Fed Up Woman Gives Us All An Amazing Tool To Fight Street Harassment

cards-against-harassment

I don’t know that I have ever met a woman who hasn’t been harassed on the street at some point in her life. It happens with such frequency, I think it’s easy to almost forget what a violation it is. As women, we get used to blocking the sounds of men on the street out, turning the other way, or pretending we simply can’t hear them. But what if we didn’t ignore them? What would happen? One woman decided to find out.

A 28-year-old Minneapolis resident who identifies herself only as “Lindsay” has clearly thought a lot about things we can do to combat the pervasiveness of street harassment. She is responsible for the genius viral craigslist ad that surfaced last year in “Missed Connections,” where she calls out her harasser in a brilliant way. She keeps to the Missed Connections format, describing herself, her harasser, and the actions he takes – and ends with this:

If you really find a woman beautiful, don’t choose the juvenile selfish route that makes her feel weird and you look like an asshole. Just take a deep breath, commit the image to memory, and get on with your life. Or, if it’s really that great of an ass that you can’t possibly survive without commenting on it, post about it on CL missed connections after the fact and let her decide what to do about it.

She’s since started a project where she confronts her harassers and secretly films their reactions. It’s as gross as you’d think it would be. These guys are absolutely clueless:

After enduring countless encounters like the one above, Lindsay came up with the idea of Cards Against Harassment. The cards are tools for women to combat street harassment, and are downloadable for free on her site. They say things like,

Your Mom… would be really disappointed to learn she had raised a street harasser. Be a better man. Don’t comment on random people in the street.

I’m sorry. There must have been some confusion. See I thought I was minding my own business but apparently you thought I was asking you to comment on how I looked just by walking by. It’s not a compliment, it’s harassment. Keep it to yourself.

God I’d love to see the reaction of an idiot who gets a weird thrill by shouting at women in the street as he reads this card. Assuming of course, that he can read.

Women have had enough of this crap. The constant barrage of unwanted comments is exhausting. As with any public encounter, don’t use these cards if you feel like you are in an unsafe situation. If you are not particularly confrontational, don’t worry about it. It’s great that these cards exist anyway. We can get a collective kick out of knowing, some idiot, somewhere – is reading one right now.

(photo: cardsgainstharassment)

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    • Ursi

      I’d probably be too scared to hand a card like that out but this is my biggest fear about going places by myself. I’ve had guys say to me in complete ignorance, “Must be nice to get so much attention” when I describe this problem. There’s nothing nice about it. I’m not even good looking, if I were conventionally attractive I don’t know if I’d go anywhere without a group of people. Nobody deserves this kind of harassment.

      • Spongeworthy

        Ugh I HATE when guys say “I’d love to get hit on! Must be nice to get attention!” They don’t get that it’s constant.
        Also, I think in their minds, they picture some super hot chick doing it to them. The last time a guy (friend of a friend) said this, I told him to imagine the woman was 6 inches taller than him and outweighed him by 50 lbs. He didn’t seem to get that not only is this annoying, it can be scary, because often these guys are just physically bigger. Being screamed at in the street is the furthest thing from a compliment.

      • Kitsune

        The physical intimidation is what I hate the most. I’m normally not a shy person but I’m petite so I get nervous about what would happen if I told the guy off. I hate feeling helpless and it is the furthest thing from sexy.

      • Spongeworthy

        Me too. And when it’s a few guys all together in a group, it’s even worse. I don’t get bothered as much now that I’m older and have excellent resting bitch face, but I still try to just keep my head down and powerwalk.

      • Ms.Anne’sNotoriousLadygarden

        Being a bit older does have its advantages! I really appreciate my resting bitch face now, but when I was younger it was a constant invitation to “smile! why do you look so mad?”

      • Kelly

        I’ve yelled at people for coming near me when I’m alone. I remember one guy approached me at dusk in a poorly lit parking lot while I was alone loading groceries. I screamed at him when he was about 10 feet away to “STOP!” He looked all shocked and said he just wanted to talk to me, then I told him, “You are twice my size, I am alone, I do not know you, it’s dark, there aren’t people around to help me, why would approach me right now? How is that supposed to make me feel anything other than fear?”

