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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PHOTOS: CASS Reclaims the Streets with the 19th Amendment Alleycat!

If you were one of nearly 200 people (including 36 awesome volunteers!) who participated in the 19th Amendment Alleycat this past Saturday, then you know that it was a complete success!

The event, an all-women, scavenger-style bike race benefiting CASS, was the epitome of *empowering.* Organized by two women bikers who are active in the city’s cycling community, the alleycat was a fun experience to help women feel comfortable and confident biking on the DC streets. The event helped introduce more women to the male-dominated world of alleycats while also highlighting DC’s role in the women’s rights movement. Bikers visited locations like the Daughters of the American Revolution Hall and Betty Friedan’s home, to task-oriented checkpoints, like getting a business card from a local woman-owned business. Not only was it the largest alleycat the city has seen since the ’90s, it also raised nearly $800 for CASS!

The alleycat was a fun and empowering way to raise awareness and foster dialogue around public sexual harassment, a widespread problem that disproportionately affects women and LGBT folks, severely limiting their safety and restricting their mobility. Since CASS was founded in 2009, we’ve received hundreds of stories of street harassment faced by DC residents. Many folks (including the CASS team!) find biking to be an empowering way to avoid street harassment; however, we still receive stories of people about experiencing harassment while cycling. A study by CASS conducted this summer found that 90 percent of DC respondents report experiencing public sexual harassment, including verbal harassment, leering, stalking and groping.

CASS’s work, including the 19th Amendment Alleycat, is part of a global movement to make public spaces safer for women and LGBT folks. The 19th Amendment Alleycat came exactly one week after women bikers reclaimed the streets in Cairo, Egypt, and just a few days after 300 women in India took their bikes to the streets. The DC alleycat was in solidarity with these global efforts in helping spread the message that everyone — no matter what you look like or who you love — deserves to be able to move freely in public without the fear of sexual harassment and assault. CASS was inspired by all the folks who made it out to Saturday’s event! We give a special thanks to the bad@$$ women who participated in the event, the 36 amazing volunteers, the 24 rad sponsors (can we talk about how awesome those prizes were?!) and — last but not least — the organizers, Stef and Bronwen. We thank the DC community for coming together to support a great cause! All funds raised will support our programming to prevent public sexual harassment and sexual assault. For those of you who wanted to contribute but didn’t have cash or were unable to attend the alleycat, it’s not too late to send some love our way!

Tasks for the 19th Amendment Alleycat included:

  • Find the names of the 8 women on the Vietnam Memorial Wall,
  • Return a missing toy soldier to Clara Barton’s Missing Soldier’s Office in Chinatown
  • Answer this question, “The first female member of the Cabinet served as the Secretary of the Department of ____”   (Answer: Labor)
  • Answer a question about the Daughter’s of the American Revolution building
  • Grab a pamphlet at the National Museum of Women in the Arts
  • Take a team photo at the WABA Women & Bicycles photobooth (see pics below!)
  • Name a song played by Soundbike DC, who was cruising down the parade route of the 1913 Woman’s Suffrage Parade (i.e. Pennsylvania cycletrack)
  • At Tubman Elementary playground where there’s a U.S. map painted on asphalt, jump on one of the first five states to ratify the 19th amendment.

Check our the CASS Facebook album for more pics and be sure to follow us at @SafeSpacesDC!

CASS's 19th Amendment Alleycat in DC

CASS staff!

Photo by mark@seltzer.org
Photo by mark@seltzer.org
CASS 19th Amendment Alleycat in DC
Photo by Nacim Bouchtia
Photo by mark@seltzer.org
Photo by mark@seltzer.org
Photo by mark@seltzer.org
Photo by mark@seltzer.org
Photo by mark@seltzer.org
Photo by mark@seltzer.org
Photo by mark@seltzer.org
Photo by mark@seltzer.org
Photo by mark@seltzer.org
Photo by mark@seltzer.org
Photo by mark@seltzer.org
Photo by mark@seltzer.org
Photo by mark@seltzer.org
CASS 19th Amendment Alleycat in DC
Photo by Nacim Bouchtia
“Raise your hand if you’re ever been street harassed!” Photo by mark@seltzer.org
CASS 19th Amendment Alleycat in DC
“Raise your hand if you’re ever been street harassed!” Photo by Nacim Bouchtia
CASS 19th Amendment Alleycat in DC
Photo by Nacim Bouchtia
CASS's DC 19th Amendment Alleycat
Photo by Nacim Bouchtia
CASS's DC 19th Amendment Alleycat
Photo by Nacim Bouchtia
CASS 19th Amendment Alleycat
Photo by Nacim Bouchtia
CASS 19th Amendment Alleycat in DC
1st Place for speed! Lindsey Crifasi. Photo by Nacim Bouchtia
CASS 19th Amendment Alleycat in DC
Finish line! Photo by Nacim Bouchtia
Bike House team! Photo by Nacim Bouchtia

