Friday, September 23, 2011


Yesterday, the college news hosted a wonderful panel and discussion on street harassment with Hollaback Philly. Two women were speaking, one of them made this film:
I thought it was kind of apt because my summer was kind of the summer of street harassment. Every weekday this summer, I traveled from Bryn Mawr to Camden, NJ via Philadelphia. A broad can't spend that kind of time in the public sphere without getting harassed (male anxiety about women leaving the domestic sphere, perhaps?) and Camden and Philly are areas where sexual harassment is just a part of every woman's daily experience. Every time I told someone from the area that I walked by myself from the train station to a clinic for the homeless, or to a soup kitchen, or to a day shelter, they would get extremely nervous on my behalf and suggest that I find some other way to do things. This was really my only choice, though. I didn't have a car and I didn't have a body guard. I considered taking up a different project at my internship, but I felt strongly compelled to stay the course with the project I was working on. I got harassed every day: in the train, in the train station in Philadelphia, on the street in Camden, Philly, and the village of Bryn Mawr. What kept me going was holding this scripture in my heart:
"As they came forth to lay their hands upon me I spake unto them, saying: In the name of the Almighty God, I command you that ye touch me not, for I am filled with the power of God, even unto the consuming of my flesh; and whoso shall lay his hands upon me shall wither even as a dried reed; and he shall be as naught before the power of God, for God shall smite him." 1 Nephi 17:48
Of course, I never said that to anyone, and I didn't literally believe that anyone who touched me would "wither even as a dried reed", but I kept is as my street harassment mantra because it reminded me that I had a right to be outside to the same degree as anyone else. It reminded me that I had power-- indeed, that I was "filled with the power of God, even unto the consuming of my flesh"-- and no catcall could take that from me.