Street harassment is a serious problem for women everywhere these days. Countless women every day all over the planet have to live in fear of being bothered when they’re simply walking down the street minding their own business. Christen Brandt understands the fear of street harassment all too well.
The New York resident was entering bustling 34th Street station in Manhattan on a typical weekday morning just like any other. She was about to take the subway. Her peace, however, ended abruptly when a strange man came made an unsolicited remark to her. The stranger said “Damn, you have some great legs” to Brandt.
Brandt was sporting boots and a cozy parka for the cold weather. She paid no mind to what he said and instead left him quickly. This didn’t get him off her back, however. It actually motivated him to start following her around. He persisted with Brandt, asking her if she heard what he said before. He then proceed to thank her for having a good pair of legs. That last part truly bothered Brandt. It compelled her to make a post about the incident on her personal Facebook page. She wrote on the popular social networking site that it bothered her that the strange man acted like her body was there simply for his entertainment and enjoyment.
Brandt’s Facebook post was accompanied by a picture that depicted the exact outfit she was wearing the day the man in the subway station harassed her. It’s no shocker that her posting rapidly made waves on Facebook. Women everywhere related to what Brandt had to say. They related to her feelings. Most of them have been through the same exact frustrating and demeaning situation.
The clothing that Brandt was wearing in her Facebook photograph was far from revealing. That’s why her post and picture packed such a strong punch. It showed many people that women get harassed on the street regardless of what they choose to wear. The outfit doesn’t have to be “provocative” in any way. Brandt’s entire physique was totally covered in a large coat when she passed by the man in the station.
Brandt is one of the founders of “She’s The First.” This is an organization that is devoted to promoting the value of education for young girls who reside in developing nations around the world. She’s The First offers scholarships to female students who live in these countries.
Cornell University and Hollaback! research in 2014 indicated that 85 percent of all women who live in the United States have been victimized by street harassment prior to reaching 17 years of age. Hollaback notes that women can help fight street harassment by being more open about it. Women can work together to help end street harassment permanently by talking about it and how it has affected their lives. We thank Brandt for being so candid with her own street harassment tale. People should all do whatever they can to battle his problem that plagues so many women every single day.
This is what I was wearing this morning as I made my way through a crowded 34th Street subway station, and a man passing by me said, "Damn, you have some great legs." When I ignored him and kept walking, he turned around to follow me, to get closer, even as I was moving away. "Did you hear me, honey? I said you have nice legs. Damn! Thank you." It was the "thank you" that got me. As if my 5 inches of legging-covered skin were there for him. Given as a gift wrapped in brown tights. Existing in the world for him to appreciate, or not. Next time you wonder whether your skirt is too short, next time you ask your teen daughter to change her clothes, or the next time you hear about school dress codes in the news, remember this photo. I am in a fucking parka and boots. And it. doesn't. matter. All women have these moments. All of us. And yet the world acts as if it's still our problem to fix. Get your shit together, guys. I, for one, am sick of dealing with it.