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Rape Culture, Street Harassment and Everyday Sexism

I know I rarely write about super serious topics, but every once in a while, a topic strikes a nerve with me, and I feel compelled to write about it.

I had an epic bout with insomnia last night and whenever I have insomnia, I stay up late watching Investigation Discovery. I was watching an episode of  ‘On The Case with Paula Zahn’, and the story centered around a teenaged girl that had been drugged, sexually assaulted and murdered. As I watched the show, it got me thinking.

Back when I was in high school, there was a girl who went to my school that was killed by 3 boys. One of them tried to have sex with her earlier in the evening and she refused. She was later drugged, strangled, driven to a remote location, where one of the boys tried to rape her, but was interrupted by passing cars. When it became clear that this boy wasn’t going to be able to get what he wanted, he and his friends put a pipe bomb in her mouth and detonated it. She was 15 years old.

I hadn’t thought about this situation in many years, but after watching Paula Zahn, I couldn’t get it out of my head. As I thought more about this, I got angrier and angrier. Who are these men? What’s wrong with them? What is this sense of entitlement? Why do these men feel like women don’t have the right to say no if they don’t want to have sex? What makes these men think that these women and girls aren’t allowed to change their minds about whether or not they want to have sex?

As I continued to think about these things, I thought back to a twitter conversation I was having with user @brokeymcpoverty and other twitter users. The story was basically about street harassment and whether or not the silent treatment is an acceptable defense. I said that I don’t like using the silent treatment because I think it’s dangerous. I’ve been threatened with violence or called out of my name on more than one occasion when utilizing the silent treatment. Then Brokey made a great point:

I kind of don’t like silence being branded a ‘dangerous’ response because what’s dangerous is how the harasser responds to it.

The conversation also centered around how ridiculous it is that many men won’t back down from pursuing a woman unless she says she doesn’t want to talk to him because she has a boyfriend/husband. So you mean to tell me the only reasoning you’ll accept is me being off the market? Why isn’t “I’m not interested” enough?

Flash forward to this evening. I read an article about the band Chvrches and how the lone female member of the group, Lauren Mayberry, regularly receives inappropriate comments via their social media pages. You would think the most disgusting thing about the situation is the insinuations of rape she often receives, but no. The most disgusting aspect, in my opinion, is the people telling her she needs to just “get over it” and things like this “are to be expected” if you are going to be in the music industry. So, you mean to tell me that women are just supposed to accept these things? Not okay with this.

What is going on in our culture that some men think this behavior is okay? And I know what some of you may be thinking. Whoa whoa whoa, trying to talk to a girl on the street is a far cry from rape, but what I’m concerned about is the attitude behind all of it. That a woman’s opinion and assertions mean nothing to these men. That unsolicited sexual advances are okay. That no does not, in fact, mean no.

 

 

#31WriteNow Am I Being Punk’d? Social Cues and Train Stalkers

I’d like to share another cautionary tale with the ladies today. As I stated in an earlier post, we need to stop being so nice, and by we, I mean me and anyone who feels programed to be polite before being safe. Many women are taught in society to be agreeable and polite FIRST and that can be dangerous. To be honest, when I first began writing this story, I thought it was hilarious. Now, looking back, if situations like these are not kept in check, they could conceivably escalate.

Basically, I have a stalker on the train…He could be a scary stalker, but he’s just been obnoxious thus far and we’ve only had two encounters. But that’s two encounters too many.

I was on the train on the way to work with my headphones on and simultaneously checking emails, and a man asked if he could sit next to me. I wasn’t really paying attention to the train, so I told him to go ahead. As he sits down I happen to look up, and I realize that there are tons of other seats he could have chosen. The car was practically empty.
Whatever. I take it with a grain of salt and get back to checking emails. I settle in for the ride and that’s when the questions start. This guy will NOT stop talking to me. Despite the headphones and even though I am clearly on my phone. Also, it’s the morning commute. It’s not even double digits yet, dude!
I don’t have a phone. Do you like yours?
Yeah, it’s cool.
Yeah, I need a new phone, I dropped mine and so now I’ve got this flip phone.

*No response from me*

So I’m looking around the train and the other ladies on it are giving me the sad pity face.

pity face

Train guy introduces himself and sticks out his hand for me to shake, and I don’t take it. Message loud and clear, “I’m not interested” Right? Yeah, one would think he would get the message, but nope. I’m clearly giving him the shortest answers in the world, and am clearly not engaging with him, but he will not stop talking to me; about his job, his dentist, his weight loss.

