Article

Cyber Bullying: Why It Happens and What You Can Do About It

BY NICOLA BRIGGS
Twenty and thirty years ago, women of all ages had to contend with harassment in the forms of scary in-person attacks, hate (snail) mail, and maybe a breathy phone call or two. But while these remain the weapons of choice for mean, insecure kids and dangerous psychopaths alike, women today have to deal with something much more insidious ~ cyber bullying. Who is a target for this type of behavior? At school, a girl may have made a few enemies just for standing out in some way ~ maybe because she grew taller than her peers, appeared sexually developed when they weren’t yet, always got the best grades in class, had a stutter, was a little heavier, seemed to be prettier, wore older clothing instead of the latest trends…..the list goes on and on, and none of this negative attention is her fault.

The point is that it does not take that much to stand out from a cohort that values conformity above all else, to bolster a still-fragile sense of confidence and security, so if a girl is perceived “different” in any way, she could become a target for just about any form of harassment. Today, we are talking about how to protect oneself from a “cyber bully,” from one person or even a group of people who use the Internet to carry out a campaign of defamation and psychological breakdown. The first thing is to remember that a cyber bully is essentially a coward, and needs to hide behind the computer to feel safe and in control. This can seem difficult to defend against if you’re always joining chat rooms, social networks, and instant messaging. But you can start by choosing an e-mail address and screen name that don’t reveal that much about who you are (obviously not using your real name or your well-known school or work nickname), where you are (what school, what workplace), and what you do (your major in school, what classes you’re in, or what occupation you have). This is such a simple method of precaution that most people forget to take, but it can save a lot of headaches down the road. Identity theft is real, and the less information a harasser or even an outright criminal has about you and your interests, the better. Also, young girls (and boys) need to stay away from any screen names that mention their age, or interest in sexuality. Predators love this kind of thing, and once the wrong kind of attention is invited, you just never know who is really speaking to you in that chat room.

Other key pieces of information to protect are any personal contact details. It’s difficult to keep sending someone hate mail if they can’t find you. If they are stupid enough to put a threat in writing, by all means save it. A paper trail can help save a woman from many forms of harassment, and be a strong motivation for a parent, a school official, an employer, or even law enforcement to act in your best interests. But most importantly, do not bottle it up inside if you do feel that you or someone you know is a victim of cyber bullying. Sometimes it’s downplayed, because the harasser is not “right there,” but the psychological effects of it can be devastating. In future posts, we’ll go into more ways that you can ensure you’re not a target. Until then, stay safe (and hopefully anonymous in those chat rooms)!

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demonstration

Sabrina’s Story: “Stop wasting your time”

You don’t know me. You don’t know how my day has been going. You don’t know why I am at the bar with my friends, and you certainly have no business making judgements based on my facial expressions. You could have tried to not be an ass and actually struck up conversation, but if you are just going to open with “Smile!” you will get nothing more than a glare.

I’m not going to smile for your male-privileged approval. Stop wasting your time.

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Fiona’s Story: Scary

I guess it was verbal as well as groping really but you can only choose one. I’m 16 and I consider it ‘normal’ to be whistled at or have things said to me on the street and although I sometimes get a bit nervous, it doesn’t usually bother me. this was different though.

I was on a 40 minute train ride on my own to see my big sister, sitting on the part by the toilets because it was busy. a man who I later found out was 32 came through, tried to get in the toilet and I told him there was someone in there, thinking iIwas just helping. he said thanks then looked at me weirdly and said I had a beautiful voice, I said thanks and he went in the toilet as the other person came out.

after he came out he stood chatting to me for a while, going on about my voice and the train and just chatting then said he would be back and got his stuff then sat next to me. it started getting a little awkward sometimes as he would touch my leg or just stare at me but I didn’t know what to do so I stayed and just tried to keep the conversation on safe ground whenever he brought up what I look like.

it got to the stop where I change and I was really glad until he said he got off here too and also got the same next train as me. I got especially scared when he offered to take me in a taxi with him, said no and went to lean against the wall and wait for my train. he followed. now, this is a tiny train station with hardly anyone else there so nobody could really see us where we had to wait for the train.

he started pinching my bum, all he would talk about was what I looked like, he put his hand right up my skirt and was holding my arm, hard, with his other hand while saying he wanted to give me ‘a good hard fucking’. I  moved his hand from up my skirt and told him I had a boyfriend but he kept putting it back, he also forced my hand onto his erection through his jeans.

luckily, the train came and I tried to get on through a different door and sit in a busy carriage but there was just 3 more men, so I didn’t feel I could say anything when he found me and sat next to me. he said he was just going to the toilet and I could have moved but I was scared he would be angry and find me so I stayed.

as soon as he sat back down, he said ‘cumming felt so good’ and I just did a sort of half giggle thing because I didn’t know what to say. he kept pressing his leg against mine and putting his hand up my skirt again but I kept trying to move it again.

