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We are so excited to announce that we are recipients of a 2014 Femmy Award; a local award given to organizations or individuals who have made a difference in the fight for women’s equality in the National Capital Region. Yay!
Won’t you come celebrate with us?
Saturday, March 8th, Doors open at 6pm, FREE & includes child care!
It’s the feminist event of the year. The tone is really light and the goal is to celebrate our victories and acknowledge all the amazing work feminists do in the city all year ’round.
There’s an info fair (come say hi!), a funny skit, a short video, the award ceremony and the whole thing ends with a cash bar & a dance party.
This year’s theme is a play on The Hunger Games, so may feminism be ever in your favour!
And did we mention it’s free? Because it’s definitely free!
Check out the Facebook event page for more information!
Thank you to those who nominated us for this award and to everyone who has supported our work. We see you! We appreciate you!
I had just gotten off the bus and was walking down Wellington towards the bank when a man approached me. He was licking his lips at me and started yelling his name and address at me. I gave him a dirty look and moved towards the bank I was headed for, and when I turned in the other direction he started following me, asking me to go to Cuba with him. I ran inside the bank and he yelled a few more sexual things to me before leaving.
It was around 11: 30pm on January 17th when I was heading downtown from Orleans on route 95. I was sitting closer to the front on the right side where there are two seats facing forward and where an exit door is situated right in front. There was a man sitting to my left and by the time we arrived to campus station the bus was then full.
I decided to get up in order to get off at Laurier which was the next stop and hopefully let someone else sit down. When I did so, no one took the seat and so I was crammed between two people. I was facing forward. I soon realized that there was someone behind me that was pushing onto me every time the bus would stop slightly. I wasn’t sure if it was a man or a woman at the time but did not think much of it considering the social circumstances. I soon realized it wasn’t an imbalance; he was grinding up on me.
I arrived at Laurier Station at 12:50. When I was preparing to eagerly get off, the man groped my ass. As a reflex I hit his hand in shock and anger. In that instant he sarcastically said: “I’m sorry” like his action was an accident. I was so scared that I tried getting off as quickly as possible. I turned around to see a man about 5’11′ wearing a ball cap that was red and blue. He was wearing jeans and a light short winter jacket. Middle aged, Caucasian. When I got off I then realized what had happened.
Like many women who find themselves in these situations, I wish there could have been something else that I could of done more then just file a report. We cannot be scared to stand up for our rights to walk freely in public spaces without being harassed any longer. I refuse to spend the rest of my life looking over my shoulder.
After reading the recent post about the horrific harassment a former Ottawa resident experienced while riding the train in San Francisco, I was inspired to share a story of my own harassment on a TTC subway. At the time I was angry and felt violated. I tried not to give my harassers any more power and only mentioned the incident to my boyfriend and close friend when I returned home. I now realize that speaking up about these incidents is the only way to show others that they’re not alone when harassment happens and that it is important we have each other’s backs, no matter what. Here’s my story:
It was a hot and humid Sunday afternoon in June. I was racing against the clock to make it from my small hometown to Toronto Union Station before enduring the 4.5 hour train ride back to Ottawa. Getting me as far as he could, my boyfriend dropped me off at Yorkdale where I would take the subway the rest of the way. Having lived in Toronto for three years while completing my degree at York, the subway, and specifically the Yonge-University-Spadina line, was comfortable for me.
On this Sunday the subway was quiet but not empty. I chose a window seat with my bag piled in my lap, sunglasses on, and earbuds in – my classic ‘do not disturb’ look while riding transit. It was close to 40 degrees that day so I was wearing jeans and a tank top; my half-sleeve of tattoos clear on display. At the next station, Lawrence West, three clearly intoxicated men stormed on to the train, first at the back of the car then loudly barging their way to the front where I was seated. Even though there were plenty of empty seats, they all remained standing in front of the door across from me.
“Hey!! Nice tattoos!” The drunk ring leader yelled at me. I pretended not to notice. This wasn’t the first time a random stranger “complimented” me on my tattoos and usually a polite half-smile of acknowledgment was enough to subdue their curiosity. Apparently it wasn’t this time and he felt entitled to walk over and inspect me as he got in for a closer look. I continued to look away and pretend I couldn’t notice him. “HEY!! “How many tattoos do you have??” the obnoxious ring leader yelled. I remained stone-faced and kept looking straight ahead. He got in my line of vision and yelled it again. “A few” I mumbled in the angriest tone I could muster. “Oh, yeah? Where? Where are all your tattoos??” The same dude looked back at his friends and they all laughed hysterically.
I remember the ride between the next few stops feeling like an eternity. More people got on the train but no one said anything. I remember glancing across the aisle and catching the eye of an older man sitting facing me, but he never interfered. The stops are close to almost 5 minutes apart but every second I couldn’t look out the window or drone out their drunk leers made me feel worse. “IS THAT THE QUEEN OF HEARTS?!” the same asshole yelled at me after a few minutes. He was staring at my traditional style nurse on my inner-bicep. His friends burst out laughing. “What?? IS THAT THE QUEEN OF HEARTS?!” When the train finally stopped at Dupont the drunk assholes high-fived and ran out. Once I saw them get off I immediately looked down and avoided any further eye contact as the train pulled away.
