Blank Noise Spectator Survey

July 31, 2008

The wonderful anti-street harassment activists in India over at the Blank Noise are holding a special survey/discussion on their site through August 15th about being a spectator of street harassment. Of their website visitors who take their poll, 13% reported being a spectator of street harassment.

This is what they ask: “Blank Noise Spectators Special asks members of the public, both men and women, to share what they witnessed. What was your first reaction? Was it to intervene? Was it to ignore? What did you do? What would you rather have done? Can you share your thoughts about being a spectator. If you have been a ‘special spectator’ , that is, intervened in the situation, please tell us how! Was it with wit and humor? Or did you physically assault the ‘perpetrator’? Did you walk away? Or call the cops? Or gather a crowd? Or see another spectator take charge of the situation and participate in any way?”

I admit I’m not much of a confrontational person and it’s something I’m working on but there was one time I almost did say something. I was on the Washington, DC metro (I live in the DC area and take it to/from work etc) on a weekend and it was crowded and there were two young women standing near me dressed to impress and on my other side were a bunch of young men pointing and whispering crude things about the women. The women had their backs to the men and seemed oblivious of what was happening and that is what kept me from intervening. I think if the women had noticed I might have intervened. However, I wish I had anyway because they were being extremely crude and just talking about the women like they only consisted of body parts etc.

Anyway, check out Blank Noise and also feel free to leave your comments on this blog if you’re so inclined 🙂

Anti-Groping Subway Campaign on Hold

July 21, 2008

The wonderful ladies of HollaBackNYC wrote a great piece in the New York Daily News about the MTA’s anti-groping campaign going on hold apparently for fear of inadvertently encouraging more groping…

Here’s an excerpt from the article:

“Someone at the MTA seems worried about exposing the dirty underbelly of the city’s transportation network. They’d rather ignore it – and hope that it’ll go away. That’s a little like hoping the rats on the tracks will vanish if we avert our eyes every time they rear their beady little eyes.

Subway ads will work. First and most importantly, they will formalize the idea that subway groping is unacceptable. That will lead New York City women, like their Boston counterparts, to feel comfortable in calling out lewd pervs on their behavior. A likely rise in the number of incidents reported will be something to celebrate – because it’ll mean a rise in the number of men caught in the act.”

Definitely read the full article, it’s a good one and if you live in NYC, have ever visited NYC and taken the subway, or are just passionate about ending street harassment, write to the MTA and ask that they run the subway ad campaign.

Men like to harass in Egypt

July 18, 2008

The Egyptian Centre for Women’s Rights has been involved in anti-street harassment activism work for several years, so the recent headline in Reuters “Two-thirds of Egyptian men harass women?” about the high levels of street harassment in Egypt is no surprise to me.

In a survey of more than 2,000 Egyptian men and women and 109 foreign women, “62 percent of Egyptian men reported perpetrating harassment, while 83 percent of Egyptian women reported having been sexually harassed. Nearly half of women said the abuse occurred daily.” I wonder where the people who took this survey live in Egypt – like is it worse in the cities the way it seems to be in the US? Regardless, those are high numbers but not really surprising.

I’d like to say the following facts were surprising but they’re not either. “53 percent of men blamed women for bringing on sexual harassment, saying they enjoyed it or were dressed in a way deemed indecent. Some women agreed.” Hey, they’re just like people in the US and the UK who blame women for getting harassed! Don’t believe it? Just find any story on street harassment that allows for comments and then you’ll very quickly realize how many people have that opinion. Riiight, it’s women’s fault men can’t keep their mouths closed and hands to themselves…

This part of the story is particularly interesting to me: “The vast majority of women did nothing when confronted with sexual harassment,” the survey said, adding that most Egyptian women believed the victim should “remain silent.” Is that because they are afraid of getting hurt or being assertive or what, I wonder? I wonder what people in the US would say about how the victim of street harassment should act. When one feels safe and confident enough to, I advocate saying something to them or reporting them to a person of authority or their company etc. I just don’t think that ignoring them deters them. How do you think they should act?

Gender Equity Festival 2008

July 15, 2008

For those in New York this weekend, check this out —

Girls for Gender Equity presents:
The 3rd Annual NYC Gender Equality Festival
a celebration of arts and activism in central Brooklyn
July 19, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. in Von King Park between Tompkins & Marcy at Lafayette

A FREE public event for education, networking, resource sharing, community interaction, arts, recreation and entertainment.

The Festival will feature arts organizations, service groups, youth organizations, educators, grassroots organizers, and nonprofits as well as:

  • Food & Refreshments!
  • Guest Speakers!
  • Live Performances!
  • Giveaways of wonderful prizes!

Artists, community organizations, and local politicians will participate, offering inspirational performances and important information to attendees about a wide variety of topics – responding to street harassment, HIV/AIDS, self defense, youth leadership, every day activism, ending police violence, reproductive justice, and more.

Girls for Gender Equity’s Sisters in Strength teen interns will also be presenting the findings from their groundbreaking research on sexual harassment in NYC schools. As the first high school lead Participatory Action Research project on the topic, their goals are to raise awareness about students’ experiences of harassment and make recommendations for change. Girls for Gender Equity is forming a coalition to address this crucial issue, and extends an invitation to organizations interested in participating in this effort.

To find out more, visit

Catcalling Apologizers

July 13, 2008

A few years ago I was riding my bike by a Wendy’s and a construction crew started “Oooo Baby”ing me. It was certainly not the first time I had been harassed, nor the most serious, but I was fed up. I turned my bike around and went back. I looked up at the men on the roof and said, “I would have more respect for you if you were ever alone when you catcalled, but no, you have to have six or seven buddies around to have the balls to open your mouth. It makes me sick!” As I was turning around I heard, “Sorry Ma’am.” and “We’re sorry.”