Many women, at some point or another, will experience sexual harassment on the street. Between the catcalling, the aggressive comments, and the lingering stares, 51% of the population lives in a world where their bodies can be transformed into public property in an instant. I’ve had my own scary experiences with street harassment, and it makes my heart sick to know that none of them were particularly unique. Luckily, many brave women are taking to Twitter to fight back.
First, there was YouOkSis, a hashtag full of women– and black women in particular, who often face more intense forms of race-based harassment– discussing how we can support each other when we witness these things happening. Today, there’s the Huffington Post‘s idea, ThatsWhatHeSaid, in which women are sharing direct quotes from their catcallers to give the world specific examples of what we endure. While each tweet is unique, here are 10 lessons men can learn about harassment from the Twitter conversation.
1. No age is off limits when it comes to harassment.
I don’t know what’s more disturbing– the fact that tons of women have stories like this one, or the fact that it doesn’t even surprise me anymore to hear about them.
2. No matter what, women always have to feel like it’s their fault.
Taking victim blaming to a disgusting new level!
3. It doesn’t matter what you’re wearing.
Another example of how “you shouldn’t have been dressed like that” is null and void.
4. Don’t be surprised when they get aggressive.
Because women deserve to be threatened, scared, and uncomfortable every time they dare to occupy public space.
5. Never forget that your body is under inspection.
Thanks for the constructive criticism, sir! It’s always nice to remember that girls learn that their bodies are public property before they learn to drive a car.
6. You don’t have to go out in public to be harassed.
As difficult as it is to deal with these comments when they come from strangers, they can be especially painful when they come from people we consider friends. This one breaks my heart.
7. Things can turn violent in an instant.
When women express their frustration over “harmless” comments about their bodies, some men have a hard time understanding what all the fuss is about. It’s because every woman knows how quickly “Smile!” can turn into a comment like this.
8. Life is even more dangerous when your gender expression threatens the norm.
Trans women often get the absolute worst of it, and plenty of unique threats come along with identifying outside the binary that our society accepts. You’re beautiful freaking warriors, ladies.
9. Harassment doesn’t need to be verbal.
There’s something especially terrifying about feeling threatened nonverbally, because there’s less chance that other people will notice if you’re in danger.
10. Nowhere public is truly a safe space.
Why should women feel safe when they’re running errands? You can’t expect to buy cereal in peace when you have breasts!
Check out #ThatsWhatHeSaid to read more examples of how street harassment affects people every day, and be sure to check out #YouOkSis to learn how to show support for other women when you see it happening to them. These things are difficult to talk about, but the more we talk, the closer we get to a solution.
Featured photo via Shutterstock