“If Street Harassment Didn’t Exist…”: Our Collective Vision and Reflections

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“If street harassment didn’t exist…I would donate all my baggy clothes and dress up how I want!” -Meghna Bhat

During the 10th International Anti-Street Harassment Week organized by Stop Street Harassment last week, I published my blog highlighting the critical role of community care and accountability to tackle street harassment during COVID-19. As someone who has been in this anti-gender violence movement for a while, I was excited to continue this conversation and critical dialogue with my colleagues.

California Coalition Against Sexual Assault is committed to preventing and ending all forms of gender violence, social injustice, inequities, and oppression that intersect race, gender, sexual orientation, economic status and so on.

So, during our staff meeting earlier this week”, I initiated our check in discussion with the question “If Street Harassment Didn’t Exist….”

I have been deeply moved and inspired by my colleagues’ powerful and hard-hitting responses shared below. Their vision of how our world will look like without street harassment reflected a sense of courage, vulnerability and resilience. Street harassment plays a huge unpleasant role in our lives and sadly, is .
Images and words have a powerful impact on us as audiences in terms of influencing our perceptions, attitudes, knowledge of, and reactions to social issues. Hence, our team creatively shared their vision using selfies, photos or videos.

Marsela Rojas-Salas

As our staff member, Marsela Rojas- Salas beautifully articulated,

“If street harassment didn’t exist, then people of color, women of color, and trans and non-binary people of color could exist in peace. We could all walk, run, skate, roll, and move through the streets freely and unapologetically.”

“If street harassment didn’t exist… women would feel comfortable walking around, without having to modify our behaviors.” -Sandra Henriquez

“If Street Harassment didn’t exist… I wouldn’t hesitate to be myself– Smiley, friendly, and genuinely interested in people! :)” -Ashleigh Klein-Jimenez

Celeste Espinoza

“If Street Harassment didn’t exist… I would not think twice about what I wear, how I sit, or the expression on my face.” – Celeste Espinoza

“If street harassment didn’t exist… I wouldn’t hesitate to wear shorts to the grocery store.” -Sarah Orton

“In a world without street harassment, I can walk my dog in peace without being catcalled or followed home, and fear of violence.” -Tori VandeLinde

“If Street Harassment didn’t exist: I’m not reminded of challenges, anger and discomfort I had in high school. I’ll not worry about my children being subjected to it when out.” -Villena Koumis

“If street harassment didn’t exist… My Bra would be donated to a MUSEUM!” -Julie Sena

“If street harassment didn’t exist… I would not worry about the safety of those people I love.” – David Lee

“I would be able to enjoy the freedom to wear shorts, listen to music, and enjoy a nice run at my local trail without worry or fear.” -Claudia Sibaja

I would like to take this opportunity to urge our rape crisis centers, partner organizations, and our beloved community to reflect on this question and assess your vision. In fact, we would expand this question “if street harassment didn’t exist…” to “What would our world look like free of harassment, oppression and violence?”

Please respond to this by sharing your responses on your social media and tag us @CALCASA and use hashtags #AWorldWithoutSexualViolence  #AWorldWithoutSexualHarasssment #IFStreetHarassmentDidntExist. We would love to hear from all of you!

Until then, take care of yourselves!

Meghna Bhat

As an outspoken advocate against gender violence and social injustice, Meghna has 17 years of extensive work experience in interdisciplinary gender based research, prevention education, community outreach and partnerships in diverse settings. Meghna has earned her PhD in Criminology, Law, and Justice (Gender and Women’s Studies) from the University of Illinois at Chicago. Drawn from her own traumatizing experiences with gender violence and being trained in digital storytelling, she is passionate about using storytelling and film for prevention and healing. As an immersive storyteller, a proud first-generation South Asian immigrant, and prevention educator, Meghna is excited to be re(joining) CALCASA in contributing her expertise and education to advancing statewide prevention efforts in California. She enjoys brisk walks, cooking, nurturing her plants, and acrylic painting.

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