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Monday, September 10, 2012

Stop harassing women!

Awesome essay on Jezebel:

If You Harass Me, I Will Punch You in the Balls

by Stoya

This is what it's like to be a girl or woman walking around in public in broad daylight. With dirty hair up in a ponytail or bun, no makeup, and baggy clothing on. With headphones in, sitting in a coffee shop or on the subway with your nose in a book, or talking on the phone: 
Men have followed me down the street poking me in what one can only assume is an attempt to get my attention. Men have grabbed the cord to my headphones and ripped them out of my ears. Multiple times. Men have grabbed parts of my body, or my coat or purse strap. They've blocked me into corners on mostly empty subway cars, followed me for blocks and then stood outside whatever shop I duck into for absurd amounts of time. They stop their cars in the middle of the crosswalk to stare and yell things out of the window. Years ago, in Philadelphia, one man walked around my neighborhood asking people if they knew where this blue-haired white girl lived because he wanted to return her phone. Fortunately my neighbors were too smart for that trick.
They say I have a sweet ass, nice tits, a real pretty dress. They say I'm their future wife, or I'd look good with their dick in my mouth. They try (and probably succeed at times) to take pictures down my shirt. They ask if they can get my number, they ask where I live, why I'm not smiling, why my boyfriend lets me walk around by myself. Then they ask why I'm such a bitch, if my pussy is made of ice. They say that they never do this, as though I've somehow driven them to inappropriate behavior and deserve it. They say they're just having fun, trying to pay me a compliment. Pretty frequently they get mean, slipping into a loud tourettes-like chant of "bitch-whore-cunt-slut".
Let me tell you that every single woman I know has at least one truly terrifying story of street harassment and a whole bunch of other stories that are merely insulting or annoying.  It seems like women have been sharing their experiences with sexual harassment all over the place in the past few weeks. That's what prompted me to share mine. As Jen Bennett said on twitter, there is clearly something in the air. It should be in the air. Speaking up is the only way that we can help people understand that something is an issue. Sharing is how we let each other know that we are not alone. Open discussion raises awareness of things like Slutwalk and Hollaback.
Street harassment is not a rare or isolated occurrence. It does not only happen in America. It does not only happen to young or traditionally-considered-"beautiful" women. It does not only happen on public transit or in low income areas. 
We shouldn't have to have a big angry dog named Funster to protect us. We shouldn't have to carry Mace or a knife, hoping that we'll be able to use it properly if necessary or investing hours of our lives in self defense courses (something a lot of women have neither the time nor disposable income to do). We shouldn't have to travel in packs to feel safe (again, something that isn't really feasible). 
Men have been responding saying that they want to divorce their gender. That they didn't realize, until we started sharing our stories en masse, what it is like to be a woman. That they wish there was something they could do. That they're sorry for the way other men treat people. Men shouldn't have to feel like they need to apologize on behalf of their gender, or feel ashamed of being male. Unless they're one of the ones doing the harrassing, I don't think they should apologize. 
There are things that can be done. When someone you know engages in inappropriate or harassing behavior towards a woman, let them know they did something totally not cool. Like: "Actually, that woman had a right to be upset when you chased her down the street. She was completely accurate when she called it creepy" or "Hey, this story you're telling me about putting your dick on a drunk stranger's face at a party when she clearly didn't want it there but was too sleepy to fend you off, that was a totally not cool thing to do with your penis, bro." Teach every moldable male mind (brothers, friends, sons) that treating women (humans) with respect is the right thing to do. If you hear a woman asking a man to leave her alone or calling attention to the fact that he's whacking off in the train station, add your voice to hers. Say "This is not ok. This is not cool. We see what you are doing and it is unacceptable." 



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