Author Shawna Potter recently came to Frederick Community College for a series of workshops with students. At the Bystander Intervention Workshop, Potter discussed serious topics of harassment, hate, violence, and sexism.
In a discussion
peppered with determined hand gestures, Potter discussed how to go from
inaction to action when you witness harassment. The event was led by Professor
Jill Schultz, and funded through FCC.
Harassment can happen anywhere, including schools, buses, college campuses, playgrounds, online, and even in workplaces. “We all play a role in creating safe public spaces not only for us, but for our community. We do this by supporting each other when we are harassed, that’s what bystander intervention is all about,” Potter said.
Harassment is a very real thing some people experience daily. During Potter’s workshop, she played three clips, each of which were filled with rage. These clips showed many forms of harassment including sexism, racism, and homophobia. “Knowing you can’t exist in a public space, and be, is sickening,” said one student.
Potter educates people on bystander intervention with the help of an online platform called Hollaback!. This national platform is an online website, and has created a safe space where people who have witnessed or experienced harassment can talk about it. Potter founded Hollaback! Baltimore, which promotes the 5 D’s of bystander intervention: direct, distract, delegate, delay, and document.
Potter is an activist not only for harassment but for women’s rights as well. She started her career in 2011 when she began Hollaback! Baltimore. She also created a hardcore punk band called War on Women, where she sings about feminist topics.
Potter is the author of her new book, “Making Spaces Safer: A Guide to Giving Harassment the Boot Where You Work, Play, and Gather.” In it she discusses harassment and ways people can act moral, giving people advice in a way that emphasizes action, not theory.
Potter says that “hate is not OK, and I want to do something about it if it is in my town.” Which she has done in her hometown of Baltimore. She does multiple workshops at schools, campuses, and venues all over the United States. She talks to many different people who have been harassed, and teaches them how to get help.
Potter offers five different workshops: Bystander Intervention 101, Street Harassment 101, Safer Spaces 101, Politicizing Art: The Lyrics and Message of War On Women, and Healthy Flirting and Creating Safer Parties.
These workshops are generally an hour long. More on Potter, her book, and upcoming events can be found at shawnapotter.com.