Passing By: Gender and Public Harassment

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As a young woman you know it will happen, but you never know for certain when or how it will happen. This makes street harassment hard to define, and difficult to combat.

Sexual assault caught on surveillance camera

Its insidiousness derives in large measure from its venue: the semi-private, semi-public everyday occurrence of walking, sitting, or standing along city streets, or other public spaces such as parks and shopping malls. Organizations and Activists:. Street harassment is as an under-recognized problem with potentially harmful psychological and physical consequences for black young women and girls in Atlanta and around the world.

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At its core is a power dynamic that constantly reminds historically subordinated groups women and LGBTQ folks, for example of their vulnerability to assault in public spaces. Further, it reinforces the ubiquitous sexual objectification of these groups in everyday life.

At HollaBackNYC, we believe that what specifically counts as street harassment is determined by those who experience it. Women of Color Against Violence.

Creating safe public spaces

The Street Harassment Project. We believe that all women are subjected to street harassment; and that some groups of women, including young women, women of color, and women perceived as lesbians are subjected to forms of street harassment which reflect those prejudices as well. And we reject the idea that this situation is inevitable and unchangeable, and that this behavior represents innate male nature. To hurt, in a public space, by treating badly. Unintentional degradation through ignorance. Coarse, deceptive, or insulting language. Unsolicited physical contact.

Following another for purposes of either psychological or physical harm. Unequal access to a public space because of hierarchical cultural imbalances and physical disparities between predator and prey. In , over people took an informal online survey about street harassment. Over people answered a question about how they define street harassment.

Catcalls, wolf whistles, verbal slurs, pinches, stalking—virtually every woman has experienced some form of unwanted public attention by men.


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Off the street, in semi-public places such as restaurants and department stores, women often suffer the insult of being passed over by employees eager to serve men. How pervasive is this behavior? How dangerous can it be?

Gender Identity/Gender Expression - CCHR

What, if anything, should be done about it? Passing By , an illuminating, unsettling work, explores the important yet little-examined issue of gender-related public harassment. Based on extensive research—including in-depth interviews with nearly five-hundred midwestern women and men—it documents the many types of indignity visited on women in public places.


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