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!

(End scene)

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:

cats against catcalling

Cats Against Cat Calling. I’ve named this cat Esmerelda. I feel she looks a bit Pokemon-esque, no?

Here’s a closer look at Esmerelda.

I added some Grumpy Cat to the banners, because I feel that she's an excellent advocate.

I added some little Grumpy Cats to the banners, because I feel that she’s an excellent advocate for female empowerment.

Opposite from the reference desk, I added my typical Tumblr collages (you can see some other ones I’ve made in this manner here and here):

I like images like the upper one, because it helps to break down the difference between compliments and harassment.

I like images like the upper one, because it helps to break down the difference between compliments and harassment.

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):

I don't need much excuse to get the Rookie Yearbook out on display.

I don’t need much excuse to get the Rookie Yearbook out on display.

I really hope someone takes Fat!so? home with them.

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

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About magpielibrarian

Youth Services Librarian, Mediocre Crafter, Urban Magpie, Glitter Addict, and Worshiper of Ridiculous Outfits, Emerging Leader 2012, Former Rainbow Book List Member, and GLBT RT Director-at-Large! This is what a librarian looks like, kids.

16 responses »

  1. zbeforey says:

    I have witnessed several young ladies, and a couple of young men, thoughtfully looking over the poster boards. Your new display is making an impact. Brava!

  2. These are glorious and really thoughtful. I think every library needs an Esmeralda. Your displays always look so good. You’ve become a big motivator for me to create better displays for my teens.

  3. Jen says:

    This is GREAT! Your displays are an inspiration to me. 🙂 (and not just because I’m a librarian).

  4. I have to say all your displays catch eyes. This one seems to make the young men look a little bit longer.

  5. Terry Morris says:

    As the father of a daughter I thank you, frankly as the father of a sons I thank you as well, maybe I can get my local library to replicate this display

  6. Talia Lynn says:

    Books on Street Harassment!

    Maybe you (or a patron or 2) can request that the library carry them.

  7. Reblogga says:

    Girl, you are my display topic hero. Another awesome one!

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