Brooklyn-based painter and illustrator Tatyana Fazlalizadeh started street art project Stop Telling Women to Smile (STWTS) in 2012 to address gender-based street harassment. The project consists of a series of posters featuring hand-drawn portraits of women with messages or quotations from the women’s experiences of street harassment. Captions include messages such as “Stop telling women to smile,” “My outfit is not an invitation, “Women are not outside for your entertainment,” “I am not your geisha, china doll, Asian fetish,” “Do not touch my hair,” “You can keep your thoughts on my body to yourself,” and “Harassing women does not prove your masculinity.” These posters are put up in the neighborhoods and areas where the featured women frequently walk through, as well as in other prominent places throughout the city. STWTS has traveled to several cities in the U.S. and internationally.
This clip is a TEDx talk by Lyn Mikel Brown, a Professor of Education at Colby College and founder of the non-profit groups Hardy Girls, Healthy Women and the SPARK movement. Mikel Brown argues that the concept of girl power – which originated in the Riot Grrrl feminist punk rock movement of the early 90s – has been co-opted by corporate media. She argues that media has appropriated feminism with politically weak versions of female empowerment, such as the Spice Girls, Sex and the City, and Bratz. Mikel Brown asks the question: “How do we empower girls when empowerment has been so co-opted by the media?” She goes onto discuss the work of Hardy Girls Healthy Women in their effort to inspire girl-led feminist media activism.
This video shows scenes from a public social experiment conducted by blogger Joey Salads that shows how women are shamed for breastfeeding in public, yet are accepted if they are revealing just as much of their breasts when dressed “sexy” and wearing tops that show cleavage. In the video, Salads shows passersby’s reactions to a woman discretely breastfeeding her baby, and compares them with reactions to a woman dressed in sexually revealing clothing. The video shows no one approaching the sexily dressed model sitting on a mall bench for an hour, except for one man who hits on her. When the breastfeeding mother sat on the same bench by herself, men and women walking by chastised her directly, saying things like, “that’s disgusting” or “you shouldn’t do that in public.” When the two women sat side-by-side outside on another bench, a man approached saying he didn’t appreciate how “gross” it was that “her tits are out.” When asked about the woman next to her who is actually showing more of her breasts, he said, “that’s different…that’s just how her shirt is.” Another man comes up and says that the breastfeeding mother is disgusting, whereas the sexily dressed woman is “hot.”
This video, produced by "Feminist Frequency," explains the concept of the “Bechdel Test.” The Bechdel test, created by Alison Bechdel, is a way to evaluate films with respect to their treatment of women. A film must meet the following criteria to pass the Bechdel test: (1) it has to have at least two women in it, who (2) who talk to each other, about (3) something besides a man. The video from Feminist Frequency describes how countless blockbusters films, as well as some of the industry's most noted products, do not pass this simple test. It speaks to the dominance of male writers and producers in the entertainment industry.
This 2014 clip from The Daily Show with Jon Stewart features correspondent Jessica Williams exploring and parodying media and public discourse about whether or not sexism, sexual inequality, and street harassment are still alive. Williams satirically explores different ways to walk down the street and past construction sites on the way to work, interviews a group of women who have all experienced street harassment in NYC, and tries to map out areas where it is safe to avoid street harassment in New York. The clip also includes segments from various news and talk shows with men and women either dismissing sexual inequality or street harassment as a problem, suggesting that there is nothing to be done because boys will be boys, or blaming women for their clothing choices, as well as Williams’ responses to these claims.