The posters hung by Bedford-Stuyvesant artist Tatyana Fazlalizadeh serve as a direct message to cat-callers: “Women do not owe you their time or conversation.”
Fazlalizadeh, 27, said she has experienced harassment from men since she was a teenager and continues to experience inappropriate treatment almost every day. She said she has wanted to address this topic with her art for several years, and recently decided to venture into street art as a method.
The posters feature black-and-white portraits of women drawn by Fazlalizadeh, and she uses wheat paste to post the images on walls. Fazlalizadeh puts the posters in places where she or her friends have been harassed or places that have high pedestrian traffic. So far she has hung posters in Brooklyn, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C.
“To me, it made the most sense to create art in the street and in public spaces where this type of harassment is happening,” Fazlalizadeh said.
Although she acknowledged that people might disagree with her work, Fazlalizadeh said she hopes her project sparks a dialogue about street harassment by both men and women.
“I’m hoping that those people will at least listen to and consider the experiences of women who do support this project, women who feel offended and violated by the treatment they receive on the street, and that a discussion about gender-based street harassment can be had,” she said.
Catie Brown, president and co-founder of The Feminist Society at NYU, commended Fazlalizadeh’s project.
“Campaigning against street harassment is all about reclaiming women’s right to exist in public places,” she said. “We shouldn’t be faced with catcalls and sexual comments from complete strangers just for daring to walk to class.”
The Feminist Society is currently working with Hollaback!, a nonprofit organization dedicated to raising awareness about street harassment. Today, The Feminist Society will work with the director of Hollaback!, Emily May, for a workshop on street harassment. In April, the two groups will organize a rally in Washington Square Park.
Maria Saldana, director of gender and sexuality studies at NYU, expressed her appreciation for Fazlalizadeh’s poster campaign.
“It is a creative way to address a perennial problem that women confront daily in cities,” Saldana said. “These posters visualize what runs through many women’s minds when they are experiencing cat calls.”
Fazlalizadeh said she has already received immense support for her project, which led her to consider collaborating with other artists in the future. She plans to take her work to other cities and expand her posters into murals. As a culmination of her work, she will have an art show in April.
A version of this article was published in the Monday, March 11 print edition. Su Sie Park is a contributing writer. Veronica Carchedi is city/state editor. Email them at email@example.com.