“It’s Unacceptable to See This as ‘No Big Deal'”: Public Masturbation on Bike Trail

Location: Metropolitan Branch Trail and R Street, Washington, DC
Time:  Evening Rush Hour (3:30pm-7:30pm)

I was just biking on the MBT. On the trail, a block north of R St, there was a man standing on the trail masturbating. He was doing this on my way riding northbound and later when I was biking southbound again in a 30 minute window. I didn’t know what to do, but I safely got away, and didn’t know what to do when I got home. After calling 311, who told me to call 911, and then calling the non-emergency police line, I got rerouted to 911. They asked for a description and the location and called a dispatcher. All this made me realize: It’s unacceptable to see this as ‘no big deal’ and to say ‘It’s not an emergency!’ I wished now that I had called sooner to get a dispatcher to the scene. I also have posted this on the Women & Bicycles page, and my friend suggested that I look into your work!

Submitted 12/22/15 by “TVN”

Do you have a personal experience with gender-based public sexual harassment or assault? Share your story to help raise awareness about the pervasiveness and harmful effects of street harassment. All submissions are posted anonymously unless otherwise specified.

If you experience or have experienced sexual harassment on the DC Metro system: Whether the event is happening at the moment or occurred months ago, we strongly encourage you to report to Metro Transit Police (MTP): www.wmata.com/harassment or 202-962-2121. Reporting helps identify suspects as well as commons trends in harassment. You can program MTP’s number into your phone so you can easily reach them when needed.

If you need assistance in coping with public sexual harassment or assault, please contact the DC Rape Crisis Center (DCRCC) 24/7 crisis hotline at 202-333-RAPE (202-333-7279).

Women & Bicycles Add Tools To Their Anti-Harassment Toolbox

Last month, a group of women-identifying cyclists from the Washington Area Bicyclist Association (WABA) gathered in the basement of the Petworth public library to attend CASS’s street harassment workshop.

While cycling can be fun and empowering, it can also be frustrating and even down right scary.

CASS’s workshop introduced prevention and empowerment strategies that could be used by people who experience sexual harassment in public, both on and off bicycles.

WABA Training 3

Here are 4 verbal methods you can use to engage the perpetrator:

  1. Look at the person and say “Hello”. Give them a respectful “hello” or “how are you?”This method is great for three reasons. First, It’s proactive. Second, it firmly establishes you as an agent in the space, instead of an object moving through it. Third, it opens up the possibility that there could be a community here that includes everyone. Instead of wresting power away from each other in this back and forth struggle, it opens up the possibility that we could share it, or even build it together.
  1. Be assertive and make a direct command. “Leave me alone!” “I’m not interested.” “Don’t talk to me that way.” Be sure to breathe and act calm and confident even if you don’t feel that way. When you deliver these responses, you want to do so with a strong voice, strong body language, and eye contact if you feel comfortable doing so. No “please” or “um”.
  2. Name the behavior – LOUDLY—so that everyone can hear you. “You’ve been following me for six blocks! Stop following me!” This response is good because it holds the harasser responsible for their behavior and it demands that the behavior stop.
  3. Add body language to your verbal response. Put up a “stop sign”. Put your hand in front of your chest, palm out, arm extended and look at the harasser and say “stop right there.”

We acknowledge that when you’re on a bike, harassment can happen very quickly. Either you’re zooming by the harasser or they are zooming by you. This can make it hard to respond. However, the more you practice these responses, the more quickly you’ll be able to deploy them when the time comes.

And most importantly, in all cases, you should choose the response that makes you feel the most safe and in control.

For more information on CASS’s Trainings and Workshops visit our website or contact us at workshops@collectiveactiondc.org.

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Get Empowered! All-Women’s Alleycat on March 8

DC resident and year-round cyclist Anastasia Kolobrodova is organizing an all-women’s alleycat to take place in DC on International Women’s Day, Sunday, March 8! And if that couldn’t get any better, the proceeds benefit CASS!

According to Anastasia, the goal of the women-only alleycat is to get more women interested, comfortable and confident with urban cycling while learning about international women’s rights. The event will be the second all-women alleycat benefiting CASS. In 2013, we were the super proud beneficiary of the 19th Amendment Alleycat. (Seriously, just look at the pics and you’ll want to RSVP stat!)

We talked to Anastasia about what exactly is an “alleycat” and why you – and all your friends – should join us on Sunday, March 8!

First off, what’s an “alleycat?”  

An alleycat is a checkpoint-based bike race through city streets, emulating the type of cycling that bike messengers do on a daily basis. An easier way to describe this is essentially a scavenger hunt on a bike!

Why is it empowering for women, and why should they come?

