Triggered: A Documentary about Street Harassment and Rape Culture

trailer

Since revelations about Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein came to light, there has been a​ ​litany​ ​of​ ​men​ ​​accused​ of, or admitting outright to ​being sexual predators.  An alien studying the planet by monitoring the mainstream media might ​believe​ ​that​ ​only​ ​white​ ​women​ ​are​ ​victims​ ​of sexual​ ​harassment​ ​and​ ​assault.​  In truth, Black women and other women of color are valued less in our society and so their stories rarely make it to the airwaves.  But something began in the summer of 2017 that challenges these assumptions about Black women.

On July 23, 2017, community activist Schyla Pondexter-Moore and her two teen-aged daughters attempted to get a meal from a food table in the Bellevue neighborhood of Ward 8.  A local nonprofit, founded by Black men native to the District, set up the table once a month in the parking lot of the neighborhood shopping center.  Instead of getting a meal, Schyla’s 16-year-old daughter was harassed, followed and threatened physically by a group of men.   Rather than stopping the harassment, the men from the nonprofit running the community food table joined in.

Triggered-1

Triggered-2The incident led to a Speakout Against Street Harassment organized by a group of Black women who came together in the same parking lot where the incident occurred, to speak out against street harassment and rape culture.  Grassroots Media DC documented the event on video, capturing the perspectives of people who were there—those who agreed, those who vehemently disagreed and those somewhere in the middle.  The result is the 30-minute documentary Triggered:  Street Harassment and Rape Culture in D.C.’s Ward 8.  The event itself was both powerful and telling.  Should Black women and girls have agency over their bodies and lives?  ​For many, the answer is not so obvious.

Triggered-3The organizers hoped that women from the neighborhood, being all too familiar with street harassment, would be able to speak about their experiences, validate each other and come together to demand change.  As is clear in the video, it starts out that way but ultimately, the forces in play that keep rape culture firmly entrenched in low-income, African-American communities, overwhelm everyone’s best efforts.

The​ ​premiere​ ​screening​ ​of​ ​Triggered​ ​took​ ​place​ ​November​ ​9th​ ​at​ ​the Greenleaf public housing complex in Southwest​ ​Washington,​ ​D.C.​ ​ The​ ​film’s​ ​evocative​ ​subject ​allowed​ ​many​ ​women​ ​in​ ​attendance to​ ​share​ ​their​ ​personal​ ​stories​ ​of​ sexual harassment, abuse and assault.  ​The​ ​post​ ​screening discussion​ ​lasted​ ​for​ ​almost​ ​two​ ​hours.

The ​dialogue​ ​​needs​ ​to​ ​continue.​  ​Clearly, the Speakout touched on issues that reach beyond than one incident.  While most of the media focuses on sexual harassment among the political elites and Hollywood insiders, the rest of us are dealing with it in the streets.  More safe​ ​spaces​ ​must be made ​available​ ​for​ ​women​ ​and​ ​girls​ to discuss not only victimization but also survival. Grassroots DC invites you to join the discussion.  We intend to hold more screenings and discussions starting in 2018.  Together we will uncover the truths behind street harassment and the wider problem of rape culture.  For more information or to request a screening contact liane@grassrootsdc.org.