 

CASS 19th Amendment Alleycat in DC
Photo by mark@seltzer.org
CASS 19th Amendment Alleycat in DC
Photo by mark@seltzer.org
CASS 19th Amendment Alleycat in DC
Photo by mark@seltzer.org
CASS 19th Amendment Alleycat in DC
Alleycat organizer Stef Winzeler! Photo by mark@seltzer.org
CASS 19th Amendment Alleycat in DC
Alleycat organizer Bronwen Rice! Photo by mark@seltzer.org
CASS 19th Amendment Alleycat in DC
Photo by mark@seltzer.org
CASS's 19th Amendment Alleycat in DC
Photo by mark@seltzer.org
CASS 19th Amendment Alleycat in DC
Photo by mark@seltzer.org

Over 250 DC Women Expected to Participate in Grassroots, Anti-Harassment Biking Event

October 17, 2013

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact:
Renee Davidson
Communications Director
Collective Action for Safe Spaces
renee@collectiveactiondc.org

“19th Amendment Alleycat” Will Benefit Local Anti-Street Harassment Group, Collective Action for Safe Spaces (CASS)

Washington, DC — This Saturday, October 19, over 250 women are expected to participate in “19th Amendment Alleycat,” or what might be the District’s first all-women alleycat. Organized by two women bikers who are active in the city’s cycling community, the grassroots event aims to help women feel comfortable and confident on the DC streets, especially when faced with public sexual harassment. The event offers a unique spin on alleycats, or “urban checkpoint races” which are similar to scavenger hunts and are traditionally dominated by men. Registration is $5 and benefits Collective Action for Safe Spaces (CASS), a local grassroots group that works to empower people in the DC metropolitan area to build a community free from public sexual harassment and assault.

Less about speed and more about strategy, the 19th Amendment Alleycat will include checkpoints throughout the city that center around events and locations related to DC’s role in the women’s rights movement. Participants will also be able to enter a raffle to win prizes from a range of sponsors (see sponsors list below). Male allies are encouraged to volunteer at check-points and join participants at the finish for a raffle and an official after party.

“The 19th Amendment Alleycat aims to help raise awareness and foster dialogue about public sexual harassment, which is a widespread problem that severely limits women’s safety and restricts their mobility,” said CASS’s founder and executive director, Chai Shenoy. A study by CASS conducted this summer found that 90 percent of respondents report experiencing public sexual harassment in DC, including verbal harassment, leering, stalking and groping. “Since CASS was founded in 2009, we’ve received hundreds of stories of street harassment faced by DC residents, including by female bikers,” said Shenoy, pointing to stories of women being forced to change their bike routes to avoid sexual harassment, fearing sexual assaults along local bike trails and being stalked and dangerously harassed by strangers in cars. The event comes exactly one week after a similar all-women’s cycling event was held in Cairo, Egypt, in response to public sexual harassment.

In preparation for the DC alleycat, CASS collected stories of sexual harassment faced by women cyclists, as well as statements on how biking helps women feel empowered. “At the same time that women cyclists often face street harassment, biking can be very empowering, and we look forward to women reclaiming the streets of DC this Saturday,” said Shenoy.

Sponsors and those donating items and raffle prizes to the 19th Amendment Alleycat include: Retail: All-City Cycle, Anhaica Bag Works, Ass Savers, Fabric Horse, Fiks:Reflective, Harlot Clothing Co., Knog, Kozie Prery, Oury Grips USA, Po Campo, Pure Fix Cycles, Road Runner Bags, Rockinoggins, Vaya Bags; Local Bike Shops: BicycleSPACE, CycleLife USA, Proteus Bicycles, The Bike Rack, Velocity Bicycle, Cooperative; Food and Bev: Honest Tea, KIND Bars, Sticky Fingers Bakery; With support from: The Bike House, WABA Women & Bicycles.

The 19th Amendment Alleycat will begin at 2:00pm Saturday, October 19th, at Meridian Hill Park in NW DC. The event will last approximately two hours and will culminate with an official after party. Interested parties should RSVP on Facebook. More information can be found on CASS’s website: www.collectiveactiondc.org.

