An activist’s effort to bring attention to street harassment

It’s an issue of respect and lack of it for women. Sure, genuine compliments are great and flattering. However, there is a bold line dividing complimentary comments from derogatory and degrading ones.

Women don’t appreciate being honked at and aren’t complimented when provocative statements are made toward them.

Brooklyn artist Tatyana Fazlalizadeh is acting in making the issue known to society, specifically to the Atlanta community. Fazlalizadeh has plastered countless posters of herself and various women she has interviewed concerning the issue with statements such as: “Stop Telling Women To Smile,” “My Outfit Is Not An Invitation” and “Women Do Not Owe You Their Time or Conversation.”

 

 

The issue of street harassment can no longer be accepted or ignored. It needs to be addressed.

As a college student, I have seen the issue more than elsewhere. Women in college have an especially tough time because we are forming our views of ourselves and of the world. I have not only experienced street harassment myself, but I have witnessed it happen to other women countless more times.

“We have evolved as a society, and there is not place for catcalls, lewd gestures, inappropriate language and unwarranted comments about the physical characteristics of a woman’s body,” New York City councilwoman Laurie A. Combo said in The New York Times.

Recently, women have begun to speak of this issue via blogs, public writing projects and websites such as Stop Street Harassment and Hollaback!

Fazlalizadeh’s project, “Stop Telling Women To Smile,” has been active for roughly 18 months, according to The New York Times, and is spreading across the nation primarily through social media to Washington, Boston, Philadelphia, Chicago, Los Angeles, Atlanta and San Francisco. A campaign last fall raised $34,000, which was able to send her across the country to speak with women about the issue and create new art.

Fazlalizadeh explained, “This is all about how women’s bodies are consumed and are considered public property for display, comment and consumption. Women need to start talking about their daily moments, because it’s the smaller stuff that affects the larger things, like rape, domestic violence, harassment in the workplace.”

The 28-year-old artist also spoke of an instance where a Los Angeles woman was shot for not giving a man her phone number. It’s an issue that has always existed and will always exist, but we can act in a way which will bring light to the situation and as a society we can at the very least work to minimize the occurrence of street harassment.

Reach the columnist at Brooke.Ramos@asu.edu or follow her on Twitter @brookesramos

Editor’s note: The opinions presented in this column are the author’s and do not imply any endorsement from The State Press or its editors.

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