Tune in to these Transit Tuesday Videos!

Transit Tuesday is here again!  Today we are sharing some videos that take a look at harassment

In 2013 Hollaback! Philly ( Now Feminist Public Works) ran an advertising campaign on Philadelphia  trains to address harassment and sexual offending on transit.

The video  below shows team members seeing the ads for the first time and talking to riders about them. What do you think of ads like this on the train? Do you find it effective? Is it a good way to reach bystanders or potential harassers?  Tell us what you think on twitter with the #transittuesday hashtag  @hollabackvan @ TransitPolice



This short video from the Vancouver Transit Police shows how easy it is to send a text message to 87-77-77  reporting harassment, creeps or anything else of concern on transit :



And finally.  A really awesome music video from Seattle band Tacocat  talking back to street harassers!  Perhaps next time you need to use the Distraction technique you can bust out this!





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Three Passengers, One Train


Trigger warning – today’s Transit Tuesday post shares one woman’s experience describing name calling and attempted physical violence.

(click on each in order to read)




This poem tells the story of harassment and violence on transit from 3 different perspectives. It was bravely shared with us as part of our “What’s your Number” Campaign and art show in April.


The poem presents at least 2 people ( in talking about the experience, we learned the Skytrain was full when the incident that inspired the piece took place)  who experienced what is known as  the bystander effect .


Let’s revisit the experience above and see if  the 4 ‘D ( as talked about last week) could have been used at any point in this example.


** Remember, people’s own experience, trauma, skill set and comfort vary, so each of these is presented as an option and not necessarily what anyone should or could have done**


Direct –   Was there an opportunity for anyone in the story to say something like “Hey. This is not ok. Stop it.”  ? Direct intervention is often seen as one of the most challenging interventions to implement  ( good thing there are other strategies!) – can you give any ideas as to why?


Distract – Examples of distraction are trading seats with a target,  interrupting the exchange by asking something such as  “ How far away am I from metrotown?” or even deliberating causing some sort of scene to divert the attention off the target. Would something like this apply here? What distraction would you be likely to try?


Delegate – This is often the easiest for most people. In this case, for something on a skytrain you could text  Metro Vancouver Transit Police at 87 77 77 and tell them what you were witnessing. Other examples of delegation would be pressing the yellow strip located at eye level on the train, or even calling 911 as things escalated like they did in this story.


Delay – All three perspectives in this story mention other people avoiding eye contact, looking away or focussing on their phone.  Don’t underestimate what an act of solidarity making eye contact is. If you are able – stick around and offer support to someone one the receiving end of inappropriate attention. It can be as simple as asking “Are you ok” or “Can I do anything?”


Share your answers. What would you do in this situation? Tell us on twitter with the hashtag #transittuesday. While you are at it – show this rider , “S” some solidarity !
@hollabackvan     @TransitPolice


This weeks poll can be found here

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Speaking up can be hard

The results of Hollaback!’s recent study with Cornell University tell us that street harassment happens globally to a large percentage of women, often starting when they are a teen.



Our own campaign from April showed us that, on average,  Street Harassment affected participants every 1 hour and 42 minutes while they were awake!



So if we know this is happening, to so many people, in so many places. why isn’t it reported more so something can be done about it?  There are  many complex reasons why people don’t talk about or report street harassment. In talking about this issue with so many people, here are a few that we often see.


Victim Blaming – Outdated, gendered ( and totally offensive)  attitudes about how women should look and act have created a culture of victim blaming – a tendency to dissect the behavior of the victim of sexual assault,rather than that of the offender. This pattern of asking what the target was wearing / doing/drinking / saying  is often replicated by societies, safety campaigns, authorities and even the legal system. This can make it frustrating, triggering and difficult to report.  This is why we have your back – check out the stories here on the blog and see that the common demonstrator is the exertion of a sexist power dynamic and NOTHING you did.


It’s not (always) illegal to be a creep –  Being the target of behaviors such as staring, whistling  and cat calling  can seriously impact how safe we feel in our cities – as we travel on buses, go to school or work, or try to get around. Unfortunately  it can be difficult ( but not impossible) to use the law to curb this behavior.  ( PS for more information about the law around street harassment in Vancouver check out Hollaback!’s Know your Rights Guide starting on page 23).


