Street Harassment is Terrorism against Women

After moving to Israel in 2002, amidst a wave of terrorist attacks, I realized that the feeling of chronic anxiety and uncertainty – never knowing if this cafe or that bus would get blown up – was identical to the feeling of chronic anxiety and uncertainty that I had experienced as a young woman in the United States – never knowing if a man would would harass or otherwise attack me, as I walked down this street or biked through that park.

I attempted to write an article on topic for women’s and teen girls’ magazines in the USA. Despite the fact that I routinely sold articles to these magazines outlets, nobody wanted this particular article. That was back in the early 2000s.

In the decades since, the porn industry has exploded, and with it, the sex trafficking industry. Now, more than ever before, girls and young women are incessantly and brutally targeted and attacked. As if a single incident of assault were not enough to devastate, if not outright destroy, a young woman over the course of her life, now women routinely are being kidnapped and sold as sex slaves, raped on the hour if not more, sometimes by multiple men at once, every single day, week, and month, over the course of years.

Le’ts put aside for a moment the fact that this torture is then filmed and sold for men’s entertainment, in a multi-BILLION dollar industry. Another blog post for another time.

For now, let’s focus on the fact that behind every incident of street harassment lurks the threat of rape, and that the crushing impact of rape is not just rape itself, but the relentless threat of it – hanging over the head of every single girl and woman, every single day, from the time of her birth and throughout her life. Is it any surprise that women disproportionately suffer from chronic illness? Our neverous systems are under 24/7 assault. Even at home, with all the doors and windows locked, women may not be or feel safe – whether the threat is inside or outside.

And still, self-defense is not a routine part of education for girls. And still, women are not allowed to carry guns in many states. And stlil, women who fight or shoot harassers are seen as the violent ones.

Our society accepts and allows violence against women. We think it’s normal and acceptable for women to be afraid to go out at night, to be afraid to wear cool clothing on hot days, to be afraid to walk in the woods alone, to have to ask men – the very group that rapes women – to accompany us, to protect us from other men.

Our society implicitly and effectively endorses violence against women and prohibits women from stopping it. It’s time for us to stop it anyhow.

In 1997, I wrote my book, Consequence: Beyond Resisting Rape, based on one month where I started hitting men who harassed me. This book is needed now, more than ever. I’m doing a soft release of the 2022 edition this weekend. Get it at

Here are more books directly and indirectly related, which I recommend:

Real Knockouts: The Physical Feminism of Self-Defense

Pornland: How Porn Has Hijacked Our Sexuality

Letters from a War Zone

What Makes Pornography Sexy?

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