In the Spotlight: Anti-Street Harassment Work

It’s been a banner week for anti-street harassment work!   And I, for one, am very excited. 

First, Hollaback! released their State of the Streets 2013 report.  This report details all of the fabulous work that Hollaback! is doing around the world to bring awareness to  - and prevent  - street harassment.  Whether it’s through social media, phone apps, online story sharing, or rallies and events, site leaders are working to bring an end to street harassment in all of its forms.

Stop Street Harassment (SSH) also released their Know Your Rights: Street Harassment and the Law toolkit this week.  Want to know your state’s laws about street harassment?  Want to know the steps you should take to report street harassment in your state?  Now there’s a tool for that!  Thanks to the amazing work of SSH staff, interns, and volunteers we now have a resource to help in our fight to address and ultimately eliminate street harassment!

I recently had a conversation with a friend about this very topic.  I honestly think that there is change happening.  I can feel it.  Case in point:  As someone who has unfortunately been the recipient of various types of street harassment, I typically am on high alert when I am out in public.  This is especially true when I am in a new area.   So, while recently visiting California, a friend and I were walking through the shopping district of a beach town. We were wondering aloud about the location of the nearest restroom, and a young man who was nearby asked if we needed help.  Now, this East Coast girl had her guard up.  My immediate thought was to tell this guy to mind his own business.  Sensing the discomfort, he quickly let us know about a public restroom around the corner.  So, okay – he was being helpful.  Awesome.  After exiting the restroom, we heard a man yell out to us.  My first reaction was to ignore him.  But he kept trying to get our attention.  So, what did he want?  To kindly let my friend know she had toilet paper stuck to her shoe.  Then, a street vendor stopped us and engaged us in a fascinating conversation about social change work.  Was this just a fluke because we were in the super-laid back state of California?  Maybe it was a “west coast thing”.  But what I was reminded of that day is that there are many people who are kind and helpful.  And although I will still keep my guard up (for myself and for others around me), my faith in humanity and the kindness of strangers got a much-needed boost.

Have you seen positive outcomes to the anti-street harassment work happening in your community?  Share your story in the comments below.