Inappropriate remark and grab on a bus

April 30, 2011

I was on the bus with my boys and we were discussing weight lifting techniques and toning muscles. I was showing off my progress letting them check the tome in my arms by punching them. Some lady gets out of her seat and tells me that it sounds hard then helps herself to a feel. She tells me that it feels hard as she exits the bus. I was too shocked to react. Not sure what I would have done anyway. We kind of ignored it and changed topics.

– Anonymous

Location: The bus

Share your street harassment story today and help raise awareness about the problem. Find suggestions for what YOU can do about this human rights issue.

“Love, drop your jeans”

April 30, 2011

I was walking home on a Sunday evening, it wasn’t that late maybe half past ten at the latest. I was dressed quite casually, I had jeans on, a top and a cardigan buttoned up all the way. This skinhead guy who was a passenger in a taxi I think shouted the most disgusting thing at me, he said something along the lines of “Love, drop your jeans so I can see your pussy.”

I was so taken aback by what that lowlife said that I didn’t respond. It was the most vile comment I’ve ever had directed at me. A couple walked by just after this and I think the girl made it clear what she thought of this, the lowlife responded by shouting at her.

– Anonymous

Location: Kingsway, Cardiff

Share your street harassment story today and help raise awareness about the problem. Find suggestions for what YOU can do about this human rights issue.

“When women are harassed … they’re denied an equal place in that society.”

April 29, 2011

“When women are harassed … they’re denied an equal place in that society. Public spaces don’t belong to them. Men control it. It reaffirms the oppressive role of men in the society.”

This powerful quote is by CBS News correspondent Lara Logan from her interview for The New York Times yesterday.

On Feb. 11, Logan, who was in Cairo covering the fall of Hosni Mubarak’s government, was sexually assaulted by a mob of at least 200 men across a 25 minute period.

Logan’s attack was not made public for several days and even then, we learned very little about what happened to her. Still, her story immediately focused international attention on the rampant problem of sexual harassment and assault in Egypt and to the dangers many female journalists face while on the job.

Logan will talk at length about what happened to her on Feb. 11, during a “60 Minutes” segment on Sunday. I plan to watch it. Already from reading the New York Times interview I have a better understanding of what she faced. Please note the rest of this post may be triggering.

Via The New York Times:

“There was a moment that everything went wrong,” she recalled.

As the cameraman, Richard Butler, was swapping out a battery, Egyptian colleagues who were accompanying the camera crew heard men nearby talking about wanting to take Ms. Logan’s pants off. She said: “Our local people with us said, ‘We’ve gotta get out of here.’ That was literally the moment the mob set on me.”

Mr. Butler, Ms. Logan’s producer, Max McClellan, and two locally hired drivers were “helpless,” Mr. Jeff Fager [the chairperson of CBS News] said, “because the mob was just so powerful.”…They estimated that they were separated from her for about 25 minutes.

“My clothes were torn to pieces,” Ms. Logan said.

She declined to go into more detail about the assault but said: “What really struck me was how merciless they were. They really enjoyed my pain and suffering. It incited them to more violence.”

After being rescued by a group of civilians and Egyptian soldiers, she was swiftly flown back to the United States. “She was quite traumatized, as you can imagine, for a period of time,” Mr. Fager said. Ms. Logan said she decided almost immediately that she would speak out about sexual violence both on behalf of other journalists and on behalf of “millions of voiceless women who are subjected to attacks like this and worse.”

What an utterly horrific experience and what bravery she has shown in the aftermath as she struggles to heal and recover.

Understandably, Logan said she will not give any more interviews on the topic after the “60 Minutes” segment because she doesn’t want the traumatic crime to define her.

Something Logan said near the end of the New York Times interview struck me. She noted she did not know about the levels of harassment and abuse that women in Egypt and other countries regularly experience. That surprises me given how much media attention street harassment in Egypt has received for at least three years since the release of the Egyptian Centre for Women’s Rights report stating 83% of Egyptian women and 98% of foreign women experience street harassment.

How was that stark information not part of the background research or briefing she received or conducted before going on this assignment? How can all reporters accurately report on issues without that kind of culture context and how else can female reporters prepare themselves for how they may be treated by the men they encounter?

I’m regularly reminded by something someone will say or something I read – such as this article – just how much education and awareness about street harassment is necessary.

Really, for so many people, we have to get basic with this issue and focus on awareness and education before we will be successful at prevention methods. If no one knows or believes there is a problem, no one will be willing to do anything about it and nothing will change.

So let’s keep speaking out and informing our circle of friends and family members and our communities that public places are not safe and welcoming for women, but that they should be.

“I exist beyond being an object to be gazed upon”

April 29, 2011

On Saturday I suffered street harassment for the third time in two months.

The first time I was walking in the street one afternoon, minding my own business. A stranger cycled past me, leaned over and shouted, “Ugly!” I shouted back, “W@nker!” but I felt humiliated, and intruded upon. I was enraged – it is not my duty to decorate the street for the benefit of passing men, I exist beyond being an object to be gazed upon. That man knew nothing of me, but still felt perfectly entitled to pass loud judgement upon my attractiveness, and worth.

