Cat-calling is one of those things that’s so insidious, so ubiquitous, that it’s difficult to take a stand against it. That’s why what one Minneapolis woman did, a 28-year-old named Lindsey, is so remarkable and brave. She’s been confronting her street harassers and recording their reactions.
In a video series that’s starting to go viral, Lindsey calls out guys who harass her. In one, a man walks past her on the street and calls her a bitch. “Bitch means you’re sexy,” the guy says, looking confused as to why Lindsey would be irate by an insult thrown randomly in her direction. “No, you don’t call women a bitch that you don’t know, or even the ones you do,” Lindsey responds. “That’s completely inappropriate.” Then she turns off her camera and uploads the video to YouTube. Boom.
Lindsey also launched a project called “Cards Against Harassment,” a series of printable memos women (and men!) can hand out on the street to harassers. “When you walk down the street, do random strangers comment on how you look? No? Wow. That must be nice,” one card reads.
Wolf whistles, comments about how you look, and other forms of verbal harassment are, as has been amply documented, not just saying hello. (For further reference, see the recent #notjusthello hashtag protest that overtook Twitter.) Cat-callers are making women feel uncomfortable just by being outside in their own bodies.
“I’ve walked passed some guys in the street and been barked at,” one commenter wrote under Lindsey’s YouTube video. “I’ve been yelled at from cars. It’s about intimidation in a lot of these cases.”
“It astonishes me that men genuinely have no idea how uncomfortable it makes us feel,” another wrote. “Most of us are just frightened to say anything back, because if the guy is confident enough to make a loud comment in public, he’s confident enough to argue or fight in public. We just want to get away.”
Harassers and abusers have one thing in common: They depend on silence, on the repercussions of addressing something being more socially awkward than the violation itself. In a survey commissioned in the US this year, 65 percent of women had experienced street harassment. It’s a real, big, pervasive problem. And only by raising awareness, sharing our stories and speaking out can we really put a stop to it.
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