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Kate Leth is a webcomic artist, cartoonist, and illustrator based in Halifax, Nova Scotia. We had the privilege of asking her some questions about this particular illustration. Check out how she’s using art to combat street harassment!
What was your inspiration for this comic?
I take the bus almost every day, usually twice, and it’s not that uncommon for people to try and make conversation with me even though I’m reading or have my headphones on. I’ve also gotten a fair bit of that kind of harassment on the street – you know, guys who try and talk to you even though you’re clearly disinterested, and then hurl insults when you ask them to leave you alone. What’s my inspiration? Hah. Being a girl in a city. There are lots of reasons. I write about what’s on my mind, and there was a period of time in the summer where it felt like I was getting chatted up or yelled at everywhere I went. I’ve got a lot of tattoos and people often take that as an invitation to my personal space. I’ve done comics about that, too.
What do you think of the work Hollaback! is doing?
It’s great! Street harassment is a pain, and the reactions to it can be, as well. I remember walking to work one morning (at 9:45am) and having a car pull up beside me and both guys inside gesture for me to take off my headphones. I did, and they proceeded to catcall me and ask me to come for a ride. When I angrily put my headphones back on and started to walk away, they both swore at me and laughed. Later, I told a male friend about it, and he pulled the old “I’d be so flattered if a woman did that to me!” routine. It’s good to talk about why that’s not okay.
Did you know there was a Hollaback! in Halifax too?
I did! The woman running it is a friend of mine online and participated in our Ladies Night event at the comic shop I work in. We talk on twitter! She is awesome.
What is your signature Hollaback!?
My favorite response ever – well, okay, I’m usually kind of irritated and just walk away, but not always. One day last summer a guy pulled up next to me in his car, same deal, and instead of leaving I walked in front of his car, flipped him the bird twice and yelled, “DOES IT FEEL NICE WHEN I DO THIS? DO YOU FEEL PRETTY?” …He swerved around me, swearing, and drove away. I’m particularly proud of that.
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