Meet the Woman Who Waged an Artistic War Against Her Street Harassers
"Update (2/18/2014): Fazllizadeh is taking her project to the Bay Area this week—its first West Coast stop. She’ll be hosting a group discussion on February 20 at Oakland’s Betti Ono Gallery to get inspiration for new posters, which then will be shown at the gallery for Women’s History Month, starting on March 7.
MJ: What kinds of differences have you found, say, between the women in Chicago and Boston?
TF: When I first landed, I met with a group of women in each city, and we had a big open conversation. In Boston, a couple of the women were students and they mentioned how Boston has a huge student population, and that’s specific to their experiences of street harassment. They feel like the men were a lot more aggressive, particularly when it comes to social outings and things like that. In Chicago, a few of the women invited me to a separate conversation with them and their friends, who were queer women of color. It opened up thoughts about the micro-issues like transphobia, homophobia, or fat phobia within street harassment.
MJ: Yes, I’ve noticed that many of your poster subjects are women of color. Did you intend that as your focus?
TF: Not necessarily the focus, but it was important to have these images and voices in this project. I’m a woman of color. I’ve lived in black neighborhoods all of my life, and most of the time I get hit on in my neighborhood—and mostly by black men. And so I wanted to have my specific experience and my perspective on street harassment out there. I also feel like this is a feminist issue and is going to be a part of a feminist conversation, and I wanted images of women of color in that conversation—feminism historically has left us out. And I’m learning more about how race is a part of street harassment, and how the differences between what a woman looks like and who she is affects how she is treated outdoors. So black women, Mexican women, Indian women, mixed women and their stories have been part of the series, and as the project continues there will be even more diversity. There’ll be queer women, trans women, all of these women who have different perspectives.”
Remedy: to cure, relieve, or heal.
Hannah Snowdon for Nightmare.