“Hey, baby! What’s going on, why aren’t you smiling?” Sexual harassment in the street is more than just catcalling, more than just an obnoxious stare at my body. Sexual harassment in the street is having an anxiety attack before I step on the streets. Sexual harassment in the street is looking back every five minutes to see if anybody is following me. It’s unbelievable the number of things that sexual harassment represents. For instance, the Canadian Human Rights Commission describes sexual harassment as “the repetitious telling of dirty jokes or sexual anecdotes.” The victim may be a woman or a man. The victim does not have to be of the opposite sex. Also, the victim does not have to be the person harassed, but could be anyone affected by the offensive conduct. Street harassment includes verbal and nonverbal behavior, remarks that are frequently sexual in nature and comment on physical appearance or a person’s presence in public. According to lawyers.com, it is totally legal to record/photograph a child or adult in a public place. They are also free to post or publish those pictures or video.
Many people may think that getting sexually harassed is something insignificant in a person’s life, although the truth is that the constant day-to-day thing can traumatize you. Having men constantly follow you home, having men constantly make dirty and sexual comments about your body makes you feel insecure in the streets. It makes you think and wonder if someday instead of just getting followed, you will actually get kidnapped. There are many effects sexual harassment in the streets can cause, which according to livescience.com are the following:
Victims of sexual harassment can experience long-term depression. A recent study of 1,000 youths, found that people sexually harassed in their teens and early twenties can experience depressive symptoms into their thirties.
Post-traumatic stress disorder:
Many studies have found a link between experiences of sexual harassment and symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which includes re-experiencing the trauma and avoiding people or things that may remind the victim of the harassment.
A 2008 research study found a significant correlation between sexual harassment and elevated blood pressure in women. Sexual harassment may trigger the same type of physiological reactions as stress, which are thought to raise the risk of cardio-vascular disease.
Sexual harassment has been linked to sleep disturbances, said Debra Borys, a psychologist with a private practice in Westwood Village, California. This may be because the stress and anxiety of the event affect sleep habits. For instance, victims may lie awake at night ruminating about the event, or the event may be the source of nightmares, Borys said.
A 1997 study of more than 1,000 Canadian high school students suggested sexual harassment may lead to suicidal behaviors. The study found that 23% of students had experienced at least one incident of unwanted sexual touching, sexual threats or remarks, or indecent exposure in the past six months. Of women who had experienced frequent, unwanted sexual touching, 15% said they had made suicidal attempts “often” in the past six months.
Personally, I have experienced some of these effects like depression, sleep problems, and suicidal thoughts. It’s shocking how much sexual harassment can affect your mental health, without even noticing. This is a real issue, a big thing that happens out there and something should be done about it.
Sexual harassment will always exist, although it is up to us to make a change. An example could be making people more aware of what sexual harassment is and how much it can actually affect a person’s mental stability, no matter their gender. Even just stepping up to a harasser can make a change, just by letting them know that their behavior is making you uneasy. We should also make people understand that women don’t ask to be sexually harassed. That just because she is wearing a tight skirt does not mean she’s asking to get followed. That just because she is wearing a little bit of lipstick does not mean she’s a whore, or just because she is wearing a crop top does not mean she is asking to get touched. That just because I am walking outside the Civic Center by myself does not give you the right to start taking pictures of my butt. I am not an object or a trophy that you can just photograph whenever you want. I am a woman, a human being who is exhausted by the perpetual oppression men put me through every day. Exhausted of being held to standards that are inherently sexist, that relegate us to a position where we are forced to suppress ourselves in order for men to not harass us.
LET WOMEN BE!