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As we approach the first of July, just days into summer, BC finds itself in the midst of a heat wave.
Direct Response – ” Hey – you are being inappropriate right now and you need to stop it “Distract – If you see someone who looks like they are uncomfortable – cause a distraction – pretend you know them, offer to trade them spots or burst into song.Delegate – sending a message to Transit Police Text reporting at 87 77 77 is a great way to get someone else to deal with the problem.Delay – don’t leave without checking in with the person to make sure the person being targeted is OK
Street harassment has a unique quality that distinguishes it from most other forms – it is always in public. This gives us the rare opportunity to engage and help others who have found themselves on the receiving end of unwanted advances. Despite this though, intervention from bystanders is continually low and a persistent problem. Hollaback and Transit Police have partnered in hopes to bring light to the key role witnesses can play in ending street and transit harassment in Vancouver.
Even though buses and SkyTrains are normally chalk-full, people are reluctant to intervene or report instances of harassment. This isn’t any one person’s fault and there’s no one to blame. We continue to be in a culture which practices a mentality of bystander syndrome. What is exactly is this, though? Studied by two psychologists after a very public crime in the 1950s, bystander syndrome explains why a group of people fail to act in situations of emergency. There are two primary reasons they found.
The first is known as pluralistic ignorance. As humans, in instances of emergency we gauge our responses by looking to others. In a case where no one reacts like it is an emergency, typically no one else will either. For street harassment, this extends to perpetuate the idea that it is not an emergency situation, although it is.
The second is a perception of responsibility diffusion. If someone does pick up that harassment is an emergency, they could continue to not intervene because they see it as everyone’s burden, not just their own. It also plays to the age-old mantra of not getting in another person’s business. The more people there are, for example on a crowded train – the more the people to diffuse responsibility to – and the LESS likely people are to act.
So, now that we know why bystanders don’t act – how can we use that information to change? Hollaback and Transit Police suggest using one of the 4 D’s. These discourage harassers while also providing support for those experiencing the harassment. They include:
The culture of street harassment only changes if we do. By recognizing the structural and underlying reasons why bystanders don’t get involved, we can actively ensure that we do.
Stay tuned each week for more on how you can help end harassment on the streets and transit of Vancouver.
“I was headed to work on the bus. I was listening to music with my headphones and sitting in the row of seats where you face each other. I was the only sitting on the row and the rest of the seats were empty. A much older man got on and he sat in the seat beside me ( really? who does that). I tried to move as far over and away from him, but I really had no room. He gradually spread his legs more apart to take up even more room. Then he kinda put his hand partly on his leg and partly on mine. I was wearing shorts. It wasn’t an accident.
I bolted up and rang the bell on got off the bus as fast as I could. I was late for work. I wish I would have freaked out on him more, now that I type this.”
Rose* , 18.
Summer is fast approaching. Public transit at this time of the year is hot, often crowded, and has unfortunately at times creepy people. But we need transit! We need to get to the beach, pool, summer job, summer class, concert, picnic in the park and all the other fun things that come with nice weather. It’s because of stories like Rose’s that we are continuing our work with Metro Vancouver Transit Police and bringing you “Transit Tuesdays”. Our joint event at Commercial Broadway SkyTrain Station for Anti Street Harassment Week in April went so well thatwe wouldn’t dare stop working to raise awareness about harassment on transit, just yet.
Every Tuesday in the summer, expect stories, tips on reporting, stats, polls and other helpful information to help make transit safer and more comfortable for everyone.
If you haven’t already – follow us on twitter and join the conversation!
Have you heard of Good Night Out? We have been referring to them as Hollaback!’s BFF who is REALLY into clubs and concerts, and nightlife in general. Always making sure everyone is safe and comfortable, and quick to tell creeps who just wont take no for answer to beat it.
Good Night out has had great success taking on harassment culture in pubs, bars and clubs in the UK and Ireland, working with management and staff to implement policies and training to help end harassment, groping, sexism and make clubs safer for women and the LGBT*Q2 community.
Hollaback! Vancouver is BEYOND stoked, to help bring Good Night out to Vancouver, as the very first site outside of the UK .
We asked around our Hollaback posse – “What makes a Good Night out?” Some things we heard were:
Music, Djs , friends, bands, dresses with combat boots, flirting, new friends, heels, (consensual) make outs, busting out new dance moves, and ending the evening with pizza.
And of course we want to know what is the opposite of a Good Night out? Any night that involves any of the following:
losing your friends, groping by a random on the dance floor, wanting to go see a Dj but feeling like I cant go to a certain club with my (same sex) partner, paying 5 bucks for water, binary bathrooms leaving me to make an uncomfortable choice, creeps who don’t take no for an answer, butt slaps from strangers, homophobic insults, being followed home, having your drink drugged, hearing the word “slut” at all, feeling unsafe but the bouncer not doing anything about it, ( the list really could go on….)
