demonstration, Nonverbal Harassment

Phoebe’s story from Boston: Camera-phones used to harass

I was waiting for the bus stop today, around 10:30AM. To pass time I was reading a local paper and was very engrossed. I noticed a man near me but assumed he was also waiting for the bus. A moment later I looked up and he had a digital camera pointed directly at me and had just snapped a picture of me. Shocked, I asked if he had just taken a photo of me and he smirked and said it was a good picture. I took a step towards him and he started backing off immediately- I told him I didn’t want him to take that photo and to delete it. He basically began mocking me and saying it was just a photo and he had the right to and there was nothing I can do. I started shouting at him that it was not his property. He turned and literally started jogging off. I screamed at him that what he did was so disrespectful, and another woman at the bus stop took after him screaming. I stayed put, feeling helpless and that it was pointless to chase him. He laughed at us saying his camera took pictures, didn’t shoot bullets, and that there was nothing illegal about it. He ran away down the street. I felt and feel so humiliated. Maybe it sounds like just a photo, but I don’t know this person, I didn’t consent to this, and he clearly took it to make me uncomfortable and to get off on invading somebody else’s privacy and enjoying their vulnerability. I tried to report it to the police and the (male) office took the perp’s side saying it wasn’t a crime because he didn’t hurt me.

It just feels like such a violation, that as a woman I am never safe, somebody can have my image and jerk off to it or share it on the internet or get off on invading my privacy no matter where I am or what I am doing.

So for anybody traveling through Hynes area in Boston, watch out for a skinny, pathetic, disgusting male, early 30s, 5-7″ish, slimy looking, bad teeth, digital camera, and the support of the Boston Police Department.

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demonstration

Maria’s story from Georgia: Campus Harassment

Earlier this year, I was offered the opportunity to work as a teacher apprentice for a professor who was considered one of the best in the communications department. I was offered the position because of my hard work in the field, and immediately accepted his offer. Little did I know that he had a history for harassing female students and was hiring me for other reasons.

The first couple of months went by with no trouble, but during the third I began to feel very uncomfortable. As a “gift” for handling the lab by myself for a week, he presented me with real silver earrings. At the same time, whenever I would work at a certain station with him, he would get uncomfortably close. I would ask for him to move politely, but he would either laugh it off or shift even closer. I knew I needed to tell someone– and soon.

I turned to my female co-worker. She revealed to me that similar things had occurred between him and other women, but the women were too afraid to voice their complaints for fear of being fired or having points deducted from their grades. (If we were to work with him, we had to be in at least one of his classes.) One girl received a pair of hand-knitted socks while another was constantly presented with gifts whenever he returned from a trip. My co-worker continued by telling me that she and several other ex-workers found a certain online bookstore with his wish list on it. Included were books like “How to Woo Younger Women for Men Thirty-Five and Older Volume Two” and “Inside Japanese Sex Houses.”

I was outraged! How could no one report such foul things? I knew then and there that I had to be the one to speak up even if my grade was affected.

My co-worker and I filed a complaint at the Human Resources Department. I then filed one at the Sexual Harassment office and wrote a letter to the head of the Department of Communications. Despite all of my attempts, the case was shut down for lack of evidence. The website was considered “hearsay” and my complaints were nothing compared to other cases (i.e. physical harassment and/or rape) in their eyes.
Tenure was also keeping him safe even though other people had spoken negatively about his classes.

At the end of the day, yes, I am furious about the results. However, I was neither ashamed nor afraid to be the first to speak the truth. I encourage other young girls to do the same if in a similar situation. Your voice is a mighty tool- use it, no matter what anyone else says! Who knows? I might be the pebble that gets the boulder rolling…. I do hope so.

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Stalking

Virginia’s story: Trust your instincts

Day One: I was on the bus and the bus stops near my home, but I had to cross the street to first get home. Many people got off the bus with me, and were walking in the same direction as me. I thought it was unusual that one guy stop and motioned for me to go ahead of him just so he could blow his nose. I crossed the street (he didn’t) and walked as slowly as I could because I suspected he could be watching me to see where I live. I kept looking behind me and eventually hid behind my neighbors car to make sure he was out of sight and could not see me. I thought I might be paranoid but better to be safe.

