Hey, Guy On The Street: We Both Know That’s Not A Compliment. It's Harassment.

Why is street harassment a big deal? Because everyone should be able to walk down the street and feel safe. Period.

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Woman: All right! How you doin' out there? Alright! So, today we want you to join us in dancing in defending our bodies. OK. We talk about what the issue is but today we gonna reclaim the space.

Selena: So street harassment is, when you're walking down the street and someone, typically a male, decides that he is going to enforce himself, either verbally or physically or both, on you, and your space, and your time.

Debjani: I guess I could start with verbal harassment, leering, following, but can escalate into things as serious as groping, touching, grabbing, brushing, and public masturbation. So it's a whole spectrum of behaviors. But the most important thing about is that it is unwanted.

Cris: Street harassment can be something as simple as psst, or you can go with my personal favorite: (in Spanish).

Kat: Oh wow. Oh! You took it there.

Cris: Yes, I did take it there.

Emily: Street harassment is sexual harassment that happens in public space. So we're talking about groping, stalking, public masturbation, verbal comments that happen on the street, even gestures that I won't demonstrate because they're too gross.

Jennifer: Who here has had people tell you very explicitly what sexual thing they want to do to you for how long and when and at their discretion? Do any of you feel like that has ever been a compliment? No.

Kat: Why can't we take compliments?

Emily: Street harassment's are never a compliment. If it was a compliment, we'd be like, these are street compliments. We call it street harassment because it is actually harassment.

Cris: Because if you are truly giving a genuine compliment, you're probably not going to expect anything in return.

Kat: Very well said. That is so true.

Woman: Maybe then you'll know what it is like to be the object of unwanted attention. Assumptions about what I want. Invasions of my space, my piece of mind, my safety.

David: As a victims services organization, we understand that street harassment is part of the spectrum of gender based violence.

Kat: I mean, if I'm wearing a short skirt, I'm kinda asking for it. Aren't I?

David: No one is ever asking to be harassed. No one is ever asking for violence to happen to them. And street harassment is on the spectrum of violence. It is aggression and power and no victim, no survivor, no person who experiences it ever deserves it.

Kat: If I'm wearing a skirt and showing off my legs or my cleavage, I'm kind of asking for it. Aren't I?

Debjani: NO! NO! NO! Totally no! The whole point is that we should be able to walk around our cities, our streets, our towns, wherever you know, could be in rural somewhere America. We should be able to walk around in whatever we want.. It's not for anyone to dictate.

Woman: People are supposed to say things whether it's disrespectful or nice. And this is just a part of the norm, especially in communities of color.

Kat: Why are black and brown men doing all the harassing?

Emily: Whoa!

Selena: Not true, at all. That's another stereotype because street harassment comes in all forms, shapes, and colors. I know that from personal experience.

Emily: Alright. So that is the biggest myth about street harassment out there, that it's mostly black and brown men doing the harassing.

Debjani: It's not men of color who harass white women. That is not the case. That is the narrative that main stream media loves to elevate. They love to tell that story.

Emily: You know there is this myth out there that men of color are primarily the sexual predators of the universe. It didn't start with street harassment. It started way before that. But that myth plays out in street harassment too. And what we see is it's obviously not true. Street harassment happens across socioeconomic lines. It happens in all different neighborhoods. And the number one indicator for it happening is actually population density. You're a lot more likely to get street harassed here than you are in Harlem or Bedside for example, just because of all the people around us. More people, more street harassment.

Kat: What do you think is important to do, in terms of ending street harassment?

Cris: Us guys, we do have to speak up a lot more. And call people out. We can't be afraid to call people out. And a lot of guys, we stay styling but for us it should be masculine to call people out.

Kat: What about the negative connotations associated to the guy by-standers, or male allies?

David: What are some of those negative connotations?

Kat: Thinking that a guy isn't masculine enough, that he's feminine now, that Oh, now's he's not straight, or... yeah.

David: For me, I know that being less masculine is not a bad thing. Being feminine, in many ways, is a real display of strength. It takes a lot to f**king walk down the street as a fem lady. The idea that a person's masculinity or femininity would in any way be used against me doesn't even make sense to me.

Cris: You're being a punk if you don't speak up! Pretty much man.

Kat: Call 'em out! Call 'em out!

Cris: I'll call them out.

Kat: Let 'em have it.

Cris: Gentlemen, if you don't call people out, you're being a punk.

Kat: So, what can we do as a society, as people to end street harassment?

Debjani: There are the four D's of Bystander Intervention. One of the D's is delay. After it happens, go up to the person and check in with them. Or even while it's happening, you can distract the whole incident and sort of deescalate it. You can directly, or course, intervene and address the harasser directly. Or you can delegate to a third party if you're not feeling safe or comfortable enough to say or do something. You can always nudge the person next to you and say, "Hey. Do you see what's going on here? Can we do something about it?"

Emily: So to end street harassment you gotta tell your story. We're in the beginning of this movement, in that place where everyone is telling us that we're crazy, that street harassment's a compliment, or that it doesn't really matter, or it's fine, just let people grab your butt on the train. Everything will work itself out. We know that that's not true, but we have to tell other people that it's not true. And we have to tell other people who experience this stuff and are just bombarded by these terrible messages that it's real, that it hurts, and that it's gotta stop.

Kat: The topic of street harassment comes up, is that, you don't see it as a problem. I'm telling you right now, it's a big problem. No Bueno.

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Original by Kat Lazo for TheeKatsMeow. Like it? Like her.

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