Me: Hi, how are you?
Teen girl: I need help.
Teen boy, behind her, staring at her ass, sucking his teeth: Hey…hey…I can help you.
Me, to boy: I’m sorry, do you know her?
Teen boy, sucking teeth: Naw.
Me: Then move it along! Your game sucks!
I am so sick of this kind of crap, I can’t tell you. Can’t a girl ask a reference question without getting leered at? Can’t a 30-something pink-haired librarian walk to the subway without comments being made about my anatomy? I guess we’ll never get to a point where men realize comments about our bodies are unwelcome and unwanted.
I created this display to get teen patrons of all genders to start thinking about street harassment. Cat calling can make women feel insecure and worse, unsafe. We’re not alone in this, though, and we don’t need to feel ashamed. Men need to realize that this type of behavior is aggressive and absolutely not OK. I try to combat sexual harassment in the library on a case-by-case basis by always calling out the aggressor. However, librarians can’t be present for every situation.
I put this cat up behind the YA/Teen reference desk:
More of the images you see directly above can be found here.
I also put up a selection of books that are somewhat related (though I have to say we don’t own much on Street Harassment as a stand alone topic):
In addition to the images and the books, I printed out some double-sided hand-outs that I made available at the teen reference desk. One side is directed at the harassed, the other at possible allies and harassers. For more information, I highly recommend Hollback! as a resource.
I’ve been off work all this week (!!!), so I don’t know how the patrons have reacted to this display, but I hope it has gotten some dialogue going.
How do you handle harassment amongst teen patrons at your library?
~Love and Libraries, Ingrid