What can we do about street harassment

(52 Posts)
TiredButFine Fri 07-Aug-15 22:57:21

Hello all, I usually lurk in AIBU. A recent thread on there about street harassment has moved me and hopefully others to a debate about what to do about this.
Hopefully a more experienced mumsnetter can post a link to it, in case you are interested.
The OP znaika suggested an on the spot 50 euro fine. Actually public guidance on unacceptable behaviour (like racist comments) has worked. Who's up for kicking a few ideas about?

BakingCookiesAndShit Fri 07-Aug-15 23:18:16

Oh hi! Good to see you from the other thread.

I think the thing I've taken most from the other thread is that there really are men out there who seem to honestly believe that women are unreasonable if they object to men trying to hit on them.

The idea of an on the spot fine is a really good one. In some areas OTS fines have reduced the amount of dog shit laying around, so I think it might work similarly.

SmillasSenseOfSnow Fri 07-Aug-15 23:18:53

I followed you here /creepyface

Original thread

TiredButFine Fri 07-Aug-15 23:23:49

Well I'm no great expert on things but I do feel that there is good support in the MN community to do something about it.
Without doubt awareness has been raised by the (dodgy) walking in NY you tube, Dapper Laughs being cancelled etc. that the debate on street harassment is gathering pace.
Wearing a go pro camera isn't something I want to do, I just want people to act appropriately. By not fucking leering at me.

finallydelurking Fri 07-Aug-15 23:25:56

Education would be a good place to start, I have teenagers who I am sick of explaining to that this sort of shit is not something they just 'have to put up with'

Thanks for starting the thread btw

TiredButFine Fri 07-Aug-15 23:47:49

I like the experiential learning approach- in diversity training we explain that blue- eyed people have to sit at the back, then everyone had to throw paper to a bin at the front. The blue eyes do worse. That helps explain "privelige" well.
Do we have to harrass people to make a point about harassment though? Seems extreme

finallydelurking Sat 08-Aug-15 08:14:47

I've seen the blue eyed exercise used with adults, it should probably start being used in schools, the type of attitude that leads to street harassment needs tackling very early on!

ItMustBeBunnies Sat 08-Aug-15 08:36:12

I followed you from the other thread too. As a teacher, there is some education in schools for the one or two individuals per year group who believe that this is acceptable practice.

I think that OTS fines would help. Also, perhaps a number to text / report incidents to (like the fare dodger number on trains). They could alert PCSOs who are nearby.

Sansarya Sat 08-Aug-15 08:40:30

It might be worth talking to Hollaback as they have done quite a lot of work around street harassment.

Some ideas here:

www.stopstreetharassment.org/toolkits/organization/

What might also help is collecting together the research on how many women and girls experience it in the UK (I know there's been some publications recently about US college campuses). I'll have a look and post some links here.

finallydelurking Sat 08-Aug-15 08:42:40

What area do you work in bunnies and how big are your year groups? Sadly where I live it is certainly more than one or two per year group who perpetuate these attitude's online and in person. What has been said to my young looking 11 year old is particularly disturbing.

I like your text idea.

I found this book by Holly Kearl which looks as though it would have useful info.

There is also some interesting research on the links between street culture and violence (something I am interested in anyway in other work).

ItMustBeBunnies Sat 08-Aug-15 09:19:32

Finally, I work in an 11-18 state secondary in SE in a very liberal town. The majority of girls (and a lot of the boys) are self-proclaimed feminists, so I guess my experience is (unfortunately) unusual.

DoreenLethal Sat 08-Aug-15 09:42:02

I have been thinking alot about this since yesterday - i am currently in Paris and have seen nothing more than 'bonjour madame' since that thread started.

I run an alternative provision company and we work with kids who have been excluded, and i am going to be doing some workshops on this. I will share some of the resources on here once i have worked out how it is going to work. Back in the uk later today so will have a think on the journey home.

achieve6 Sat 08-Aug-15 11:33:48

I actually think it would be fair to put this in law

I'm trying to think through the practicalities.

I realise, like littering, it would not be enforced very often. But in situations like on a train or a bus, where there are cameras, you could legitimately report "this guy came and sat next to me when the carriage was empty" and they could check CCTV

any kind of cat calling or wolf whistling could be same as littering - if a police officer is around, they could issue a fine. Anyone saying audibly "I'd do you" or whatever, could be seen as a verbal assault? What does it come under if a racist remark is made? It can't be that hard to legislate on this. It will be like the same as racist remarks, you would need witnesses or recordings. But I am so sick of how normal it is for guys to say stuff to you and no one to be concerned.

The general pick up line "pretty eyes" would be hard to ban, sadly. I really wish we could ban that one.

In terms of schooling, it seems a fair subject to cover even in primary school. Kids seem to start saying some horrible stuff to each other at quite a young age.

WhirlpoolGalaxyM51 Sat 08-Aug-15 11:37:53

There is also the point that a lot of this is surely already illegal? So eg saying something sexual to a 13yo firm on the street is illegal? I would have thought to an adult as well? There are crimes around outraging public decency, being threatening, harassment and so forth but I don't know the detail. Is it legal for a man to shout something obscene at a woman from a car?

But there is societal pressure for women to brush it off and not make a fuss, and the police have not been interested . so something around changing society and authority attitudes from "well he didn't physically attack you what's the problem" to "yes making sexual comments to a child should definitely be reported" and "women should be able to walk down the street unhampered and so men who do x y z are behaving in an unacceptable way"/

Hard to do but I also think the tide is turning. Also, talking about it, because it seems a lot of ordinary men have no comprehension that all this stuff is going on.

