Over Spring Break, like most of my Senior peers I attended the Boston University New York Showcase. I decided to spend the entirety of the week in the city so I could prepare for showcase, get swatching done for my show, and catch up with all of my friends that already had made the move. This meant I spent a lot of alone time navigating the trains and walking the streets. Now, in Boston cat calling, for me, is occasional at worst. Irritating for certain but nothing that has ever stuck with me or struck me as alarming. I realize this is probably part dumb luck. But in NYC I frequently flat out felt unsafe. I could hardly go two blocks without some disgusting comment being thrown my way, never mind being followed, being stopped. It is unbelievable how normalized street harassment has become. When I brought up how bothered I was to peers the response was largely “Of course, what did you expect?” “You better get used to it.”
This is, of course, nothing revolutionary. Cat Calling and street harassment have been a hot topic in the social consciousness for a fair amount of time now but what I am happy to report is that performers and artists alike are staring this issue in the face and refusing to allow it to continue.
Artist Diana Oh has taken Time Square by storm with her piece My Lingerie Play. The piece is a series of underground pop up performances in which Oh, dressed in a series of lingerie, holds up paper bags outlining and broadcasting her motivations behind the piece, her encounters with sexual harassment. Originally meant to be staged in a theater, Oh decided to take the work to the streets where she would reach the audience that needed to hear her message most and from her literally labeled soapbox she addresses and engages with her audience.
“[I was thinking], ‘What is the most unapologetic way I could essentially make my own commercial, my own announcement to the world?’” [Oh] asked. “I needed to deliver the message of this play to the public in a really big unapologetic way. I felt like New York City was at a breaking point in general. This is enough, and this is fucked up. We just can’t take it anymore.”
It is enough. As women, I believe we are quickly nearing our breaking point on this issue. Our patience has run out. We won’t brush it off any longer, we’re angry and rightfully so. We have voices, and we are using them.
Read more and watch the video of Oh’s performance here: