The Hackney Post reports that a 25-year-old by the name of Vicky Simister is launching an anti-harassment campaign in Hackney, after being ‘tailed by cars or having comments made about me, and I’ve even been assaulted a couple of times’.
She has spoken to Hackney Police about the issue, but has received a ‘mixed response’, saying many people seem to think it’s just part of life.
Her campaign website can be found here: http://www.lashcampaign.org
A builder in Hackney Road has been quoted as saying, ‘Some people need to lighten up’ but it will be interesting to see how much support the campaign gets – and it’s worth noting that builders have lifted their game in recent years, anyway, thanks to the Considerate Construction Scheme.
Personally I think she’s a brave woman – campaigns like these seem to bring all the misogynists out of from under their slimy rocks – and I hope it takes off.
I do have to say, though, that sexual harassment definitely tails off after the age of 25. I think the kind of bloke who will make a gross comment to a person they don’t know will generally pick younger-looking ones, who they assume won’t retaliate. Just read Lolita if you want a better understanding of the kind of character you’re dealing with here (in fact, read it anyway, it’s brilliant).
I personally haven’t been sexually harrassed for ages, not that I’m complaining. The last time I was ‘advanced’ on the street was when a bloke in a parked car asked me for a light then asked something a bit more personal. It was not so much harassment as the sexual equivalent of checking phoneboxes for coins, in the hope that one just might, one day, yield gold. I laughed at him like he’d made a good joke and walked away, which is sometimes the best response.
Another girl I know had some bloke make a comment to her in a car and went back to him, looked him in the eye and said, ‘Just out of interest, has that ever actually worked for you?’
Unfortunately, though, this kind of harrassment is often far more unpleasant and invasive, and I sympathise with anyone who has to deal with it. Women should be able to go about their business without having to deal with losers they don’t know making unwelcome comments, and I agree with Vicky that it would be good if women (and indeed men) stuck up for anyone getting this kind of treatment. This kind of behaviour is reflective of a contemptuous attitude towards women; a view that it’s OK to approach and harass someone you don’t know.
Uggh. Blood boiling. Time for a cup of Tranquili-tea.
I’d love to hear how other people deal with sexual harassment in Hackney…. if indeed they have to deal with it at all.
PS for further reading, here is a blog that documents women’s experiences of street harassment: http://streetharassment.wordpress.com/
And here is a chilling real life story of a woman being harassed by her neighbour, which I read in the Guardian and have never quite forgotten.