Street Harassment: MyBodyIsATemple App

#MyBodyIsATemple

Creating a Social Justice App that concerns a certain audience encompasses many aspects. I chose to create a Social justice app that concerns Temple University women being sexually harassed and cat called in public. In my own experience there have been endless incidents where men have said explicit and cruel remarks to me as I made my way home to my apartment from classes. Not only is this disrespectful it is also mentally and emotionally draining. I decided that I would make an app to encourage women to speak to each other and overcome this socially unacceptable justice. This mobile app has been influenced by readings and research from scholars who discuss mobility and applications. The objective is to create a social media outlet for Temple Women to come together and create ways to stop or ways to deal with sexual harassment in public.

Social Justice is a broad topic explained and discussed among many scholars. In Ann Light and Rosemary Luckin’s article they present different definitions and ideas as to what social justice is. From the Utilitarian notions perspective social justice is the freedom for a person to choose their own values, not have them created by other individuals or society.( Light, p.7) John Rawls discusses social justice in a fairly different light. He explains that if someone were ignorant to the way society worked and they were asked to choose a society to live in they would make their choices according to the Liberty principle and the Difference Principle. (Light, p.8) The Liberty Principle says that “everyone is equally entitled to basic rights and liberties, as long as that does not infringe upon the rights and liberties of others.” The Difference principle is “that social and economic inequalities between individuals should be tolerated if, and only if, they are of most benefit to the worst off in society.” Lastly, Light and Luckin explain social justice as enhancing the lives we enjoy and expanding the reasons we have to value, in other words being happy in our own shoes. Over all social justice is what every single person is born aside from what society constructs. Everyone has the freedom to feel happy without people criticizing them for a certain view, value, practice, identity, ECT.

Weeks ago I chose to sit at Starbucks on 15th and Market Street for three hours observing and evaluating individuals use of mobile phones and technology. I learned that mobile technology is a significant and even an emotional attachment to a person. Every single person either had a cell phone, laptop, Kindle, iPad, or all of them. It inspired me to make an app that can be used on the go. Social Media apps are virtually the most popular mainstream applications used by people who have mobile phones. Although I did not have a concrete idea as to what app I would be creating but, I realized that whatever I was going to create would be used on a phone. I observed two women college students who sat on both sides of me at Starbucks that day. They both felt comfortable to ask me questions regarding technology or the Wifi password. I also saw that they both had twitter and were checking them on and off throughout the three hours I was there. This moment created a light bulb moment. I decided that an application that was similar to a twitter feed would be best for my design. I did not point this out in my field research but many times I over hear women from Temple discussing incidents where men, on campus or off, have made rude remarks or sexually harassed them in public. That is a huge factor as to why I chose to gear this app toward women specifically. My field research enlightened me to create a mobile app for phones and computers.

The app idea I came up with and would like to create is a mobile media application for female students at Temple University. The app will be called My Body Is a Temple. I plan on having it similar to Twitter, NotYourBaby, and Hollaback. It is solely on street/public harassment at Temple University. This includes sexual harassment where female students live which can be off campus and sexual harassment on campus. I plan on having 3 tabs as part of my app. There will be a tab for females to post anonymous posts about times they have been sexually harassed or are in the process of being harassed or cat called. Other women may reply and answer to others posts to help them. The second tab includes facts and advice as to how to handle situations when being street harassed. The third tab is how and where to get help on Temples campus or authorities to contact. I wanted this to be for women because in my experience women in Philadelphia are subordinate to men. I’ve seen multiple situations of street harassment daily and women are scared to speak up for themselves. Bystanders also choose to do nothing to help. This application is a place where female temple students can find comfort and help. This is also a place where women do not have to feel alone. I will not make this apart of the school because there is proof that non related school applications will be more successful. For example, on Twitter, Temple Party Owl and Temple Makeouts, although not the most mature or world changing Twitters, are more popular than twitter names associated with Temple University. Women will not feel embarrassed or restrained to share their experiences.

Historically, this application builds off the creation of the Internet, mobile applications, and Internet being available on mobile phones. The MyBodyIsATemple app is inspired by the Hollaback and NotYourBaby app. They empower both people to speak up against sexual harassment. Both of these apps can be used by anyone. The NotYourBaby is a sexual harassment response generator that gives someone responses to sexual harassment situations in places like work, school, home, on the street, and on public transit. It gives the person viewing this app facts and stories about sexual harassment and it also gives someone the chance to support someone dealing with sexual harassment and how to get help. Hollaback app is also similar to NotYourBaby except, it is specifically for street harassment. This application has influenced my idea the most. Hollaback “is a movement to end street harassment powered by a network of local activists around the world. We work together to better understand street harassment, to ignite public conversations, and to develop innovative strategies to ensure equal access to public spaces.”(HollaBack, 2011)

