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Monday, April 13, 2015

It's Not A Compliment!: Street-Based Harassmenent in our Community


Trigger Warning for: Harassment, Violence and Offensive Terms

 In light of recent events, we feel it is important to clarify what street harassment IS and what street harassment is NOT. It would be easy to list the statistics about the enormity of this issue, instead we decided to let the experiences speak for themselves. The following are anonymous responders who have been graciously shared their story to shed some light on what street harassment truly looks like.


 STREET HARASSMENT IS NOT A COMPLIMENT

I was walking down the street when a big white truck slowed down and ran along side of me. A man stuck his head out of the driver side window and called out to me; “Damn I am married but you are one hot mama!” He followed me for a minute or two waiting for my response.


STREET HARASSMENT IS NOT A MINOR ISSUE

Someone yelled from their car “You better keep walking fast, honey. Otherwise who knows what will happen?”


Once I was walking home and 3 people in a car drove slowly next to me for an entire mile without saying anything.


I was walking back to my house with a friend and a man rolled down his window and started panting at us. When we didn’t respond, we saw his car turn back and circle around which forced us to go off the sidewalk into unmarked walkways.

 

STREET HARASSMENT IS OPPRESSIVE TO THE LGBTQ COMMUNITY

I was walking arm in arm with my best friend and a man yelled at us; “That's right girls, get it!”


I hate to say it but my gay male friends basically can’t go out together without being called a F****t.
 

Walking down the street holding hands with your same-gender partner is apparently easy ammunition: I’ve got “yeah! That’s what I like to see!” more times than I can count.

 

STREET HARASSMENT IS A PART OF RAPE CULTURE

I started being whistled and honked at when I was thirteen by grown men. No one ever talks about the fact that street harassment is another way adult men can sexualize young girls.

One night I was walking downtown with a partner and a man holding a Barbie doll asked my partner “hey, can I trade my doll for yours?” How did they already have the doll to do that?!


STREET HARASSMENT IS ABOUT POWER, CONTROL AND ENTITLEMENT

I run almost every day and I can count the number of times that I have NOT been catcalled during a run on one hand. Whether it’s honking, whistling, flipping me off, yelling obscenities, or comments on my body, I’ve experienced them all. I guess they’re just looking for their five seconds of power. 

 

DON’T TELL US TO “JUST IGNORE IT”

A person whistled at my friend when we were walking together and when she didn’t respond he called her a cunt


DON’T TELL US TO CHANGE THE WAY WE DRESS

I was walking alone at night across a crosswalk, and a car full of guys started yelling and whistling. Then one of them spoke up and said, “Sorry honey, it’s because of what you’re wearing.” 

 
I was walking down 8th street late at night with several friends on our way from the bars, we strolled past a house with people lounging on the front porch. We were almost past it when a man called out to my friend and I and said “How about you put on some clothes”. I was wearing high-waisted pants and a crop top and my friend a long skirt and crop top… not that I think it matters what I was wearing or if I care whether or not a woman wears pants or a mini dress but I am iterating this to show that there is NEVER any clothing that is appropriate for women to wear apparently. Even if she is wearing pants she will be called out and shamed. Even when she is mostly covered in pants or long skirt, she is still seen as indecent and “asking for it”.

 
What do we call street harassment or as it’s more commonly known as “catcalling”? Catcalling is a gender-based form of street harassment that involves unwanted comments, gestures, and actions forced on a stranger in a public place without their consent and are often directed at them because of their actual or perceived sex, gender, gender expression, or sexual orientation. This leads to a plethora of instances, experiences and ways that catcalling can and does occur. Although there is some confusion in the general public on how catcalling is harmful due to the continued humorous or lighthearted portrayal in the media, the experience itself is unwanted, injurious, and often frightening. It is a form of domination, to enter and leave the situation however you want while still objectifying a person and having power over them. When violence, stalking, or anger is the expected or common response from unwanted harassment being rejected, then catcalling is neither lighthearted nor positive. It should be seen as what it is: harassment. It is not a compliment, it is not flirtation, and it is not wanted.

 

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