        To his credit, he got it. At least it looked like he did and he apologized profusely as he walked away.

      • Spitting_mad

        The guys who say that tend to be the same kinds of guys who hate gay men because they think every gay dude is attracted to them (ha!). For once, this works in my advantage. Observe:
        “Why don’t you want that guy staring at you? Oh, because you don’t want to be his sexual object? You mean you don’t like it when a guy who may or may not be able to overpower you lets you know that he wants to sexually pleasure himself to / with you and your desires and consent don’t matter? You just wanted to (insert activity) without being bothered? Gee, I WONDER WHAT THAT’S LIKE.”

      • NatS

        I love that episode of how I met your mother, when they all go to a gay bar and the usually roles are reversed and the guys realize how annoying it gets to be constantly pestered.

    • Boozy Shark Lee

      I almost think if you hand this to the wrong guy it could backfire really badly.

      • https://twitter.com/perfctlyflawd1 JenH1986

        Some asshole isn’t going to be nice about it.

      • Andrea

        I;d be terrified of doing it.

      • Andrea

        I;d be terrified of doing it.

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      • NotTakenNotAvailable

        I’d do it, but that’s only because I weigh 160 (mostly muscle) and look like a crazy mofo if you piss me off enough. I’m also hot-tempered enough that I could and almost certainly would physically take a guy down if things got nasty without giving much thought to the consequences, and I think the reason this hasn’t happened yet is because the aforementioned crazy mofo look probably says it all. Wouldn’t recommend it to anyone who isn’t nuts, however.

    • Andrea

      Who remembers that episode of Sex In The City where Miranda was going through a dry spell and feeling…um…hot under the collar when some construction guy cat called her? If I remember correctly, she turned right around and told the guy that she needed TO GET LAID and dude got all embarrassed. I treasured that scene because I have always dreamed of doing that.
      I grew up in a 3rd world country where getting harassed in the street is practically a national sport. It was awful; but I haven’t experienced it here. I live in the burbs and so rarely venture downtown though, so that’s probably why. Or that I am almost 40 and it shows LOL

    • K.

      I love how the guy’s like, “a woman clearly has low self-esteem if she’s not flattered by my comments” and “my comments are not unsolicited! why ever else would you be dolled up except to receive my approval?”

      Oh the fucktardedness.

    • K2

      I get very nervous when men approach me because I’ve had too many bad experiences. So a guy might just want to ask for directions, but I’m freaked already. I’ve had men ask me for my number, email address, I’ve had one invite me home for a ‘good time, with wine’, and I’ve had another stop me and a friend and kiss our hands before we could react. Keep in mind I look younger than I am – about 15 or 16, and these guys were all over 30, one possibly over 40.
      Every single time I ended up feeling so dirty and ashamed, and I’m not even sure why I would feel so guilty.

    • Coffee&Cats

      At university there were two assholes sitting on a bench outside and holding up signs rating women (like on a scale of 1-10) as they walked by. They rated me and seemed genuinely confused about why I was irate over being rated with signs. The worst part was that when I told other people about the incident the told me that “I needed to loosen up” and “take it as a compliment”. This was said to me by other women. I’m sorry, but NO! I’m not going to accept being rated like an object. Men would never have that happen to them and it disgusts me that women are just supposed to take it and be happy about it.

    • jen27

      I would honestly be scared to hand these out. I once did confront a street harasser and he followed me for several blocks and all the way into the subway screaming profanities in retaliation. I actually had to leave the platform and find a police officer in the station because he would not stop following me. The fact is that men who feel entitled enough to comment on your looks on the street are not necessarily the ones who are going to back down when you say something.

