“We apologize for the whistling construction workers, but man you look good!” — this statement is found on a real life construction sign in Princeton, NJ, sent to the blog Feminist Philosophers by one of their readers who saw it.
Has anyone else seen this? Do you know what company produced it? Once we know that, then the letter-writing, phone calls and petitions to get this sign removed can begin.
This tongue in cheek, joke-y sign is NOT funny because it makes light of street harassment (hahaha, we apologize, but not really), it construes it as a compliment (man, you look good, lady in a skirt and tight shirt and tall boots…don’t you know you’re asking to be whistled at?), and it helps perpetuate the stereotype that it’s construction worker-type men alone who engage in this and that they can’t help it, because man, you look good, instead of acknowledging the whole range of men who engage in this behavior.
It ignores rape-culture, the widespread sexualization of girls, the fact that by age 12, nearly 1 in 4 girls has experienced street harassment, that over 80 percent of women have been the target of a sexually explicit comment from a man on the street and over half of them have been groped by men on the streets, and that street harassment is a global problem.
Often when I give interviews or talks about street harassment, someone will ask me, what needs to happen to stop street harassment.
And I say, right now, the biggest thing we need to do is change the normalization of it and end its social acceptability. For example, get rid of things like THIS SIGN!!! This sign normalizes street harassment. It contributes to why it happens and why so many of our friends/family tell us it’s a compliment or laugh when we share our street harassment stories.
So how do we change the normalization of it? We can do this by sharing stories (even if people tell us we’re over reacting or it’s a compliment), talking about it, educating our friends/family, speaking out when we see it happening, etc. We can organize community action. And, once we know what company produced this sign, contact them and ask them to take it down!
No country will achieve gender equality and no country ever will as long as men are allowed to freely harass women and girls on the streets.
(h/t to @kbster for telling me about this sign)
UPDATE: The sign is at MarketFair Mall. Still doing research to find out who we need to contact to get the sign down.
UPDATE: Here is the petition
UPDATE: MarketFair Mall took down the sign!! (Also, E A Reeves, a construction company in PA, was not the ones responsible for the sign as had originally been thought. Apologies to them for associating them with the sign.)Share on Facebook