Social media tackled the touchy topic of street harassment with the #NotJustHello hashtag discussion.
Twitter user @UJohnsmeyer couldn’t possibly have known that a simple (if clueless) question would spark up a trending topic about a very real problem that women face every day.
Walking down the street can often be a guantlet of unwanted physical and verbal advances from strangers that feel entited to your attention. In the past, it was simply labeled cat calling and dismissed as something that women simply had to tolerate. Now, women are calling out the inappropriate behavior for what it is: an ill-concieved show of bravado.
Also can we stop pretending street harassment is about dating? It’s never that. Never. If it was you wouldn’t be screaming profanity
— Mikki Kendall (@Karnythia) June 21, 2014
Twitter user @FeministaInt pinpointed that street harassment is about power, adding that the same logic can be applied to rape. Perhaps hoping to speak on behalf of well-intentioned men everywhere, that’s when @UJohnsmeyer decided to jump into the conversation.
— Johnsmeyer (@UJohnsmeyer) June 22, 2014
That was all the Twitterverse needed to address his hypothesis. In response to Johnsmeyer’s argument, Mikki had to explain that not all women are interested in having a chat with every strange man that approaches them regardless of their motivation. User @gfrancie put an even finer point on the matter by enlightening Johnsmeyer to the fact that many men refuse to accept rejection. That’s when #NotJustHello first appeared.
— gfrancie (@gfrancie) June 22, 2014
Women are being grabbed, followed, threatened, and we’re supposed to pretend that’s a compliment? #NotJustHello
— Mikki Kendall (@Karnythia) June 22, 2014
From there, users across Twitter began sharing their terrifying and dehumanizing experiences with street harassment and the overall effect its had on their lives.
At funeral reception. Guy follow me arnd entire time. When leaving waited 4 me outside wouldn’t let me pass until gave number #NotJustHello
— JP Fairfield™ (@isitis) June 22, 2014
a man once tried to talk to me on a train platform and followed me all the way home. didn’t stop talking when I asked him to. #NotJustHello
— Farwa Ali Zaidi (@zaidi_farwa) June 22, 2014
I wear headphones & read books on the train. A guy pulled my headphones off to “discuss” my book with me. #NotJustHello
— Mikki Kendall (@Karnythia) June 22, 2014
You stop dressing up and wear shoes you can run away in. Some days you worry more about your commute than your job. #NotJustHello
— Melissa (@melissapierce) June 22, 2014
My legs are weak, I’m in pain. Takes all my concentration to walk. Random Man: “SMILE!” I ignore him. He’s angry. Follows. #NotJustHello
— ConundrumK (@ConundrumK) June 22, 2014
Even men began chiming in on #NotJustHello!
If someone ran up and pulled off your headphones to talk at you, would that be reasonable? Why is ok for you to do to women? #NotJustHello
— Backhand Deliveryman (@yeloson) June 22, 2014
There’s no pretense on the guy side that it’s about anything but establishing & confirming power, a compliance check. #NotJustHello
— Dan Holzman-Tweed (@HolzmanTweed) June 22, 2014
To get a grasp of what street harassment is, one first needs to understand that the phrase “no means no” does not just apply to sex; it also applies to a person’s time, attention and personal space. The standards of basic respect that should be given to everyone are totally tossed out of the window in any given run-in.
Street harassment begins the second an offender decides that a target’s desire to be left alone is less important than dragging them into an unwanted interaction. It’s the moment when a person, despite their best effort, is not allowed to disengage with someone they don’t want to be bothered with. It is the exact instant when someone, who doesn’t want to talk to you or touch you, is not simply allowed to mind their own business.
It’s not nearly as harmless as trying to strike up a conversation with that cutie you spotted or giving them a compliment.
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