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I was very interested in the post submitted by Sabriya regarding street harassment in France. A year and a half ago I lived in Paris for 4 months, and it was the first time I had ever experienced street harassment. The stopping an staring, the groping, the crude comments–I was shocked by the extent to which this harassment culture characterized the Parisian men. I am not a woman of color like Sabriya (quite the opposite actually). I am very very fair with very blonde hair, and I stuck out from the crowd all the time. People would ask me where I was from all the time without me opening my mouth. After spending time in other European cities as well as Moscow (and having experience less harassment in these cities), I would say that street harassment in Paris (and the rest of France) affects all women, and it is a constant and sometimes frightening nuisance.
Some links to interesting articles regarding this topic:
Senior aide to French President Nicolas Sarkozy writes book about how to pick up women.
Le sport national français: (in english)
Submitted by Lauren
I’m a New Yorker living in France and I was wondering if you had any information/statistics/articles on street harassment in France. The reason I’m inquiring is because, yes, obviously as a woman (of color) I’ve experienced this type of thing everywhere, but I’ve seriously never experienced it to the degree that I do in France and I’m wondering what is up. Just today, during my 1.5 hour trip grocery shopping, I was followed by a guy who kept telling me I was elegant, a guy stopped dead in his tracks to watch me walk by, a guy yelled from across the street that I was “ravishing”, a guy purposely (and obviously) went out of his way to brush up against me while with his WIFE in the pasta aisle, and the finale: a man waiting at a stop light in his car psssssssssst-ed and called me over.. as if!! I’m tired of people telling me I should feel complimented or that it’s because I’m attractive or because of what I’m wearing. I hadn’t showered, had no make up on, had my hair up and was wearing a T-shirt, cardigan, jeans, flats. It’s seriously at the point where I HATE leaving my house and it doesn’t help that a month ago a guy in a secluded area of a park approached me and lifted up my skirt. I’ve started warning friends that I can’t stay out past dark bc I already know I WILL BE harassed by someone on my way home. I want to think that there’s no difference in male privilege/entitlement between the two countries, but my experience is telling me otherwise. I have never felt so intimidated by this type of harassment.
Submitted by Sabriya
EDITOR’S NOTE: We don’t speak french, but if you know of any resources please send them to us and we’ll pass them along to Sabriya.
September 14, 2010
This letter is in response to your Officer inquiry dated September 7, 2010 regarding sexual harassment by a postal employee.
The issue you raise about employee behavior is one that concerns every postal manager. Postmaster General John Potter has continually stressed the seriousness of sexual harassment against or by any employee.
Every customers should immediately report such incident of unacceptable behavior immediately to a supervisor, station manager, or a postal official that is on the premises who can promptly address the issue, such as you have done. The manager has taken the appropriate action to ensure that this employee’s behavior is corrected.
If you experience such an incident in the future, please do not hesitate to contact the to ensure that immediate action is taken.
Please accept our apologies for having to endure such unacceptable behavior.
Submitted by Raven
EDITOR’S NOTE: When you experience harassment by someone working for a company that you can hold accountable – by all means do so! We’ve had a lot of success with that on the site – and this is another great example of it.
I was sitting on the 2 train at approximately 8:45 pm tonight. This man very purposefully stood above me, though it wasn’t a crowded train at all. He had his hand in his pocket, and was clearly touching himself while staring at me. He was holding honda 3-d glasses. I don’t know why. I took this picture of his face and said “excuse me pervert” and got up and off the train. I am still nearly hyperventilating. Please post this. I don’t want anyone else to feel this way.
Submitted by Annie
The deadline for the Justmeans Paperless Challenge is Wednesday the 15th, and Hollaback! is so close to winning! But we need your help. To help us reach our goal, we are giving away FIVE Hollaback iPhone 3GS covers.
1. Vote for Hollaback!, and comment on why street harassment matters or why Hollaback! rocks.
2. Link to the competition on your facebook or twitter page, using this link (http://www.justmeans.com/contestidea?ideaid=ODU4) and our handle. We are @ihollaback on twitter, or Hollaback! on facebook.
