Date of Degree
Rob C. Smith
Gender and Sexuality | Race and Ethnicity | Sociology | Urban Studies and Planning
gender, sexuality, race, intersectionality, LGBTQ, transgender, violence
My dissertation aims to expose how women and Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ) people are barred from full participation in the public sphere and public life because of catcalling and LGBTQ-directed aggression on the streets of New York City. The harmful, cumulative, and long-lasting effects of these interactions make it difficult for marginalized people to belong and benefit from a supposedly inclusive and democratic society. Focusing on the public sphere of New York City, this dissertation is a qualitative study of catcalling and LGBTQ-directed aggression. I analyze interviews with catcallers and sixty-seven recipients of everyday violence as well as my own experiences of everyday violence to rethink catcalling and LGBTQ-directed aggression as part of a single violent process.
What is unique about this work is that it provides the reader with information about both initiators and recipients of everyday violence, cisgender and transgender people, heterosexual and LGBQ+ people, but I also consider the way race, class, and space intersect with gender and sexuality. I then show how everyday violence is not just about gender inequality or discriminating against LGBTQ people, but about how the public sphere belongs to cisgender and heterosexual men, and to cisgender and heterosexual people in general, which are especially hard to confront if they are privileged in terms of race and class. Finally, as more countries try to address this issue by relying on criminal justice systems, I push against criminalizing catcalling and expanding hate-crimes legislation in favor of community accountability and restorative justice.
In contribution to Urban Sociology, Women’s Studies, LGBTQ Studies and Trans studies, my work adds to the rejuvenated movement to end street harassment across the globe and the #MeToo movement that seeks an end to gendered sexual violence. There is tremendous need for empirical data which can aid in activist efforts and help lead to changes in policy. By combining interviews, fieldwork, and auto-ethnography, I have amassed data that can complement any quantitative or mapping efforts to understand this social problem and built a feminist and a largely queer oral history. I conclude that catcalling and LGBTQ-directed aggression are manifestations of everyday violence, which have a lasting, cumulative effect on people’s gender and sexual identities and uphold structural inequalities like sexism, homophobia, and transphobia across all spheres of society. I wish for women and LGBTQ people to safely navigate the city and be part of the public sphere, and I dedicate this dissertation to my participants, the many readers who will see themselves reflected in these pages, and to a future on our own terms, free from violence.
Kolysh, Simone A., "Everyday Violence: Catcalling and LGBTQ-Directed Aggression in the Public Sphere" (2019). CUNY Academic Works.
This work is embargoed and will be available for download on Wednesday, May 31, 2023
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