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A strange man approached me in the parking lot at school, after greeting him and smiling – as I try to do with most individuals, out of courtesy. He then began asking me a series of questions: i.e. Was I a professor at the school? Attempting to make it clear that I had to get to class, he then commented on how “beautiful” I was, followed by the suggestion that “my husband must tell me that all of the time.” I left for my intended destination. Since when did a “Hi” become an invitation?
Some guy on the Media/Elwyn line began interrogating me, trying to get my number and find out where I go to school. Despite saying I was on my way home from my boyfriend’s place, he didn’t relent until we both got off the train at Suburban Station.
A man selling papers for a local homeless organization started asking me rather personal questions, like if I’m single and why didn’t I have a boyfriend. I told him it’s because I prefer girlfriends, which is both true and got him to leave me alone, but now this charity’s name is damaged for me. All of my previous experiences have been positive. Now I have to wonder if I’ll get propositioned every time I see their neon yellow vests.
Having a smoke waiting for the bus and a large white man with an Italian flag shirt on came up and asked where I was from and if I was single. I said no, I’m French and engaged. He called me a whore and walked off.
We are gearing up to meet with local officials about planning a city wide safety audit to improve the condition and safety on our streets for women, LGB, and trans* Philadelphians! Gender-based safety audits are a United Nations best practice for assessing and responding to safety concerns in public spaces.
Please take three minutes to fill out this survey and help us make this audit happen!
While our launch party this past May seemed like a fun, festive occasion, with a great outpouring of local support for our comic and our CONsent project, some people were harassed by someone who was not only at the event, but who purchased a comic and showed support for the anti-harassment cause. Our entire comic-con anti harassment movement is geared towards shifting the culture of conventions and comic book stores to be inclusive of more than just straight male fans. Part of that inclusive culture means firm responses and zero-tolerance policies toward gender-based harassment.
Now that things have settled down from the release party, and we have brought the issue to the attention of Locust Moon who reiterated they have a zero-tolerance policy for harassment, we want to share the story with you all from beginning to end.
Anonymous’ Story: First off, I had a great time at your event last night. You all were so pleasant and your cause is one that has my full support. Oh, and the comic is awesome! It really exceeded my expectations.
Unfortunately, that’s not why I’m contacting you. I’m contacting you because a friend sent me this: http://philadelphia.craigslist.org/mis/3830982425.html which is clearly about me. [Anonymous requested the post be removed, which Craigslist actually honored. So we’ve attached a screenshot]
At first, I thought it was really funny, maybe a joke. But the more I think about the sad irony of attending an event to end harassment and winding up on Craigslist’s missed connections, the angrier I get. If it’s the guy I think it is, I literally spoke one sentence to him. He seemed harmless enough at the time. To think that in those brief seconds he made my heart go pitter patter is insulting to me and the serious relationship I am in. He clearly mistook my excitement of purchasing your comic for “something very real.” And the end? How creepy is that?
This is exactly what Hollaback stands against. He reduced me to “a killer set of tits,” made vastly exaggerated assumptions about me, and removed my choice in the matter. And to top it all off, I am now hesitant about returning to that amazing comic book store.
Locust Moon seems a very woman-friendly store. That’s why I was so upset about this guy practically saying he’d be waiting for me there. Locust Moon is by far the most welcoming comic store I’ve found since I moved to the area, and I definitely plan on visiting whenever I can. But, of course, I want to feel safe.
I assume he is only a regular customer, not an employee. I realize this is completely out of your control and appreciate your support as well. I mostly just want to feel comfortable when I visit Locust Moon, and him to understand his behavior is totally unacceptable. I’m not entirely sure how to even handle this. I certainly don’t want any contact with this creep. But I would really like to feel comfortable the next time I visit Locust Moon. Any suggestions?
We’ve had nothing but excellent, supportive interactions from Locust Moon, so we sent them this information, including the name and photograph of the offender, and asked for their opinion on what they were willing to do as a store that seems to pride itself on being inclusive and welcoming. We also sent Anonymous an email letting her know how we planned to respond.
Anonymous response reminded us why we do this – because you should never be made to feel that you are overreaction when harassment upsets you; because you deserve support and a community that has your back.
Anonymous: Thanks again for getting back to me. I hope I didn’t blow this out of proportion, like some friends accused me of. I’m just very tired of the onus being on the victim though, not the aggressor. And I hate when people use the Internet as a way to anonymously threaten others. That’s why I want to take a stand alongside groups like Hollaback.
And Locust Moon’s response reminded us that men are often allies, and we if we trust them enough to talk to them about these issues, we give them the opportunity to be equally horrified enough to stand alongside us as we speak out against harassment.
