Don’t you hate when you’re minding your own business walking on the street when suddenly you become a target for harassment?
I’m going to make the assumption that only about 50% of the class knows what I’m talking about.
Street harassment is still a huge problem in the world. It’s defined as:
“ a form of sexual and gender-based harassment that takes place in public spaces. At its core is a power dynamic that constantly reminds historically subordinated groups (women and LGBT folks, for example) of their vulnerability to assault in public spaces. Further, it reinforces the ubiquitous objectification of these groups in everyday life.”
This form of harassment goes unreported and is largely under researched, so the statistics I found varied. 70-99% of women and 19-25% of men surveyed said they’ve experienced some form of street harassment (note: majority of surveyed men who have been harassed were apart of the LGBT community). Furthermore, research by Cornell University in 2014 shows that 66.7% of female victims of harassment experienced it before the age of 14.
I find these results very alarming, but I was not shocked by any means. I can’t even count the number of times I’ve been cat-called or witnessed other women being cat-called. Last summer in NYC I would have consistently be yelled at on my walk to work. This was in broad-daylight on busy streets. Might I add I was wearing business casual attire and could not possibly have been “asking for it.” I’ve been harassed in CVS in Fort Lauderdale while buying shampoo and harassed in Starbucks in San Francisco while buying a latte. I’ve even been harassed at BC. Those are just a few examples of the innumerable times I have experienced harassment across the country, so imagine how many times this happens everyday to women all around the world.
Australian comedian, Jen Kirkman, tweeted a few days ago about how she was verbally harassed by four men.
This tweet sparked a conversation and prompted women all over the world to reply with stories of street harassment they had experienced. For the next few days Kirkman retweeted countless women’s stories. I read through many of them and was appalled at some of the situations these women have endured. What’s fascinating to me is that while Kirkman retweeted these stories, she received backlash from some males saying that street harassment isn’t an issue. However, I thought that Kirkman using her Twitter account as a platform for street harassment awareness would powerful. It was very eye opening reading those stories.
While researching cat-calling I came across a popular YouTube video that exhibited the extreme prevalence of the issue. A woman walked the streets of NYC in jeans and a t-shirt for 10 hours and received over 100 instances of verbal street harassment (not counting winks, whistles, etc.).
I found the video quite effective and hope that it helps expose the doubters to reality. I can’t recall ever being harassed while with guy friends or my dad and brother, which can make it hard for them to realize how much it actually occurs. Even with these social media efforts, there are still people who don’t consider verbal street harassment an issue and view it as “compliments”:
I’m not even going to address those comments because that would warrant another blog post. Nevertheless, social media is making a difference in creating awareness around street harassment. It’s great to see these platforms showcase stories and examples of acts that occur countless times every single day. What’s most important is that many of these stories reiterate the fact that harassment occurs everywhere- not just at 3am in dark hidden alleys.
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