All posts by Ellen Rodger

Still Missing, Still Missed, in Nigeria and in Canada

So, this April marked the one-year anniversary of the kidnapping of roughly 270 girls from their school in northeastern Nigeria (Chibok) by militant group Boko Haram. One year on and 219 are still missing. At the time, the kidnapping elicited a wave of indignation, with famous folk, celebrities, and ordinary people lending their support to the cause — namely, finding and bringing these girls back home. And the anger and frustration engendered by the kidnappings brought about a huge social media call-to-action. It nabbed spokesfaces as diverse as a solemn Michelle Obama holding up the homemade #BringBackOurGirls campaign poster, and a provocative Irina Shayk shielding her exposed breasts with the same sign.  As an aside, I happen to think both approaches—the sober indignation, and the feisty “this is my body, I’ll do what I want” are symbolic and defiant F-Us to the woman-hating likes of Boko Haram.

Going viral brings an issue the world’s attention but we can’t stop applying pressure.
Going viral brings an issue the world’s attention but we can’t stop applying pressure.

Does Action Equal Action?

But sadly, this clarion call hasn’t brought about much productive political action in terms of finding the missing girls. At the time of the kidnapping, the Boko Haram leader boasted that “just because I took some little girls from their Western education, everybody is making noise. I repeat, I took the girls, and I will sell them off. There is a market for selling girls.”

“just because I took some little girls from their Western education, everybody is making noise. I repeat, I took the girls, and I will sell them off. There is a market for selling girls.”

How do you deal with this kind of jaw-dropping callousness?  You fight back when and where you can. In Nigeria, as in many other areas of the world, including Canada, that means fighting your government’s inertia, ignorance, and seeming disinterest as well. So far, it seems the ones keeping the flame lit in Nigeria are those still most at risk—the mothers, fathers, brothers, and sisters of the captured girls who still rally everyday in that country. But they are supported by some kickass women (and men) around the world. The social media protest group #BringBackOurGirls was founded by four accomplished and respected Nigerian women who could not and would not sit back and do nothing: Hadiza Bala Usman, Maryam Uwais, Obiageli Ezekwesili, and Saudatu Mahdi. All four are educated and it can be argued, privileged, but they are also fearless and relentless. They rallied when they realized their government was doing absolutely nothing to find the girls. They have the backing of other people of good conscience throughout the world who rally and march to support them and to pressure their own governments to take action and do something.

How Much Are We Worth?

I wonder if Boko Haram stole (or occupied) a commodity of far less value, say 300 oil pipelines, or 300 corporate executives or world leaders, whether they’d still be missing one year later. Kidnapping and selling or forcibly marrying off girls and women is a vital hobby and business for Boko Haram, which has, according to Amnesty International, abducted about 2,000 women in the last year. Imagine, 2,000 women missing, gone, without a trace, with their loved ones left wondering where they went.  Of course, for some here in Canada, that isn’t something just to be imagined. It’s something that is lived. The agony felt by the loved ones of the missing Chibok schoolgirls isn’t any different than that felt by the loved ones of missing and murdered Aboriginal women here. And the government inaction is just as unconscionable.

I wonder if Boko Haram stole (or occupied) a commodity of far less value, say 300 oil pipelines, or 300 corporate executives or world leaders, whether they’d still be missing one year later.

Stolen Schoolgirls, Stolen Sisters

The YWCA Canada supported the 2009 No More Stolen Sisters report produced by Amnesty

source: http://www.amnesty.ca/our-work/campaigns/no-more-stolen-sisters
source: http://www.amnesty.ca/our-work/campaigns/no-more-stolen-sisters

International. It called for a government response to the hundreds of missing and murdered Indigenous women in Canada. The report is seven years old folks, and still nothing has been done that could change the status quo. Our government hasn’t even acknowledged that misogyny and racism plays a role or that Indigenous women enjoy fewer economic and social rights in our society. Of course, the evil overlords of Boko Haram are an easier target for indignation. They represent one relatively cohesive group bent on preserving their patriarchal privilege through a perverted religious ideology. They swoop in commando-style and kidnap, terrorize, and kill dozens or hundreds at a time. They don’t seek to hide their actions and in fact are open about what they hate seek to destroy: the education of women, women’s rights, potential for equality etc etc. In contrast, the hundreds of missing and murdered Aboriginal women in Canada weren’t taken en mass from one location. They were picked off one by one by different people—some perhaps known to them, some not. But picked off nonetheless, and picked off because they were indigenous women.

