02 May 2013

Why Feminism is Still Relevant: #1 - Street Harassment

This is going to be a multi-part series about feminism. Because it's been awhile since I've talked about the wymynz, doncha think?

Hehe. Wymyn looks really silly. I like it.

Why is feminism still relevant? Because women are still catcalled and harassed in public, that's why.

Sometimes it's whistles as you walk past. "Nice [insert: tits/ legs/ ass], baby." One man asked me if I had any topless photos of myself I could give him (sure, I carry around a whole stack of those in my back pocket to give to perverts like you, here ya go). One man followed me for two blocks after I ignored something he said to me on the street, loudly telling me that I was too white and tall and blonde to be his type and that he wasn't attracted to me, so that thing he said was really just a compliment; and couldn't I take a compliment, or was I a bitch? I've been honked at and flashed and propositioned and gestured at and cussed out when I either don't respond or respond negatively.

And it isn't just me.

Even if you haven't personally been catcalled or harassed or otherwise heckled on the street, there is a 100% chance you know a woman who has.

And we need feminism because it give us a space to talk about it.

This is a handy reference sheet from the interwebs:
via the Washinton Post

To all the harassers out there:
Women do not belong to you. I do not belong to you, or to society, or to anything outside of myself. If I look good, it's not for you. It's not for anybody. It's for me. And if I don't look good to you that's for me too, and you have absolutely no right to comment on it. I'll smile if I want to smile, laugh if I want to laugh, engage in conversation if I want and when and with whom I want. And the same goes for every single woman on this planet.

What you can do if you're harassed on the street:
What I used to do: Ignore it. Continue walking to your destination. Be creeped out for the rest of the day. Let feelings of creepiness influence what you wear and what times of day/parts of town you frequent. Feel it weigh down on your soul.
What I now do most of the time: Go batshit crazy. Stop in your tracks and turn around. Flip him/them off. Big hand gestures. "Did I FUCKING ask you?" Get as loud and profane as possible; draw a crowd. Crowds are usually scary, but in this instance they're safe--you want people to look, you want an audience, because this reaction can escalate to quickly if you're alone with a violence-prone creeper but is the most effective method to get rid of them if there are people around. Continue to your destination filled with healthy anger that will dissipate quickly. Potentially have cool story to tell at coffee or on blog.
What I do not have the patience to do: Gently educate harassers on why their unwarranted attention is offensive. I don't know if this is effective, as I've never tried it.

Remember that street harassment is not a compliment. Ever. No matter what they say, creepers are not even misguidedly trying to compliment you. Harassment is about power. You give up the power, you let them win.
Don't let the creepers win.

How a proper compliment looks:
Me (having gauged that she is not deeply involved in her own thoughts/problems/reading material/music selections): That's a lovely sweater.
Her: Thanks.
Me (having gauged that she is not deeply involved in her own thoughts/problems/reading material/music selections): I just wanted to say that you look lovely today. Have a great afternoon. (Walks away)
Her: (I don't know, I've walked away)
maybe even in a great imaginary fantasy world that hasn't happened
Me (having gauged that she is not deeply involved in her own thoughts/problems/reading material/music selections): I see you're carrying a Ray Bradbury novel; I just wanted to compliment you on your great taste in literature. Have a lovely day.
Her (flattered and taken by my charm and good looks): Thanks. You've got pretty good taste yourself. Want to get coffee sometime? Here's my number.

What do these all have in common? I didn't talk to her if she seemed otherwise engaged. I didn't pressure her for a response. I felt the need to compliment a lady, I did, end of story. That's why it's called a compliment, because it's complimentary.

Love always,

For more resources on Street Harassment check out:
"Can I Buy You a Coffee?"
Stop Street Harassment

1 comment:

Anne Louise said...

Irene, I have found your blog and so far I'm diggin' it. Away with blogging! So excited to read more of you.

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