New features for 2011

January 4, 2011

Happy New Year! I hope it’s been harassment-free for you. It has been for me so far (but that’s not saying much since up until today I’ve been at my house, sick).

I wanted to let you all know about a few things I’m working on in 2011 (with more info to come on other projects).

Male Allies Blog Series: First, I am really excited to launch a new Male Allies series on my blog next Wednesday. I know this blog largely has women’s voices (as it should) and has a predominantly female following and I also know that street harassment and its social acceptability will not end if we are only talking amongst ourselves. So I’m bringing more male voices front and center and hope they can also help bring in new male readers. I’m excited by the diversity of men who have signed up and also proud that my dad, a fabulous male ally, will kick off the series with a post next week.

I have male allies scheduled for this weekly series through mid-March. Please let me know if you’d be interested in signing up to write an approximately 500 word blog post sometime after that and I can send you the relevant information.

Website Redesign & Logo: I have calls with two different amazing web developers that work with social justice organizations and activists later this week. We will discuss a new logo for Stop Street Harassment and a new website layout for that would be easier to navigate and would incorporate the blog so they will no longer be two separate URLs. I’m self-financing this so I may have to do it in stages or scale back on some of my great ideas for now. One idea I want to pursue later on is to have the site offered in several languages! I won’t post all of my plans for the redesign since I don’t know how feasible all of them are yet, but I do want to see if you all have any suggestions you think really ought to be included? Let me know in the comments. And if I can afford it, I will do it.

Book Talks: I had a month off from book-related traveling in December (much needed) but I’m off again next week to speak in California and the Chicago area on February 1. I have several more speaking engagements lined up for the spring. I hope you can attend any that are near you. If you’re in the position to host events and are interested in having me come speak, please look over my speaking page and get in touch with me.

That’s all for now.

I hope you have had time to check out the amazing successes in the anti-street harassment movement from 2010 and please keep your stories coming. They are making a difference by raising awareness about this problem and providing hope and suggestions for other readers.

Tired of just writing about street harassment

May 10, 2010

Three weeks ago when I was in Oregon, a man harassed me from behind bushes during my run. He scared me and made me feel unsafe as a woman runner, a woman in public, and a woman traveling alone. I blogged about it and then fumed about what else I should have done. Should I have called the police? Yelled at him? Tried to reason with him about the inappropriateness of his behavior? Tee-peed his house? Written up a fake citation and left it in his mailbox?

The truth is, I felt too unsafe to do anything but leave and never go back and I didn’t think the police would care.

So what I did was draw on my strength as a writer and I wrote and submitted an op-ed to the Portland, Oregon, newspaper, the Oregonian. Today they published it.

I’m glad to have my story and the plight of other women runners featured in a prominent newspaper so that hopefully it will raise people’s awareness about  the crap we put up with and how we don’t like it. But I’m also getting tired of just writing about street harassment. (Especially when what I write for online publications only seems to incite ignorance and harassment in the comments section, where men try to justify why they should be allowed to harass women. Aarrgh!!)

So now I’m plotting what my action will be and brainstorming what I can do in addition to writing about street harassment. And I’m glad there are already wonderful anti-street harassment activists (featured in my book) whose projects I can look to for ideas.

Thoughts? What type of action would you like to see happen?

CTA Tattler Calls Out Grinder

June 23, 2009

cta_tattler_headerBravo to the Chicago CTA Tattler blog for highlighting the Rogers Park Young Women’s Action Team’s spoken word event this Saturday and for generally addressing sexual harassment on the Chicago’s public transportation system.

For example, here’s a story from December about a serial genital “grinder.” A woman named Trish had a man grind up behind her on a crowded bus. When she yelled at him, another woman leaned over to say he had done it to her too. Trish called the police to file a report & tells readers:

“Ladies, if he bothers you, call him out, humiliate him before the rest of the bus/train car, and call the police! Note the time, date, run # and bus # and call the CTA too. Reporting is the only way to stop him. This is predatory sexual behavior, and it is NOT your fault, and the only way to protect yourself and your fellow passengers is to get the word out, to us and to the authorities.”

