ReThink Masculinity This Giving Tuesday

This year, CASS has trained more than 100 people — mostly women and LGBTQGNC folks — to assertively respond to street harassment. Now we’re working with partners to build a program that will engage men in the movement to end gender-based violence.

In the new year, we want to work with 45 men to rethink masculinity and promote healthy behaviors.

In 2017, we will launch ReThink Masculinity: an eight-week program that will help men identify problematic behaviors and cultural norms, learn alternative behaviors, and join the movement stop gender-based violence.

We want to raise $15,000 to build and implement this program in 2017 — and every dollar we raise on #GivingTuesday will be matched, dollar for dollar, up to $3,000.

Are you ready?

Here are FOUR ways to get involved right now:

  1. Mark your calendar for Giving Tuesday on  Tuesday, November 29th.
  2. Pledge to give.
  3. Join our Twitter Chat at 8pm on November 17th using #AllMenCan to talk about healthy behaviors and share why you support our new program.
  4. Fundraise for us! Here’s how:
      • Create your fundraising page. Visit our campaign page on Razoo, and hit the “Fundraise” button under “Join This Team!”
      • Come up with a gimmick. Can you bake a cake for everyone who gives $100? Or maybe film yourself doing a cartwheel for every $50? Get creative!
      • Set a goal that feels right for you.
      • Ask your friends to give on November 29th! (We’ll send you some social media and email templates!)
      • Get yourself started with your own personal gift on November 29th.

So, are you ready for November 29th? We are!

Got questions? Drop us a line at info@collectiveactiondc.org.

Bringing CASS to the Workplace

People often tell you not to mix your personal life with your work life, but today, I made an exception.

I work at Community Forklift, a nonprofit reuse center for home improvement supplies located just outside northeast DC. The Forklift accepts donations of building materials, antiques, appliances, and architectural salvage, and then makes these items available to the public at low cost. The mission is to “lift up our community” by making repairs greener and more affordable, creating green jobs, and donating free materials to our neighbors in need and other nonprofits.

In short, Community Forklift is fantastic and the “Forklift Family” spirit among coworkers is one of the main reasons I chose to work here; however, sometimes our interactions with the outside world fall short of the ethos that we promote in-house:

“I’ll answer a call, and it turns from ‘What are your hours?’ to ‘Hey, you sound real cute. Are you married?’”

“A woman grabbed my bicep while I was just trying to get a ceiling fan down for her.”

“Customers have gotten mad at me when I refused to give them my number.”

So what did I decide to do? Bring my volunteering with CASS to CF, of course!

During our Tuesday staff meeting, we facilitated a workshop on how to respond to public sexual harassment. Staff members shared stories of the types of interactions they had witnessed or experienced themselves before diving into practicing direct responses to harassment. We also discussed bystander intervention and how to read our coworkers’ body language when they’re caught in tough situations. Our CEO spoke up to add, “This type of training is important to ensure not only the safety of all of us in this room, but also the well-being and sense of community that we build for everyone who comes through our doors.”

Overall, the workshop brought new awareness to the staff and offered those who are often targeted a sense of hope:

“I used to think these interactions were normal and sexual harassment didn’t happen much around here, but I just haven’t been paying close enough attention.”

“I didn’t think that what I went through would ‘count’ because I’m a guy, but now I know that [harassment] can affect anyone.”

“I thought it wasn’t going to get any better than hiding, but after this workshop, I feel like my coworkers know how to better support me.”

Want to bring CASS to your own place of work? Email us at workshops@collectiveactiondc.org!

Workshops are just one way that CASS works to empower people in the DC metropolitan area to build a community free from public sexual harassment and assault. Support our work year round by becoming part of the Collective Action Circle!

CASS Workshops: “I Can Be the Next Potato Chip Man.”

Last Sunday, we facilitated a workshop on how to respond to public sexual harassment over at the Lamont Street Collective, an intentional community that has been welcoming local artists and activists, hosting shows, and organizing events in their home for over 40 years.

We welcomed one of our newest board members as a participant, along with members of an Asian and Pacific Islander advocacy organization, a woman looking to provide our workshop to her employees, and a number of concerned local residents. (Of course Moo, the Lamont Street Collective dog, also paid very close attention!) When we asked the group why they chose to attend, one woman shared, “My friends and I live in this neighborhood and we deal with harassment every day. We talk about it constantly.”

