Tuesday, August 5, 2014

whistle blower

i posted this video about street harassment the other day. unfortunately, i don't like facebook as a forum. like...at all. so i'm sorry if that got out of hand. but i feel like i've got to say something. because i'm over it. quoting the great Batman Begins, "harassment! all i see is harassment!"

but seriously.  

i've faced harassment pretty much every day since moving here. it ranges from innocuous to terrifying. i've been cursed at, spit at, followed, called quite a lot of names. from things that have been seemingly sweet to skin-crawlingly vile. and it's something i live with. it's something i deal with. but i'd still like to draw attention to it. because it's wrong.

people try and play different angles. everyone has an explanation. a justification. an excuse.

she was asking for it. 
what did she expect? 
it's just a joke. 
she should be flattered. 

it's disgusting. i don't care about cause and effect; the bottom line is sexual harassment is wrong. period. and it's not about the women.

let me be clear. this is not me saying women's actions don't have consequences; this is me saying they shouldn't. where did the responsibility go?

when I'm wearing shorts and a guy comes up to whisper that he wants to f--- me both ways, that's not on me. when i'm wearing sweats and no makeup and a guy whistles, telling me to "work that ass," that's not on me. when i'm wearing a dress and a guy tries to get my attention, following me down the street to do it, that's not on me. when i'm wearing a long skirt or a baggy tee and a guy tells me "look at me, bitch," that's not on me.

it's not about what i wear. how i saunter. what i say. it's not about the color of my skin, my hair, my eyes. it's not about where i am, what culture i'm a part of or who i surround myself with. the terrifying truth is...they couldn't care less about me.  

those guys don't see me, they don't see what i'm wearing. they don't care about hemlines or dress sizes. they see a woman without a man and decide that they're allowed to comment. whether it's positive, flattering, creepy, simple, sexual--it demeans the women. because, honestly, it's not about us. it's never about us. catcalling and street harassment is about the men and what they're getting off on. it's a power play. it's them pushing boundaries and getting away with it. it's them assuming they have a right to us, that the way we dress or walk or act is for them.

and that's wrong.

when we put the responsibility or expectation on the woman to dress or act a certain way, it takes away any obligation for a man to act like a decent human being. regardless of what a woman is wearing or parading, no man has the right to feel entitled to it. but the sad truth is, guys feel justified in reacting to a woman as an object.

and before you go all #notallmen on me, please don't. because, yeah, sure. not all men are douchebags. not all men sit on corners or stare at girls or yell obscenities or whatever else you want to say.

sure, not all men, but yes all women.

all women have felt harassment--even if they don't want to recognize it. and it's something guys can't understand. i don't consider myself a victim, and i try hard not to have other people's actions dictate mine. but my entire life has been spent dealing with this issue. we're taught to keep our heads down, ignore them, accept it and move on. but i'm over it.

i don't like that i have to be careful where i go or when. i don't like having to cross the street to avoid a group of strangers. i don't like not being able to say "good morning" back in case that's not all he wants to say. i don't like seeing every stranger as a possible threat. i don't like keeping my finger on speed dial when i walk home at night. i don't like imagining what i'd have to do to fight my cab driver off if he took a wrong turn. i don't like pausing before entering a subway car with just one guy in it, wondering if it will end well. i don't like having to constantly have my guard up, my keys in hand, my bitch face on.

i don't like it. but most of all, i don't like that we try to normalize this. that we shrug it off and make excuses saying that's just the world we live in. we try and laugh it off. we try and lay blame or point fingers--usually at the women. but that's diluting the issue. 

because the truth is, i don't think there's any real solution. this isn't easy. it's not a quick-fix. it's frustrating and overwhelming and we can't just pass a law and be done. but i hope i can raise awareness. i hope i can open the eyes to it of those closest to me. because i want people to understand...this isn't about what a woman can or should do. this isn't about who's to blame or what to do. this is about convincing people of one very simple truth: street harassment is wrong.

cut. print. check the gate. moving on.

until we accept that it's an issue, until we stop trying to lay blame and justify, until we stop making excuses and just finally admit it's a problem...nothing will change. i care about this because i can't normalize it anymore. no more slut shaming, no more victim blaming. i will rant and rave and rage against the machine. because it's all i can do. and i'm done being quiet. something needs to change, even if that something is just public opinion. so face it. this isn't about who to blame or how to fix it; this is just about admitting there's a problem.

1 comment:

  1. I was told to read this today and I just want to say thank you for writing it - for so boldy and so clearly stating what my heart screams some days. Thank you, Shelby.