000 surveys handed out on Metro buses and trains, raises question about actual and perceived safety on Los Angeles County’s ever-expanding rail network. And, experts say, it could be a stumbling block for Metro as the agency works to coax Angelenos out of their cars and onto public transit.

The numbers are also troubling for the 78% of Metro riders who have no access to a car.

Although six in 10 Metro passengers are Latino, black passengers reported the highest rates of indecent exposure, physical contact and harassment overall. Riders younger than 34 reported the highest rates of harassment of all kinds. Passengers younger than 18 reported the highest rate of unwanted touching of any age group.”

I am so glad they are collecting this information and are recognizing this as a problem that could keep people from wanting to ride the system. I think it’s also important that it shows young people and black passengers face the most harassment. Knowledge is the first step toward solutions.

And here are some of their strategies, which are all very positive steps forward:

“[A] public awareness campaign called “It’s Off Limits,” which urges passengers to report harassment by calling (888) 950-7233…

Metro has a smartphone app, Transit Watch, that helps people call sheriff’s deputies, confidentially report harassment and snap photos of an incident. But only 6 in 10 Metro riders own a smartphone….

In the last three months, Metro has begun training its 11,000 employees to handle reports of sexual assault or harassment. Someone who has just been through that experience will probably talk to the first uniformed person they see, Gonzales said, even if it’s a janitor or a ticket-taker.”

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“No one asked if I was ok”

Stories, street harassment | on August, 23, 2015 | by | 0 Comments

I was walking along the street yesterday afternoon. A man walking towards me catcalled me (hello beautiful, sexy etc etc). I felt angry and (not very eloquently) responded with ‘shut up, wanker’. I had assumed he was alone but he then called out to his girlfriend/wife/whatever declaring that I’d called him a wanker. I kept walking and tried to get on the bus, she followed me grabbed me by the hair and then knocked me to the ground yelling ‘you f***ing slag’ at me. I stood up and went towards the bus, they both continued to yell at me, again calling me a ‘slag’ and asking why I was calling him a wanker and asserting that ‘He was giving me a compliment’ and ‘who did I think I was?’ There was an entire bus of people watching. No one asked if I was ok.

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

Educate boys and men about why catcalling is unacceptable

– Anonymous

Location: London, UK

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

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USA: When Does Street Harassment Begin?

correspondents, Stories, street harassment | on August, 22, 2015 | by | 0 Comments

Liz Merino, Massachusetts, USA, SSH Blog Correspondent

Boston chalking for International Anti-Street Harassment Week 2015

Boston chalking for International Anti-Street Harassment Week 2015

When does street harassment begin? I asked myself this the other day. When can I remember instances throughout my life that someone has sexualized my body without my consent?

There are really too many too count.

The news does capture some of it. Blips and glances, reels of one rape case or harassment of another, slowly turning, always changing, lighting up the television screen until something more repulsing replaces it.

Between sexist school dress codes, elite school rape cases and the systematic rape-based theology of Yazidi women carried out by of ISIS soldiers; I can’t help but feel helpless.

When does the sexualization of a woman begin? When does it really end?

Street harassment occurs every day. It happens on busy sidewalk streets during the morning hours when the sun is just slinking over the horizon. It happens on poorly lit streets after a night out with friends, causing some women to wonder if they will even make it home to see their loved ones again.

It happens on public transportation, city sidewalks and country back roads. Sexual harassment happens in the hallways of our schools and in the corners of our office spaces.

Sexual harassment doesn’t need an actual street to happen. It just needs a man with a sense of entitlement that reaches far beyond a normal scope of perception.

Don’t draw attention to yourself, but be sure people know you are there and carry your keys for protection, but don’t let them jingle or they will hear that too. Pull the top of your shirt up if you don’t want the attention, but stop, not every man is looking, not everyone is a predator. But cover your drink and watch your back just in case, because if they get you it’s always your fault. But you’re probably lying anyways, right?

Street harassment hurts. It creates a world in which men believe that a woman is their property simply for being in a public space.

If men can call you a slut on the street, take upskirt pictures of you in a grocery store or ask you to suck their dick from behind a car window, what will they really do to you when they get you all alone?

Priyanka, 23, a resident of New York City recounted her first experience of street harassment:

“The first place that I can truly remember it occurring was in the Middle East in one of the nicer malls. There would always be guys standing in a row near the theatre, just staring at you walking by and whistling or following you eventually. It was creepy and I didn’t appreciate the attention. I didn’t like feeling like a piece of meat.”

Having a vagina and a set of breasts is not a welcome mat upon which to lay your comments or your opinion or your crass approval of my body.

Street harassment is not a compliment. The oversexualization of women has never been “something nice” or “just something to do.” Funny how a woman can go from “sexy “and “honey” to stark raving mad, like a feral dog, when she rebuffs a man’s advances responds with how she really feels.

A woman is not a prude, stuck up cunt just because she doesn’t want you to grope her on the subway.

Jade, 21, a California resident echoed the same sentiment as Priyanka:

“I remember driving with an older guy friend, who was like my brother. He thought it was so funny to catcall women and he said, ‘If I see something I like I want to tell them.’ I tried to explain how uncomfortable it makes girls feel and he just didn’t understand that women are not here for his viewing pleasure. I don’t understand what men think they will get out of it. I am not going to hop in your car and I’m definitely not going to give you my number because you honked at me and said I have a nice ass. You are someone that I would make sure to stay far away from.”

