Perhaps you've seen it or experienced it: Unnerving shrieks or whistling from passersby giving someone unwanted attention. Badgering. Street harassment. It’s easier to describe than to define.
For Brooklyn artist Tatyana Fazlalizadeh, those acts, startling in their randomness and demeaning in their relentlessness, are in themselves illustrations she knows all too well.
“It's a man catching up to you and not leaving your side until you answer him, and being called a 'b***' if you don't,” she tells HLN.
“It's having a bottle thrown at you from across the street for not responding to a cat-call.”
“It's having your body grabbed, groped, or slapped.”
It's men looking you up and down, and saying ‘nice.’ Or ‘I like that’ as if eyeing a car for sale.”
The oogling has led Fazlalizadeh, a freelance illustrator, to draw black-and-white pencil pictures that speak back in black-and-white term, 1,000 words if you will. The “Don’t Tell Me to Smile” project has garnered attention around New York City, where Fazlalizadeh has posted those pictures to bring attention to a maddening problem that threatens to rot social interaction between the sexes, in her view.
“The sexualization and objectification of women's bodies has made it so that public spaces don't belong to them -- that they are only outside for the pleasure and entertainment of men.”
“Whispering and making noises at you as you walk by as if you're a prostitute,” the Oklahoma City-born artist says. “It's all of these things and everything in between, because it's all a part of a general treatment of women on the street that makes them feel uncomfortable, annoyed, and unsafe.”
“ It needs to stop because women shouldn't have to change their route to the train in order to avoid being taunted.”