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Stop Street Harassment: Making Public Places Safe and Welcoming for Women Hardcover – August 3, 2010

ISBN-13: 978-0313384967 ISBN-10: 0313384967 Edition: 1st
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Editorial Reviews


• Allows women to tell their own stories about the harmful effects of street harassment, including the myriad and complex ways it impedes gender equity

• Empowers women by helping them understand they are not at fault and equips them with ways to cope and challenge the behavior

• Helps men understand why such behavior is offensive, frightening, and potentially criminal

• Provides concrete tactics, illustrated by real success stories, for how women can deal with harassers and how anyone who sees harassment occurring can intervene

• Compelling anecdotes pulled from hundreds of women's stories that detail what harassment they have experienced, how it makes them feel, and how it impacts their lives

• Groundbreaking information from surveys conducted around the world detailing the number of women who experience street harassment, how often, and in what forms

• Suggestions for numerous, concrete actions women and men can take to stop street harassment and information on over 20 anti-street-harassment initiatives now underway

• Interviews with community activists to inspire readers to take action

• A companion website,, features the results of two surveys conducted by the author and a presentation of myths vs. facts about street harassment

Book Description

The evidence is unmistakable, the numbers alarming. Over 80 percent of women experience gender-based harassment from unknown men in public, including whistling, sexually-explicit comments, groping, stalking, and assault. One study of 800 women reported that 75 percent had been followed and 57 percent sexually touched. How can it be that so few people recognize this as a problem?


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 236 pages
  • Publisher: Praeger; 1 edition (August 3, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0313384967
  • ISBN-13: 978-0313384967
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 6.5 x 9.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,307,508 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Holly Kearl is a writer, speaker, and nonprofit professional based in the Washington, D.C. area.

She is the author of two books about gender-based street harassment and the co-author of a national report about sexual harassment in grades 7-12, Crossing the Line: Sexual Harassment at School (AAUW, 2011).

She is the founder of the nonprofit Stop Street Harassment and she does part-time, paid consulting work for organizations like the United Nations and the American Association of University Women.

Her work has been cited by the United Nations, New York City Council, BBC News, New York Times, CNN, Washington Post, NPR,,, and, among others.

She has written articles for the Guardian,, Huffington Post, Christian Science Monitor, and the Ms. magazine blog.

She has given more than 75 presentations about street harassment, sexual harassment, and sexual assault across the country and in India and Egypt.

Kearl received a master's degree in public policy and women's studies from George Washington University and she received a BA from Santa Clara University.

Learn more at and you can follow her on Twitter, @hkearl.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Kearl's scholarly book is written with articulate ease. She has the gift of writing about weighty subjects in a straightforward and engaging manner, that will hook the professional, the student, and the young teenager who is either the potential victim of or potential perpetrator of street harassment. My 21 year old nephew picked up the book to read and within a minute was totally engaged, oblivious to the chaos around him in my house full of guests, he just read and read.

Kearl gives a voice to those of us who have come to accept cat calls, groping and unwanted male advances as just a part of life we have to put up with. This book will empower victims of street harassment by giving them practical, safe suggestions and solutions. It will also help those of us who have been frightened on the streets, the subway, in parks, or at the mall, feel less alone. Kearl has given a voice for all of us, with the countless stories she has gathered from women around the world. As a young adult fiction author who works with teenagers across the country, I can highly recommend this book for any teenager in your life, as well as women and men of every age. a great empowering read!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Elevate Difference on April 7, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Street harassment is rampant in all parts of the world--from New York City to Tokyo to Cairo--yet it is still accepted globally. This largely ignored problem is thoroughly discussed and analyzed in Holly Kearl's book entitled, Stop Street Harassment: Making Public Places Safe and Welcoming for Women. Defined by Kearl in the first chapter as "unwanted attention" in public places, street harassment includes and is not limited to "physically harmless leers, whistles, honks, kissing noises, and nonsexually explicit evaluative comments," but also extends to "more insulting and threatening behavior like vulgar gestures, sexually charged comments, flashing, and stalking, to illegal actions like public masturbation, sexual touching, assault, and rape." Many (if not most) women experience it; very few men know about it.

The second chapter explains the context in which street harassment occurs. If a young girl, perhaps wearing a short skirt, walks alone on a street at night and is sexually assaulted, she would most likely be blamed for the assault, right? Wrong, Kearl tells us; her clothing and time she chose to walk outside is not her fault that she was sexually assaulted. As someone who lived in a small town in Morocco for half a year, I can attest that I wore conservative clothes yet still experienced men whistling and throwing rocks at me in the light of the day. Therefore, Kearl explains, street harassment is a power dynamic that shows which gender wields more power and control in a given society.

Yet street harassment is not just a gendered issue; it is multi-layered with race, socioeconomic status, gender expression, and disability, as Kearl writes in the third chapter. It is "a global problem," as the title of the fourth chapter states.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Valerie Aurora on March 14, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Like most Americans, I drove almost everywhere for most of my life, and had no idea street harassment existed at all. Then I sold my car and moved to San Francisco. No matter what I wore, what time of day it was, or where I was walking, if I was in a public space some man would harass me. I would stay in my apartment for days rather than go grocery shopping and risk being harassed.

This book helped me put my miserable personal experiences into perspective. Now I understand that when that guy on the bus is muttering obscenities about my ass, it's not my fault and it has nothing to do with me or what I'm wearing. He's part of a greater cultural movement to keep women out of the public sphere by humiliating and abusing us - a movement that will work unless we take action to stop it.

This book explains carefully and in detail how street harassment is important and relevant using extensive studies. Some of the studies confirmed and explained some common fears; for example, interviews with rapists show that they use street harassment as "rape-testing" to see if a woman is likely to fight back. It lays the theoretical groundwork for campaigns to fight street harassment, like Hollaback.

The tone of the book is in many places academic and intellectual, but it becomes practical and everyday in the sections that deserve it. It includes a lot of first person interviews and experience, which kept it interesting for me. This isn't a fun pop-science read, but it's about as readable as an intellectually rigorous, study-based book gets.

This book is a must for any street harassment activist, and a great help to anyone who has to go through street harassment on a daily basis.
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