Since I was still rushing to make my train, I put those assholes out of my mind but texted my boyfriend about it when I got home. I was angry and I felt violated. I didn’t want to ‘dwell’ on it so I put it out of my mind. I thought this was the best thing to do. But then, thinking back, I – and my girlfriends – experienced a lot of harassment on that TTC line. There was the time when a drunk man sat down beside me, tried to force me to drink some of his whiskey then sat across from me and proceeded to yell at me for attention. The countless stares from men that made me so uncomfortable I, several times, thought about getting off at a different stop in case they followed me. The night my friend was blocked from exiting a subway by three dudes staring at her, standing in front of the door. And, most famously to me, the morning when, on a jam-packed subway some dude put his hands on my friend’s ass and she turned around and punched him in the nose, the women around her cheering.
Reading about the horrific harassment that happened to Nadine assured me that I was not alone when I was harassed. How many other women are currently holding in these stories, trying not to let it bother them? As the same friend who slugged that man on the subway recently told me, “I think it’s very unnerving to be a woman alone on any form of public transportation. It’s partly your own mind scaring you, but I think it’s also the experience of being a woman and having to continually defend your actions, dress, thoughts, words etc.”
These incidents of harassment don’t just happen on transit in big cities like Toronto, San Francisco, and Ottawa. They can happen at any time, anywhere, and to anyone. If you notice someone being harassed, try to say something. It’s not always easy to speak up, especially when you’re by yourself, but it is important that we try. It’s one thing to wait for a man to interfere but as women we need to stand up for each other. If we don’t, we can end up feeling more alone, potentially afraid to share these stories with others, inadvertently continuing to let pathetic harassers get away with it. So let’s have each other’s backs, in any way we can.
The following story was written by Nadine, a Hollaback! Ottawa supporter now living in San Francisco. We are posting her story here because it is a stark reminder of the importance of bystander intervention.
Nadine deserved better. We all do.
[Trigger warning for graphic descriptions of sexual violence]
Something happened to me this evening.
I took the subway home after class this evening. During the journey home, a man boarded and sat next to me. The train was full to capacity with passengers and I was, in essence, trapped in my seat. The man was clearly agitated, he was loud, disruptive and I was immediately, intensely uncomfortable. Because of his agitation, I was reluctant to do anything that might be perceived as a provocation. When he began speaking, I tried to keep my tone calm, while engaging as little as I could without making him angry.
He proceeded to threaten me, saying that he was going to kill me. He had a backpack and showed me half a dozen horror movie DVDs, saying that he had done these sorts of things to other women. He threatened to sexually assault and kill me several more times. I didn’t think he had any weapons in his bag, but I wasn’t sure. My instincts told me to stay calm, so I tried.
As I said, because the train was crowded, I couldn’t get out of my seat easily. Several passengers were glancing at us, aware of what was going on. I tried to signal them, to make eye-contact and mouth “help”. And when I did, every person who had been looking at us, looked away from me.
Eventually, I did get off and the guy never harmed me. I alerted authorities as soon as I got off the train and now I’m home safe and sound. But I can’t shake how alone I felt riding on a crowded subway full of people.
I get it. It was awkward, it was scary and they probably didn’t know how to help. So I want to tell you what could have helped me this evening, in case you ever see someone who might be in trouble. If someone had come over and said “hi,” or started a conversation, so that I didn’t appear to be alone. Pressing the help button that I couldn’t get to. Approaching a clearly antagonistic man alone is obviously intimidating, but perhaps joining up with another passenger or two or three or four and interceding together might work. Even maintaining eye contact and nodding, so the person in trouble knows you’re looking out for them, even if you can’t do anything at that exact moment can help.
I did what people always tell women traveling alone to do. I stuck to a well-lit, crowded location. But the crowded location isn’t safe if no one in that crowd will help. So if you see someone who looks like they’re in trouble, please, please, please try to help if you can.
To learn more about our bystander intervention work, check out “I’ve got your back!”
Walking down street man standing in the middle of the sidewalk, blocking my path and smiling at me. I avoid eye contact and he doesn’t move, I go to walk on the road and he says to me as I walk by “Can I hug you?”
Trying to walk to catch my bus to get to my university, man sexually harasses me verbally saying things to me which I ignore. Then, because I ignore him, he begins following after me for a time. While I am walking away, continues swearing at and insulting me. One minute he’s following me making me uncomfortable trying to get my attention, then, because he felt so entitled to it, he then follows me saying f you, you ugly piece of … Etc .
What a great start to my day.
After some drinks with a friend in Westboro on January 27, 2014, I got on the 2 Rideau Centre around 9:20 pm. The bus ride was quiet until we hit Somerset and Preston, when an older man who was obviously intoxicated boarded the bus and sat in the seats in front of me. He didn’t bother anybody until the bus reached Somerset and Bronson around 9:30 pm, when some visibly underage girls got on the bus. I noticed that he started leering at one of the girls, and he eventually started speaking to her in a derogatory manner. She ignored him for part of her bus ride and rolled her eyes and responded to him dismissively for the other part, but she was clearly uncomfortable with the situation. At this point I was wearing my headphones, but I had no music playing, and I was about to speak up to the man and tell him to lay off when she and her group of friends exited the bus at Dundonald Park.
This is when I, fed up with his disgusting behaviour, took his picture to send to Hollaback, which I have attached here. He tried to speak to me, but I pretended to listen to my iPod and ignored him. A few minutes later, at Somerset and Bronson, a very young girl boarded the bus and sat next to me. This girl appeared very young, and she was probably about 14 or 15 years old. He immediately started leering at her and said some very disgusting sexual things to her, including something about a blowjob. She immediately switched seats and looked very upset. He then started bothering other people of various genders and ages on the bus, and eventually stopped yelling. I yelled at him to fuck off when I exited the bus at the Rideau Centre, but he was too intoxicated to notice.
I just wish I had been more assertive in getting him to lay off harassing these clearly underage girls. This guy is the lowest of the low.