By Stupid Girl
For Kate, a 28-year-old cycling enthusiast, summer is always the worst. Pedestrians feel free to yell what they perceive as compliments: “Yeah, you look good!” or “Can I ride with you?”
“As a woman, I’m constantly operating with the low-level fear that any man might attack me,” said Kate, a resident of the Brookland neighborhood in Northeast Washington, who asked that her last name not be used because of safety concerns.
So–wherever there’s a First World problem, there’s a First World solution: an “awareness” group:
Recently, the Washington Area Bicyclist Association partnered with Collective Action for Safe Spaces (CASS) in the District to give cyclists a safe place to vent and discuss harassment prevention and empowerment strategies, said Nelle Pierson, WABA’s coordinator of outreach programs.
“A lot of women start biking because it is empowering, but also because they can just get away from a situation,” said Zosia Sztykowski, 28, of Columbia Heights, the lead outreach coordinator for CASS, a grassroots organization dedicated to building awareness and ending sexual assault and harassment on the streets. The organization produces a blog that curates women’s experiences with street harassment. “A lot of people think street harassment happens just to them and that they’re alone,” she said.
Workshop participants were asked in an online survey about their experiences with street harassment and public transportation. “The most frequent type of street harassment seems to be having someone from a car or sidewalk shout rude and disrespectful things at you,” whether the victim’s on a bike or a pedestrian, one person said. A CASS study in May found that 90 percent of women and members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community had experienced some form of harassment while biking.
Transgender bicyclists! I love it!
Also, how can you tell if a cyclist is “bisexual”? Really?
Fortunately for cyclists feeling harassed by “rude or disrespectful” shouted things, CASS offers some ways to deal with the problem:
Sztykowski said there are several methods to engage the harasser, including employing a response such as: “Stop harassing people. I don’t like it. No one likes it. Show some respect.”
That’ll do it! Plus, there’s this:
A few of the participants liked the idea of placing the shame back on the harasser with a comment like: “When you comment on my body, it makes me barf.” Another participant suggested using the clinical terms for body parts. In her experience, the word “vagina” makes harassers especially uncomfortable.
Posted by Charlotte Allen