Street Harassment: Getting the Message

Anna Kegler, Deputy Director of Feminist Public Works and HollabackPHILLY and founder of the Feminist Messaging Project, wrote an excellent piece for the Huffington Post about effective messaging for social change. This methodology and research were used to maximize the impact of our current public transit ad campaign. An excerpt of the piece is below, but click through to read the whole article!
The following ads give examples of harassing statements, and pointedly shift the responsibility to respond from the victim to the bystander:
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Some of the ads focus on calling out a stranger on their behavior or giving support to a victim after the fact, while others focus on how we can react when those closest to us -- our friends -- are engaging in harassing behaviors. All of these ways of intervening are powerful and important. If we want to see social change around street harassment, we need to start building up social pressure both out in public among strangers, and privately within our inner circles. This means it's time to start stepping in when we see harassment happening, because simply being a person who doesn't harass is not good enough. According to the principle of social proof, our silence when we see harassment happening to others is easily read as acceptance, and reinforces in the harasser's mind (as well as others witnessing the behavior) that the harassment is socially acceptable. The shift from individual responsibility to a community sense of responsibility is commonly known as a bystander intervention approach, which has become a gold standard for gender-based violence prevention. Viewing the problem of street harassment as a shared responsibility is a revolutionary shift, not only because our culture emphasizes individuality at every turn, but because this shift puts the focus squarely on the harasser. If we're active bystanders, ready to intervene, it's because we see someone (the harasser) doing something wrong. What the victim is doing or wearing is not even part of the equation.
The full post is available here.

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