Whistles, arm-grabs, flashing, random sexual comments and insults, thrown objects, or even just what pretends to be an innocent “hollla” that turns into physical assault…the list of what young women (and for that matter old women and some men) can face while simply walking down the street is endless. It’s happened to almost everyone, and anyone who’s experienced it knows that street harassment isn’t just “boys being boys.” These interactions leave victims feeling powerless, unwelcome, and wear at feelings of safety and self-esteem over time. And it happens everywhere, every day.
International Anti-Street Harassment Week aims to change that by setting aside March 18 – 24 to spread awareness, share stories, and ask men to join women in solidarity against the problem. The event’s organizer, Holly Kearl, is an expert on gender-based street harassment. She has organized over 100 groups in 18 countries for events this week, ranging from marches to discussion groups in every major city across the country. All of these events focus on allowing women to share their stories to help others understand how damaging it is to address people this way and how unacceptable it is for any of us to remain silent on this issue. This is not a women’s problem, it is a social problem.
International Anti-Street Harassment Week has already yielded this brilliant video created by a bunch of New Yorkers spreading the message that harassment can only end if we — and especially men — say something when we see it. Watch:
Do you want to get involved in International Anti-Street Harassment Week? Check out the website to learn about events in your area, pass the word along to your circle of activist friends, or take a moment to be candid about how having been harassed on the street has made you feel. Dialogue and awareness makes all the difference.
While we’re on the subject, how has your experience with street harassment made you feel? Will you join this week of awareness to help prevent it in the future?