Compared to a lot of other things I wrote in this article, the following incident isn’t that big of a deal. Or maybe in comparison, there are other bigger, more important things happening that people should care more about.

The one incident that has been popping into my mind happened during my freshman year of high school. I was wearing a tank top and a cardigan with a pair of sweatpants. I was 15.

As I was walking to class a teacher pulled me aside, a woman at that, and told me to pull up my shirt because it was “too low” and “I shouldn’t have worn it to school.”

I was embarrassed, mortified, I wanted to crawl into a hole and die. So I pulled up my shirt and hid my barely there boobs as a 15-year-old because I was “distracting,” “improper” “not appropriate.”

I hid my body because it was not deemed to be appropriate.

That line of thinking followed me into my sophomore year of college. During a sociology class discussion of street harassment, I finally realized that my body, my visible breasts and butt, thighs and flesh, the rough patches on my elbows and the bits of my baby toes were mine. Mine.

My body was not improper, but the way people view it and think about it is.

During this class I recounted a story of how my roommate and I were spending the day in NYC. It was hot, and my roommate had worn a beautiful sequin skirt, shiny and incandescent in the sunshine. We walked along laughing and smiling, taking in the city sights on our way to the Metropolitan Museum.

Street by street though, men called out to her. “Motherf***ing gorgeous,” “legs for days,” “hey sexy, come over here.” I watched as my roommate, a tall brunette with a wide smile and a contagious kindness folded into herself, hunching over and staring at the sidewalk, embarrassed by the attention she had drawn.

Before we got to the museum, she changed into a pair of pants she had in her bag. She covered herself to shield us both from the men old enough to be her father lusting after her.

She too felt her body was inappropriate, too much, asking for it. It killed me to watch it happen, and it kills me to see it now.

The only person a body belongs to is the one who can feel its heart beating from the inside. A woman is not a walking vagina, here for your pleasure only. She has two eyes, a nose and lungs, she breathes and loves and walks and thinks just like you.

And she feels.

Street harassment is not a compliment. Sexualizing women constantly is not acceptable. We know better. We can do better.

If you don’t believe street harassment, or the plight women suffer every day is actually an issue please educate yourself. If after reading and researching the topic you still don’t see the problem, rest assured we all do for you, because you are a part of it.

Liz is a recent graduate of Hofstra University with a Bachelor of Arts Journalism degree. She is currently a staff writer for a marketing agency in Boston. Follow her on Twitter @slizmerino and Instagram @elizabethmerino93.

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“Not one damn soul on earth has the right to talk about my body the way you just did”

Stories, street harassment | on August, 21, 2015 | by | 0 Comments

Dear Man in the Blue Minivan,

Sometimes street harassment isn’t calling me ʺbaby,ʺ asking me to smile, or commenting on my outfit. Sometimes street harassment isn’t on the day when I wore a cute top and got attention, or when I am walking home late from a bar and my hair is tossed.

Sometimes, street harassment is in broad daylight, on my way to work, and not in the form of a ʺcompliment.ʺ

Today, street harassment was a man from the comfort of his car, waiting to turn on a walk signal, angrily yelling at me to ʺmove my fat ass along.ʺ

Sadly, I’ve grown fairly used to street harassment in my daily life; I’ve perfected the sunglasses-on, earbuds-in, ʺcan’t see, can’t hear youʺ technique. Granted, most of these harassers use words to get my attention disguised as a compliment, perhaps a chance to make me blush. I’ve never said anything or asked them to stop —

Sunglasses-on, earbuds-in.

But, today I wanted to say something. Not just because you degraded me with an asinine insult or because our interaction was within earshot of coworkers. Today is different because I’ve realized something. Thanks to you, I realized not one damn soul on earth has the right to talk about my body the way you just did.

Including myself.

I’ve struggled with body image issues most of my life. The words you threw at me are the same I’ve said quietly in my head, wishing my fat ass would just hurry along. I have belittled and disrespected myself in more ways than you ever could.

You probably wouldn’t believe me if I told you that I hate intersection crosswalks. Seems unreasonable, right? But, I hate them. I abhor the feeling of a dozen cars lined up, fixing their gaze on the people walking through a crosswalk. I’ll get a flurry of thoughts all at once; is my skirt too short? Did I wear something too tight? Do I look too large? Can they all see me?

After years of growing stronger, learning to love myself and step broadly into the sun for all to see, you took a small sliver of that acquired love-of-self away from me. All at once, I became afraid of crosswalks again. Not because a car might hit me if I miss the light, but because your vulgar words made you feel empowered and stripped me of my confidence. I hate that I allowed you to make me feel that way and that you have managed to stain that area of the street with memories of your negligent and unnecessary pass of judgement.

To the woman on the sidewalk who said, ʺthat’s so rudeʺ and shook her head when he drove off, thank you. Your three simple words in solidarity were my saving grace and snap back to reality, that no one, not even myself, has the right to disrespect my body.

So, dear man in the blue minivan, I will use my body in the best way I know how — to share this story and inspire others to feel a little braver when they step into a crosswalk. To be what the woman on the sidewalk was to me: solidarity.

Sincerely,

Sara

Location: Washington, DC (intersection near Logan Circle)

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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.