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Sara’s Story: Dude jerking off

On Wednesday morning, June 29th during rush hour, I was standing on the platform at Elmhurst Avenue in Queens waiting for the train. The M train had just gone by so I was one of three people waiting for the R. I heard a person gasp behind me and I turned around to see a man standing too close to me. I moved away and didn’t notice what he was doing until I realized he was inching towards to me again. I then quickly noticed was that his shirt was too long for his height and underneath it his hand was moving rapidly. I moved towards the center of the platform and thought that would be the end of him until I turned to my left and there he was again. More people were now on the platform and I walked back towards the front and stood near another woman my age. I figured that if he followed me again this woman would at least notice and validate that I wasn’t imagining things! This is definitely not a common occurrence in my neighborhood. Luckily he didn’t follow me but I remember a friend of mine mentioning a girl once took a picture of a man who had been rubbing up against her on the train and that he was arrested; I thought at the least I could email it to my local precinct. I got my camera ready and started to walk towards the center of the platform, where I had left him, and all-of-a-sudden I saw him sprint up the exit. I looked up the stairs to see if he was gone and he was, but when I turned back around this woman was looking at me with this terrified expression and I knew I had definitely not imagined the whole thing!

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Uncategorized

Safe Campus, Strong Voices

BY RACHEL JACOBS

The “Safe Campus, Strong Voices” Campaign is a national initiative for Campus Safety Awareness Month in September to raise awareness and increase advocacy on the issue of college sexual violence and the vast amount of under-reported cases as well as the injustices that many survivors face.  This groundbreaking campaign will focus on victim empowerment, prevention, bystander intervention, and provide tangible tools for both men and women to work together to create a safer campus. It will raise awareness and engage students to shatter the silence of campus sexual violence.

We at Security On Campus, Inc. and PAVE: Promoting Awareness, Victim Empowerment cannot do this alone though! We need your help to reach your campus community!  The Safe Campus, Strong Voices Campaign is looking for student leaders and faculty to work with us!  We will provide the tool kit and everything you need to create this on your campus in both September and beyond! Please join us in raising awareness and breaking the silence with students at your school. To get started, please visit our website at www.StrongVoicesCampaign.org. To purchase a tool kit, click on the “Get Involved!” link at the top of our site, or follow this link: http://www.wix.com/ange33/scsv#!contact Tool kits are being sold at a discounted price until July 22! Thank you in advance for your support and dedication to shattering the silence of campus sexual violence!

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Anonymous’s Story: Don’t tell me to smile

A man with a clipboard was blocking women on the sidewalk and demanding that they smile on the sidewalk near the w 4th st station. When I told him to stop harassing women, he started ranting at me. I went into CVS and while I was in there, he came in and tried to scam the cashier into refunding something he hadn’t bought.

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SAFE STREETS AZ: Creating a Community Against LGBTQ Street Harassment

BY STEPHANIE E. ARENDT

Senior Prevention Educator

Southern Arizona Center Against Sexual Assault

 

In just the past two years, the level of awareness and support available for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer-identified youth experiencing bullying and harassment in schools has grown astronomically. There are almost no safeguards, however, for the kinds of harassment they encounter in public spaces on a daily basis. From cat calls to physical threats and hate crimes, public harassment is one of the most endemic forms of gender-based violence, and LGBTQ-identified youth are especially vulnerable by virtue of their perceived or actual gender, sexuality or sexual orientation.

 

In Tucson, Arizona, Safe Streets AZ has emerged to track and address public harassment, and provide a greater network of support for the LGBTQ community. A program of the Southern Arizona Center Against Sexual Assault (SACASA) funded by the Alliance Fund Queer Youth Initiative, Safe Streets AZ provides youth ages 13-23 the opportunity to share their story, get support, and become part of a growing movement to end public and street harassment. Inspired by organizations like Hollaback!, the program combines an interactive Google map and blog to track and share incidences of harassment. Community members can also use the map to locate “Safe Sites”– local businesses and organizations where youth experiencing harassment can go to temporarily feel safe and receive resources.

