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Stop telling women to smile...

 
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femmefatale85 View Drop Down
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    Posted: Sep 12 2013 at 12:38am

The Huffington Post  |  By Katherine Brooks   |  Posted:

Public Art Project Addresses Gender-Based Street Harassment In A Big Way


Most people who've spent time in a major city are familiar with the uninvited cat call. Whether you have been the target or you've watched the event unfold, many of us have heard one individual or another solicit a passerby -- most often a woman -- to "give them a little smile" or "cheer up, baby."

While some may combat the unsolicited attention with a cold stare, Brooklyn-based artist Tatyana Fazlalizadeh has an alternative way of addressing the problem. In a project titled "Stop Telling Women to Smile," Fazlalizadeh places portraits of women in public spaces, encouraging victims of gender-based street harassment to fight back.


The series began last year when Fazlalizadeh was finishing a mural project in Philadelphia. She'd been contemplating how to address the issue of street harassment for some time, having experienced years of daily occurrences herself. After considering the medium of oil painting -- her primary practice -- she eventually decided to channel her ideas through public art.

Fazlalizadeh recruited friends and colleagues to help make STWTS a reality, drawing her subjects in strong, even confrontational poses that are meant to "humanize" the faces of women in the public space. The portraits are accompanied by lines of text that speak to the harassers and offenders who aren't often called out. "My name is not Baby," one caption reads. "Women are not seeking your validation," quips another.

"I asked [friends] if they'd like to participate in the project, and all of them having street harassment as a consistent issue in their lives agreed and were happy to be a part of it," Fazlalizadeh explained to The Huffington Post. "For most of them, we sat and had a conversation about their experiences and what it is they'd like to say back to harassers. I used those conversations as inspiration for the text underneath their portraits."


Fazlalizadeh first posted her drawings in Philadelphia and Brooklyn, but has since created a Kickstarter campaign to help fund a broader endeavor. She wants to travel to Baltimore, Boston, Atlanta, San Francisco, Miami, Kansas City, Los Angeles and Chicago to meet and draw women living in the rest of the country, using sites like Hollaback and StopStreetHarassment.org to help navigate the various communities.

Thus far she has primarily focused on the experience of women, but she's open to expanding the project to men who have encountered street harassment based on their gender or sexual orientation as well.

"As the work gained attention, I realized how many different types of people can relate to this and have stories to tell. I've had conversations with men at STWTS related events who wanted to talk about their experiences with street harassment," Fazlalizadeh recounted. "I know it happens, and it's important, and it's something I may take on in the future. Right now though, I want to focus on women -- of varying backgrounds -- to really tackle the ways in which our bodies are sexualized and mistreated in the public space."


The STWTS Kickstarter campaign has 26 days to raise the $15,000 Fazlalizadeh seeks. According to the site, a portion of the funds will be allocated to working with a filmmaker to document the project.

As for those individuals who might not believe that gender-based street harassment is a problem, Fazlalizadeh had the following to say:

"There are always those who want to tell women that their experiences are not valid or not important whenever they speak up. For me, as a black woman, this is particularly true. Wanting the basic right of feeling comfortable and safe and not sexualized as I walk out of my house is very much worth prioritizing."

"There's also the point that gender-based street harassment easily lends itself to more conspicuous issues such as rape and domestic violence," she added. "It's a matter of control over women's bodies. And it's a serious issue to address."




Edited by femmefatale85 - Sep 12 2013 at 12:53am
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femmefatale85 View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote femmefatale85 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Sep 12 2013 at 12:40am
ugh i will upload the pics through photobucket -_-
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (5) Thanks(5)   Quote carolina cutie Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Sep 12 2013 at 12:42am
Maybe more of you females should smile more often. You should thank men for giving their unsolicited opinion on how you should look while walking in public. Word to majesty.Thumbs Up

If y'all don't see the sarcasm in my post I swear fo gawd...
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Midna View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (5) Thanks(5)   Quote Midna Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Sep 12 2013 at 12:47am
I remember I saw one of these posters. Somebody graffitied it with the most ignorant comment and other people wrote on it too like a conversation.

