Has this happened to you? You’re walking downtown, or anywhere else, minding your own business and someone either drives by and yells, “Hey baby!!” or someone on the sidewalk makes a lewd gesture to you?  If you’re a man, it’s probably never happened to you. But as a woman who walks in the downtown area often,  I have had this, and a lot worse things, happen often. 

While most of it is harmless (a homeless person telling me I look hot in my dress or men offering me rides while I wait for the bus) I have also had a group of young men follow me for blocks yelling inappropriate things and a transient expose himself to me.

Besides being irritating and in some cases scary, street harassment limits people’s mobility and access to public spaces. It is a form of gender violence and makes our downtown and other areas less inviting and therefore less vibrant.
I just found out though that there’s a resource trying to put an end to this kind of harrasment. It’s a website called StopStreetHarrasment.org and it has some interesting content, such as responses you can use if harassed, some creative ways people have fought back against harassment on the street, tips for talking to boys to emphasize why some language is considered harassment, and tips on why things men say that they feel is a compliment can make women uncomfortable.

A warning; there are a couple uses of explicit language on the website. And I want the t-shirt in one picture that says “My name is not Baby.”

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