Girls Gone Wild: Reversing the Roles of Street Harassment

It is difficult to pinpoint the origins of my interest in gender relations, but one of the most prominent memories that launched my self-awareness of being a woman in this world was when I was cat-called on a street corner when I was in 9th grade. The incident was so specifically unique to my identity as a female and to my physical body that it forced me to begin considering the differences that I was bound to face simply because of my gender. Street harassment is an issue that I come back to time and again, reminding myself not to become complacent about it despite its prevalence in every (though not only) woman’s daily life. The most difficult task with bringing awareness to street harassment, is trying to allow others to understand what it is like to walk in your shoes. I have a personal project in the works that will document street harassment from the receiver’s point of view, and track what trends exist in the practice and reception of it. This article documents a different attempt to bring awareness to the issue.

In ‘Get your arse out, mate’: we turn the tables on everyday sexism, video producer Leah Green was sent out by The Guardian to recreate street harassment scenarios reported by women to @Everyday Sexism. The subsequent video is both humorous, and upsetting, uncomfortable and shocking. Obviously simply reversing the direction of verbal harassment doesn’t reverse the gender hierarchy and social positions that complicate such advances, but Green does a good job at contextualizing the absurdity of such behavior via the reversal of gender roles. Also, something as simple as close proximity and leering gestures are displayed as comically, but powerfully uncomfortable. There has been some controversy over the effectiveness of the video, and the morality behind subjecting innocent men to such behavior. But if the point is highlighting the absurdity of such remarks in order to bring attention to the issue, perhaps even these men can appreciate being on the receiving end for a moment.

– Caterina Gironda

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