Baltimore City Paper can do better.

Baltimore City Paper can do better.

In response to a piece published last week in the Baltimore City Paper about a write-in category for Best of Baltimore, I sent the following letter to the editor.

- Shawna Potter, director of Hollaback Bmore!

To whom it may concern,

On behalf of Hollaback Bmore!, who’s efforts you have covered in the past with our utmost appreciation, I must say we are very disappointed by the recent Best of Baltimore category “Best Selection of Yoga Pants . . . to View.”

This past Saturday a successful SlutWalk (a protest against the victim-blaming of survivors of sexual assault and rape) was organized in Baltimore and it was extremely disheartening to see this kind of blatant sexism being displayed so soon after we had made such an effort to speak out against it. We strongly believe that every individual has a right to feel safe in their own community and that this article jeopardizes that.

By publishing this Best of Baltimore category (in the “Goods and Services” section no less) you have promoted the objectification of women, pinpointing a specific area of Baltimore where “shameless pigs” should be sure to go to “ogle” women, almost like the Safeway is a tourist attraction for viewing “fly honeys clad in formfitting, moisture-wicking goodness.” It shows a complete disrespect for women’s safety and well-being in public spaces, which is a tough enough battle as is (otherwise Hollaback Bmore! would not be in existence).

A common myth associated with street harassment (sexual harassment in public spaces, including but not limited to: leering, honking, whistling, degrading comments and gestures, stalking, assault and rape) is that women who dress “a certain way” are “asking for it” (whatever it might be) and deserve what they have coming to them. In reality, women get dressed for the occasion, for the weather, for comfort and the company. We do not get dressed hoping strangers, our fellow Baltimoreans, will approve (and comment) on our bodies. It is our mission at Hollaback Bmore! to debunk these myths because they excuse the behavior that leaves many women, half of your city’s readership, feeling uncomfortable and unsafe in their own communities.

Please do not take this as an attack on City Paper. You do so much for Baltimore and we appreciate that, but we can all do better. We want to make this city great and you can help. Please send the message to all of your readers and affiliates that City Paper does not find objectifying women acceptable behavior. Instead of asking for a forced apology buried deep within the next issue, allow Hollaback Bmore! to work with you on an ad that educates our city on street harassment. Help us show the city the difference between a look and a leer, the difference between a compliment and street harassment; something everyone can appreciate.

Thank you.

 

Shawna Potter

Shawna Potter, Director. Shawna is the only child of a single mother, therefore, a feminist. She has been living in Baltimore since 2002 but has experienced harassment in countless cities while on tour with various musical projects. She currently screams for War On Women, is ordained to perform wedding ceremonies and runs Big Crunch Amp & Guitar Repair with her partner in life and crime.