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» Scarleteen Boards: 2000 - 2014 (Archive) » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » The Randoms » How do you deal with public sexual harassment?

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Author Topic: How do you deal with public sexual harassment?
KashaUK2000
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Member # 100843

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I'm asking here as anywhere else online I get told I should stay in UK, or people (males) claim that sexual harassment (towards women) doesn't happen.

Within the next year I'm moving from UK to US - here in the UK I have never faced any sort of public sexual harassment. In two of five trips I've taken to the US (Los Angeles) I've experienced public sexual harassment, this is all the more significant when you consider I spend most of my time in the US in the desert, and when I'm in public places I'm with my (male) fiancé.

The first situation was at a metro station, the usual case of a guy riding by on a bike leering and shouting things like 'you're hot' at me, then calling me 'stuck-up' for being displeased.

The second situation was at Disneyland when a guy in a queue in front of us just stood looking me up and down like I was a contestant at a dog show, commenting to my fiancé on how good a job he did to get me like I wasn't there or I was some sort of prise or object, commenting on my positive physical attributes like my legs and chest...my fiancé was as gob-smacked by this as I was.

I've heard of loads of other stories of girls and women getting harassed in public, especially on public transport, so I know this isn't a one-off. Obviously when you move to any new place you worry about potential risks, more so if you're moving to another country...but if harassment is this common, and criminals are more likely to be armed, I think it's reasonable to be a little worried.

How do you cope??

Are you just supposed to ignore them and hope they leave you alone or that it doesn't escalate? What about if someone was to grab you?

There is a big cultural difference and it will be a while before I know who or where is safe, so any general safety tips for the US? I don't plan on getting a gun, how else can I stay safe?

Thanks guys

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Heather
Executive Director & Founder
Member # 3

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I'm about to head to bed, Kasha, but I'll step into this tomorrow.

Just so you can sleep well tonight, though, do know that the rates of violent crime in the US and UK are very close (in fact, it's higher per capita in the UK last I checked), and that includes sexual violence.

I certainly don't think you need to worry about arming yourself to be safe, nor worry that sexual harassment is at all likely to escalate to sexual violence. Not because it never does, as it certainly does sometimes, but street harassment like you're talking about, specifically, very rarely does.

None of that means, of course, it's okay, nor that it's a fun thing to deal with: it's so not. But while we can talk about how to counter and deal with that when it happens, I don't think you need to be worried about street harassers being armed, you not being armed, or any of that. (And that's certainly not denying we have a serious problem with too many firearms in the US: I'd say we most certainly do.) No more than you ever have in the UK, anyway.

More tomorrow.

--------------------
Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

Posts: 68290 | From: An island near Seattle | Registered: May 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Heather
Executive Director & Founder
Member # 3

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Back. [Smile]

So, ultimately, you have a bunch of possible different ways to approach street harassment, and I'd say it really depends on who you are and what you feel best about.

Ignoring it is certainly one option, one I'd say a lot of people employ and find works for them.

When someone is doing this to you and they are right there, rather than say, cat-calling from across the street, you can still ignore them, or you can respond with a simple request for them to stop, as in, something like, "I don't like to be talked to that way, please leave me alone," or "You're harassing me, please stop."

You can also always go walk where there are other people, if you are alone, which I'd advise if and when you are alone. You can ask for help, you can ask them to back you up in asking someone harassing you to leave you alone.

You can use a cell phone to take pictures of or videotape what that person is doing: someone being recorded and having what they are doing recorded usually won't like that and will often stop because they don't want evidence of their harassment that can be used to prosecute them.

If someone makes a move to grab you, again, you can ask them to stop, move away, ask for help from someone else -- or even yell out for help -- or bat their hand away.

Once upon a time -- and I should note I'm a very direct person, someone who has survived more than one sexual assault and a good deal of abuse, and someone trained in self-defense who has also taught it, so your mileage may vary, or this may not feel right to you -- I had some dude yell out a catcall from his car at me, and for some reason, I found it amusing that day to respond with a similar taunt back, something like, "Oh yeah? You're hot, too! let's go somewhere and get it on!" I actually started to open his car door (he was at a stoplight), and he hauled out of there like a bat out of hell. Since then, I've actually found that actually works pretty well: street harassers really don't want you to feel empowered or to respond, they just want to harass. Clearly, it freaks a lot of them out when you don't act intimidated or don't seem to feel demeaned. [Smile]

Like I said, though, this kind of approach obviously may not be for everyone. I'm a bit of a spitfire. [Razz]

You might also want to take a look at hollaback -- http://www.ihollaback.org/ -- for more information and ideas.

They have a little FAQ about if you choose to respond on their site, that says:
quote:
If I choose to respond directly to harassers, how should I do it?

Your safety is the first priority. If you feel safe and choose to respond directly to harassers, here are some general guidelines designed to keep you safe:

1. Be firm. Look them in the eye and denounce their behavior with a strong, clear voice. Many people prefer to name the behavior, for example, “do not comment on my body, that is harassment,” “Do not stare at me like that, that is harassment,” or a similar phrase. You can also simply say “that is not OK,” or “don’t speak to me like that.” Try out different phrases to see what feels natural to you. The important thing is that you aren’t apologetic in your response in your statement. Skip phrases like “I’m sorry, but…,” or “excuse me sir…”
2. Don’t engage. Harassers may try to respond to your firm response. They may try to engage you in further conversation or even make fun of you. As tempting as it may be get into a verbal war with them, we don’t recommend it. The attention may further feed their abusive behavior.
3. Keep moving. Once you’ve said your piece, keep it moving. Harassers don’t deserve the pleasure of your company.
- See more at: " target="_blank">http://www.ihollaback.org/resources/responding-to-harassers/#sthash.7x4Fncm7.dpuf[/quote]

--------------------
Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

Posts: 68290 | From: An island near Seattle | Registered: May 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
KashaUK2000
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Member # 100843

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Thank you for your reply - and for that link.

It beats being told not to move to US, to carry a gun, or to 'dress appropriately'. I'd never be as bold as you, although in the right situation I'd be inclined to shame the person harassing me (or other women)...but realistically that's not a good idea, I think that falls under 'don't engage'. In England I know who are all mouth and who is likely to be really dangerous, in America I don't.

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Heather
Executive Director & Founder
Member # 3

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Well, seriously, again, this isn't just about the US: this happens at equal rates in the UK based on all the current data, so far as I'm aware. I mean, "Don't be a woman," would be advice about as useful, but at least more truthful. [Frown]

I also think you can probably apply the same instincts and standards it sounds like you've had around this in the UK to the US.

--------------------
Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

Posts: 68290 | From: An island near Seattle | Registered: May 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
   

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