I am sick and tired of feeling unsafe on public transport.
Yesterday, I gave my second statement to the police regarding a male masturbating aggressively at me on a bus. Both times there were other people on the bus.
I am a sixteen year old girl who lives in Sydney, Australia, and I am sick of being commoditised, objectified and violated by men and boys. I should not have to deal with being waved onto the bus free of charge, “love”, in return for being belittled and gawked at. I should not have to receive the harassment of strangers until I feel uncomfortable and unsafe. I should not have had to notice a palpable change in the way strangers react to my short, masculine haircut. I should not pose a threat to men and a flattery to women if they think I am a lesbian. I should not have to constantly second-guess every male that passes me on a bus, or a train station, because their presence triggers an irrational fear as a result of being masturbated at twice in the past two months.
I should not need the skills to stand up, yell out and take action when something is wrong because no-one else will,and deal with the trauma of being harassed. I should not be so bitter than I no longer wish to smile at strangers.
But I do, and I have, and I am. I am afraid, so I am defensive. I am angry, so I am cold. I am a woman, and I belong to me.
The above is Lily’s story, but it’s the same kind of story that’s repeated again and again by basically anyone that’s experienced street harassment.
This is not an uncommon experience. This is not okay.
People should be able to walk the streets without fear of harassment, but because this is not case, we should not let people experience these things alone.
If you see something, say something. Support people who have and are facing street harassment. No one should be a bystander.
Everyone knows a guy like this. The one you go on one date with, and he already starts spouting off about true love. The one who texts you constantly even though you never reply back. The one who calls you a bitch for rejecting them, and claims no one likes ‘nice guys’ anymore because they believe a date, a kiss, or giving them your phone number means they’re entitled to more.
What does this have to do with street harassment? The person who continues to try to chat you up even when you’re obviously uninterested is the same as the person who Even if the latter seems nice (after all, you decided to date him!), he is not a nice person.
Don’t tolerate people who won’t understand or respect your boundaries. Don’t feel pressured to give up more of your time or energy to someone because they have a false sense of entitlement. You don’t owe them anything.
(trigger warning: brief discussion of rape and victim-blaming)
Last week, David Mitchell beat and raped a 73 year old women. Nine days earlier, she had seen him masturbating in the bushes, and took a picture of him. Moments before the later assault, he asked her, “do you remember me?”
Since then, the incident has sparked discussion around whether or not she “provoked” the attack by taking his picture (spoiler alert: that’s garbage), and the new trend in reporting street harassment through social media.
To get the first question out of the way: No. There is absolutely nothing you can do that would warrant you somehow “deserving” or “provoking” an act of sexual violence upon yourself. Furthermore, in instances like this, harassers do not need and excuse to be “provoked.” If you respond, they may get violent. If you ignore them, they may get violent. Either way, it is never the victim’s fault. There’ll be more posts on victim-blaming and how harmful it is in the future, but for now, we’ll just leave it at that.
As for the second question, we live in a world where sexual assault and sexual harassment is one of the most under-reported crimes. In a 2003 survey, it was reported that 28% of women have experienced sexual harassment in the workplace; less than a 1/3 placed a formal complaint. In a workplace, there is at least some system in place for you to make a complaint, no matter how flawed said system may be. It’s much harder to report street harassment.
The nature of street harassment is that you cannot always retaliate. Sometimes you don’t feel safe doing so, sometimes they’re gone before you can respond, sometimes you can’t even think of how to respond. That’s okay. The act of sharing photos, videos and stories of these incidents occurring lets people know that they are not alone. It lets people know that street harassment happens, and it is not okay. It lets harassers out there know that we can see them, and we will not tolerate them any longer.
Happy Monday, y’all. Getting up and going out into the world can be a drag, but having an epic theme song like Tomoyasu Hotei’s Battle Without Honor or Humanity often helps. Is it a bit much? Well hey, who said public transport isn’t a battle?
That’s not to say that we advocate taking Gogo Yubari’s approach to addressing creeps, but there’s nothing wrong with a little fantasy, especially when cutting off his hand would teach him not to keep trying to place it on your leg.
We know how much it can suck walking through public places where you’ve been harassed before. Having certain songs playing while you walk always help- it’s like having your own bad ass theme song follow you around.
Hardcore Girls is my personal favourite at the moment- it’s all about reclaiming public places and strutting your stuff regardless of the disrespectful assholes trying to bring down your game. Turn up the volume; drown out the creeps.
What is street harassment?
Simply put, it is sexual harassment in public places. It is often gender-based (though it can be motivated by or with other factors such as race or sexuality), and it creates public environments that are perpetually charged with the potential of disrespect and violence.
Cat Calls: Called Out believes that if we want to stop street harassment, even if just in our own area, we have to change our attitude. No one can be a bystander. In order to do so, this campaign has a few goals:
1.) Awareness. People need to know that street harassment happens, it happens everywhere, and it is a problem.
2.) Generating ideas on how to deal with street harassment when you see it or hear about it happening. There are ways to support people when they face street harassment. It can include giving people space to vent, calling out creeps, and et cetera. The “et cetera” part is where your ideas come in.
This may be a small campaign, but it’s an important one, and with your help, we can at least attempt to tackle some of the issues around street harassment in Sydney and in general.
Before we get started though, some disclaimers:
Cat Calls: Called Out is greatly inspired by the Hollaback! movement, as well as LivetheGreendot. Both of these are fantastic international movements, though neither of them have Sydney-based campaigns (though Hollaback! does have a Melbourne-based campaign). At the moment, Cat Calls: Called Out is not meant to be a Sydney version of either of these movements. Rather, this campaign hopes to work off of ideas from these campaigns, as well as generate new ideas to battle street harassment in Sydney.
For the rest of these posts, when I talk about street harassment, I will refer to people who experience sexual harassment with female pronouns due to the majority of street harassment being directed towards people who identify as women. However, this campaign fully acknowledges that street harassment can occur towards anyone in the gender spectrum.
On that note, any and all comments attempting to derail discussions with “but what about men?! / not all men are like that” and similar sentiments will be deleted. Same goes for any sentiments containing slut-shaming, racial profiling and etc. We’re all about support here, y’all. Hopefully this is an unnecessary disclaimer, but you never know.
Thanks for checking us out (not in that way), and stick around- we’ll have a lot more content coming your way.