Treat street harassment as a crimeRoundup
tags: street harassment
A hundred years ago, men who made lewd comments to female passersby were known as “mashers.” In 1913, an Omaha judge drew up a “Masher’s Schedule” of fines against them. The penalty for calling a woman “chicken” was $5; “honey-bunch,” $10; “turtle-dove,” $15; and “baby doll,” $20.
I didn’t hear any of these terms in the viral catcalling video posted by the anti-harassment group Hollaback!, in which actress Shoshana Roberts is accosted by over 100 men during a 10-hour walk through Manhattan. But I also haven’t heard anyone suggest that her tormentors should have been reported to the police, or penalized by the courts.
And that tells you something important about our current moment. On the one hand, we’re shocked — shocked! — by the harassment on the video, which has been viewed by over 30 million people. But we don’t have the legal guts to stop it.
True, Hollaback! and some of its allies have called for stronger enforcement of anti-harassment laws. But that’s created a backlash in the blogosphere, where critics insist that this is really just a problem of bad manners — if it’s a problem at all.
Prior generations of Americans understood that laws and manners influence each other. Across the country, officials used disorderly-conduct and loitering laws to arrest and fine sexual harassers. Or they instituted special “anti-masher” measures, like the Omaha judge’s fine schedule...
comments powered by Disqus
- A load of gold worth up to $54 million went missing during the Civil War. There may be a break in the case.
- How American High Schools Teach The Iraq War
- The waves of feminism, and why people keep fighting over them, explained
- Florida to replace Confederate statue in US Capitol
- 43% of Americans still think the Iraq War was a good idea
- “Civilisations" presenter David Olusoga blames Winston Churchill for war crimes in Africa
- University of Chicago’s Hanna Holborn Gray has written a memoir
- Historians’ assessment of Obama’s legacy
- Facebook’s Historian: Professor Heather Cox Richardson
- Historians at the Rochester Institute of Technology are bolstering Wikipedia’s archive of entries on women’s history