Feminist Street Art against Street Harassment
By Sarah Held
When strolling through urban spaces, one is often surrounded by big advertisment panels, on which women are on the most part portrayed as (half) naked sex objects. It almost seems that highly oversexed and attractive women with perfect (mostly white) bodies are waiting nearly everywhere. In that world where women are objectified, they have to bear various forms of sexual discrimination, which expresses itself very often through street harassment.
The project Girl Gangs over Mannheim intends to interrupt that misogynic behavior in the public sphere where even a subculture like street art is dominated by male. The project is a visual attack against a patriarchal culture in which women are so often reduced to their beauty and/or sexual appearance. The in street art common cut-up technique is used to set up a violent girl gang, that has been created out of photography print outs, in public space to set a sign against street harassment. The images of the gang are placed on an underpass in urban Mannheim, as well as on other places where women have often been threatened before by harassment or even been the victims of physical sexual assaults. These women on the paper cutups are armed with baseball bats, axes and other weapons and are staring right at you with a highly aggressive look. They try to portray an opposite picture of women and how they are usually represented in conventional advertisements. The project supports the idea of how visual activism can be effective against a degradation of women that are illustrated as sex objects.