Stop Claiming You're Just Saying "Hello" (#StopPunishingWomen)

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Stalked

Cin recently posted this awesome For Harriet article inspired by Anti-Street Harassment Week (which started yesterday), and the gist of the article is thus:
In revisiting the topic of street harassment, I worry how much longer I have to ask this: When will men finally realize they are NOT entitled to women's space, attention, and bodies? Women have shared endless stories about being followed, catcalled, stalked, and given (often sexist) “compliments,” but men keep dismissing us, claiming we should be flattered for being noticed.

...I’m not particularly bothered when men say a friendly hello or respectfully compliment an outfit. I’m bothered by the men who chase me down asking for my number, the men who follow me, the men who can’t take no for an answer, and the ones who yell vulgar comments as I pass by. It makes me uncomfortable and I deserve to exercise my right to exist in public.

...Black women usually defend black men's rights to walk down the street in any clothing choice (hoodie, saggy pants, snapbacks, etc.) because doing so doesn’t mean they are thugs nor does it give policemen the right to profile and harass them. We listen compassionately to their stories of police harassment and brutality, the ways in which they are made to feel uncomfortable in public spaces simply for existing as black men. We rally and protest for their right to exist as human beings.

But when the tables turn and black women share their stories of feeling objectified and threatened, black men are quick to throw us under the bus and blame us for the violence committed against us:
We must've had our booty hanging out. We’re fast-tailed "hoes". We shouldn’t dress in ways that bring attention to our bodies. We should stop mean-muggin’ and say thank you when men hurl “compliments” at us.

...I’ve politely rejected advances from some men, only to have them get upset and call me derogatory names and insults. As invasive as some men may be, women are often taught to suppress their feelings of annoyance or discomfort with kindness, so we don’t “provoke” a violent situation. I’ve had several cases where I hid how irritated I was, for fear that a man with a fragile ego would attack me if I was too aggressive with my rejection. But being polite doesn’t always stop a man from harming you: Mary Spears was a mother of three who was killed for rejecting a man’s advances. This is a reality that that black women fear.
The comments are unforgivable, of course; but then again, a lot of miserable wastes of life troll For Harriet.  Even so, I've heard their main argument in real life: "Why is simply saying 'hello'/"You look lovely' considered harassment?"

Um, that's not what we said.  "Hello" is fine.  "You look lovely" is fine.  It's the bullshit which comes afterward and you know this.

On the Mary Spears article some dude was arguing that women are "prioritized" all over the world and have "special rights" which he felt were unfair.  Deal with that mess for a minute.

'Cause that attitude has got me thinking a lot about male-female relationships lately and I can't help but dwell on the line about how heterosexuality ain't done a damn thing in the fight against misogyny. Not one damn thing. And the reason is, too many men believe that in order to relate to a woman, they have to hurt her in some way.

With strangers, if a man simply exchanges hellos with a woman and she goes on about her business, he's annoyed because she didn't stop and try to pursue things further (i.e., treating her respectfully/like an equal was insufficient). Since he already knows at that point she's not interested, he just has to say something else, maybe follow her a bit, engage in other creepy/threatening behavior/fatal to make her uncomfortable (or simply end her life) and thereby punish her for not doing what he wants.

But an already angry, self-entitled, and retaliatory society, punishing women has become socially acceptable.  Forget what the laws say; ignore the doublespeak of our leaders.  Most of them agree with this bullshit anyways.  A lot of men to go into situations with women not only expecting the rejection, but already having the punishment for that rejection all figured out.  And it's not just among strangers; I mean, in relationships, consider revenge porn, of which over 90% of victims are female:
When her ex-boyfriend posted nude photos of her online in 2011, Emma said that she felt humiliated and helpless. Messages from men started pouring in.

...She looked at the messages, unsure how to proceed. In her essay entitled "Consent" on HystericalFeminisms.com she states: "These messages were from men all over the world. Teen boys, university students, nuclear-family dads. The only thing they had in common was that they were all men. They knew it was against my will, that I didn’t want to be on those sites. The realisation that my humiliation turned them on felt like a noose around my neck. The absence of consent was erotic, they relished my suffering."

