Raise your hand if you’ve been harassed on the subway

If you haven’t read this report, Hidden in Plain Sight: Sexual Harassment and Assault on the New York City Subway, you should. It documents what most of you probably already know, that a large majority of people (particularly women) face significant sexual harassment while riding the New York city subway. The report, written from a online survey of subway riders (the MTA partnered with a number of organizations to write and distribute the survey) finds that 63% of people who responded report having been sexually harassed on the NYC subway. 10% of people who responded have been sexually assaulted.
The results got some blog attention last week, go here for Cara’s blog about the survey results, Gothamist posted about it as well as the NYTimes Cityroom Blog.
As someone who has been harassed and has numerous friends and acquaintances who experience harassment on a regular basis, these results came as no surprise. What did come as a surprise however, were some of the comments that this news received–the Gothamist comment thread was particularly upsetting. I won’t give these jerks the privilege of having their thoughts reposted here, but the general sentiment of these thoughts followed a few patterns. a) Complete denial and disbelief: But I’ve been riding the subway for and that’s NEVER happened to me! b) Blame the victim talk: Women who get harassed on the subway deserve it because they dress like sluts (etc, etc, droning on with misogynistic and disgusting commentary) and to top it all off, c) I hate it when women try to get me to help them when they are being followed or harassed on the subway, it’s not my problem and they brought it on themselves.
This might be more sad than the survey results themselves, and probably indicative of why this is a problem in the first place. For some awesome and innovative responses to street harassment, check out Holla Back NYC, one of the groups that partnered with the MTA on this survey. They’ve got links to holla back’s in other cities as well, because we know this isn’t just a New York City problem.

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