‘Merely a Compliment’? Community Perceptions of Street Harassment in Melbourne, Australia
Community attitudes towards sexual and gender-based violence play a central role in normalising, excusing and minimising perpetrators’ actions, as well as fostering a violence-supportive culture. However, we currently know little regarding how members of the community understand or perceive ‘everyday’ or seemingly ‘minor’ forms of harassment and intrusion, such as street-based harassment, with most research focusing on sexual assault and rape. To address this gap, we conducted a mixed-methods, vignette-based survey with members of the community in Melbourne, Australia. The survey examined participants’ perceptions of five scenarios depicting incidents that might constitute street harassment, including the extent to which participants viewed the scenarios as harmful, complimentary or in breach of social norms, and who bore responsibility for the incident. Findings suggest that participants typically held progressive understandings of harassment, but they nonetheless drew on victim-blaming or minimising discourses at times. In closing, we consider the implications for future research and primary prevention work.
Except where otherwise noted, content in this journal is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.