A national survey from nonprofit Stop Street Harassment reveals that harassment is a facet of life for the vast majority of women and nearly half of men.
The organisation asked whether people had experienced sexual harassment or abuse in a variety of spheres, including at home, in public spaces, on mass transit, in places of worship, at school, work, and more.
The study found "that nationwide, 81% of women and 43% of men reported experiencing some form of sexual harassment and/or assault in their lifetime," presenting "a broader range of behaviours in multiple locations over a longer time span," according to Holly Kearl, a founder of Stop Street Harassment and the study's principal author.
Public spaces were reported most frequently as the location of respondents' first experience with sexual harassment. Overall, the top-three location where women reported sexual harassment were in a public space (66% of women respondents), at work — including temporary jobs and internships (38%), and at home (35%). For men, the most frequently reported locations were in public (19%), at school (14%), and for 13% of men, at work, home, and by phone or text.
As you'd expect, most of this went unreported, even to the extent (as anyone who has been catcalled or verbally singled out on the street would know) of victims inconveniencing themselves. "One in 10 women and one in 20 men said they tried to change their job assignments or quit their jobs to avoid harassment," The New York Times noted. "Only one in 10 women and one in 20 men filed an official complaint to an authority figure or the police about harassment."
Although much of the discussion around #MeToo has centred on harassment that women face in the workplace (with good reason), this study indicates how pervasive an occurrence it is — practically a way of life. Rather than blaming people for not reporting their experiences, it is also important to take into account how different environments make doing so intimidating, and move forward together from there.