#MeToo in Ward 8: Triggered Documentary Screening & Community Discussion

 

Earlier this month, our policy team co-hosted a community event in Ward 8 with Grassroots DC to talk about street harassment, gendered violence, and ways we can make change in our community: starting with the Street Harassment Prevention Act (affectionately called SHPA).

The event included a screening of Triggered: Street Harassment and Rape Culture in DC’s Ward 8, which was produced by Liane Scott, president of Grassroots DC. Scott’s film documents the events that took place at the Reclaiming Our Bodies speakout last year. The speakout was prompted by the harassment of a teenage girl and her mother when they were in line for a free meal at a community food table. Instead of getting a meal, they got an earful about how the girl’s attire—a t-shirt, tied at the waist, and leggings—justified harassment and threats of violence by men in the community, including the men serving the food. (SO not ok.)

After the screening, community leaders, including our own Rethink Masculinity co-director Stephen Hicks, took part in a panel discussion on street harassment in the District—and how it’s not about what people are wearing, it’s about a harasser exerting power and control. Stephen Hicks also shared that people, especially men, learn toxic scripts about how to treat themselves and women. He reiterated that people need to un-learn these scripts about masculinity–something CASS’s program on Rethink Masculinity is proud to do.

As panelist Dr. Pamela Brewer, a clinical social worker and therapist said, “None of this is about what you are wearing. All of this is about power.”

Panelists also discussed how race and racism are inextricably linked to street harassment, and how men need to be part of the movement to end gendered violence. Aja Taylor, affordable housing advocate director at Bread for the City and an anti-harassment activist with Reclaiming Our Bodies DC, called attention to the double burden that black women face each day, experiencing harassment due to both patriarchy and white supremacy. Her words were affirmed by an audience member, who added that “Black women have not had an outlet to talk about the violence [they] have faced.”

Hicks also described how our Rethink Masculinity program pushes for societal change: participants are pushed to see the women in their lives as whole beings. Men are too often socialized to see women and queer folks as less than whole beings, as only conduits for pleasure. Panelist Schyla Pondexter-Moore, the mother of the girl who was harassed in the original incident, lifted up the importance of listening to victims of sexual harassment. “If you want to solve the problem, you have to go to the girl and ask her, what would you like to have done as a victim?”

Tony Lewis, Jr., a DC native and author of the book Slugg: A Boy’s Life in the Age of Mass Incarceration, added, “As men, we may be violating women and we may not even be aware. This [harassment at the community food table] is not an isolated issue of trauma and pain.” Panelist Aja Taylor affirmed the prevalence of trauma in black communities and its role in perpetuating violence: “Trauma [from harassment, from racism] is unnatural. It happens to everyone, but it’s unnatural, and people expect you to have a natural response to something unnatural.”

This event was just the beginning of the very necessary yet often-painful conversation about gendered street harassment.

We need you to help build a campaign for DC to invest in community-based solutions to street harassment. Volunteers help mobilize supporters, engage with DC Council, and bridge arts and activism. Email leah@collectiveactiondc.org to join.

YOU have the power to stop harassment.

posted in: CASS Updates, Policy | 0

We’re about to step up our game to create policy solutions to prevent street harassment, and we need YOU!

The Street Harassment Prevention Act, which we affectionately call SHPA, will broaden the definition of street harassment to include our most marginalized communities. And the SHPA will create mechanisms of data collection and training requirements to make sure that everyone’s experience of street harassment is recognized and addressed.

CASS and our partner organizations who are working to pass SHPA know that we need holistic solutions to the problem of street harassment that rely on community-based initiatives rather than law enforcement.

We’ve already brought together a coalition and a hearing for the legislation. Now, we’re bringing together stakeholders and volunteers in mid-October to chart out strategy to pass and fund SHPA — centering the most impacted people in the process. We need YOU to join in that roundtable and coordinate the effort, or to add to our people power by stepping as a SHPA volunteer to make phone calls, lobby, flier, and get the word out!

