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MadrasT

(7,237 posts)
Mon Sep 17, 2012, 12:00 PM Sep 2012

STREET HARASSMENT: Every Woman's War

I am walking down the street, headed to work, wearing a loosely fitting dress and high heels. I know that the light breeze will cling to my body at times, but I feel good. Confident even, and ready to take on the week. I see them before they see me: five men, some shirtless because of the oppressive summer heat, all ranging in age. It is too warm to remain indoors, so they have decided to take their conversation to the corner, a common ritualistic display in my neighborhood of brotherhood and machismo.

My steps become slower as I weigh my options: I can walk straight past them, eyes forward, and pray that I will be invisible. I can smile and say ‘thank you’ if they do acknowledge me with compliments, hoping that this will not lead to an open invitation to be followed. I can cross the street, quickly, tune out my ears to whatever may be yelled from across the street, and continue on my way. Or, I can respond, the way my mind has often warned me not to, with an angry tirade, and risk being verbally or even physically assaulted.

These are the type of decisions that I and many other women must make on a daily basis by simply walking outside.

(snip)

But, here is what I also know. Nothing can ever really changed until we speak up collectively. No wound can ever trulyheal unless we take a look at how it got there in the first place. If you witness a woman being mentally or physically violated, speak up. It is far more powerful to defend what is right than ignore it. If you are a parent raising a young man, teach them how to respect their counterparts by leading by example and having open, candid conversations about how they can verbalize their emotions and impulses in a respectful way. If you are a teacher, implement sexual harassment education into your curriculum. Our children need a new model of communication. If you are a woman, consider taking a self-defense class and organizing an escort service in your community. These are the precautions we must take to keep ourselves safe.


Link to article: http://www.ebony.com/life/street-harassment-every-womans-war-554
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patrice

(47,992 posts)
1. I'm sorry to say that most people probably think this is insignificant.
Mon Sep 17, 2012, 01:39 PM
Sep 2012

I can imagine their thoughts, TTE: Yes, well, that does happen and it might be kind of really unpleasant, but no real harm done - or - Total number of women out there, relative to total number of women who have this experience = this is a crazy minority of women trying to jerk the rest of us around - or - If she hates this experience enough, she'd tone it down a bit in order to avoid what's happening to her - or - (worst!!) She enjoys this assault and she enjoys bitching about it - or - __________________________ . . . .

The fundamental error in all of that is that no one thinks anything has anything to do with anything else. It's as though we are living in this fragmented universe in which there are no connections except those which we acknowledge and you (rhetorical you, that is) can acknowledge those "connections" if, when, and HOWever YOU WANT TO and saying that makes it so. The result of this is that most people think you can do whatever you WANT as long as you can "avoid" the consequences one way or another. Therefore, it's okay to profoundly disrespect women on the street and then go home to your teenage daughter and demand respect as the "male" figure of the household. "No 'harm'. No foul."

Wrong.

This is zero-sum thinking at its absolute worst. At this point in our social, economic, and environmental history, we can NO LONGER AFFORD to PRETEND that experiences have no relationship to meta-events and vice versa. We NEED, as in our survival may depend upon it, that is, WE NEED to consider what and how anything MAY have something to do with anything else. This means that we need rational processes at the grassroots' level to evaluate our experiences and make decisions about them, about ourselves, and about our future together.

We need to consider how a culture that admires, encourages, or tolerates casual disrespect of those who are at a power disadvantage AND BLAMES THEM FOR THE ACTIONS OF OTHERS WHO HAVE MORE POWER is a regressive culture that conserves dysfunction.

In the case of STREET HARASSMENT this means that disrespect and exploitation of women for male ego-aggrandizement can very definitely result in a culture that produces a great deal of teen pregnancies, STDs, adultery, divorces, drug abuse, hungry children, pathologies in our public schools and other public places, over-burdened social services at ALL levels . . . , you name it.

These connections ARE real, because the destruction to American families, caused by a lack of respect and an over-all culture of overt or covert violence toward the economically dis-empowered, the "weak", who across all class and ethnic "boundaries" tend to be females and/or children, is REAL.

Individuals need to understand these connections in more situationally specific ways, instead of letting others take advantage of them to enrich those who don't need it.



 

seabeyond

(110,159 posts)
3. do whatever you WANT as long as you can "avoid" the consequences one way or another.
Mon Sep 17, 2012, 04:34 PM
Sep 2012

your post is right on. i have been saying a couple years or more now that what is happening politically with repugs, the war on women is the last decade and a half of allowance of the disrespect of women in so many ways. media, porn, evo psych, all of it is about empowering male dominance and dehumanizing the woman.

even for the women that are "ok" with all this, as our human spirit or whatever one may choose to identify with, the disrespect given is not going to be shrugged off. so, though it may appear a woman is ok and mellow about it all, she still feels the disrespect within and human spirit does not allow. it will be reciprocated one way or another from the woman. it does not behoove man any more than women to allow this to continue and escalate.

no one wins

patrice

(47,992 posts)
4. Agree! strongly . . .
Mon Sep 17, 2012, 04:39 PM
Sep 2012

but I have to go to the grocery store right now (have been here all morning).

I especially like your point, "... though it may appear a woman is ok and mellow about it all, she still feels the disrespect within and human spirit does not allow...."

I want to continue this discussion, because so much at the heart of all of our troubles has to do with stuff going on in families.

 

seabeyond

(110,159 posts)
2. age of 12, 1 in 4 girls will experience street harassment. 19 that number is nearly 90 percent.
Mon Sep 17, 2012, 04:23 PM
Sep 2012
Public sexual harassment against women is an all too common occurrence. By the age of 12, 1 in 4 girls will experience street harassment in the form of unwanted attention in public and by the age of 19 that number is nearly 90 percent. The public sexualization of women can result in a type of vulnerability that is both hurtful and harmful -- hurtful because we are so much more than just a body, and harmful because there are some young women who, after constant reinforcement about how they are perceived, may come to see themselves as just that.


i do not know how a man can say they have never seen it. it is much more than that.

CrispyQ

(36,421 posts)
5. Logging off tonight, but want to read tomorrow.
Mon Sep 17, 2012, 09:58 PM
Sep 2012
My steps become slower as I weigh my options: I can ...

These are the type of decisions that I and many other women must make on a daily basis by simply walking outside.
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