16 year-old attacked on subway, fights back

December 28, 2009

Cyan Brown, via NY Daily News

One of the fans of Stop Street Harassment on Facebook brought the following horrific story to my attention, so I’m already breaking my holiday hiatus and quickly posting about it.

The NY Daily News is reporting that as many as eight men surrounded a 16-year old girl outside a restaurant in Queens and harassed her. They say there may have been “unwanted sexual advances” and the men continued them as she went into a subway station. She ran onto a subway car and the men followed her and dragged her off. During the struggle, she fatally stabbed one of the men, then ran back to the subway and got on. The men chased her but did not catch her. The stabbed man had a long list of convictions, including attempted murder, which makes the fact that they were trying to drag her off even scarier.

While the narrative of what happens makes it seem very clear that this was a hurrendous case of street harassment and she was defending herself to prevent who knows what else from happening (how would YOU respond if a group of 7-8 men tried to drag you away somewhere), but the article says a police officer only “suspects” she acted in self defense. So… is there more to the story or are they being overly cautious about naming what happened? Because this sounds exactly like self defense.

Unless they reveal a whole other situation they better not charge her with anything other than self defense. As the Facebook Fan who alerted me to this story said,

“I think it’s important that we contact the DA to ensure that charges are not brought against this woman. She was clearly a victim of street harassment. If she didn’t defend herself god knows what these thugs would have done to her.”

Read more at Holla Back NYC

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Thank you & holiday break

December 24, 2009

I’m turning in my manuscript for my book on street harassment in one week and with the holidays, I figured it was a good time to take a week break from the blog. So, no posts for a week. I also want to give a few thank you shout outs.

Thank you everyone who has submitted their street harassment stories and commented on posts this past year.

Thank you to the hundreds of anonymous people who took my various informal, online surveys and to all the activists who have let me interview them about their work. Collectively, you’ve made this book possible.

I also want to thank my family, partner, and my friends who have provided feedback on the manuscript, especially those who have taken the time and energy to read the whole thing.

Happy Holidays everyone and I’ll be back in full force in Jan. 2010.


Why Hate the Player?

December 23, 2009

I  love this! Young women in Canada have spoofed street harassment by making a PSA about the problem of women who harass men. They’ve got the stereotypical male harasser’s body language and attitude down to a T. For example, a young woman stands on a street corner and says:

“Sometimes we make a game out of it, see how many men we can pick up while standing on a street corner…What?…” Then she turns and shouts at someone outside the screen shot, “Hey! Hey! Hey! Pssst,” and then half under her breath, “Sexy.”

Think they’ve been harassed much? ….

(As usual, sorry wordpress won’t let me embed youtube. Follow the link)


Need a gift idea?

December 22, 2009

Do you need a gift idea or a way to honor someone you care about through a donation to a worthy cause? Consider donating to RightRides!

RightRides is an amazing organization in NYC helping women and LGBQT folks get home safely late at night on the weekends, and through New Yorkers for Safet Transit, they are working to make public transportation free from harassment and assault.

The following is from a RightRides email and details how YOU can make a difference in NYC and in your own city in 2010 to make all public places safer through making a donation to their organization. Consider making one today to honor the people you care about. I did.

JOIN OUR MOVEMENT FOR SOCIAL CHANGE IN THE NEW YEAR!

RightRides is a simple yet effective way of increasing community safety, and the program is now ready for national expansion! Our exciting plans for 2010 include:

* expanding our RightRides program to Washington D.C.

* expanding our RightRides program to San Francisco

* forming partnerships to help make expansion happen in other high-priority cities, including Boston and Philadelphia

* increasing service for RightRides New York, particularly on Friday nights

* working to make New York City’s mass transit safer as a founding member of the coalition New Yorkers for Safe Transit

* leveraging mobile technology to end sexual harassment with an innovative collaboration with HollabackNYC

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PLEASE SUPPORT OUR WORK!
You can give the gift of safety this season—make a donation in the name of a loved one!