Shame –  The same attitudes that have created victim blaming have also taught us to feel shame about a lot of things to do with our bodies and our sexuality .  This internalized shame can make it difficult and triggering ( especially if we have experienced other sexualized violence in our lives)  to speak to people in authority about behaviors directed at us.


These are just a few barriers that make it hard to talk about Street Harassment. These reasons are exactly WHY Hollaback! started and WHY we brought it to Vancouver! You may feel like you cant talk about it or that that no one takes your anger / story / struggle  seriously – WE DO. Share your story on our site or app . Show some solidarity to other people experiencing harassment by clicking  the “Ive got your back” button at the bottom of each story.


We are encouraged by Transit’s Police recognition of these barriers and their joining us to help break them down.  The text reporting feature makes it so EASY to report any creepy behavior on transit – because everyone deserves to move around their city and feel safe while doing so.  Save 87-77-77 into your phone and use it whenever you see or hear something  that isn’t right.

Join our conversation about this on Facebook  and twitter – @hollbackvan @TransitPolice  – LET”S TALK ABOUT IT






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See Something Say Something

Here we are ….another Transit Tuesday!

There are plenty of things about this campaign that make us happy. For example, the potential for a safer transit system,  or a chance to engage more of the community in our work to fight street harassment. Today,  logging onto our social media , I am the most excited about how this campaign has people talking about street harassment.

Historically harassment against women in the public domain ( i.e. streets, buses, trains) has gone unchecked. While there are polices to discourage work place harassment, it is much more difficult to police harassment in shared public spaces. Hollaback! rose out of frustration about this, and a desire to draw attention to how unacceptable street harassment is.  Similarly, Transit Tuesdays reflects a shared goal to take sexual offending and safety on transit seriously.

So….How can you have your voice heard?

Share your story of street harassment in Vancouver on the Hollaback! app

Report anything that makes you feel unsafe on transit to 87-77-77

Remember, Street Harassment takes many forms. Some examples are :

      Comments about someone’s appearance, gender, sexual orientation, etc ·       Vulgar Gestures ·       Sexually Explicit Comments (e.g., “Hey baby, I’d like a piece of that”) ·       Leering ·       Whistling ·       Barking ·       Kissing Noises ·       Following someone ·       Flashing someone or exposing oneself ·       Blocking someone’s path ·       Sexual touching or grabbing (e.g., touching someone’s legs, breasts or      butt) ·       Public masturbation

Join the #transittuesday conversation on twitter  @hollabackvan @TransitPolice

Particpate in the weekly polls on facebook.






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Riding the Heat Wave

As we approach the first of July, just days into summer, BC finds itself in the midst of a heat wave.

You know what’s nice about the heat?  The satisfaction  that things like shade, swimming, patios,  cold brew coffee and Popsicles can bring.
You know what isn’t so nice about the heat?  How stressful it can be thinking about skin cancer, drought, the receding Arctic ice shelf, our forests becoming a tinder box, and dogs being left in cars .
You know what straight up sucks about the heat? Shedding layers in the name of thermoregulation, only to have to deal with comments from creeps reacting to the exposed skin.
While this is relevant to a lot of people reading (and sweating)  right now, what does it have to do  with this weeks Transit Tuesday?  Well we know that incidents of street harassment increase with the temperatures   – this includes harassment and sexual offending on hot, crowded buses and skytrains.
As people make their way to the beach, picnic or other Canada Day celebration tonight and tomorrow  – We want to encourage people to look out for one another.
If you see something that doesn’t look right, creeps you out our make you uncomfortable on one of the busiest days for transit, remember the 4 D’s:
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
 Seriously it’s hard to imagine anything worse than sweltering on the 99, while someone is acting inappropriately, and NO ONE doing anything about it.
Let’s not let that happen. When you intervene, you don’t just change the outcome for that situation, you also help change the culture of silence surrounding this normalized behavior AND you make the ride on transit a little more comfortable for everyone.
Week 3 Facebook Bystander graphic
Join the Twitter conversation about Harassment on Transit

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Bye-bye bystander: how to move past the bystander effect


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:

  1. Direct intervention that 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 (effective and discreet).
  3. Distracting, such as pretending to know the person, off-sets the perceived power privilege that the aggressor is seeking 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. See more here.

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.

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assault, LGBTQ, transit

“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!


Week 1 Overall poll graphic small





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Hollaback! makes for a Good Night Out!

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.


Like us on Facebook and Twitter to chime in on what makes a Good Night Out, and look for us out and about this summer!


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