My mini-campaign based off of dosomething.org ‘s Take Back the Streets; A non-profit organization working to empower those who have been victims of street harassment.
To learn more about my campaign #StopCallingMe, please click below for my infographic. After checking out the infographic you will understand the importance of my new Instagram page that allows young adults to share their stories on street harassment or just connect with others who are experiencing the same things.
Sexual harassment has been around since the beginning of time, whether or not it has been reprimanded and/or considered wrong has changed drastically. Street harassment is “unwanted comments, gestures, and actions forced on a stranger in a public place without their consent and are directed at them because of their actual or perceived sex, gender, gender expression, or sexual orientation” (Stop Street Harassment, (2018).). There are a few campaigns in place now such as “Stop Street Harassment”, “Me too”, “Hollaback”, and “Take Back the Streets”, but the stigma around street harassment is that it’s a phony way for women and other victims to find pity in something as “silly” as a greeting or a compliment. The problem is that it is not a compliment, and it results in negative emotional effects on its victims, such as “anger, depression, fear and low self-esteem” (Cornell, University, (2018).) An ILR Professor at Cornell University offers a series of statistics based upon street harassment. Unfortunately, “65% of women reported being harassed on the street. That’s roughly 104 million women” (Stop Street Harassment, (2018).). Street harassment is a real issue and with the use of media and beneficial propaganda, it can be deteriorated. Such in the case of ISIS Propaganda in the Journal of National Security Law and Policy, Lieberman proposes that the only way to thwart ISIS online would be to physically remove the offending propagandists through the criminal justice, social media platforms; and discrediting ISIS through counter-propaganda. (Lieberman, Ariel (2016).) In order to thwart street harassers, we must take similar steps. Criminal justice, social media, and discrediting the goals of those who support catcalling is key to ending the era of this kind of abuse.
My goal for this project was to make street harassment a widely accepted practice. I know for a fact, that this type of harassment is something that women (and men) go through every single day. It is known as “annoying” or “rude” but the problem is that many do not take steps to prevent it. Personally, I just laugh it off and hope that it doesn’t happen again, but for some, it creates serious mental health issues. “In a 2014 national survey of harassment in the USA, half of the women were harassed by age 17” (Stop Street Harassment, (2018).). As a society, we need to give these young women the empowerment to say “Stop (Cat)Calling Me” and be able to stand up to their abusers. Women’s rights have come a long way in a short period of time, and this is a way to take it to the next level.
For my campaign, I created the hashtag #StopCallingMe to promote the message that catcalling and street harassment is not okay. This shared hashtag will give victims a safe place to share their stories. “Storytelling allows people who have experienced harassment to reclaim some power that’s lost when they’re harassed. Hearing these stories is a powerful unifying tool for others who have been harassed” Take Back the Streets is a campaign, from dosomething.org, whose message is to reclaim power by turning street harassment into empowerment. Their objective is to have victims tag the places where they have experienced harassment with the words and actions used against them. This street art is a message of solidarity to other people who have had similar experiences. As my mini-campaign is a step off of this well-respected movement, my plan was to use my message, #StopCallingMe, as a place for women to share their experiences and take steps towards empowerment.
For my #StopCallingMe mini-campaign, I asked a series of young women to take a look at my infographic. It is educational for learning what is defined as street harassment, what you can do when in a situation of street harassment, what you can do, and what the details of my campaign are. I asked these women to think back to a time when they were catcalled, I asked them to think about how they felt and then simply write down what they were called on a piece of paper. I then asked them to tag #StopCallingMe followed by the words of their street abuser and take a selfie with the sign they created. When they sent the photos to me, I was surprised by the range of terms that they had come up with but also could share the experiences with many of the terms. I created an Instagram page solely for the sharing of these images so that others who have fallen victim to street harassment won’t feel alone. When a reached out to these women, many of them were intrigued by the campaign and thought that it was awesome that I was tackling an issue that is so commonly brushed off. One person said, “I know us ladies have all been a victim of catcalling and harassment on the streets and it seriously needs to stop.” Another person shared her recent story of when she was a victim of street harassment. She stood up for herself and the harasser claimed that she sounded like “one of those women from the march” they later apologized for their actions.
As a learning propagandist, my goal was to create beneficial propaganda. All semester in class we have been learning about all different types of propaganda. Although what I created is beneficial, it still may receive negative feedback because all propaganda is subject to counter propaganda from an opposing party. My first plan was to arouse my audience’s emotion. “Visual material appears to be especially memorable and the salience that this confers may make it particularly forceful. This links to the vivid quality of visual material… ‘Information’ is deemed vivid to the extent that it is: emotionally interesting; imagery provoking; and proximate in a sensory, temporal or spatial way.” (Joffe, Helene (2008). ) My plan for this was to create a visually appealing infographic. I know that the domestic violence resource center uses purple as a color to represent a safe place, so I used purple for my campaign. It needs to be known that although less severe than domestic violence, street harassment is a form of abuse, and can, and has, lead to much more than just name-calling. On the other hand, Joffe also said “the problem with a statistic is that it conveys so little about the
people it represents – what they feel, how they sound and look. It is not surprising, then, that visuals often strike us more emotively than numbers” (Joffe, Helene (2008). ); this is why the Instagram page is so effective. After learning a little bit more about street harassment and facts, the people have a chance to look up #StopCallingMe and be blown away by real people, real faces, and real names that they have been called. The viewers, like myself, have a chance to identify with others who have also been victims. My second goal in making my propaganda beneficial and memorable was to use social media. In Ryan Holiday’s Trust Me I’m Lying, he talks about how stories from blogs filter into real conversations, which then spread from person to person through word of mouth. This is a way to emphasize “the quickness media can spread and how ideas can be shared through social platforms. (Holiday, Ryan (2012).) With a hashtag, it is an easy way to share an idea with millions all around the world. It helps victims who feel alone to have a group of people that identify with their feelings and gives them the ability to share their stories. “Only through the active energy of the intelligent few can the public at large become aware of and act upon new ideas,” (Bernays, E. (1928).)
Bernays, E. (1928). Propaganda. Brooklyn: Ig Publishing.
Cornell, University, (2018). Street Harassment Statistics. Retrieved from https://www.ilr.cornell.edu/news/street-harassment-statistics
Holiday, Ryan (2012). Trust Me, I’m Lying. New York: Pearson.
Joffe, Helene (2008). The Power of Visual Material: Persuasion, Emotion and Identification. Diogenes 217: 84 – 93.
Lieberman, Ariel (2016). Terrorism, the Internet and Propaganda: A Deadly 9 Combination. Journal of National Security Law and Policy
Stop Street Harassment, (2018). Retrieved from http://www.stopstreetharassment.org/
Take Back the Streets. Retrieved from https://www.dosomething.org/us/campaigns/take-back-streets?source=campaigns
The Color Purple, (2016). Retrieved from https://www.domesticshelters.org/domestic-violence-articles-information/the-color-purple#.WudPf5PwbVo