Equality. Women are underrepresented in the bike community — informal bike races and group rides traditionally skew male, yet there are a lot of women I know cycling every single day who would rock it at these types of events. This alleycat provides a safe space for women to become acquainted with the format, and hopefully inspire them to want to become more involved with the bike community overall. Participation will also underscore that there is a visible women’s biking community that is thriving in DC.

What’s the connection between women biking and street harassment?

Biking has helped me feel safer getting around the city, by putting me in control of my commute. The rate of harassment I’ve faced while cycling is much less than that I’ve experienced while walking, riding public transit, or taking ride-hailing services.

What made you choose CASS as the beneficiary?

Everybody should feel safe on our streets. Harassment should not be an expected given for women going about their daily lives. I appreciate the important role CASS plays in helping build safety in our community.

Last but not least, why is biking awesome?

It helps you be strong, go fast, and feel free.

Anything else you’d like to say?

This race is on International Women’s Day, which is all about social, political, and economic equality for women. The checkpoints will reflect on that theme and on international human rights.

>>>> RSVP Now!

PHOTOS: Our Anti-Street Harassment Workshop on Women & Biking!

CASS Our Anti-Street Harassment Workshop on Women & Biking in DC

Last week, we partnered with Washington Area Bicyclist Association’s (WABA) Women & Bicycles group to conduct a free workshop on facing street harassment while biking. We spent the evening with around 30 fabulous lady cyclists, sharing our expertise on responding to street harassment, being an active bystander, and mobilizing your community to prevent public sexual harassment and assault.

CASS trainers discussed several direct anti-harassment response strategies — a favorite was the all-purpose statement, courtesy of CASS friend Marty Langelan: “Stop harassing people! I don’t like it. No one likes it. Show some respect.” The group also lifted the issue to the societal level, briefly exploring the concept of bystander intervention and its importance in stopping public sexual harassment assault.

But, as always, we learned just as much from the workshop participants as they learned from us! Even though many cyclists feel powerful and comfortable on the saddle, they also feel particularly vulnerable to harassment when it comes from drivers or other bikers. And from a brief survey given to participants at registration, we know that a majority of them don’t think there are any safer public transportation options in DC.

We’re so excited to welcome these kickass cyclists to the fold as anti-street harassment activists! We can’t wait to see everyone — bikers and non-bikers alike — holding our community accountable for creating safe ways to move around the city.

PHOTOS: CASS Reclaims the Streets with the 19th Amendment Alleycat!
We Asked, You Told: Your Stories of Street Harassment While Biking
Over 250 DC Women Expected to Participate in Grassroots, Anti-Harassment Biking Event

Want to bring CASS in to train your group? Contact zosia@collectiveactiondc.orgNow for the pics!

CASS Our Anti-Street Harassment Workshop on Women & Biking in DCCASS Our Anti-Street Harassment Workshop on Women & Biking in DC
CASS Our Anti-Street Harassment Workshop on Women & Biking in DC
CASS Our Anti-Street Harassment Workshop on Women & Biking in DC

CASS Our Anti-Street Harassment Workshop on Women & Biking in DC
CASS Our Anti-Street Harassment Workshop on Women & Biking in DC


EVENT: Free Anti-Street Harassment Workshop with WABA! 11/20/13

collective action for safe spaces Anti-Street Harassment Workshop with WABA!
EVENT: Free Anti-Street Harassment Workshop with WABA! 11/20/13

On the heels of last month’s super successful 19th Amendment Alleycat (!), we’re partnering with the Washington Area Bicyclist Association‘s (WABA) Women & Bicycles group to provide a community training on public sexual harassment!

DATE: Wednesday, November 20th, 2013
TIME: 6:30pm to 9:00pm
LOCATION: Mt. Pleasant Public Library, 3160 16th St NW, Washington, DC 20010

If you’re woman-identifying in DC, you’re probably familiar with the behaviors that qualify as street harassment — lewd gestures, sexual comments, following, and unwanted touching, ranging from the humiliating to the threatening. Avoiding this kind of behavior and staying safe can be an unacknowledged reason that many of us hop in the saddle to become urban cyclists. Still, as empowering and fun as cycling can be, it comes with a unique set of harassment-related challenges that can be just as frustrating or scary as the stuff that happens when we’re on foot.

The workshop will introduce prevention and empowerment strategies in the face of sexual harassment in public, both on and off bicycles. We’ll be teaching tools to respond assertively to harassers and to be active bystanders when you observe others being harassed, and we’ll discuss how to mobilize your friends, family, and community to change the culture and end public sexual harassment and assault. The workshop is free of charge.

Please arrive 15 minutes early, our capacity is limited and we’ve prepared a lot of valuable information and interactive learning.

——–> Register now!

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