Netflix’s She’s Gotta Have It has opened up dialogue about sexuality, identity and gentrification but one episode tackles street harassment head on.
While walking down the street, Nola Darling (DeWanda Wise), is a victim of street harassment, which leads her to launch a public campaign against catcalling. The story arch was inspired by the work of Tatyana Fazlalizadeh, a Brooklyn-based artist who launched the “Stop Telling Women To Smile” campaign in 2013. And now, Netflix has created the #MyNameIsnt campaign to inspire women to take back their power on the streets.
For the She’s Gotta Have It reboot, Spike Lee commissioned Fazlalizadeh to create Nola’s artwork. Lee has been a fan of Fazlalizadeh since he first saw her “Stop Telling Women To Smile” campaign in 2014.
“Being told to smile is something that so many women experience all the time, but because it seems so innocuous, it seems so insidious, it seems so normal —it seems like a little trivial thing that doesn’t even matter,” Fazlaizadeh told ESSENCE.
“Sexual harassment and sexism have just been normalized and so this work is trying to take things that seem to be normal —that seem to be accepted— like calling a woman ‘baby’ or telling her to smile or calling her ‘honey’ or ‘sweetheart’ and saying that’s not OK.”
For #MyNameIsnt, Netflix is encouraging people to use the hashtag on social media to share their own catcalling stories —there’s also a meme generator and posters throughout NYC to get people involved. The idea is to unite through shared experiences but also take men who make women uncomfortable on the streets to task.
“The [art] work, for me, has two different audiences,” Fazlalizadeh said. “One is women and one is men. Not to put gender in a binary way, but I’m specifically thinking of who is being oppressed here and who is doing the oppressing.”
“If you’re a perpetrator of this it’s asking you to consider your behavior, to change your behavior and to at least think about it.”