Estamos atentos: Photos and lessons from Friday's anti-violence march in the Mission


It's hard to say if the march of neighbors from the 16th Street BART station, to Valencia Street, to 24th Street, and back down Mission Street will stop attacks like the January 6th assault on 23rd and Guerrero Streets that inspired last Friday's anti-violence demonstration and walk. But for a community that feels nervous about walking one's own sidewalks at times due to an ongoing spate of sexual assaults, that wasn't really the point. 

"No violence, no police! From the bathroom, to the streets!" went the crowd's chant, led by an ambulatory drum circle past the 1,000 new restaurant seats on Valencia and the tourists snapping photos of the massive, swaying protest puppets above our heads. Making the violence visible? Check. A disempowering situation turned into a show of strength? Check.

Bilingual handmade signs, bodies made out of roses on the sidewalk at the 16th Street BART plaza, musical instruments, famous writers -- that was how the Mission spoke its mind at the march. Information was passed around about the International Women's Day protest in UN Plaza, and a bright orange "Manifesto for Safe Streets" called for the right to be on the street safely at any hour (head to Mission Mission to read the full manifesto.)

Events were kicked off by a rally at the BART station, where announcements about Impact Bay Area self-defense courses and safe cab services shared time with a poetry reading, a first-person testimonial from a local sexual assault survivor, and remarks by writer Rebecca Solnit, who recently moved to the neighborhood after living in Western Addition for decades. Solnit is working on a new book which examines the various permutations of violence against women today -- the recent attack in India, football players and rape in Stuebenville, the Republican Party. 

Impact Bay Area passed out a flier with the following tips on how to stay safe in the streets. (Though we think these "10 Ways to Prevent Rape" would be way more effective):

Be alert: Using awareness and intuition are two of the best ways to keep yourself safe. Pay attention to where you are, and what is happening when you are out in public. Texting, looking at a smart phone, or even talking on the phone divides your attention and may prevent you from noticing important information. If your intuition tells you something is wrong, listen to it and take steps to get to a safe place (even if you can't articulate why you feel like something is wrong.)

Use strong, confident body language: If someone sets off your internal alarms or gives you a bad feeling, don't look away and don't be afraid to make eye contact. Often we have the instinct to avoid eye contact for fear of provoking someone. A person with no bad intentions will not harm you because you look at him. On the other hand, someone who is looking for a victim will read you body language and by facing that person you send the message that you will not be an easy target. 

Use your voice: Your voice is one of your strongest self defense weapons. Not only did the neighbors hear her and open a window, scaring the man off, but yelling is a good way to start harnessing your adrenaline by breakign the common "freeze response." If you don't know what to say, you can just yell "NO!" as loud as you can. 

Fight back: Every situation is different and you must use your best judgement about whether to fight back. But don't assume that you can't fight if you don't think of yourself as particularily strong. Adrenaline dramatically increases strength and speed. The element of surprise is also very important. Most assailants don't expect their victims to fight back. The moment you start fighting back, you force that person to reassess their plan, and if they were looking for an easy victim you have shown that that's not going to be you. 



can best protect themselves against assault, regardless of whether it is physical or sexual. I am less clear why disrupting traffic and causing a disturbance like this is appropriate to address that issue.

There are ways of helping people without disrupting them.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 14, 2013 @ 12:37 pm

Even when you agree, you are disagreeable. Did you get caught behind the march on your way to charm school?

Posted by Eddie on Jan. 14, 2013 @ 12:58 pm

other than blocking and obstructing people?

Posted by Guest on Jan. 14, 2013 @ 2:01 pm

But there's nothing wrong with a short community-based march, which may be more effective at raising awareness than just a rally at the BART Plaza.

Why are you so bothered by it? I'm sure your heroes, the SFPD, had the situation well under control.

Posted by Eddie on Jan. 14, 2013 @ 2:18 pm

legitimate reason to disrupt the lives of others just because I happen to think I might be right about something.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 14, 2013 @ 2:34 pm

your compliant viewpoints and banded together on the streets to push for civil rights and to stop the Vietnam War.

