I hereby declare March 20, 2011, the First Day of Spring, to be International Anti-Street Harassment Day. I invite YOU to participate in a national day of action to challenge street harassment and demand its end. (Facebook RSVP Page)
Street harassment occurs year-round, but, without fail, each spring the warmer weather and longer daylight hours bring an increase in street harassment. With spring, we see more men congregating in public places, sitting on porches or door stoops, lingering at bus stops or street corners, and driving with their windows down. Too many of these men think it’s okay to whistle, hoot, hollar, follow, and grab the girls and women they see. During spring, Mardi Gras, Spring Break, festivals and parades are all used as excuses for harassing women.
This is unacceptable.
I’m all for friendly hellos and mutual, gender-neutral public interactions (that can lead to mutual flirting and hoookups), but spring street harassment is out of control. It is demeaning. It is annoying. It’s sometimes threatening and scary. Evaluating women, making sexually explicit remarks or demands, groping, stalking, public masturbation, persistently asking for a date after being told no, leering, and whistling HAVE GOT TO GO.
Too often our stories and experiences with street harassment are silenced, dismissed as trivial annoyances, or portrayed as a compliment. Too few government agencies or elected officials acknowledge this problem or do anything about it.
On March 20,you can do something to challenge street harassment and its social acceptability and to let everyone know that street harassment is not okay. Take part in anti-street harassment activities on the same day as women and men all over the country. Let’s remind everyone that spring is no excuse for harassing women.
Ten Ideas for What YOU Can Do!
You have one month to get ready for International Anti-Street Harassment Day. Whether you decide to do something small or big, know that every action counts and every person can help make a difference.
- Share your stories to break the silence. Please share a street harassment story with a family member or friend. Share it online. Tweet it using #streetharassment. If you do nothing else, share your story.
- Respond to Harassers: Use assertive responses, report them, ask them to fill out the Catcaller Form, or hand them an anti-street harassment handout.
- Hand out or post anti-street harassment information. Print and post fliers, handouts and signs around your neighborhood, office, campus, school, or community center to raise people’s awareness about what street harassment is and why it is unacceptable. (Examples of fliers, posters or signs (click on link for street signs) and another street harassment poster).
- Use your talents to raise awareness about street harassment. Write/perform songs (see The Astronomical Kid‘s and Emily Swash‘s songs); do stand-up comedy (see Lucé Tomlin-Brenner’s stand-up comedy routine); make a cartoon (see Liza Donnelly‘s, Barry Deutsch‘s, and Jerrod Koon‘s); write a poem (see Fiona Lowenstein‘s and Bif Naked‘s poems); put on a show (see Leah King’s one woman show “Can I get a smile?“); or make a fun online awareness-raising item (see Atozinco’s slideshow, à la garconnière’s street harassment invoice, and Scary Godmother’s Bingo sheet)
- Hold an event or rally about street harassment in your community or on your campus. Ask people to share street harassment stories and brainstorm how to address it in your community. Show an anti-street harassment documentary. Make it an open mic or art event where people can share their poems or art work on the topic. Hold a self defense demonstration.
- Conduct a community safety audit in your neighborhood. Build a small team and find out what could make your area safer and more inclusive for women. Take your ideas to your local elected officials.
- Learn more about street harassment. Watch an anti-street harassment documentary or read an anti-street harassment article or book. Request the Stop Street Harassment book for your library, so anyone in your community can read it for free.
- Write an op-ed: Write and submit an article or op-ed about street harassment and your experiences with it to a magazine or newspaper. An op-ed that journalist Elizabeth Mendez Berry wrote in the fall of 2010 led to the first ever city council hearing on street harassment in New York City!
- Survey and map harassment: Survey your friends and family, classmates and coworkers about their experiences with street harassment (you can do so for free with SurveyMonkey). Map where you and they face harassment (google earth offers a free tool to do so with a tutorial) to track any patterns about where it occurs. Take your information and ask the police, elected officials, or local businesses to do something about the harassment in those areas (show them your results when you talk to them).
- Start campaigning: Organize or participate in an anti-street harassment campaign, like the UK Anti-Street Harassment Campaign and the Don’t be Silent Speak Out Campaign. Ask your elected officials to address this issue. Ask for an anti-street harassment Public Service Announcement campaign. Ask that schools address street harassment in their curriculum.
Add your name or organization’s name to the comments if you’re participating.
Also, please share what you did for the First Annual International Anti-Street Harassment Day and it will be highlighted on the blog and the Stop Street Harassment website. Share photos!
Please contact me if you have questions or need help with any of these ideas. Please add your own ideas to the comments section and we will work to make next year’s even better!