Have you been a victim of street harassment?
If you have, then you’re a reason why I decided to get involved with the Anti-Street Harassment week on campus.
When Dr. Kate assigned us to be an engaged activist and to choose our own projects, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do. But I was intrigued with the idea of helping the WILL group in their Anti-Street Harassment week campaign. I felt it was a topic that was close to me because I’ve been “hollered” at or had guys say derogatory things to me, and I wanted the UMBC community to be aware of the dangers and consequences people face when verbally attacked in public areas.
Being a novice activist, I didn’t really know where to start, but I decided to do some background research because I honestly didn’t know much of the statistic side of the problem. I was only aware of street harassment from mine and other friends’ experiences. I found this great website called Hollaback! Baltimore
where I discovered so much about street harassment. The site is filled with ways to share your story, events or getting involved with the cause. This webpage was a useful tool into researching about Street Harassment, I found out that many people suffer from anxiety, depression, and stress disorders that were caused from being verbally harassed.
When I got my proposal back, Dr. Kate wrote that I had a good start on the project, but I had to narrow in on a specific project. She also mentioned that WILL is doing a chalking campaign where people are able to write their story on academic row. I was immediately drawn to this project because I felt that it was a good way to grab peoples attention on campus while they walk to class or the commons.
My busy schedule has kept me from really investing time into the project; it was the biggest roadblock. I couldn’t participate in the first chalk out, but luckily they had another date set up. When I got there, there were a lot of people gathered near the breeze way and I thought it was for the chalk out. But it turned out it was this guy protesting against gay marriage, I thought this was set back to the project because people were paying attention mostly to him and not the campaign. But I was able to tell my friends to join in the chalk out and write a message. I enjoyed writing my message, “NO you can’t have my #” because after I was done writing it, it gave me a sense of power. It gave me voice to answer back to all those guys that have tried to holler at me on the streets. I thought the campaign was a success, because I stood around for a while to see what others would write and I was surprised to see so many people participating. It was nice to hear people talking about the issues and to even see some of the men on campus participating and taking the time to stop and read the messages. It was a bigger achievement for me because now some of friends are aware of what street harassment is because I personally brought it to their attention and told them ways to answer back to those that harass them. Working with WILL was what really made this project work, because without this groups leadership and organization, the chalk out wouldn’t have been this successful. I found that having a lot of other commitments going on in my life were a down fall for this project because I couldn’t invest all the time I wanted to.
Although some might feel like I didn’t dig into the project or do enough work, I felt it was a big accomplishment for myself because I’m not the type to steer my own project and this was a good way for me get involved. This chalk out helped me realize that I can answer back to those guys that try to street harass and that I want to get more involved with projects like this. Next time, I’ll find more time to help with this important issue, use more of my social connections to spread the word, and think of other projects that would be informative to the UMBC community.