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"Editing a series like this, do you detach yourself?" "No."
October 14, 2013 3:02 PM   Subscribe

Hannah Price’s series, City of Brotherly Love, features portraits of men in Philadelphia captured just moments after they’d harassed her on the street.

Full gallery of the series on the artist's website.
posted by rabbitbookworm (62 comments total) 44 users marked this as a favorite

 
"Once a guy catcalls me, depending on the situation, I would either candidly take their photograph or walk up to them and ask if I can take their photograph. They usually agree and we talk about our lives as I make their portrait."

I wish there were at least brief summaries of these conversations coupled with the photos. A very interesting project, nonetheless.
posted by Atom Eyes at 3:08 PM on October 14, 2013 [13 favorites]


As a woman living in Philly, this series really hits home. Public sexual harassment is a real issue here. Whenever I walk somewhere, I have to shut myself off in a feeble attempt to maintain my feeling of self worth.

I'm not a big advocate of "endowment" and whatnot, buys that's exactly what this series is. It puts a face and a name to the harassment, and takes the power away from the harasser. It's the story of a woman who fought back with the tools she had. Even though she's still struggling, she's won.
posted by DoubleLune at 3:32 PM on October 14, 2013 [9 favorites]


Wow, brave. I wish there was more to the interview.
posted by MoonOrb at 3:42 PM on October 14, 2013


Christ one of these photos was taken next to my apartment -_-;
posted by smackwich at 3:52 PM on October 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


This is a pretty great idea for a series. I never really realized what an issue this is until I worked outside on the street for a week loading out a show. There were a few guys on the crew who yelled out to nearly every woman on the street, in some cases following them down the block. It was incredibly annoying to me as a white male, I can only imagine how almost terrorized they feel. Shit, I can barely handle someone wanting me to sign a petition approaching me unexpectedly on the sidewalk.
posted by nevercalm at 3:58 PM on October 14, 2013 [5 favorites]


[this is good]
posted by Sticherbeast at 4:01 PM on October 14, 2013


The photographer talks about the transition between Ft. Collins and Philly being jarring for her (the suburban to urban shift?). Looking at her series in Rochester high schools (both the beauty of the portraits and the framing of "so this is what being young and black/Mexican is supposed to be like") I think she's doing an really interesting thing in this project that includes much more than just turning the tables on street catcalling.
posted by spamandkimchi at 4:05 PM on October 14, 2013 [4 favorites]


Interesting series. Is there an explanation for the image titled "Marian Anderson"?
posted by justkevin at 4:05 PM on October 14, 2013 [6 favorites]


The expressions on the faces of the men are interesting. I wish she would have labeled whether they were candid shots, or shots in which she initiated a dialogue with the subject.
posted by BlueHorse at 4:09 PM on October 14, 2013


TMN: What’s your favorite camera at the moment?
HP: Mamiya 7 and Panasonic AVCHD 40 video camera.
The only stranger on the street that I ever tried to chat up was carrying a Mamiya 7. She was the only other person that I'd ever met that owned that camera*. I've owned mine for over a decade now, and it's still my idea of a "perfect" camera.

* Now I'm worried that I was harassing her.
posted by strangecargo at 4:17 PM on October 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


These pictures are pretty stunning - and remarkably generous of Hanna Price. She strips away bravado and pumped up bullshit - and while putting these guys in their place, she also humanizes them in a strikingly nuanced way. Exactly the opposite of what the harrasers where doing to her.
posted by helmutdog at 4:37 PM on October 14, 2013 [5 favorites]


Marian Anderson, start respecting women!
posted by Mayor Curley at 4:46 PM on October 14, 2013 [5 favorites]


OMG photo 14 is the house I used to live in! The one with the green paint next to Cinnamon Jade salon.

