Street Harassment: Catcalling Rape Culture


At Ebony, Zerlina Maxwell speaks to Anti-Street Harassment Week founder Holly Kearl about the fight to allow women to walk down the street safely and in peace.

This week is the 2nd annual International Anti-Street Harassment Week.  Founded by Holly Kearl, International Anti-Street Harassment week has the goal of bringing awareness and energy to the movement to end street harassment of women globally. Street harassment is commonly defined as "any action or comment between strangers in public places that is disrespectful, unwelcome, threatening and/or harassing and is motivated by gender."

Street harassment is what most women experience when they leave the house to walk to the subway or are when they are making a quick trip to the corner store. It can be everything from a catcall to a compliment and at worst it can be threatening language or a flurry of unwanted sexually explicit comments.

It's what happens when women walk by one or a group of men who yell out comments about their physical appearance, "Damn, girl! Look at them sexy legs!" or even "Smile!" which some men consider harmless compliments that should be perceived as flattery. When women don't respond to the "compliments" many of them are then attacked for being "stuck up" and the label "bitch" is frequently thrown out when a woman's behavior doesn't meet the man's expectations. The open hostility that results from women rejecting this unwanted male attention can lead to violence. From Steubenville, to New Delhi, the issue of rape culture and gender-based violence can no longer be ignored and street harassment is directly linked.


Read Zerlina Maxwell's entire piece at

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