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After attending an all female comedy show, I was walking with my friend and saying our goodbyes in front of Rideau Centre. All of a sudden I felt a slight squeeze of my ass, ever so lightly so that maybe I wouldn’t notice. But of course I did. In shock, I yelled “what the fuck” in the direction of a group of guys strutting away laughing. My heart was beating so fast that I just wanted to get out of there. I quickly said goodbye to my friend and briskly walked home while talking to my mom on the phone. I’ve honestly never felt scared in this city before. As I started to regret not really giving it to those guys, my friend texts me that they came back and she screamed at them saying “harassing women is not ok!” Needless to say, I’m very lucky to have her as a friend. Most of all, I just really hate the fact that I started to regret wearing a somewhat revealing dress. Like how fucked up is that? I never thought I’d blame myself, but the threat was scarier than I imagined.
Street harassment is a gross truth in our city. The issue has recently been in the media in a big way thanks to local women who took to social media to call out a local “pick-up artist” who was harassing and cornering women in Ottawa. The result? #CorneredInOttawa
Summer time might mean an increase in street harassment but it also means an increase in opportunities to fight back.
So, let’s take to the streets, spread anti-street harassment cheer and educate the masses.
It’s Chalk Walk time again!
The Feminist Twins joined us at our last Chalk Walk to spread the good word.
Meet-up at 3pm on Sunday, August 2nd at Bank and Laurier (outside Eggspectation). We’ll bring the chalk, you bring the energy.
Anyone and everyone is welcome, regardless of gender, age, ability or artistic talent! Bring your kids, pets, roommates, grandmother. Come one, come all!
THIS EVENT IS WEATHER DEPENDENT. Please check the Facebook event page by noon to see if we’ll have to cancel because of the rain.
RSVP on Facebook
After the Chalk Walk, join us at the Comic Book Shoppe for Ladies Night! We’ll be tabling, handing out info and chatting with folks about Cosplay =/= Consent.
See you soon, pals!
P.S Mark your calendars for August 23rd and get ready to wave at us as we march at Pride!
I’ve run into this asshat three times. The first time was in the rideau center last summer. He had that nice guy facade going while he kept asking me personal questions, aggressively and persistently asking for my number despite my refusal. Because I felt on the spot I gave him my number just so that he would leave me alone. I regret it completely but I’d never encountered such a pushy “pick up artist” in my life and just wanted to get away quickly, didn’t even give myself time to think up a fake number. I ignored his texts and fb friend request, and eventually blocked him on both.
The second time I ran into him was in the market last Fall. I was on my way to a show when I saw him out of the corner of my eye. I avoided eye contact and kept going on my way, a little faster. A few moments later I hear the thudding of sneakers behind me and sure enough the asshole has chased after me. I’m a little freaked out when I see him and he says: “Can I speak to you for a moment?” and I say “No, I have to go” to which he remarks “Ok, fuck off!”and jogs away before I can say anything else. I was pretty shaken the rest of the night.
The third time was this summer on Elgin street. I’d actually seen him do his rounds there on numerous occasions. Only when I was walking down the street alone did he approach me, again doing his little jog up behind me, and again asks me if he can speak to me. Same thing, except I bluntly tell him to leave me alone because this guy does not get it, and he tells me to fuck off again and runs away again. I did manage to return his remark this time, I was infuriated that he wouldn’t just leave me alone.
I’m hoping that this guy gets it through his thick head that women (and men) despise what he is doing, and that I won’t have to encounter him a 4th time.
I’m one voice among many. 99.9% of women in fact.
Some kid came up to me while I was at work with a customer and tried taking a bunch of selfies with me. Right when he started doing it, I told him to get the hell away from me and ran. I told my coworkers and they all laughed not caring at all. So friggen angry right now.
Hollaback recently shared a story about an Ottawa “pickup artist” Luke Howard who stops women on the street to aggressively get their number, films them without their consent, & post the video online to teach other men that this is acceptable behavior.
Since hearing the story I realized that he approached me about a year ago. The fact that it was most likely filmed & posted online is extremely disturbing. I wish I had told him off. What a lot of people don’t seem to realize is that if I’m polite it’s because they are a potential threat and they’ve caught me off guard trying to get to my destination. Not that ignorance is an excuse to harass women. Regardless, he knows better due to the women who told him they weren’t comfortable and he continued.