Please contact CASS policy volunteer Leah at leah@collectiveactiondc.org if you’re interested in either joining in the roundtable or signing up to volunteer to help us #PassSHPA!

Together, we have the power to make our streets safer for everyone.

In other things you can do right now:

1) Tweet your general support.

2) Call or Tweet at your councilmember and tell them why you support the bill. Check your Ward. If you or your friends live in Wards 3 or 7, call or Tweet at your councilmembers and tell them to #PassSHPA. At-large members represent all of DC, so everyone should call and Tweet at Councilmember Bonds.

Here’s a sample phone script: Hi, my name is _______ and I’m a DC resident. I’m calling to ask Councilmember [Your Councilmember or At-Large Councilmember] to pass the Street Harassment Prevention Act. In a time of rising hate and harassment that disproportionately affects women and LGBTQ people of color, we need community-based, non-criminal solutions like education, awareness, and training to make DC safer for everyone. Thank you.

Here’s a sample Tweet: Harassment is on the rise in the District. As a concerned resident, I’m asking you to take action – #PassSHPA! [Twitter handle of your Councilmember or At-Large Councilmember]

And here is the contact information you can plug in:

Ward 3: Contact Councilmember Mary Cheh at (202) 724-8062 or on Twitter at @MaryCheh
Ward 7: Councilmember Vincent Gray at (202) 724-8068 or on Twitter at @VinceGrayWard7
At-Large: Councilmember Anita Bonds at (202) 724-8064 or on Twitter at @AnitaBondsDC

We Spoke Out: Now, Let’s Keep Pushing to #PassSHPA!

We had a powerful day of testimonies at the DC City Council meeting on July 12th in support of the Street Harassment Prevention act (SHPA).  

“When I was 21, two men drugged me at a bar and raped me. If my bartender had noticed the signs of sexual aggression, or the signs of date rape drugs, my life could have been different. If another patron had known how to recognize the signs of two men preparing to sexually assault a 21-year- old man, perhaps I would know what justice looks like. At the hospital, I reported it to the police. After completing a rape kit, the first words out of my detective’s mouth were, “We have these gay boys that go home with each other every night, wake up with their wallets missing, and expect us to do something about it.” Discrimination, be it overt or subtle, leads individuals to mistrust the very systems intended to provide safety after a crisis. Leaving us wondering, where do we go for help? … We can ensure other people don’t suffer the same fate. Because this isn’t just my story. It’s the story of thousands — thousands of people face dangerous street harassment in our city.” – Adam Swanson

“The [Street Harassment Prevention Act] cannot come at more important moment. I’m more scared than I used to be. I am concerned that we are living in times with increasing violence against women and religious and ethnic minorities. The horrible event in Portland where fellow passengers were killed for standing up to a man who was harassing two African American women, one in a hijab, shows the importance that law enforcement and the wider public be trained to intervene when street harassment occurs, especially in ways that de-escalate a situation.” – Jennifer Bianca Browning

We’re still collecting all of the testimonies, but a few of them are up here.

The bill will broaden the definition of street harassment to include our most marginalized communities. And the SHPA will create mechanisms of data collection and training requirements to make sure that everyone’s experience of street harassment is recognized and addressed.

Here’s How You Can Help Pass SHPA:

1) Call your councilmember and tell them why you support the bill. Check your Ward. If you or your friends live in Wards 3 or 7, call or Tweet at your councilmembers and tell them to #PassSHPA. At-large members represent all of DC, so everyone should call and Tweet at Councilmember Bonds.

Here’s a sample phone script: Hi, my name is _______ and I’m a DC resident. I’m calling to ask Councilmember [Your Councilmember or At-Large Councilmember] to pass the Street Harassment Prevention Act. In a time of rising hate and harassment that disproportionately affects women and LGBTQ people of color, we need community-based, non-criminal solutions like education, awareness, and training to make DC safer for everyone. Thank you.

