Catcalling, groping and general intimidation. A scenario us females are all too familiar with. Having to consider whether you’re showing too much skin in the Summer. Or believing that it’s your fault that boy groped your bum because of what you were wearing.
Before I go on, this is by no means an attack on men. This is an attack on the boys who think it’s acceptable to street harass a female. Unfortunately, this is normality for so many girls around you. Your sister, cousin or girlfriend. Street harassment is real and it’s happening around you.
If you’re unsure of what I mean, here’s a definition by ‘Stop Street Harassment‘ –
“Gender-based street harassment is unwanted comments, gestures, and actions forced on a stranger in a public place without their consent and is directed at them because of their actual or perceived sex, gender, gender expression, or sexual orientation”.
Although street harassment isn’t officially an illegal act, it’s “recognised as a form of discrimination” which is of course, illegal. This is according to Yahoo who claim that by the age of 17, 84% of females will have been “victims of sexual harassment”. Now, if that doesn’t alarm you I really don’t know what will. This is a shocking statistic and it’s not okay.
Street harassment is walking past a group of builders (stereotypically) and having to walk by as they indiscreetly nudge each other and look at you inappropriately. It’s having to change the route where you run for fear of seeing the boys in their mid-20s that called out at you from their car. It’s volunteering in the street and a boy thinking that means he’s allowed to grope your bum. It’s having to be on the look-out in stuffy clubs and festivals because “boys will be boys”.
These stories aren’t made up and they aren’t all from personal experience either.
An article published by the BBC found a 9-month analysis by the Women and Equalities Committee showed “the amount of harassment meant it became normalised for girls growing up”. It is by no means a new issue. It has sadly been around for several years.
Interestingly, it was touched on by Michelle Obama in her memoir ‘Becoming‘. She wrote that from a young age, she’d learnt to “keep my gaze fixed firmly ahead anytime I passed a group of men clustered on a street corner, careful not to register their eyes roving over my chest and legs. I knew to ignore the catcalls when they came… I knew never to walk alone at night”.
Street harassment is NOT a compliment nor should it be justified like that. It’s a daily process of “scanning the street as you walk; the constant alert tension” as published by The Guardian.
Ciao for now x