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According to the Huffington Post and a survey by Stop Street Harassment, 24% of American women do not exercise out of fear of being harassed or assaulted.
On Nov. 17, hundreds of people marched down the streets of Brighton in protest against harassment and to reclaim the night. The protest walk was organized by the Brighton Feminist Collective [The Argus].
Activists in Egypt are now harassing street harassers. After seeing too many men harassing women, the “vigilantes” took matters into their own hands, literally. Violence should never be used to quell violence, but it is encouraging to hear activists are protesting an issue that has been in large part ignored by the Egyptian government and police force [NYT].
Hollaback! founder Emily May was chosen as a “Next Maker” in AOL’s Makers: Women Who Make America Awards. Her story and efforts will be featured in a documentary. Congratulations Emily! It is so gratifying to see someone honored who truly deserves the recognition.
Note: I have to admit I am deeply impressed with the other volunteers and their efforts to make Hollaback! known in their city. I realize the SLO chapter has not reached its potential yet, but I am confident about 2013 and its new direction. We will be working with Cal Poly organizations to really make Hollaback! an integral part of SLO’s safety net.
Last week, a young woman named Kelsey (last name undisclosed) punched a man after he made a “rape joke” about a woman who rejected his advances. Afterwards, Kelsey took to her Tumblr and published a post about how she did not regret her actions and added a photo of herself grinning with a busted hand. The blog post created chaos; thousands reposted her words and hundreds were sending her messages. While Jezebel writer Katie J.M Baker deemed her a hero, Kelsey received so much negative feedback (including messages telling her that she deserved to be raped) that she posted a comment acknowledging violence as the wrong reaction, but admitted she still did not regret her actions. Kelsey explained, “I’m not telling people to go out and hit ‘everybody who offends you’ (though many of you are believing that was the point). However, I do believe that serious action needs to be taken towards rape culture.” The threats and harsh comments caused her to remove the blog and give her story to the police.
After reading a few blog reactions and comments about Kelsey, I was confused about how I felt. I was mainly disgusted by the negative commenters, who seemed to disturbingly loathe the twenty-year-old girl. I would never advocate violence from a victim or bystander, but commenters called her derogatory terms, said the man should have punched her back (if she wants life to be fair) and argued that she was just as bad as the man for reacting violently. I read several responses to Kelsey telling her to get the joke; he would have never actually raped the woman.
So here is my problem. Kelsey should not have done what she had done. Violence is never the answer ever. However, in no way is it acceptable for Internet users to victimize and degrade her for speaking out on her blog. I have to raise the question: if a man punched another man for making an obscene joke threat, would the Internet try to break him down? Would people threaten him until he felt the need to go to the police and rescind into anonymity? Kelsey acted irresponsibly, but a large amount of people decided to enact their own consequences upon her. Through bullying and harassment, they succeeded in quieting another voice. In my personal opinion, they behaved in a more dangerous manner than Kelsey did. She went to the police, admitted her crime and now she’s just hoping she’s safe. What consequences will these Internet users receive for their actions?no comments
From The San Luis Obispo Tribune:
The Occupy SLO group will hold a women’s rights and empowerment teach-in seminar today at 4:30 p.m. at the county courthouse, across from the government center on Monterey Street.
The session will include discussions about street harassment and what to do about it; the history of women’s rights and the women’s rights movement; information on rape crisis, shelters and other resources; and, possibly, a short selfdefense course.
The anti-war group Food Not Bombs will provide food beginning at 6 p.m.
The Council of Europe’s recent convention on violence against women decided to further criminalize abhorrent practices such as genital mutilation and forced marriage. Within the news laws, the council also decided to include a clause against harassment. The Telegraph reports Europe (including Britain) will “impose sanctions for ‘unwanted verbal, non-verbal or physical conduct with the purpose or effect of violating the dignity of a person, in particular when creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment.’”
Opinion writer Jenny McCartney seems to oppose the loose definition of harassment in the clause; she notes the many conflicting interpretations that have already emerged since the convention to support her argument. In one instance, the Scotland attorney general said that the law would not criminalize wolf-whistling and teasing. Yet Julia Gray of Hollaback was reported saying, “If you want to tackle it, you tackle all of it—you say no to all forms of unwanted sexual harassment, that includes wolf-whistling, comments, everything.” McCartney’s concerns raise the issue of subjectivity towards harassment amongst different types of people and cultures. In her perspective, something that can be interpreted in multiple ways has to be as objectively defined as possible in order for the law to be fair to everyone.
On the other hand, the council’s definition includes every kind of harassment (verbal, non-verbal, and physical) that should not be left unpunished. It may not be strictly worded and obvious, but it still allows victims to right the injustices they have endured. The harassment clause is an important step towards ending street harassment, but perhaps we need to determine its success based on how the courts will be able to use the clause to judge future sexual harassment cases and consequences.
After sexual harassment victims called out the DC metro system for their lack of compassion, support, and problem solving, other public transportation riders are taking a good look at their own transit system. The New York Times wrote an especially relevant article about BART and the other two main San Franciscan transit systems. The Bay Area Transit System, the San Francisco Municipal Railway, and Alameda-Contra Costa Transit are probably familiar to many of the students and former citizens of NorCal, who often utilize these systems for jaunts to and from San Francisco, punk concerts in Berkeley, summer internships, and visits to friends in Walnut Creek.
