The Shame and Blame Game: fighting city street harassment

Linked with Gender Across Borders. – Published on Gender Across Borders, by Alison Hamm, March 20, 2011.

First see on the page this Cartooon – two policemen: … yes … but … when you run, your behind makes movements that are … how do you say… obscene! woman: well, then don’t look at my ass!

One morning, as I was rushing to meet my friends at our neighborhood coffee shop, I had to walk past a small group of men.

As I passed, these men—who all appeared old enough to be my father—started whistling and licking their lips. I narrowed my eyes and continued to walk as fast as possible. One of the men started following me down the block, yelling behind me, “Shake it girl,” and some other obscenities I’d rather not repeat, as his friends continued to whistle and laugh … //

… But what makes it less funny is when you tell someone else about these situations, and a variation of the following questions are asked, or statements are made: 

  • “What were you wearing?”
  • “Did you provoke eye contact?”
  • “Why would you smile at him?”
  • “Maybe you should just take it as a compliment.”
  • “Some women would love to get that kind of attention.”

Both men and women have asked or said every single one of these questions or statements to me. I’ve told an ex-boyfriend about getting stared at on the train for so long that I was scared the man was going to follow me, and he responded by saying, “You’re a good looking girl. What do you expect?”

Today (March 20) marks the first International Anti-Street Harassment Day.

According to the press release for the event, “more than 80 percent of women worldwide face catcalls, groping, stalking, and other forms of gender-based street harassment, especially when they are alone in public.

Despite the evidence that street harassment is a global problem and one that reduces women’s mobility and limits their access to resources, it’s often dismissed as a trivial problem, a compliment, or women’s fault.”

That means that if you’re a woman reading this post, no matter where you live, no matter what you look like, no matter how you dress, you have most likely not only experienced street harassment, YOU have been blamed—in one way or the other—for it … (full text).

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