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Founded in 2009 as HollaBackDC!, Collective Action for Safe Spaces (CASS) works to empower people in the DC metropolitan area to build a community free from public sexual harassment and assault. It does this through both online and offline activism, including workshops, innovative direct services, policy advocacy, and community outreach. Volunteer-led and -run, CASS utilizes the creativity and energy of the DC community to further its mission and vision. Follow CASS on Facebook and on Twitter.

We Asked, You Told: Your Stories of Street Harassment While Biking

Anti-street harassment rally organized by CASS in 2011 in Adams Morgan, DC.

We’ve told you all about the 19th Amendment Alleycat, an empowering, all-women scavenger-hunt-like race taking over the streets of DC this Saturday. The event will emphasize women feeling comfortable and confident on the DC streets, especially when faced with street harassment. Registration is just $5 and benefits CASS, which does programming, community activism and policy work to prevent public sexual harassment in DC.

As we explained last week, at the same time that biking can be incredibly empowering, we’ve also learned from the DC community that many women experience public sexual harassment while cycling. According to a study by Stop Street Harassment, 24 percent of women refrain from exercising outdoors in order to avoid public sexual harassment and assault. It’s a problem that’s bigger than just DC. Last Saturday, for example, activists in Cairo, Egypt, organized a biking event, called “We Will Ride Bicycles,” in order “to promote women and girl’s rights to run errands through cycling without being afraid of attracting negative reaction in the streets.”

In prep for the 19th Amendment Alleycat and as a way to bolster the conversation about these important issues, last week we asked you to share your experiences with biking and street harassment, including how biking helps makes you feel empowered. Here’s what some of you said. 

On facing street harassment while biking:

@KidicalMassDC  HELL yeah.The worst was when a dude ran into the street & GRABBED MY ASS while I was pedaling uphill.

@KidicalMassDC  Biking generally not as bad as walking(except for that crazy incident), but still no picnic

@itsnotlucky agree that walking is worse but yes. For example, a driver catcalled, cutme off, asked for my phone number.

@rachelcannon I have gone from glaring & flipping people off to ignoring, which results in more hollering. I don’t respond.

@rachelcannon Yes,especially while in a skirt. Wolf whistles happen. Or, “Hey baby, how ’bout a ride?”

@safeSpacesDC Gah that’sright – the old “can I have a ride” smirk smirk #endSH 

On how biking helps make you feel empowered:

@juliastrange Biking makes me feel empowered bc I flythrough this city faster than any harasser could possibly keepup (though they try) @SafeSpacesDC

@yeluacrk biking helps me avoid being stuck in uncomfortable SH situations on metro/busses & i get places faster! #streetharassment

@ewingren biking helps me feel empowered b/c I engage people in conversation, eye contact, common cause.

@reneetheorizes Biking makes me feel empowered bc I don’t have to wait at bus stops or metro stations #endSH #fem2

@eliseeeymann biking makes me feel empowered bc I can go anywhere I want, fast. It’s me and my body in control.

@blapina biking empowers me because it gets me fit, out in dc cheaply, and connects me with small businesses.

 

Have anything you want to add or a story that you want to tell?
We want to keep the conversation going.
Email Renee or tweet us at @safespacesDC.

>>>>>>>>> RSVP Now! Registration is $5 Proceeds go to CASS!

See you Saturday!

Ladies, Get Your Bikes Ready! All-Woman DC Alleycat, Sat., October 19

“I think the bicycle has done more to emancipate women
than anything else in the world.”
-Susan B. Anthony

Heard of an alleycat?

It’s an informal, scavenger-hunt style bike race, usually dominated by men. That’s changing for DC’s upcoming alleycat! On Saturday, October 19th, join CASS for an all-women 19th Amendment Alleycat, with a route centering around events, locations and the important ladies of women’s history!

>>>>>>>>> RSVP Now! Registration is $5 Proceeds go to CASS!

Less about speed and more about strategy, the 19th Amendment Alleycat is for women seeking to explore new cycling opportunities and build confidence biking around DC in a positive, inviting, fun environment. This alleycat will emphasize feeling comfortable and confident on the DC streets, especially when faced with street harassment. Bikers will not only learn about DC’s role in the women’s rights movement, but also have a chance to win rad prizes, including awesome cycling gear (!).

We at CASS are *pumped* and are so grateful for the two organizers, Stef & Bronwen, who chose CASS as a beneficiary. Male allies are encouraged to volunteer at check-points and join us at the finish for a raffle. Be sure to RSVP on Facebook & leave a comment if you’d like to volunteer!

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