Friday, April 26, 2013

In the Wake of Anti-Street Harassment Week

Earlier this month, women and men across the globe commemorated International Anti-Street Harassment Week. Whether it was through tweetchats, webinars, self-defense classes, sidewalk chalking, leaflet campaigns, or numerous other activities, Anti-Street Harassment Week marked the raising of the world’s consciousness against street harassment, an insidious form of sexism that is too often ignored by society.

Now that Anti-Street Harassment Week is over, those of us who understand the negative implications of street harassment and want to eradicate it for good face a dilemma: what do we do now? What can and should we do to keep up awareness and fight against this social phenomenon during the rest of the year?

I believe that it is imperative not to lose the momentum that we gained during Anti-Street Harassment Week. We can’t just throw out our leftover leaflets and stop going to those self-defense classes we signed up for. Everything we did and all the gains we made will have all been for nothing if we let activism fall to the wayside and ignore the pressing need for eliminating street harassment.

We also have to continue to schedule events like sidewalk chalkings and Take Back the Nights. Although it’s certainly easier to encourage attendance and participation during a week dedicated to awareness of street harassment, it’s imperative that we organize them anyway. After all, street harassment happens every day, and its victims are just as horrified by it during Anti-Street Harassment Week as during the rest of the year.

Another thing that we, as activists, must do is to talk about street harassment and share our stories about it. The most effective way to raise awareness on any issue is to speak with our best friends and grandfathers and third cousins and hairdressers and people we see once in a while in the dog park about it. That way, we spread knowledge of this issue as far and wide as we can. Many people who have experienced street harassment don’t even know that it has a name, and are therefore incapable of recognizing the extent of how problematic it is. Once we’ve raised the consciousness of those who have suffered at the hands of street harassment, we’ve got ourselves a veritable army of women and men who want to make the streets a safe place for every individual. I truly cannot wait until this day arrives.

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