Tell us a little bit about yourself.
20 year old UF Microbio major, moved to Gainesville from South
When did you start your account?
I didn’t actually start the page, but I jumped in shortly after and helped Sam get it going. That was right around the time of the abortion bans going out, so I was really looking for something I could do for both emotional catharsis and community mobilization.
Why do you think ending online harassment is important?
Under knowledge of the constant potential for harassment, you can’t just live and enjoy life. You need to modulate behavior, and constantly view yourself from others’ eyes and evaluate whether or not you’re creating a target. This isn’t a pleasant way to live every interaction, nor is it healthy. And the threat of harassment without the support from other people calling out unacceptable behavior ends up silencing the voices of those we should most be listening to.
How can the online community better address harassment?
I’m not sure I’m the best person to offer critique, I’m not very well integrated into current discussions. But, I think it’s incredibly valuable to link the online discussion to a physical presence. Before working on the page I hadn’t seen street harassment addressed in any non-online form, and I feel like projects like this that operate in physical space can bring the message to a whole community, including people that might otherwise choose to ignore it.
What do you hope is the outcome of your account?
First and foremost, I hope that victims of harassment can experience some catharsis from seeing us and others call out the unacceptable behavior they experienced. I also hope that a lot of ambivalent people will be confronted with the reality of the situation. While out chalking, a man read the blurb we had about a creepy old man “inviting” the person to a hotel, and he said it could’ve been misconstrued. Most people learn empathy in childhood, but apparently some people need a little more confrontation to get a message.
What’s the most difficult street harassment situation you’ve experienced?
I’ve been lucky to live much of my life in circumstances that tend to minimized risk of harassment, but I have had a few experiences in Gainesville. Once, I was walking back from the grocery store with my friends when a car drove by, and a guy just yelled out “how much?” to our group, laughed, and then sped off. We were legitimately dumbfounded, we looked and each other and actually had to check that everyone else had heard the same thing. Part of the distress to the situation was that I wasn’t even entirely sure it was harassment-- we could’ve misheard? Then the thought: if I wasn’t sure, then why did I let this bother me so much? Why does it make me feel so guilty if I accidentally raise a false alarm?
What does being a part of this campaign mean to you?
It means taking a stand with other members of my community to say that we are not OK with this behavior. It lets me put to rest the chain of self-doubting and fearful questions with the simple statement that no, what those men shout is not OK. I can stand with others and support them as we do this and try to shape our culture into one that lets us live our lives.