Awesome Artist's Awesome Response to Street Harassment

A couple of kickass new Kickstarter projects are reminding me that crowdfunding can totally be a good thing (er, when cheap celebrities aren't abusing it).
Publish date:
September 3, 2013
art, women, crowdfunding, Kickstarter, films, street harassment, indiegogo, documentaries

Isn't it annoying when celebrities exploit crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter and IndieGogo to seek funding from fans to make projects they totally could've coughed up the cash for themselves? (I'm looking at you, Franco, and you, Braff, AND you, Mamet.) If you were me, you'd totally think so.But crowdfunding can also be great, and used for great things -- it's pretty glorious to see powerful projects by under-the-radar artists come into existence thanks to a bunch of usually-small donations from randos worldwide (I think the last project I helped back was the Kathleen Hanna documentary, "The Punk Singer." Which I still haven't seen, but am DYING to). Until now! Because a couple of kickass new Kickstarter projects are making me extra-excited (almost excited enough to forgive KS and IGG for the whole celebrity-pandering thing).The first is a project by Brooklyn artist Tatyana Fazlalizadeh, who's currently trying to drum up $15,000 for one of the most awesome-sounding and awesome-looking Kickstarter projects I've seen to date. Added bonus: It speaks to an invasive, obnoxious, soul-killing, rage-prompting sexist phenomenon experienced by zillions of women worldwide: street harassment.

Fazlalizadeh's traveling public art show, the perfectly titled "Stop Telling Women to Smile," will put breathtakingly gorgeous portraits of less-than-pleased women on outdoor walls in 6-8 different U.S. cities as a response to gender-based street harassment (from catcalls, to lurid sexual come-ons, to the good old "you're too pretty not to smile" crap).On her Kickstarter page, Fazlalizadeh explains her mission and process: "I'll meet and talk with women who live in different regions, cities, and neighborhoods across the country about their experiences with street harassment. I'll photograph them, draw their portraits, and use those portraits in new posters that I'll install in the woman's own city. The process behind creating this work begins by sitting down with a woman and discussing her experiences with street harassment. I then draw her portrait and design a poster using text that is inspired by her story."

The artist has already done a smaller-scale version of the project, and the images from that series are, as I mentioned above, seriously breathtaking. Plus, I love how Fazlalizadeh's project gives women a space to talk back to their harassers and unload some of the stuff they might have felt too blindsided or freaked-out to say in the moment.

Of course, city-dwelling ladies have their own individual ways of dealing with the bullshit everyday reality of harassment. Personally? My response changes depending on how stabby I am and how safe I feel when faced with a lecherous loser -- I tend to either completely ignore (avoidance, hi) or erupt in a furious fit, barking something along the oh-so-creative lines of "seriously f*ck you, you f*ck!" (An aside: I've noticed a decline in the frequency and intensity of the harassment I experience as I get older -- as a woman in her mid-thirties, I get way less scary sidewalk propositioning than I did when I was 18. A welcome byproduct of aging, to be sure. Anyone else?)

But I still have terrible, vivid memories of some of the gross-ass things grown-ass men have said, done, and gesticulated at me as I've done nothing but try to live my life, or get to my office, or enjoy a walk in the park, or eat an ice cream cone, or whatever. Street harassment can be infuriating, demoralizing, and at times scary. So yeah, consider Fazlalizadeh's project backed -- at least by me.

Another great-sounding woman-run Kickstarter project I stumbled upon recently is a documentary called "Women and Meds." Directed by Baltimore-based Dina Fiasconaro, it's about women who want or plan to get pregnant, but are on psych meds for mental illness, and want to know their options. Such a good topic -- one that isn't publicly discussed much, but that tons and tons of women can relate to (including me, sometimes, when I actually think I want kids, which, like I said, is only sometimes). So yeah, consider that project backed (by me), too.

Any thoughts on street harassment OR the pregnancy-meds connection OR either of these worthy KS projects OR crowdfunding in general? Feel free to share below.

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