On 19th January 2013, Blank Noise organised a Tweetathon that invited users to tweet a ‘pledge’, stating how they would take the initiative to make cities safer spaces for women (or, indeed, for anybody who has experienced sexual harassment or violence). People shared a plethora of ideas, and are actually still sharing them (so if you’ve got Twitter, get on it and get in on the action!).
Here, I’ve compiled some of the ideas and pledges shared, which attacked many facets of sexual harassment and sexism (from street harassment to domestic behaviour, ideological prejudices and value systems, basic fundamental actions such as staying silent in the face of harassment, etc.) It’s a very small sample of the hundreds and thousands of pledges that are being put on Twitter today (all of which can be found if you search for the hashtag #safecitypledge), but there are some interesting action plans, basic initiatives, and modifications of behaviour to challenge ‘everyday sexism’ here, and they are well worth thinking about, sharing, and disseminating!
People pointed out the overarching need to undermine patriarchal assumptions & beliefs – including victim-blaming rhetoric, the policing of women (instead of sexual offenders!), education, and value-systems.
People pointed out that we need to question our linguistic habits – a casual demeaning of things like ‘rape’ undermines the enormity of the crime, for example, while we also need to be more attuned to the ways in which linguistic structures condition our understanding of gender. Calling sexual harassment or violence ‘eve-teasing’, for example, undermines the seriousness with which it should be taken and confronted, making it sound like a playground game instead!