Sexual harassment in public

Every girl has been harassed in public.  You’re waiting for the train, walking down the street,or waiting in line when you notice a man staring at you. He’s either looking you up and down or just staring so you’ll know he notices you.  You don’t want to cause a scene and certainly don’t want him to approach you, so you simply frown and look away. Despite this maybe he smiles, calls you sweetheart, or even touches you. He has suddenly violated your personal space without an invitation.

I’ve been caught in these uncomfortable situations many times. My standard reaction has always been the wrong one. I’ll politely smile, nod my head and engage in small talk. But I am frustrated with these ineffective methods that place responsibility on the woman. I’m tired of strange men thinking they can call me baby and ask for my phone number.

The below video, titled “Objectified,”  by Tiye Rose Hood contains further stories about women reacting the same way I do to harassment.

According to a study by Stopstreetharrassment. org over 99 percent of women have experienced some form of street harassment.This includes:

  • leering
  • whistling
  • shouting
  • vulgar gestures
After talking with several women I’ve noticed they don’t  know how to handle these situations. Although they may have a can of mace or knife, most do what I do and ignore the catcalls. Yet, woman should take a more empowering and proactive response. Instead of looking away or walking faster, woman should actively deflect and refuse harassment. A friend of mine has also repeatedly encountered these situations. However she uses a different tactic; she screams at them. She recalls one time she was waiting for the train and noticed a man staring at her. Instead of ignoring it, she turned around and yelled ” What the f*** are you looking at !?”  The man quickly stopped staring.

Hopefully this blog can find ways to defend against these encounters without resorting to  pulling out a knife or can of mace.

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1 comment
  1. hkearl said:

    I’m glad to see you’re speaking out against street harassment! Here are suggestions for how to assertively respond to harassers, report them, creatively respond, and respond as bystanders. Each subsection contains stories people have shared where they’ve used these types of responses successfully. http://www.stopstreetharassment.org/strategies/. If you discover others that work, let me know and I’ll add them! Keep speaking out — you deserve the right to be safe and comfortable in public spaces.
    I hope you’ll participate in International Anti-Street Harassment Week, 3rd week of March. 🙂

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