During conversations with local LGBTQ youth, almost all of the 30 youth that took part had experienced public harassment of some kind. Many said they worry daily about being harassed, and felt that the level of harassment they experience as the result of their perceived gender and sexual orientation is more intense. “You have to take it more seriously if you’re gay,” said one youth. “A lot of the time if someone says they’re going to kill a faggot then they’re probably serious, and you have to treat it that way.”

Despite its prevalence, there is little data on the frequency and impact of public harassment, particularly at the local level. Safe Streets AZ aims to change that. By collecting stories and reports from partner organizations as well as community members, information will be collected and used to hold more perpetrators accountable, and create better systems of support for anyone experiencing harassment.

 

Visit: www.safestreetsaz.wordpress.com to share your story, get support, and –together—help end harassment.

 

 

For more information on the Southern Arizona Center Against Sexual Assault, visit www.sacasa.org

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Uncategorized

Anonymous’s Story: Your protection isn’t necessary

I was walking home down Stuyvesant avenue from the A/C train on Utica, it was raining and I was huddling because I had no umbrella. A man came very close to me and whispered that he would “protect me from the rain” and he kept walking. I don’t know what he meant but I felt very uncomfortable and I ducked into a deli to shake the feeling before I continued on home.

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groping, Nonverbal Harassment, Uncategorized

Angela’s Story: “I am afraid to be walking my own streets by myself”

My timeline of secrecy… I will not keep it to myself anymore.
I have been sexually harassed times before in public places.
The first time when I was 11 or 12, after school a friend and I were standing at a Walgreens photo kiosk and a man was pretending to grab a snack on the lower shelf, when I realize that he has been there way too long to get something. I look again and see that he has a video camera aimed up our catholic school skirts. I yelled “Hey!” and he ran. I didn’t know what to think. I explained what I saw to my friend and aside from how barbaric that is, we’re glad we always have shorts under these skirts.
After that, about the rest of the time I have spent my middle school and high school days in San Francisco, I may have been “goosed” on my rear end maybe a total of 4 times by middle aged men way older than I was. The places that this occurred usually were in crowded places like a Chinatown street or store, or on public transportation. Quite frankly I’ve been paranoid since of people sliding past behind me. I’ve been more cautious; I trust no one and assume every man can and will potentially do that.
I’ve told my family once about an incident and they laughed at me and said, “the next time that happens, make sure you step on them hard and make it public.” I was embarrassed and a little mad that they even laughed and dismissed it so easily; logically, yes, it’s that simple, but it altered my perception of safety being female.
I left to a university in Southern California and felt completely safe, or safer to much greater degree. For one thing, shorts and tanks were everywhere; everyone was my age with young bodies. Sexual violations were rare especially with the amount of hormones and alcohol involved, it seemed like it gave permission to do something stupid today and regret it tomorrow (I may be over-exaggerating, but it is what it seems). Plus, there’s an escort program provided by the school that aided in that security.
And then I came back to San Francisco. I am now 23. I’ve forgotten how it is. In my neighborhood, never ever has it happened so close to home. I was walking back and a man on a bike, with a cap and a messenger bag groped me from behind and sped off. My reaction was not quick enough. I looked around and there was no one. I am afraid to be walking my own streets by myself… Two days ago I saw this same man speed off in front of my house window. There was no time for me to snap a picture, but I felt like I would see him again. I wondered if police did anything about these cases of sexual harassment or if there isn’t enough proof to do anything about it. Then I found this site.
This picture I took of this man today didn’t physically or verbally do anything to me. I was waiting for a bus alone and I could tell from my periphery he was staring at me, you cannot mistake it because traffic comes the other direction. I was texting meanwhile to speak to someone so I can feel a tad safer. A woman and her family decided to stand around me thankfully. But as I was out of his gaze hiding behind this woman, he stepped back to get a good view of me as I pretended to constantly look up to check for a bus, but really checking to see if he was still looking; he would advert his eyes each time I looked up his direction. I didn’t want to be followed. I remembered the Hollaback site. So I held my smartphone up to snap a picture. He turned around to dodge it and I was afraid I wasn’t going to get a clear picture. But the shutter time was perfect. I sent the picture to a friend in case anything was to happen to me, or if this man was offended and decided to take my phone, etc. After that, he crossed the street and left. He didn’t even bother to wait for a bus anymore. I was relieved. Now I wonder, taking a picture so openly and obviously, if I was creeping on a creeper, a little ironic. Technically in this last story I have told, nothing happened. It doesn’t neatly fall under a definition of harassment that I can bubble in. I was only fearful and creeped out. I may have prevented something from happening; I’ll never be sure of that. But if I did, this picture is of a man that I (or anyone) may be careful watch out for.