We are living in a time when dead chivalry is not even on our list of problems.  We are facing a much, much deadlier situation: too many heterosexual men have deemed women the enemy.  I'm convinced they see women at the store, at work, walking down the street, in the laundromat, at the bar, or wherever, and pretty much just hate us on sight.  And after that, they come up to talk to us, as though seeking the rejection in order to inflict punishment.  In short, they're not picking out women they seriously want to date and possibly someday marry; they're really just looking for a woman to torment.

Comments

  1. Looooord! Only a few hours ago I was out buying fabric and some old black man grabbed my arm as i was walking past him and his friends. I screamed in his face 'Get your fucking hands off me!'. We were in broad daylight in a crowded market and I wanted everyone to know what he had just done. Everyone froze in shock and I went about my business. He had the gall to smirk and wave at me when I was walking on my way back, I gave him the finger.

    That is just what happened today.

    I could go on all day about Heterosexual male sexuality is all about power imbalance and hurtig women. Misogyny is the order of the day, they can only get it up if they are emotionally abusing or degrading you. Reciprocity, mutuality and loving healthy connections are like unicorns. It is getting worse, the pornification of the media and society over the past 20 years has led to increased objectification of women and our erasure as sexual subjects. Men feel entitled to sexualise any and all women they come across no matter where you are and what you are doing and are quick to attempt to shame and humiliate you with a side order of violence if you object to this.

    You have schools telling teenage girls that they cannot wear shorts or vest tops in summer because they will provoke and distract the boys - prioritising mens inability to control themselves over womens comfort. Like I cannot deal any more! Rape culture is alive and thriving and again the only solutions we hear are 'Control the Women' not hold men responsible and accountable for their shitty actions and harrasment!!

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    1. It is getting worse, the pornification of the media and society over the past 20 years has led to increased objectification of women and our erasure as sexual subjects.

      Indeed. I'm so glad you mentioned this because I was browsing Hulu's film collection for something to watch and was appalled at how many films 1) had sex as a focal point, 2) had mostly naked women on the cover, 3) how in films which I didn't think would even have any sex not only included graphic scenes, but ensured the burden of nudity fell on women 90% of the time.

      It's like sex scenes have become mandatory in American film and TV, and it's almost always to the detriment of women.

      I've always said Hollywood likes to depict the opposite of reality. Have men really become this desperate for sex? So much that the degradation and assault of women has simply become their norm?

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  2. The comparison with clothes is interesting.
    I like reading forums...it gives me a good idea of what's going on in people's (especially men's) heads. I remember one comment from a sexually frustrated dude (who lost his virginity with a prostitute and never been in a relationship til now). He said "I'm grateful and has some respect for that prostitute who treated me as an individual male and not like a ghost". (makes me feel like oh, so you hate on other women for not liking you? --he did say he used to be bitter) He also said "when you haven't had sex at all you feel like you're unfuckable and unlikeable in this world. You're that brave, nice dumbass, but touching him? No, no."
    Now, I do know that his experiences doesn't make him your average man, of course. However, his vision of sex is so tied to his pride and identity that his feelings could be compared to the street harrassers'. Like, a woman who ignores them, refuses to look at them or answer them is a woman who threatens their manhood, their sexuality, and then their worth as a person. Hence the violent reaction, bitterness against us women. They take women's rejections so personally, they're self-centered and don't consider women's feelings. This type of men is insecure. I've read conversations on these topics on forums, guys and girls posting stuff, and some of the guys just didn't listen and just kept defending themselves. They made women's suffering all about their own (male) feelings.

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    1. The comparison with clothes is interesting.

      Right? I hadn't even thought of it in that way until I read the article.

      What's worse, I've experienced street harassment and thought I knew about it's impact on female lives, but when I started reading about how it's becoming a financial issue for women - who overall still make less money than men - buy paying for cabs or buying cars just to go to places where we could walk, or paying to work out in a gym because being outdoors is just too uncomfortable.

      I've also paid more attention to how it impacts me; I wear layers even in summer, I try to be indoors before dark, I've become a serious homebody in recent years, and I've become decreasingly attracted to men overall.

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    2. I've also paid more attention to how it impacts me; I wear layers even in summer, I try to be indoors before dark, I've become a serious homebody in recent years, and I've become decreasingly attracted to men overall.


      Well I don't think I'll ever stop being attracted to men. I know all of them are not a**holes. But I have read that actions like yours (wearing layers or toning down the way you dress) ad even gaining weight to dissuade attention. There was a article a few years ago I read and the woman spoke of being approached by men when she was just 10 and how she dealt with it by gaining weight. When she left that environment and got counseling she started to lose weight.

