85% of women aged 18–24 have experienced unwanted sexual attention in public places, according to the End Violence Against Women Coalition. We want to remind you: this is not OK.
It’s a sad fact of life that most of us have experienced cat calling at one point in our lives. It could be a wolf whistle while we’re out on a jog. Being shouted at to remove certain parts of clothing or to reveal parts of our bodies. Sometimes, it might be a beg for sexual favours.
But with street harassment still not recognised as a crime in most parts of the world except France, Peru and some areas of the USA and the Philippines, police often don’t take reports seriously. That means that 63% of girls and young women don’t feel safe walking home alone.
Hollywood stars are not immune to this sort of behaviour, either. Anna Faris has spoken out about how cat calling didn’t just leave her feeling as humiliated, angry and unsafe as it does for the rest of us, but also got her banned from a country.
Yep, that escalated. So let’s backtrack a second. Speaking on the Life is Short with Jason Long podcast this week, Faris told the story of a time when she was in New Zealand, while filming 2010’s Yogi Bear movie, and walking home from a concert.
“This should not be an important detail, but I feel like the societal pressure to make this a detail, I was wearing jeans and a T-shirt and a backpack,” explained Faris. “And this car drives by and these dudes yell out like, ‘Show us your tits!’ But in a New Zealand accent.”
Faris says the incident felt “a little random”, and adds that another car then drove by and shouted something she thought sounded like “we wanna fuck your pussy”.
Faris tells Long that she asked herself “what is up with that?” but added that she “could handle it”. Faris makes the incident sound lighthearted in the conversation, and it’s clear that she did the same at the time, telling of how she discussed the incident on the short-lived George Lopez Show. Unfortuntely, it was that interview that made things turn somewhat ugly.
In an extreme version of victim-blaming, Faris “got a letter from the Minister of Tourism of New Zealand that I was no longer welcome in their country”.
Yep. But what’s even sadder than the catcalling and the banning-a-victim-of-street-harassment-from-your-country is what Faris felt the need to do next.
“I had to apologise,” she confesses. “A bunch of New Zealand feminists stood up for me and were like ‘yeah you’re right New Zealand dudes are dicks’. And I was like, what?! I have no perspective on this.
“So I wrote a letter to the New Auckland Times or whatever being like, ‘I apologise, you have an amazing country’. It was so silly.”
That’s right: a women who faced street harassment was not only victim blamed and punished for speaking out, but also forced to apologise. Whether we’re talking Hollywood actors and international attention, or young girls in small towns at night, we want to remind you: this is not OK.
Not only did it all blow over, with Faris now being welcome back into the country, fortunately, she got the last laugh.
“At the very end of that letter that I wrote to the paper and to the Minister of Tourism I said ‘P.S. we have a lot of ding dongs here in America as well’.”
We hope they published that line.