Written by Sam Walther MSC ’20
After an extremely successful and impactful photo project for International Women’s Day last year, we decided to continue with a creative project this year. While looking for the inspiration for the project, we kept hearing students sharing stories about on and off campus experiences of being verbally harassed. Some of the incidents were being done by strangers, and some by peers. In order to share the impacts of how verbal harassment, cat calling, and slut shaming impacts the emotional and physical safety of the victims, the IWL put together a video of our students sharing their thoughts.
During the research that went into the final video, it was astounding to learn about the statistics regarding street harassment and the experiences of our students. Firstly, we found that street harassment is often less talked about and less researched because it doesn’t always immediately impact one’s physical safety. Yet, research has consistently shown that men feel significantly safer than women, especially when simply walking in their own communities. Nearly 65% of U.S. women reported experiencing street harassment at some point in their lives, and the prevalence of such is heightened in major cities (“Unsafe and Harassed in Public Spaces, 2014).
In order to produce our video, we also polled our students on their experiences. Many of our students reported experiencing street harassment for the first time as minors. Some reported experiences on our campus, although most incidents happened in major cities. The largest goal for our project was to raise awareness about the fact that street harassment has real impacts on psychological and emotional health. It is a violation of rights and is classified as a form of gender violence, as it disproportionally affects women and men are overwhelmingly the harassers of both men and women (“Unsafe and Harassed in Public Spaces,” 2014). In order to change the climate of street harassment on our campus, we also called on video participants to make a call to action.
Full video here:
All data retrieved from “Unsafe and Harassed in Public Spaces.” (2014). Retrieved March 19, 2020 from https://www.stopstreetharassment.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/National-Street-Harassment-Report-November-29-20151.pdf.