Street Harassment – Pervasive and Part of a Bigger Problem

*The information that follows is incomplete. That is not to say we have not done our research. We have tried our best to educate ourselves and learn about street harassment from different points of views, however, our own personal experiences are limited. No amount of research could ever truly speak to the real life experience of being harassed on the street as a transperson, as a person of color, as a gay man, etc. And we would never want to speak for those groups because their stories are not ours to tell. Instead, we will continue to do our absolute best to keep our minds open and aware of the fact that street harassment is not limited to one race or gender or sexual orientation, and that even if we knew every aspect of street harassment as it relates to every facet of the human race, it is still part of a much bigger issue that one could only begin to comprehend throughout a lifetime. We are open to reading suggestions, listening to personal stories, anything that would give us a better idea of how street harassment has affected the lives of others. If you have a story of your own that you would like to share, please submit here.

Our goal is not the change the world, but to educate ourselves and others on how street harassment affects individuals and society as a whole.


 

“Across all age[s], races, income levels, sexual orientations, and geographic locations, most women in the United States experience street harassment. Some men, especially men who identify as gay, bisexual, queer, or transgender, do as well.”

 – Holly Kearl, Founder of Stop Street Harassment

Almost every woman has at one point or another experienced some form of street harassment. That is not conjecture, it is fact.

In a survey commissioned by Stop Street Harassment (SSH), 65% of respondents said they had experienced street harassment. 

It happens at nearly every age.

An Oxygen/Markle Pulse pole found that 87% of American women between the ages of 18-67 reported being harassed on the street by a male stranger.

It happens all over the world.

Mexico City, Delhi, Bogota, Lima, and Jakarta top the list of cities with the worse experiences of verbal harassment according to a study by YouGov conducted around the world.

There are varying opinions on appropriateness of street harassment.

A YouGov poll in the USA found that “according to a large majority of the public, it is never appropriate (72%) to catcall.” When asked whether or not catcalls are compliments, most Americans (55%) say they count as harassment. 

It does not depend on race.

In a survey by the Rogers Park Young Women’s Action Team in Chicago 168 neighborhood girls and young women (mostly African American or Latina) ages 10-19, 86% of respondents reported being catcalled on the street and 60% felt unsafe walking in their neighborhoods. (Amaya N. Roberson, “Anti-Street Harassment,” Off Our Backs, May-June 2005, page 48)

It does not depend on gender or sexual orientation.

In the same SSH survey, 25% of male respondents reported experiencing street harassment. A higher percentage of LGBTQ*-identified men than heterosexual men reported this. 

It is not the victim’s fault, but what can we do to stop it?

In the same Oxygen/Markle Pulse pole, 84% of women “consider changing their behavior to avoid street harassment.

When asked to define most common responses to street harassment in a report on street harassment in Boston conducted by Hollaback! Boston, 92% of respondents said they “ignored it,” 42% indicated that they yelled something at the harasser, 43% reported telling the person harassing them to leave them alone, and 42% said that they have gone into a business to avoid or get away from harassment. Only 21% of respondents indicated that they had reported the harassment to the police. 

It is only through discussion that we can begin to comprehend how pervasive street harassment is and how much of an impact it has on individuals and society as a whole. Only through understanding different points of views can we begin to change our own.

We will be sharing our own personal stories and experiences with street harassment, but are asking others from all backgrounds and opinions to do the same. We are not here to tell you that what you think is wrong, but ask you to keep an open mind and be as willing to learn as we are. Maybe then we can all comprehend how our actions and beliefs fit into the larger picture of street harassment, sexism, and inequality.

If you are interested in submitting a piece, please do so here.


Comments are encouraged and will be approved to further discussion as long as they follow our guidelines. Please keep an open mind and respect your fellow humans. 

 

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