Here’s a sample Tweet: Harassment is on the rise in the District. As a concerned resident, I’m asking you to take action – #PassSHPA! [Twitter handle of your Councilmember or At-Large Councilmember]

And here is the contact information you can plug in:

  • Ward 3: Contact Councilmember Mary Cheh at (202) 724-8062 or on Twitter at @MaryCheh
  • Ward 7: Councilmember Vincent Gray at (202) 724-8068 or on Twitter at @VinceGrayWard7
  • At-Large: Councilmember Anita Bonds at (202) 724-8064 or on Twitter at @AnitaBondsDC

2) Tweet your general support.

3) Speak out against street harassment on August 23rd.

Join Us to #PassSHPA!

For far too many of us, street harassment is a fact of daily life. Street harassment, however, is more than just catcalling on the street. Someone might be targeted by a harasser for any number of reasons, including actual or perceived gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, race, ethnicity, religion, national origin, and housing status. With a significant increase in hate violence in the District since Trump’s election — including white supremacist posters in Bloomingdale just last week — CASS is more committed than ever to addressing all types of street harassment in our city. That’s why we partnered with D.C. City Councilmember Brianne K. Nadeau to introduce the Street Harassment Prevention Act of 2017

The Street Harassment Prevention Act, which we affectionately call SHPA, will broaden the definition of street harassment to include our most marginalized communities. And the SHPA will create mechanisms of data collection and training requirements to make sure that everyone’s experience of street harassment is recognized and addressed.

CASS and our partner organizations know that we need holistic solutions to the problem of street harassment that rely on community-based initiatives rather than law enforcement.

Here’s how you can help:

  1. Tweet. Join CASS for a Twitter Town Hall on June 29th at 8 p.m. to discuss street harassment in DC and #PassSHPA.
  2. Organize. Before the Twitter Town Hall tonight, join CASS and CM Nadeau at Sudhouse at 6 p.m. to learn how you can plug in to advocacy work.
  3. Testify. Share your story of harassment with the DC Council on Wednesday, July 12th.
  4. Amplify. Join our Thunderclap to share your support of the SHPA. 
  5. Share all of the above with your friends!

This is the perfect opportunity to engage in local activism and protect your friends and neighbors. Let’s #PassSHPA!

Remember DC’s Historic Roundtable on Street Harassment? What’s Next.

It’s been over a year since DC’s historic roundtable on street harassment when more than 40 diverse community members spoke out about their experiences with harassment in public spaces — on the street, in bars, on public transit, and in local shelters.

  

Since then, we’ve had an impactful year of growth in our programming with the re-launch of Safe Bars, which trained staff at 27 local bars in bystander intervention strategies, and a new phase of our awareness campaign on public transit with WMATA that feature our city’s most marginalized identities and encourage bystanders to speak out against harassment.

But what’s happening on a citywide level?

This winter, CASS convened the End Street Harassment Coalition, which will work to pass the Street Harassment Prevention Act, introduced by CM Nadeau. The bill will collect data on street harassment and make recommendations to curb this most pervasive form of violence. If passed, the bill will ensure that all government employees are trained to recognize and respond to harassment.

The original iteration of the bill defined street harassment as unwanted comments, gestures, or actions targeting someone because of their real or perceived gender, gender expression, or sexual orientation. But the past year’s local high-profile incidents of harassment at Shaw Library and Banneker Pool, and especially the fall’s spike in incidents of harassment on the basis of real or perceived racial, ethnic, and/or religious identity demonstrated that we must broaden the definition of street harassment, collect appropriate data to assess the ways that different communities experience harassment, and recommend holistic solutions to prevent harassment from escalating to more severe violence.

The End Street Harassment Coalition, a group of about 20 local organizations, will work to form DC’s task force on street harassment in 2017, and we need your help.

Sign up here to testify in support of the bill. And tell your Council members that with this year’s 62% increase in hate violence across the DC area, we need community-based solutions to address harassment now.

Want to join the Coalition? Email sarah@collectiveactiondc.org!

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