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Image source: fazstreetart.tumblr.com
Have you ever been told to smile while simply walking down the street minding your own business? Almost every day I hear:
“Why don’t you smile?”
“Why do you look so angry, smile you’re so beautiful”
Grrr… I hate it when strangers (always men, I’ve never had a women say that to me) tell me to smile while I’m going about my business as if my sole purpose is to entertain them. Why do I need to smile? Why do they feel the need to talk to me when my body language alone is screaming: “leave me alone please”?
I recently came across the work of Tatyana Fazlalizadeh who posted anti street harassment posters around Brooklyn in the United States. I’d love to see some of these popping up on Long Street and around the Cape Town CBD.
Image source: fazstreetart.tumblr.com
Read more about her posters here: http://nyunews.com/2013/03/10/poster/
I had dropped my car for wheel alignment, and decided to walk through to the next mall to do some shopping whilst waiting for it. Upon passing a local fast food outlet, two guys proceeded to whistle and call to try and get my attention for the next minute or so. This was very embarrassing. They were dressed in uniform, doing this from inside their work premises WHILST on duty. I was the only person there at the time. The experience was demeaning and made me feel cheap and disrespected.
I continued on my way and did my shopping, but eventually returned to the outlet to complain about the incident. I received a shocked look from their (male) manager as if he didn’t understand WHY I had a problem with it. He sent the 2 employees to apologise to me and they obliged him albeit insincerely so. I was still dissatisfied and have now raised the matter with their Head Office.
“Profiling the harasser is useful because it provides the Target and the Bystander a means for determining what type of harassing person they are dealing with. This knowledge helps take some of the fear out of the encounter. It also enables a vocabulary for conceptualizing and discussion.” ~ Street Harassment Disruption
Public Voyeur – staring, leering, takes a picture, etc.
The Creep – His very presence gives women “the creeps”. He usually knows it and uses it.
Car Driving Baboon – Honks, hoots, and hollers at you as he drives by. A “hit and run” tactic.
Charmer Wannabe – Comes on too strong, does not listen to “No”, thinks he is “God’s gift to women, might follow you, engages in bantering and “compliments”. Attempts to control the encounter.
Working Stiff – Harasses you while on the job. Looking for entertainment. Usually in a group.
Peacocking Showoff – Playing to the crowd. Looking to be the entertainment. Wants attention.
Dirty Old Man – You know him when you see him. Many times goes after the young and innocent.
Drunken Asshole – Has alcohol fueled courage, no inhibitions, exhibits poor judgement, etc. Sometimes starts out as the Charmer Wannabe.
Crude Oaf – Makes especially vulgar and disgusting comments directly to or about you.
The Pervert – Engages in flashing and public masturbation like activities, etc.
Touchy Feeler – Gets close to women and tries to rub against or touch them inappropriately whenever possible. Utilizes public transportation to his advantage. Can be sneaky or obvious.
Overgrown Bully – Uses threatening, derogatory, angry language, impulsive behavior, etc.
Anti-Social Intimidator – Uses violence as a tool at the slightest provocation. He is dangerous.
Predatory Stalker – Follows the Target seeking opportunity for further victimization.
Opportunistic Predator – Harassment is a means to test/interview for potential victimization. He sometimes uses the techniques of the Charmer Wannabe. He is dangerous and needs to be deterred with the use of strong physical assertiveness and a *Not Me!!! attitude.
* Not Me: http://www.not-me.org/- The 5 Ds of Self Defence
Here’s and excellent YouTube video to share with your friends who are struggling to understand what street harassment is, and how it affects people. You an even spot Hollaback founder Emily May in one of the interviews, go Emily!
Kamau, from a show called Totally Biased, interviews women and men in New York about how they feel about street harassment, notice the difference in opinion between the young men and women. Some men think it’s ok and that women love it, the women obviously have a lot more to say about it. We love the humour that’s used to convey the message.
What are your reactions to catcalling, hissing and inappropriate comments made by strangers on the street? Do you Hollaback? Tweet us @HollabackSA
We picked up a quote from Kubi Rama, Gender Links COO, currently in Limpopo province of South Africa working with a group of women, men and five families that have been affected by accusations of witchcraft – via Gender Links on Facebook.
