Photo by Sascha Kohlmann, Flickr CC

Headphones are not just for listening to music. They can also help avoid harassment. In a recent article in The Atlantic, sociologist Laura Loganexplains that many women leave their headphones in as a strategic move to avoid street harassment.

Logan, who studies street harassment, discusses how this use of headphones and AirPods is only one way women try to protect themselves against harassment in public spaces. Acknowledging street harassment gives the assaulter attention and power, but sometimes, when a street harasser thinks they’re being ignored or challenged, they lash out with even more derogatory comments — including racist or violent statements. Thus, for many women, it is easier to pretend that the noise in their headphones masked a street harasser’s nasty comments than it is to challenge such comments. Logan says,

“When women wear headphones, or read books, or do other things that mean they don’t have to acknowledge this is happening in some way, they’re managing that dilemma.

Women still deal with sexism and misogyny in their daily lives. Leaving headphones in is just one way women attempt to drown it out.