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'Goddesses' Protest Street Harassment in Bed-Stuy

By Paul DeBenedetto | August 26, 2013 10:33am | Updated on August 26, 2013 5:20pm
 "The Goddess Walk," organized by Brown Girl Burlesque, marched from Fulton Park on Saturday.
Sweet Lorraine, organizer of the Goddess Walk.
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BEDFORD-STUYVESANT — Women of color gathered in Bedford-Stuyvesant on Saturday to protest street harassment, in a march organized by a local burlesque dancer.

"The Goddess Walk," organized by a burlesque dancer who goes by the name Sweet Lorraine, took to Fulton Park on Saturday, where they painted signs and wrote anti-harassment messages in chalk before marching the streets of Bed-Stuy.

The idea for the march came to Lorraine after a harrowing experience on the street one year ago where six teenagers harassed her and pushed her after she spurned their advances.

"I got the 'Hey, baby' thing," Lorraine said. "And I said, 'If you want to address me, say 'Hello, miss.'"

Lorraine reached out to others to see if they had a shared experience, and found that it was more common than she imagined.

Through her "Goddess Festival," a year-long festival dedicated to giving black women an outlet to express their point of view through the arts, she found that a lot of women of color were having discussions about their own sexuality and how its perceived by the public and the media.

"It doesn't matter what I have on or what I look like, I get harassed, and it's not OK," Lorraine said. "We don't all have this oversexed idea of ourselves, like the jezebel or the 'video vixen.'"

Now in its second year, the Goddess Walk invites women to wear what they want and march along Fulton Street, Tompkins Avenue, MacDonough Street and Lewis Avenue, carrying signs and writing chalk messages like "Don't whistle at me, I'm not a dog!" and "Do you kiss your mother with that filthy mouth?"

Despite the group's message, they have been met with harassment even while marching, with one man last year saying that if they wanted to be respected they shouldn't dress a certain way. The group stopped to talk to the man, Lorraine said.

"It gave women a way to show there's not this one black woman experience," Lorraine said. "We're all individuals."