Thursday, March 22, 2012

VoiceTool Productions Recognized by the California Coalition Against Sexual Assault

The California Coalition Against Sexual Assault (CALCASA) recognized a recent anti-street harassment event which VoiceTool Productions coordinated.  CALCASA was an ally in promoting the event, Meet Us on the Street SF.  Through this collaboration, we were able to raise awareness about, and provide tools against, gender-based harassment in San Francisco.  

Founded in 1980, CALCASA is the only statewide organization in California whose sole purpose is to promote public policy, advocacy, training and technical assistance on the issue of sexual assault.  

Many thanks to Alexis Marbach, Training and Technical Assistance Coordinator in the Prevention Department, and the rest of the CALCASA team.  Without publicity and collaboration, any effort to fight something as widespread and insidious as street harassment will be limited in effectiveness.  But together, we can advance the cause for respect on the streets.

Background Information on VoiceTool Productions' Anti-Street Harassment Events

  • Street harassment is any action or comment between strangers in public places that is disrespectful, unwelcome, threatening and/or harassing and is motivated by gender.  Street harassment is a human rights issue because it limits women’s ability to be in public as often or as comfortably as most men. 
  • In a 2008 study of 811 women conducted by Stop Street Harassment, almost 1 in 4 women had experienced street harassment by age 12 (7th grade) and nearly 90% by age 19.  
  • Note: While women also may harass men in public, gender inequality means that the power dynamics at play, frequency of the harassment, and the underlying threat of rape is rarely comparable. For these reasons, the work of Stop Street Harassment focuses mostly on men harassing women (cis and transwomen). 
  • Street harassment is part of rape culture, defined as a culture in which rape and sexual violence are common and in which prevalent attitudesnorms, practices, and media normalize, excuse, tolerate, or even condone sexual violence. Examples include victim blamingsexual objectification, and trivializing rape (source:  Wikipedia).

Anti-street harassment in the media:

  • "But what women have accepted as the norm for a lifetime – some of my friends even find it “flattering” – is now attracting retaliation. On Monday evening, blogger London Feminist launched a twitter hash-tag encouraging people to share experiences of street harassment and sexual abuse that they had never reported." - East London Lines article
  • UK Prime Minister supports criminalizing all forms of street harassment that “violates the dignity of a person, in particular when creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment.”  - via
  • "[Street harassment] is damaging [our] community cohesion, but it is getting very little attention. … We want to unify our voices with the other campaign[s] to tell the world in one voice Stop Sexual Harassment." - Ms. Magazine blog
  • On the process of socialization that functions to shape male's behavior in the public sphere, including street harassment:
    “Patriarchy and heterosexism also taught me, in subtle and blatant ways, that I was entitled to women’s bodies, that I was entitled to take up space and put my ideas and thoughts out there whenever I wanted to, without consideration for others. This is a very different process of socialization than most other people in this society.” - Activist Christ Crass, quoted on the Gender Across Borders website

Event Success!  Meet Us on the Street San Francisco 2012

Meet Us on the Street San Francisco met its goal:  to make it clear that street harassment exists, is a problem, and can and should be addressed.  Our crew of activists, students, and community members spoke with a variety of passersby at the 16th St. BART station on the issue of harassment.  We engaged many in dialogue about the effects of harassment as a reality in many women's daily lives.  We also provided fliers for passersby (in English and Spanish) so that they may share the information with others.  

The fliers included quick "how to's" for dealing with harassment in-the-moment:  effective body posturing and phrases victims and witnesses may use to remain empowered while keeping themselves safe.  The fliers also detailed what constitutes harassment, so that potential harassers may begin to identify and change their harassing behavior.  

Check out a write up of the event by CALCASA, the California Coalition Against Sexual Assault.  CALCASA is an amazing ally in the cause and helped promote this event.

This event was a seed-planting opportunity; we are already planning upcoming events to nourish that seed.  Follow our work and get involved!  Together, we can stop street harassment.

VoiceTool engaged the University of Georgia Women's Studies Student Organization (WSSO) on the topic of street harassment in Athens, Georgia.  In collaboration with Take Back the Night (set for April 12, 2012 in Athens), the WSSO will be providing informational fliers detailing street harassment basics.  VoiceTool provided the fliers, which it also distributed in San Francisco during Meet Us on the Street SF 2012.  A simple chart in English and Spanish, the fliers empower harassment victims and witnesses - and potential harassers - to identify and stop harassment behaviors.

Also check out this event update on Stop Street Harassment's website.

Monday, March 19, 2012

A Little Bird Told Me...  

Communicating Street Harassment Concepts through the Arts


Follow us on Facebook and Twitter (@LittleBirdSF)!

A Little Bird Told Me...  Communicating Street Harassment Concepts through the Arts

The Little Bird project is an art-activism project designed to address street harassment in SF (catcalls, lewd comments, groping, and other public sexual harassment) through multimedia art-based products.  The project will promote local artists and help businesses by enhancing PR, boosting staff morale, and improving customers’ experience on- or near-site.  

The Little Bird kickoff event is being publicized by HollaBack!, an internationally-recognized women’s rights organization.  Through this event, we will gain logo ideas for merchandise and prompt dialogue on the issue of street harassment.  The event will feature the work of several local artists and a silent auction courtesy of our amazing contributing businesses.

Featured Artists
  • Amelia Lewis
  • Eugene Rodriguez
  • Beatrice Thomas
  • Mission Mini Comix
  • Trina Robbins (spoken word) 

Silent Auction Items!

  • Art supply store gift certificates!
  • Frame shop gift certificate!
  • Organic fair-trade coffee!
  • Pinup-inspired lingerie!
  • Salon styling service gift certificates!

When & Where 


Please RSVP by contacting

Advisory Board (in development):

Holly Kearl founded the Stop Street Harassment website and companion blog in 2008. Next she wrote the book Stop Street Harassment: Making Public Places Safe and Welcoming for Women (Praeger Publisher, 2010). Since then, Holly has given more than 50 talks around the world about this issue and has received widespread media attention for her comprehensive work around ending street harassment. In spring 2011, Holly founded International Anti-Street Harassment Day, which, becameInternational Anti-Street Harassment Week in 2012.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

VoiceTool is coordinating a series of events to address street harassment.

Street harassment(catcalls, sexually explicit comments, sexist remarks, groping, leering, stalking, public masturbation, and assault, and the like) affects everyone.  VoiceTool is collaborating with the San Francisco/Bay Area community to stop it.

This month, we're collaborating with a movement called  Meet Us on the Street (MUOTS), in conjunction with Stop Street Harassment and related organizations, to put a stop to street harassment.  We will hand out information on what to do in a harassment situation, spell out respect vs. harassment, and engage passers by interested in ongoing involvement with the issue.  

The MUOTS event is scheduled for Wednesday March 21 from 6-7 p.m. at the 16th St. BART station in San Francisco.  

Here's the event's Facebook page:  Please "like" the page, and RSVP to attend the BART station event!