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Last Saturday, on June 11th, the Lesbian Group Kontra, Iskorak and Domine (an NGO) organized the first Gay Pride in Split, Croatia. The theme of was the right for the protection of same-sex couples’ family life. Around the 150 – 200 pride parade participants between 8000 – 10000 people gathered and proceeded to insult, threaten, and throw various objects and tear gas at the participants. Approximately 600 police officers were on duty, but they didn’t stop the insults and throwing of objects that have hurt several participants. Before and after Gay Pride several hate groups have organized throughout Croatia, threatening the LGBTIQ folks using public signs and the internet, and now they are calling for a new wave of violence at the Gay Pride that will take place this Saturday in Zagreb. The safety of LGBTIQ folks in public spaces in Croatia is currently under question.
TO THE ORGANIZERS OF GAY PRIDE IN ZAGREB AND SPLIT
HOLLABACK! and the global Hollaback! community wishes to express its support to all organizers and participants of Gay Prides in Split and Zagreb. The Gay Prides represent a peaceful civil gathering aimed at raising awareness of the discrimination against LGBTIQ people and fighting against the discrimination.
HOLLABACK shares with the Gay Pride organizers the goal of making public spaces free of violence and safe for all people, where everybody is able to fulfil their right for a peaceful public gathering and statement of their causes.
We condemn the violence against the Gay Pride participants in Split and all other types of violence in public spaces, and ask authorities to carry out their duties in the same, responsible way for all citizens, as well as to secure public space for everybody, regardless of their sex, gender, sexual orientation, gender expression, race, beliefs or any other.
Please show your support for Hollaback! Croatia by leaving a comment on their blog.
I was walking along the sidewalk when two individuals came out of a house with a small pit bull puppy. I smiled at the puppy. As I passed them they started yelling “Come here, bitch” loudly. Clearly it was aimed at me, but they thought they were being sly because of the dog. It’s a dangerous neighborhood, so I just ignored them, but I’m filing a complaint with the Police Dept.
Sexual Harassment as a Daily Work Hazard
Imagine having a job that exposes you to sexual harassment everyday, merely because you are wearing a certain uniform ~ and probably not a very revealing one, either. It’s the symbolism of it, that seems to attract the unwanted attention. If you’re a maid, you might have to put up with all sorts of inappropriate behavior from your hotel guests. Just look at the major cases in the news lately ~ former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn and Mahmoud Abdel-Salam Omar, former chairman of Egypt’s Bank of Alexandria both accused of similarly heinous crimes involving maids. Both of them powerful men, who no doubt felt a sense of boundless entitlement, especially in the presence of a “lowly” maid.
And for the record, maids actually prefer to be called room attendants, and there are more than 10,000 of them working in New York City every day. Considering the way maids are still viewed by a certain segment of society, it’s probably a wise decision to distance oneself from that term. The maid profession and maids themselves have long been the object of sexual fantasy, and you can find myriad websites devoted to this fetish. Mostly the sexual images revolve around being a scantily-clad “French” maid, which would seem to preclude harassment of the modestly dressed, modern-day hotel worker. But erotic obsessions die hard, and this particular one is probably a throw-back to french theatrical farce. The master of the household would chase the maid around the bedroom, who would (of course) succumb to his advances, many times against her will.
This show of sexual dominance, in the form of a cat-and-mouse game, is still romanticized in popular culture. Go into any sex shop, and you’ll find racks of french maid outfits for role-play. And in movies and TV, there are plenty of examples of women getting into a maid costume to spice up their sex life, like in Friends with Money and 30 Rock, both with Jennifer Aniston. So the prevalence of these images, normalizing maids as sex objects, definitely does not serve the safety of room attendants.
Peter Ward, the president of the New York Hotel & Maid Trades Council, told The Wall Street Journal that while cases involving outright sexual assault are rare, sexual harassment is a daily hazard of the job. Room attendants often endure exhibitionism from male guests who decide to “surprise” them when they come in to clean the room. Propositioning is also a common problem, making workers feel degraded and unsafe. And there is something in the psychological set-up of it, of a woman coming into a man’s bedroom, that may subconsciously invite disaster: the bed is right there, the door may be locked behind you, and most hotel rooms are sound-proofed now. It’s a potentially dangerous work environment for women, and finally more is being done about it.