Good Night plans to tackle these issues head on, and work with clubs and their staff to help make their space and events safer, more welcoming and thus – More Fun.
Need some help recognizing street harassment?
Maybe you have heard this term being used a lot lately, likely due to the fact that it is International Anti Street Harassment Week, and so it seems to be on everyone’s radar. Maybe you aren’t super clear on what IS street harassment and what is just “being friendly.” There is a difference. Lets talk about it.
Firstly, a definition with some help from the people at Green Dot Etc. :
Street Harassment is a form of power-based violence.
Power based personal violence is a form of violence that has as a primary motivator, the assertion of power, control, and / or intimidation in order to harm another. This includes partner violence, sexual assault, and stalking and other uses of force, threat, intimidation or harassment of an individual.
You’re maybe familiar with a similar sounding term –sexual harassment? Well, street harassment is a form of sexual harassment that takes place in public spaces. At its core is a power dynamic that constantly reminds historically subordinated groups (women and LGBTQ2 folks, for example) of their vulnerability to assault in public spaces. Further, it reinforces the ubiquitous sexual objectification of these groups in everyday life. Street harassment can be sexist, racist, transphobic, homophobic, ableist, sizeist and/or classist. It is an expression of interlocking and overlapping oppressions and it functions as a means to silence our voices and “keep us in our place.”
So how does this play out in our streets, busses, parks and other public spaces?
Street Harassment can look like:
If you are seeing this things like this, and still aren’t sure if you are witnessing harassment, it’s a good idea to look at the person on the receiving end of the actions. Their body language may be telling of how they are reacting to the exchange. It is totally appropriate to check in and ask the person being targeted “Are you ok?” Our next blog post will talk more about how to intervene, so stay tuned for that.
Unwanted attention like this isn’t a compliment. Compliments generally don’t make the receiver think about taking a new route to work, make them feel totally uncomfortable, or cause concern for their safety.
If it’s a compliment, it’s not harassment. But we understand that Vancouver has a reputation for already being unfriendly city, and it can be hard to figure out how to talk to strangers. Knowing this, you may want some more guidance so as not to offend.
So here we go: if a person approaches another person in public politely, strikes up a conversation with them, receives a clear rejection and respects their wishes, that’s not harassment.
Street harassment happens when words and actions are obviously unwanted and non-consensual. It’s forceful. It’s dehumanizing. It’s propelled by a sense of entitlement and profound disrespect for others. Perpetrators don’t want to give compliments or forge mutually beneficial connections; they want to intimidate and bully others. They resort to insults, stalking, threats or acts of violence when told to leave.
That being said – there are many different ways to initiate conversation without coming off as a creep! Comments on a shared experiences (“this coffee is great”), conspicuous books (“I haven’t read that yet, is it any good?”), or current events or other topics that don’t reduce another person to their parts, are examples of friendly, non-threatening places to start.
This being said – please keep in mind, you may not have created this world of street harassment, but you’re living in it. And the object of your affection has been socialized in it. So if your flirting is met with resistance, hesitation, or downright rudeness, don’t take it personally. Just say sorry, keep it moving, and remember the 80% of the 811 women Holly Kearl surveyed who said they constantly have to look over their shoulder. The 50% who have to cross the street and find alternate paths to their ultimate destinations. The 45% who feel as if they can’t go in public alone and the 26% who feel as if they have to lie about a significant other to get perpetrators to leave them alone. The 19% who had to move and the 9% who needed to completely change jobs just to avoid street harassment. And if the rejection pisses you off, take it out on the harassers and get involved.
Join the #itsnotacompliment conversation on twitter
Participate in our newest campaign – What’s your number?
Works Cited / to read moreno comments
Part of ending street harassment is being an active bystander. As we approach Anti-Street Harassment
Week, Hollaback! Vancouver and Metro Vancouver Transit Police (Transit Police) challenge you to do
April 13 is the official launch of an exciting new partnership between Hollaback! Vancouver and Transit
Police which endeavours to raise awareness about harassment on transit and provides riders with
effective strategies to address something that doesn’t look right.
The first step in ending street harassment is acknowledging it is a real problem. Through submissions to
the Hollaback! website and using the Hollaback! app, we know that street harassment is a problem. We
want to help change the culture of silence around this issue and to challenge the idea that harassment is
a normal part of urban living. Both Hollaback! and Transit Police have been using smart phone
technology to help bring this serious issue to light.
The Hollaback! App easily and immediately shows users 3 things:
1) If you’ve been harassed, you’re not alone
2) Street harassment is used to exert control over others by making them feel scared or
uncomfortable. It is much more than individuals just acting inappropriately.
3) There are street harassment “hotspots” in most cities often centered around high pedestrian
Sharing stories in this way and showing solidarity to those who have experience harassment allows us to
slowly chip away at the culture of silence around this issue.
The Transit Police’s OnDuty App allows you to report non-emergency issues and track crime on transit
from your smart phone.
