When I first had the thought to travel with this project, I was hoping that I’d learn about street harassment from a different perspective by hearing the experiences of varying women that are specific to the city they live in.
That happened with Boston.
The first day there I met with a small but diverse group of women at a coffee shop in Dorchester. Instead of having separate conversations with each woman, we all sat as a group and had an open conversation.
I learned that Boston has a huge number of students in one city due to the amount of colleges in and around the city. Elizabeth thought it was important to address that - how the culture of drinking in college impacts street harassment. She talked about being harassed during the day - in quiet, sober atmospheres. But also noted that if it were at night and the student men harassing had been drunk, the harassment would be much worse.
I asked about the racial dynamic of Boston and if or how that affected how they were treated. Kristen talked about being a black woman, and how being well aware of how her black body is perceived makes her take into account what she decides to wear. She talked about seeing white women on the street wearing short or tight dresses, and how as a black woman, she wouldn’t be able to wear the same thing without being treated differently.
Brandie, from Hollaback Boston, also spoke on being a black woman and the way people seem entitled to invade her physical space by touching her hair.
We talked more and many other perspectives were discussed:
Kristen is originally from the south and never experienced street harassment before moving to Boston.
Rachel, a Harvard student, touched on how what she wears sometimes determines what’s said and how it’s said to her.
Britni, also from Hollaback Boston, was particularly bothered by the entitlement men feel to interrupt her and not allowing her to just move about freely.
I worked with Karin Goodfellow of the Boston Art Commission to find wall spaces to wheat paste. She secured a few walls for me before I got to the city, and I reached out to more contacts to find more spaces while I was there. The walls that were secured were bigger spaces than I’d previously pasted in Brooklyn which was exciting. I could go larger. Most of the wheat pastes that I did in Boston were 3-4x larger than any I’d done in NY. To do this, I printed the posters out in sections, and put them together on the wall.
Boston was very beautiful. It’s a quaint, conservative city with lovely houses and golden leaf scattered streets that went up and down hills.
I didn’t, however, notice much street art. Because of that, I’m glad I had walls to paste already in place. Finding them on my own would have been difficult because there didn’t seem to be many open walls to just paste on.
There were a few spaces that I didn’t get to wheat paste due to scheduling with the building owners. I’m planning to come back to the city.
But thanks for a good first run, Boston.