More Than 80% of Women Are Harassed, Just for Walking on the Street

As some of you may recall, two years ago I wrote a post on Feministing Community asking people to take an informal survey about gender-based street harassment for a book I wanted to write. More than 900 people took the survey and last year I signed a book contract. This week my book is out and available for purchase, Stop Street Harassment: Making Public Places Safe and Welcoming for Women (Praeger Publisher). Thank you Feministing readers who took the survey and contributed their voices and stories to help raise awareness about this pervasive problem that impacts at least 80 percent of women worldwide.

Why I Wrote the Book:

Almost four years ago when I had to select a master’s thesis topic at George Washington University, I thought about all of the times men I don’t know have harassed me in public. Men have even chased and groped me, causing me great fear and disgust. I chose to write my thesis about street harassment and the ways women deal with it in lieu of legal remedies.

My thesis struck a chord and was featured on CNN. Soon after that in 2008, I founded the Stop Street Harassment website and blog; women around the world share their stories on the latter. In the last two years, my work has been featured in articles by the United Nations, CNN, Guardian, Globe and Mail,, AOL, Ms magazine, Feminsting, and Jezebel. Recently I have written about street harassment for, Huffington Post, Oregonian, and AOL.

Because there are almost no books about street harassment, but it’s clearly an issue that most women face, my parents encouraged me and then I finally decided to write a book about it. In the book, in addition to discussing facets of the problem, the last four chapters focus on what we can do about it. In them I feature the work of many activists, like HollaBack NYC, DC, & Toronto, Rogers Park Young Women’s Action Team, Men Can Stop Rape, Blank Noise, and the Egyptian Centre for Women’s Rights.

As we all know, this is an issue that impacts women worldwide, especially young women, but few people talk about it. I encourage you all to speak out on this issue and help make street harassment socially unacceptable behavior. You can find strategies and suggestions for this on my site and info specifically for men on my blog.

Thank You:

I also want to give a special thank you to Feministing editor and amazing author Courtney Martin. I wrote to her two years ago asking for suggestions on writing a nonfiction book proposal and she generously helped me (a stranger to her) and I am sure that helped me secure a contract. She also read and reviewed my book this spring and a quote from her is found on the back cover. I am so appreciative of this support – we all gotta have each other’s backs as we work to make the world a better place. Courtney walks the talk!

Holly Kearl is the founder of Stop Street Harassment and International Anti-Street Harassment Week. She is an author and works for UN Women, Aspen Institute and The OpEd Project.

Holly Kearl is the founder of Stop Street Harassment and International Anti-Street Harassment Week.

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