Legislation has been introduced to require New York State hotel owners to provide employee sexual harassment training, and establish a hotel employee bill of rights. It would also protect employees from retaliation if they speak up about abuses, which was a major reason why many room attendants did not come forward in the past. Many hotels are now issuing panic buttons as well, which will immediately alert hotel security of a threatening situation. It’s about time that the work force of room attendants, overwhelmingly female, can get the help they need to do their jobs in a safe and supportive work environment. It’s hard enough being the object of sexual harassment, merely because one is a woman in this world. It must be doubly hard when the image of your profession puts you at risk.
I was sitting on the subway, decided to take a 5 minute nap since the ride across the Manhattan Bridge is always a long one. As the train slows down I open my eyes only to find a man standing in front of me with his penis out, masturbating right in my face. This was in the early morning rush hour of barely 9am.
This man had a pony tail, tattoo sleeve on both arms. Looked to be in his 30s.
I was so disgusted and couldn’t even muster a response. I got up from my seat and moved to the other end of the train. I’m not sure if anyone saw anything but no one sure as hell said anything or warned me that this perv was doing this right in front of my face.
Q. Catcalled: What would you say to a young women who gets catcalled often during the summer? I live in the city, and as the weather gets warmer, catcalling gets more frequent. Although I dress normally (typically shorts and a blouse in the summer), I find that I’m yelled at by old men and young men, standing on corners, driving by me, etc. It makes me tense, and now when I walk down the street, I see every man as a potential threat. It’s annoying and demeaning, but I know I can’t haul every weirdo on the street to a sensitivity class. How should I deal?
A: Wait, my dear, just wait. When I walk down the street with my lovely teenage daughter, men passing in trucks will honk their horns and make appreciative kissing sounds at her. They apparently think the prune standing next to her is deaf as well as old. Yet, their catcalls spark a vestigial memory in me—a couple of decades ago I used to hear vocal judgments from men. At the time it was annoying. Yet given their absence, I have to admit it wasn’t all bad.Since today is apparently the “men are pigs” day at the chat, this also falls in the category of there’s nothing you can do but ignore it. And maybe a catcall is better than finding you’re being photographed and your image swapped around by horny married men.
I think Hollaback Israel works not only because it gives access to these representations, but also because it doesn’t immediately solve them with a narrative/imagery/story/myth. There are a lot of representations we give home to, but we hardly sort them into a single imagery. And that decision creates a lot of tension, which in turn, translates into action. Because we don’t tell people how to read these representations. We just offer access to them, and let people decide for themselves what to do with them. And the ripples and collaborations we made are the efforts of energy of trying to frame these representations into a new story and into a better society.
For the full story, click here.
Visit Hollaback Israel here.
BY EMILY MAY
A few months ago I got invited to go out to Bushwick Community High School to speak with a group of their students about street harassment. They told me that they were concerned about sexual violence in their community — and as a former Bushwick resident and community activist — their concern struck a very personal cord with me. When I lived in Bushwick in 2003, I would get off at a subway stop that was farther away from my home just because I thought it was safer. And I learned (months after moving in) that I was the first resident of my six-person-loft to not get mugged in the neighborhood.
After I moved out of the neighborhood, I continued to work in it at a community based organization that helped young folks that dropped out of high school get jobs and GEDs. Their stories, and challenges, reminded how privileged I was in so many ways. Many of them had kids, mental illness, trauma histories, and broken homes. But what I found so inspiring is that all of them had hope. They were resilient.
And when I spoke with the students at Bushwick Community High School, I was struck again by resilience. They could have done this documentary about anything. They could have kept silent, or tried to ignore what was happening around them. But they didn’t. They took the harder road – and the result is a powerful documentary.
In the film they talk about sexual violence stemming from culture — and I couldn’t agree with them more. But how to we change culture? There are a lot of answers to this questions, but I think one of the most important ones is that we change culture by making culture. These students have used the power of the brains and their video cameras to help us imagine a world without sexual violence. And thanks to them, we are one step closer to getting there.
