Mod Post

Below is a cogent, excellent piece on the importance of language in general and in particular within messaging campaigns. We highly recommend your perusal.


Language reflects the culture in which we live, and so criticisms of language use are often met with statements like “We’re just telling it like it is!” or “That’s the way the world works, get used to it.” But language also has the potential to change our culture. When we change the way we talk about things, we change the way we think about things. THEN we start to (slowly, surely) change the way we act about things.


We’re very pleased by the transit police’s near-immediate response to the criticisms of their recent messaging for the See Something, Say Something campaign. They’re:

A) Taking down the posters with the problematic wording

B) Asking our, and Hollaback!’s input on alternative messaging to replace the problematic posters

C) forming a committee to review messaging copy going forward.

A solid resolution to a clumsy, if well-intentioned mis-step.

Lost in Translation: What the Vancouver Transit Police Advertisement Teaches Us About Language Use

Originally posted on Lucia Lorenzi:

grammar_policeWhen I recently told an acquaintance that I study and teach in a Department of English Language & Literature, they commented that I must be a real stickler for grammar and vocabulary. In some ways, that’s true. Part of my job is to teach my students to write well and to communicate their ideas effectively. The truth is, however, that I’m much less interested in perfect grammar and spelling than I am in whether or not an idea or argument is conveyed as unambiguously and clearly as possible (especially in academic writing!). After all, even in my own academic and personal writing, I often flout the usual rules or expected usages of grammar. I often start sentences with coordinating conjunctions such as “and” or “but.” I don’t always use semi-colons or dashes properly (although I do try). Ultimately, however, the goal of my writing – and the ways in which…

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SuperDriver, Protector of Women Just Trying to Get Home (19/f)

I thought I’d share a story of a bus driver who was kind enough to go out his way for me one night.

When I was a 19-year-old student and first moved from Victoria I lived deep in Steveston and there were very few buses that could get me home late at night. Of course I would still go to downtown Vancouver sometimes on the weekend, drink, and take the last possible night bus home by myself. Yes, this could be dangerous activity for a young woman, but violence is never the fault of the victim, no matter what I drank, no matter what I was wearing, no matter how unlit the streets at the end of No.2 road were ten years ago. As far as I was concerned, I wasn’t going to limit my life by fear. I was young and invincible. I had bear spray.

Usually I was the last one on the bus which let me off to walk the twenty minute route home along unlit farmlands. I would at the back of the accordion bus and read a book for the long ride from the city. One night I had missed the last bus that would take me closest to home and had to settle one that would get as close as possible, a forty minute walk.

On an otherwise empty bus, a man came and sat down right next to me, essentially trapping me in the back corner seat. He commented on my outfit. “I like your skirt.” “Are your legs cold?” and eventually, “Where is your stop?” He continued by asking and then telling me to come home with him. I sat upright, I looked at him in the eye, and I kept responding with various versions of “no.” I held back my rapidly beating heart with what I hoped was a cold and strong exterior. I was terrified. My stop came, and I didn’t want to get up. I didn’t want to touch him as I brushed past, and even worse, I was petrified knowing he might follow me off.

Creepy guy eventually left the bus and I got up to ask the driver where this bus went and where we were. The kind driver said that after he got to the last stop he could then drive me all the way home on the bus – and he did. It was hours past midnight, he was at the end of his shift, but he did it anyways, and I can’t thank him enough.

Ever since, when I am the only one on a night bus, I sit right up near the front where the driver can hear and see me.

Not Your “Babes” (21/F)

I heard about this site and couldn’t believe how horrifying these encounters have been, and I just thought to myself “I’m so lucky to have not met any of these offenders”.

Until today. My female friend and I were taking transit and got off at the wrong stop, we ended up near Waterfront and were planning to either take the 16 or 14 to head back to Victoria Dr.

My friend and I wore long pants, non-low cut shirts and jackets/cardigans (for anyone wondering if it was because we were wearing anything “suggestive”, but you know, anything can happen in any types of clothes)

So the 5 comes to our stop and a man gets off, making small talk with the bus driver. Nothing too unusual but after his talk (exclaiming how interesting the bus driver’s blue spiky hair was), comes up to me and my friend and says “Hey babes.”

We both ignore him and thank goodness he moves away from us, but not even after a minute, 2 other females were walking past our bus stop and he calls them babes and asking how they are doing. In my head I was thinking is this real? I could see the annoyance on the 2 passing females.

Finally the 16 comes up and it turns out it was the same bus the man would be taking. He comes up to me and my friend and says “I’m going to shoot my load into the two of you so bad”.

After reading this site, I envisioned myself standing up and being “excuse me, your comments make me uncomfortable so get away from me”.

I just freaked out and headed straight to the bus, I heard him say behind me “Come on!” and walked behind me. Luckily I turned around and walked back to my friend who didn’t move (her move is to just ignore) and he got onto the bus and left us. I felt bad for the passengers on the bus because now they have to deal with him.

I have never felt so grossed out in my life. This man was quite heavy with a beer belly, had yellow teeth, balding and a bit of a beard. He appeared to be around his 50’s.

Transit Police Text Number

We want to take this opportunity to remind our readers that the Transit Police now have a non-emergency text line at their disposal, and yours!

Should you ever find yourself in a situation that appears potentially dangerous, or is personally troubling for you or someone else, you can contact Transit Police dispatch by texting your location, description, and perpetrator description to:


Responses will generally come within the minute, and officers are usually dispatched to the scene within about ten minutes, depending on proximity.


This is not intended to replace 911 for life or safety-threatening scenarios.

Lady in Fear

in the year 2006 or 2007 I don’t  remember well I took the train from Broadway to  Nanaimo , I used to lived about 4 blocks away from the station. that evening I walked about two blocks down and two or three young men followed me from the station and  insulted me  for being black , I was told to get lost from here to return to Africa where slaves were . They hit me so hard and threatened me  to hit me worse if  the police was  warned . I was told they  knew who I am and where my  house was located. They told me that if they see something strange around my house they will kill me . That experience was so bad that I end up in the hospital took exams in the face, but was never able to denounce . Today when I find this blog I realize that the situation would have been different if I had dared to denounce, those damn misfits are everywhere , and for someone like me who was  fleeing the violence of my country was even worse . that period of time  was so hard specially  because I left a country where violence against women is at high levels, to meet these cowards here. I hate not having the courage to denounce , but now at least I can write about it.

It was very painful to see my face completely swollen I know time has passed and there is nothing We can do but I also know that, that experience was so traumatic that sometimes I still have dreams with them