Support Your Sisters

Boko Haram is a pox on Nigeria and a problem that needs to be addressed through government intervention. The murderers of Indigenous women in Canada, although individuals, have their own ideology of hate. This hate points to a social problem we need to address. We can’t fix it without government acknowledgment and help. Like the kidnapped girls of Chibok, the lives of indigenous women are worth something.

What To Do?

So, all that said, you ask “okay, what can I do that matters?” It may sound too simple, but you can start by really noticing.  That’s exactly what the founders of #BringBackOurGirls believe and they’re not giving up. You can get active and support organizations that are pushing for government intervention on the missing schoolgirls in Chibok and the missing and murdered Indigenous women in Canada such as the Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) Sisters in Spirit projects, and Families of Sisters in Spirit. NWAC has even produced a community resource guide on how to be an ally. You can apply pressure on governments by writing letters, joining rallies, and supporting the families of the missing (again, in Canada, see NWAC’s guide on how to help in a culturally appropriate and sensitive manner). You can also vote for a government that believes the lives of vulnerable girls and women matter, and ask candidates if they would support inquiries and action plans. Nigeria recently had an election and the president who promised to retrieve the schoolgirls but instead did nothing was ousted. The new president, Muhammadu Buhari has promised to go after Boko Haram, but could not promise to bring the girls back. Canada will have a federal election in the fall. Let’s see if we can act in solidarity with Aboriginal families and groups who have been fighting this fight for years and get missing Indigenous women on the election agenda.

So, Your Family is Odd? Welcome to the Club!

99997203 I was well into my teenage years before it really dawned on me that my family was a bit odd. I mean, hey, a fish doesn’t question its ocean. It just swims. Growing up, I tended to hang around with friends who seemed to have equally odd families. By odd I mean families that didn’t really want to hide their…um, eccentricities. It didn’t faze me a bit when in high school, the first time I called upon my friend Britta (name changed to protect her true identity) her father answered the door in his boxer shorts and a comely woman’s wig. Britta’s parents were German immigrants whose card parties had a pre-war “Cabaret” feel to them (they happened to be in the midst of one on my first visit). The garage at their home was at various times, a headcheese factory and a home-distillery—alternately smelling of carnage and precise cleaning. My own father had a habit of lounging shirtless and occasionally answering the door in his briefs, and I learned how to fashion a boilermaker before I graduated grade school. I’m not making the case here that Britta and I shared well-soused sires, but that I was more familiar with the less upright and the slightly kooky. And really, aren’t all families slightly kooky or odd in their own ways? I’m not focusing on the malicious or truly messed-up here. There are sadly, quite a few of those and they are so often the subject of novels and films. Google “family and books” and the first thing you will likely come up with is “dysfunctional families in literature”. Brutality often makes for compelling storytelling. After the fact at least. Britta and I can count ourselves lucky that we were (and are) well loved, cared-for, and by-and-large undamaged by our quite ordinary, if slightly odd families.

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This year, with Valentine’s day (Feb. 14) and family day (Feb 16) sharing the same weekend, I spent some time reflecting upon wacky family love. And yeah, everybody’s got a story. One of my favourite places to look for family stories isn’t in ancestry websites (although those are cool), but at awkwardfamilyphotos.com. The submitted images to this site make me positively giddy. Okay, so they aren’t exactly “stories” in the sense that you get a clear beginning and end, but the pictures shared there are priceless artifacts of our shared allegiances (consanguineal and otherwise). I’m partial to the “Matchy Matchy” families category, where families are shown posed in matching outfits. Take a gander at those and ask yourself whether there really is such a thing as a “normal family”. I mean, the site shows photo studio family cosplay portraits, with mom, dad, and three kids all dressed as dairy cows or clowns! There’s a hall of fame pull down on the site with some incredible head scratchers, and if you really want things explained, there’s a “behind the awkwardness” section where submitters tell the story of the image. It’s fun and all the more so because people submit images and mock themselves as opposed to the mean-spirited derision of some sites that post surreptitiously-taken photos of people on the street or in stores in order to make fun of them. Making fun of your family kookiness? That’s a necessary part of keeping sane!

