Six Innovative Ways to Fight Street Harassment

chalking says "catcalls are not compliments"

Students chalked anti-harassment messages on a college campus last year. Photo by Paul Weaver.

When you’re catcalled on the street, it can feel isolating and embarrassing. But you’re not alone—street harassment is a global problem, something that millions of people endure. This week is the fifth annual International Anti-Street Harassment Week. During these seven days, 97 organizations, 28 student groups, and 32 Hollaback chapters spanning 35 different countries are doing anti-street harassment activism. While street harassment remains a huge problem, this is the largest year yet for this movement to change the culture around our public spaces. Here are six innovative anti-street harassment projects happening right now.

a poster folders out to ask people not to catcall

Pop To Stop

This handy little poster is the work of Rachelle O’Brien, a graphic designer out of California. The pocket-size, fold out poster provides users with a “visual, non-aggressive, non-verbal way to respond to harassers.” Rachelle provides the posters for free on her website, as well as instructions on how to make your own! The non-confrontational among us love the idea, and honestly, the pop-up design and bright colors just make me smile. 

my safety selfie

My Safety Selfie

Initiated by writer Jay Pitter, #mysafetyselfie is a project that is curating photos and stories from women discussing things that compromise their safety in public spaces—from women taking photos in places where they were assaulted to others dissecting the idea that being “street smart” can save you from violence. The selfies represent harassment and discrimination faced by women across racial, ethnic, age, and socioeconomic borders, creating an extremely powerful yet accessibly avenue for sharing and relating to stories. This movement is currently a Facebook page, but Pitter hopes to expand the project to include exhibitions, curricula, workshops, and more. 

#ThatIsNotMyName

This hashtag is the brainchild of California teenager Chloe Parker. Angered by the harassment often thrown at young girls, Parker is encouraging people to wearing nametags that explain what NOT to call them. A passionate, energetic, and intelligent young woman, Chloe makes me proud of the younger ladies joining our movement. Follow Chloe on Instagram at @rebel.grrrl.

clicker counter

What’s Your Number?

Hollaback! Vancouver has been around since 2013 and I’m in love with their newest project. “What’s Your Number?” is an interactive campaign that kicked off on April 12. Participants are given a clicker and blank notebook and asked to “click” each time they are harassed in public over a 24-hour period. They are encouraged to express their feelings around these encounters in their notebooks, which are then passed off to the next participant. I love the combination of art and activism, and this project is sure to open the eyes of people who question if street harassment really happens all that often.

Theater of the Harassed

From April 16-25, Philadelphia theater company Touch Me Philly is hosting a whole collection of plays, films, and workshops dealing called, “Reasonable Fear: A Theatrical Exploration of Street Harassment and Rape Culture.” They’re even hosting a comedy show dubbed Catcall Me Maybe. “With these events we want to take you on a touching journey that will empower and inspire you to better our city,” writes the group. “Our goal is to continue this important discussion and help make our daughters, sisters, mothers, friends & selves feel safer in the streets of The City of Brotherly Love.”

Related Reading: A New Report Reveals the Realities of Street Harassment.

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