I was at a local anime convention with a friend and we happened to notice an older man filming girls in costume…not that big of a deal at first considering there were a lot of photographers around but he kept aiming his camera at the butts of some of the girls in costume especially when they were going up some stairs. Most of these cosplayers are just 14.
We watched him for a bit just to be sure and then took a photo of him to show the security guys on site who dealt with him right away.
Next year we plan to really be on watch for people like this and try to make the convention a safer place to be.
I know this site is mainly for street harassment, but I really needed to get this off my chest. Last summer, my brother, a family friend, and I were watching a movie while our parents were out. I put a blanket over me because it was cold. The family friend was sitting next to me and started trying to hold my hand. I leaned over and whispered that we were just friends. Because I mean, I’ve held hands with plenty of people that I wasn’t romantically involved with, so I didn’t think it was too big a deal. Just kind of awkward, you know? But then he started rubbing my legs and before I could even say anything his hands were under my shirt and I didn’t know what to do because my little brother was right there. It was so awful.
Luckily, my Mom walked in before it got any worse. Of course, she didn’t notice anything because of the blanket.
I told her about it just last week, because I’m having to see him again this summer. She told me it wasn’t my fault but she acted like it was okay for him to touch me like that when I know it isn’t. I’m really scared that he will try to touch me again this summer.
I will fight back this time though. He’s not going to take advantage of me like that again without a fight.
This has been a pretty shitty month. From an ex-gay friend/one time girlfriend sending me harassing e-mails to a male from my past engaging in some, so called, “mild” stalking. I keep telling myself that’s why I didn’t fight back. This was one thing more than I could handle, and I froze. The truth is I’m angry with myself for reacting so passively.
I was taking the bus to class. A guy was standing at my stop and he asked a question about the bus time. I took one headphone out to answer him. After I answered my question he wouldn’t stop talking to me. I answered politely, looking for a way to end the conversation so as not to be rude. He said he was Cherokee and asked for my e-mail. I had my doubts, thinking: “right and I bet your great great grandma was an NDN ‘princess’ too”, but I have fair skin and light eyes, so I didn’t want to make judgments. I know how hurtful ‘not native enough’ comments can be. I know how hard it can be in the city, separated from land and community and often dealing with racism. I politely gave him a fake e-mail.
I began to get suspicious when he followed me onto my bus instead of the one he was waiting for. He proceeded to follow me onto the 2 when I transferred. I kept looking away but I couldn’t think of a polite way to end the conversation. So far he had been completely respectful. I though my misgivings were because I was on edge about the stalking incidents earlier in the month. I’d dealt with them assertively and I didn’t want to give the people harassing me the victory of making me afraid of strangers. When he went to get off the buss he offered me his hand. I don’t know why I took it. It’s programed in I guess. He garbed my hand and pulled me, off balance, towards him and kissed me. Then he got off the bus before I had time to process what had just happened.
I’ve been spending the last few months experimenting with my gender presentation. Gaining confidence to take up space and chose how I want to present myself. This was helping me regain my power after leaving a verbally and spiritually abusive relationship with a closeted friend. With one action I was placed back in the role of a sexual object. The worst part is I was the one who felt dirty after. Like he’d gotten his dirt all over me and I couldn’t get it off.
I know if I report the incident I will only be blamed for it. After all what was I doing talking to him if I wanted him to leave me alone? By giving him a fake e-mail wasn’t I “asking for it”? I’m a two-spirited Ansihinaabe Ikwe, and therefore considered unrapeable. I didn’t fight back. But none of that matters. My politeness was not an invitation for him to touch me in any way. The moment he touched me sexually without my consent he assaulted me. That isn’t complicated. There’s no gray area. No consent = assault. Everyone reacts differently, but freezing doesn’t mean I deserved what happened. For any one else who experienced this. NOTHING you can do means you’re asking to be assaulted or harassed. Let your abuser carry the blame, none of it should ever be yours.
Next time I trust I’ll fight back. Thank you for letting me share my story and speaking up to say that this is never acceptable.