Not feeling safe on trains and busses, limits how people move around their city. It can negatively affect
performance at school or work. Street harassment is not acceptable. An act of resistance can be as
simple as making eye contact or texting a report to Transit Police 87-77-77. It is everyone’s problem, and
there IS something you can do.
Being an active bystander sets precedence and reinforces social barriers surrounding the inappropriate
nature of harassment. It is also the most direct way to express solidarity with a rider who is probably
feeling embarrassed and alone.
Hollaback! and Transit Police emphasize four key approaches: direct intervention, delegation, distraction
1. Direct intervention communicates clearly that the harassment is not acceptable.
2. Delegating the problem to Transit Police by using the non-emergency text line at 87-77-77 is
effective and discreet.
3. Creating a distraction, such as pretending to know the person, off-sets the perceived power
privilege that the aggressor is seeks to create.
4. Delay your time in the picture to ensure the person leaves the interaction feeling safe.
We will have more on how to recognize harassment and strategies for intervening on the blog over the
next two weeks.
Hollaback volunteers and Transit Police will be at Commercial Broadway SkyTrain Station Monday April
13th at 10 am to engage with the public and hand out flyers for the new campaign that calls on each one
of us to be active bystanders. Feel free to come by and chat, ask some questions and learn a few new
strategies to make transit safer.
facebook, instagram. Join the conversation using the hashtags #SeeSay and #ItsNotACompliment to
show your support. Download the Hollaback app and see what the picture of street harassment looks
like in Vancouver. Or download OnDuty, the Metro Vancouver Transit Police app which allows
bystanders to safely report non-emergency incidents of street harassment on public transportation
Read more about this exciting partnership and the event here!no comments
April is home to International Anti Street Harassment Week, which runs April 12-19th. Here in Vancouver we are kicking it up a notch and running multiple events all month long – turning April into our BIGGEST MONTH YET! We have campaigns, art shows, and an exciting collaboration to announce in the next 2 weeks!
We are going to start by telling you all about our “What’s your Number?” Campaign …
What’s Your Number? will enable people to record the frequency and emotions involved with street harassment for 24 hours. Clickers (or counters) will be distributed to initial participants along with a blank notebook. For 24 hours, they will click twice for direct street harassment, and once for an indirect impact. These indirect impacts can include negative feelings attributed to abuse, witness situations, or crossing the street to avoid potentially harmful interactions. Participants from diverse backgrounds are encouraged to come forward. Once you have completed your 24 hours with the clicker – you record your number, and pass the sketchbook and clicker to a friend, co worker, or even random interested person.
The clickers and sketch books are going to be circulating for 2 weeks beginning April 12. In order to showcase the process behind What’s Your Number?, we will be hosting an art show on April 30th at 7pm! This will be a free event extended to the community at-large. Part education, part creative and part party, this night will get everyone together in a comfortable space to talk about the effects of street harassment and – most importantly – what can be done. Join the Hollaback team, participants and community engagers at this event for drinks, music, art, and activism!
Watch our facebook for more details about the art show!
If you are interested in carrying a clicker for 24 hours – please email us at [email protected]
More info about what to do once you have the clicker can be found here!
This Sunday, March 8, will be International Women’s Day 2015. As a non-affiliated celebration, IWD looks to promote knowledge and awareness of the past and on-going struggle for women’s equality. Without dwelling on negativity, it also seeks to salute the hard-working feminists of the world for their diverse and dynamic labours. This year in Vancouver, there are a couple neat events taking place around town. What better way to celebrate than in the company of other positive souls! Check out some (or all!) of these cool happenings:
International Women’s Day Conference – hosted by YWiB SFU
Saturday March 7, 9am-5pm; Pinnacle Vancouver Harbourfront Hotel 1133 West Hastings Street, Vancouver.
With the theme of, “Make It Happen”, YWiB SFU is spending the day hosting workshops and panels. Inspiring young women to become leaders and take initiative is this group’s main goal. You also get to enjoy time to network and get to know fellow delegates during the event. Tickets are $40 and available via Eventbrite.
Edit-a-thon – hosted by Art + Feminism
Multiple dates and times.
Join a campaign to improve women’s presence online. Art+Feminism’s ‘Edit-a-thon’ takes on the slanted world of Wikipedia articles by mass editing in groups. Happening all over North America, there are multiple options in Vancouver to meet up and participate. Each event has computers to use and possible accommodation for childcare. Tutoring is provided for first-time editors. These meetups are free, but you should RSVP here.
Women & the Cuban Revolution – hosted by Vancouver Communities in Solidarity with Cuba,
Saturday March 7, 6pm; Vancouver Public Library, Peter Kay Room, 350 W. Georgia St., Vancouver.
This event examines the “revolution within the revolution” which took place in Cuba. Spend the evening discovering how this state has achieved 43% representation of women in government, and 60% representation in the labour force. Presented through film, music and poetry, this event fuses politics and art. All the details can be found on Facebook.