Can confirm that I got harassed a lot in Philly.
posted by Aubergine at 4:49 PM on October 14, 2013


That's pretty brave: I'd be scared to take a photo of a stranger under those circumstances.
posted by Joe in Australia at 5:07 PM on October 14, 2013


Related: Pictures of People Who Mock Me by Haley Morris Cafiero. Her website is here.
posted by carmicha at 5:14 PM on October 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


I spent about 10 years in Philly. Now I live in Denver. I much prefer it here. In Philly I always felt like I had to be ready to fight. That's Ok when you're a youngster, but once you get a bit longer in tooth, who wants to put up with that bullshit?
posted by evilDoug at 5:20 PM on October 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


She's got a great eye for the subjects. Along the same lines, a group called pussy division has been tagging crosswalks with anti-harassment messages in the area as well.

I'm not sure if this has been posted on the blue before but Kensington Blues is another incredibly powerful photo blog with interviews of heroin addicts in philly. It is not explicit but be prepared.
posted by cmfletcher at 5:24 PM on October 14, 2013


She's got a great eye for the subjects. Along the same lines, a group called pussy division has been tagging crosswalks with anti-harassment messages in the area as well.

I saw these when I was in Philly this weekend. My friend said that many of the Stop signs around the city have had "Rape" tagged underneath them as well.
posted by C'est la D.C. at 5:31 PM on October 14, 2013


Hannah Price radio interview with slide show.
posted by orme at 5:31 PM on October 14, 2013


> That's pretty brave: I'd be scared to take a photo of a stranger under those circumstances

I dunno if I would, and I'm a woman. These guys aren't expecting an actual response from her, and are probably so startled they wouldn't actually do anything but panic.
posted by The corpse in the library at 5:41 PM on October 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


"City of Brotherly Love" is fascinating as are the portraits assembled on her website.

I'm in complete agreement with what spamandkimchi said above.

It's been a while since I've seen a photographer so able to render portraits. Incredible stuff.
posted by mistersquid at 6:04 PM on October 14, 2013


TMN: When was the last time you were made uncomfortable by someone else’s artwork?
HP: A Clifford Owens performance last year.
TMN: Can you elaborate on that?
HP: I’d prefer not to.


That took me down a weird path.
posted by roll truck roll at 6:11 PM on October 14, 2013 [7 favorites]


This gave me a wave of the bad kind of nostalgia for my years of living in Philly, kind of like getting hit in the face with a waft of stale urine smell when walking down into the 34th Street Station El on a hot day.
posted by medeine at 6:23 PM on October 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


That took me down a weird path.
An account of the performance.
posted by unliteral at 7:09 PM on October 14, 2013 [11 favorites]


Thanks for those Clifford Owens links, very interesting.
posted by intermod at 8:30 PM on October 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


I still don't understand in what world men catcall women.

As in: men shouldn't do it. Not that I do not believe it happens.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 8:36 PM on October 14, 2013


More from 2011.
posted by Ideefixe at 8:37 PM on October 14, 2013


Yes, after reading even more about that performance I am definitely not a big fan of Clifford Owens.

Hannah Price's photographs are great, though. Striking, excellent composition, and an interesting backstory to the project. Thanks for making this post.

I just wish the interview of Price included more insightful details on the project. It barely includes any details at all! It's so superficial, in fact, that it reads like the author emailed written questions to the artist and then just listed them online (which is a disturbingly common practice).

That interview could have been such a great starting place for a discussion of all the issues her photography brought out. What a wasted opportunity! It's pretty sad how it fails to go after even the obvious follow-up queries, like asking Price to expound on her simple "No" response to the question in the title of this FPP.

I would like to know if any of the men apologized, tried to rationalize what they'd done or, alternately, tried to escalate the catcalling to physical harassment. How many refused to be photographed at all? Also, does she feel this gallery accurately reflects all the men who catcalled her? In her art, Price often seeks out those with a similar racial background to her own. That makes me wonder if the majority of her harassers were men of color, too, or if she just chose not to approach others, like white men who harassed her. If so, was that because she felt more vulnerable in those situations?
posted by misha at 8:55 PM on October 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


> Now I'm worried that I was harassing her.