I got off the train at my stop, trying to stay close to another group of people but he followed me again for ages. eventually, he said he was going and made me give him a weirdly long hug.

I haven’t told anyone because I know way worse things happen in the world, but it was scary.

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Miia’s Story: Harassed outside the store

I had caught cold, but I still needed to go buy the vegan biker boots I had set aside in a shop. So I went downtown, bought them and decided to wear them right now.

I walked to the city center, I was a bit thirsty and had some extra change so I went to a grocery shop to buy my favorite drink, Estonian carrot juice. As I walked out of the shop, I opened the first bottle and went to the garbage bin to put the cork in it.

Outside the shop, there was this young adult who was excitedly talking on a cellphone, and when he saw me, he started yelling; “Hey you! You, girl! You in the red tartan cap! Hey! You know very well I am talking to you!”

I was horrified, but as usual, I just walked away, and he ran after me. I ran to the escalators and yelled “Help!” but as I mentioned I had a cold and my throat was sore, so I could only croak.

I ran to the bus station, luckily the creep didn’t follow me. I called this counselor who has helped me before, and told her about the incident. She told me that maybe the guy wanted to tell me that I had dropped something, and I informed her that if I had, he wouldn’t have yelled something like “Hey you! I’m talking to you! Hey girl!”, he would have said something like “Excuse me miss, you dropped your wallet” or something like that.

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Eloise’s Story: “He knew he could get away with it”

I don’t really know if this is worth sharing, but I saw an article in a magazine about street harassment and campaigns against it, and I thought might as well, because it’s something that should be made more aware.
So Thursday 20th Oct 2011. I was waiting for the bus as I was going to town, and as usual it was late. I was alone at the bus stop, but I wasn’t too bothered seeing as it was just gone midday, however it was pretty cold, and I was looking forward to get on the warm bus.
I’d been there about 15 mins when a car started to slow down, and a guy popped his head out and shouted “how much for sex” before laughing and driving off. The fact that he drove off obviously meant he was joking, but I was surprised as to how shaken up I was. Baring in mind I’m 16 and there was no one about, so anything could have happened. I wasn’t even dressed “sexy”. I was in a big hoody, jeans, trainers with a big scarf. I just hate the fact that he thought he could just say something like that, because he knew he could get away with it.

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Article

Miss Representation: A Movie I Can Get Behind

BY REBECCA KATHERINE HIRSCH

A documentary on the dangers of relegating women to a very limited conception of “sexiness,” this movie aims to encourage women to aspire to power, and to their own sense of sexuality, as well as, reaching their intellectual and emotional capabilities!

And it looks awesome! The music! The spunk! But as I watched the trailer, I only wish that the female body and female desires were not seen as the problem. It is their exploitation and appropriation by uncreative people in power that is. One sex should not be co-opted for the use of the other, instead both women’s AND men’s bodies and desires for comfort, for stimulation, for whatever should be considered. Sexual expression is not the problem, conforming to a rigid, artificial stand-in for “sexy” is. Women are no more “sexy” than men; it is just that we have all been trained to view things through the purported eyes of the “Average Man.”

It seems to me that because women are not taken seriously, we discount them and write them off as “sexy” fodder instead of organically sexual, emotional and intellectual people. We, as a society, encourage women not to take themselves seriously so the system of men as normal remains.

The problem is not just that women are sexualized for the very limited and picky appetites of men atop media empires, but that women’s ACTUAL sexuality is overlooked and stigmatized. Women and men are both sensitive, strong and many other things. There’s no need for women to be seen as sexual objects and men sexual predators.

In conclusion, this movie looks awesome, but it’s just the beginning and I want more! I think a good start would be to consider women as thoughtful and men as sexual so we can counterbalance the current stereotypes until we finally get to a place of seeing ALL people as PEOPLE with desires and ideas, regardless of genitals.

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Article, Uncategorized

Sexual Assault Caught On National TV

BY RAVEN NICOLE WILLIAMS

Today I witnessed one of the worst and most blatant abuses of a woman’s human rights ever caught on live national television.

During an episode of Discovery Channel’s “Lockdown” a male corrections officer is seen sexually assaulting a young woman in custody. The clearly distressed female is heard pleading “stop touching me” and the guard is seen groping her breasts twice, after the second grope the officer appears to be smirking.

The assault can be seen between 1:25 and 1:34 on the YouTube footage and it is clear that the guard touches the victim’s breasts twice intentionally. Look at the video below to judge for yourself, there is no question that he is committing a crime:

This is not right.

