Vandalist: Rules of the Road
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Vandalist: Rules of the Road

Let's put the brakes on sexual harassment



BY: The Street Talk Project
LOCATION: Kensington Market
PHOTOS BY: Martin Reis
FIELD NOTES: This is the second time in a month that we’ve featured street art about public sexual harassment. A funny thing we noticed in the comments last time was the common opinion that the onus should have been on the victim to stop the harassment (75 per cent of the comments, to be precise), even in some of the comments that were otherwise supportive. The creator of the piece was referred to as passive aggressive, a nag, was blamed for not stopping it at the time, and even accused of enjoying it since they didn’t make a scene. If this is any indication of popular opinion then it’s no wonder people don’t feel comfortable reporting sexual harassment or standing up to the perpetrators. It’s a lose/lose situation. If we stand up for ourselves or make a scene we (and I say ‘we’ because I am among the many people who have been sexually harassed in public) face retaliation from someone who has already proven to lack respect for personal boundaries. If we try to report or discus it afterward we face a number of ridiculous accusations. It might seem like the only solution is to remain silent and accept that if we are sexually harassed it’s because we deserved and/or wanted it. That’s not really a solution. Which is why it’s so important to create a dialogue around this issue, including through pieces like these. Yes, last time 75 per cent of the commenters somehow blamed or villainized the victim, but 25 per cent of them didn’t. Maybe this time 30% of the comments will be positive. Slowly, inch by inch, we’ll work toward a place where people won’t question the validity of the victims actions but why the crime happened in the first place.

Once a week, Vandalist features some of the most interesting street art and graffiti from around Toronto. Find something great? Email [email protected].