Respect is the Strongest Compliment

  • “I object to objectification” reads the shirt of the women on the far right.
  • The team went to Times Square to observe how our culture perpetuates gender-based violence.
  • Each artist found and expanded her voice as an activist this summer.
  • Figures are painted gray in order to reference and reimagine the history of classical statues.
  • The team of young women activists stand in front of their powerful mural.
  • Comics inspired the bold colors and design for this mural.

Project Description

Brought to national attention with groups such as HollaBack! and Stop Street Harassment, street harassment affects the feeling of safety many women experience on the street. “The majority of women have been catcalled while walking the streets of NYC,” explained youth artist Eona John about the importance of the mural. “Women are harassed to the point of fear being imprinted in their skin. I feel as though the mural made the fear and annoyance of the women of NYC come to life.”
To complete a mural on street harassment, the young women researched and referenced concepts from feminist activist graphic art, from political posters to more contemporary works by artists such as the Guerrilla Girls, Jenny Holzer, Ellen Gallagher, and Maria Atcha-Kutcher. The team also referenced Ms. Marvel and Priya Shakit comics to help build a graphic and imaginative narrative. 
“Respect Is The Strongest Compliment” uses a comic book style to show a narrative of change. On the left, a group of men depicted as zombies stumble across the mural as they catcall women, who are wary of the men. At the center, a classical statue inspired by art historical styles rejects the catcalling. To the right of the figure, women stand powerful with a series of anti-calling declarations, such as “I Object to Objectification” and “Stop.” A “To Be Continued” bubble acknowledges that the mural is just a part in the ending of street harassment, and more work must be done to change the culture that perpetuates gender-based violence.

⇒ Download educational curriculum (pdf)
Watch video series on the mural by WNET Thirteen (website)

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Project Info

Fun Facts

“We want to be seen less as objects, and more as humans who deserve at the very least, basic dignity to walk the streets safely.” - Lead Artist Danielle McDonald
One women rode up on the sidewalk in tears seeing the mural because she was just harassed. In a show of solidarity, the team got up and hugged her. This was just one instance of this mural’s positive impact.
Suggested Activity
Create your own comic depicting the positive steps that can be taken to address street harassment.