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Anonymous’s Story: Take the hint!

Friday night some friends and I set a picnic in the park for an outdoor movie screening.  No more than ten minutes after we got comfortable to enjoy the evening, this guy and his buddy come over and asked if they could sit with us and eat our food.  We turned our backs and deliberately ignored them for several minutes, but they continued to hover and smirk with a goofy grin.  Even after we took the first photo, they still didn’t catch on, and actually started to pose together for a second shot.  Idiots!  Finally, we turned and said in the “I mean business” tone that they were bothering us, and NO we would NOT appreciate their company!

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Our Streets Too: Philly’s Anti-Street Harassment Day 2011 with Nuala Cabral

Reposted from Hollaback! Philly

On March 20, 2011, Nuala Cabral organized the Philadelphia celebration of International Anti-Street Harassment Day, and HollabackPhilly was lucky enough to have participated with her. Cabral recently released footage of the day with commentary by the activists involved in the awareness raising event. The video (below) involves a discussion of street harassment, followed by footage of the Anti-Street Harassment Day events and commentary on the day’s successes and lessons. The event occurred in Rittenhouse Square and El Stops in West Philadelphia, and engaged men, young girls, parents, and various other women.

 

I contacted Cabral to get some insight into what inspired her to not only celebrate Anti-Street Harassment Day here in Philadelphia, but also what inspires her to use film as a means of advocacy. Cabral responded:

Creating Walking Home connected me with a community of folks who are addressing street harassment through writing, art, film, education and community action. When I heard about Holly Kearl’s book and the Anti Street Harassment Day she was spearheading, I knew I had to be involved. Screening Walking Home or viewing it online has been a great way to reach a wide audience and spark dialogue. However, a film, a book, an online magazine does not reach all audiences. Therefore  it is necessary to go beyond media and engage with people face to face about this issue.

 

She also describes many lessons the group learned throughout the day, about the community’s response and ourselves.

 

We learned that many women and men have a story to share about street harassment. Engaging in conversation was a way to validate those stories and voices. Experiencing push back from some people reminded us that we still have work to do, in terms of shifting norms and expectations around street harassment and simply taking a stand.
It felt good that we had numbers–solidarity. It was inspiring. Street harassment can make you feel alone and dis-empowered. When we were out there together, I felt empowered and supported.

Chalking on the streets drew people in and led to conversations about why were were there.

The drum also created an environment that was upbeat and energizing. For those of us who are shy, that pulsing beat helped us get out of our comfort zone.

I agree with her that the drums energized the event, not only for the activists but also for the surrounding community. It also made us more approachable and less intimidating. The chalk had a similar effect while also making the discussion interactive and engaging.

I was part of the Rittenhouse portion of the event and many women shared stories with us about prior street harassment incidents, a few men pushed back and told us the line is too blurry between harassment and a compliment, and a few parents went on to explain street harassment to their daughters as their daughters drew pictures with the chalk.

All in all, it was an effective day of awareness raising in a city that needs the anti-street harassment discussion. We look forward to working with Cabral in the future to continue bringing the discussion to the streets!

