Monday, March 19, 2012

International Anti-Street Harassment Week

This week is International Anti-Street Harassment Week! The organization Stop Street Harassment, which was created by Holly Kearl, defines street harassment as "Unwelcome words and actions by unknown persons in public which are motivated by gender and invade a person’s physical and emotional space in a disrespectful, creepy, startling, scary, or insulting way." The most common victims of street harassment are women and LGBTQ individuals, but they are far from the only ones. This is a feminist issue that’s often glossed over and not given the proper attention, even though it's endemic to pretty much every urban center in the world, so I think it’s really great that there is a specific week that activists have set aside to raise awareness.

Holly Kearl has a number of suggestions about how to get yourself involved:
  1. Sharing your stories online (here and here) or offline, as well as by reading/listening to other peoples’ stories.
  2. Tweeting stories or messages with #EndSHWeek.
  3. Changing your Facebook profile picture for the week. Here is an image in English and another in Hebrew.
  4. Gathering a few friends together to create fliers to post or hand out in the community (schools, houses of worship, community centers, etc.) or write sidewalk messages. Here are ideas for messages and a fact sheet with statistics to pull from. Here are fliers you can print and pass out: 1 | 2. Or visit the tools page and download an 8.5 x 11 size flier in five languages.
If you want to participate in an event in your area, you can find if anything’s happening here. If nothing is being done to raise awareness, then you should definitely try to hook up with local feminist organizations (NOW, college groups, etc.) and see if they’re doing anything. If you still come up empty, then start something of your own! America depends on grassroots activism. If you don’t do it, who will?

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