Serendipity, Randomness, and Whatever Gets You Through

I’m a big fan of non-coherence. Not the drunken rambling kind of incoherence, but the non-ordered, non-patterned gifts of happy accidents or surprises. These “aha” moments, like uplifting flickers of light, often come to us when we need them, even if they are not exactly what we were looking for. Some might call it serendipity.

tumblr_ll6wg7MPl41qzo7v3o1_400Perhaps that’s why that Rolling Stone’s song You Can’t Always Get What You Want appeals to me. Mick Jagger must have come to the “let me combine these seemingly matter-of-fact lyrics with the awe-inspiring voices of a trained choir” idea in a moment of brilliant serendipity. Or maybe just a moment of brilliance. He’s lucky that way; he’s had many in his career. But I can’t help myself from cranking the volume at the chorus. After the “you can’t always get what you want…” I love hearing the exalted choir voices chime in with “you get what you need”. Yes! The perfect combo of resigned practicality in lyrics with moving melody in music. Uplifting!

Sometimes it’s true. If you try sometimes, you just might find you do get what you need. My emphasis here is on the sometimes and the trying. When things seem miserable and unrelenting, it is awfully difficult to be resilient. And I wouldn’t suggest resilience here is just a song away. But perhaps our framing helps.

We all know people who seem to be able to weather any storm, almost without being rattled. They may have excellent coping skills, or better support systems, or an unshakeable sense of self. They are almost always skilled at framing things in a positive manner. I don’t mean they are all sunshine and joy, or alternatively, that they give up agency and a critical eye for piffle, and resort to the “it was meant to be” mantra that seems to be so ubiquitous nowadays. As an aside, I shouldn’t get started on how much I loathe that particular statement, especially when it comes from the mouths of people who do NOT believe in predestination. But there, I said it. I loathe the “it was meant to be” tommyrot because it is insensitive and apathetic. Now, back to how I think this serendipity thing can aid resilience.

First, let me say that some theorists (yeah, there are serendipity theorists) believe serendipity isn’t just a happy accident, but something that can help those who are seeking to find what they need. Am I making any sense here? Let me relate a tale from my own life. Two years ago my partner was diagnosed with cancer. He had an aggressively growing tumour that blocked part of his bowel and impaired his liver function. We found ourselves in the emergency ward one day after his diagnosis, before he had begun chemotherapy. In truth he was terribly constipated. After moving through to a treatment bed, a bright, young, and confident nurse came in, read his chart, and looked him dead in the eye, saying his name and the words “cancer is just a word.” hope1Twice. This angel of mercy with the magic mantra — herself a cancer survivor who had a personal understanding of the brutal road he was embarking on—proceeded to tell him that she was going to help him understand bowel care. And she did. But she did more than that. She gave him his first real glimmer of hope in weeks. On subsequent visits, she continued to give him what he needed to keep going—a bit of herself. Now, nurses are trained to give care and expert attention. This Florence Nightingale was more than that. She was a serendipitous gift. She helped us find what we needed to make a breakthrough in thought and actions—a breakthrough in framing, if you will. We couldn’t get exactly what we wanted. I had wanted to wake up and find out that the actual diagnosis was a dream, but I guess that’s a bit like hoping I would win $50 million in the lottery. She didn’t give a cure. She gave hope. I believe we found what we needed serendipitously because we were open to framing it that way. She might have done the same thing for dozens of patients, but perhaps not all were able to take her care and her words and build a house on it. It wasn’t their serendipitous moment.

I think we all have these serendipitous experiences throughout life. If we choose to view them as helpful “aha” moments, they can assist us in following a new direction, but also in building resilience and keeping a hopeful outlook. Some people like to say these moments are acts of God, or signs from “the universe”. Whatever gets you through. I’m more inclined to think they are wonderful coincidences that if we want them to be, can be revealed as gifts or roadmaps to a different discovery.

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Person’s Day 85th Anniversary: We Gotta Keep Kicking

It seems hard to believe, but when my grandmother was born, she wasn’t considered a person.

She was 32 years old before that distinction was legally acknowledged for her. Thirty-two years old. And it wasn’t just handed out, like a forgotten birthday card. It required a fight.

This year’s Person’s Day (October 18) murphy_bigmarks the 85th anniversary of the 1929 court decision that declared women “qualified persons” under the law. The Person’s Case, as the ruling came to be known, was launched by five Alberta women: Emily Murphy, Nellie McClung, Louise McKinney, Irene Parlby, and Henrietta Muir Edwards. It was an eight year battle that began after Murphy, the country’s first female magistrate and judge, ruled on a case and had her judgment questioned by a male lawyer who said that as she was not legally a person, she could not pass sentence. Wanting to clarify women’s status under the British North America Act (now the Constitution Act, 1867), and further her case for appointment to the Senate (in which only a legal person could serve) McClung and her compatriots asked the federal government to declare women as persons who could be considered for all areas of public office.

