“Your actions are making me uncomfortable!” And other ways to respond to street harassment

Just on the heels of last week’s post regarding Leah Green’s reverse street harassment video, comes Tatyana Fazlalizadeh’s write up in the New York Time’s Art section this week, An Artist Demands Civility on the Street With Grit and Buckets of Paste. The artist’s most recent project is just one more creative attempt to bring attention to the overwhelmingly commonplace problem of street harassment. Her posters, wheat pasted on walls around the country, feature faces of young women accompanied by bold responses to the most common of cat-calls experienced regularly by women.

Images of young faces stared back with wary, defiant and no-nonsense gazes above statements such as “My Outfit Is Not an Invitation,” or “Women Do Not Owe You Their Time or Conversation.” The words came from Ms. Fazlalizadeh’s interviews with women about “catcalling,” a form of public harassment by men who feel free to comment on their bodies and demeanor. Ms. Fazlalizadeh has transformed their feelings and images — she photographs the women and then creates pencil drawings — into a major public art project.

composite-tatyana-fazlalizadeh

Street harassment, though, is hard to define precisely and then to challenge legally, experts say. A growing body of research shows that it is a problem affecting where women live, how they get to work, when they go out and how they dress, said Laura S. Logan, an assistant professor of sociology at Hastings College in Nebraska, who has studied catcalling for years.

“This is all about how women’s bodies are consumed and are considered public property for display, comment and consumption,” said Ms. Fazlalizadeh, a soft-spoken, direct and contained 28-year-old from Oklahoma. “Women need to start talking about their daily moments because it’s the smaller stuff that affects the larger things, like rape, domestic violence, harassment in the workplace.”

 

 

-Caterina Gironda, Assistant Editor

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