The sorts of people who harass women do NOT start with the phrase, "Great camera, I have one just like it."
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 9:50 PM on October 14, 2013 [4 favorites]


There would be no end of catcalling men to photograph in this manner in Montreal.
posted by juiceCake at 10:12 PM on October 14, 2013


Laurie Anderson rocked a very similar project in 1973 called Fully Automated Nikon (Object/Objection/Objectivity). Some links here and here
"I decided to shoot pictures of men who made comments to me on the street. I had always hated this invasion of my privacy and now I had the means of my revenge. As I walked along Houston Street with my fully automated Nikon, I felt armed, ready. I passed a man who muttered ‘Wanna fuck?’ This was standard technique: the female passes and the male strikes at the last possible moment forcing the woman to backtrack if she should dare to object. I wheeled around, furious. ‘Did you say that?’ He looked around surprised, then defiant. ‘Yeah, so what the fuck if I did?’ I raised my Nikon, took aim, began to focus. His eyes darted back and forth, an undercover cop? CLICK." --Laurie Anderson, photographer
I don't think that takes away from Ms. Price's work, though! Just throwing out some related jams.
posted by wemayfreeze at 3:47 AM on October 15, 2013 [12 favorites]


Like everything in Philly, sexual harassment on the street is racially segregated. After seeing these photos, I'm not surprised to learn that the photographer is mixed raced herself, nor am I surprised that these took place in daylight--white on white sexual harassment on the street is a creature of the night here.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 5:30 AM on October 15, 2013


The only stranger on the street that I ever tried to chat up was carrying a Mamiya 7. She was the only other person that I'd ever met that owned that camera. I've owned mine for over a decade now, and it's still my idea of a "perfect" camera.

I did the same thing a few years ago and ended up having a wonderful conversation with Mary Ellen Mark. Maybe you did too
posted by Venadium at 6:26 AM on October 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Fundamentally, to find some deeper value in this work that goes beyond mere composition, we need to imagine what resulted in Ms. Price's labeling of her subjects as offensive. Harassment, offensive behavior intended to disturb or upset, can be aggressively or weakly interpreted, and in this case, we are not given any back story about the nature of the offense. The subjects are simply defined by Ms. Price's unstated definition that harassment is what it is, and she expects us to take her definition at face value. I concede that the photographs are well executed, but without additional details, or the moral compass of the artist -- the what and the why of her ideas--- where we can render our own judgments of her artistic and ethical sensibilities, this seems a sophomoric and distasteful exercise in photographic shaming.
posted by Schadenfreude at 6:35 AM on October 15, 2013


She felt harassed by her subject's words and/or actions. And the stories here of other Philly mefites makes it pretty clear that street harassment in Philly is a Thing. Who are you, the Decider of what is Real HarassmentTM?

She made them look human and real and even beautiful. She didn't make them look like nothing but monsters or threats; that alone shows you her "moral compass."

It's also interesting that you are able to intuit that this is "shaming", but you can't or won't intuit that she might have felt shamed or threatened or even just annoyed by catcalls.
posted by rtha at 6:46 AM on October 15, 2013 [19 favorites]


Schadenfreude, there's no reason why we need to, are in a position to, or have the right to vet the incidents that prompted the photos -- nor the "moral compass" of the artist herself. They stand perfectly fine on their own. And besides, there's no reason to doubt her. Street harassment is certainly rife.

This is a societal problem with women reporting/disclosing their experiences of harassment, not just in this artistic context but also when trying to get redress, raise awareness, or even just inform the people in their life: proof is demanded, all potential or conceivable loopholes and perceived gaps are leapt upon, and aspersions are cast about their honesty, attitude, alleged promiscuity or provocation or foolishness. The insulting nature of this cross-examination is dismissed along with the rationality and trustworthiness of the woman talking. It happens so reliably and incessantly that, culturally, women are kept from even trying to bring it up.

