How is it that you lack empathy at this basic a level? Street harrasers and their defenders.Posted: October 30, 2014
My use of Facebook has meant that the majority of the blog-posts and online articles I read generally feed into whatever it is I already believe (apart from Reason.com, that’s just for me to hate-read). Being someone who aspires to being a feminist I tend to read a lot of literature put out by those attempting to combat and end street harassment, which lead to me watching the video showing a woman walking alone in NYC, whilst receiving unsolicited comments, judgement and intimidating behavior. I watched this video after getting back from work at 8.30am, went to sleep for three hours. In the time between me falling asleep and waking up, the amount of threats and defensive messages directed at this video had got large enough that websites have been commenting on them. It’s not as though reactions in this vein are new, however the rapidity in turnaround of this particular piece of media activism broke whatever part of myself was trying to understand the societal and educational factors that contribute to seemingly ordinary men harassing strangers on the street. So I really want to know; What the hell do you think you’re doing?
I’m not coming at this from never having been an entitled asshole. When I was fourteen accidentally bruised the ribs of a girl I was into by grabbing her shoulders by surprise to ‘jokingly’ scare her resulting in her having shortness of breath for a few hours. There are at least two women walking around today who I attempted to stay in contact with, well after it was made very clear that they were not interested in me. These things were terrible and assholish but from what I can gather by talking to other people not uncommon, particularly in teenage boys who were brought up in a society that taught and then re-enforced the idea of women and girls as prizes for persistence as opposed to people to interact with. I would like to think I’ve grown up and become a better human being. Thinking back on it I’m pretty sure that in my mind at least there was plausible deniability about any harm I was doing. I was taught very extensively, both that women had all the power in romantic relationships and that as a teenage boy I was simultaneously unimportant and biologically hard-wired to act in a sexually aggressive way; ergo nothing I did too pursue women could intimidate or harm them, and if it did; boys will be boys, amiright? I also grew up in the early to mid 2000s when the wide feedback loop that has become the internet didn’t exist, so there were very few instances were women felt comfortable enough to respond to me being an entitled dick with anything other than silence in the hopes I would get bored and leave them alone.
“See it’s funny and harmless, something something pre-determined biology something something”
If you’re an adult man living in 2014, you have neither of these piss-poor excuses to fall back on, particularly if you are under 40, particularly if you have ever used social media. Even if you lack the ability to read basic social cues in real-time and somehow think that placid non-committal slightly upturned lips followed by quicker walking is somehow an indication of sexual interest; How is it that you continue to think that after reading or listening to any woman say anything about street harassment? I will admit that I’ve haven’t sought out pro-catcalling women that hard but the fact that MRAs haven’t put them front and centre of everything they do makes me assume that they don’t exist. assuming that it’s a kind of one-sided argument, women pretty consistently explain again and again that they would rather not have the idea of being attacked introduced into their daily routine. So far so simple; so Why do dudes keep insisting this is all in good fun?
Take a moment to read the comment board on the lady in NYC video. this last bit is addressed to the dudes who decided to take time out of their day to discredit the video as just showing normal interactions between people;
How do you function? Forget that you that your interactions with female identified people is apparently so slim that street harassment has never been anything any woman has ever felt comfortable enough talking to you about; how do you manage to have abstract thoughts considering it is apparently beyond your imagination that the idea of strangers capable of physically overpowering you, taking a sudden, explicitly invasive interest in your body might be scary? On top of this, we live in a society were violence against women is incredibly commonplace, it is actually happening. The fear women have when cat-called isn’t an ineffable one, they are worried about a very specific thing happening when you cat-call. The baffling thing is that most people you know probably don’t think of you as a bad person, which is insane because you apparently can’t summon up the rudimentary empathy to trust that when someone tells you that a certain behavior upsets and intimidates them, they mean it. What is in this for you? Why is it so important too you that the harassment of women on the street continue to be socially acceptable? Whatever it is please just fucking drop it. Every time I read someone dismiss a Woman’s testimony out of hand because she’s some crazy man hating feminazi, I get embarrassed for having a penis, because every time you do I can hear the screaming, entitled boy crying about people letting you know that your actions might have negative effects of those around you. If you think of yourself as a good person please do your fellow human being the courtesy of believing them when they tell you their experiences. Obviously if you’ve just made it through the last thousand words and think I’m just some whipped white knight (by the way, it’s super interesting that you genuinely can’t get your heads around the concept of solidarity), you could just move to Mount Athos – cos bitches be crazy yo!