Monday, September 29, 2014

Hey baby

My original idea for this project was only about street harassment. I wrote a proposal for my class to create a project similar to Caroline Tompkins' photo campaign, "Hey Baby", in which she photographs her catcallers. Here is another link that describes the project more and includes part of an interview with Tompkins. I turned my proposal in two weeks ago, but a week later, had not experienced any street harassment since the proposal (hooray! except not for my project...). I talked to my teacher on Thursday (four days ago) and revised my plan. Enter, this blog.

Thursday night a guy yelled at me from a car as I was walking the five minutes to my friend's apartment. So I took a picture.

On Friday, sitting outside Linda's, doing homework and eating tots with a friend, a guy yelled at us as he drove down Franklin Street. Picture number two.

On Saturday afternoon I walked down Franklin Street, coming home after studying on campus. A man said something to me as I walked past. Less than ten minutes later, as I got closer to home, another man yelled from a car. 


On Sunday, as I was filling my car with gas, a man at the station started talking to me. He was very friendly, and we chatted about UNC and our weekends. As I got back into my car, he called me "baby."


I didn't take a picture of that one, but... just what?

I guess I could have done that photo project after all.

Instead, I'm incorporating the project here. I did not realize until having these encounters and taking these pictures the bravery that Caroline Tompkins is embodying in her photo campaign. I was scared to take a picture of the man on Franklin Street! I knew I wanted to take one, but I walked a bit, turned around, sat down, and stealthily took a picture of a sign. The man is somewhere in the background. Tompkins, though, is getting right up in her harassers' faces and calling them out. I am honestly not sure I could have done that. More power to her.

Another thing I noticed from these pictures: they are all taken from far away. You sure can't tell from the pictures which car each man was in - actually, you can't even see the car in any of the pictures! To me, this distance symbolizes more than just the speed of their cars. I have the image and the memory of these actions. The men, though, are so removed from the situation, that we don't even know who they are. They are anonymous, and therefore can safely act without consequence.

A final thought: Although I documented these instances, they honestly didn't bother me that much. Each time, I thought to myself, "Seriously?" but kind of moved on with my day. Isn't it weird that this is so normal?

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