Most people have to walk down the street in order to live their lives. It’s pretty standard. But, for the majority of women in America, that simple act is more than a transportation choice. It’s also a risk to end up on the receiving end of street harassment. In a survey taken by Stop Street Harassment, 65% of female participants reported having experienced street harassment, 23% reported being sexually touched, 20% reported being followed, and 9% reported being forced to do something sexual. This pervasive issue is one that men can have a difficult time empathizing with because it generally isn’t something that they experience.
Artist Terra Lopez’ new exhibit “Rituals of Mine” is aiming to change that. The art piece invites the participant to step into a dark room and wear a set of headphones through which they hear a layered set of recorded and real catcalls. The goal is to impact societal views of women and to help create and sustain a discourse about the ways that our culture can be better to and for women. The auditory exhibit is intended to be an educational tool to help men become more aware of what it feels like to be on the receiving end of street harassment without pointing the finger at them.
“I would hope that men hear this and know that we’re not attacking you,” Lopez comments. “We’re just trying to let you know this is what it feels like.”
This is an issue that demands increased awareness, especially given the potential danger of street harassment. Gender-based violence remains the #1 cause of injury to American women, and that includes incidents where catcalling intensifies. To learn more about street harassment and “Rituals of Mine,” check out the video.