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More contemporary governments like to acknowledge the work of the Famous Five on the public manifestations of nationhood and national mythology: our stamps, money, and monuments.

When the government wouldn’t decide, the “Famous Five” as the women were later called, petitioned the Supreme Court to make a ruling. The court took the view that the drafters of the BNA Act didn’t consider women persons who could be appointed to the Senate. Not willing to accept that ruling, the Famous Five pushed the issue further and asked the prime minister to appeal the court ruling to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in Britain (the Supreme Court’s appeals court at that time). That court ruled that not only were women persons who could be appointed to the senate, but that the country’s constitution was not a rigid document but something that could change and reflect the times and culture of the country.

famous_5_smThe details of the Person’s Case are important. We shouldn’t forget that fact that personhood was a judgment made by a court and not something that the government of the day agreed upon. In that respect it was a victory not just for women’s rights, but also for the law. Emily Murphy was, it should be noted, a product of her time, and a woman of privilege. She was white, middle class, and well-educated. Still, she ultimately never got that Senate appointment. But she didn’t worry much about how her advocacy might harm her reputation or limit her prospects. As with many early feminists, she understood that just working hard and waiting for recognition was futile. Those who hold power don’t willingly give up, or even share, their power and privilege. If you want a piece of that pie, you have to fight for it, or reach out and take it. “ The world loves a peaceful man,” Murphy was reputed to have said. “But it gives way to a strenuous kicker.”

CIR_persons2That was true for Murphy and it is also true for feminists today at a time when equality has not yet been achieved. I’m not just making this up. The stats and facts bear this out. Canadian women still earn an average of 70 percent of what their male counterparts earn, And that’s a StatsCan figure. Canada ranks 20th in the World Economic Forum’s measure of gender equality — apparently below South Africa and Latvia. We were ranked #35 for wage equality and #41 for women in parliament. The Forum notes that human talent is the most important determinant for a country’s competitiveness and that reducing gender inequality enhances a country’s productivity and growth. You know what that means? It means that as a society we need to recognize that policies and programs that support women and children benefit us all. This includes good, affordable day care, poverty reduction programs, and a broader conception of what equality means. We can’t combat inequality from a gender-neutral standpoint. Women aren’t a special interest group. We make up more than 50 percent of the country’s population. Equality—be it economic, political, or social, it a right and not a gift. The Famous Five understood this. They did not let the government or the Supreme Court’s no-can-do attitude prevent them from asserting women’s rights to equality. They pushed for a clear definition of personhood within the constitution. They were strenuous kickers.

So yay for Person’s Day! Let’s celebrate it as a day of historical importance, but use it as another reminder to keep kicking. The struggle continues.

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What Will I Eat During the Zombie Apocalypse

…and Why Canning Might Not be a Perfect Solution

So, it appears the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta has decided to use the idea of a zombie apocalypse to “engage new audiences” and encourage disaster preparedness. The CDC’s, ahem, “zombie blog” details how to put together an emergency plan and what to include in a household emergency kit. Number two on the kit list? Food. And specifically non-perishable food items that you eat regularly.Canning-Tutorial-2

Turns out that I am well ahead of the CDC. I too have thought about my zombie apocalypse-environmental catastrophe-proletariat revolution emergency plan.  And I’m counting on the combined years of experience of three women (well, more actually but I won’t make this just a list of all the women I know and their valuable skill sets). On my flight from zombie doom, I’m sticking with my sister-in-law Susan, my friend Nancy, and Nancy’s mother-in-law Dorothea. All three have, among other things, the ability to keep me safe, warm, and well fed. All three are veteran canners (and as this is supposed to be the crux of this post, I’ll get to the details on that shortly).

My Apocalypse Survival Team…Who also Happen to Can

But first, their abbreviated zombie survivalist CV’s. I know for a fact that if necessary, Susan can kill, pluck, and cook a fantastic chicken. She’s calm in the face of a calamity and she can knit and sew really difficult things such as winter coats. She once, for some reason zombieknown only to her, made a vest and stuffed it with milkweed fibers. She can also whip up kickass jams, preserves, and pickles on almost a moment’s notice. Nancy is equally talented and resourceful. She too sews, knits, cooks, and pickles. She has an added bit of handy medical science and healthcare knowledge from an early career in a medical lab. If a zombie happened to bite my arm, I think Nancy would be the one to hack it off properly and ensure I didn’t bleed to death, or die of shock, or infection. I should mention that both Susan and Nancy are also respected and accomplished academics—quite handy for when society reorganizes after the apocalypse. Dorothea is first on my list for knowing how to make something out of almost nothing. She was a dairy farmer for over 40 years and became a dexterous sewer of flesh when a bit of a finger needed a quick mending on the farm. Dorothea also “put down” quite a few canned goods in her day and has a lifetime of knowledge on proper and safe canning methods.