Facilitators Krystal and Kris worked with the group to define public sexual harassment and why intervention is so important. “These are not compliments or ways to connect with you, or any other excuse that a harasser will give. This is all about control and power. Whenever we say something back, we’re taking our control back.”

Many cited the fear of escalation as a deterrent to responding, expressing that any of the less severe forms of harassment could quickly become more violent should they end up aggravating the harasser. Kris reinforced that safety is the number one priority and stated, “The purpose of this workshop is to give you some tools so that, when you do feel comfortable, you know how to act.”

FullSizeRender

Participants then practiced a number of possible responses in two scenarios: as direct targets of harassment and as active bystanders intervening in difficult situations. After the exercises, the group felt empowered and ready to take the first steps toward addressing these issues out in the community. One man shared, “I’m usually not very assertive, but saying those lines felt really good… I have coworkers who harass people like this and I feel like now I know what to say to them.” Another joked, “I think I can be the next potato chip man.”

Want to feel a bit more empowered yourself? Join us at our next public workshop on June 20th at Potter’s House. Interested in hosting a workshop for your group? Email us at workshops@collectiveactiondc.org.

We Chalked, We Canvassed, We Reclaimed Safe Public Space.

This month, CASS staff and volunteers took to the streets to spread messages against sexual violence and reclaim public space.

We chalked the streets!

1

2

 

It was empowering for those of us who experience street harassment every day to take back the streets, to use art to heal, and to amplify our messages against this most prevalent form of gender-based violence.

…even though our messages weren’t universally appreciated.

4

 

We canvassed Metro stops to share information on how to report harassment on public transit.

 

5

If you experience or witness harassment on public transit, report it at wmata.com/harassment! Metro Transit Police will follow up, and we’ll be able to collect better data on when and where harassment is happening, so we can recommend solutions.

We hosted a public workshop training community members to respond to harassment!

6

 

We rallied against street harassment in Baltimore in partnership with HollaBack! Bmore and with the support of organizations like FORCE, Baltimore Transgender Alliance, the West Family Coalition, and many more.

7

8

Now, let’s party. Join us on Thursday, April 28th to celebrate six years of creating safe public spaces for everyone. Buy your tickets to our annual gala here!

Let’s Talk about Race: How CASS Is Making Workshops More Intersectional

This week, we presented a workshop on bystander intervention for students at the Georgetown University Law Center. Participants shared their experiences with harassment both as targets and as bystanders and we offered effective strategies for responding, de-escalating, and remaining safe.

We also had a new conversation about race and privilege.

Gtown workshop

We asked participants: “How do you think factors like your race, ethnic background, gender, gender presentation, or sexual orientation affect the way that you experience harassment?”

It was the first time we’d raised the question in a workshop, but we’d successfully tested it out in our #CASSchats last month, and looked forward to making this small change that creates a safe space for people to talk about oppression. In both our Twitter chat and the workshop, participants jumped right in: straight white men acknowledged that they often don’t see harassment, and LGBTQ folks shared that they’re harassed with homophobic or transphobic slurs.

flawless kimya tweet

In the past, our Anti-Racism Policy has been that we don’t allow references to the race of the perpetrators in our workshops, unless it’s directly relevant to the story. The logic behind this policy was simple: We don’t want to perpetuate stereotypes about who’s doing the harassing. Instead of focusing on race, we encouraged participants to focus on behaviors helping them recognize sexual harassment as it occurs in both private and public spaces.

While we believe it’s important to keep our Anti-Racism Policy in place, the intersectional feminists within us felt that it was not enough.

We’re now excited to start the dialogue about race, privilege, and the ways that layers of oppression may affect the way that we experience harassment that harassment is often different for white women than it is for transwomen of color and that the unwanted contact that has become normalized for us may be more severe if we are not white, cis, and housed.

Interested in talking more about race and privilege? Join us at our public workshop on April 12th, and participate in our next Twitter chat on April 14th at 9pm using #CASSchats.

See all our events for Anti-Street Harassment Awareness Week here!

1 2 3 4