Thirty years ago, when I was enrolled in a Women’s Studies course, we devised a little experiment/study. We (all women) sat on a low wall adjacent to a busy sidewalk on campus and cat-called men as they walked by. Further down the block, one of our classmates stopped the victims and asked them to fill out a questionnaire about the experience. The results were inconclusive, not surprisingly, given that it was such an anomalous event. Most of them expressed shock or surprise more than anything else. Street harassment has long been a topic of study and outrage for feminists, but if my memory is at all to be trusted, it’s never gained this level of attention.
The video below went viral this past week. It generated a great deal of commentary, from NPR, to blogs, tweets, and points in between. I read some valid criticisms of the piece itself, but I also saw a lot of confusion, predictably over what, exactly, constitutes harassment. Continue reading