Tragedy and a Play

I’d be remiss not to mention the recent death of a young woman who was shot by young men at a red light after she and her friends refused to give them their phone numbers. It chills my blood that her life is over because she refused to give out her phone number. It is just horrendous. It’s a reminder that street harassment isn’t harmless and there’s no guarantee of safety, even from inside one’s own car. This incident is similar to one that Hawley Fogg-Davis wrote about in her article “A Black Feminist Critique of Same-Sex Street Harassment.”

As a person very interested in ways we can work to combat street harassment, I feel somewhat baffled about how to prevent murders from happening in street harassment encounters. I always suggest a multi-layered approach to ending street harassment, through tactics like talking about one’s experiences with street harassment, educating others about it, confronting harassers, and intervening when others are harassed. Would any of these tactics have really stopped these young men? It seems like no matter how these women reacted to the men – ignoring, talking back, etc – they were going to get shot at because the men must have been plain crazy. Who shoots someone if they don’t give you their phone number?! It’s hard not to get discouraged by this sort of incident. It shows the darkest side of humanity. But I guess we can’t let ourselves be defeated and we’ve got to keep on educating people about street harassment and hope that one day people won’t have to lose their lives in cases of street harassment …

On a more upbeat note, for anyone in NYC tonight, HollabackNYC is partnering with Girls for Gender Equity (GGE) and the Coffee Cup theatre in their new production, “Standing Clear” – a comedy about the distance we put between us on the subway. The play will be followed by a talk back featuring Joanne Smith, founder and executive director of GGE, and Emily May, GGE board member and founder of HollabackNYC.com. The play will be followed by a wine and cheese reception and a portion of the proceeds will be donated to GGE. Purchase tickets.

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