If we win, we’ll use the funds to overhaul our website (and say goodbye and good riddens to pepto-bismol pink). We’ll announce the winners of the competition on September 16th.
Thank you for all your support. We couldn’t do it without you!
On October 12th, we are collaborating with Envision Williamsburg and Feministing to bring you the best happy hour ever! Envision Williamsburg recently completed a community research project that showed street harassment as the form of sexual violence that caused the most concern for Williamsburg residents. To tackle this, Envision Williamsburg is looking to do a number of community-based interventions, but their awesome efforts have been stifled by a cut in funding to their parent organization, the New York City Alliance Against Sexual Assault. Your $5 suggested donation will go towards directly supporting Hollaback! and Envision Williamsburg’s efforts to build a street harassment free city.
If you are able to volunteer for this event, we need your help. We’re holding a silent auction at the event, and we’ll be giving free Hollaback! iPhone covers to anyone who brings an item (or items) valued at over $50. Can you contribute? Contact us at holla (at) ihollaback.org.
I was actually harassed moments after leaving tonight’s book release on “Stop Street Harassment”. It was the strangest thing it was almost as if the whole thing was planned as an ironic joke or something. But I guess I was so angry after the talk that before this guy even finished his sentence I flipped out on him! I saw him leering a me as he was walking towards me and he started to say “Damn baby, you look….” I just lost it. The thing is that I have always had a mixed bag of reactions when dealing with this sort of thing, some of the time I would say something but most of the time I would say nothing and just let it happen to me. It was invigorating to put that guy in his place, especially since I could see that he honestly didn’t expect it! He was with two other guys who said nothing during the whole exchange which may have proven to have humiliated him in front of his friends. I hope this story inspires all women or rather all victims of street harassment to stand up for themselves whenever it is safe for them to do so and to never miss that opportunity. Tonight I was glad that I didn’t.
Submitted by Esmeralda
Editor’s Note: Thank you to Esmeralda and everyone else who came to the “Stop Street Harassment” book launch last night! It was great to see so many people there, and a big congratulations to Holly on this important contribution to the movement!
If you’ve complained to others about street harassment, you’ve probably been told to “toughen up” or “get a thicker skin.” Like as if somehow, the fact that street harassment hurts is your fault. It’s a decision that you make, and if you were just a little stronger, and a little less of a “girl,” the problem would be solved.
When street harassment hurts, it’s not because we’re not strong enough. In fact, I think it’s our strength that makes it hurt more. Street harassment shatters our perspectives on who we are: smart, dynamic, bold; and instead focuses on who we aren’t: bitches, whores, and pairs of tits. So — too often — we just try to ignore it. And it works, sometimes. But most of the time it doesn’t, and the hurt just sits inside us, “like molton lava boiling right underneath the surface of my skin.”
In this incredible piece called “Thinner Skin” the writer talks eloquently about how you can’t just make the hurt of street harassment go away. How it lives inside us. She tells the story of her own sexual assault and writes: ” I’ve been threatened. I’ve been hurt. My friends have been threatened and hurt. I regard any man invading my space and disrespecting me as a direct threat to my well being. Every single time I get verbally accosted, every single time a man sits too close on purpose. Every single time I catch a man, out of the corner of my eyes, sizing me up as bait. I feel that same rage. I am there again.” For survivors of sexual assault, street harassment can feel like ripping a scab off – three, four, five times a day. Any doctor will tell you that’s no way to heal.
A thick skin would be helpful if we wanted to ignore the world’s problems, internalize our pain, and just stay at home. But for the world we’re trying to create, the skin we’ve got will do just fine. We need to be OK with the fact that it hurts because we’re strong, not in spite of it. Because if we keep this myth up that street harassment hurts because we’re weak, it will continue to get passed down generation to generation. Just like it did to us.
We have an unprecedented opportunity to transform street harassment from something that is lonely and isolating, to something that is shareable. The internet is our new campfire, and if we’re going to solve this we have to start by talking about it, by responding to it, by holla’ing back. The world won’t listen if we keep pretending that our silence means it doesn’t hurt.