Day Two: Not exactly the day after but close by… on the same bus, the same guy. I see this guy get on the bus. Doesn’t immediately occur to me who he is(I see a lot of the same faces on the bus). He gets on a few stops before my stop. I find it unusual that he gets off at my stop when I’ve only seen him twice at this stop(Wouldn’t I have noticed by now if he lived around here?) and that he would get on just to get off (not even near a store) I walk slowly once again and turn around to make sure he is out of sight.

It also later occurred to me(as I had tried to remember his appearance) that he seemed to fit the description of a guy my sister had had problems with a while back. This guy had went to our brother(noticing that they were related after seeing them in the parking lot) to ask for her number. Both descriptions were somewhat short guy in a baseball hat and hoodie.

I think this guy has a childlike mental disorder and doesn’t have very good boundaries. I don’t see, at least for now, any violent or forceful intentions.

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The Movement

Nicola’s Got Nerve | Issue 4

Lara Logan’s Courage

Last night, I, as well as millions of other women sat on the edge of our seats as we listened to the Emmy award-winning CBS journalist tell the harrowing story of her sexual assault in Cairo. I clearly remember watching the footage of that celebration in Tahrir Square on February 11, thinking that this was a shining moment for humanity at large, not just Egyptians, never believing that that particular moment in history could be sullied by something like this. But when the news first came out about the assault, it was not widely talked about, having been overshadowed by the jubilance surrounding Egypt’s independence. Having visited Egypt three times in the past, I was very aware of the problems that Egyptian society has had with sexual violence, and was keenly disappointed that not more attention was brought to the attack on Lara Logan. When the announcement was made that she was ready to tell her story in her own voice, I felt extremely grateful for her candor and courage.

In the 60 Minutes interview, Lara shows great poise, not mincing words or using euphemisms for her experience. She talks about how the mob of more than 200 men tried to tear her limb from limb and in her own words “raped her with their hands,” for more than twenty-five minutes. She endured this assault after being separated from the protection of six men, including a local Egyptian fixer, her producer, the cameraman, two Egyptian drivers that acted as security, and a former Special Forces bodyguard, which shows the brutal force of the mob attacking her. Only when the mob dragged her into a fence, and she fell into a group of Egyptian woman, and then was finally carried out by Egyptian soldiers did she escape further assault.

Immediately upon news of the attack, there were those who asked what she was doing in that situation, somehow insinuating that she had no place there. But Lara Logan, named CBS Chief Foreign Affairs Correspondent in 2008, has reported from some of the world’s most dangerous combat zones, including Zimbabwe, Kosovo, Angola, Mozambique, Gaza, the West Bank, and the front lines of Iraq and Afghanistan. She has been intrepid throughout her career, and has been committed to giving others a voice in the midst of conflict. The fact that she was able to speak so openly about her life-threatening experience should give other women hope in similar circumstances. While my own experience of assault on the subway does not even approach what Lara went through, I can speak from personal experience and say that being able to express what happened to you is not only cathartic, but is profoundly helpful to so many women who are told to keep their mouths shut and live in shame for what was done to them.

Around the same time as Lara’s assault, another woman, a Canadian tourist, was raped in the back of a taxi cab in Cairo, and upon her return home, she was told not to speak about it. This is unacceptable. How are we to heal, and own every part of our experience, without turning in on ourselves? How are we going to open society’s eyes and thereby bring about a change in the way women are viewed ~ not still as chattel, but as equals? Monkey see no evil… It’s time to lift up the rotting log in the forest of misogyny, and see what lies beneath.