Which brings me back to canning. I won’t really be able to carry many jars of pickles or jam on my run from the zombies. Knowing how to make pickles and jam would I suppose, be a useful skill after the apocalypse. If I can find clean water, a 21-quart canner, clean cans, lids, a rack, funnel, jar lifter, produce or fruit, and possibly vinegar, salt, and sugar, that is. So essentially, canning is a task that requires resources. As Nancy has reminded me, canning is not something that was romantically created. People did it because they had to. For some time (actually, a relatively short period) in history, canning was a necessary burden. And then they created the deep freeze. And canning factories for mass production.

On Canning as a Necessity

My nana was a canner. For a time, when my mother was a child in 1930s Alberta, she “put down” everything. And I mean everything. I once saw a picture of my grandfather posing near a Model T Ford strewn with the carcasses of ducks. Mortified by the carnage, I asked my mother “how come so many? How could one family eat all of those ducks?” “Nana canned them,” was her answer. Canned duck in mid-February. Ick.

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Something like this. Only more early 20th Century

She did many other things, but my mother didn’t can or preserve at all. As we lived in southwestern Ontario and fresh sweet corn and peas were readily available and we had farmer friends who offered them cheap, my parents par-boiled and froze vegetables. Later, a frozen bag of corn became cheaper and more readily available at the grocery store. Anybody who remembers canned peas and creamed corn at Sunday supper can testify that short of fresh, frozen bagged corn beats mushy tinned veg hands down.

My father was the “canner in the family”. I believe he made jam once or twice. His homemade tomato juice was too visually repulsive for me and my siblings to imbibe. It required a vigorous shake to re-integrate (I won’t say emulsify) the yellowish tomato water with the red tomato matter. But his pickles, made exactly once that I recall, were extra salty delicious.

On Canning as an Adventure

My own canning experiments have been, well… satisfactory, but fraught with planning glitches. My partner’s father had a fruit farm and having access to free fruit, I (once) canned peaches and pears with a friend. After a marathon outdoor peeling, de-pitting/coring session, we left to do the canning inside while her Labrador ate all of the peach pits outside. All of them. His distended belly was a frightening sight. But the dog lived and the peaches and pears were excellent. My next venture was canned salsa. It was a wet summer and my apartment-window cilantro crop was verdant. My one mistake (two actually): I decided I did not need rubber gloves for cutting the jalapeños, and I neglected to remove my contacts until after cutting the peppers. My eyes stung, stabbed with pain, and watered for hours, but the salsa was excellent. I also canned roasted red peppers with a friend one September. This time, things went like clockwork. I only underestimated how much I (or anyone I knew) would actually use the giant cans of roasted red peppers throughout the year.

So, when offered this topic to blog on I thought, “I should make pickles”. I love pickled cucumbers. And pickled vegetables. With good intent, I went off to the market and purchased my pickling cucumbers and dill. I purchased the jars at the hardware store. My earlier canning ventures had left me with the other necessary equipment. All I had to do canningwas find a coherent recipe. I tried that source of all necessary and unnecessary knowledge: Internet. Gah. Too much and too little. Anxiety peaking, I called Susan. She was away for the weekend, but my calm and reassuring niece suggested I just bring the pickles and can with them the next weekend. No can do. I wanted to take this on all by my lonesome. After much internal Sturm und Drang, I talked to Nancy. “Pickling isn’t necessary,” she said. I knew she meant “not necessary” as in pickling isn’t something people (mostly women) do because it is cheaper than buying. Dorothea, my grandmother, and thousands of women before them, canned because they already had the equipment (often passed down to them), they needed the food, and the ingredients —excess produce, or dozens of dead ducks shot in an era before hunting regulations, didn’t cost them financially. Many people now pickle, can, and preserve mostly as a labour of love, or as a way of offering something different at the table, Nancy reminded me. Freed of the burden to prove my canning worth, I gave up and my anxiety subsided.

