Living in a huge urban center like New York City means that catcalls and whistles, unwanted greetings and gestures, can, unfortunately, come at you any time of the day or night. Case in point: I left my bartending job at 1 pm IN THE AFTERNOON yesterday, after working an all-night rave that rendered me exhausted, voice-less and wanting to buy an apple from the corner fruit stand just to chuck it at a passing police siren. In other words, I looked rough. So to the man who called out “hey mami” and proceeded to walk beside me for two blocks, and then got offended when I pulled down my sunglasses and croaked, “leave me the fuck alone,” I have to ask: what else did you expect?

 

Combating relentless street harassment is something women everywhere must learn to handle on her own terms in her own environment. Had it been 2:00 am on a deserted street and not midday on the edge of Union Square, I might have chosen a different tactic. Still, situations like these, when I am not dressed proactively or walking around on a weekend night (because you know, we women who do these crazy things are JUST ASKING FOR IT) I cannot help but wonder what it would take for a random dude to think twice about catcalling a passing female. I’m not saying all men do it or all men condone it; I am, however, saying that anyone who thinks that this isn’t that big of an issue or it can’t happen all that often to wake up and smell the freakin’ roses.

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If there is anyone in your life, BUSTies, who might need a little extra convincing about the level of harassment women face every day, have them watch this astonishing video, in which a woman silently walks around New York for ten hours in a simple tee shirt and jeans. There are over ONE HUNDRED instances of verbal street harassment, from all races and backgrounds of people in several different neighborhoods.

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This video comes from the organization Hollaback, which is, “an initiative to raise awareness about and combat street harassment.” Check out the website and read all about their fight to empower women and end this type of harassment in cities all over the world.  We have the power to change this, as women, as male allies, as human beings who deserve basic respect without being told, “to appreciate a compliment.”

 

images c/o: leftfootforward.org, hollaback.org

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