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Author: Mischa Dekker

Although we often speak about a global increase in awareness and policy on street harassment, in France, the issue was incorporated into a gender-based violence policy subsector, while Dutch policymakers avoided vocabularies pertaining to structural male domination. Differences in governmental campaigns on street harassment were the result not only of policymakers’ positive convictions, but also of their ‘apprehensions’. Apprehension of ‘moralising’ led to resistance against and decline of feminism in the Netherlands, while apprehension of ‘stigmatising’ men of colour informed campaigns in France. This notion is proposed as an alternative to that of ‘blame avoidance’, which reduces policymakers’ avoidance behaviour to the logic of instrumental strategy. An analysis of apprehensions is attentive to how ideas shape social action: policy implementation cannot be reduced to the mechanical reproduction of policy paradigms, but is often the product of policymakers’ reflective choices in the policies they do and do not want to pursue.

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