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Quick hit: Back up / What do you do?

September 22, 2009

The Angry Black Woman asks, What do you do when you experience street harassment?. (Comments also here.) One response, which I had never considered, but think would be really effective in some cases, is laughter. Alas commenter Krupskaya explains:

I’ve said this before, but I sometimes will point and laugh at a harasser. Not just a “hee hee,” but I mean really cackling and belly laughing, hooting and slapping my lap, pointing and screaming with laughter. For whatever strange sociological reason, people will stare at the harasser like he’s the one with the problem — which of course he is! If I’m pointing and carrying on and continuing to walk, preferably away from the guy, he will often stop and look confused, and people will stare at him, and it’s over.
Interesting, no?

I also came across this organization, Back Up, which encourages women (and men) to act when they see someone being harassed; specifically, to “break through your Somebody Else’s Problem invisibility field and come over and ask if you’re okay.” It seems so simple, but I know it would be really powerful.

The culture that allows (/encourages) this kind of behavior needs to change. But we need to live in it in the meantime. What can we do to be respectful allies for each other?

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