Street harassment campaign partners with Vancouver night clubs

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Image: Michael Nugent via Flickr

However you define a good night out, experiencing harassment in any form while trying to enjoy Vancouver’s nightlife is not just part of the fun. Hollaback! Vancouver, a non-profit focused on ending street harassment, is kicking off the Good Night Out campaign, working with licensed establishments’ management and staff to implement policies and training to help end harassment.

Hollaback! has been addressing the issue of harassment, groping and sexism in Vancouver by utilizing mobile technology to give women and men a platform to share their stories and break the silence.

“Street harassment is one of the most pervasive forms of gender-based violence and one of the least legislated against. Comments from “You’d look good on me” to groping, flashing and assault are a daily, global reality for women and LGBTQ individuals. But it is rarely reported, and it’s culturally accepted as ‘the price you pay’ for being a woman or for being gay,” Hollaback reports on their website.

While many may believe being harassed is just an uncomfortable experience or an annoyance, according to the organization it is a “gateway crime” that leads to a cultural environment where gender-based violence is okay.

Good Night Out will be countering that belief by educating night club and bar staff and management on sexual harassment and how to deal with and prevent it. Venues that undergo training and pass the Good Night Out safety audit will be able to display the Good Night Out sticker, letting patrons know they are entering a safer space.

“Passing the Good Night Out audit designates the establishment as a safer space that won’t tolerate harassment­ including sexist, homophobic, transphobic or other derogatory behaviors. Designated venues will be recognized as having staff that are sensitive to and prepared to deal with behaviors of this nature,” Hollaback! states in a release.

The program launched on June 1, 2015 and targets the over 200 night clubs in Metro Vancouver. Certified venues will display posters that encourage customers to report harassment, stating:

“We want you to have a good night out. If something or someone makes you feel uncomfortable, no matter how minor it may seem, you can report it to any member of staff and they will work with you to make sure it doesn’t have to ruin your night.”

Good Night Out Vancouver is part of the wider UK Good Night Out project and is the first non-UK site in the world to launch.

Part of Hollaback’s mission is to educate men and women on what street harassment is and what to do about it. Pulled from their website, behaviours defined as harassment are listed below.

How not to be a harasser:

First step – Stay away from the following actions:

  • Vulgar Gestures
  • Sexually Explicit Comments (e.g., “Hey baby, I’d like a piece of that”)
  • Leering
  • Whistling
  • Barking
  • Kissing Noises
  • Following someone
  • Flashing someone or exposing oneself
  • Blocking someone’s path
  • Sexual touching or grabbing (e.g., touching someone’s legs, breasts or butt)
  • Public masturbation
  • Comments about someone’s appearance, gender, sexual orientation, etc
  • Ignoring a clear rejection
  • Not taking no for an answer

Second step – Learn how to flirt respectfully:

For many people, flirting is hard enough as it is, but flirty respectfully shouldn’t be any more work.

Hollaback! suggests striking up a conversation on shared experiences, pop culture, cute accessories or current events to get someone’s attention.

Whatever happens, even if you are polite and friendly and perfectly land that punchline, no means no. Respect their wishes and back off.

 

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Jill Slattery Jill Slattery was born and raised in Vancouver, where she also earned an Arts degree from UBC in English and Creative Writing. She is an avid TV-watcher and a shameless Taylor Swift fangirl. Jill is a Staff Writer at Vancity Buzz. Contact her at jill@vancitybuzz.com
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