This is a big problem, and one I don't think we should perpetuate here. If and when she chooses to give more details about the specific events, she will do so. Until then, I see no reason not to take her at her word and to appreciate her work on its own merit.
posted by Drexen at 7:09 AM on October 15, 2013 [8 favorites]


Like everything in Philly, sexual harassment on the street is racially segregated. After seeing these photos, I'm not surprised to learn that the photographer is mixed raced herself, nor am I surprised that these took place in daylight--white on white sexual harassment on the street is a creature of the night here.

I'm not sure what Philly you're living in. As a white female, I get harassed on the street pretty. damn. often. Do I get harassed less often than the mixed race photographer? I have no way of knowing. But as far as I can tell, the guys who are sitting on corners saying "hey baby" or catcalling from their cars are not differentiating between race, they're harassing every single woman who walks by. And while the majority of the harassers are black men, white guys do it too.
posted by DoubleLune at 7:20 AM on October 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Schadenfreude: this seems a sophomoric and distasteful exercise in photographic shaming.

Some shots are candid, and others are taken with permission of the subject. Some guys look like they're uncomfortable, but others are still pretty cocky.

But it might help to re-think these images with the notion that some guys catcall Every. Single. Woman. who walks past them. They are in charge of those situations, and for a moment, they are captured in a photograph. These images might have a general location attributed to them, but no names, so there is a very limited chance that these guys will ever be personally "shamed" for their actions, beyond that one time a lady took a photo of them.
posted by filthy light thief at 7:28 AM on October 15, 2013


this seems a sophomoric and distasteful exercise in photographic shaming.

Weird. To me, your comment seems a sophomoric and distasteful exercise in textural shaming.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 7:37 AM on October 15, 2013 [11 favorites]


justkevin: Is there an explanation for the image titled "Marian Anderson"?

Marian Anderson was an African-American contralto and one of the most celebrated singers of the twentieth century, who grew up in South Philadelphia. As for the meaning or reason to include the image, I haven't seen Ms. Price speak to that, but in searching for "Hannah Price" "Marian Anderson", I found this Title Magazine article by Daniel Gerwin, which views the image as such:
In Marian Anderson, South Philly (2011), even a small billboard image of the great singer seems to stare sternly down at the photographer, scolding her for an unknown offense.
Marilyn MacGregor wrote for Broad Street Review:
And the derelict environment of Marian Anderson’s portrait raises many questions about the urban cultural scene today.
In other words, it's open to speculation and imagination.
posted by filthy light thief at 7:41 AM on October 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


Yeah, if you know South Philly, and the black-white divisions there, and know a bit about Marian Anderson and her world-wide fame and iconic status in the neighborhoods, and the fraught location of the Marian Anderson rec center between a recently gentrified wealthy white neighborhood and the fringe of some of the poorest streets in the city, I think it makes sense including her in there.
posted by Mister_A at 9:11 AM on October 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


I passed a man who muttered ‘Wanna fuck?’

I want to find this man and ask him: did any woman *ever* say yes to you, when you asked this question? And if so, was the sex so good that it was worth the fear, disgust, and/or annoyance you caused to the many other women who said "no" or who didn't respond? I'm truly curious.
posted by MoxieProxy at 9:56 AM on October 15, 2013


I asked a guy one time (who was catcalling a woman, but not me) if he ever got dates or phone numbers from doing that. He called me a fucking dyke cunt and told me to fuck off, bitch.
posted by rtha at 9:59 AM on October 15, 2013 [4 favorites]


"So, yes or no? Still confused."
posted by Potomac Avenue at 10:16 AM on October 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


Catcalling isn't about getting a date. It's about enforcing a status quo. The catcaller is paying it forward to some other asshole who can take advantage of the target's lowered feeling of self-agency at a later opportunity.
posted by Skwirl at 12:02 PM on October 15, 2013 [4 favorites]


This is certainly an interesting project and the portraits are lovely. It reminds me a little bit, though, of the fat-people-at-the-mall montages on the evening news. I understand that she is explicitly documenting her experience of being harassed, and I know this is a very real thing and that for some women in some places, it permeates their lives. I also get that this is not a random survey of men on the street in Philadelphia... still, there's something about projects like that that amounts, in some way, to anecdotal evidence.