      And years ago I started making sure my ace was home by dark when I noticed that women regardless of race or economic background where just disappearing into thin air or being found dead.

      And I think just like when Obama became President and people got pissy; if Hillary wins then the attacks on women will increase.

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    3. "And years ago I started making sure my ace was home by dark when I noticed that women regardless of race or economic background where just disappearing into thin air or being found dead.

      And I think just like when Obama became President and people got pissy; if Hillary wins then the attacks on women will increase."

      That is why I am pro women owning guns, both hand gun & stun gun. I know that stun guns are illegal in some states (check if you live in one) but where I live, both hand guns and stun guns are legal.

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    4. @MIckey-That is why I am pro women owning guns, both hand gun & stun gun. I know that stun guns are illegal in some states (check if you live in one) but where I live, both hand guns and stun guns are legal.

      The problem though isn't some stranger hiding in the shadows of a dark alley way. Its the people you KNOW. Take a look at most of the crimes against women these days. Of course if you are walking home late at night your guard is up along with your alertness, but not when you are "safe" in your own home.

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    5. "The problem though isn't some stranger hiding in the shadows of a dark alley way. Its the people you KNOW. Take a look at most of the crimes against women these days. Of course if you are walking home late at night your guard is up along with your alertness, but not when you are "safe" in your own home."

      @Lor - Yes, this is true. Many women are attacked/harassed by people that they know, which is equally troubling.

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    6. Well I don't think I'll ever stop being attracted to men. I know all of them are not a**holes.

      Let me clarify. I'll always be attracted to men's bodies, but what's in the inside needs work.

      Men don't discuss masculinity the way women discuss femininity (like the way white people don't discuss whiteness the way brown people discuss being brown). Privilege tells them they don't have to. For ages women have had political movements and historic milestones, examining motherhood, sexuality, singlehood, abstinence, asexuality, transitioning from men into women (by the way, transwomen have insight that is priceless beyond words), all the while questioning, defining, and examining, then re-examining and re-defining what it means to be a woman. It's a like taking a long, thorough journey through life focusing on self-discovery both as an individual and as part of a society.

      Men don't do this. The so-called masculinist movement is all about whining - not getting the women they want, not having as much sex as they want, complaining that the women they do finally date/marry don't cook, don't want to do all the cleaning by themselves, don't want to have children, will get abortions, want to have careers, want to travel, want to self-explore, etc. and so forth. That "movement" is basically about a group of people with a privilege over half our species doesn't have...complaining that it's still not enough.

      And whenever I read a male writer (just one example) who actually does try to have this much-needed conversation, male readers generally shout him down, derail the conversation, downplay the problems with sexism, misogyny, and the insanely high value placed upon heterosexuality and an active male sex life, and just overall play the run-and-hide game.

      It's not attractive. This weakness, this whining, this lack of self-knowing and initiative, these skewed ideals of what it means to be "a real man" (or the "ideal" man) are just not sexy. And it's not getting better. It's getting worse.

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    7. That writer that I linked up there...notice how he keeps quoting female authors.

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    8. I think I see what you mean and I can relate about getting less attracted to men. Wow, I didn't know that some women had to pay much more in order to feel safe. But it makes sense, if I could afford it I would take the cab at night. Running alone in a park is a no-no to me, in the street too, even in the morning.

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    9. @Ankh-I understand. As I have gotten older I look at everyone's character. That will tell you a lot more about a person then anything else.

      @Myra-Yeah I would suggest joining a running group/club. My sister runs with one (I'm too slow!). Check out Black Girls Rock to see if they are in your area. If running is your thing though.

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    10. @Lor, Good idea! I'll see if there's one near me (not this one specifically though, there's rarely anything exclusively for Balck girls where I live), though I live in France and in a rather small town.

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    11. I actually meant Black Girls Run. Sorry!

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    12. @Myra-I have to admit there might not be any, but I have noticed while traveling that most of the runners I do see are Americans visiting/tourists.

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    13. It's alright. That's a pity...over here it's mostly local men who run in the street or in parks but not many of men do. In Paris it's more frequent, it can be 60/40 though in parks (ratio men to women) but I don't know if they're French or tourists. I guess running outside is more a city thing, hence the tourists.

