Activist takes to the streets to combat sexual harassment

Posted in Sexual Harassment on July 30, 2014

Sexual harassment experienced on the street is essentially no different than harassment in the workplace. If anything, street harassers are even more cowardly because they know they can maintain anonymity and don’t need to worry about employment repercussions.

Still, there is something to be said for refusing to put up with or ignore sexual harassment in public. After all, these harassers may engage in the same behaviors at work. But how do you address a total stranger who has made inappropriate comments in passing?

Thankfully, one woman has a plan and is eager to share it. A woman in Minneapolis, Minnesota identified only as Lindsey is on a campaign to stop street harassment by helping victims confront their harassers. On her website, Cards Against Harassment, she offers printable cards that can be handed out to individuals (mostly men) who make unwanted and inappropriate comments.

The messages on the cards range from serious to snarky, but all send a powerful message that street harassment is not Okay. It also directs the harasser to the website in case they want to do some soul searching.

Recently, Lindsey also took to the streets of Minneapolis with a hidden video camera. She publishes clips on her website of her confronting the men who make comments to her in passing. Their responses range from surprised apologies to “take it as a compliment” to comments that are much more misogynistic.

Obviously, this kind of activism isn’t for everyone, and it can be dangerous depending on the circumstances. But when individuals begin to send the message that sexual harassment will not be tolerated – on the street or in the office – it might just empower other victims to do the same.

Source: Star Tribune, “Woman confronts catcallers with camera, wit,” Matt McKinney, July 21, 2014