TW - PSH
When you think about how experiencing public sexual harassment makes you feel, for me, one of the main emotions that comes up is anger. And I don’t mean my-sister-stole-my-Nikes-and-got-them-grubby anger. No, I mean frothing at the mouth, burning up on the inside, the-patriarchy-ruined-my-life kind of anger. For many of us, after being shouted at, grabbed, or followed home the feelings come in stages similar to the way they do after a breakup: firstly, utter amazement and shock; shortly to be followed by overwhelming guilt, shame, and self-doubt; and finally the anger and existential frenzy. Of course, everyone’s post-PSH feelings will vary- but my point is that we need to take this anger (which isn’t irrational, crazy or ‘emotional’, by the way) and use it as fuel to make a change.
By no means should it have to be up to us to drive the change in the systems and cultures that perpetuate public sexual harassment, but unfortunately time has proven that we can’t wait around for sexist locker-room banter to stop being a thing, or for old men at the gym to learn that it’s not ok to watch you at the squat rack like they’re a judge on Strictly. Until that day comes, we fight for an equal place on the streets, and what better way to channel that anger into making the world a place that you can walk around in without fear or anxiety.
Since this is easier said than done, I’ve suggested a few ways you can channel that blood-boiling anger into healthy and productive outlets, for your own peace of mind and the greater good:
In my opinion, this is the best way you can dissipate residual post-PSH anger. Start by discussing public sexual harassment and the ways it affects you with friends or people around you- because most likely they’ve experienced it too. We all know that starting conversations surrounding PSH (although sometimes uncomfortable) is one of the most underrated ways of spreading awareness and eliciting change from inside of families and communities outwards. Just make sure you’re staying safe and don’t do anything you don’t feel up to. Putting an IG post you resonate with on your story, signing petitions (hint, Our Streets Now bio), and going to protests are all ways you can contribute to the fight to making PSH a punishable offense. Why not try joining campaigns like Our Streets and offer your time or expertise in a certain field to help the movement build momentum?
Let It All Out
If you’re one for an introverted and personal response- taking some time to translate your anger into art, music or poetry is a great way of processing your response to the experience, especially if it's fresh and you’re feeling a bit sensitive. Remember it doesn’t have to be highly intellectual feminist literature- but having a good rant on the phone to a friend, or anger-stirring brownie batter are chronic sh*t when it comes to healing the wounds of the patriarchy.
If All Else Fails
You can buy a £10 boxing bag on eBay and whack the hell out of it whilst playing Doja Cat full volume in your headphones. Just saying.
Of course, feeling angry or upset is completely natural and justified- but if you need to don’t hesitate to go to your GP and access professional support.
If you feel affected by the issues discussed in this article, or by any other issue surrounding PSH and Women's Rights, please check out our Support Directory.
For more information on PSH and other topics relating to Women's Rights, check out our social media pages.
Illustrations courtesy of Phoebe Holden
Annika Basu (she/her)
Hi! I’m a staunch advocate for making the world a safer space for people to be in. By day I’m also a stressed student currently doing an international baccalaureate diploma, but by night (or 7pm, because I’m an old woman at heart) I like to write stuff about things that interest me and I care about, usually while listening to Platform B.