NYC Women Demand ‘Harassment-Free Zones’

Tired Of Degradation On Streets, They Ask NYC Council For Help

NEW YORK (CBS 2/WCBS 880) — For years women and young girls have put up with cat calls, lewd comments and much worse on the streets. Now they’re fighting back stronger than ever.

Grace Tobin is 16 years old and said the subways are the worst when it comes to harassment that’s often sexual.

“I feel degraded. I feel embarrassed. I feel absolutely helpless,” Tobin told CBS 2’s Cindy Hsu.

“It’s everything from the stares you get to the actual groping on the subway. It really does vary every single day, but I do experience it on an everyday basis and I don’t know one girl in my life or woman who has not experienced it at some point.”

Tobin and many other victims packed a New York City Council hearing Thursday asking for “harassment-free zones” around schools, similar to drug free zones.

WCBS 880’s Marla Diamond reports on the push for “harassment-free zones”

Emily May started the group “Hollaback” encouraging women to take pictures and to share their stories.

“Street harassment is a gateway crime. It creates a culture that makes violence against women okay. It starts with street harassment, but if that’s what you do on the street, what are you doing at home?” May told Hsu.

After years of seeing his mother harassed on the street, 14-year-old Brian Bradley testified Thursday at the hearing.

“I hear stuff – ‘Yo mom,’ ‘What’s good, mom,’ ‘Psss, psss,’ cat calling and stuff like that like she’s an animal. What goes through my heart is that I’m like very mad,” Bradley said.

But he turned his anger into a song and music video called “Stop Looking at My Moms.”

“What I’m going to do to stop it is basically talk to all of the grown men, tell them I don’t like it, no one likes it. If I looked at your mom you wouldn’t like it. So I’m basically trying to change the way men approach women nowadays,” Bradley said.

He and other advocates said the only way to make that change is to take a stand as a community to end street harassment.

Along with harassment-free zones, many of the women want a city-wide study on the issue and a public service announcement campaign.

More from Marla Diamond
  • Guest Post: Feminism: Much More than Women’s Rights « Feminist Teacher

    […] a part of our work with Hollaback!, we had the great opportunity to write testimonies for a New York City council hearing on street harassment.  This meant a lot to me as it gave me the opportunity to have my voice heard as a young person […]

  • Top 10 Media Moments for Young Feminists at LREI in 2010 « Feminist Teacher

    […] class, testified at the November New York City Council hearing on street harassment and was later interviewed by CBS and the New York Post. She wrote a blog post about her experience doing both at F to the Third […]

  • Young Feminists Speak Out at TEDxYouth « Feminist Teacher

    […] at Hollaback, Tobin was able to leverage her story not only at the council hearing but also for media coverage on CBS and the New York Post. Tobin’s blog post about her experience testifying was so powerful that […]

  • TedxYouth Day: My Contribution « F to the third power

    […] I can only think to credit this to my previous opportunities in front of the camera being interviewed by CBS due to the testimony I shared publicly at a recent New York City council hearing on street […]

  • Weekly Round Up: October 31, 2010 « Stop Street Harassment!

    […] CBS News, “NYC Women Demand ‘Harassment-Free Zones‘” […]

  • Violet

    I think most people do feel bitter when they’re groped, stalked, and masturbated at against their will. Let’s show some compassion for the negative experiences of other humans.

  • Violet

    There was no weeping at the hearing, Joe — watch a few videos and see for yourself. No one is male bashing or trying to create anti-male legislation, don’t worry. The only legislation we’re trying to create here targets abuse and harassment. Many of the things we’re targeting are already ILLEGAL, like groping, stalking, and public masturbation, and we’re simply pushing for tougher enforcement. Don’t worry, if you’re showing respect to all people on the streets then you won’t have any problems.

  • Violet

    Wow, thanks Judie, for your support. This is 2010, it’s no longer 1960–that kind of victim blaming isn’t going to work anymore. Please educate yourself and read some of the thousands of stories on . You’ll quickly discover that clothing, a little or a lot of it, has absolutely NOTHING to do with street harassment.

  • robin g

    Way to stick together with your fellow women, judie. Because only women in short skirts get harassed right?

  • robin g

    You probably get your jollies yelling at women on the street, don’t you? You big strong man! How about if a few big burly dudes started calling out at you, following you and rubbing up against you? Hey, quit crying you big baby. And no one is “anit-male” just “anit-stupid-people.” Guess you fit in with that.

  • robin g

    Because en simply cannot control themselves when they see a lady! For your information, ALL women are harassed no matter if they are in sweats or shorts. So get your big male head out of your butt and stop blaming women because you cannot control your idiot impulses.

  • robin g

    Oh, so because there are worse situations in the world, you should never complain about anything that bothers you? Remember that next time you want to vent about something that is unfair or bothers you. Hey, at least you’re not in a Turkish prison!

  • robin g

    Holy cow, there are a LOT of really uninformed people posting here. This is America, not Tehran. Why should we be thankful that we are not ritualistically raped and beheaded and ONLY cat-called, bothered, harassed, stalked and groped in public? Do any of you men ever have a complaint about anything, ever? If so, then think of a much worse situation and shut up about it! That’s not how the world works. These “men” are really little children in their minds, and when they think they are looking all big and tough, they are really showing the opposite. A real man knows not to harass or grope. A real man doesn’t need to exert his dominant gorilla behavior.

  • Jamia

    Thank you so much Emily and Hollaback for working to make the streets safer for women to live healthy, happy, and harrassment-free lives!

  • HKearl

    (and sorry for the typos)

  • HKearl

    All of these commenters show true ignorance on this issue. If any of them spent even an hour researching this topic or talking to women they care about, they’d realize that street harassment – including sexually explicit comments, public masturbation, groping and stalking – happen to MIOST women no matter what they wear (in Yemen and Egypt where women are VEILED 80-90% experience it) and it is something that happens to girls, monthers, sisters. Shame on you all for making light of this serious issue.

  • Bob C

    If you feel degraded now, wait to you get to the airport.

  • NYC Street Harassment Hearing is a Success! « Stop Street Harassment!

    […] Boston Globe, NY Post, Salon, Yahoo, Canadian Press, AJC, USA News. The NY Metro, AM New York, the NYC CBS News, and Gothamist also wrote stories. I spoke with a blogger for Ms. so I know it will be covered […]

  • Wolf

    Just what we need. More useless laws. Why not just enforce the laws we already have. But right, it’s all the illegal immigrants living in our city for free that break the laws.

    • robin g

      Is it useless if your wife, gf or sister or mom gets catcalled or followed on the street? How about if someone grabs them at the bus stop or says something disgusting or threatens them? That’s fine, right? They should just shut up and take it, right? Is that what you will tell your daughter?

blog comments powered by Disqus
Giving Tuesday
Charles Osgood Event

Listen Live