Hey, Shorty!: Book giveaway, event, review

April 13, 2011

Guess, what? There’s a fantastic new (and very affordable) book you can check out that addresses street harassment, Hey, Shorty!: A Guide to Combating Sexual Harassment and Violence in Schools and on the Streets.

I’m excited because in my book about street harassment, I note the need for more books on the topic and here is one! And I’m also excited because the book comes from one of the groups I featured in my book, the New York City-based organization Girls for Gender Equity (GGE).

Hey, Shorty! is an essential, much-needed resource for students, teachers, parents, and any community member who wants teens to be safe at school and on the streets. Because the book is so important, I’m giving away a free copy of Hey, Shorty! in a random drawing. To have your name included in the drawing, put your name in the comments of this post or e-mail stopstreetharassment AT yahoo DOT com by April 19.

[4/15 UPDATE: I’m giving away TWO free copies of the book and also a free copy of the Hey…Shorty documentary. The additions are courtesy of one of my AAUW coworkers who got them for me without knowing I already own both :)]

If you live in New York City, you can go to Bluestockings Bookstore tonight, April 13, at 7 p.m. for the book launch event. Authors Joanne N. Smith, Mandy Van Deven, and Meghan Huppuch will talk about the book and the work of GGE (Smith is the founder of GGE and Deven and Huppuch work or worked for GGE). Several GGE youth organizers including Nefertiti Martin, Ariel Natasha, Veronica Tirado, Cyndi Yahya will read passages from the book. Books will be available for sale and signing.

Hey, Shorty! provides readers with two types of resource. First, in the main portion of the book, Smith, Van Deven, and Huppuch take readers through the 10 year history and work of GGE and their efforts to create an organization that empowers teenage girls to address issues that impact them and also to have schools address the widespread issue of sexual harassment (which, by the way, they are required to do by law under Title IX of the Educational Amendment of 1972).

The authors share personal experiences, thoughts, struggles and successes with designing programming, working with teenagers, learning from teenagers, and creating outcomes. The chapters are interesting and provide a model for action through the example of their work, in particular the model of prioritizing youth leadership on issues that relate to youth because, as Smith notes, they are the experts on these issues and they are the main stakeholders.

Two of the teen-led projects shared in the book that I have first-hand experience with are the Sisters in Strength Street Harassment Summit and Hey…Shorty documentary (available for purchase for $20 from the GGE website). I attended the Summit in 2007 as part of my master’s thesis research and I own the documentary. Both the summit and documentary were phenomenal and I was very impressed by the vision, articulation and hard work of teenage girls around the issues of street harassment.

Second, in the appendix, there are guides for students, school staff, and parents about how to prevent and also deal with sexual harassment. There is information about how to respond to harassers as the person being harassed or as a bystander and how to report harassers. Additional materials readers can use are a sexual harassment quiz and survey questions GGE used in their survey about sexual harassment in schools. These guides are easy to read and understand and are very important resources for anyone who cares about this issue. Soon you can add workshop curriculum to your list of resources, which GGE is developing with the help of 67 middle and high school students.

Lately I’ve been giving a lot of talks about street harassment, particularly to members of the nonprofit organization I work for, the American Association of University Women. Many of the people in attendance are current or retired teachers and are eager for information and resources they can use and they are very happy to hear about Hey, Shorty!

I hope you will read Hey, Shorty! and if you are a teenager, a parent of one, or work with teens, I hope you will consider using some of the materials in your own lives and work. GGE will celebrate 10 years this September. I look forward to seeing what they will achieve in the next 10 years!


10 Ideas for Sexual Assault Awareness & Prevention Month 2011

April 1, 2011

Do you care about ending sexual assault and helping survivors? I know many of you do because my 2010 post listing 10 ideas for action has been well viewed! Well, I care, too and fortunately for us there are tons of resources, activities, and initiatives this month (and most are applicable beyond the month) that make it really easy for us to do something.

Before I give you 10 of those resources and initiatives (most of them are new for 2011), here is a powerful excerpt from President Obama’s proclamation for Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month 2011:

“Despite reforms to our legal system, sexual violence remains pervasive and largely misunderstood.  Nearly one in six American women will experience an attempted or completed rape at some point in her life, and for some groups, rates of sexual violence are even higher.  Almost one in three American Indian and Alaska Native women will be sexually assaulted.  Young women ages 16 to 24 are at greatest risk, and an alarming number of young women are sexually assaulted while in college.  Too many men and boys are also affected.  With each new victim and each person still suffering from an attack, we are called with renewed purpose to respond to and rid our Nation of all forms of sexual violence…

Each victim of sexual assault represents a sister or a daughter, a nephew or a friend.  We must break the silence so no victim anguishes without resources or aid in their time of greatest need.”

So what can we do about it?

1. Believe/help survivors. I loved a tweet earlier this week from Students Active for Ending Rape (SAFER). At minimum, they noted, believe survivors when they tell you. I’ll add, visit the website of the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network to find information to help you help the survivor. And to find information to help yourself.

