SPOILER ALERT: women don’t like being sexually harassed in the street. So, what’s a lady to do? Well, we could:
A) Trade in our dresses for sleeping bags.
B) Become a mole person and live underground.
C) Never leave the house?
We’re not saying we’re being cat called 24/7, but we are saying we’re over it and we want a new response option (besides the old standby: look down and walk faster).
So learning about Las hijas de Violence, a female activist group in Mexico City, feels like a breath of fresh air. They are fighting cat calling with punk rock and confetti guns and not only does it look fun but it’s empowering as hell to hear about how these women are changing their community.
Artists Jeff Seal and Malena Glaze recently documented the group in action and the result is a 90 second video for AJ+ that went viral on the internet. If you haven’t had a chance to watch, check it out now:
We got a chance to speak with Glaze and Seal about the making of the video and the importance of “small actions” when it comes to changing our world for the better. Enjoy!
Lifetime: The video has over 9 million views. Did you expect it to be so popular?
Malena Glaze: The video in English has over 9 million views and the Spanish video has over 5 million views. And most of these views happened in the first two days of release. I had absolutely no idea it would get this big. I just kept checking the views that first day and thinking, “OMG! It’s like a Beyonce video!” I couldn’t be more pleased that the video spoke to people in a way that made them want to share it.
What made you want to cover the story?
Jeff Seal: We wanted to make a video about them because we think what they were doing is awesome. I’m a guy, so I wasn’t even really aware that street harassment was a thing women had to deal with on a daily basis until fairly recently. My only conception of it was the cliche of some dudes with construction hats whistling at a lady in an 80’s movie or something. Also, maybe that photo called, “American Girl in Italy” by Ruth Orkin. But the main thing is we wanted to provide a platform for them to tell their story. This is always important to me but especially so in this case because it’s about the experience of being a woman in the world and I am not a woman.
MG: Las Hijas de Violencia are such a good story and work so well because they–and their performances– encapsulate so many different themes in feminism and the experience of public space. And part of their political position is FUN, which is so important in an activist context, because generally, we’re dealing with really depressing issues. I think Las Hijas speak to a lot of women, activists, and feminists, because they’re exploring a space in activism where we can challenge the status quo and laugh at the same time.
Do you have a notable story or insight from working on the project?
JS: One of the eye-opening moments for me, as a guy who’s never really been sexually harassed on the street, was when Ana Beatriz said, “The construction of street harassment as a ‘compliment’ is a conception based in gender that understands that women are made for commenting on by a male spectator.”
MG: Small actions, even if they are symbolic, really matter. I also walked away with an additional excitement for the DIY. These women just did it, and now they are influencing other women to just do it. Make it happen. You don’t need a lot of resources. You don’t need institutional approval. Just make it happen. It’ll be powerful. And if it’s not powerful the first time, try it again.
Malena Gaze is an activist and artist based in Mexico City. She is the front-woman of the queer- feminist electro-tropical band, K Pasa USA (www.kpasausa.mx), and facilitates workshops about sexual empowerment for women, including Orgasm Forums and Naked Lady Art Parties.
Jeff Seal is a comedian and filmmaker based in Brooklyn, NY. His short documentaries have appeared on Discovery Channel Digital, AJ+ and Gothamist. He makes comedic content with his company Bankrukt Productions and is co-founder and co-artistic director of Cloud City, a theater and art space in Brooklyn.
by Ashley Brooke Roberts