It must have been an uncomfortable experience for the viewers of 60 Minutes last night to hear about such a terrifying experience, in graphic detail. But I for one appreciated this bare-bones honesty ~ Lara made no effort at covering up what happened to her, and because of this, she was able to literally bring into people’s homes the brutal reality of sexual assault. She mentions how her female colleagues thanked her for breaking her silence, because usually “women never complain about incidents of sexual violence, because you don’t want someone to say, “Well, women shouldn’t be out there.” In fact, there were those in the media and in academia who immediately jumped on the victim-blaming bandwagon, including right here in New York City.

Nir Rosen, a fellow at NYU’s Center on Law and Security, had to resign his fellowship because of wildly offensive comments he made on Twitter, belittling the seriousness of the attack on Logan. Even during his apology, he said that the comments were just meant to be a joke between friends, which is perhaps even more disturbing.

Simone Wilson of LA Weekly felt the need to point out her Lara Logan’s physical attractiveness and rumored sexual history, leading the “report” with one of Logan’s glamour shots. Besides being unforgivably tacky and insensitive, Wilson’s response shows the persistent misunderstanding by many that sexual assault is somehow motivated by sexual desire, merely akin to how a man would approach someone he found attractive for a date. This is simply not the case, as women and girls have been subjected to sexual assault at all ages, in all manner of dress, at all times of day and night, in isolated surroundings, and as in Logan’s case, in dense crowds.

Nir Rosen and Simone Wilson join the ranks of victim-blamers everywhere, but I can tell you with some relief, that their odious views have been roundly censured by everyone with a conscience. I send my warmest thanks and support out to Lara Logan, who has given a voice of empowerment to every woman who has survived sexual violence.

one comment 
demonstration, The Movement, Verbal

Pen’s story from Sydney: Not taking any shit this train ride!

I was taking the train from my hometown to Sydney (a 2 hr ride), having a nice chat with a friend and enjoying having my feet up in the quite empty carriage. At the first stop after I boarded, a man came down into my carriage and stood in front of me, gesturing wordlessly that he wanted me to move my feet so he could flip the seat over, sit in front of me and put his feet up instead (in New South Wales we have seats on trains that flip so you can change the direction you’re facing or create a four-seater.)

I hesitated, not wanting to move my feet just for the benefit of his but yielded I guess more out of habit of giving in to men than anything else. As I did, I said “oh, so you want me to move my feet so you can put yours up?” and as he sat down he said to me “that’s how it goes.” I was infuriated and responded at a normal volume “f–king male privilege.”

This must really have pushed his buttons because he then rose out of his seat, turned around to face me with his hands on the back of the seat in front, leaned right in over me in a truly threatening stance and was about to express his misogynist mind but never had the chance. As soon as he towered over me I put my head back, made myself tall in my seat and at the top of my voice but controlled and firmly and with pointed finger I said “HOW DARE YOU STAND OVER ME LIKE THAT! SIT DOWN! DON’T YOU THREATEN ME! YOU HAVE NO RIGHT…” I continued until he shrunk away and sat down.

It was a victory for me and I’m thrilled that I instinctively got my hackles up and stood my ground with emotional control. I was very shaken and quite upset that no one else in the carriage wanted to assist me but ultimately the threat was gone. He remained in that seat for the duration of the trip and when it came time to alight in Sydney I was ready with a piercing stare but he avoided my gaze completely. I had properly shamed him out.

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groping, Verbal

Girls Night Out’s Story from Denver, CO: “Drinking isn’t an excuse for disrespecting others”

I was visiting my home town in Denver, CO. and my girlfriends decided to take me out to dinner and drinks afterward. While we were at a local bar, some random guy slaps my butt twice. I turned around the first couple of times to a few guys saying, “It wasn’t me! It wasn’t me, it was him!” So I said sternly, “Look, whoever it is, quit it.” I turned around just in time to see where the third slap was coming from. Once I caught the guy red handed, I slapped him hard across his silly face and asked how he now felt to be touched inappropriately. He just looked away; not even one sorry breathed from his mouth. His friend apologized for his bad behavior but drinking isn’t an excuse for disrespecting others. I’m sure he felt dumb, girls and guys were snickering at him. I probably wouldn’t have slapped him if I was alone with him but there was a crowd and I felt like it was a safe place to do so.