2. Find help. If you are a survivor who isn’t sure where to turn to or how to get help, I highly recommend visiting the RAINN website. I volunteered with them for 2.5 years and applaud their work. You can find information about a phone or online hotline and information about recovery.

  • Are you in the military? RAINN has a new helpline called Safe Helpline specifically for survivors in the military.
  • Are you male? Visit the website 1 in 6 for resources specifically for you.

3. Play BINGO.  The Washington Coalition of Sexual Assault Programs developed a new thought and conversation provoking game of Bingo! They filled each square with ways in which participants can be part of the solution to end sexual violence.

4. Use the arts. Take part or organize arts-based initiatives to raise awareness about sexual assault. Four examples of initiatives include:

  • The Clothesline Project, an initiative to bear witness to violence against women. Women affected by violence decorate a shirt and hang the shirt on a clothesline to be viewed by others as testimony to the problem of men’s violence against women.
  • V-Day event offers several performance and film screening options for groups to implement in their community in February, March, and April. The purpose of these events is to raise awareness about violence against women and girls as well as raise money for local beneficiaries that are working to end violence. There is no theater or producing experience necessary. Visit the V-Day website to learn how to organize a V-Day event.
  • Story of a Rape Survivor (SOARS) is an award winning multimedia performance you can bring to your community that entertains as well as educates the audience about sexual assault prevention. Featuring the music of Nina Simone,Maxwell, and Sade, SOARS tells one woman’s story about how she reclaimed her body, sexuality, and self-esteem after being sexually assaulted in college. SOARS is a cutting-edge theatrical experience that stars a diverse cast of women, combining photographs, dance, spoken-word poetry and music as a way to educate about healing from sexual violence.
  • By wearing a white ribbon, White Ribbon Campaign members make a personal pledge to “never commit, condone or remain silent about violence against women and girls.” You can order materials to help challenge the community to speak out on the issue, learn about sexual violence, and raise public awareness.

5. Wear jeansMake a social statement by wearing jeans on a designated day in April (this year it is April 27) through Denim Day in LA & USA as a visible means of protest against misconceptions that surround sexual assault. Order their Denim Day Action Kit and raise awareness at your workplace, neighborhood, or community. Encourage each person who participates to donate one dollar to Denim Day to fund prevention programming. (I just ordered my kit.)

6. Make a pledge. This month, Students Active for Ending Rape encourages college students, alumni, parents, faculty, and administrators to transform their awareness into activism by pledging concrete action toward ending college sexual assault.

7. Tweet or Write Facebook Posts. The National Sexual Violence Resource Center provides a variety of resources each year for Sexual Assault Awareness & Prevention Month, including free reports and manuals and campaign materials. This year, they’ve created social networkers with 30 suggested tweets/posts to publish, one per day in April. (I just tweeted the suggestion for April 1.)

8. March. Organize or participate in a Take Back the Night March in your community or on campus and make a statement that women have the right to be in public and to go about their lives without the risk of sexual violence. Order a kit with resources for the event.

9. Support consent. One fun way to work to prevent sexual assault is to talk about and emphasize consent in all sexual activities. Here are two amazing initiatives you can bring to your campus or community to do that:

  • The Consensual Project is an interactive, sex-positive, fun workshop during which participants can learn why consensual hooking up is hotter hooking up. College students are an ideal audience for this workshop.
  • The Line is a film that explores the intersection of sexual identity, power, and violence. How do we negotiate our boundaries as sexually liberated women? How much are we desensitized to sexual violence? Through conversations with football players, educators, survivors of violence, prostitutes, and attorneys, this personal film explores the “grey area” and the elusive line of consent. This April, 16 participating Hollaback! chapters will show The Line and host community events, screenings and parties in cities around the globe.

10. Do something about campus sexual assault. The rates of campus sexual assault are quite high, yet very rarely are there adequate prevention programs or proper channels for handling perpetrators. AAUW and SAFER created a Program in a Box toolkit with ideas for concrete action that can lead to concrete change, tailored for audiences of students, faculty, alumni, and parents of students. Download the free toolkit and find out what you can do to make campuses safer for all.


Happy 30th anniversary, street harassment

March 31, 2011

Sometimes it can feel like street harassment activism is new, that the problem is new. But it’s not. Email, online articles, blogging, tweeting, and texting help us hear about it, talk about it, share our stories and help amplify our voices, but it’s something activists have addressed for decades.

For example, as early as 1909, many individuals, including those at the Women’s Municipal League, proposed women-only cars during rush hour on the New York City subway. They thought sex segregation would “assure that women were not forced to cope with ‘the fearful crushes,’ and with sexual insults, and that they would not have to safeguard themselves from men’s sexual aggression.”

The women-only subway cars did not come to pass but a few years later, once there female police officers, one of their duties was to look out for sexual harassers on the subway and streets. And of course today, there are anti-sexual harassment PSAs on the NYC subway thanks to pressure from groups like New Yorkers for Safe Transit.

I first saw the term street harassment in 2006 on the sites of The Street Harassment Project and HollaBack NYC. It’s especially surprising I’d never heard or read the term before since one of my majors as an undergraduate was women’s studies and my master’s program was in public policy and women’s studies. I was well versed in gender violence issues like rape, sexual assault, domestic violence, and sexual harassment in the workplace, but I hadn’t heard the term before or even a discussions about it even though now I know street harassment happens at a more frequent rate for women and girls than sexual harassment in the workplace or schools.

Was that because it’s a new term?

No.

During my research for my thesis and then my book on street harassment, I was surprised to learn that the term had been around since at least 1981. Anthropologist Micaela di Leonardo wrote the article “Political Economy of Street Harassment” for Aegis Magazine on Ending Violence Against Women that year. When I asked her about the origin of the term, she said it came out of the rape crisis movement in the late 1970s and that, to her knowledge, (and to mine, after years of research) she was the first one to use it in a printed publication.

When I read her article, I was upset and a bit disheartened: thirty years later, her article is 100 percent relevant. Someone who didn’t know when it was published and read it may think it was a current article.

Pockets of activists have been working on this issue for decades, but street harassment still occurs, it’s largely socially acceptable, it’s not widely discussed, and its occurrence is frequently blamed on women when it is discussed.

On the other hand, had there not been activists working to address street harassment for decades, I shudder to think how much worse the problem would be today. Thanks to them, at least there is a name for the problem, there are articles and books and documentaries and a growing number of activists and people speaking out. Our work today builds on the work of women and men from decades ago. As frustrating as it is to realize we are fighting the same battles, thank goodness they started the battles instead of just letting it go.

On this, the last day of Women’s History Month, on the 30th anniversary of the first publication of the term street harassment, I encourage you all to read “Political Economy of Street Harassment” (it’s only six pages).

Let the article remind you how long women have been speaking out on this issue. And let it inspire you to speak out and to do MORE. To use technology to your advantage. To use your voice to your advantage. To keep working to change the social acceptability of street harassment and taking action in our communities to end it.

As I continue to battle on, I hope that street harassment will become so socially unacceptable that by 2041, no one reads articles and blogs from 2011 and thinks, wow, how relevant, this could have been written today. Let’s work together to get there.


SAFER’s Sexual Assault ACTIVISM Month Initiative

March 30, 2011

For 10 years, advocates across the country have spoken out against rape during Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM). Today, Stop Street Harassment’s ally Students Active for Ending Rape (SAFER) is challenging campus communities to recognize this SAAM as Sexual Assault ACTIVISM Month and pledge to change how their campus prevents and responds to sexual violence.

From SAFER:

“During Sexual Assault Activism Month 2011, SAFER encourages students, alumni, parents, faculty, and administrators to transform their awareness into activism by pledging concrete action toward ending college sexual assault.

Participants will commit to at least one of the actions listed on our pledge page, which include: joining a national movement to hold schools accountable by participating in V-DAY and SAFER’s Campus Accountability Project; building that movement by submitting definitions of accountability via video or visual media to SAFER’s Tumblr; starting or strengthening a campus sexual assault policy reform campaign; telling SAFER about the movements that they were or currently are part of; and spreading the word to other student organizers, alums, and allies…

Young people have a right to a safe college campus that is free of sexual violence.  Join SAFER in moving from awareness to action by holding colleges and universities across the country accountable during Sexual Assault Activism Month 2011!

Excellent.

I’ll write a more thorough post for Friday about sexual assault awareness/activism month, but in the meantime, you can check out ideas for what you can do – whether you’re on or off campus – about campus sexual assault through the AAUW-SAFER Program in a Box on the topic that I helped write last year.


Street Harassment Snapshot: February 20, 2011

February 20, 2011

Read stories, news articles, blog posts, and tweets about street harassment from the past week and find relevant announcements and upcoming street harassment events.

Street Harassment Stories:

I accept street harassment submissions from anywhere in the world. Share your story!

You can read new street harassment stories on the Web from the past week at:

Street Harassment in the News, on the Blogs:

Events:

Announcements:

New:

On-going:

10 Tweets from the Week:


“My Name Ain’t ‘Yo'”

February 18, 2011


My Name Ain’t ‘Yo‘” is another site where you can vent about street harassment. From their website:

“Holler FAILS are a part of most women’s daily lives. We walk down the street and find ourselves accosted by men who are in some way, shape or form totally outside of what we would consider entertaining. Perhaps he’s out of line or disrespectful…Vent to us. We are here to listen.”

*Thanks to regular blog reader Golden Silence for the website tip


The Catcaller Form

February 16, 2011

Here’s a handy form you can print and use next time someone harasses you! It comes from The Riot’s Great Big Patriarchy-Smashing Activity Book! by way of The Riot.If you’ve come across other creative ways for dealing with or address street harassment, let me know and I’ll feature it on my blog (and possibly in the PPT for my street harassment talks)