I think about this sometimes, too, as a very fat woman who has never been harassed on the street for being fat. (I've received sub-par and even possibly criminally negligent medical care because of it, but I've never experienced street harassment.) I don't think it's wrong of fat bloggers to undertake projects where they document the harassment they experience, because that is also a real thing that a lot of people aren't aware of. But there's something missing because I'm not out there blogging about, "Went to Niagara Falls yesterday with my girlfriend. Had a great time. Chatted with people. No harassment."

Another example I think about is trans issues. I was on a panel a couple of weeks ago with a trans woman who was illegally fired from her job when she transitioned; eventually she received a settlement from her employer. Her story was was pretty widely publicized in our area when it happened. On the other hand, my partner transitioned on-the-job. It was uneventful. There was no media coverage.

In June, I had an opportunity to talk with other parents of young gender non-conforming kids. There were maybe 10-12 families represented. As we went around the room introducing ourselves, family after family mentioned that they'd had a good experience with good support at their child's school. The exception in the group? Coy Mathis's parents. Who were, of course, the only family that had been in the media, because, "Local school district handles child's gender transition appropriately; parents pleased" is hardly a banner headline.

I'm not entirely sure what my point is, except that something about projects like this that aggregate what amounts to a lot of anecdotal data to support a certain narrative about sexism in America make me a little uncomfortable. As does our tendency to turn our willing eyeballs to people who, whether in the form of journalism or art, are essentially performing victimhood.

I say this as a lefty, an old feminist, and a queer. And I don't say that this artist or any other artist is wrong to do what she's doing. Only that I have a feeling of discomfort that I haven't completely sorted out, and that I'm explicitly not making any kind of argument about at this time. Just continuing to notice it, and observing it in myself as I work to make sense of it.
posted by not that girl at 12:23 PM on October 15, 2013 [5 favorites]


rtha: "I asked a guy one time (who was catcalling a woman, but not me) if he ever got dates or phone numbers from doing that. He called me a fucking dyke cunt and told me to fuck off, bitch."

It is always tragic when people misunderstand probability theory...
posted by Samizdata at 12:37 PM on October 15, 2013


Street harassment is one of those issues that's really only started to get public awareness because of the internet. I know that when I was younger, I internalized a lot of the blame because I didn't often hear other women talking about it. And there was a definite silencing effect from those who'd assume that complaints about street harassment were exaggerations or just humblebrags, like, for some reason, you're trying to convince someone that a bunch of skeevy street dudes were super attracted to you.

I've been grilled by men who thought I was exaggerating or maybe even making it up. I've had women who hadn't experienced much harassment tell me I was doing something wrong because it had happened to me so often. (It is VERY MUCH regional, so if you haven't lived or worked in an area where it's common, it can seem almost unfathomable that so many women are harassed and even assaulted multiple times a day. But there are areas where it really is a daily thing.)

And it is very much not about attraction. It's about power and control. It's about men who want to put women in their place, who want us to think that we exist for their amusement, and our presence in public is subject to their approval.

In fact, I am a middle aged lady living in a quiet little suburb, and am rarely harassed any more for probably both of those reasons. But the last time, coincidentally, was just last week, when a truck full of what I assume were high school bullies started yelling strangely inaccurate racial slurs at me. I'm pretty sure that those 16 year olds weren't trying to get with me. They just wanted to scare me or upset me or something to establish their status as creepwads.

The extra absurd part of it is that they then went to one of their houses and continued the harassment from there. Which meant I had their vehicle description AND one kid's home address, so I called his parents and tattled. The best part is that the kid and his dad both seemed pretty scared that some crazy lady had gotten their number and called them. Ha ha! Good!

