Cross-posted from Stop Street Harassment
Will London become the safest city in the world for women?
This is the goal of the Ending Violence Against Women (EVAW) Coalition in London and they’re working hard to make it happen.
And of course, the absence of street harassment and public sexual assault is a requirement for any safe city.
I recently chatted via skype with the EVAW director Holly Dustin and found out that they are working to address street harassment/harassment on public transportation and while these are relatively new issues for them, already they’re having a lot of success because it is such a big problem for women in London.
To gather data (we always need more research!!), they conducted a YouGov poll about harassment on the London public transportation system.
They write that the poll: “revealed that more than a quarter of women in London do not always feel safe while using public transport. Many survey respondents said they wanted action on station staffing, lighting and policing. Feeling unsafe puts many more women than men off using the buses and trains at certain times, or in certain places, and urgently needs addressing by the transport authorities and as such by the mayor. We received wide London media coverage for our findings which seemed to strike a chord.”
It even struck a chord with the candidates for Mayor of London. EVAW has successfully lobbied each one to pledge to improve women’s safety if elected, including by addressing sexual harassment and assault on public transportation. Here are the manifestos by candidates Siobhan Benita, Boris Johnson Ken Livingstone and Brian Paddick. Elections are this week.
This is the 10-point plan EVAW suggests the new Mayor will need to take on in order to make London the safest city for women.
Additionally, the 2012 Summer Olympics will be held in London and EVAW is working hard on a campaign to make sure the city IS safe for everyone during it.
I was walking south on 7th Ave on my lunch break. As I crossed 27th, a man on a bicycle passed behind me and said “big ass!” I turned around and when I made eye contact with him he winked. I flipped him off. He continued east on 27th (or so I thought) and I continued south on 7th Ave. As I crossed 26th, I saw him pull up next to me, having apparently turned around (going the wrong way back down 27th) in order to follow me, flip me off, and call me a bitch. I screamed something at him – I was so angry and freaked out that I can’t remember what I said – and he sped off south on 7th Ave.
This happened around 3:15 on a Monday with people everywhere. Not one person reacted, came to my defense, or asked me what had happened or if I was okay afterward.
Meet Jenn Gallienne of the Hollaback! Baltimore team, a sassy mover and shaker dedicated to making positive change in the world and an all round awesome lady.
Why do you HOLLA? Because it is TOTALLY UNACCEPTABLE to be objectified and harassed on a daily basis because of your gender identity, sexual orientation, race/ethnicity, sex etc. IT IS NOT OKAY that it has become a social norm that our society has settled on as being part of our daily lives. ALL OF US deserve to walk down the street feeling SAFE without being objectified. Also, because my friends and loved ones in the LGBTQQI community deserve to be in public without being called a “faggot, a dyke, a tranny, an it.” They shouldn’t have to be afraid to hold their partner’s hand and they shouldn’t have to change their appearance. These are OUR streets too! It’s time to claim them!
What’s your signature Hollaback? A glare.
What’s your craft? Petting Cats, Making cupcakes, advocating, and social workin’ my heart out.
HOLLAfact about your city: Edgar Allen Poe’s grave is here.
What was your first experience with street harassment? I don’t know if I can recall my very first experience but I definitely vividly remember the first time I got called a dyke walking down the street with my best friend after school. My friend got so upset she punched the guy that was calling us names. In the year 2020, street harassment will be finally accepted and recognized as a form of gender based violence. However, I don’t think the fight will be over yet.
What do you collect? Memories. Cupcake themed things. Tattoos. Those positive quotes that come on a yogi tea bag. Letters. Cards ( I have a whole wall of them).
If you could leave the world one piece of advice, what would it be? I am just going to quote Ariel Gore here “Your heart is the size of your fist, keep loving, keep fighting.”
What inspires you? My father, my step-mother, survivors, those investing their lives to making this world a better place. CHANGE. Hope. Movers/shakers/believers/Doers!
The music block at our school is shared with the neighbouring boys’ school, and the boys’ field is between the girl’s school and the music block.
So I was walking back from the music block at break when a nasty little boy from… well I don’t know what year but can’t have been any older than 13, said ‘Hey good looking’ to me in a gross ‘I’m obviously being a dick’ kind of way.
So I carried on walking like I usually have the few times this has happened.
I was already feeling stressed and annoyed about the exams coming up and how the lesson hadn’t gone so well, so I was very annoyed.
But then two steps away instead of completely just walking off I turned around and screamed ‘F**K OFF!’ at him.
The look on his face annoyed me even more, because it was like ‘I didn’t deserve that shouting’. But he did.
If this ever happens again and I’m not feeling so stressed, I’ll take the time to stop whoever he is, tell him exactly why he’s being and arse and why he should never do it again.
Because a 16 year old girl shouldn’t feel intimidated or worried walking THROUGH HER OWN SCHOOL by a boy YOUNGER THAN HER.
I also think I will make some posters to hand to a teacher at the boys’ school on why being a creep is wrong.
Because they obviously need to learn.
(I’ve written way more that i should but man I’m so angry by this. Even though it wasn’t THAT bad…)
As a young female college student, I had always been told not to walk home alone or take the “short cut” if it was unsafe. But I’d taken the short way home plenty of times in this city to get home from the library, especially in the dark, and have had no problems. On the way home from a friend’s house tonight, I was in a rush to get home. I had a weird gut feeling when I thought about taking the short cut- I have to pass a run-down convenience store, and a section of government housing- but I ignored it. That was a mistake.
