Street harassment, also known as cat calling, wolf whistling and everyday sexism is the widespread claim among feminists that women are routinely harassed in public by men. The founder of the site stopstreetharassment.org undertook two anonymous online surveys and found results that claim street harassment is very common, with 38% of women participating in these surveys claiming to have been harassed by way of honking and whistling within the last month.
Surveys like this are deeply flawed:
- They rely on subjective self-reporting.
- The surveys are on a site concerned with street harassment, meaning that people who have (or believe they have) experienced this are more likely to see the survey. This results in a selection bias.
- They involve a selection bias in that people who see relevance in an online survey are far more likely to take part in the survey.
- They can involve leading questions intended to elicit a particular answer.
- Having been undertaken by someone who has a known bias, the research is immediately suspect.
There is no doubt that both men and women are occasionally harassed in public by strangers and that some of this constitutes sexual harassment. Proof that this is endemic however, as many feminists now claim, is lacking. The site stopstreetharassment lists only surveys, questionnaires and polls as evidence.
Women who believe they are experiencing regular street harassament are encouraged to gather proof by recording this constant harassment. They should regularly record and upload the harassment. Software exists that will easily obscure faces if privacy is a concern.
Even the infamous 10 hours in New York is 2 minutes long and not universally agreed to be full of harassment. Many of the alleged harassment instances have been interpreted as simply casual greetings. Additionally, it has been observed to disproportionately focus on impoverished areas, creating a misleading narrative of America as a whole.
If street harassment is a problem then proof is needed. The onus of proof always remains with the person making the assertion. Cameras that can be fitted to clothing (often used by security guards and police) are readily available today.
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