The latest incident happened again as I was walking home, this time after dark. I passed a couple, male and female, they heckled me, pointed and laughed and started singing, “Who let the dogs out?”

This is the second time this month that song has been sung at me in public. I feel totally humiliated. I cancelled plans to go out with friends this weekend because I don’t want to put myself in public situations where I will be looked at and judged. I feel my confidence is totally ravaged.

After thirty years of being called ugly, or “plain,” even by my own father, this doesn’t get any easier.

– CE

Location: North East England

Share your street harassment story today and help raise awareness about the problem. Find suggestions for what YOU can do about this human rights issue.

“I loudly informed him that I do not go to the supermarket to be harassed”

April 28, 2011

Hello. I’ve experienced street harrassment alot. I’ve been grabbed in a bar, grabbed in the street and followed to my door step. I get stared at and approached by men almost on a daily basis, and it’s no exaggeration. You would think that somewhere as lovely as Oxford that you would escape it. It’s not true. It’s happened to me more in three years living here than my whole life in South East London.

The worst time was in November. I just fractured my wrist a few days before and I had just sung in a concert and was feeling really proud of myself for doing the solo with a cast on! I decided to walk home at about 11 pm, just down the road.

A man walked towards me, so fast. He was short, and wearing a hat. He walked into me and grabbed me invbetween my legs. I automatically pushed him away but that was all I could remember. He carried on walking as if nothing had happened. I stood and watched him walk away. I was frozen, violated, my pride knocked out of me.

I ran home and called my boyfriend. My mother asked me why I didn’t hit him. I was afraid he might have been carrying a knife. I didn’t report it to the police. I don’t know why. I was just frozen and I didn’t want to be touched by anyone.

I tried to get in touch with my local MP after experiencing daily harrassment, shouting, being approached, and worst of all being followed. He never got in touch with me. The police said that all I can do is call them when I feel threatened. I feel like they wont take it seriously.

I was in Tesco the other day and this disgusting slimey man came up to me and winked and me and tried to talk to me – i had been running. I embarrased the hell out of him- I loudly informed him that I do not go to the supermarket to be harassed by disgusting men. A women behind me whispered ‘what a douche’, but no one did anything to see if I was okay. They never do.

I fear that if I carry pepper spray I will be the one arrested. I spoke to my local community police who said they would call me about this and send me information about protecting myself, but nothing has arrived.

I’m furious for every person that this happens to. I’m furious with the disgusting scum of the earth who think it’s okay. I’m furious that I’m scared of going out and it’s normal for me to be harassed. and I’m scared because part of me has accepted that something much worse will happen eventually.

I’m also sick of being accused of being a feminist or a sexist for being passionate about this ending. The reality is that mens attitudes towards women needs to change. When I spoke to the police officer the first thing he actually said ‘theres a big problem round here with different ethnic groups disrespecting women’. I don’t know what to think about a police officer saying this. I am certainly against any discrimination and I think racism is absolutely disgusting. I’m not really sure how relevant it is.

– Anonymous

Location: Cowley Road, Oxford, United Kingdom

Share your street harassment story today and help raise awareness about the problem. Find suggestions for what YOU can do about this human rights issue.

Do some parents promote street harassment attitudes?

April 27, 2011

This is not actually a personal story about street harassment. It’s a theory of where people learn the attitudes.

Some things I’ve noticed about street harassment are that the men don’t care that the women want to be left alone, and that the men get angry and believe that a woman who rejects his advances is a stuck-up bitch.

This brings to mind some things my parents told me. They were overly optimistic and assumed that I was a perfect goody-goody nice guy. Whenever I asked where the best place to meet women is, they just said “anywhere”. Whenever I told them that a woman didn’t like me, they automatically assumed that she was stuck up, and that there’s nothing I could have possibly done wrong.

I’m sure I’m not the only man who heard that from his parents. I bet even rapists have heard that. Men are taught to believe that if a woman doesn’t respond to his advances, she is a stuck-up bitch, and they learn this from their parents!

My parents were also very anti-sex. My mom once told me that I shouldn’t do anything with a woman that I can’t do with my sister (yes, she actually said that, nearly word-for-word). So whenever I wanted to know how to flirt, I had to trust my peers and the media. I didn’t learn about women’s rights until almost half way through college. Once I learned about women’s rights, I stopped hanging out with the jerks who promoted sexism.

I also remember my parents constantly telling me to smile, even if I didn’t want to. I purposely frowned to rebel against them. Perhaps this attitude is learned from parents too.

I wonder if parents are the biggest promoters of street harassment attitudes.

– Concealed Weapon

Share your street harassment story today and help raise awareness about the problem. Find suggestions for what YOU can do about this human rights issue.

