BMC’s anti-street harassment working group, No Disrespect, works to end all forms of gendered and sexualized street harassment in public spaces. We are committed to transforming the culture of intrusions, intimidation and harassment in Bed-Stuy and Crown Heights to one of community-building and mutual respect.
Note: We have found words to be limited as we attempt to communicate analyses of race, gender, sexuality and class as they pertain to street harassment. Without clear language standards in the anti-street harassment movement and within the larger feminist, trans, gender non-conforming and queer rights movements, we have made the decision to use words and phrases that we find to be inclusive and specific, though not perfect. We are constantly working to clearly convey our interpretation of an unjust set of circumstances and welcome conversation around finding the most appropriate language moving forward. [Last edited: 06/11/2014]
- We are currently comprised of cisgendered women who consistently face street harassment. Our intention is to address the ways in which men harass women, queer, trans, and/or gender non-conforming people in our neighborhood’s public spaces. We understand that street harassment is a type of gendered and sexualized violence and that our work is one part of a larger movement to dismantle patriarchy’s effects on our lives. We seek to work in solidarity with individuals and organizations whose approach to violence works for and not against our values, our mission and our vision for the community we are working to transform.
No Disrespect is a group of women working to end all forms of gendered and sexualized street harassment in public spaces. We are committed to transforming the culture of intrusions, intimidation and harassment in Bed-Stuy and Crown Heights to one of community-building and mutual respect. By developing a network of women and allies who support and move in solidarity with each other; collaborating with men who can organize other men to be agents against street harassment; and raising the public profile of the real harms of street harassment, we aim to build a healthy, safe, and powerful community.
No Disrespect envisions a world free of harassment, particularly of people whose identities have been historically marginalized. We reject domination and objectification as the basis of public interaction and are working towards a world in which these interactions are instead based on mutual respect and love. We further believe that powerful, organized, and sustainable communities are rooted in the deep and compassionate understanding between individual members; and that the current culture of intimidation and harassment undermines our overall potential to create these healthy versions of community living.
Street Harassment Is
We understand street harassment to be a range of unwelcome, uninvited behavior targeted at women, queer, trans, and/or gender non-conforming people* in public spaces.This behavior includes, but is not limited to:
- obscene language & noises
- unwanted touching
- sexual groping
- descriptions of sexual acts
- commentary on body parts
- exposing one’s genitals
- threats & other types of verbal intimidation
- homophobic and transphobic slurs
- physical intimidation
- threats of sexual violence
- seemingly harmless greetings and compliments**
The threat of escalation, which can include physical and sexualized violence, underlies even greetings and compliments that have traditionally been defined as innocuous. This culture of fear –sometimes compounded by feelings of annoyance, powerlessness, anxiety, and dread–frames the daily experiences of women, queer, trans, and/or gender non-conforming people. Men† often enjoy the privilege of walking through public spaces undisturbed, which is a right we believe should be afforded to all bodies.
Street harassment is the product of a patriarchal and heteronormative culture that produces other forms of gendered and sexualized violence. This is a culture which emboldens men to interrupt our movement and intrude upon our personal space. This policing is such a normalized practice that many do not recognize it as a problem. It creates an environment in which men feel entitled to (access) the personal space of everyone who does not present as a masculine heterosexual man. We are expected to accept this uncomfortable, unjust, and sometimes dangerous behavior. We challenge street harassment because we want to live in a world where mutual respect, not intimidation, control and disrespect, shapes public interaction in our communities.
* We recognize that these identities are not mutually exclusive, and that any one identity can encompass others.
** In street harassment culture, the intent of traditional greetings and compliments are often subverted as a conversational entry point for intrusive conversation. For example, a seemingly innocuous exchange of “Good morning” greetings can often lead to requests like, “Can I walk with you?,” “Can I have your number?,” or “Baby, you got a man?”
†We use “men” here and throughout the document to refer to cisgendered heterosexual masculine-presenting men, who we find are able to exercise their gender & sexuality privilege in harassing those who identify as women, queer, trans and/or gender non-conforming.
†† We have found words to be limited as we attempt to communicate analyses of race, gender, sexuality and class as they pertain to street harassment. Without clear language standards in the anti-street harassment movement and within the larger feminist, trans, gender non-conforming and queer rights movements, we have made the decision to use words and phrases that we find to be inclusive and specific, though not perfect. We are constantly working to clearly convey our interpretation of an unjust set of circumstances and welcome conversation around finding the most appropriate language moving forward.
