Publication details [#62686]

Bailey, Benjamin. 2017. Greetings and compliments or street harassment? Competing evaluations of street remarks in a recorded collection. Discourse & Society 28 (4) : 353–373.
Publication type
Article in journal
Publication language
Place, Publisher
SAGE Publications


This paper assesses competing discourses about the meaning of street remarks – the remarks men make to unfamiliar women passing on the street – in 1000 comments posted to a YouTube video of street remarks recorded in New York City in 2014. One discourse prominent in the comments posted to the video champions the remarks as civil talk, pointing out the literal meanings of remarks like ‘Have a nice evening’. A second, less frequent, discourse features these encounters and utterances as sexual intimidation, quoting men’s ostensible sexual intentions and personal experience. It is argued that (a) problems in expressing the ways in which street remarks are harmful may hide their harm, thus adding to the continuation of male domination of women in public spaces, and (b) the close juxtaposition of explicitly misogynistic comments with interpretations of the street remarks as civil raises doubts about the sincerity of such interpretations.