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Stop Street Harassment: Making Public Places Safe and Welcoming for Women Paperback – April 21, 2012

4.8 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Holly Kearl is an activist, writer, and non-profit professional in the Washington, DC-area. Holly is author of the Stop Street Harassment: Making Public Places Safe and Welcoming for Women (Praeger, 2010) and co-author of a national report on sexual harassment in grades 7-12, Crossing the Line: Sexual Harassment at School (AAUW, 2011). She founded Stop Street Harassment and International Anti-Street Harassment Week. Since 2007 she's worked for the gender-equity nonprofit AAUW. Holly regularly speaks and writes/blogs on these topics. Her work has been cited by the United Nations, NYC Council, BBC News, New York Times, CNN, Associated Press, NPR, Washington Post, Guardian, Ms. magazine, Cosmo magazine, ABC News, Feministing, and Jezebel. Holly received a master's in public policy and women's studies from George Washington University and BA degrees in history and women's studies from Santa Clara University.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 264 pages
  • Publisher: Stop Street Harassment: Making Public Places Safe and Welcoming for Women (April 21, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0615634613
  • ISBN-13: 978-0615634616
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 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: #1,742,085 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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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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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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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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