Patriarchy is a social system in which males are the primary authority figures central to social organization, occupy roles of political leadership, moral authority and control of property, and where fathers hold authority over women and children. It implies the institutions of male rule and privilege, and entails female subordination. Many patriarchal societies are also patrilineal, meaning that property and title are inherited by the male lineage. Historically, patriarchy has manifested itself in the social, legal, political, and economic organization of a range of different cultures. [Read more from source. Also see: “Understanding Patriarchy” by bell hooks]
Heteronormativity is the cultural bias in favor of opposite-sex relationships of a sexual nature, and against same-sex relationships of a sexual nature. Because the former are viewed as normal and the latter are not, lesbian and gay relationships are subject to a heteronormative bias. [Read more from source.]
Want to join No Disrespect (ND) and help lead the movement against street harassment in Central Brooklyn? Be a part of reclaiming our streets! We’ve got tons of ideas: chalk parties! pop-up teach-ins! rallies! rap sessions! performance art! capturing your stories! male ally work! handing out “not interested” cards!
For details on our next meeting email Anthonine Pierre at [email protected].
Street Cornered – ND’s Tumblr
Engage with ND online! On Street Cornered we aim to:
- amplify ND’s work in Central Brooklyn
- reject gendered and sexualized street harassment and assert it as a serious problem
- elevate ND’s perspective in the natl SH movement
- change the culture of SH to one of mutual respect/community building and reduce harm in public spaces
We are collecting the stories of people who have experienced street harassment. Submit your story here! We hope these stories will move us towards a more informed approach to ending street harassment.
Street Harassment Virtual Toolkit
Need videos, articles, and other resources on street harassment? We got you.
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- To learn more about our approach to street harassment, check out the press and media covers the work:
News One, Terrell Jermaine Starr, Jul 7, 2014 Veralyn Williams, the communications organizer at the Brooklyn Movement Center, said that her organization’s anti-street harassment working group, No Disrespect, has spent the last year discussing their experiences with street harassment and has recently launched a new Central Brooklyn initiative. In the future No Disrespect wants to create male groups that can serve as allies to help spread the anti-street harassment message. Read More.
Brokelyn, Katrina Casino, August 02, 2013 It’s been a pretty great year for street harassment in Brooklyn…unless, of course, you’re the one doing the harassing. From Tatyana Fazlalizadeh’s much-discussed “Stop Telling Women to Smile” street art series, the Catcalls NYC Twitter, to the Harlow Project, a video campaign dedicated to telling stories of street harassment from around the world, women pretty much everywhere are making it clear that this street harassment bullshit ain’t cute. Read More.
Brooklyn Activists Map Out All the Different Types of Street Harassment on a Depressing, Useful Chart
Village Voice, Anna Merlan, August 1, 2013 There’s almost nothing that’ll ruin your morning faster than a disgusting kissy noise, emanating from the face of some idiot trailing you down the block. Or a “flattering” remark about a body part you possess, which quickly turns into the outraged yelling of “BITCH! LESBIAN!” when you don’t respond in quite the way he wanted. Read More.
Metro, Danielle Tcholakian, May 6, 3013 The Brooklyn Movement Center is taking on the streets of Bed-Stuy and Crown Heights to change the way women move through the neighborhoods — or more specifically, to change the way the neighborhoods interact with the women within them. Read More.
Daily News, Rebeca Ibarra and Lore Croghan, April 18, 2013 Fed up with wolf whistles and creepy come-ons from strangers, a group of Bedford-Stuyvesant women answered their tormentors last week by scrawling scolding messages on Fulton Park’s pavement with bright-colored chalk. Read More.
The Brooklyn Ink, Tanay Warerkar, April 15, 2013 The Brooklyn Movement Center, a community organization representing Bed-Stuy and Crown Heights, for example, has been canvassing the neighborhoods and encouraging women to blog and share their stories of harassment on the center’s website. Read More.
DNA Info, Paul DeBenedetto, April 7, 2013
On a recent morning, on her way to work in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Marly Pierre-Louis was approached and followed by two separate cars.
The occupants didn’t explicitly threaten her, or get out of the car to attack her, she said. Instead, they offered unsolicited critiques of her appearance as she attempted to ignore them. Read More.