The social justice topic addressed in MyBodyIsATemple is sexual harassment of women in public. Specifically I focused on street harassment of women at Temple University. Street harassment is a form of sexual harassment that takes place in public spaces. It is reinforces the universal sexual objectification of women and other groups in everyday life. “It is an expression of the interlocking and overlapping oppressions we face and it functions as a means to silence our voices and “keep us in our place.””(Hollaback, 2011). The idea of sexual harassment is an almost foreign concept to men. Acts of sexual harassment are not always recognizable to men because men’s perceptions of what their actions/behaviors mean are completely different from women’s.(Kreps,p.134) Street harassment on college campuses and on the streets of Philadelphia from men have fluid meanings. The harasser may see himself as exercising his power and macho-ness over women. A huge factor in street harassment is the fact that women feel they can do nothing to prevent or stop instances from happening. Since women fail to report cases of sexual harassment or street harassment, men believe nothing is wrong, when In fact, women may not report these acts because they have been socialized to believe that their role acts as complementary to the male harasser.(Kreps, p. 137) A study conducted by Penn, Schoen, and Berland Associates conducted a national telephone survey in the US in 2000. They asked women if they have been harassed while walking in streets. The results included: 90 percent in rural areas, 88 percent in suburban areas, and 87 percent in urban areas. Sadly, 84 percent of women “consider changing their behavior to avoid street harassment.”

Also I researched statistics of reported incidents of harassment on Temples Main campus, Ambler campus, and Center City campus. There were 307 incidents reported on all of these campuses since 2010. This was only the reported. Sadly, I could not get more information other than that. I took it upon myself to ask 20 female students and every single one of them said they have been cat called on the streets or campuses of Temple. The U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) released a list of the higher education institutions under investigation for possible violations of federal law over the handling of sexual violence and harassment complaints. Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in all education programs or activities that receive federal financial assistance. Temple is under review by OCR for possible violations of the law’s requirements around sexual violence. (ed.gov) This proves that there is a huge problem with street harassment and sexual harassment at Temple University and something should be done. MyBodyIsATemple can be a great way to enlighten women on how to overcome this injustice.

Mobility is a huge factor in this application. Mobility can be defined in various ways. Kakihara and Sorensen (2001) explain that mobility does not only refer to moving in a physical sense, but also to “the way in which [individuals] interact with each other in their social lives” (Kakihara & Sorensen, 2001, p. 33). Mobility can also be defined through spatial, temporal, and contextual mobility. Spatial mobility is the mobility of objects, symbols, and space. Temporal refers to the mobility of time and how we define time. Contextual includes the interactions that take place between individuals. Upon knowing what mobility, this apps mobility includes: mobility of technology, Internet, and person. A woman can access this app anywhere on campus. They can also access this app anytime they please on their mobile phone with Internet or 3G, 4G service. Mobility is extremely important because street harassment happens on the go.

Accessibility is an important concern in this application. It is for only women. Men can view it but the sole users are women. Again there are other accessibility concerns. People who are illiterate will not be able to truly access this app. Unless they have a phone that can read aloud what is on the phone then they will not be able to know what this app includes. Women who do not have Internet on their phone or computers will not be able to access this application. I plan on making this a free application so female Temple students can access this easily with no cost. Blind women will not be able to access this app unless, again, they have an option of having their phone read aloud what is on the application.

Privacy is important in MyBodyIsATemple. Users will use this app anonymously. I chose to make this anonymous to avoid privacy issues. Temple females will use this app so they do not have to put in an area or place they are currently being harassed. This app is more for awareness of street harassment stories and what a woman can do to get help or help someone else. Like Twitter, to sign up you create an account and username (which will not be shown in the app). A user may also use their email to get alerts and notifications. The only data the app will college is the process of creating an account with an email or username. But, since the users are shown anonymously, there will be no other data collected.

The MyBodyIsATemple application will be a step towards building awareness of street harassment at Temple University. Street harassment is an ongoing, growing problem at Temple. This application will encourage females to find a place of comfort and guidance when dealing with sexual harassment. This mobile application will connect Temple females in a way other social media applications cannot. Attending a university as a female should be a happy and fulfilling experience. Universities should not be a place where women feel violated and uncomfortable when doing things in public throughout their day. Street harassment and cat calling should be a justice of concern. MyBodyIsATemple app will be a starting point for creating awareness for street harassment.

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Stories From Women
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Fact and Advice about Street Harassment
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How to Get Help at Temple University

Works Cited:

Passing By: Gender and Public Harassment. by Carol Brooks Gardner. Review by: Laura Ring

Contemporary Sociology, Vol. 25, No. 4 (Jul., 1996), pp. 480-482

Kakihara, M. & Sorensen, C. (2001). Expanding the ‘Mobility’ Concept. SIGGROUP Bulletin, 22(3), 33-37.

The Metropolitan Action Committee on Violence Against Women and Children. “Welcome to Not Your Baby | Not Your Baby.” Not Your Baby. METRAC, n.d. Web. 09 May 2014.

Kearl, H. “”Not Your Baby” App- Stop Street Harassment.” Stop Street Harassment RSS. N.p., n.d. Web. 09 May 2014.

“Hollaback! You Have the Power to End Street Harassment.” Hollaback You Have the Power to End Street Harassment RSS. N.p., n.d. Web. 09 May 2014.

Oxygen/Markle Pulse Poll, “Harassment of Women on the Street Is Rampant; 87% of American Women Report Being Harassed on the Street By a Male Stranger,” June 22, 2000.

Kreps, Gary. L. (1993) Sexual Harassment: Communication Implications. Cresskill, NJ: Hampton Press, Inc

Ottens, Allen. J. (2001) Sexual Violence on Campus: Policies, Programs, and Perspectives. New York, NY: Springer Publishing Company, Inc

 

 

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