When you witness a woman being catcalled or groped in public, is the first impulse to intervene? Or do you fear for your own safety as well? Holly Kearl, the author of Stop Street Harassment! Making Public Spaces Safe and Welcoming for Women and founder of the blog of the same name, says that gender-based harassment in public space continues to be acceptable largely because bystanders and victims are taught to ignore it. “Harassers and abusers continue to harass and abuse when they know they can get away with it, and bystanders can do a lot to stop them from getting away with it,” Kearl explains.
Street harassment is simply one issue that plagues women in their everyday life. They are constantly barraged with discriminatory obstacles that we don’t even see as obstacles.
My passion and main concern with respect to combating sexism has been about revealing
hidden forms of sexism; my fight lies in overturning the idea that women and girls are subject to
a certain biological destiny, and revealing what we think to be biological destiny as actually the
problematic ways in which we condition girls and women in our society. This conditioning
creates a lens through which women see the world and approach their life—a conditioning that
itself is discriminatory.
Women not only deal with discriminatory behavior on a daily basis, but they are also loaded with
the baggage of their social conditioning. We must recognize that, day in and day out, every hour, every minute, women face lives that we men will rarely see and never feel.
One of the stumbling blocks I repeatedly have over discussions of street harassment is that much of the time, on paper, it’s doesn’t look like harassment. Hell, much of the time what makes me uncomfortable isn’t harassment.
Much of the time, what makes me uncomfortable is hello.
Hello doesn’t get a lot of attention in discussions of street harassment. And why would it? When women get to hear gems like “I can smell your pussy” (that’s a link to Clarisse Thorn, not a link to l’eau de pussy) or even the cries of “beautiful, beautiful” that might seem like compliments but that take about two seconds to deconstruct as male occupation of public space, hello seems relatively harmless. Hello seems innocent, polite, open—even welcomed in a sea of harsher interactions. Hello seems friendly.
But as many women in urban spaces well know, hello isn’t always as friendly as it seems.
I feel exactly the same about the “hellos” I get from unknown men on the street on a daily basis. They’re all about drawing women’s attention and in my opinion, they are to be considered as street harassment, without a doubt. Only they’re subtler and more pernicious. When you get them every time you walk out your door, you begin to feel scrutinized and very self-conscious. It works exactly like the more hurtful comments.
Allies are needed to fight against every type of oppression. We must use our privileges to level the playing field. Just as people of color should not be solely responsible for ending racism, just as people in the LGBTQ community should not be solely responsible for ending homophobia, women should not be solely responsible for ending sexism in its many forms.
Objectified by Tiye Rose Hood
Street harassment, cat-calling, and the objectification of women.
Nominated for Best Documentary in Academy of Art’s 2011 Epidemic Film Festival.
On an average day, if I am out walking, I get 2-4 remarks from strangers. I’ve counted as many as eight within half an hour. All races. All ages. In a variety of languages. I am not alone in experiencing unwanted suggestive and sometimes lewd comments or actions. Recently, while a friend was walking her dog, four older teen boys said they would tie her up and rape her. As if this weren’t horrifying enough to hear, they then called her a “whore.” Then they laughed, because assaulting women, as we all know, is hilarious.
In every situation, the person needs to assess the best type of action to take. She needs to consider what the possible consequences will be of taking action.
“Ignoring it” is an option. So is saying, “Do not speak to me.”
But women are socialized to be nice and polite, not confrontational. That needs to change. We should not feel the need to justify taking action when we are being harassed or assaulted.
Being a woman alone in public means I can’t even buy a tub of yogurt without fielding unwanted advances.
I’ve been yelled at, I’ve been cursed out, and physically intimidated. I’ve also been wished a blessed day. But the unpredictability is what makes it so upsetting. Even as I make the choice to avoid certain places, I hate it, because it’s just another example of the ways street harassment limits women’s access to public spaces.
My point? Paris is a city saturated with images of women in ads who consistently come across as sexual objects. And men, in the street, treat real women as such, aggressively pursuing them and showing little respect.
This may seem like a simplistic correlation: in other cities I often visit, there is an equal number of objectified bodies in ads, but women in the street are treated with more respect. I am thinking of London, New York, and Milan – places I visit for extended stays every year. So, what makes Paris different? Many close female friends of mine would relate similar stories of harassment – verbal and physical.
Terranova then issued a weak and condescending apology to the feminists he offended and he promises “to be good from now on.” He has also been using his twitter to attack the “liberal northern feminists” that he claims are coming after him. If Mr. Terranova wants to salvage his journalistic integrity and truly become a paragon of the truth in Argentine society then he should sit with groups like Hollaback and become comfortable with critiquing male power in Latin American society.
“Half-hearted” is pretty generous as the guy sounds more like “sorry and fuck you all”.
On March 3, 2011, Argentinian news publication El Guardian published an article written by journalist Juan Terranova that discussed a local activist’s work with Hollaback International and contained racist, homophobic, and sexist remarks.
The original version of the article remains unedited on Terranova’s blog with the final sentence expressing his desire to meet the Buenos Aires Hollaback representative and rape her in the ass.
El Guardian’s moral responsibility to its readers and the Buenos Aires community does not leave room for association with journalists of low caliber like Terranova and his hateful, violent, inflammatory writings.
A call for rape must be met with a call for resignation.
Hollaback and its international community of men and women and media allies stand by the idea that threats of violence and rape are not funny, clever or thought-provoking, and do NOT fall within international standards of free speech; rather, they infringe upon another human being’s basic human rights and cross into the realm of illegal activity.
Such behavior must be met with consequences.
Demand that El Guardian uphold its responsibility to the citizens of Buenos Aires, Argentina, and the global community, and accept the resignation of Juan Terranova effective immediately.
Tonight, in the audience, people not only laughed at the street harassment scene, but also when sexual assault was depicted.
Sega has announced that it’s testing consoles called “Toylets” in urinals around Tokyo. The novel hardware asks the user to strategically vary the strength and location of his urine stream to play a series of games.
Each urinal is installed with a pressure sensor. An LCD screen is mounted on the wall above, letting the gamer select from and play four different minigames.
“The Northern Wind, The Sun and Me,” where you play as the wind trying to blow a girl’s skirt up, and the harder you pee, the harder the wind blows.
Harass women sexually for fun! Street harassment is so not taken for what it is that it becomes a game men can play… with their dick.
ABC News did a very interesting experiment regarding street harassment and bystanders. They had three actors portray construction workers and had them harass an actress portraying a regular woman. Even as the men escalated, most people nearby did nothing. One woman bystander was too hesitant to confront the men, but suggested to the woman targeted to just ignore them and walk away.
But, across the time they were play-acting harassment, there were THREE good male bystanders who stepped up to the plate.
Follow the link to see the video
I’m used to ignoring the terms of endearment yelled at me by strange men on the street. Like most women I know, I treat street harassment like unpleasant weather — a common occurrence I silently endure by drawing my coat tighter around my body and walking briskly ahead with a stiff neck. But, thanks to this piece, I’d been promising myself I’d take the plunge for weeks, and on this particular day I finally snapped.