A phenomenological discourse analysis of harassed female 'skinscapes' in select public spaces in Cape Town
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Street harassment refers to the unsolicited verbal remarks and nonverbal gestures that women are subjected to by men when moving through (public) spaces. The dominant discourse sees this phenomenon as firstly a gendered interaction. In this sense, men are construed as initiators and women as recipients, although this is not always the case. Secondly, the remarks are often viewed as solely sexualized in nature. Lastly, public spaces are seen as male realms in which the actions of males are context specific, whereby the public nature of space sees it as conducive for inevitable street harassing events. This study seeks to understand how street harassment unfolds in the South African (post-apartheid) context. Drawing on Phenomenological Discourse Analysis approach, the study focuses on interview accounts of six participants from across the demographics whose experiences represent a microcosm of harassed female skinscapes in and around Cape Town. Phenomenology is a useful entry point to understanding emotive recounts of traumatic events in the lives of the participants, specifically street harassment. Public space is approached through the lens of Linguistic Landscapes (LL) which focuses on language and linguistic artefacts as they are arranged or located in space. For this study, the perception of and bodies in space comes to the fore. Hence, it is the interplay between space, body and the phenomenological account of the body as a corporeal 'site' of harassment which is a focal point.