Bye, sexy.”

A teenaged boy launched the comment in my direction from just a few feet away. We’d just been sitting at a table together for about an hour, at a weekly meeting for young men in the neighborhood. I was stunned by the young man’s transgression, but, as many women are conditioned to do, I didn’t respond. Instead, I let the inappropriate comment hang in the air as I left the room.

Like most American women, I have been the target of uninvited comments like this one in the past. The regularity with which such intrusions are directed at women in public space recently inspired its own hashtag, #YouOkSis. The co-creators of the online campaign, Feminista Jones and @BlackGirlDanger, hoped the use of the hashtag would break the silence surrounding the experiences of black women and girls with street harassment. “I wanted to center our voices,”...

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