So much YES
This will surprise no one who has experienced street harassment, but it is good to have the evidence and data to support how we feel:
“New research provides evidence that sexual harassment is, in fact, traumatizing for women—especially for those who have experienced sexual abuse. The study, conducted by a team of seven women from theUniversity of Mary Washington Psychology Department, sought to explore the effects of “body surveillance” and “unwanted sexual advances” (translation: uncomfortable stares and harassment). They gathered women of various ethnicities and had each fill out an online survey. Researchers specifically designed the questions to test how women felt about the appearance of their bodies, and to identify feelings of shame.
Subjects were then asked directly about harassment. Did it happen often? What kind (verbal, physical) did they endure? In what must have been the most emotionally draining survey ever, participants were finally asked about their history of sexual abuse.
What did the researchers find? That objectification resulted in, and we quote, “insidious trauma.”
The effects on the psyche, researchers found, are long-term, piling up slowly. Women who experienced frequent sexual harassment displayed signs of trauma and PTSD. Those who had a history with sexual abuse endured a greater degree of trauma, regardless of how often they were harassed. Many women reported body shame—feelings that, not surprisingly, paralleled those who suffer from an eating disorder. The researchers concluded:
“Interpersonal objectification has the potential to have serious negative consequences, and unfortunately, failure to recognize these events may leave women wondering if the discrimination they believe they have experienced is real . . . Women become caught in a Catch-22; if they speak out about how they are treated, they are likely to be labeled as ‘overly sensitive,’ and if they say nothing, they have to live with these experiences without the chance of social support or vindication. The ambiguous and subtle nature of sexual objectification, particularly the experience of body evaluation, can make this experience of discrimination difficult to acknowledge, discuss, and cope with. Gender-based discrimination in the form of interpersonal sexual objectification can have a significant impact on the psychological health of women and, although some may wish to minimize the impact that these events can have, studies such as ours indicate that these are not matters to be taken lightly.”
More to come when I get my hands on the study. H/T Collective Action for Safe Spaces.Share on Facebook
Anyone who donates $20+ by tomorrow, Friday, December 19, 3 p.m. ET, can request a personalized, signed copy of the 50 Stories about Stopping Street Harassers book + SSH stickers and I will mail it in the 4 p.m. mail.
After you donate, email me hkearl AT stopstreetharassment.org with info about who you want me to sign the book to, where to mail it and if you want it gift wrapped.
THANK YOUShare on Facebook
This is nice, hopeful, decent!
Via NBC News:
“Twitter users pledged their support for Australian Muslims facing a possible backlash as a suspected Islamist gunman took hostages in a Sydney cafe. The hashtag #IllRideWithYou trended globally as unconfirmed reports suggest that women in traditional Muslim dress had been intimidated on public transport in Sydney. Australian Muslim leaders also released a statement condemning the cafe siege, calling it a “despicable act.”
From The Atlantic:
“On a train, one passenger reportedly spotted a Muslim woman removing her hijab, ostensibly out of fear of being targeted. The passenger told her to put it back on and offered to walk with her in solidarity. And so began #IllRideWithYou. The hashtag went viral and is currently still trending worldwide, hours after the end of the hostage crisis.
That number is now fast approaching 250,000. The tweets included calls not to blame all Muslims for the hostage crisis and, more universally, for greater tolerance. The initiative also included offers of companionship and solidarity for Muslim travelers who might not want to travel alone.”Share on Facebook
I was fifteen years old and I was walking to work after school across a highway overpass. There weren’t very many cars on the street, and I noticed this car with two men in it driving slower than normal slightly behind me. They looped around the block 3 times so they kept passing me and the third time they started driving the same pace that i was walking, right next to me. One man pulls out a camera and starts taking pictures of me, saying “hello gorgeous,” and “if only I wasn’t in my car right now.” I was in an area where there were no shops and and at the moment, no pedestrians, so I walked as fast as I could and had to call the police, pretending I didn’t even notice. They drove away when they saw the cop car. The people who did pass me as I walked by noticed something was happening, and yet did nothing.
Location: Santa Monica, CAShare on Facebook
I attended the Justice for All rally and march in Washington, DC today. We need police reform and we need to work toward a society where there is no racism, sexism, homophobia, discrimination, etc. #BlackLivesMatter #StandUpDontShoot #JusticeforAll
“Thousands of demonstrators streamed down Pennsylvania Avenue on Saturday, shouting “Black lives matter,” “Hands up, don’t shoot,” and “I can’t breathe” to call attention to the recent deaths of unarmed African American men at the hands of police.
The peaceful civil rights march led by families of the slain and organized by the Rev. Al Sharpton’s National Action Network drew a wide range of Americans – black, white, Latino, Asian, young and elderly. They walked east toward the U.S. Capitol in a pageant of colorful t-shirts, banners and signs.
The most poignant moment of the day came when family members of black men and boys killed by police — Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Tamar Rice, Trayvon Martin and Amadou Diallo — took the stage at a rally at the Capitol.”
Image for poster via Bougie Black Girl.Share on Facebook
I’ve had many very uncomfortable encounters when out in public in London. Here are a few that I want to share:
I was taking the bus one time and this man loudly starts asking me to sit next to him and refers to me as “darling”. He did this 3 or 4 times. I didn’t want to engage in conversation with him so I ignored him and left that bus at the next stop. He then loudly said “goodbye darling, have a nice day” as I left the bus. The whole encounter made me feel uncomfortable.
Another time on the tube this man who sat across kept staring at me. I thought at first it was just accidental eye contact but I realised it was full on and the whole time he wouldn’t take his eyes off me. He didn’t look zoned out either – he had a menacing look on his face and creeped the hell out of me. I felt so uncomfortable!
Another time on the tube this man starts talking to me and acting flirtatious and quite sexually aggressive. I began talking to him out of politeness and soon regretted it when he got very forward and I felt very uncomfortable. He then began harassing me for my number and I ended up giving him a fake one so I wouldn’t anger him/to get out of the situation.
In every situation it happened out of the blue, when my mind was very much focused on other things and I felt cheap/objectified each time. It also totally goes against this myth of how you dress affects how men act. Each experience in which I’ve been harassed (apart from club harassment stories) have happened when I have been dressed in long skirts with tights/trousers and wearing normal tops (and most of the time had a coat on). It’s ridiculous for people to still believe that how women dress excuses sexual harassment or to victim blame.
Optional: What’s one way you think we can make public places safer for everyone?
We need to tackle men’s attitudes to women. The objectification/hypersexualisation and dehumanisation of women is the real problem here. The woman’s body is viewed as a sexual object rather than part of a person. We need to re-educate men to not think this way and to respect women as people. The voyeurism is partly from pornography but also women’s bodies always being hyper-sexualised in the media.
We need to stop victim-blaming. It shouldn’t matter how someone is dressed. If I dress a certain way when I go out it doesn’t excuse sexually aggressive behaviour. I refuse to accept that dressing a certain way will even stop sexual harassment. From my own experiences it wasn’t enough for me to be dressed conservatively (which I was). Because the fact that I was a woman was enough for these men to feel entitled to treat me in such a way. The problem is men’s entitlement.
Location: London, UKShare on Facebook