Asking for it? As if

June 30, 2010

With funding from the Scottish Government, Rape Crisis Scotland has launched a television advertisement and online campaign called Not Ever, focused on ending the prevalent attitude that rape victims are to blame for their perpetrator’s crime because of what they were wearing.

In the ad, men at a pub look at a woman’s skirt and decide that she is “asking for it.” The ad then shows earlier in the day when the woman in shopping for the skirt and says she is looking for one that will make men want to rape her. Then she turns to the camera and says, “As if.”

From the campaign page:

“No woman asks to be raped – ever. It’s a simple as that. Women should not be held responsible for the behaviour of rapists or expected to base their decisions on dress around the possibility that these might lead to an attack.” …

The prevalence of these ideas and the prejudicial attitudes they underpin seriously damage the chances of women who have been raped of receiving justice. With the conviction rate in Scotland in 2010 having fallen to 3% – its lowest ever, the need to change attitudes which blame women is more urgent than ever.

We need to stop victim-blaming and assign responsibility to those whose decisions do lead to rape – perpetrators and the apologists whose woman-blaming views have assigned rape its current status as a low-risk crime. For as long the notion that women can “ask for it” or invite attack through their dress or behaviour are allowed to persist, rapists will continue to act with impunity, confident in the knowledge that their actions will receive far less scrutiny than those of the women they assault.”

I applaud the Scottish government and Rape Crisis Scotland for tackling this issue. The television ads are running during the World Cup, so they are definitely being seen by men (too often women are the focus of campaigns around gender violence when we men to be targeted, too). The website contains resources for survivors, information on the current rape law, quiz questions, and discussion threads.

A few weeks ago the government of Wales launched a television and online ad campaign called One Step Too Far showing how slippery the slope is between sexist and harassing behavior and sexual assault. Their television ads also are airing during the World Cup.

I applaud both governments for actually taking this issue seriously. Victim blaming in cases of gender violence is pervasive, from Egypt to Australia to India to Brazil to the UK and the US. Imagine if every government invested resources in combating these attitudes, thereby helping to prevent harassment and assault and making it easier for victims to come forward and charge the perpetrators! This is how change happens.


What did he expect?

June 30, 2010

I had my car window down and a man started leaning out the window of the car next to me, making kissing noises and sexual comments. I ignored him and he got mad and then drove off.

– Anonymous

Location: Louisville, KY

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.


Sizist homeless man

June 30, 2010

I passed a homeless man on the street, and he said to me, “That’s all right, I don’t want money from a fat girl like you.”

– anonymous

Location: Boston, MA

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.


Street Bully

June 29, 2010

As I crossed the street in my neighbourhood last winter, someone hollered out their car window, “Maybe if you weren’t so fat, it wouldn’t take you so long to get across the street.”

– anonymous

Location: New York City, Upper West Side

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.


Harasser outside the house

June 28, 2010

I was harassed at the entrance to my house. This is the second time in three days.

– anonymous

Location: Tel Aviv, Israel

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.


The pleasantness of no street harassment!

June 26, 2010

Since moving from Edmonton to Vancouver, I am astounded by how polite strangers are here. I have been here almost a year and have only experienced street harassment twice, both very mild incidents. Often, I will be walking down the street and I’ll see a group of young men approach. I will feel wary, because I’m used to harassment from groups of young men. As they pass me on the street, one of them will say ‘hi’ and then they keep walking.

Before I moved here, I had become desensitized to street harassment. I had given up on telling people about my weekly, often daily, experiences with harassment, because they’d always make it sound like my fault. “What were you wearing?” “What did you expect to happen?” “You’re so flirtatious, of course they felt they could say that to you.” “Why were you walking alone after dark?”

When I moved here, I experienced for the first time since puberty, how nice it is to walk around alone in public with nobody bothering me. That was when I started to feel really angry about street harassment. Every woman deserves to be respected in public and we should never settle for anything less.

– Margaret

Location: Vancouver, BC, Canada

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.


“You looked so pretty reading”

June 25, 2010

A block from home, I’m alone on a corner, reading a book, waiting for the light to change and some douche tries to strike up a conversation with me. He asks me what I’m doing. It’s an awkward question, and he’s obviously leering at me and trying to get my attention. I answer as shortly and politely as possible and go back to reading. Nothing in my speech or body language says “Talk to me!” but none the less he continues to try.

“I was just asking cause you looked so pretty reading.”

Did I ask for your opinion? Does my business casual outfit make me look like a hooker or something? Seriously dude, WTF?

All I could think to say was “Sorry” as I turned towards home, but in retrospect I wish I’d told him to fuck off.

Feeling flustered, uncomfortable, and slightly violated, I finally got home, locked all the doors, and made sure my roommates were home. I felt gross for the rest of the day. I just wanted to finish my goddamn book, ass hole.

– anonymous

Location: Redmond, WA

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.