Anti-Street Harassment :: No Disrespect

StreetHarassment_wp2BMC’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.

    Mission

    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.

    Vision

    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:

    • leering
    • following
    • 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
    • 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.


    Footnotes

    * 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.


    Definitions

    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.]

  • We believe that criminalization is not an appropriate or sustainable response to street harassment — we do not want to perpetuate the growth of the prison industrial complex, stop-and-frisk, and other practices that disproportionately impact Black and Brown men in our communities. We will not contribute to the NYPD’s racist profiling of men in our communities by essentializing them as criminals or delinquents. We are committed to developing alternatives to police and state intervention in matters of combatting street harassment in Central Brooklyn.We also acknowledge that policing has increased with the expanding gentrification of Central Brooklyn, pricing out long-term residents and creating unstable communities  in which communication and mutual respect are not present. We do not support the increased policing of gentrifying areas. We know what it feels like to be objects of surveillance in public spaces, and do not want anyone, including our brothers, to be targeted, followed, yelled at, stopped, touched, and criminalized for simply existing in public space.

    Men are not inherent harassers. In historically Black and Brown gentrifying communities like Bed-Stuy and Crown Heights, we, as largely Black and Brown women, recognize that we cannot afford to dispose of our men. To refer to men in a derogatory manner and isolate them as targets, rather than the forces of patriarchy and misogyny, acts in direct opposition to the community we are working to transform.

    We believe that men must be held accountable for the damage their words, gestures, looks, and actions cause us  and thus the larger communities in which we live. We ain’t got the answers, BUT: we’re committed to developing alternatives that are closely aligned with community accountability measures instead of state intervention.

    Instead we challenge them to unlearn the destructive practices of unhealthy masculinity that both violate and intimidate us and stifle their own ability to be healthy and whole human beings.

    This is the work, not just of ending street harassment, but of transforming community.

  • Want to join No Disrespect 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]

    BMC Anti-Street Harassment Events

    From our working group meetings to public actions, check this page for the happenings and gatherings.

    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 our interview with David Ushery on WNBC!