The fact is that street harassment is very much about anecdotes. It's about women finally having a voice to share our experiences and shutting down the victim blamers who've kept us silent. And it is also about shaming the harassers. We can't make it go away by ignoring it. We've tried that already.
posted by ernielundquist at 12:57 PM on October 15, 2013 [5 favorites]


I also get that this is not a random survey of men on the street in Philadelphia... still, there's something about projects like that that amounts, in some way, to anecdotal evidence.

All I (and others above me in this thread) can offer is still just more anecdotal evidence, but I haven't even lived in Philly for a year, and I can call to mind a few dozen separate incidents of overhearing street harassment. And none of them were targeted at me. I can only imagine how frequently I'd hear it if I was the intended target. I'm not saying Philly is the world capital of this sort or behavior, but in my experience, it is exponentially more common here than anywhere else I've lived.

OnTheLastCastle really nailed my feelings on this:

I still don't understand in what world men catcall women.

It's just such an alien concept to me. I knew of it as a force in the universe, but largely through tropish stuff shown in the media like construction workers on their lunch breaks. The idea that it was an actual problem at all, let alone one that the overwhelming majority of women report having to deal with on a frequent basis, was tough for me to wrap my head around. Like so many of my life lessons, I learned it from a combination of MeFi and my wife.

I love this project. Catcallers likely forget their interactions immediately, while it can stick with their targets for much longer. Price's work creates permanence from these interactions. I'd be lying if I pretended there wasn't some air of shaming about it, but I also have zero problem shaming people for street harassment because that is a 100% voluntary and disgusting activity.
posted by SpiffyRob at 1:16 PM on October 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


And it is very much not about attraction. It's about power and control. It's about men who want to put women in their place, who want us to think that we exist for their amusement, and our presence in public is subject to their approval.

I feel uncomfortable with blanket statements like this.

First, because I don't think there's any factual basis to back up such a claim. I doubt that the 'power and control" theory arose from valid scientific research like statistical studies, socioeconomic surveys or even flat-out asking the men themselves why they do this. This vastly simplified and convenient argument is the kind of rhetoric favored by and proliferated among currently fashionable feminist bloggers. That they, or you, sincerely believe it is true does not make it any more a statement of fact than any other stereotype.

I also think that if any studies were to be done, we'd find that people catcall for all kinds of (specious, annoying and misguided to our perspectives, most likely) reasons. The idea that there is a silent conspiracy of cat callers mounting a unified movement with a specific agenda is just not credible to me.

That these men, for example, from the photographs, who by and large tend to be working class minorities, feel less powerful societally than they might wish, that is certainly probable. That they blame the women they call out to for their lack of status, and/or that they are not at all attracted to the women they target for their catcalls, is not nearly as likely. In fact, it is not born out by what little knowledge we do have of these men.

If this were all just a matter of Putting Women In Their Place, I think you'd find far fewer cat callers would react with shame or embarrassment--as they are likely to do!--when confronted with the notion that their mothers, daughters or sisters would be upset by this same behavior coming from other men.
posted by misha at 8:28 PM on October 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


There doesn't need to be a silent conspiracy for it to be about power and control -- that's a straw man, nobody implied a coordinated effort. And the guys don't have to be aware that they're doing it due to power and control issues just as a rapist might not be aware that his own insecurity and lack of power in his life is driving his decision to pursue rape. I agree that research would be great -- for starters, does this really work? I submit that it doesn't, and starting from that assumption, if you keep doing something that you have to realize makes some people feel uncomfortable (unless you're ignorant or socially inept, let's carve that cohort out) and it never actually delivers gratification beyond whatever payoff they get from catcalling, what is the fucking payoff?

Just like there doesn't have to be a global unified conspiracy for the shameless pursuit of absolute power and control to destroy and undermine things like the middle class and access to health care. Your list of reasons is likely going to reduce down to power and control one way or another, though perhaps all human motivations beyond the honest pursuit of survival and reproduction might fit under "power and control" and that might be worth exploring.