Man, I didn’t buy a ticket for the train. Oh well.
It happens. Luckily, you can buy tickets on the train.
So what do you do?
Marketing.
Yeah, me too. I’m a TMM…Telemarketing Manager. I’m going to check in on my Bridgeport office to see how they’re doing.
*No response from me*
I like gum…my dentist said I shouldn’t chew it, though, cause it leads to cavities…but I like fresh breath, so now I use mints instead.
*blank stare*

Is This Real Life

Is this real life?

Then as my stop is coming up, he asks if he can give me his business card, to “talk about marketing, strictly for networking purposes”. I say sure, so he pulls out this business card.  Suddenly he says, “Well I’m actually out of business cards, but I have my my boss’ card, I’ll write my contact information on it.” AND PROCEEDS TO GIVE ME HIS TWITTER HANDLE AND FACEBOOK URL. ARE YOU KIDDING, DUDE?!?!
While he’s taking forever to write down his information on the card we arrive at my stop. Unfortunately, I’m sitting on the inside, so I’m kind of trapped.
Soooo this is my stop, so I need to get off.
Oh, sorry, sorry. Nice meeting you

I nod and fly off the train.

That was last week.

This morning, I’m on the platform and I see him walk by, but I’m listening to my headphones and looking at my phone again. I see him walk past, see me, and then walk back up the platform towards me.

He walks over to the post that I’m standing next to and gets on his phone. (I guess he finally got one.) He makes a huge production of dialing and speaking really loudly on the phone while waving his arms around, but I don’t look up. I shrink further and further behind the post hoping he doesn’t really see me, but I know he does. I see him start to come over to me like 3 or 4 times, but I made sure to look extra busy. All the while I’m pretending I’m deep into my phone, but I’m actually texting my girlfriends.

Omgeeeeeeeee that guy from the train is back again! The one who wouldn’t stop talking to me.

If he does it again, you should definitely move.

Nooooooooooo he’s walking over!!!!!!!!

Move!!!

The train finally arrives and and he’s still standing on the other side of the post from me. When the doors open, I take off down the platform in the other direction, so I can get into another car. But he follows me. I run to another car and , much to my relief, I don’t see him for the rest of the ride.

I’ve come to a conclusion after talking it over with my older sister:  He’s either really aggressive, or doesn’t understand social cues…but either way, no thank you.

The most interesting thing about this story is the reactions that I get. So far, 100% of the guys have said, “Why didn’t you get up? Why wouldn’t you just move?” While most of the girls all say, “Ugh, that’s so annoying but it would have been super rude to move, especially if you were on the inside.” Funny thing about this, while the guys all have had the same reaction, the female reaction has been quite mixed. Most of them did say they would have wanted to move, but probably wouldn’t have, but there were a few that said they would have told the guy off and moved immediately. My question is, what’s the difference between the girls that wouldn’t have moved and the girls that would have? And why was everything so cut and dry for the men? Why do some men keep after a woman after EVERYTHING about her demeanor and body language says, “LEAVE ME ALONE!”? Any insights from either side? Opinions are welcome, as this is a judgement free zone…for the most part 😉

From untiligetmarried.com: The OTHER reason why street harassment is wrong

HAD to reblog this one.  This is a blog that I follow and I feel, for the most part, Jozen gives must needed insight into the male psyche. Here is the article I’m talking about, and my resulting response

 

I spent some time in the south growing up, and there were two types of men that would approach you on the street:  The “Hey-shawty-what-up-you-so-fine” dude that would try to grab your hand and the “Ay-b*tch-what-dat-mouth-do” type of dude that would try to grab…err…other parts of your body. At least some of them (the former, obviously) would still treat you with respect even if you weren’t feeling them or chose not to respond to them. The latter would no doubt call you a b*tch, or my favorite; a lesbian.  No-one ever actually tried to harm me, though.  However, when I got to college, I learned that there can be repercussions for not responding to street harassment.  Broken bottles were actually thrown at me and my friends for not acknowledging a catcall on the street. (and I swear to you I’m not the stuck up type)  It got to the point where I felt like I was “running the gauntlet” every time I walked up the street towards a group of guys.  It was all fun and games; banter and bs before, and now I have to fear the threat of violence?  No bueno…

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