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The Movement, Uncategorized

39 hours to go: Veronica tells her story about why this campaign matters

We are so close! With only one day to go (39 hours to be exact), we still need to raise a little over $5,000.  The flood of supporters that have come through has been truly incredible, and we are so grateful. Just yesterday we raised over $6,000 from over 50 people.  If we do it again today we’ll meet our goal. Do it on Thursday and we’ll exceed our goal.

To our supporters: thank so much for getting us this far, and let’s keep this campaign going through the final stretch. Be sure to let your friends and family know about the campaign if you haven’t already, and most importantly, thanks for having our backs. You know we’ve got yours too.

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Uncategorized

I’m not a piece of meat sir!

Rare are summer days in Houston when the weather cools from the oppressively swampy to merely sultry. Whenever such an opportunity presents itself, few would blame me for wanting to slip out of my desk and into the sunshine. I didn’t take a lunch break, anyways. Nobody would mind if I ran to the bookstore for a metaphorical minute.

 

As I walk along Main Street, between its intersections with Lamar and Dallas, a stranger saunters up to me. His body now merely millimeters from mine, he demands, “Let me pick you up and carry you home. I have to carry you and take you home with me right now.” Loud enough for a 5-person band of onlookers to start quietly paying attention.

 

I panic. “GO FUCK YOURSELF!” Not the most mature of reactions, but fear and a desire to intimidate preclude creativity. Our audience continues staring.

 

He shrinks back, raising his volume and desperately whining, “But I have to do SOMETHING to you! I need to take you back to my home and do something. Let me carry you home and we’ll talk about this.”

 

“GO! FUCK! YOURSELF!” Finally, the man jerks his head away and turns to walk off in the other direction. My voice transcends my meager frame. Gives me power. Authority. A strength beyond whatever it is I’m bench pressing these days. “I AM NOT A PIECE OF MEAT, SIR!” rockets towards his back. Cliché to be certain, and not my proudest moment. But it gets the point across succinctly. A glare shot at the throng transfixed by our encounter. Lips pressed tightly into themselves. Eyes narrowed to nothing more than paper cuts, albeit obscured by prescription sunglasses.

 

They look away. Huffy. Bored. One man mutters, “Such language…”

 

Humiliation. An overarching sensation of dehumanization prickles my internals and externals alike. Saline stings the backs of my eyelids. A quaking, shaking blancmange of a thoroughly ashamed, embarrassed and just plain angry young woman. Deliberate encroachment onto my personal space, overtures of sexual violence and a complete lack of disrespect for my autonomy, agency and consent…and they take offense at the language I use to convey my flashpoint rage! He and I provided them with the day’s sensational entertainment, not a pathetic tableau of harassment. I question whether or not their apathy would have finally dissolved had this horrid man attempted to genuinely hurt me.

 

And I am incredibly fortunate he intended to intimidate more than actually injure, but all the same there exists no compelling justification for his actions (sorry, victim-blamers, but I was wearing a loose-fitting Muppets t-shirt and even more comfortable jeans that day). Nor those who saw fit to treat us as free, live theatre. Their silence gave this man permission to treat another woman with such a callous dismissal of her independence. Their chiding my self-defense enabled yet another incident of public harassment and verbal assault to end up an exercise in shaming the recipient. Of neglecting to change the rhetoric of gender-based violence.

 

But hey! It only takes something as easy and minor as the complete overhaul of societal perceptions towards street harassment, sexual assault and rape to reverse this attitude!  Neither I nor anyone else deserves to inhabit a world where something simple like running to pick up a copy The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks ends up a disheartening lesson in how Americans react when confronted with very public verbal and physical harassment. Public places belong to the public, not just those intending to badger, bully or brutalize the innocent. And that is why those of us with stories to tell – all narratives, be they victim, bystander or a loved one hearing about everything later in the day – must ensure the populace learns of them. Education, not dressing differently or agoraphobia or constantly looking over your shoulder, remains just about the only truly effective, sustainable weapon in our stash.

Credit and thanks go to Hollaback! Houston supporter James Collins with Savage Serenity Studios and Space City Nerd for helping me with edits!

 

 

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