Two of my friends have told me that he approached them three times each and that when they told him this he became hostile.
I want to thank Hollaback for their public statements against this behavior.
HOLLA! NOTE: We’re so sorry this happened to you, your friends and other women in our community. It’s gross; it’s scary; and it needs to stop.
If you see ANYONE treating others in this way, you CAN do something about it. To learn about safe, effective ways of intervening, check out I’ve Got Your Back!
New neighbours moved in across the street from my place a couple of months ago. That, or the nice weather brought them & their friends out of hibernation.
Every Thursday, and other days of the week, they drink on the roof of Maxim Hair Design and yell at everyone. People driving by are harassed until they honk, and anyone who doesn’t play along is subject to verbal abuse.
Needless to say, they also spend a lot of time cat calling women (myself included) and hurling insults when they don’t get a positive response. Trying to ask them to stop nicely had no result.
It’s shitty enough to have to be subject to this while walking or driving by, but it’s worse to be able to overhear the awful, disgusting things they say when they think they’re out of earshot while I’m in the kitchen, slowly losing my appetite while trying to cook dinner.
Dudes, please do better!
On May 15, 2013 we hosted an open forum where we asked women to share their concerns about safety on OC Transpo. What we heard is in line with what we know about gender-based violence more broadly: it’s happening; it’s humiliating; people don’t talk about it and when they do? Their experiences are often dismissed or minimized as “not a big deal.” But gender-based violence is a big deal.
You can read our full report about the open forum here.
We asked the community for solutions and they told us that an anonymous reporting mechanism would allow marginalized transit users to feel more comfortable alerting OC Transpo about the types of harassment and violence they are experiencing. They also wanted more awareness about harassment and better advertising of ways that people can let OC Transpo know.
And guess what? WE GOT THEM!
The anonymous reporting mechanism will allow anyone, including a 3rd party, to report any incident to OC Transpo 100% anonymously.
The ads, although they aren’t nearly as strong as we’d like them to be, are a positive step in the right direction of naming harassment and violence on transit. Baby steps are happening!
Hollaback! Ottawa is an entirely volunteer-driven organization with no funding, staff or office space. That we were able to turn our community consultations into reality is a testament to the importance of true collaboration. Thank you to OC Transpo for attending our forum two years ago, creating the Safety Working Group and allowing us and fellow violence against women agencies to be heard.
But most of all, thank you to the community who has shared their stories with us and trusted us to represent them. We made a commitment to our community 2 years ago that we would amplify their voices and we are so happy to be here today to show off the fruits of that labour.
Thank you to our allies in the community for stepping up and supporting us. WISE: Women’s Initiatives for Safer Environments has been there for us since day 1. When we approached OC Transpo in February of 2013 and were essentially shot down, WISE was there with us right away. Thank you.
Big ups to fellow community allies Ottawa Coalition to End Violence Against Women (OCTEVAW), Sexual Assault Support Centre of Ottawa (SASC), Ottawa Rape Crisis Centre (ORCC) and City for All Women Initiative (CAWI) for being such perpetual badasses. Sitting at the table with you folks for the past year or so has been an amazing experience and we look forward to continuing this work with y’all.
We believe in “community on a bus.” Taking the bus is, by definition, a shared experience. It is our hope that these new safety mechanisms will remind folks to look out for each other and to have each other’s backs.
As an organization that works with survivors of gender-based harassment, we know that simply telling people to report is not enough. People need to trust that the system will listen, that OC Transpo will follow through and that their concerns will be taken seriously.
If you’ve been harassed, we want you to let OC Transpo know. But we also want you to know that: we believe you.
The work to make public transit safer does not end today. We are committed to holding OC Transpo accountable and working collaboratively with our allies at the Safety Working Group.
But for now? We celebrate!
Every morning for the past 2 weeks, the same guy has been honking at me as he drives by while I wait for my bus to work. He either honks for really long or a bunch of short bursts; regardless it’s always enough to startle me and get my attention. This morning I was able to get his license plate number: BXDD 614. It’s a very minor incident but it has gotten to a point where I know that I will have to be irritated by his honks every morning unless I choose to change my morning schedule, which I shouldn’t have to do.