Documenting Women’s Stories of street harassment-in pictures July 22, 2017
Photojournalist Eliza Hatch’s photo series Cheer Up Luv aims to raise awareness about women’s experiences of sexual harassment in cities such as her native London. Hatch found her female friends had all experienced harassment regularly, while her male friends were shocked by how frequently it occurred. Her photographs often feature women in environments in which they have been harassed, alongside their accounts. “I really wanted to capture the woman in her surroundings,” says Hatch. “Instead of it being somewhere where she felt vulnerable, I wanted to make it a stage for her to speak out from. And I wanted you to actually look into her eyes as you’re hearing her story.”
Before coming to the United States, I had never experienced catcalls. When I first came to this country in August, I did not know this form of harassment existed until I went grocery shopping with my Chinese friends at an Asian market. We were crossing the street, waiting for the lights to turn. All of a sudden, a guy rolled down his window and began to shout at us. More guys did the same thing afterward in just five minutes. In that moment, all I wanted to do was get on the next plane home away from the insults. Feeling frightened by the rudeness, I was depressed and shameful because I regarded the gestures as unwelcoming messages to Asians. I have seen repeatedly in the news that discrimination toward Asians can happen in restaurants, schools and stations. I thought these men’s yells were part of that discrimination.
The same thing happened multiple times to my friends and I when we were walking on an empty street and on campus at night. I shared this story with my female American friends, hoping they would help me figure out the reason and come up with a solution. They told me this way of harassment is not aimed at Asians, ,but women. They think that it’s normal and when it happens, they endure it.
“Chilling out” over the catcalling situation does not work for me. My parents trained me to be a strong and fierce woman warrior, full of bravery and justice, so I decided shouting back at the catcallers was a way of self-defense.It should not come as a surprise that I chickened out of shouting at the catcallers because I found myself incredibly terrified of the consequences that could come with my response. What if they stopped the car and started to hit or rape me? What if they just grabbed a gun and shot me from a distance?
I remember finishing a day-long project and wanting to buy some groceries to rest my brain, but I soon realized that all the horrifying feelings of being catcalled and shouted at would reoccur. I lost the interest in shopping that day, and my only choice was to go home as soon as possible. When my parents called to check to see how I was, I squeezed a smile and told them everything was fine. Having them worried about me is the last thing I wanted to do.
My parents trusted America’s decency and grace, so they sent their beloved daughter to this great country. Sadly, some parts of this country went wrong.It’s 2017 now. Women shouldn’t have to put up with the rage they feel when they feel harassed. Stop street harassment.