New Study on Street Harassment

December 23, 2008

The following is from a presentation given at the annual conference of the Association for Women in Psychology entitled, “Gender-based public harassment: Avoidance, objectification, and self esteem” by Tracy Lord.

“Limited research on gender-based public harassment suggest there are multiple individual and societal effects of this harassment: increasing women’s fear of men; decreasing trust between men and women; making women ashamed of their bodies; and contributing to women’s self-objectification. Women who are objectified by men begin to self-objectify. The theories of why public harassment occurs include the male bonding theory, the social-structural theory, the sociocultural theory, and the social control theory.

The current study addressed gaps in our understanding of women’s experience of and reactions to street harassment. Women college students (n=125) from the subject pool responded to questions regarding: their public harassment experiences; the frequency with which they occur; and the feelings women have about these incidents. Participants also completed: Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale; the Multidimensional Body-Self Relations Questionnaire – Appearance Scales; the Objectified Body Consciousness Scale; and the Mobility Inventory for Agoraphobia. Preliminary analyses indicated that street harassment in mild and moderate forms were common experiences. Women reported a range of reactions to street harassment. The complete data analysis will be reported.”

None of these findings surprise me. I look forward to reading the full report, especially the theories cited for explaining why it happens.