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groping, Verbal

Elsa’s Story: Touch my ass and be prepared to face my umbrella

I have many, many stories on shouting and verbal harassment – but the one I will share is the only physical one.

Walking on my own to meet some friends at the theatre, I passed a man on my way down the road into town. I saw him look at me – never mind. then I quickly became aware that he had turned around behind me and was following. I knew something was coming and clutched my umbrella tight in one hand and bag in the other, thinking he might try to snatch it. But no! Instead I felt him touch my behind and comment ‘nice bum yeah’. Like lightning I whipped around and hit my umbrella at him, shouting “WHAT THE F*** DO YOU THINK YOU’RE DOING?!”. It worked – he ran away – but hey, it still ruined my night.

Unfortunately, harassment is frequent in the area, which is a known vice district with prostitutes walking the streets. I have had cars pull up and ask me if I’m ‘looking for business’ (not seeming to care that I’m wearing a coat, hat mittens, jeans and carrying a huge bag), which is always a bit scary.

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demonstration, Verbal

Erika’s story from Berkley: It actually made them speechless

It’s a rare day that a man on Adeline doesn’t express sexual interest in me when I walk to and from work. Listening to my iPod and wearing sunglasses doesn’t dissuade them, either. Today I passed a group of about five men and every single one of them felt the need to shout something to me as I passed. It kept going until finally I stopped and turned around to face them.

Usually I’ll drop some foul language that my mother would hate and nearly start a fight. But today I think my guard was down because I am getting over a cold and simply exhausted, plus I was just overwhelmed by the tidal wave of sexually aggressive macho attitude. Instead of cussing, I said, “stop commenting on my appearance, it’s really rude.” It actually made them speechless.

I really hate that in my own neighborhood, I can’t see a man on the street without thinking to myself, “oh great, what’s he going to say?”

3 comments 
demonstration, Nonverbal Harassment

Lisa’s story from San Diego: Leering trolley men

I try to avoid taking the San Diego MTS trolley and buses for that matter because of the rampant undesirable, creepy, criminalistic men who take the trolley. These men will come and try to sit next to me when there are lots of open seats, when this happens, i just move to another seat and sit by a woman who seems sane or if there aren’t any available safe seats, I stand until I reach my destination. These men stare at you, undress you with their eyes, try to start a conversation with you, their attention is totally unwanted. The trolley and bus is not a great ave place to meet men, usually these men have criminal records, do not drive because they owe back child support, are extremely unattractive, unintelligent and do not have legitimate income. I loathe taking public transportation because these are the only types of men you will run into. They know that they have no chance, they are totally out of their league. I have learned to be assertive and not afraid to shout at them to stay the hell away from me if they are persistent, this usually works.

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demonstration, Verbal

Aviva’s story from LA: Taxi driver hurls rape threats

I got in a taxi at LAX and told the guy where I was going. It was within a few blocks and he told me I wouldn’t meet the minimum fare requirement. I asked what my options were and he didn’t answer me and started driving. I asked again and he started yelling at me about how I should’ve researched better before coming to LA. He was then very rude to me for the duration of the trip.

We got to the hotel and he told me that he only had $1 change. I asked why he didn’t tell me that before, since I was already going to be paying so much more money than the meter said. He started screaming at me again saying things like “I came to the airport for a $50-$60 fare and I got YOU!” I took out my $20 and tried to give it to him, but he couldn’t stop yelling long enough to take it. So I threw it in the front seat and asked for my dollar. Admittedly, this was rude on my part, but at this point I had been screamed at for quite some time. Well, it infuriated him and he started screaming more about the bullshit I was giving him and told me to get the fuck out of his cab. I very calmly told him there was no reason to have been so rude to him and got out.

As I was walking away he rolled down his window and said

“I hope somebody rapes you, you little bitch.”

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