So often these types of articles end up having commenters say things about how women overreact, make things up, and dress provocatively to incite such behavior, so all of the positive, supportive comments were refreshing.  Three or four women even said they thought this was the same man that had grinded on them too and so now they were going to report it too. Two of my favorite comments:

“This person is a serial molester. He forced himself on me on the 147 and I know others who have had the same experience. What you need to do is report the problem to the CTA. The person I spoke with is James Higgins and he can be reached at He was fully aware of this individual and even sent me a photo for me to ID him. He said you can do 2 things if this happens: ask the bus drive to sound the silent alarm and a police car will meet the bus at the next stop, or call 911 and request it yourself. Apparently they don’t yet have enough evidence to convict him, so the more people who report the problem hopefully the sooner he’ll be arrested and convicted.” – Beth

“Of the women here who said it happened to them and they suspect it might be the same guy: Can you get a time consensus on when it happened to each of you? That might help in catching the guy. If he’s on there at a particular time when he does it, it might be easier to catch him. Hell, form a posse if you know when he makes his move, stake out a spot and catch him. You all will be famous heroes!” – Dude

Crazy how one man can harass so many women and still be on the loose. It illustrates really well how women fear overreacting to or being wrong about what’s happening and so they ignore it, but we need to try to get past that and face the small chance we could be wrong and report them!

Also, do buses in other places have silent alarms? Does anyone know?

This Friday: Subway Harassment Discussion on the Radio

June 17, 2009

“Sick of being on the alert or being harassed on the subway where crimes that are often discrimination-based that disproportionately affect women, minorities and LGBT folk happen? Find out how the MTA hides these crime stats and what to do about it from Emily May co-founder of and New Yorkers for Safe Transit, and co-chair of Girls for Gender Equity”

On Friday, June 19, 2009, HollabackNYC co-founder Emily May will be on the NYC radio station WBAI from 1 – 1:40 p.m. EST talking about harassment on the NY public transportation system. The show will be accepting calls – so call in to give her your questions and feedback!

You also can listen to the show live over the Internet.

Chicago’s Superstars Address Harassment on the CTA

June 15, 2009

I’ve long admired the anti-street harassment work of the Rogers Park Young Women’s Action Team (YWAT) in Illinois (for example, a few years ago they held a citywide Day of Activism against Street Harassment). Their current work to address harassment on Chicago’s public transportation makes me admire then even more.

Photo from the Sun Times

Photo from the Sun Times

The YWAT recently surveyed 639 CTA riders, mostly young women, and found that over half of the respondents had been sexually harassed on the CTA and thirteen percent had been sexually assaulted. Of those who had been harassed or assaulted, only 9 percent said they filed a complaint with the police or CTA. Supporting the low reporting rate, there were only two recorded incidents of criminal sexual assault on the whole Chicago transportation system in 2008. Via the Chicago Sun Times:

“Ronnett Lockett, 20, a Northern Illinois University student and another member of the group, said one problem is that women might be frightened and not know how to respond. Ads on trains would help people know what to do, Lockett said.

The group also wants CTA employees and police to be trained in how to deal with harassment. …

CTA spokeswoman Noelle Gaffney said the agency takes these things ‘very seriously.’ But riders who feel threatened have to speak up, she said.

‘Should a customer feel threatened at any time as the result of another individual’s behavior, they should notify the rail operator immediately via the use of the emergency call button,’ Gaffney said.

At L stations, customer assistants or security guards are on duty during service hours, Gaffney said.

And CTA buses and many L stops are equipped with security cameras networked to the CTA’s control center, Gaffney said. Some stations have already been renovated to include brighter lighting, and the agency is in the process of installing more security cameras.”

The YWAT is holding a poetry slam about sexual harassment on the CTA to gather more stories about harassment and open community dialogue about this problem too many women and girls face. The event will be held on June 27.

I’m glad they are continuing to address the problem of harassment and assault in public spaces (like buses and subways) that women in their community face simply for being female.  Their work will make a difference.