Earlier this year, I was privileged to serve as a Correspondent for Stop Street Harassment (SSH), an excellent organization dedicated to stopping the prevalence of street harassment. Although I have not really experienced any terrible harassment firsthand, I still consider ending this social phenomenon a personal matter. Street harassment is a form of gender-based violence that violates women’s basic human right to safety. As a woman, ending violence against women at large is personal, even if I haven’t been subjected to it myself.
Holly Kearl, the creator of Stop Street Harassment and all-around feminist activist extraordinaire, recently published her second book about street harassment. Titled 50 Stories About Stopping Street Harassers, the book is a collection of 50 stories that were submitted to the SSH blog by people who experienced street harassment. Although it could be upsetting to read stories about harassment, Kearl ensures that the book is inspiring rather than depressing: each story includes the survivor’s reaction to the harassment and how he or she took control of the situation, from verbally calling out the harasser to filing an official complaint about the behavior.
Street harassment is a global issue, and 50 Stories goes out of its way to portray it as such, since it includes the experiences of women from several different countries. It’s nice to see the diversity of voices showcased and intersectional approach taken.
As an action-oriented person, I appreciate the book’s focus on helping empower women to take on would-be harassers. At the end of the day, street harassment will only end when we have a culture change and paradigm shift, but it’s important for women to be able to challenge street harassment in the interim.
“No country has achieved gender equality and no country ever will as long as women are routinely sexualized, disrespected, and harmed in public spaces,” Kearl writes in the introduction to 50 Stories. It is imperative for us, as those who understand how problematic street harassment is, to end street harassment in order to create a more equitable society for women.
You can purchase a copy of 50 Stories here. Fifty percent of all proceeds go to funding Stop Street Harassment programs.