Prisoner or not, no one has the right to touch you inappropriately on your body; not a police officer and not a prison guard. Official procedure exists stipulating how to pat down a prisoner. As a former security guard for the port of New Orleans, the way that woman was violated is unacceptable. It is impossible that any of the officers were permitted to touch her like that. From my experiences with the prison-industrial complex, the only time a pat down is warranted is if the prisoner is being accused of a felony or has been found to have drugs in her/his possession.

Sadly, the sexual abuse of women, from my experiences with the jail system, as well as the countless other women who have been locked up in the prison industrial complex, occurs all too often. It is allowed because of prejudiced attitudes towards those, who in many cases have either never been found guilty and/ or accused of survival crimes, that are deemed no longer human or worthy of respect because they broke the law.

In most cases these types of victims do not feel that they have the voice to speak out, but today I ask you to join with me and give this woman a voice by signing the petition below:

http://www.change.org/petitions/deputy-sexually-assaults-woman-on-live-tv?pe=d4e

Please help in the campaign to see that this woman gets justice by ensuring that this officer, who clearly committed a crime, is prosecuted for his offence and a strong message is sent that no officer is above the law.

Thank you!

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Article

Let’s Hollaback! to Cancer


BY SARA SUGAR

Go ahead ask me. Ask me when my last breast or pelvic exam was and watch my face go blank. Now ask my partner the same thing and watch a similar expression appear on her face. We admit; we’re long overdue and it’s not ok.

In a month that is colored pink for National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, I’ve started to think about how many strong, smart and educated women I know who consistently avoid seeing a doctor. When I think of my friends who also admit to being long overdue for their exams, the majority of us have one thing is common: we’re gay.

But what none of us can or should avoid is that one in every eight women will develop breast cancer during their lifetime, and according to Susan G. Komen for the Cure: “Lesbian, gay, bisexual women and transgender people have a greater risk of breast cancer than other women.”

This increased risk for lesbians and bisexual women developing breast cancer is not related to sexual orientation, but to specific risk factors that are more often found within the gay community. According to Liz Margolies, LCSW, founder and executive director of The National LGBT Cancer Network, the four mostly commonly cited risk factors for lesbians and bisexual women developing breast cancer include: a higher rate of cigarette smoking, alcohol use, and obesity, as well as gay women being less likely to give birth before turning thirty.

But there is also a fifth factor: lesbians and bisexual women are less likely than heterosexual women to have yearly gynecological exams. So why don’t we go? The reasons are endless, but it very often comes down to one of two things: a lack of health insurance or uneasiness with healthcare providers.

It is not a secret that the majority of healthcare professionals have little to no experience when it comes to interacting with the LGBT community, and depending on where you live in the world, very often it falls on the lesser end of the spectrum. No one likes encountering the infamous blank stare from a nurse after she inquires whether you use protection as you awkwardly squirm in your gown saying, well I’m a lesbian so, uh, it’s kind of a little different… It is also not a secret that finding affordable LGBT sensitive healthcare is not the easiest of feats and very often it is overwhelming.

But we know we can’t hide from the fact that not having yearly exams and regular mammograms puts us at a higher risk for the second most deadly cancer for women: breast cancer. We don’t hide in the streets, so let’s not allow cancer to hide from us: let’s Hollaback! to cancer! Check out the links below to find out where you and all the badass women in your life can find resources and information about the prevention and detection of breast cancer.

1.) Check out this Mammograms Facts Sheet , from womenshealth.gov  to learn when you should start having regular mammograms.

2.)Need help finding a doctor? Go to the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association  (GLMA) to find LGBT sensitive healthcare providers.

3.)Find out more information about the LGBT community and cancer at the National LGBT Cancer Network.

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Danielle’s Story: “That is obviously going to make me want to talk to him more”

I was walking to my bus stop when I noticed a car driving slowly by me. I only glanced over to see what it was. This guy just fervently waving at me. I wasn’t rude and didn’t want to get into any sort of situation, so I just looked away and kept walking, but he made it a point to turn around so he could flip me off and spit at me. Because that is obviously going to make me want to talk to him more!

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Alana’s Story: Angry

I used to get a lot of verbal harassment in the neighborhood where I lived, off of a major highway. I moved to a smaller, nicer, residential neighborhood where harassment isn’t really a problem.
I was walking back from the library. It wasn’t late, maybe 7:30 or so, but it’s getting darker earlier now so the sun was already down. The speed limit is very low, so cars drive slowly, but I noticed one coming towards me was slowing way down. It had heavily tinted windows, so I couldn’t see who was driving it, but it pulled into a space next to where I was walking and I heard someone inside say “hey, ladyy.”
I was already in a bad mood, so I bellowed “Fuck off!” as loudly as I could and the kept walking. I heard the car pull away behind me.
I’m glad my harassment reaction skills haven’t atrophied, but it still really, really made me angry.

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