Here, likely causes include: insecurity due to a lack of control in one's own life, group think dynamics (perhaps the biggest factor buttressing the rest, deriving a feeling of power by impressing the other guya), classism (lack of power or control in one's life, if the bitch doesn't take it as a compliment it's because she's stuck up and thinks she's better than me), impulsivity (lack of self control, maybe the guy does think it's worth trying each time but with less impulsivity he may reflect on whether it's worth the trouble), ignorance (less personal power and control of one's self), lack of empathy due to being under the power and control of someone abusive and not empathetic to their needs...

Yeah, ask the guys and most of them might flippantly say "I figure they like it, I just say what I want, it's a free country!" They aren't going to tell you they're insecure. I'm supposed to give them the benefit of the doubt but I've dealt with enough awkward smirking assholes with deep wounds that obviously aren't healed. Dudes will say all kinds of stupid shit and I'm uncomfortable with people who give others the benefit of the doubt when downright anti-social or bullying behavior is involved.

Catcalling an attractive woman that you know you have zero chance of "landing" in that context is very often another way of saying "I'm pretty sure that bitch would never go for me, and sure I'd like to fuck her, and it's fun for me to make her feel uncomfortable because that's the most I'll be doing with her in my life." It's like punching the girl on the playground you like because you want her attention and don't think you can get it any other way, except far more casual, off the cuff, and pathetic because these are grown-ass men. I think a large part of it is ignorance and machismo; these are the same guys who if they caught their sister getting catcalled very well might come to blows. Yes I'm stereotyping but a large number of catcallers are going to fit that stereotype.
posted by lordaych at 12:13 AM on October 16, 2013 [7 favorites]


I'm not surprised to learn that the photographer is mixed raced herself, nor am I surprised that these took place in daylight--white on white sexual harassment on the street is a creature of the night here.

So it was a couple miles out from Philly but tell that to the truckload of dudes who catcalled me last week when I dared to walk down Route 30 in shorts on my way to a PT appointment. Nothing says "enjoy your hip exercises!" quite like demonstrating intercourse with your fingers, White Dudes in that Truck, it's true! I wish I could have dared to respond to them, but the math of 4 dudes in a truck vs me was not really in my favor. Good for this photographer for being brave enough to stop.
posted by jetlagaddict at 4:33 AM on October 16, 2013


This series is fantastic. Amazing that she manages to get the photographs she does.
posted by chunking express at 7:30 AM on October 16, 2013


this seems a sophomoric and distasteful exercise in photographic shaming.

Good. It should be.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:05 AM on October 16, 2013


That interview could have been such a great starting place for a discussion of all the issues her photography brought out. What a wasted opportunity!

I don't think it's the photographer's job to educate the public, nor do I think it's the job of the victim (because street harassment is not a victimless crime) to educate. She's documenting, and doing a powerful job of it.
posted by DarlingBri at 12:51 PM on October 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


First, because I don't think there's any factual basis to back up such a claim. I doubt that the 'power and control" theory arose from valid scientific research like statistical studies, socioeconomic surveys or even flat-out asking the men themselves why they do this. This vastly simplified and convenient argument is the kind of rhetoric favored by and proliferated among currently fashionable feminist bloggers.

If you're interested in the research, apparently a typology of rape motivations was developed by A. Nicholas Groth, a sexual violence researcher, in the 1970s. Much of his work, or abstracts of his work, can be found online. From his book entitled Men Who Rape: The Psychology of the Offender there is an interesting section about myths and facts about rape. Here is a quote:
"A number of popular notions and stereotyped images persist in regard to the offender, his victim, and the offense. With regard to the offender, he is frequently regarded as a lusty male who is the victim of a provocative and vindictive woman, or he is seen as a sexually frustrated man reacting under the pressure of his pent-up needs, or he is thought to be a demented sex-fiend harboring insatiable and perverted desires. All these views share a common misconception: they all assume that the offender's behavior is primarily motivated by sexual desire and that rape is directed toward gratifying only this sexual need. Quite to the contrary, careful clinical study of offenders reveals that rape is in fact serving primarily nonsexual needs. It is the sexual expression of power and anger. Forcible sexual assault is motivated more by retaliatory and compensatory motives than by sexual ones. Rape is a pseudosexual act, complex and multidetermined, but addressing issues of hostility (anger) and control (power) more than passion (sexuality.) To regard rape as an expression of sexual desire is not only an inaccurate notion but also an insidious assumption, for it results in the shifting of the responsibility for the offense in large part from the offender onto the victim..."
You seem super interested in this topic, so no doubt you will want to read and research further.
posted by Ouisch at 7:54 PM on October 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


