Categories
Loading
Welcome to Babble,
Settings
Sign Out

Get the Babble Newsletter!

Already have an account? .

‘Stop Telling Women to Smile’ Project Addresses Street Harassment (Photos)

I get complimented a lot on my smile. Sometimes by people I know, but even more frequently by men I don’t know who tell me as I walk past them on the street, “Love that smile, baby.” I tend not to get creeped out by it, and generally just nod and keep walking, but I do know what those compliments mean. They mean that I have pleased a man who feels that I exist for his pleasure because I am a sexual object.

I’ve lived in neighborhoods where street harassment and catcalls are virtually non-existent, and I’ve lived in neighborhoods where they are an all-day-every-day part of a woman’s life. I generally don’t mind them and have typically not felt threatened by them, but I have also grown in my appreciation of their implications about my bodily autonomy. I know plenty of women who can’t stand to be spoken to by strangers on the street and who have quite often felt threatened by their harassers. Each encounter with a stranger on the street is different and reactions differ among women, but it’s important to remember that while some simple requests for a smile aren’t much more than petty objectification, other street encounters are life-threatening. Countless female comedians have done as many jokes about specific incidents of street harassment (myself included), and I especially love this video starring Sasheer Zamata about a late-night run-in she had with a man who asked her if she needed a walk home.

Comedians aren’t the only artists taking on street harassment. The ‘Stop Telling Women to Smile’ project is an art series by Tatyana Fazlalizadeh. “The work attempts to address gender based street harassment by placing drawn portraits of women, composed with captions that speak directly to offenders, outside in public spaces,” according to the project’s website. Fazlalizadeh has allowed me to share some of her work with you here. Her portraits are powerful, and so are the whiteboard reaction photos she has taken at project-related events in New York and Chicago. Take a look:

  • Stop … 1 of 10
    smile1

    telling women to smile.

  • Women … 2 of 10
    smile2

    are not outside for your entertainment.

  • My name … 3 of 10
    smile3

    is not Baby, Shorty, Sexy, Sweetie, Honey, Pretty, Boo, Sweetheart, Ma.

  • Women are not … 4 of 10
    smile4

    ...seeking your validation.

  • Women do not … 5 of 10
    smile5

    owe you their time or conversation.

  • My outfit … 6 of 10
    smile6

    is not an invitation.

  • Stop telling women to smile. 7 of 10
    smile7

    Start giving them reasons to.

    Photo by Tatyana Fazlalizadeh. 

  • No doesn’t mean … 8 of 10
    smile8

    try harder.

    Photo by Tatyana Fazlalizadeh. 

  • I am not … 9 of 10
    smile9

    a princess.

    Photo by Tatyana Fazlalizadeh. 

  • My tattoos … 10 of 10
    smile10

    are not yours to touch.

    Photo by Tatyana Fazlalizadeh. 

For more on this project and to donate to the project’s Kickstarter campaign, visit http://stoptellingwomentosmile.com/.

***

Follow Carolyn Castiglia on TwitterFacebook and Pinterest.

FacebookTwitterGoogle+TumblrPinterest
Tagged as: ,

Use a Facebook account to add a comment, subject to Facebook's Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your Facebook name, profile photo and other personal information you make public on Facebook (e.g., school, work, current city, age) will appear with your comment. Learn More.

FacebookTwitterGoogle+TumblrPinterest