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    14. Yeah the first time I saw someone running in Europe (England) it was just odd. It hit me that I hadn't seen anyone over there run like they do in America. I have visited a few other countries over there (haven't been to France yet) and it was the same way. Rarely if ever did I see someone jogging/running. I did see women speed walking in the Middle East.

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    15. I also wear layers in summer and avoid wearing shorts. I joined a women only gym because when I used to work out for free at a campus gym the guys would act creepy. Having a walkable commute is good for my mental and physical health but it does open me up to street harassment that I could avoid if I drove to work. I also worry about wearing brightly colored or patterned clothes. I have a cute rainy day ensemble: patterned rain coat, turquoise rain boots, rainbow umbrella but I've noticed an increase in street harassment when I wear it. I also avoid walking at night. As women, so much of our behavior is an attempt to avoid male violence.

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    16. I also avoid walking at night. As women, so much of our behavior is an attempt to avoid male violence.

      Like, I am so hungry right now, and Houston has plenty of 24-hour joints...but I ain't going nowhere at this hour. And it's so goddamn frustrating not to be able to move about freely.

      I also worry about wearing brightly colored or patterned clothes. I have a cute rainy day ensemble: patterned rain coat, turquoise rain boots, rainbow umbrella but I've noticed an increase in street harassment when I wear it.

      Girl...I've gone back to my Gothic roots and pretty much just wear mostly to all black these days.

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    17. He also said "when you haven't had sex at all you feel like you're unfuckable and unlikeable in this world."

      Concerning this part of Myra's post, I want to point this out. This is typical, men acting like their sex lives (or lack thereof) are a reflection of their self-worth as human beings. If they're not sexually active, they've failed somehow or have been failed, but instead of pausing to really evaluate their attitudes towards sex, they lash out at the world.

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  3. I really agree with what you said about entitlement, I think it nourishes insecurity and violence. Women who stand up for themselves and don't do what people expect from them are seen are scary, and some men hate feeling vulnerable in front of an attractive woman who doesn't reciprocate.
    @Jellybean14, Yes, the objectification of women in the media is awful and probably made it worse :(

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  4. Men's sexuality has ALWAYS been about controlling and degrading women, it just morphs as we gain more freedoms and is repackaged to us as empowering choices. The institution of marriage has only recently been about love, it was men passing on property to other men -father to husband- dressed up as the only worth a woman was permissable to have (a guilded cage), this designated non-womanhood to women who couldn't because of race or economic status or whatever.

    Since divorce became legal and common and womens sexual freedom has been demanded we have seen the pornification and wholesale value of women tied to how fuckable they are, this is the new misogyny and it infects all the old ways we haven't cleared up yet. Women expected to snap back into their pre birthing bodies as soon as possible and being shamed if they cannot or will not, cosmetic surgery given to teens for their birthdays ar passing exams instead of cars or holidays like the rights of passage of yore.... and so much more. It is insidious and so toxic. And the women that make objects of themselves are still trated as less than human by these deranged men!!

    Men demanding anal sex and threesomes before you've met their family and even on the first date! We are now seeing the beginning of boys raised in the internet age with access to horrific porn becoming adults and the damage this has done to teenage girls. And it is only going to get worse. I read just yesterday they have stopped doing studies on the damages done to men who consume large amounts of porn as the evidence is so overwhelming and they are bracing themselves for the fallout in relationships and child rearing of desensitised violently sexual non-empathic men. Nowhere is safe!

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    1. I read just yesterday they have stopped doing studies on the damages done to men who consume large amounts of porn as the evidence is so overwhelming and they are bracing themselves for the fallout in relationships and child rearing of desensitised violently sexual non-empathic men.

      Do you have a link for this?

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  5. Yet another reason why I don't want to return to the States. When I was a patriate, I, like many of you, had my ass home before dark simply because it was safe. When I went out, I rarely dressed up; sweats hoodies, sunglasses, looking deliberately unattractive just so I would be left alone. Didn't always work.

    Since moving abroad, I was actually surprised at the freedom I have to go out whenever I want and not be bothered. Now that may be a function of where I'm living and I know it's not the same everywhere. But when I decided to randomly go out after 7 p.m. and walk to a local spot, I was amazed that I wasn't bothered. It took getting used to. Resting Bitch Face was such a common item in my stateside wardrobe that it has taken a long time to get used to not wearing it.

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  6. Putting on the BITCH FACE unfortunately doesn't always work out.

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