This video demonstrates exactly why street harassment needs to stop
All women know how this story goes. A man whistles or calls out to you while you’re walking on the street. It’s skeezy and feels gross and threatening. We’d like to fight back. Sometimes we do, but most often we don’t, because street harassment is genuinely terrifying — and sometimes the consequences of fighting back are too dangerous to risk.
Yet there are still always people who tell us it’s not a big deal, that boys will be boys and we should be flattered. This video illustrates exactly why street harassment is an aggressive and violent act and needs to be stopped.
In the video, French student Marie Laguerre confronted a man who whistled at her. In view of a cafe’s CCTV camera, he turned back when she yelled at him and punched her, nearly knocking her to the ground.
As he assaulted her, he said, “I can’t keep quiet and we mustn’t stay silent.” So yeah, that pretty much encapsulates the attitudes of men who harass women on the street. They feel entitled to it. Women who complain need to learn how to take a compliment, and if not, well, they can just be put in their place with a hard punch.
Laguerre shared the footage on YouTube writing, “He wasn’t the first one and I can’t accept being humiliated like that, so I replied ‘shut up.’ He then threw an ashtray at me, before rushing back to punch me, in the middle of the street, in front of dozens of people. This is an unacceptable behaviour. It happens everyday, everywhere and I don’t know a single woman who doesn’t have a similar story. I am sick of feeling unsafe waking in the street. Things need to change, and they need to change now.”
The video perfectly demonstrates how street harassment is rooted in violence. It’s a way for men to exert control over women. And most of the time, it works. This isn’t the only time street harassment escalated to outright violence. It’s just going viral because it got caught on tape.
French lawmaker Marlène Schiappa, France’s gender equality minister, said, “The stakes are serious: they are about the freedom of women to move move about freely in public.” She’s already proposed a bill meant to curb catcalling and other public harassment by imposing on-the-spot fines. That’s a great step forward for women, but this kind of harassment happens all over the world. Every country needs to step up with measures to protect women. Your move, America.