“Head high, chin up, walk as if you own the damn street”

April 27, 2011

I have been a spectator to street sexual harassment for as long as I can remember. In my teens I was urged by male friends to ‘check out’ every girl, call it peer pressure but somewhere something felt very wrong.

The girls being gawked at from top to bottom obviously didn’t enjoy the unwanted attention. I could sense that, being a timidly shy person. I always said a “no” and walked straight ahead only to be told I was only being ‘stylish’ and that it was my unique way of wooing them, which I found most absurd.

As I read news of éve teasing’ my anger grew stronger. I guess I’ve always hated bullies who try to intimidate people.

An incident that comes to mind was in college. My girlfriend was groped at 5.30 in the morning while on her way to a temple. Rather than empathising I forbid her from travelling alone. I guess my mind was trained to believe I was protecting her but deep down I was only boosting a typical insecure Indian male chauvinist.

Well that was 10 years ago, but still I witness groups of men staring and chuckling at the sight of any girl they deem fit to be part of their sick world. Honking, singing distasteful songs, sexual innuendos, gestures, calling names, and rating. Eve teasing, as we like to call it in this part of the world, is a crime most rampant, yet most ignored by the witnesses and the victim. From pan spitting autowallahs trying to get a sneak peak from their rear view mirror to 50 year olds gawking shamlessly at school girls, it’s out there.

I think sexist movies/vulgar items have only added to the confusion, repeatedly portraying women as a lesser being only there to please and entertain while our ‘hero’ fights to protect human civilization. Some of our Bollywood airheads take pride in being labelled as the #1 item girl (item means commodity) The portrayal of white women wearing the skimpiest of clothing whilst they push n pull the ‘hero’ who is too cool and takes liberties to feel em up is what you see in every film and a sure shot way of pulling in the audiences. How dense are we?

Daughters accompanied by parents, mothers carrying young infants, young girls walking in the company of males, no one is spared.  The most annoying sight for me personally is young men holding hands (never can tell if they’re lovers or frightened) checking out every woman as if it were ET doing squats.

It’s not just the uneducated laborers at construction sites, but it’s men from affluent backgrounds indulging in the same; maybe in a what they believe sophisticated manner but its still harassment. A friend nudges me once to check out a girl in a skirt. And he goes, “You see her? I bet she’d sleep with anyone!”

As a man nothing pisses me off more than the sight of men shamelessly staring at my partner/friends. Such behavior is at its peak during festivals when heavy vehicles laden with erotically charged puberty stricken boys from slums go to great lengths to jeopardize their lives and that of others. Indian festivals like Janmashtami, Holi or Ganesh Visarjan have drawbacks especially if you’re a woman. Every corner one finds skinny uncouth frustrated ‘govindas’ waiting to pounce on you. Lude gestures, sexual innuendos all in broad daylight and no action is ever taken against these desperate for attention morons. Cops go soft on them in the spirit of revelry.

Tips for Boys

(1) Insecure boys bully and intimidate with the belief they’re superior to women. Its simply a way to assert fake masculinity. Any dignified man with even a little self respect will treat ALL women with respect irrespective of what she wears, personal choices, where she’s from or how she looks.

(2) You look like complete douche bags when you stare, comment, rate etc

(3) Irrespective to what your ‘friends’ think always question your own double standards and attitudes. Avoid laughing at sexist jokes simply to humor them reminding yourself you might offend someone. Do not repeat what your fathers did. Believe me there is no place in the Men’s community for perverts.Your attitude towards strangers reflects your upbringing at home. Besides you wouldn’t want your mother or your sister to go through the exact same thing.

(4) Speak up when you witness/experience bullying. Neutrality helps the oppressor not the victim.

(5) Do away with cliches such as ‘boys will be boys’ You have no bloody right to interrupt another’s personal space just coz you can’t keep it in your pants.

(6) Being stared at by scary strange men can be quite an experience. No woman likes being ‘appreciated’ by random morons.

A little about my group Shoot At Sight

It’s simple. Click pictures of perpetrators of street sexual harassment and upload it on the group. Ive been doing this and the feeling is awesome.

Imagine as a woman, life constantly being interrupted by stares, chuckling and sexual innuendos? You’re constantly being made to feel sorry for stepping outside your door, to feel sorry you’re a woman, made to feel its happening coz your always asking for it.

The bullying MUST stop! By clicking pics I personally believe your taking the power away from the gaze and bringing shame to the whole act. I see so many of them hiding their faces when i whip my phone out, standing motionless in front of them as if to say “lets see how much of a man are you now?”

The more pics we have the more the group grows. The more it grows, the more people would want to join and discuss street sexual harassment as a crime rather than pretending it doesn’t exist.

Head high, chin up, walk as if you own the damn street.

– Mohnish Moorjani

Creator of the group Shoot At Sight

This post is part of the weekly blog series by male allies. We need men involved in the work to end the social acceptability of street harassment and to stop the practice, period. If you’d like to contribute to this weekly series, please contact me.