Almost every man we spoke to felt the remarks made to women in the streets were “harmless” and were an attempt at being neighborly. When we asked whether they were similarly neighborly to other men, their defense fell apart. They pointed out the absurdity of infringing on someone’s personal space in public in that way. Yet when we pointed out that these gender-based unsolicited remarks are street harassment by definition, they adamantly disagreed.
- Stop Catcalling Me by Kendall Goodwin
“Hey. Hey! HEY!” he called from the street. Thinking there was some emergency happening in the millisecond it took for our paths to cross, I turned ever so slightly.
“If I’m not afraid to speak, then why are you?”
Are you fucking kidding me? Could this really be happening? That as I was mulling over the imbalance between men and women in the public square, some strange man who I have never seen before demands that I speak to him only because he would like to speak to me?
Of course I was so mad that I smiled. “Oh,” I said through gritted teeth. “Hello.” Because that’s exactly what he wanted, I guess. To get an insincere greeting from a woman he doesn’t know only because he could.
Halarnkar then offered as proofa survey that caused indignation in Indialast month: a poll of 370genderspecialists around the world that voted India the worst place to be a woman out of all the G20 countries. It stung – especially as Saudi Arabia was at the second-worst. But the experts were resolute in their choice. “In India, women and girls continue to be sold as chattels, married off as young as 10, burned alive as a result of dowry-related disputes and young girls exploited and abused as domestic slave labour,” said Gulshun Rehman, health programme development adviser at Save the Children UK, who was one of those polled.
A glance at the Indian media reveals the range of abuse suffered by the nation’s women on a daily basis.
In June, a father beheaded his 20-year-old daughter with a sword in a village in Rajasthan, western India, parading her bleeding head around as a warning to other young women who might fall in love with a lower-caste boy.
At that point, all the rage that had boiled in me was released. Yelling back isn’t always the safest response, of course. People can have weapons. These men could’ve followed me home, except they didn’t. I was “lucky” in that sense, that I had friends waiting for me and that they didn’t know which floor I lived on, that they were paralyzed by my words. But in another sense, I won’t deny that I felt invincible. They never expected such a strong, loud voice from what they perceived to be a little girl. But I am a grown ass woman with a great screaming voice. They never knew what hit them. That’s what made it such a satisfying experience.
Joe Samalin, part of the NYC team that created the new video “Shit Men Say to Men who Say Shit to Women on the Street” that’s been viewed nearly 50,000 times in less than one day and was made for International Anti-Street Harassment Week.
“Shit Men Say to Men Who Say Shit to Women on the Street” was inspired by International Anti-Street Harassment Week.
It was created by a group of women and men in NYC who believe that street harassment is wrong, and that we all have a role to play in ending it - especially us guys.
The video shows non-violent some ways that men can interrupt street harassment as it happens. (And it happens all the time. Seriously. Go check. We will wait.)
Join us by sharing this video. And the next time you witness street harassment - and you will - say some shit. Please.
[trigger warning: rape]
You know, don’t just walk down the street and be like everything’s peaches and roses. It’s one in three women who are going to be raped, killed, beaten or abused in her lifetime, and that’s just real. To not live with that as a reality is really dangerous for women, and it lets a lot of guys off the hook from really paying attention to what’s happening to the women around them. Because it’s not all the men who are doing it, but not every single guy that boasts in the locker-room about the hot sex he had last night, had it with someone who was conscious."
The thing is though, I personally find terms like “babe” coming from men to be overfamiliar, sexist and patronising. I’m allowed to interpret their words in that way, it doesn’t make me irrational or oversensitive. It doesn’t mean I don’t have a sense of humour or that I should be grateful for the attention. It is interesting to note that lots of the critical comments are from men.
While I don’t condone violence, I sympathize with her actions. When man after man gets away with sexually harassing, stalking, groping, and assaulting women on the streets, subway platforms, buses, and stores of our country, and when bystanders stand by and let it happen, there comes a breaking point. Maybe after getting kicked and yelled at by a person he thought he could easily grope, this perpetrator won’t be so quick to grope someone else. Especially if the police catch him. Good for DeJesus.
DeJesus is not the only New York City woman to have this type of reaction to groping. In the past year, we’ve heard from Nicola Briggs who was videotaped yelling down the man who rubbed against her and flashed her on the subway (he was later arrested and deported), Kate Spencer who hit the man who groped her on a subway platform, and Robyn Shepherd who chased down a man who smacked her butt as she walked down the street.
Street harassment is NOT about sex. It’s about power. It’s subtle and pervasive social control. It says to girls and women, “you can never be sure you are safe out here and I can control where you go, when you walk, whether or not you smile, what you wear and how you feel.” It’s not flattering. It’s not fun. We aren’t “asking for it.” The normative public intimidation of women is a debilitating blight on equality.
To be clear, this argument is not an indictment of male sexuality as a pathology, a disease to be cured or a crime to be persecuted. Most men can be visually stimulated, act decently and enjoy non-threatening, healthy ways of expressing their attraction to a woman. They can then, with consent, enter into dialog and relationships — short or long — with them. Street harassment is not that. It is a symptom of the way our culture harmfully conflates “masculinity” and male sexuality with violence, a sense of ownership and oppression of women.
There’s going to be a Slut Walk in Paris next Saturday! Yay French feminists!