Hello! On this spring-shiny day, are you thinking about street harassment? No? My guess is that that’s probably because you’re not a woman, but no big deal — I am here to make you think about it. Gotcha!
A new study from researchers at Cornell University, with the cooperation of Hollaback!, surveyed over 4,000 American women on their experience of sexual harassment in public spaces. This is, according to Hollaback!, the largest study conducted on street harassment. No big surprise here, but the results are pretty disturbing. These, in our opinion, are the three most arresting:
- The majority of women surveyed reported having experienced some type of harassment, from verbal to physical, in the past year. Half (!) had been groped or fondled in the past year.
- Eighty-five percent experienced their first instance of harassment before the age of 17. Let’s think about this: If you absorb at an early age — keep in mind that 12 percent of women reported experiencing harassment for the first time before the age of 11 — that your body is subject to the words and hands of strange men in public spaces, wouldn’t that potentially have an effect on how you understand your right to exist outdoors?
- A full 70 percent of women have elected, at some point, not to go out at night based on an incidence of harassment, and 73 percent have opted out of public transportation to avoid harassment. Harassment has the power to keep women inside, and unwilling to interact with their streets and cities.
I’m tired of repeating myself when it comes to the need to change attitudes toward women, particularly in public spaces, so I’ll just let Janelle Monae say it (perfectly) for me: