In what ways can a look be unsettling? Intimidating? Might it be dangerous? How does one study the history of an act so fleeting, and so difficult to record?

PhD candidate Molly Brookfield studies the history of men's harassment of women in public places, in other words, street harassment. She’s interested in behaviors like catcalling or ogling, actions often considered trivial or even complimentary, rather than overtly violent or threatening.

We’ll uncover the history of the more insidious behaviors men often perform in public space. Behaviors that leave no visible mark yet have the power to disrupt a woman’s daily life. But is this really a story of the past? We’ll consider the alarming persistence of such behaviors, and their transition into an accepted, sometimes even normal aspect of urban life.


Subscribe to the podcast on Apple PodcastsSpotifyStitcherGoogle Podcasts, or stream directly above.

View the full episode transcript.

Share your thoughts about Reverb Effect by messaging

Visit the Reverb Effect homepage for the full archive of podcast episodes.

Historian Biographies

Molly Brookfield is a gender historian interested in women’s experiences of American cities in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. She is a PhD candidate in the University of Michigan's joint program in History and Women’s Studies. Her research explores street harassment and its long-lasting impact on women’s sense of safety and autonomy in public space.

Stephanie Fajardo is a PhD candidate in History at the University of Michigan. She is also completing a graduate certificate in Women’s Studies. Her research focuses on gender, intimacy, and US militarism in the Philippines from 1945 to 1965.

Production Credits

Segment Producer: Molly Brookfield

Segment Contributor: Stephanie Fajardo

Host and Season Producer: Daniela Sheinin

Executive Producer: Gregory Parker 

Editorial Board: Gregory Parker, Daniela Sheinin, Melanie Tanielian, Matt Villeneuve 

Presented by the University of Michigan Department of History

© 2019 Regents of the University of Michigan

Image: Dark and rainy street, Spushnik, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0