Your generous contributions will be used for program costs such as the dispatch system, insurance policies, outreach materials, and driving team supplies. In addition to making a general donation, you can also direct your funds to one of our exciting new projects for 2010!

Help RightRides Expand to D.C.!
Click Here to learn more about the team working to foster RightRides DC and how you can support our work.

Help RightRides Expand to San Francisco!
Click Here to learn more about the team working to foster RightRides SF and how you can support our work.

Help New Yorkers for Safe Transit Protect Our Subways!
Click Here to learn more about New Yorkers for Safe Transit and how you can support our work.

If you would like to make a donation by check:

Checks should be made payable to RightRides. You may indicate that your donation should be earmarked for RightRides NYC, RightRides SF, RightRides DC, Hollaback! or New Yorkers for Safe Transit. Please mail the check to:

RightRides for Women’s Safety
26 Court Street Ste. 505
Brooklyn, NY 11242

All contributions made to RightRides are fully deductible to the extent allowed by the IRS, as RightRides for Women’s Safety is a registered 501(c)3 charitable organization. EIN #84-1668109.

If you would like to make a contribution via wire transfer, appreciated securities, or gifts of stock, please email us so we can forward you the appropriate transmittal instructions.


“I’m a person. Not a blow-up doll”

December 18, 2009

I live in Los Angeles, California, so I often get harassed when I walk on the street, but I’ll share one that really stuck out to me.

I was crossing a street (at a crosswalk) and a guy was sitting there in his car and asked if I needed a ride someplace, and proceeded to tell me what a “fine ass” I had. I ignored him and kept walking. He started making kissing noises at me and yelled “hey baby!” as I walked away.

It made me feel very angry and disgusted. I know I have a nice body, and I don’t need or want him to tell me that, especially in such a degrading way. It was as if he thought I existed solely to be something for him and other men to look at.

Whether he liked my body or not, he should have kept his opinion to himself. Why do men feel they are allowed to comment on our appearances this way? Why don’t they care that it makes us feel used and dirty? I resented that guy because he had no respect for me as a HUMAN BEING and instead saw me as “pussy.”

I’m a daughter, a sister, a friend. I’m intelligent, loyal, caring, and short-tempered. I am passionate and emotional…I could go on. Basically, I’m a person. Not a blow-up doll.

-Erin Selzano

Location: Los Angeles, CA

Share your street harassment story today and help raise awareness about the problem. Include your location and it will be added to the Street Harassment Map.


$100,000 for stoves in Sudan

December 17, 2009

Women at refugee camps often face sexual assault from militants/rebels/fighters when they leave the camps to gather firewood to cook food and to sell. As a result of this problem, over the last few years groups like Oxfam International have been working on relevant initiatives, such as having guards accompany women and providing cooking stoves to refugees so they do not need to gather firewood. While of course ideally the goal is for all public spaces to be free from harassment and assault, in the meantime I am glad to know that this problem specific to women (given the division of labor) is being acknowledged and addressed.

This past weekend, Calling All Crows, a service organization that mobilizes musicians and fans to promote human rights, finished a year-long effort to raise $100,000 specifically to fund stoves for people at refugee camps. They donated it to Oxfam, and Oxfam will use it to provide 5,000 fuel-efficient stoves to Sudanese women. This is part of their overall goals to end violence against women.

With all the bad stories out there, it’s nice to read one that is positive and inspiring. Way to go Calling All Crows!

Calling All Crows, from their website


Thank you, male allies & survey results

December 17, 2009

Two weeks ago I asked male allies to anonymously let me know their thoughts on how best to educate men about street harassment, engage them in activism, and empower them to do something if they see harassment occurring. This was for a book I am writing on street harassment. The last four chapters of my book focus on multi-layered efforts to end it. Educating men and empowering bystanders are just two of many tactics, but they are very important ones.

Thank you to the 85 allies who took it (and to everyone who passed along the survey to male allies). I already have incorporated several people’s quotes in the sections on bystanders and educating men and the multiple choice responses were useful in helping me decide what to include as realistic initiatives.

I think the survey responses will be useful to others working on this issue, so here they are.