    • JJ

      Can I just say that I think I love the people on here. This has been posted on different websites I view and while a lot of the feedback was similar to the ones you guys or ladies posted there was a lot of bull shit responses to. There was a lot of “she thinks its gross now wait till she’s older and no compliments her then she’ll miss” or a vast array of men coming on to mansplain for us how cat calls are supposed to be sooo sexy and a compliment. Even some women coming in to mansplain for us why us ladies, like them, should be so flattered by guys yelling at us in the streets like were dogs. Fine if it makes you feel sexy random internet facebook girl but most women don’t feel flattered we feel threatened, harassed and stalked by cat calls. We just want to get to our destination in peace, thanks. Like OMG its not men’s fault women are such stuck up feminists now a days who want to be treated with respect how dare women!? Don’t they know the men are just trying to compliment them these ladies just don’t know how to take a compliment. Or my favorite “Whats so wrong with telling a lady she’s pretty or has a nice smile?”. Yeah because the vast majority of cat calls aren’t saying ‘hey you look nice today lady’. No they are gross things like “I want you to suck my dick” “I’d tap that ass” “damn check her out wow girl I would bang you” “Hey are you single baby want to come home with me”. That is so far off from ‘you have a pretty smile’ its not even funny. There is nothing complimentary about telling me you want to fondle my tits or sleep with me. It’s gross.

      • Spitting_mad

        One time I had a catcall I did like. I was coming out of work and two college-aged guys start rolling down their window. I’m already thinking “Oh for shit sake” when the passenger yells “Hey! Miss! You look very pretty!” and gave me a wave before speeding off.

      • Kelly

        Exactly, there’s a huge difference between catcalls and compliments. It’s sad that so many men don’t understand that. Their parents are failing when it comes to raising them, that’s the only way to explain it.

        A compliment should never make the person it was aimed at feel uncomfortable. If it does, the person giving it failed miserably at being nice. They would apologize if they were a decent human being, not come up with lame insulting excuses about how there’s something wrong with you for not being flattered. That destroys the entire purpose of a compliment.

    • Jessifer

      Oh boy, the things I dealt with when I was living in Cuba and Mexico. Mexico was tolerable and most of the comments were fairly respectable (the weirdest one, though, was being approached on a daily basis with comments about how they liked the colour of my skin). Cuba, however, was the freakin’ worst when it came to that. Imagine these Pitbull-esque type guys standing on street corners HISSING at you as you are passing by, yelling “Where ju from? Was jer name? Ju like Cubans, mami?” And those were considered the “polite” comments. The most memorable ones included references to cunnilingus and anal sex, not to mention the amount of times a guy exposed himself to me in public (but that is an entirely different topic). The funny part is that this was always said with the full expectation that I had no clue what was going on. But when I’d turn around and confront them in fluent Spanish and start calling them a bunch of unsavory names, they always looked like a bunch of scared, guilty dogs who just peed the carpet. They were total cowards that had nothing to say for themselves. And I know it’s kind of funny now the way I’m telling it, but it was absolutely exhausting having to deal with it day in, day out, not being able to go around the corner to buy a soda without some asshole making a comment about my personal appearance or try to engage in some sort of conversation with me. I spoke with various Cuban women about it and asked if it bothered them but they kind of just shrugged that it wasn’t a big deal, they are used to it and certain comments are indeed flattering. And as much as I’ve adapted to the culture (my spouse is Cuban, BTW), that is one aspect that I was NEVER able to deal with. I mean, holy shit, I just want to walk down the street and not have some creep approach me with his asinine remarks! Is that so hard to ask? /end rant

      • Shea

        Morocco was the worst place I’ve ever been for street harassment. You can’t walk 10 steps without some dude yelling at you, following you or trying to grab you. I’m sure part of it was that I was clearly not a local, despite being appropriately dressed for the local culture, but I saw plenty of Moroccan women being hollered at as well. The only relief was that half the time, I couldn’t understand what they were saying (I speak French, but not Arabic).

    • Jessi

      I remember one time, I was walking down a busy street downtown, and I saw a guy on a bicycle riding down the road, coming in my direction. As soon he got close enough, he looked me right in the eyes (didn’t slow down), gave me a slight nod but didn’t smile, and said in the most professional sounding, matter-of-fact tone, “thank you for keeping America beautiful,” and he just rode on by. I laughed my ass off.

      That is the one and ONLY time I have ever been even slightly amused by these kinds of comments. Usually they’re crude and obscene and invasive and make me scared and want to wash all the “ick” off.

    • Rowan

      That dick in the video is wearing a wedding ring. I wonder if his wife has seen this.