Chris from Locust Moon: We’re glad you brought this to our attention, and only wish we had gotten this information sooner. We definitely want Locust Moon to be a welcoming place for everyone, and take the safety of our patrons seriously. This guy has no idea how to deal with women, and I’m sorry this had to happen at our store, and that such a good night was sullied by such ignorant and childish behavior. Unfortunately (or fortunately), this guy DOES NOT come to the store often. While currently there is nothing we can do (none of our staff even recognize him), but he is no longer welcome at Locust Moon. This guy will NOT be allowed into the store if he tries to come by again. We will keep his photo on file and try to look out for him. This applies to more than just this one man: any person who harasses or makes threats against any of our patrons is not welcome here, and we do want to be made aware if any such behavior occurs again.
Please let Anonymous know that we’d love for her to come back and see the kind of place we are. We’d hate for some random creep to ruin her, or anyone’s, perception of Locust Moon.
While we were heartened by this response, and appreciated the re-affirmation that they strive to be a comic book shop that breaks the “boys only” mold, what was more important, we wanted to be sure Anonymous was comforted and supported. Happily, she was!
Anonymous: Comic book stores can be kind of intimidating to women, what with the whole “fake geek girl” thing many of us have to overcome. Dealing with some creepy guy who swears his love to me because we made eye contact is just one more hurtle I don’t want to jump. All I want is to enjoy some good literature. I’m very pleased with Locust Moon’s response. They clearly care about my happiness and safety.
So, if you are looking for a women/LGBT friendly comic book shop in Philadelphia, look no further than Locust Moon. And know, if any harassment is to occur, they will have your back!
Guest post by Audrey Webb, co-creator of “The Object Project”.
From The Object Project: We are a blog dedicated to exposing examples of the objectification of women, men, and those who identify as neither in everyday life. Objectification of gender in different ways is something we have come to accept as normal and okay, something we do not notice. If we can notice when an image is perpetuating a harmful generalization or stigma, we can then combat it to spark change.
The Object Project started as a fun social experiment a couple of my friends and I did when bored at the mall one day. We had recently attended a couple of Gender & Sexuality classes at a local college and heard a HollabackPHILLY presentation. The class and presentation had really grabbed our attention so we decided to observe what we had learned in our daily lives, such as when shopping at the mall.
While walking around the mall we noticed things that we might not have usually taken much heed to before the HollabackPHILLY presentation. Such as when we were at a media store that sold music, DVDs, and videogames, where on the covers of videogames the men were dressed in full body armor, while the women were dressed in armored bikinis.
Another example is when we visited Spencer’s, a gift shop. A part of the store sold very inappropriate gifts, such as hats with the phrase, “Black out with your rack out,” and baby clothes with the phrase, “I love my Mommy even though she is a Bitch.”
My friends and I were shocked at the outright disrespect of women. This crude language and behavior are exposed to people of all ages, through shopping malls and through media, such as television. Because of all of this we decided to create a Tumblr blog in order to help bring about awareness
The Tumblr blog is primarily focused around the objectification of people, which seems to occur mostly with women in our society, but also explores other forms of social This project has only recently started, but it is something we care about. We want to bring about social awareness and help others to realize that we should not just accept this. This As David Hewson, author of the novel Macbeth said, “…Is your destiny such a small thing then? To keep your legs open and your mouth shut?”
Let us become aware, spread the word, and stand up! No longer shall we tolerate being given gifts such as the hat from Spencer’s, or tolerate being yelled at by a stranger, “Hey Baby!” We deserve to be treated with respect and how we want to be treated. We are people, too. Hollaback!
Check out: http://theobjectprojectblog.tumblr.com/
Send submissions: email@example.com comments
I was dog walking when a man in a white van appeared to be taking pictures of me. I flipped him off and walked away. He drove away and I went back to walking when he drove past screaming ” I have your picture”.
This story was submitted after anonymous saw Diane’s post about the flasher last week outside El Bar. We’ll spare you the cross-posted picture, but if you want to check it out, click through to see Diane’s submission.
There is a man who has been flashing himself from his shorts in Old City for at least the last ten years. I have seen him more than once over the years. Once in Molly’s (that bar no longer exists) and then I had seen him try to come into where I work too, but not in years as people have gotten wise to him. Both times on 3rd Street (between Market and Chestnut Streets) actually INSIDE OF the bar. When I actually was flashed (at Molly’s) he wore the mesh shorts and pulls this same thing – angling himself directly at me and my two friends and then when we noticed and make grossed out noises he seemed pleased. The bartender then kicked him out. Since they had gotten wise to him he may have found new ground. He looks quite similar to the man in the photo [in Diane's story], nondescript mid 50s-early 60s white man, but it has been a while. He drank Bud from what I remember, but I haven’t seen him in a few.