An interesting approach to ending street harassment in Lima, Peru, is turning some heads.
Street harassment is a major issue in cities across the globe. The problem is a lot of men *don't* see it as a real problem, viewing catcalling as a minor or harmless offense — even if they themselves don't participate in it.
But imagine for a second what a street harasser's mom would say if she saw him in action. Would she agree that it's "harmless"?
Only one way to find out.
A camera-equipped team in Lima, Peru, decided to find out for themselves.
Introducing "Sibale a tu Madre" ("Harassing Your Mom").
The team identified two repeat offenders then tracked down their mothers to help address their sons' disgusting behavior.
The women agreed to be made up so that they weren't immediately recognizable and headed out on the streets in search of their sons. The results? Anything but pretty.
"Tasty panties?!" So. Gross.
Son: "It's just a game."
Mom: "Do you realize what you just said to me?"
S: "I thought you were Karina."
M: "Oh, so you talk to her like that?"
S: "No, I'm not being dirty."
M: "What do you mean you aren't? Did you just listen to yourself?"
**Pro-tip: He should probably stop making up stuff and start apologizing.**
"Hello, piggy?!??" WTF.
Mom: "How can you be harassing them? Aren't you ashamed?"
Son: "My boss is coming out now and will see us. He'll fire me!"
M: "I don't care about your boss."
S: "It wasn't me, mom! It was the guy in the car ... my boss is coming out now and will see us.
He'll fire me."
M: "I don't care about your boss."
**Another pro-tip: Moms always know when you're full of shit.**
In both cases, the sons receive a very public (and embarrassing) lesson on sexual harassment: If you wouldn't say it to your mother (or even in her presence), is it *really* that harmless or inoffensive?
As hilarious as this video is to watch, what these (likely staged) scenes reveal is definitely not a laughing matter.
Academic studies show that 65% of women have experienced street harassment in their lifetimes. That number gets even higher when you isolate the big pedestrian cities. So, is it really that surprising that these dressed-up mamas could so easily fall prey to their sons' gross verbal harassment? Not really.
If a guy needs to be related to a woman in order to care about respecting her, or at the very least about not sexually harassing her, then he's the real "piggy." And I'm guessing he probably doesn't like being called that either.
Let's also be clear: We don't fix street harassment by replicating any "tactics" used in this video.
While this video does a good job at pointing out the fact that sexual harassment is not, in fact, silly or harmless, it does not do a great job at clarifying how we actually should tackle this issue. Just to say it, encouraging mothers to go catch their sons red-handed (then publicly humiliate or even physically assault) is 100% absolutely NOT the correct approach to fixing this behavior. Making sure that we as a society put pressure on men to make the idea of catcalling or sexually harassing women on the street an unthinkable act, now that's not a bad idea.
Here's what we can do.
1. Keep the conversation going. Discuss it amongst your friends. And when possible, share your personal stories.
2. Also, know when and how to report street harassment. While not every situation might warrant police involvement, some certainly do. Reporting serious offenses can often help prevent future crimes — and potentially more severe ones. And remember that bystanders can report offenses, too!
3. Become a mentor for young girls and boys but especially for boys. We know it doesn't matter how girls are acting or how they're dressed — they'll get catcalled and harassed regardless. But we CAN teach boys not to catcall and harass and to respect women.
4. Become a male ally. There are all sorts of books that talk about what it means to be a male ally, and why it's so critically important. If you're a book person, check out "The Macho Paradox: Why Some Men Hurt Women and How All Men Can Help" by Jackson Katz.