Men and Street Harassment

I want you to watch that video. I want you to really digest what is happening.

I want you to put yourself in her shoes. I want you to put your wife, your daughter, your mother, your sister, or any woman you love in her shoes.

Then I want you to ask yourself how it would make you feel. How it would feel to be in her position. How it would be to see the women you love being treated that way.

And I hope it pisses you off. I hope it makes you feel afraid and sick to your stomach. Because that is the response that we should all have to these kind of actions.

When I was growing up the most I heard about this sort of thing was portrayed as a joke. Whether it was in cartoons or the trope of the construction worker whistling or yelling at a women in a skirt as she walked past him. And it was never played as a bad thing. We were taught to think that women like this sort of attention. That it made them feel good to be ogled and yelled at as they walked past you.

But that is not the reality of street harassment. From listening to women talk about their real experiences during the #YouOkSis campaign on Twitter; it revealed a completely different world. It was something I really never thought about in that way before. And what I learned shocked and appalled me, and it made me mad.

Personally, I’ve never yelled anything at a woman in the street. That has never been my attitude towards women, but I’ve also been complacent in never noticing that it is a problem that many women face on a daily basis.

A lot of the arguments I’ve heard have stated such things like ‘I just want to tell her she’s pretty’ or ‘why can’t I compliment her’. But we men aren’t seeing things from their perspective. We don’t know where she’s come from, what she’s experienced. What we think may be an innocent comment, may bring her fear or hurt or anger. And on the other side of the coin, maybe she just doesn’t want to be yelled at in the street.

Picture yourself walking down the street alone at night. All the sudden one person or a group of people start yelling at you. Then they start following you. How comfortable would this make you? Women not only face this sort of treatment, but this can also lead to worse. And it has and will again.

No woman should have to fear walking down the street. The way she dresses doesn’t matter. No one deserves to be accosted just trying to get to where they are going. Now imagine having to get this treatment every single day. First thing in the morning when you are going to work, when you go to get a coffee with friends, when you are with your children, when you are just trying to go home at night. There is no excuse for street harassment.

This issue falls directly and only on men. Women do not need to change anything about them to not be harassed in the street or anywhere else for that matter. This is a male issue that needs to be changed. We are the ones causing this problem and we are the ones who need to stop it. This is an ingrained behavior that needs to eradicated in our gender.

I’ve seen a lot of men pass this off with the explanation ‘Well, I don’t do this so I don’t have to be blamed for it’ along with the entire #NotAllMen movement. Yes, not all men behave this way, but NO man should behave this way. And our silence on the issue makes us an accomplice to the behavior. Because we are still allowing it to continue; which is giving a silent consent. If we aren’t working to put an end to it, we are telling the other people in our gender that we accept it is just part of being a man.

We need to teach our brothers to be better. We need to raise our sons the right way. We need to organize and support each other in this endeavor. We need to keep an open discussion with the men in our communities about these sorts of issues. We shouldn’t have to be lumped in with this sort of issue because it should not exist in the first place. Just because we were taught a certain way doesn’t mean that we can’t learn and grow and change our experience. If we continue allowing it, the issue will never go away.

If we want to be taken seriously by saying ‘not all men’ then it is up to us to really do some work to change that perception. Because even though you may not personally be doing the act, you are going to get lumped into it because that is perception the world has of you.

Each year, too many of our sisters are being harassed, raped, and murdered. And this alone should make us take action. We can never fully see things from a woman’s perception, but we need to THINK more of the way we act toward them, and try and put ourselves in the situations they face. We need to really think of how it would affect us if we received that same kind of treatment. This is a worldwide epidemic and if men want to be treated equally and thought of in better light, then we need to do more to show that world what we can be.

It is the lazy attitude that says I’m not doing anything about it because I don’t do it now. We have the ability to change this issue, to really stand up and fight for equality and justice. If you want to be seen as a ‘good guy’ then goddamnit DO something that shows that you are.


To see more, I ask you to check out #YouOkSis on twitter. Read the experience of women and what they have shared. And take note of a lot of the male response to it. It is really eye opening