As we enter into Women’s History Month, it is important to remember that the fight for equality is far from over. While we celebrate, and commemorate the prolific wonder-women of our past, it is also important to experience the women of our present. The women who are using their positions, their talents, to aggressively combat hegemonic norms that hold society back. Women who step out of their comfort zones, or force others to step out of their comfort zones, in the name of women everywhere, we thank you, and we are here for you.
One of these women is Brooklyn based artist Tatyana Fazlalizadeh. Fazlalizadeh started “Stop Telling Women To Smile”, a “public art series that is addressing street harassment, particularly gender based street harassment”, in 2012. The artist sat down with New York based women, and had conversations about their experiences with street harassment. She then sketched their portrait and captioned them using ideas from each women’s personal experience. Fazlalizadeh states that the idea behind the project was to bring stories of street harassment back to where they originated, the streets. She posted the portraits of these women in different areas of New York, specifically areas that each women in the portrait identified with.
Since it’s beginning in 2012, “Stop Telling Women To Smile” has become a worldwide project, visiting cities like Paris, France, and Mexico City, Mexico. The “Stop Telling Women To Smile” website states that the project is far from over, and will be traveling to many cities in the future.
Tatyana Fazlalizadeh is exposing street harassment exactly where it happens, the streets. She is memorializing the silent masses of women who experience harassment daily, effectively restoring power into the women of her portraits, and many other women who share similar experiences. Through her “STWTS” series, Fazlalizadeh is fighting to create a more safe environment for women, one where we are not viewed as bodies, as entertainment, but rather as equal beings.
“Street harassment is a serious issue that affects women world wide. This project takes women’s voices, and faces, and puts them in the street – creating a bold presence for women in an environment where they are so often made to feel uncomfortable and unsafe.”