Older women and street harassment

The artwork accompanying our latest episode #1515 A Walk in the Park, is by Melbourne feminist artist Stephanie Freda Leigh.  It’s a text-based projection, near her home in Melbourne’s suburbs.

Apart from being heart-in-throat effective to look at, the artwork also brought another aspect of street harassment to our attention. Here’s Stephanie talking about the first time she installed it.


After this we wanted to know – how does street harassment change with age? Jenna Price, who we also spoke to in the episode, is 57, and is still having to tell men to fuck off. Does it get better with age, I guess, is what we wanted to know. Do the streets feel safer with age?

The stats aren’t comforting, but they’re interesting. Listen to what Ebony Bennett from the Australia Institute explained when Pip asked her about the ways older women experienced street harassment.

So 83% of 18-24 year olds have experienced street harassment in the past twelve months, and that drops to 21% if you’re over 65. But when it comes to changing behaviour to ensure personal safety, 64% of over 65s are still doing things like avoiding certain streets, walking on well lit paths, not walking alone at night, or carrying their keys in their hand.

Street harassment might decline with age, but the fear of something happening, and the possibility that it will remain, so that behaviour is still regulated.