Stress on the Streets

As a new blogger here at NYC Hollaback street harassment has been on my mind more so than normal.  As such I have been hyper aware of how street harassment impacts my life.  My intent focus on street harassment has lead me to this relatively simple conclusion: street harassment is a stressful situation.

Street harassment is typically thought to be a quick interaction, a woman walks down the street, a man whistles or yells her way, the woman keeps walking (or decides to Hollaback!)—end of story.  However this quick synopsis completely neglects a large part of the situation. 

 In my personal experience, when walking down the street alone approaching a man or group of men I automatically tense —anticipating harassment.  This tension proves to be a source of stress for me.  It’s not that I necessarily feel that I am in danger, it’s the uncertainty of the situation coupled with too many past experiences in having been street harassed. 

Street harassment is more than just the verbal exchange it’s also the anticipation of what is going to be said, the concern of ones safety, and the resulting impact of the harassment once it happens.  Add it all up and you’ve got yourself a recipe for a stressful walk home.

Bearing all this in mind, I wasn’t at all surprised by the recently released results of Carnegie Mellon University’s study on stress.  According to the study, 20-something women are more stressed out than their counterparts.  The survey does not mention the source of stress or why it has increased.  I am by no means saying that street harassment is a primary cause of stress among 20-something women, but I’m certain it’s part of it.

Street harassment sucks and stress sucks too.  Street harassment isn’t something that you should have to live with.  You  have a right to walk down the streets without getting harassed.  You have the right to feel like the safe, strong, badass woman you are, so Hollaback ya’ll!  Show the world you won’t tolerate street harrassment and inspire others to do the same.

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