Street harassment is a phenomenon all too familiar to most women, but it’s something they often feel powerless to stop.
Kat Lazo addresses male feminist allies–as well as the women who encounter street harassment–and explains what we can do to fight this pervasive form of misogyny.
Watch as she shares her own story of street harassment, and ways she recommends handling similar situations.
Click for the Transcript
KAT: Hey guys, welcome to TheeKatsMeoww. Today’s episode is actually geared towards you guys. Yeah, you guys.
MAN 1: Come over here. I wanna talk to you.
MAN 2: Where you from?
KAT: April is actually Sexual Assault Awareness Month.
MAN 3: What’s going on?
MAN 2: Yo, ma!
MAN 1: No, talk to me. Talk to me.
KAT: Oh, wow.
MAN 4: Can I get your number?
KAT: Okay, so April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month and sometimes you know what leads to sexual assault? Maybe something like street harassment.
MAN 4: Girl, you got a nice ass. What’s so bad about that?
MAN 1: You got nice lips.
KAT: Okay. Yes, street harassment. Exactly.
MAN 3: I like ’em feisty, though, so it’s all good.
KAT: So, you may be thinking, “God, what’s street harassment? What’s the big deal?” Street harassment can range from anything from whistling, honking, kisses, and just commenting on someone’s being. Such as, you know…
MAN 4: Hey, let me see that smile.
MAN 1: You got very pretty eyes.
MAN 2: Hey, beautiful.
KAT: And what I’m gathering from guys when the topic of street harassment comes up is that you don’t see it as a problem. I’m telling you right now, it’s a big problem. No bueno.
It makes a very simple task like walking down your block or making a video a very tedious and very nerve-wracking experience.
MAN 2: Man, why you playing so hard-to-get? I just wanna give you a hug.
KAT: Street harassment has become, unfortunately, such a norm for men and for women too.
KAT’S FRIEND: Oh, your collar is messed up.
KAT’S FRIEND: Here, let me fix it.
(the assistant interrupts the speaker’s speech and fixes her vest collar)
MAN 1: There’s two of you? Y’all together?
MAN 1: At least let me watch! Can I at least just get in the middle?
MAN 1 & 2: Yo, can we join? Got a room? Foursome? Come on!
You should never feel dehumanized ever. And you should never feel free to make anyone feel less of a human. So, how do we go about ending street harassment?
I guess the first step is, men acknowledging that street harassment is dangerous, it hurts us and that it actually exists. That’s where we women come into play.
We have to share our experiences and actually talk back. Now, this can be pretty daunting and really scary at first because we are not used to it. I’ll add a link down below with some helpful hints as to how to go about this.
Talking back doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to speak up at that very moment. If you don’t feel safe, there are other ways to go about it.
So, you can report it…
KAT’S FRIEND (off camera): What?
KAT: I feel so stupid saying “report it.”
KAT’S FRIEND (off camera): Well, speak honestly.
KAT: For those guys out there who still don’t understand the gravity and the danger of the situation, street harassment isn’t just hissing and it’s not just telling us that we’re beautiful and these so-called “compliments.” Sometimes they lead to really dangerous things.
I know I was less than sixteen, it was dead winter. Don’t ask me what were you wearing, ’cause I was wearing just a North Face, and I was on the subway. And the next thing I know, there was a guy who was masturbating and just staring at me.
I wish I could, like, look into the camera and say, like, “Yeah, I took a picture and I screamed in his face, and I was all like, ‘what the hell are you doing?’” No. I was so terrified, I legit froze and couldn’t move. I thought if I moved, he might grab me, he might assault me and I don’t know.
There was a female who finally got on the train, and she saw what was happening, and did nothing. That was the worst feeling to know that there was someone else who could have said something, spoken up on my behalf and they did nothing.
Anyways, I ran off of the train finally and being the fourteen/fifteen year old, really innocent girl that I was, I ran to the police and told them what happened. And instead of helping me, they started flirting with me and asking me “Where am I going?” “Why do you look so nice?”
So, unfortunately, I can’t look into the camera and say “Go talk to the police, report it.” I can’t, because that didn’t work for me and I felt just as unsafe when talking to the police officer as I did, while that man was masturbating.
If you don’t feel safe enough to speak up, then use the tools that we have. For me, I feel safe when I go on the Internet and maybe some of you guys think that’s really stupid, but I met some guys that, because they go on the Internet and see how rampant this is and how many of us bloggers are talking about it and sharing our feelings, some feelings that we may not feel comfortable talking about face-to-face, then they realize, “Woah, I never realized this was a problem.” Which is my other tip.
We need male allies. Please! Stand up for us and stand up for, I don’t know, your own dignity because I shouldn’t feel embarrassed to speak up. You should feel embarrassed for humiliating yourself and degrading yourself.
So, if you’re a male ally, please, among your friends, if you realize how uncomfortable this is making us, how unsafe we feel, tell your fellow friends, “that’s not cool, that’s not what we do,” and teach them what street harassment is.
And I really hate saying this because we should never just acknowledge things because “What if it was your sister? What if it was your mom?” Unfortunately, sometimes that’s the only way it gets through your heads. What if it was your sister? What if it was your mom? Don’t be hypocrite.
Well, guess what? We are the other half of the population. We are just another human being. That should be enough to respect us alone.
If you’re a man and if you’re watching this and you’re scratching your head and you’re like “What’s a male ally and why do I need to be one,” check out Men Can Stop Rape.
Not only does this organization hold workshops where they teach men how to redefine masculinity, they put up this amazing ad campaign called “Take A Stand.”
Props to these organizations and other organizations like them, such as Meet Us On The Street, Hollaback, Stop Street Harassment.
If all else fails, just resort to, you know, doing something really grotesque.
MAN 1 & 2: What’s up baby, let me ask you a question baby.
KAT: (picks nose)
MAN 4: I was just staring at you.
KAT: (spits on ground)
KAT: (burps loudly)
KAT: Trust me, it works. Thanks so much for watching, you guys. If you’re a guy and you like this, if you have something to say, comment below, “Like” it.
If you know a guy who needs this video, please share it with them. Share this video to individuals that need to see this. Bye guys!
Kat Lazo is a Contributing Vlogger for Everyday Feminism. She’s a self-proclaimed social commentator, media critic, and overall, a woman who questions everything. Having studied Advertising and Marketing Communications at the Fashion Institute of Technology, she’s ready to add some feminism to the ad world. Check out more of her writing at TheeKatsMeoww, watch her videos on YouTube, and follow on Twitter @TheeKatsMeoww, Facebook and Tumblr. Read her articles here.