But I now had a whole bunch of little cucumbers to dispose of, and a bunch of nice jars to store my excess change in. My adventure ended in a lot of fresh salads. And here is a recipe for a salad that is also a bit of a pickle:

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What about you? Are you a canner? Tell us of your canning experiences.

 

Time To Holler Back

It’s a warm day and I’m walking down the street for an appointment with my trainer. I’ve got my sweats on and my iPod playing music with a motivational beat. Just walking down the street minding my own business.

And then it happens.

The guy in front of me stops, and after I pass him he mutters: “Nice —–.”

What the? I’m taken aback. Did he just say…yes, yes he did. It’s not my first encounter with my neighbourhood street harasser. It’s not even my first instance of street harassment, but as I’m getting “long in the tooth”, I had somehow mistakenly assumed vile comments and veiled threats from people on the street would not follow me into my dotage. It was an odious reminder that street harassment has no boundaries. It is sexist, racist, homophobic, transphobic, ageist, sizeist, ableist, and classist. It is unwanted and unwarranted.

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My neighbourhood street harasser has managed to creepily insert himself and his inappropriate comments into my walk before. But this time, he’d uttered a vulgar word that entered my ears and immediately brought me to a place I did not want to be. I was shocked, yet not shocked. I was both angry and fearful. Three steps later I stopped in my tracks and the words “oh God” tumbled from my mouth. That’s it. That’s all I could muster. I don’t even know if it was an invective or a plea. I walk on and immediately pondered…was it my faded, sweaty, Wonder Woman t-shirt? My baggy, paint-stained, androgynous, knee length sweats? Now, I know his behaviour had nothing to do with what I was wearing, what I was doing, my location on the street, in the city, or time of day. I know that. But I went there anyway. I went to “what did I do” and to “what didn’t I do”. I went there even though I knew the problem wasn’t with me. The problem was with him.

My shock, discomfort, and fear made him feel powerful.

But not for long. No more, buddy. I won’t change my neighbourhood walking routes (though I may cross the street), what I wear, or how I act. I will not smile for you because you tell me to. You have no right to ask me. I will not say hello because you insist that I do. And the next time you do it—the next time you feel a misogynist compulsion to put me in my place and intimidate me with your words or actions, I will (from a safe distance), in clear and simple terms, tell you to stop harassing me.

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I can also now report my street harassment on a number of websites dedicated to street harassment. One of my favourites is Hollaback www.ihollaback.org an online movement and social activism organization that allows women to document their experiences, access resources, and educate their community. Hollaback is a world-wide movement, with a Niagara page at niagara.ihollaback.org

A Hollaback poster makes it clear how insidious street harassment is.

I had no clue that March 30-April 5 was International Anti Street Harassment Week until I started writing this post and checked out: www.streetharassment.org

That organization also offers tools and resources to people who want to launch safe public spaces campaigns in their community, or to people who witness street harassment and are at a loss on how to act against it. The site also makes it clear what street harassment is, including “unwelcome words and actions by unknown persons which are motivated by gender in public spaces that invade a person’s physical and emotional space in a disrespectful, creepy, startling, scary, or insulting way.” I would add that street harassment also transects class, race, age, ability, and sexual orientation. It is about asserting power and as such is as academic Hawley Fogg-Davis says, “a terrorism of the mind”. Fogg-Davis notes that women, and those who identify as gay and transgendered, know street harassment will happen in their lives, but they don’t know for certain when or how it will happen.

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The Everyday Sexism Project offers another harassment reporting site. It allows contributors to document instances of harassment and sexism on the street as well as in private spaces, at work, and at school, through its website at canada.everydaysexism.com or via Twitter @everydaysexism

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There are many more street harassment sites that provide resources and reassurance. The stories posted on these sites are both disturbing, and affirming. They are disturbing because they are real and current. The harassment is perpetrated by people who know better but gain power from acts that are menacing and threatening. The stories are affirming because the people who post them can feel free to express their pain, fear, anger, and frustration without recrimination.

This iconic photograph, American Girl in Italy, 1951 by Ruth Orkin, has always seemed a bit menacing to me, though I believe the photographer and human subject saw it as an expression of freedom. I've always wondered: whose freedom does it most express? I think I first saw it as an "art poster" and something people put on their walls as an expression of their artistic taste. It is both compelling and repulsive because it shows a woman essentially running the gauntlet. The whistling man, with his hand on his crotch can hardly be described as "non threatening".