"I have to believe that street harassment is something we can put a stop to, and I do believe we can," Christen Brandt tells PEOPLE

By Gabrielle Olya
February 02, 2016 10:00 AM
Katie Riley

As a woman living in New York City, being verbally – and even sometimes physically – harassed by random men is unfortunately not a rare occurrence for 27-year-old Christen Brant. But one recent exchange in a subway station prompted Brandt to share her experience in a now-viral Facebook post.

Brandt said she was followed by a man who complimented her legs – despite the fact that her legs were almost entirely covered up by a long parka and high boots.

“This is what I was wearing this morning as I made my way through a crowded 34th Street subway station, and a man passing by me said, ‘Damn, you have some great legs,’ ” Brandt posted on Jan. 28 along with a photo of her very conservative outfit.

“Next time you wonder whether your skirt is too short, next time you ask your teen daughter to change her clothes, or the next time you hear about school dress codes in the news, remember this photo,” she continued. “I am in a f—— parka and boots. And it. doesn’t. matter.”

“All women have these moments,” she said. “All of us. And yet the world acts as if it’s still our problem to fix. Get your s— together, guys. I, for one, am sick of dealing with it.”

Brandt’s poignant post now has over 100,000 likes.

“It’s been amazing to watch this conversation spread,” she tells PEOPLE in a statement. “Women from all over the world are messaging me their own stories, and many, many more are sharing my post with their own added experiences. It’s been overwhelming, and mostly in the best way possible.”

The co-founder of She’s the First, an international organization that provides scholarships to girls in low-income countries, hopes her post can bring attention to the type of harassment women regularly face and help put a stop to it.

“Harassment against women happens everywhere, to varying degrees; what happened to me was so common it’s almost banal,” she says. “But I have to believe that street harassment is something we can put a stop to, and I do believe we can – if we have men on our side. If the men in our lives realize that this isn’t just something that happens to other women, they’ll be more likely to take a stand against it.”

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