“Upskirt” photography filed under “life & style”?

February 25, 2009

In the last year or so I’ve read a few articles about men taking photos up women’s skirts or down their shirts in public places, usually without the woman’s knowledge. Last September I wrote about a victory against this crass behavior in NYC when a man there got arrested for taking a photo up a woman’s skirt at a subway station.

Upskirting is gross, a violation of privacy, but not often illegal (laws aren’t keeping pace with technology). A recent article in the Guardian says it’s also a problem in the UK (unsurprising). Go read it if you’re unfamiliar with “upskirting.”

Tonight as I read the article, I particularly was struck by its placement: in the women’s section of “Life & style.” Since when does men taking photos up women’s skirts without their permission or without their knowledge qualify as “stylish” and why should it be something that women have to put up with in their “life”? Other categories under life and style include fashion, food, fitness, crafts, family, and relationships. “Soft” news categories. Why isn’t this considered “hard”  news? Because it’s a “women’s” issue? Guess what, men are the ones doing it so it’s a men’s issue too. Put it in the News section. I bet not many men go to the “women’s” section of the “life & style” section of the news website and they need to read these stories.

Me being upset over this placement may seem silly but it reflects how important the harassment of women in public is to the people in charge of the news – not very. I’ve found articles on other forms of street harassment relegated to these sections too. “Living” and “Style” … Thanks for letting only women know they’re being violated, harassed, and assaulted in the streets (something many already know from personal experience) but also for making sure they realize their problem is only a “soft” news issues of no major concern. So yeah, even though men are perpetrating it, don’t talk to them about it; they must focus on “manly” things instead in the hard news section…

Getting an apology

February 24, 2009

Once walking at night a guy stepped in front of me then when I moved over he did as well. I was freaked out but yelled at him that he was a jerk and asked him how he would feel if I was his sister or girlfriend. He then apologized.

BACK UP! Street harassment video

February 23, 2009

“Sidewalks, street crossings, corridors, and concrete are hostile territory for women and girls who experience verbal and physical assault from men on a daily basis.

This is the official trailer for the feature length documentary that explores how women deal with this daily violence. It will especially look at how women are fighting back and defining their own personal and public spaces.The documentary adds to a bustling dialogue on gender and body politics, as it delves into women’s rights to exist freely in society.

We just edited the first 30-minute version of the documentary and are in continual production. If you have experienced, witnessed, been involved in, and/or taken a stand against street harassment and have a perspective or story to share, PLEASE contact Nijla Mumin at Nijla1@gmail.com. Please also watch out for BACK UP! at a film festival or community forum near you!”

From AOL Video. My thanks to Dienna for the tip

It happens in Nepal, too

February 18, 2009
Image from Universit of Colorado at Boulder's Website

Public transportation seems to be a great place for men to harass women. From India to Mexico to Japan to New York City to London, it is not an uncommon experience. Now I know it’s a problem in Nepal, too, thanks to a recent news article.

“Commuting in congested public transport vehicles is an ordeal in itself. Being subjected to sexual harassment at the same time makes the whole process an unbearable and unavoidable chore for the fairer sex; particularly those of such a young age.

Pushing and shoving is a common sight in buses and microbuses during morning and evening rush hours, and the intensity increases if there is a young lady around. The conversations of surrounding men begin to take on vulgar connotations.

While light-hearted flirting may add some spice to anotherwise unpleasant journey, getting physical crosses the line of decency, taking the fun out of it altogether.’We regularly face harassment while using public transport,’ says Pratima, a twelfth-grader at VS Niketan. ‘We don´t mind some friendly flirting, but they (boys) don´t stop at that and start to talk nonsense.’

‘We dread crowded buses, but we have to board them. We cannot miss our college, can we?’ her classmate Anita adds. ‘The khalasis (helpers/conductors) are always on a lookout for excuse to get their hands on us.’ ….

Lack of legal remedy doesn´t help matters. ‘There is no separate law to handle the issue. One can complain about such harassments under the Public Offense Act, but nothing much can be done as it is very difficult to provide concrete evidence of such offenses,’ says Rita Mainali, assistant professor in Human Rights and Gender Justice at the Kathmandu School of Law…”

The injustices women face just trying to get to and from work and school worldwide is depressing. Today, thinking about it also makes me feel tired and weighed down 😦

Cowardly drive-by harassers

February 17, 2009

I was at a trailer park visiting family and walking back to their site from the restroom along the side of the roadway.  A car drove past with 3 people inside, and the male in the front passenger seat yelled “Cow!” at me as they drove past. All three started laughing, and I’m left walking by myself, not really sure how to react. When I got back to the site, I was in tears because I am sensitive about being overweight, because it was three boys picking on a single girl and the cowards were too chicken shit to actually face me, and because I didn’t get to retaliate and say something back to put them in their place. It makes me angry that they would go out of their way to ruin someone else’s day like that.