This April marks the tenth anniversary of SAAM (Sexual Assault Awareness Month), and the awesome activists at SAFER (Students Active For Ending Rape) are calling for a push from awareness to activism, making this years’ SAAM stand for Sexual Assault ACTIVISM Month. Students, recent alumni, parents, and teachers are encouraged to participate by “pledging” a direct action against sexual assault this month, whether by fundraising, submitting their definition of accountability to the SAFER website, or checking up on their schools’ sexual assault policy and pushing for reform where necessary.
Check out this video for some student submissions of what accountability looks like to them:
For years now I have been deeply concerned by a yearly ritual verbal assault on women by a fraternity at Yale in my home town of New Haven. Every year the new pledges are gathered in front of the Women’s Center and told to chant phrases like, “No means yes, yes means anal”, “We love Yale sluts.” Imagine if you were visiting the center that day and were greeted by this. This went on for years with no repercussions for the offenders while the outrage of the Yale and local community was met with silence from the university’s administration and hostility and claims of entitlement from the offenders. You can look these instances up in the archives of The Yale Daily News as well as the New Haven Register. Though this year the university made some attempt at curtailing these behaviors, it is really too little too late. I hope this drives the point home that women are being attacked on every front. Not just in certain types of communities. In EVERY community. Please sisters… speak up and share your stories for the good of us all.
Wales’ government sponsored campaign at ending a rape culture of victim-blaming scores extra points this week from Hollaback. Stop Blame defines sexual assault as “unwanted sexual behaviour directed towards another person that causes humiliation, pain, fear, shame, intimidation or mental suffering,” and asks us to stop handing perpetrators the excuses they need to justify their actions:
“The rapist and society use the same, tired old excuses, time and time again-she was promiscuous, she was drunk, her skirt was so VERY short. She was asking for it.
Well here’s news – No matter how short her skirt or whether she put up a physical fight – No woman, or any of her actions, is responsible for being raped or sexually assaulted. No woman is EVER asking for it.”
Two new studies came out this week, solidifying growing global anti-harassment sentiment and activism as forces to be reckoned with. Studies cross-posted from Holly Kearl at Stop Street Harassment:
#1: In a study of 828 salaried employees in an unnamed city in Korea, 43 percent said they experienced sexual harassment during their commute, and 79 percent were women. Via The Korean Times:
“Nearly 72 percent of the incidents occurred on subway cars, followed by buses at 27.3 percent and taxis at 1.1 percent. Nearly 60 percent said they experienced harassment between 7 a.m. and 9 a.m. when most workers are on their way to work, while 17 percent were between 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. while returning home from work.
About 61.9 percent said at the time of the sexual harassment, it was too crowded for them to move within the subway train or bus. In response to the harassment, 43.2 percent said they did nothing about it, and 25 percent moved to a different place. Only 18.2 percent strongly protested against the assailants and 6.3 percent shouted in anger.”
#2: In the state capitol of Thiruvananthapurm in the south Indian state Keralaas, 1000 women were recently interviewed about street harassment. Ninety-eight percent said they had experienced it and 90 percent said the harassment was either physically or vocally violent. The harassment was notable on public transportation and 62 percent had experienced it there. Only seven percent had reported any of their experiences of harassment.
India’s study was sponsored in part by UNIFEM, Jagori, and Sakhi Resources Center.
As if she couldn’t get any cooler, here is Nicola Briggs on camera for Jezebel with tips and tricks for fending off those creeps. Oh yes. Oh fucking yes.
HarassMap officially announced the release of their SMS text reporting platform yesterday that will allow any cellphone user to report harassment and assault by sending a simple text message. This brings to 2 the number of anti-harassment initiatives launched in the middle east that we’ve written about in the past week. This is the fun part of the job.
HarassMap’s model is unique in that any cell phone user may participate, and not just those with iPhones or Droids. This means that replications in other cities around the world could soon be on their way, paving the way for continued success against public sexual abuse.
Reports are already being accepted . To report by SMS text, send details to 0169870900. To send a report by email, send to [email protected], or you can connect with the group via Facebook and Twitter as well. Visit the HarassMap site in English here.
Congratulations, HarassMap team, and THANK YOU for all that you do.
Anti-harassment sentiment is heating up all over the world, and our latest good news comes from the middle east, where a Jordanian grassroots campaign called objecDEFY Harassment has launched with a bang!
With their own YouTube channel and a whole host of PSAs in both English and Arabic featuring unsavory characters and snarky captions like “Seriously. You’re going to let these idiots ruin your life?” and calling for women to take action, we couldn’t be more excited.
Policy reform is a way in which rape culture is confronted, whether from within the federal government or on campus. Students Active For Ending Rape (SAFER) is asking students around the U.S. to step up to the challenge by submitting your school to their database for a review of its current campus sexual assault policies. If your school does not currently maintain one such policy, SAFER wants to help you create one. If it does maintain a policy, you may be surprised to read what’s included…
Log in to find your school in the Campus Accountability Project’s database and watch this video to find out how to help create a community where rape culture is not promoted or tolerated in any way, shape, or form—engage your school in the discussion and help create lasting positive change for yourself and your classmates!
Satire can be a powerful artistic form used to change bad human behavior.
It uses irony, wit, and ridicule to attack human vice, folly, and foolishness.
“As such, it is a tool that can be used to defeat street harassment,” writes blogger and self-defense guru Erik Kondo.
“Satire can be used to deny and refute the power of street harassers and expose their weaknesses and flaws. I came up with the term ‘sexless toad’ because as a man, I believe it is an insult that takes away power and is emasculating. The point is to come up with words that take away power. The insult ‘asshole’ actually gives power.”
Click here to read the tale of The Harasser, The Toad, And The Goddesses’ Daughter.
Responses were mixed; surprisingly, the overwhelming majority were positive. One girl, who appeared on the verge of tears, said “Your work here is pretty hard to swallow, but it’s effective.” Others weren’t so supportive; one man said he liked what we were doing, but that the comments being projected from the recordings were “harsh”. Our response? “YEAH, THEY ARE. That’s why we’re here.”