Were you opposed to the Giants victory parade and hopefully the one for the 49ers in February?

By the way, you certainly disrupt the enjoyment of the readers of this website.

Posted by Eddie on Jan. 14, 2013 @ 2:48 pm

I can make my point without disrupting others.

You are so wedded to yours that, if people don't listen or accept your POV, you start to want to harm them or inconvenience them or disrupt them.

I have a vote. That's sufficient.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 14, 2013 @ 3:07 pm

in a march.

You have a feeble understanding of power relations and class exploitation within society.

Posted by Eddie on Jan. 14, 2013 @ 3:35 pm

know for a fact that no person or car was delayed, discomforted or inconvenienced?

How do you know that? Did you ask them all?

Posted by Guest on Jan. 14, 2013 @ 3:57 pm

I wrote little, not no, disruption or inconvenience.

What about the Giants victory parade, the Pride March, the St. Patrick's Day Parade, Chinese New Year's Parade, Sunday Streets, Carnaval? Oppose those also?

There's some event that disrupts traffic and causes minor disruptions almost every weekend in San Francisco. Unless someone is obsessively informed, he or she might stumble onto that event without prior notice, just like you did on your way to charm school last Friday.

Posted by Eddie on Jan. 14, 2013 @ 4:17 pm

at a rally, demonstration or protest indicate that they probably agree on an issue so you contradict your own argument about "listen(ing) or accept(ing) your POV."

Posted by Eddie on Jan. 14, 2013 @ 4:02 pm

issue, no matter how whacked out. What about the 699,000 people who don't do that?

Again, I fail to see why inconveniencing and disrupting others is a legitimate activity just because you happen to think that you might be right about something.

We all think we're right, but we don't all ram it down the throats of others this inconsiderately.

Posted by Eddie on Jan. 14, 2013 @ 4:11 pm

So if you don't get your way, you have a tantrum and steal someone else's name.

Why wouldn't I be surprised if you are living life alone?

Posted by Eddie on Jan. 14, 2013 @ 4:26 pm
Posted by Guest on Jan. 14, 2013 @ 5:21 pm

people by stealing their online names and obscuring the conversation on this website.

Your unprincipled behavior is not much of a selling point for the ideology that you espouse, is it? Or does it reflect it?

Posted by Eddie on Jan. 14, 2013 @ 4:56 pm

I don't stop you from going home, going to work or going out to eat just because I think i'm right.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 14, 2013 @ 5:25 pm

there are pro-lifers at the abortion clinic on Valencia.

It seems that "progressive" supervisor Campos has his aids keep track of these pro lifer kooks according to the Mission local where you also post. Would you send an e-mail telling Campos to not have an aide monitor the situation there?

Posted by matlock on Jan. 14, 2013 @ 6:32 pm

""No violence, no police! From the bathroom, to the streets!" went the crowd's chant"

Um, what?

Posted by Parvo on Jan. 14, 2013 @ 1:15 pm

Not pinning all hopes for safe neighborhoods on law enforcement. 

Posted by caitlin on Jan. 14, 2013 @ 1:19 pm

Getting attacked in public restrooms. 

Posted by caitlin on Jan. 14, 2013 @ 1:26 pm

That's the problem when the left takes on a cause. Even if the cause is, for once, fairly reasonable, the effort invariably gets hijacked by the usual troublemakers and turned into an anti-establishment rant.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 14, 2013 @ 2:02 pm

That's my main takeaway from this event.

Posted by Lucretia Snapples on Jan. 14, 2013 @ 4:31 pm

That's my main takeaway.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 14, 2013 @ 5:24 pm

is going to make the rapist reconsider the next time they want to rape someone? If so that represents a very poor understanding of the criminal mind - one which seems to permeate San Francisco. Reasoning with criminals does not work. It's like hoping the alligator in the pond eats you last.

Posted by Lucretia Snapples on Jan. 14, 2013 @ 8:24 pm

Including prostitution service coverage in a health care plans, especially for men, would do more to stop rape than anything else and as a plus it would create jobs.

