I created "Stop Telling Women to Smile," a street art series, to speak back to the men who harass me. The work began as way to tell my story, but it has grown to reflect the stories of many other women.So, some women want to criminalize men talking to women in public, while the more moderate women merely want them to voluntarily lose their voices. Meanwhile, in #GamerGate, women are angry because other men don't want anything to do with them.
While I think that the law has its place in helping keep women safe, I don't think this is an issue that will be solved by assigning it to the police. Because police sexually harass women, too. Some women are wary of bringing the police into their communities because of fears of brutality and profiling.
We don't want to criminalize men. We want simply to walk down the street, and live our lives without the constant verbal harassment and abuse. We want to be treated as people who are outside because we have lives to live and business to handle – not as decoration. This will happen when men acknowledge their privilege, pay heed to the realities of women and begin to police themselves.
It's almost as if there is no pleasing them.
I have to admit, I have never in my life told a stranger to smile. I can't imagine giving a quantum of a damn whether some woman I don't know smiles or not. For the most part, I ignore women in public entirely; in general, it has been much more common for them to approach me than the other way around. As this poor, abused gentleman found when he tried to simply walk around New York City minding his own business.