Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Women's Studies

First Advisor

Emanuela Guano - Chair

Second Advisor

Layli Phillips

Third Advisor

Juliana Kubala

Fourth Advisor

Wendy Simonds


This thesis explores the various discursive strategies that black women employ when they encounter street harassment from men. To investigate the ways in which these women choose to respond to men’s attention during social interactions, I examine their perception of social situations to understand how they view urban spaces and strangers within these spaces. Drawing on qualitative interviews that I conducted with 10 black women, I focus on how the unique convergence of this group’s racial and gender identities can expose them to sexist and racist street harassment. Thus, I argue that black women face street harassment as a result of gendered and racialized power asymmetries. I found that black women rely on a variety of discursive strategies, including speech and silence, to neutralize and negotiate these power asymmetries. They actively resist reproducing racialized and gendered sexual stereotypes of black women by refusing to talk back to men who harass. Understanding silence as indicative of black women’s agency, not oppression, remains a key finding in this research.