Women In/On the Street: From SlutWalks to #StreetHarassment Tuesday, October 6th, 2015 | 2pm—4pm |
626 Kaneff, York University Introduced by Dr. Sheila Cavanagh
Light Refreshments provided.
Text from poster (or click on it):
This presentation offers a critical discourse analysis of the comments and controversies raised by the SlutWalk and the online denunciation of street harassment, in the mainstream media and within the feminist movement. It examines the current issues and tensions surrounding the street as a means of protest as well as an apparatus of sexual control of women’s bodies, at the intersection of new media and social networks.
Elisabeth Mercier is a Postdoctoral Fellow at Université du Québec à Montréal and York University. Her research interests include the cultural and political aspects of gender and sexuality, at the intersection of other axes of social differentiation (class, age, ethnicity). She’s a collaborator to the Testimonial Cultures project, an action research group working on the use of testimonials as a social and cultural intervention strategy for sexual and gender minorities, sex workers, and people living with HIV/AIDS. Her work has been published in Commposite, Féminétudes, and Heteropolis.
2. “Patriarchy: it’s quite a system. It works. Whiteness too.” have a look at @SaraNAhmed‘s blog post “White Men” about any number of things about white men as norm. She’s uses the academy as an example, often. It’s a good read. #feministkilljoybit.ly/1x9ym2v
3. Best article yet on what us all learning about Ghomeshi means. Nothing or nothing good – either we learned nothing at all, or we’re claiming that all the things we have seen happen in the past, all the women harmed, all the dead women, weren’t enough to catch our attention. Denise Balkissoon says it better, stronger: @balkissoon m.theglobeandmail.com/globe-debate/s…
4. I’m waiting on the written reasons in the Lori Douglas case (still, forever, interminably) before a (new) CJC panel. The latest in this increasingly (i know, you would never think that it could actually get worse, but I assure you, it’s getting worse) bananas saga. Who would like to write about this, please? I’ve got my concerns about the case, but the fact that the CJC committee is going to look at the photos…. I will post or tweet when the reasons come out.
5. Street Harassment: What’s better than a viral video about a white woman walking around New York illustrating just how much street harassment she’s facing? The fact that all the white men were edited out? I had some moments on twitter about this one. I think I leaned towards educative function of academics on twitter but you may disagree.
Appreciating all the discussion about street harassment and race. No particular contribution except to point out long history of scholarship
I won’t start posting videos all the time, but here are a few anti domestic violence campaigns which focus on “the rest of us”, and one anti sex assault campaign which speaks directly to the offender, plus Hollaback! which aims to empower women who face street harassment. Lots to talk about here, I think, but I’ll just give you the raw material.
At “the rest of us”:
First, an anti domestic violence campaign from India called Bell Bajao (Ring the Bell). It encourages people (men?) to interrupt when they hear violence in a home. Actually, the point of the campaign is to encourage action against domestic violence – the doorbell is both a metaphor and a real possibility.
Similar points from South Africa’s POWA (People Opposing Women Abuse):
At “the potential offender”
This one, from SAVE (sexual assault voices of edmonton) is placed in men’s washrooms at bars – aimed directly at the “opportunistic” offender:
The three advertisements were chosen after focus-group testing showed the messages were clearly understood by, and resonated with, young men.
Finally, Hollaback, an initiative aimed at women who are actually targeted by street harassment.
What we need is a major cultural shift. We need to create a social environment where yelling sexual comments at people on the street is considered unacceptable, and people speak up when they see someone being harassed. For this kind of change, we need a movement, and that is what Hollaback! is trying to build.
I love it like I love the fact that I finally noticed that at some point over the past seven years I aged out of the kind of street harassment Hollaback is talking about. Nice! Anyway, I suppose I could always think about speaking up for other women, couldn’t I? Hollaback has nicely though through a position on race, and I appreciate that:
Question: I heard something about your position on antiracism. What’s that about, and what does it have to do with street harassment?
Answer: Replacing sexism with racism is not a proper hollaback. Due in part to prevalent stereotypes of men of color as sexual predators or predisposed to violence, Hollaback! asks that contributors do not discuss the race of harassers or include other racialized commentary. If you feel that race is important to your story, please make sure its relevance is explained clearly and constructively in your post.
Initiatives combating various forms of sexual harassment and assault have continually struggled against the perpetuation of racist stereotypes, and in particular, the construction of men of color as sexual predators. There exist widespread fictions regarding who perpetrators are: the myth of racial minorities, particularly latino and black men, as prototypical rapists and as being more prone to violence is quite common. This stems in part from a tragic and violent history in which black men in the U.S. were commonly and unjustly accused of assaulting white women, and as such were lynched by mobs and “tried” in biased courts.
Because of the complexity of institutional and socially ingrained prejudices, Hollaback! prioritizes resisting both direct as well as unconscious and unintentional reinforcement of social hierarchies. Simultaneously, Hollaback! aims to highlight the interrelations between sexism, racism, and other forms of bias and violence.
Question: But isn’t street harassment a cultural thing?
Answer: Street harassers occupy the full spectrum of class, race, and nationality. Sexual harassment, and street harassment specifically, is resisted by people around the globe: Hollaback! receives e-mails of support and solidarity from numerous countries and from every continent. To condense another’s culture into vague assumptions about who and what they are is to generalize dangerously about a wide range of experiences and perspectives that exist within any one given culture.