I was just about at the end of the short cut, almost home, when a group of 3 or 4 guys came out of nowhere and began to follow me. At first, they were distant. But they shouted “Nice ass!” and “Hey sweetie!” after me, just as I turned the corner to walk down my street. I picked up my pace; they turned onto my street and continued their cat-calling, even more vulgar while they laughed. I turned down into my driveway, and knew I couldn’t go to my house. At first I went around the other side of it, and waited. Then I saw my neighbor’s light on. I rang her doorbell and desperately hoped she would answer and I could then ask to come inside; but she didn’t. The group of guys saw me, and stood at the end of my driveway, continuing their taunting. I had no idea what they wanted, or what I should do. Luckily, they left shortly after. I went to my own house, where my roommate let me in.
Ladies, LISTEN TO YOUR GUT! It can prevent situations like this.
This week was exciting for advocates everywhere!
The Violence Against Women Act (including LGBTQ-inclusive provisions) has passed this Senate! Remember when we went to the White House two weeks ago because they were concerned it wouldn’t? It did! Thanks for all your tweeting, petition signing, and phone calls to Senators: they worked! Next stop: the House.
Wednesday Was Denim Day! This is an annual day of remembrance all over the world to increase awareness surrounding rape and sexual assault and on Tuesday I was at the press conference. On Wednesday Veronica gave a workshop in Brooklyn, and I headed out to Queens to give a workshop to two groups of middle and high schoolers.
Media BLITZ! We posted about it this week, but it’s worth mentioning again. This week was insane! Hollaback! was featured in countless publications and on several news channels including CNET, local news in Washington, CBS Good Morning, the Daily News and Fox to name a few. Check them all out here.
Scenarios USA had their gala! Scenarios USA uses writing and film to amplify the voices of young people in conversations about young people’s sexuality and sexual health. I was honored to get to volunteer with one of their amazing young writers, Nancy Romero, during the cocktail hour.
Our Queens Safety Audit is coming! Councilmember Ferreras’s Legislative Director, Annie Meredith, Chief of Staff, Yoselin Genao, Natalie, and I took a walk around Queens in preparation for our upcoming safety audit. Already 60 people have RSVPed, thanks to local community partners. It takes place on Saturday May 5th, so RSVP today! You’ll get a free t-shirt and lunch.
We’re having a benefit show with Permanent Wave on May 15th — so mark your calendar. And do us a favor and invite all your friends. The revolution needs us all.
HOLLA and out —
I was 20 years old at the time and had the day off of work and decided to spend a few hours at the public library. I was looking through a book about water color technique when I started hear a strange repetitive sound. I looked around and couldn’t find the source of noise. I then started to get a feeling that I was being stared at. Again, I looked around and there wasn’t anyone noticeably looking at me. The bookshelves at this library are more like shelves and not bookcases, meaning you can look through the shelves and see the next aisle. I did just that I when I did, my eyes where met with a staring, intense gaze. I then looked down and then saw the source of the repetitive sound that I had been hearing… the man was masturbating while looking at me. I was so shocked and disturbed that my first instinct was to immediately look back down at my book and pretend like I hadn’t seen anything to avoid drawing attention to myself. As I stood there, ignoring this man I became increasing scared and I couldn’t take it anymore. I looked him in the eyes through the shelf and yelled “ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!” Just like that, the man zipped up and started running. I dropped my book and followed him quickly but quickly lost sight of this pervert. I ran to the help desk and told the women there what had just happened. They saw how visibly upset I was as I was shaking and finding it difficult to speak. They had me sit down and offered me water to help me calm down while they called the police. When the officer got there I told him what had happened and he said that “he had a feeling of who it might have been.” I filed a report, but I’m not sure if anything ever came of it.
Why do you HOLLA? Because enough is enough. Everyone should feel safe in their own skin and in their own city. No matter what. Other people are not there for you to objectify and judge. The next generation should not have to fight this battle all over again.
What’s your signature Hollaback? Usually an evil “don’t mess with me” glare, sometimes a growled “Wow, you’re so clever.”
What’s your craft? Trying to make the world a better place with deconstruction. I’m a part-time PhD student, part-time teacher of literary studies.
HOLLAfact about your city: For all its conservatism, Dresden has a lot more queer and feminist activists than one would think. Grass-roots organizing, that’s where it’s at.
What was your first experience with street harassment? Probably this very crappy guy who asked me whether I wanted to suck his **** when I was walking home one day. I was 12 and had no idea how to react. The experience left me feeling awfully alone and powerless.
Define your style: Quiet at first, but alert at all times, I will speak up loudly even scream when it matters. People usually don’t see me coming.
What do you collect? Nay-sayers. People who tell me I cannot do something are pretty good motivators.
Say you’re Queen for the day. What would you do to end street harassment? So much to do, so little time. Change the way the genders are portrayed in the media, in advertising, etc. Give money to organizations who work to raise awareness and who foster respect and acceptance. Make gender and sexuality training mandatory in all schools, colleges, work places, senior citizens’ homes, etc. Pass legislation regarding all forms of gender violence. … and so much more.
If you could leave the world one piece of advice, what would it be? Empathize more. No seriously, try to put yourself into someone else’s shoes before doing anything, especially before doing harm.
What inspires you? Little victories, like getting people to reconsider long held truths. When friends or family tell you how they now notice things they haven’t noticed before and you can tell they are slowly changing their mind. And of course reading about other people’s struggles and victories, nothing can re-charge your activist batteries like hearing success stories from around the world.