I am super interested in this topic, Ouisch. The topic is NOT rape, though, so your quote is not at all relevant to the gallery that IS the subject of this FPP. We're talking about street harassment like catcalling. Your comment comes across as insulting, as you seem to be trying to paint me as some kind of rape apologist. I'm going to try to ignore that, though, and assume you just didn't read the links instead, to give you the benefit of the doubt.

Anyway, actually my interest in this subject had me looking up studies of my own, and I was able to ascertain that perceived attractiveness IS a significant component for street harassment, and outreach programs in cities around the world bears this out.

This is significant as these offenders did not, as might be expected, target people they felt needed to be "put in their place", i.e. women who threatened the status quo in some way.

Women who defied gender roles, for example, were not targeted significantly more OR less than any others, which even the researchers found surprising.

Also, there is a popular misconception that perhaps if the women in question "covered themselves up" more or dressed more conservatively, they could avoid being harassed. In fact, if anything, the reverse was true--men in Egypt, for example, admitted to harassing the most modestly dressed young women more often than not under the assumption that they must have something worth hiding if they felt the need to cover up!

Really fascinating, though often intuitively contradictory findings. The biggest deterrent, the researchers feel, will come from more of those being harassed reporting the harassment and more bystanders intervening when they see it occurring, because the offenders often have very little logic or reason to even try to combat in the first place, which makes it tough to stop them. I mean, some of these guys cat called women out of sheer boredom, with no excuse or remorse whatsoever. And even they know it is not a successful tactic on any level, only annoying, angering or intimidating the targets. Yet still they continue. How can you reason with people like that?

If you are actually interested in learning more about street harassment yourself, Ouisch, there are numerous up-to-date studies at hollaback.
posted by misha at 10:44 PM on October 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


If it's all about attraction and divorced from power and control then I wonder why I got called bitch and cunt and threatened with rape and other violence whenever I told a catcaller I didn't appreciate the remarks he made to me. It's not like it's impossible for a catcaller to think the woman he is catcalling is attractive while simultaneously wanting to demonstrate his power over her, and his ability to put her in her place.
posted by rtha at 11:08 PM on October 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


Rtha and Misha, I think you're both right. In the guy's own head he is only doing this because a girl is attractive - but the overall system of patriarchy we live under has trained this guy to expect that the woman he catcalls will not sass him back, and if she does, well, he'd better set that straight because he's a man, dammit.

You know? The guy isn't consciously thinking "I must suppress womankind," but the system itself has kind of trained some guys to unconsciously do that.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:13 AM on October 20, 2013 [8 favorites]


EC, I think you've nailed it. That's exactly right.
posted by misha at 11:23 AM on October 20, 2013


Sorry, I did conflate rape and street harassment, mainly because the "power and control" theory you were referring to is mostly well-known as a part of rape research. In my mind, street harassment and sexual assault kind of exist as part of a continuum, and I assumed rape probably had more extensive research devoted to it than street harassment.

Your comment that I was responding to sounded dismissive to me, invoking "feminist bloggers" in a weird way, that's why I responded how I did. Your follow-up makes me feel even more uncomfortable, frankly.

I also agree with EC's analysis. That's why I feel these things are likely about power and control, though any individual would deny it if asked, and probably be unaware that that is how they are operating.
posted by Ouisch at 2:06 PM on October 21, 2013


Here's an NPR story: A Photographer Turns Her Lens On Men Who Catcall.
posted by larrybob at 10:07 AM on October 23, 2013


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