Bay Area women have reacted to the DC uproar in the past week and are expressing how they, too, are facing frequent sexual advances while enduring their commutes. The article reports that the harassment is largely unreported, with police documenting “95 sex crimes on those three [buses, trains, and trolleys] public transit systems, including 35 cases of indecent exposure, often masturbation; 25 cases of sexual battery, which includes groping; one rape and other unwanted lewd behavior. Forty arrests were made.” This seems like a dramatically small amount, considering 370 million people rode these systems last year.
Making this problem apparent to not just DC, but all of America, is a huge step towards ridding this country of sexual harassment. While this issue is being reported in major newspapers and websites, it is time to take lawful action against the perpetrators. As the article notes, countries like Japan, Mexico, and India have had to make female-only cars as a reaction against the increasingly present problem. America needs to stop the problem before we resort to segregating genders as the only solution.
The Metro Station and the citizens of DC are in a current debate over what constitutes as sexual harassment: is it mere flirtation or unwanted attention? Surprisingly, many officials have defended the right to sexually harass, implying that too much sensitivity has blurred the distinction between compliments and harassment. They have yet to explore how someone might feel when a stranger approaches them in a confined space (often at night) and makes them feel uncomfortable and scared.
The DC chapter of Hollaback, also known locally as CASS (Collective Action for Safe Spaces), has decided to take the matter to local government. With claims that transit police are not tracking reports of harassment and giving little consideration to gender-based harassment, activists are seeking out transit employee training, governmental action, and awareness. Hollaback has also pointed out that while New York, Boston, and Chicago have all instituted PSA campaigns against this issue, DC is still lacking anything to address a serious and frequent problem.
When reading Hollaback reports in cities where public transportation is an essential part of daily life, it is evident that there have been countless situations where a person feels violated, vulnerable, and unsafe. The DC chapter is commendable for taking action and going to their government. The Gender Equity Center for Cal Poly is also planning to talk to our city council on how to make this town safer for all people. If you feel that you have something to say about town safety, harassment, or you just want to show support, it is highly suggested that you attend this meeting. More information will be released in the coming weeks.
This past September, Cal Poly fired volleyball coach Jon Stevenson after players reported acts of sexual harassment. According to The San Luis Obispo Tribune, an investigation report “included accusations of Stevenson attempting to pull one player’s shorts down, commenting about the sex lives of his players and kissing a player on the cheek and whispering, ‘I love you.’”
Thankfully, the reports were not taken lightly. The allegations are infuriating for several reasons, but the violation of the players’ trust is what truly makes this unforgivable. The coach-player relationship is one that must be preserved with respect and boundaries. A coach can easily take advantage of his power and the vulnerability of the player, and no one should have to feel violated in an environment that is supposed to be safe and fun. The new volleyball coach Sam Crosson has to earn the trust of people who had to turn to higher authorities to fight their injustices. Let us hope that the Cal Poly volleyball team has a great 2012!no comments
Law enforcement officers have names for the girls offering them sex on the beat: Badge Bunny. Holster Sniffer. Uniform Jumper. Handcuff Hugger. In Paso Robles, brethren in blue have one more: The Chief.
A flurry of complaints and mounting formal grievances alleging sexual misconduct, illegal management practices and retaliation have been lodged against Paso Robles’ first female chief of police, Lisa Solomon. Those known to have made accusations against the chief include five current and former police officers, as well as a growing record of non-sworn police department personnel.
The criticisms against Solomon include allegations of sexual assaults, many committed in the presence of others, repeated affairs with a list of subordinates, and bearing a child out of wedlock fathered by a former lieutenant in the department. …
Hastings Kamuzu Banda, a former dictator of Malawi, banned women from wearing shorts skirts and pants from the years of 1963 to 1994. While this ridiculous law ended eighteen years ago, there have been repercussions in this African nation. According to The Washington Post, men in the mainly southern parts of Malawi have been stripping women of their skirts and pants. The article states, “strains of conservatism remain in the impoverished, largely rural nation. Some of the street vendors who have attacked women in recent days claimed it was un-Malawian to dress in miniskirts and pants. Some said it was a sign of loose morals or prostitute.”
However, women are not submitting to these degrading and humiliating acts of aggression. On January 20th, about 3,000 Malawi women went to the streets to protest against the harassment. They wore shirts denouncing the street vendors, chanted as they walked down the streets together, and demanded that they are treated fairly. CNN quotes Executive Director of The [Malawi] National Women ‘s Lobby Group Faustace Chirwa who said, “like a lot of Africa, there is a culture of instilling fear in women because people know they are voiceless even though they are guaranteed equality on paper.” Fortunately, the Malawi President Bingu wa Mutharika has sided with these women and condemned the attackers as well as promised consequences for these appalling actions.
It is important to hear the stories of women in other countries, especially because we are all working for the same goals: equality and safety. The thousands of women that came out on Friday to express their desire for these goals are the reason why our movement is so important. Who thinks some of the protestors would be the perfect creators of the Malawi chapter of Hollaback?no comments
Twenty-four people per minute are victims of rape, physical violence or stalking by an intimate partner in the United States, and a significant portion of these individuals attend, are employed by or are patients of universities, K-12 districts and hospitals.
It is for this reason that Campus Safety magazine has developed a series of articles that aims to provide greater awareness and information on these troublesome, yet underreported crimes. The first installment, which follows, is on stalking.