Point Breeze: Feminist Vandalism

One of the many anti-sexual harassment stencils was plastered at the entrance to the Broad Street Line subway.
One of the many anti-sexual harassment stencils was plastered at the entrance to the Broad Street Line subway.

Philadelphia has experienced a wave of vandalism with a cause on the streets over the past several months.

Anti-sexual harassment stamps have been spotted in Center City, Northern Liberties and primarily in South Philadelphia, ranging from South Street down to Point Breeze and beyond. The message is clear: women in the area are taking a stand against the ongoing battle of sexual harassment which occurs throughout the city on a daily basis.

Meet the Pussy Division – a group of Philadelphia feminist activists who are making an effort to let the city know harassment is unacceptable. Members of Pussy Division remain anonymous to protect their identities from any unwanted criminal suits or attacks but they are still willing to speak out in favor of their cause.

Many stop signs throughout the city have been vandalized with these “Rape” stickers in efforts to bring attention to the sexual harassment issue in the city.

“We saw a picture of a rape sticker on a stop sign and found out that this project goes back to feminists in the 1970s doing the same thing,” a spokesperson from Pussy Division explained. “The simplicity of the message seemed like something that we can build upon with future projects.”

There were 833 reported rapes committed in Philadelphia in 2011 according to City Data.

While the ‘stop rape’ signs may not stop this crime, it may at least bring attention to the problem. Pussy Division is not the only group of people who thinks so.

“I do think that they should get it out there that catcalling is a sign of total disrespect,” said Ryan Phillips, a SEPTA cashier at the Ellsworth-Federal station. “There should be other means to go about stopping this situation right now.”

Alongside of the ‘stop rape’ signs, Pussy Division created stencils of commonly used catcalls with a circle and line through them in order to send the message that street harassment is not welcomed. Pussy Division has been aiming to spread their movement into other cities where sexual harassment is an issue.

“I think sometimes it’s a way for people to test their limits to see how vulnerable someone might be and then to pursue them,” said Julie Chann, a Drexel student and resident of Point Breeze. “I don’t think some people have a line where they won’t cross.”

“Street-harassment and rape culture are so pervasive in our culture that we are trying to make a positive change by starting a conversation, raising awareness and being explicit in saying that we are not going to put up with sexual assault and street harassment anymore,” Pussy Division’s spokesperson said.

Pussy Division worked with Slut Walk Philly to help with the March to End Rape Culture, which took place at Love Park last weekend.

To get involved with Pussy Division, contact them via their Facebook page.

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