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The week of March 18-24 is not just a week of finals and spring break activities. It is in fact the week of a gender-focused anti-harassment movement called “Meet Us On the Street.”
Founded by Holly Kearl (aka the women behind the blog Stop Street Harassment), she created this movement after feeling enraged by the stories of harassment posted onto her website. On the website The Wip, Kearl writes, “street harassment is portrayed as complimentary, a minor annoyance, or the woman’s fault…Street harassment makes many women feel like they must be on guard in public as they constantly assess their surroundings, scowl, avoid eye contact, and have cell phones ready in case they need to call for help.” She makes a great point. Street harassment is scary, but it also makes women perceive her every day environment differently than a man would. How can women feel safe when they are the main targets of harassment? Kearl’s research points out “on at least a monthly basis, 45 percent of women avoid being in public alone at night and 40 percent avoid being in public alone period. One in five women moved neighborhoods to avoid harassment and one in ten changed jobs because of harassers along their commute or outside their worksite.” If these statistics tell us anything, it is that we have a serious problem that needs to be dealt with.
Last year, over 2,000 people from thirteen different countries supported efforts to eliminate and protest the prevalence of street harassment. Now that March is about to roll around again, it is time for the people of San Luis Obispo to join the effort. The movement’s website gives six ways you can be an activist during this week. You can talk to your friends/family/coworkers/peers about street harassment, raise awareness online, use art to make a statement, and engage, evaluate, and educate your community. Check their website for more information on how to be an activist.
If finals take over your life that week, then try to be an activist against street harassment in your every day life. Using your tech knowledge, artistic talents, research abilities, etc. can truly make our streets safer for everyone.
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