NYC subway anti-harassment PSA to target bystanders

March 25, 2011

Hooray! Here’s good news. So the New York City subway currently has a PSA campaign telling people facing harassment they can report it.

Which is better than no PSA campaign, but it places the onus on the person experiencing harassment to do something. Now, a new PSA campaign will encourage anyone who sees or experiences harassment to report it.

But next, we need a campaign telling harassers to STOP in the first place!!

Via NBC:

“The MTA is changing its train announcement aimed at victims of inappropriate sexual conduct on subways, asking witnesses who see groping to also report the crime…

State Assemblywoman Deborah Glick pushed to have the messages changed after being concerned that the current announcements place the burden of reporting harassment solely on the victim.

“Sexual harassment is treated with a ‘boys will be boys’ shrug but it can be a humiliating, frustrating, and downright scary experience,” Glick told NBC New York in an email. “I thought if the MTA really wants people to ‘See Something, and Say Something’ then there is no reason that sexual harassment should not be included as well.”…

According to Glick, the new message will say, “a crowded subway is no defense to unlawful sexual conduct. If you believe that you have been the victim of a crime, or witness to a crime, notify an MTA Employee or Police Officer.”

Three cheers for Glick’s work on this initiative and also to HollaBack and New Yorkers for Safe Transit for pushing for this change.

Victory: “Sexual harassment is a crime leave me alone or I will report you.”

March 12, 2011

After school yesterday I was walking to get on the Q train and some guy comes up to me and goes, “You got great legs baby!”

Ok im 15 he was like 43. Gross. So I said, “Excuse me, you probably have a daughter older than me.”

He goes, “Sorry you just look so sexy in that schoolgirl outfit I couldn’t help it and you do have great legs.”

So then I said, “Sexual harassment is a crime leave me alone or I will report you…”

He turned and walked the opposite direction in a very rapid fashion!

I count that as a win for me because I hear things like that all the time and I finally stood up for my self and said something. I shouldn’t have to feel dirty because of some asshole!

– Brittney

Location: Church Street, New York City

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.

Laughing at street harassment during Black Swan

January 8, 2011

Image via

I watched Black Swan last night. If you haven’t seen it, in one scene, an old man makes very obscene and sexually explicit and aggressive motions and faces at Natalie Portman’s character while they ride what appears to be an empty subway car at night. She looks alarmed and very uncomfortable. He is enjoying her discomfort. After all, wasn’t that his intent? To humiliate her? To shame her for being female? To bully and exert power over her since she is a young, lone woman on the subway at night?

Alright, nothing new there. Street harassment happens all the time, including on the subway. I would have cheered if she’d yelled at him, reported him, or shamed him in some way, but she didn’t and I so just felt for her. Her reaction is very typical (I know it’s one I’ve had many times) and not blameworthy. She was just riding the subway. She shouldn’t have to make it her vendetta to shame all harassers she encounters if she doesn’t want to.

What shocked me wasn’t the scene, but the number of people in the audience who laughed very loudly during the scene, like it was a funny joke.

Why is a woman’s obvious discomfort and humiliation funny?

(Side note, similarly, why are prison rape jokes still considered funny? They aren’t. It’s RAPE. I’m disappointed every time I see that “joke” in movies and tv shows, like when I recently re-watched Arrested Development).

It really upset me to hear the laughter. I know street harassment is often portrayed as a joke (when it’s addressed at all), especially when it’s an “ugly” or “poor” man harassing a “beautiful” or “wealthy” woman (or in this case, an old man harassing a young one), but I haven’t had to actually witness people treating the issue in such a blatant hahaha way. I didn’t like it.

And I know there are times when street harassment can be funny – like some of the ridiculous things harassers say and the contexts when they say it or when a woman is able to stand up to them in a clever and empowering way – but usually it is not. It’s a pretty serious issue that prevents women from having the same access to public spaces as men and that often makes them feel less comfortable in public spaces. It’s just rarely treated that way in the media.

If you’ve seen the movie, what did you think? Did you laugh? Did others in the theater laugh? Is there some humor there that I’m just not seeing?

“I want to throw that bitch on the ground right here and fuck her up”

October 11, 2010

Trigger Warning!

I was riding the Red Line in Chicago when two drunk men got on. You could tell they were both drunk and high. One had an alcoholic drink in his hand, and they both had joints behind an ear.

They started swearing and talking about the woman on the train. The said some really vulgar things. They pointed to me and talked said, “I want to throw that bitch on the ground right here and fuck her up. Teach her her place. I’ll nail her right here. Look at her sitting there like she is better than us. I’ll fuck her up.”

They said the things along the same line about several females on the train. Several times when females would exit the train (the men where standing by the doors) they would grab they woman’s but or breasts. I did notice they were armed. It really shook me up.

– Anonymous

Location: Chicago, IL. CTA Red Line

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.

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