Research and activism on violence against women tends to focus on topics such as sexual assault and intimate partner violence, arguably to the detriment of investigating men’s violence and intrusion in women’s everyday lives. The reality and possibility of the routine intrusions women experience from men in public space – from unwanted comments, to flashing, following and frottage – are frequently unaddressed in research, as well as in theoretical and policy-based responses to violence against women. Often at their height during women’s adolescence, such practices are commonly dismissed as trivial, relatively harmless expressions of free speech too subjective to be legislated against.
The increased visibility of these experiences, supported in part through the work of groups such as Everyday Sexism, Stop Street Harassment, and the international Hollaback movement, has meant a renewed focus in women’s everyday experiences of sexual harassment in public. New research explores the impacts of street harassment from a philosophical perspective, activism in England has powerfully raised awareness of the experience of racialised sexual harassment, and the search for innovative justice responses has led Nottingham to introduce an offence of misogyny as a hate crime. These are just some aspects of the recent work of panel members to be discussed, as well as the recent launch of the International Network on Public Sexual Harassment (INPSH).
Ama Josephine Budge (Batty Mama/HYSTERIA) will read from her work on racialised sexual harassment, ‘Your Ass be Spread (and Other Feminisms).'
Karen Desborough (Bristol University) will discuss the motivations and lived experiences of anti-harassment activists, examining their motivations for activism, and the challenges and constraints they face and overcome.
Dr Bianca Fileborn (LaTrobe University) will reflect on what street harassment victims want when it comes to justice, and will examine some of the key challenges in achieving justice in response to street harassment.
Dr Jaya Gajparia (London Southbank University) will draw on research conducted in Mumbai, India to showcase class complexities of accessing gendered public spaces.
Melanie Jeffs (Nottingham Women’s Centre) will explain the rationale behind the Nottinghamshire move to classify misogyny as a hate crime, and the findings so far.
Lia Latchford & Ikamara Larasi (Purple Drum) will present on Purple Drum’s work to raise awareness of racialised sexual harassment of young Black and Minority ethnic women in public.
Dr. Fiona Vera-Gray (Durham University) will outline what the research literature tells us about the range and extent of women’s experiences in public space.
The event will be held chaired by Professor Liz Kelly, and will also include a book launch for two recent academic books on street harassment: Bianca Fileborn’s Reclaiming the night-time economy: unwanted sexual attention in pubs and clubs (Palgrave Macmillan, 2016); and Fiona Vera-Gray’s Men’s Intrusion, Women’s Embodiment: A critical analysis of street harassment (Routledge, 2017).
There will be a drinks reception after the event.