Personally, I support these images! Quit telling women what to do for your personal gratification.
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nekamarie83 View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (10) Thanks(10)   Quote nekamarie83 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Sep 12 2013 at 1:00am
CC--   !!<---- contribution

since men can't handle rejection or frowns, maybe i should start carrying gold star stickers and treats to encourage them.  for real though, this kind of thing really demeans us all as a society. what is so hard to comprehend ?

and where are the men of bhm to chime in on this? cause i'm interested in hearing their experiences with male friends or that of any female relatives or significant others to whom this has happened (advances, cat calls, telling women to smile). what are y'all's points of view on this? 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (4) Thanks(4)   Quote newdiva1 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Sep 12 2013 at 1:13am
Exactly Neka.   I want to know too...but then again i'm sure they'll say they don't hang out with those types of ninja's so they ain't had to say nuffin.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote carolina cutie Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Sep 12 2013 at 1:41am
*sips tea and waits for bhm males to chime in*
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (9) Thanks(9)   Quote Random Thoughts Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Sep 12 2013 at 1:43am
Originally posted by nekamarie83 nekamarie83 wrote:

CC--   !!<---- contribution

since men can't handle rejection or frowns, maybe i should start carrying gold star stickers and treats to encourage them.  for real though, this kind of thing really demeans us all as a society. what is so hard to comprehend ?

and where are the men of bhm to chime in on this? cause i'm interested in hearing their experiences with male friends or that of any female relatives or significant others to whom this has happened (advances, cat calls, telling women to smile). what are y'all's points of view on this? 


I don't have much of an opinion other than what some of you have already mentioned, and it's been better stated than anything I'd say. I agree that the focus of these articles and advice columns should be on the men- particularly their objectification and entitlement - instead of any rules a woman should learn in order to avoid harassment.

I think by now, through anecdotal evidence and statistical information that the duty to change behavior should be on the men causing the problems, not the women being harassed. 

A starting point, I think, are campaigns like in the OP that confront men that think they are owed anything, a smile, an explanation, a word from a woman. It has to start early though. I can remember as early as elementary school, a girl that wasn't considered "nice" to a boy would get treated a certain way. Even if the terms "bitch, prude, stuck up" etc weren't being used, the template was being mastered on how to treat girls that don't placate boys.

It's crazy to think that even very young boys have these ego/entitlement issues but I def believe it's there, and if confronted there, can help stop that seed from growing into misogyny, domestic violence, sexual harassment, sexual assault, and hypermascunility.

I wish I could add more regarding personal experiences, and I hate to be that guy that says it isn't me, but I honestly have never personally dealt with this sort of thing. Not unless I'm going way back to grade school. I've asked gals out. Some that smile. Some that frown. Some that I think have been giving me signals. Some that I was completely trying my luck with.  My batting percentage isn't the greatest. I take my L and keep it moving. *shrugs*

(I've broken out of "friend zone" a few times before though...so that L might not always be permanentBig smile)


Edited by Random Thoughts - Sep 12 2013 at 1:46am
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afrokock View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (4) Thanks(4)   Quote afrokock Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Sep 12 2013 at 3:34am
This is one thing that I can say black music videos propagate, that you can step to a woman in the street and she'll hop your car or give you time of day.

The vicious cycle of life imitating art imitating life



Edited by afrokock - Sep 12 2013 at 1:36pm
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khivey View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote khivey Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Sep 12 2013 at 6:05am
I can't lie..sometimes I be deep in thought and when someone tells me to smile, it makes me realize I'm not smiling and I love to smile..so I smile. Even if it is just on the inside because those inside smiles make a big difference that a physical smile I your face can't. So, I don't mind when they tell me to smile. If they ask if they can have a smile, that is a different story lol 


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