You can also send your replies via Twitter to @HollabackSA
P.S: We’re still looking for volunteers, so if you’d like to join the movement in your city please get in touch by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
In February 2012, Collective Action for Safe Spaces began an official campaign for the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) to implement policy to address sexual harassment and assault on the DC metro. By April 2012, WMATA responded by introducing its first-ever public awareness campaign to combat sexual harassment of customers while using the system. ~ Source: http://www.collectiveactiondc.org/programs/wmata-anti-sexual-harassment-campaign/
We picked up a great video today! Street Harasser Water Balloon Fight – by Hollaback Baltimore
“We met up with the girls going to summer camp at St. Francis Community Center to talk about street harassment. We wanted to stress that it is ok to have confusing emotions even though the harasser is the one who should feel ashamed for their behavior. What better way to get some of that frustration/anger out in a healthy way than a WATER BALLOON FIGHT! No street harassers were harmed in the making of this video, but hopefully some young girls were empowered to know that street harassment is never their fault.” ~ Bmore.iHollaback.org
The awesome Hollaback! team in Baltimore (@HollaBackBmore) created these Facebook Timeline covers. These are free to use so go ahead and download, share, tweet and use them!
Click on the thumbnail to view the image.
A victim on street harassment in South Africa? Share your story with us, email: SouthAfrica@ihollaback.org or tweet us: @HollabackSA
Hollaback! South Africa outreach officer Charlotte Fischer recently encountered a very surprising response from the Broadcasting Complaints Commission of South Africa (BCCSA) over a recent complaint to 94.7 Highveld Stereo about their morning show poll on whether women prefer “Big Boobs or Brains”.
“A Johannesburg radio station is putting out polls to women on whether they would rather have big breasts or brains. You know, cos those things are choosable, and it’s totally the public’s right to make judgements on air on women’s bodies. It’s typical crappy rape culture stuff and my boyfriend (Bless him!) complained. They’ve now decided that because a man complained, there’s no issue. “~ Charlotte
A section of the complaint to put things into context:
1. South Africa is a violently sexist society (see the rape and domestic violence statistics). Women are encouraged to see themselves as sexual objects aiming to satisfy men’s needs rather than value themselves as living, breathing, intelligent human beings. The result? Women are encouraged to be subservient and ‘suffer quietly’. This disempowers and discriminates against 50% of our population. Hosting conversations like the one you just did promotes and participates in the violence that women are subjected to every in South Africa.
2. ‘Big boobs or brains’ is a false dichotomy – it is only when it comes to women that our society thinks it is acceptable to create a ‘balancing’ between a woman’s appearance and their intelligence. We never do the same with men. Why is it that you have not hosted a conversation where people call in to discuss whether men would prefer a ‘big penis or a brain’?
The relevant aspects of the complaint are as follows: harmfulness to women and the impairment of women’s dignity. The Complainant criticised the radio discussion that revolved around the size of women’s breasts and brains, and whether one or the other is a more desirable asset to most women. It was argued that the discussion perpetuates a negative image of women, and in a “chauvinistic” society where women are objectified and dehumanised, such an image might further promote violence against women in a society that is already prone to such violence. It needs to be pointed out, however, that it is beyond the scope of the BCCSA to influence broadcasters on matters regarding content, and therefore the Complainant’s remarks regarding future programme content are not dealt with in this adjudication.
I listened to the clip, whose broader context turned out to be a Washington Post survey on a matter that resurrects an old debate concerning women’s attractiveness. In this debate, the relative advantage of female intelligence and physical attractiveness are weighed up against each other. The debate relies on the stereotype that women are somewhat passive creatures whose survival depends on their sexual attractiveness. Complementary to this stereotype is that of the male, whose main purpose in life is the propagation of the species, and who is seduced by the sexual attractiveness of women. In many cultures, the latter is signalled by the size of women’s breasts. The outcome of the attraction is supposed to be the propagation of the species. Much debate has centred around the primitive responses of men to elements of a women’s body that signal fertility. This is an interesting and valid area of scientific debate.
In the radio discussion, the topic was approached in a flippant and light-hearted manner, clearly aimed at providing entertainment rather than enlightenment to listeners. The responses of the female presenters served to balance any implied insult to women – they expressed a clear preference for “brains” rather than “boobs”. When the matter was thrown open for discussion among listeners – “Let’s find out from the chicks with flat chests” – the majority response turned out to favour brains rather than breasts.
The men who favoured “boobs” over brains came out badly in the debate because of the general idiocy of their remarks. The purpose of the programme was clearly to entertain, and the effect of the discussion was to portray men who favoured “big boobs” as buffoons. In this sense, the debate could be said to have backfired on such men.
Since the remarks were not directed against an individual woman, and an individual woman did not lodge a complaint, women’s dignity, as such, cannot be said to have been impaired. Nor does the discussion in any way sanction or promote violence against women, or advocate hatred that constitutes incitement to cause harm. The programme cannot therefore be said to have harmed women in terms of the Code.
After consideration of the facts before me, I find no contravention of the BCCSA Code.
DR L GILFILLAN
Download a copy of the full adjudication here: _17_ D Mackintosh vs 94 7 Highveld Stereo Adjudication