Consent on the streets – tips about how to not be a harasser

“How can I talk to a woman in public without being a harasser?” is a question I often hear from men who attend my talks about street harassment.

The question always makes me laugh a little because the answer is so clear to me, but the question also makes me glad to see them thinking about the issue and trying to apply it to their life. I know it’s a question many men have and so I offer some basic tips on my blog and in my book.

I had an opportunity to explore this question in a video interview with Ben Privot, founder of The Consensual Project (read his recent Male Allies blog post). We chatted about consent on the streets.

I think having these conversations, especially with young men, is so important. Most men don’t want to be harassers, but a lot of the messaging they receive in the media, from their peers, and from family is that it’s okay and required of them to be aggressive, rude, and sexually objectifying with people they encounter. And if they listen to those messages, they become harassers.

So something we can all do is talk to each other about appropriate ways to interact with strangers in public. What contexts or circumstances make some interactions fun and some scary? What words or actions do? How can we be respectful people without being boring?

I really enjoyed meeting Ben and learning more about The Consensual Project. If you’re at a college campus, please check out the organization. Via Ben’s website,

“The Consensual Project partners with schools and universities to bring students a fresh understanding of consent. The innovative curriculum, workshops, and website empower young people to incorporate consent into their daily lives.”

Fantastic! Consent is so important, on the streets, in bars and clubs, on dates, in committed relationships, and in the bedroom. And reaching college students is essential – did you know that college women are more than four times as likely to face sexually assault as any other group of women (RAINN statistic)? So thanks for the important work you’re doing, Ben!

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