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12 Wis. Women's L.J. 167 (1997)
Street Harassment as Sexual Subordination: The Phenomenology of Gender-Specific Harm

handle is hein.journals/wiswo12 and id is 173 raw text is: Wisconsin Women's
Law Journal
VOL. 12                                                          1997
Deborah Tuerkheimer*
This article is about street harassment and its impact, told
through the stories of women who experience it. The article also rep-
resents an attempt to think critically about the phenomenology of
gender-specific harm. Inquiry into how our injuries become visible
and how our suffering comes to be understood and counted as impor-
tant is both methodological and deeply substantive, having real conse-
quences for women's lives. When we speak of the social construction
of injury, who is constructing whose injury makes a world of difference.
This discussion gives meaning to its methodological assertions by
contextualizing them in the social practice of street harassment. The
injury of street harassment is largely unique to women and is for the
most part socially unarticulated. For purposes of this discussion, street
harassment occurs when a woman in a public place is intruded on by a
man's words, noises, or gestures. In so doing, he asserts his right to
comment on her body or other feature of her person, defining her as
object and himself as subject with power over her.
As a practice, street harassment embodies and perpetuates wo-
men's sexual subordination. Although women experientially know
* Deborah Tuerkheimer, J.D., Yale, 1996. The author is practicing law in New
The notion that street harassment injures women would not have germinated
without the valuable contributions of many people. In particular, I thank Professor
Reva Siegel and the participants of Yale's Feminist and Critical Race Theory Work-
shop (Spring 1995) for their supportive critiques; all those who took the time to re-
spond to the street harassment survey; Jeffrey Berman, Jennifer Steckel, Julie
Bornstein, Daria Witt, Jennifer Paskus, Jerry Hauser and Alan Tuerkheimer for their
patience, candor and insight; and Dylan Smith, who encouraged me by word and by
example to go forward.

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