Posted by marcos on Jan. 14, 2013 @ 9:51 pm

and sex - "rape is an act of power - of control." We've all heard that for ages. It goes to the root of much of feminism's sex negativity, rooted in the Dworkin-like portrayal of all sex being rape. In some cases that's true - but it's not true in every case. And while later waves of feminists have tried to undo that impression - the sex negativity - in much of the American mind the connection still exists.

Posted by Lucretia Snapples on Jan. 14, 2013 @ 10:07 pm

That last comment made sense. This is like twice in a week that I've agreed with Lucretia!

Posted by Greg on Jan. 14, 2013 @ 10:40 pm

this week. Perhaps some weird sort of harmonic convergence IS occurring - like Steven wrote about!!

Posted by Lucretia Snapples on Jan. 14, 2013 @ 11:22 pm

has said "all sex is rape" or "all men are rapists" when they really haven't said those things? While Andrea Dworkin has famously been targetted with that sort of claim, she isn't the only one.

Posted by lillipublicans on Jan. 15, 2013 @ 12:28 am

That's what. Why are all your postings so incoherent 'lil lilz? Off your meds again poor dear?

Posted by Lucretia Snapples on Jan. 15, 2013 @ 11:04 am

No fan of Dworkin I, but my read of her texts is that she said things like all men are POTENTIAL rapists, and that het sex as commonly practiced involves men asserting control over women and is tantamount to rape.

I don't think that all men are potential rapists. There are some men who are potential rapists, but that does not say anything that is not already evident.

And I don't think that het sex is always about control although it can be. Many women like to get fucked with ardor, consensually.

My bet is that her hideous visage led her to generalize male response to her onto male response to every woman. The notion that pornography causes rape instead of reflects what turns people on turned my stomach and was part of the ongoing trend that literature determined bad acts.

Fortunately, the battle between the pro-sex and anti-sex feminists such as MacKinnon and Dworkin was won decisively by the pro-sex feminists.

I always liked this piece:

Posted by marcos on Jan. 15, 2013 @ 11:22 am

I'd never try to tell a woman that for her, from her experience, that rape is not a crime of power and violence. But the victim's feelings of how a crime went down from her perspective is no guide towards identifying what caused the perp to commit. Without knowing what caused the perp to commit, we cannot know what interventions beforehand might prevent the generic perp from committing.

Thus, getting inside the head of the rapist beforehand is critical to understanding rapist motivation with an eye towards preempting it.

My take is that there are some sick fucks out there who get off on dominating women with sex as one way to express that power.

But my read also is that much rape is simply horny straight men unable to get laid who misread signals from women. The bulk of western literature centers around crossed het mating signals, misunderstandings and improper reactions because it is so prevalent.

Thus, prostitution services provided as part of health care would serve as a safety valve to check this frustration and with it reduce the amount of rape in society.

Posted by marcos on Jan. 15, 2013 @ 10:02 am

"Solnit is working on a new book which examines the various permutations of violence against women today -- the recent attack in India, football players and rape in Stuebenville, the Republican Party."

LOL. You can't make this stuff up, and you can't parody it.

I'm sure the sexual predators in the Mission are registered Republicans!

Heck, they are probably members of the National Rifle Association!

It's all Bush's fault!

Posted by Demented, Yet Terribly, Terribly, Persistent on Jan. 15, 2013 @ 6:06 am

The rapists in India probably aren't Republicans either - what's your point?

Posted by marke on Jan. 15, 2013 @ 8:29 am

Yeah, let's focus on policing each other instead of policing a government that plays us all off against one another paving the way for it to set the tone of violence from the top.

Who gives a damn about ongoing corporate and government crime when there remain racist, sexist and homophobic individuals out there?

Posted by marcos on Jan. 15, 2013 @ 11:08 am

Rather than march in a parade that glorifies rape, women should dress less provocatively and go to church more.

Posted by Sherman on Jan. 15, 2013 @ 10:59 am