WhirlpoolGalaxyM51 Sat 08-Aug-15 11:40:24

Oh yes achieve adding sex to the of items for hate crimes might help too. It's a really glaring omission.

WhirlpoolGalaxyM51 Sat 08-Aug-15 11:51:47

So yes, sorry, warming to the theme!

In terms of education, teaching about harassment etc as mentioned above is great. But should we also not be telling children, quite bluntly, that there is a line over which this is ILLEGAL (I'm not sure where that line lies) and so girls (and boys) who get approached by men who try to get them to go with them, make comments about sex, ask for sex, offer them things in return for sex, or even just say something obscene, should be reported to the police, and that obviously a child isn't often confident enough to do that so X teacher at school you TELL THEM and they will help you report it.

And the police need to be on board with this stuff as well.

Because most of us are inured to this stuff by the time we even hit 16, right? And we know men target underage for a variety of reasons.

And similarly for 16 or over, if at school teacher X is still the person. I think that adult women as well though should be encouraged to come forward and report men who touch them or say obscene stuff to them or follow them saying stuff or whatever it is. I think it should be taken seriously. Women should be able to go about their daily business feeling safe and unhampered.

Interestingly there is a LOT of push back against this mainly on the basis that if all incidents of a sexual nature were reported to the police they'd never have any time for anything else and it's a waste of their time. Pressure on this is strong, for women and girls not to make a fuss.

We need to start making a fuss and things like everyday sexism, other things around the world, raising awareness of the prevalence and the impact on people is a huge help.

In India there are huge campaigns around "eve teasing" for eg, news articles about women being assaulted in Egypt during the celebrations of freedom, that sort of thing. Raises awareness. before, nobody talked about it, nobody reported on it, hardly anyone cared. Is this a sign that women are being accepted more as people, that we are gaining confidence in our own human rights?

AmeliaNeedsHelp Sat 08-Aug-15 12:42:22

I think that the attitude of the police has to change. When I reported threatening behaviour and language the person who answered the phone really tried to put me off reporting.

I do feel, though, that it needs a whole society change in attitude. We need to focus (in schools) on teaching boys that this isn't acceptable. I liked that Adult Wednesday thing - it'd make a good teaching tool to explain how threatening "compliments" can be to the person receiving. I wouldn't want another programme teaching girls how to manage the behaviour of boys.

I remember (vaguely) being taught in school how threatening a group of teenagers can be, and that when we were out in groups we really should be aware of how it makes others feel. So sometimes this stuff does sink in.

StormyBrid Sat 08-Aug-15 13:41:59

Full agreement from me that education is the best way forward long-term. The total Jeremy on the other thread keeps reminding me of various incidents in my life when I've been on the receiving end of unsolicited attention, and the one thing that stands out is the very strong feeling I got that none of the men in question actually realised that they were making me feel uncomfortable, intimidated, and afraid.

One example is a bloke in a nightclub who was clearly interested in me. I wasn't interested in him, didn't make eye contact, answered his comments with monosyllables and shrugs. When I wanted to go home I made sure he was busy talking to someone else and legged it. Halfway home, down a dimly lit residential street, at two in the morning, I heard running footsteps coming up behind me. He "just wanted to walk [me] home". At the end of my cul-de-sac, he swooped in for kiss, which I reluctantly returned in the hope that he'd bounce away with a spring in his step thinking he was well in with a chance next time he saw me, because I feared that if I didn't he might turn nasty. I made damned sure there wasn't a next time, and later discovered he'd behaved in a similar fashion to so many women that he'd earned the moniker 'Stalker [Name]'. And he clearly had no idea that a woman might be scared hearing running footsteps approaching while alone at night. It just did not occur to him that there might be any perspective other than his own. That needs to change.

kickassangel Sat 08-Aug-15 18:48:45

I agree that something has to change in the general attitude. When out in public there should be a basic level of respect for others. That includes not crowding them off the pavement, taking up their space, intimidating them, letting your dog crap etc. basically, the public street is a place where everyone is a visitor and should be on beat manners. If we need laws and fines to make that happen, then that should be a starting point for change, not an end in itself.

SpeverendRooner Sat 08-Aug-15 21:34:29

Something I suggested on the AIBU thread, but may have got lost: an "I won't hit on you" badge for men, but phrased better so it doesn't sound like reverse creepiness. The idea is to surround the Burkes of this world with individual men choosing to say (in a low key way): cut it out.

KevinKnowsImMiserableNow Sat 08-Aug-15 21:40:34

I think whoever upthread said educating girls that they don't have to silently put up with it is right as well.

On the spot fines would reinforce the not alright-ness of it.

Certainly, from my own experience when I was about 25 I was standing outside the train station talking with my new boyfriend and a strange bloke came up and grabbed my arse then walked off laughing. I shouted after him to leave me alone.

I told my (55 yo) mother about it on the phone. Her response? "what on EARTH did your new boyfriend think of YOU shouting like that?"

Something like a Hollaback, or an everyday sexism, but for men to register their membership of the NAM? Would be interesting, I wonder how many men would bother with it. IRRC, Speverend, you were the only male to actually speak out against Berk's unpleasant remarks. And you didn't say you were a man until quite late on, unless I missed it? I'd assumed you were female till now.

KevinKnowsImMiserableNow Sat 08-Aug-15 21:41:49

Speverend, I wouldn't trust the predators not to use the badges to infiltrate women's boundaries though.

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