Thursday, March 22, 2012

Background Information on VoiceTool Productions' Anti-Street Harassment Events

  • Street harassment is any action or comment between strangers in public places that is disrespectful, unwelcome, threatening and/or harassing and is motivated by gender.  Street harassment is a human rights issue because it limits women’s ability to be in public as often or as comfortably as most men. 
  • In a 2008 study of 811 women conducted by Stop Street Harassment, almost 1 in 4 women had experienced street harassment by age 12 (7th grade) and nearly 90% by age 19.  
  • Note: While women also may harass men in public, gender inequality means that the power dynamics at play, frequency of the harassment, and the underlying threat of rape is rarely comparable. For these reasons, the work of Stop Street Harassment focuses mostly on men harassing women (cis and transwomen). 
  • Street harassment is part of rape culture, defined as a culture in which rape and sexual violence are common and in which prevalent attitudesnorms, practices, and media normalize, excuse, tolerate, or even condone sexual violence. Examples include victim blamingsexual objectification, and trivializing rape (source:  Wikipedia).

Anti-street harassment in the media:

  • "But what women have accepted as the norm for a lifetime – some of my friends even find it “flattering” – is now attracting retaliation. On Monday evening, blogger London Feminist launched a twitter hash-tag encouraging people to share experiences of street harassment and sexual abuse that they had never reported." - East London Lines article
  • UK Prime Minister supports criminalizing all forms of street harassment that “violates the dignity of a person, in particular when creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment.”  - via
  • "[Street harassment] is damaging [our] community cohesion, but it is getting very little attention. … We want to unify our voices with the other campaign[s] to tell the world in one voice Stop Sexual Harassment." - Ms. Magazine blog
  • On the process of socialization that functions to shape male's behavior in the public sphere, including street harassment:
    “Patriarchy and heterosexism also taught me, in subtle and blatant ways, that I was entitled to women’s bodies, that I was entitled to take up space and put my ideas and thoughts out there whenever I wanted to, without consideration for others. This is a very different process of socialization than most other people in this society.” - Activist Christ Crass, quoted on the Gender Across Borders website

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