Who has the right to self-defense? How do race, class, sexuality, and gender expression affect what our society sees as violent? In 75 minutes, new documentary Out in the Nightchallenges us to consider these questions.
The film follows the case of Venice Brown, Terrain Dandridge, Renata Hill and Patreese Johnson, four women who became known as the New Jersey Four after they defended themselves against an assault on the streets of New York City's West Village.
An anti-street harassment ad on Philadelphia public transit. A new report shows that about 20 percent of street harassment aimed at women happens on public transit. Photo and ad campaign by Hollaback Philly.
As a society, we tend to brush off street harassment. Individually, when a guy hollers “nice ass!” I often roll my eyes and move on. Culturally, it feels like the institutional approach to street harassment is about the same—street harassment is so commonplace that it has rarely been the topic of systematic study. Today, organization Stop Street Harassment took a big step in raising awareness about the realities of street harassment by releasing a major study of the nature and impact of street harassment in the United States.
An anti-street harassment protester in Kathmandu this week. Photo via Activista Nepal.
Marching down a dark street in Kathmandu, Nepal, on Monday evening, dozens of people came together for one common cause: more street lamps.
“We demand proper policy related to public services that will ensure women and girls' safety in public spaces,” recalled Moti Lama, the National Coordinator of Activista Nepal, one of the participating groups. “We flashed placards and torches [flashlights] in the rally to demand proper street lighting system in the public spaces.”
On April 5, when you walk down your street, you may see women’s faces looking back at you from the walls you pass. Women whose gazes tell you they are: Defiant. Assertive. Proud. Strong. Brooklyn-based artist Tatyana Fazlalizadeh drew these women for her Stop Telling Women to Smile art project.
For some people, street harassment is an everyday occurrence. It can be such a common part of our lives to be hollered at and made uncomfortable as we go about our days that it can be difficult to imagine anything that can be done about the persistent problem besides small actions like confronting or ignoring our harassers.
To offer a bigger picture perspective, this week the nonprofit Stop Street Harassment released a “Know Your Rights” toolkit, a state-by-state breakdown of laws that can be applied to street harassment, including laws the prohibit “unwanted sexual behaviors in public spaces, including, but not limited to, obscene comments, flashing, up-skirt photos, following, and groping.” Stop Street Harassment released the toolkit on Tuesday, Dec. 10, to coincide with the United Nation’s Human Rights Day.
Street harassment has been part of my existence since I was a young teenager, but it wasn't until I was in graduate school in 2006 that I even learned the term "street harassment." I found the term on the website of the Street Harassment Project (founded in the early internet days of 1999). When I learned the phrase, I was so relieved: there was a name for what I experienced. There were other people who hated it, too.
Here's all the feminist news we have for you this morning!
• Bradley Manning has been sentenced to 35 years in prison for giving files to WikiLeaks. He hoped that the documents he leaked would lead "society as a whole to come to the conclusion that wars weren't worth it." [Boing Boing]
• In a bizarre attempt to shut down abortion clinics, a billionaire-backed anti-abortion group urges lawyers to sue abortion providers by sending them an 11-minute DVD. [Mother Jones]
• Victim-blaming has once again gone viral: Photographs of a 17-year-old girl performing oral sex at a concert in Ireland emerged online, creating the slut-shamey hashtag #SlaneSlut while discussions of the men involved are nowhere to be found. [Jezebel]
Grassroots anti-street-harassment group Hollaback organized the event, welcoming community organizers, nonprofit members, and just plain angry folks to share histories and to air out grievances about everyday sexual harassment.
It's clear that at the end of the event that street harassment is all about ownership of space.