Relationships, Street Harassment

Non-Verbal Communication

I feel like I live in this cartoon every damn day.

I spend so much of my time talking and thinking about communication with other people, usually male people.

I’m no expert of course. I think of myself as a life-long learner in the art of human communication.

But there are people who have never been pupils of it and that is a sobering realization for me every single time.

Street Harassment

Feminism Of The Week – Playboy Flowchart

In a surprise turn of events the best feminist thing on the internet this week comes hot off the presses of playboy.com.

Do you know her, and have you both consensually agreed to shout sexually suggestive comments to each other in public?

Amazing.

I just want to imagine that sentence entering the minds of a few people

The adolescent boy: Consent being openly discussed in playboy? I guess all that ‘consent is sexy’ stuff is onto something.

The college dude: I guess the last girl I hollered at didn’t technically agree to be hollered at. And I didn’t know her know her. I’ve just seen her around. And that skirt… but still, *self doubt*.

The disappointed kinky older fellow: We can agree to shout sexually suggestive comments to each other in public? We can agree to say crazy stuff in various settings?

This image is getting a lot of circulation on social media and it’s subtle enough that it’s message infiltrates even the minds of the people who might have been pushing it aside for a while, gives the anti-street harassment message a place to germinate. It’s subversive in that way. Because it’s funny and provocative.

Because it’s exactly what I want horny boys who read playboy to be seeing. So not only does this flowchart win my Feminism Of The Week award, but Playboy does too, for using it’s position in the world of extra-curricular sex education for good.

 

Media, Sexism, Street Harassment

Nobody Cares

My friend sent me this video yesterday with the following message: “Song about cat calling. It makes me twitch.”

I’m going to give Austin (who just turned 18 this month! Yes, I looked it up, we were all wondering) the benefit of the doubt here. The one thing I can really say for this song is that he is clearly writing directly from his (and if Mahone didn’t write the song himself I’m sure another ‘him’ wrote it on his behalf) perspective. There are admirably a lot of I statements. He describes a personal experience.

When I saw her
Walking down the street
She looked so fine
I just had to speak

I ask her name
But she turned away
As she walked
All that I can say was

Mmm mmm yeah yeah

Turning the other cheek on his failure to pick a tense and stick with it.

Personal. This is what I did, what I saw, what I said. And all I can think is (I’m a medium, if you were wondering)

This ‘experience’ he’s having is one of entitlement and privilege and is a perfect example of how boys are taught that everything that pops into their minds is worth sharing while women are taught to apologize for having an opinion. Nobody cares about your stupid boner. Shut up and go finish your homework.

We don’t care what you think. If we did, we would ask. So keep your equally stupid penis and opinions to yourself. No one asked you.

Street Harassment

Kill All The Spiders

Amazing article over at The Stranger. Street harassment is never your fault but here are a few options to consider when they’re enjoying making you feel cornered and helpless. Scare him.

You won’t always feel safe talking back to a harasser and you shouldn’t feel guilty about backing out of a situation instead of barreling into it if that is what feels right. But harassers are counting on your vulnerability and kindness, your willingness to keep things polite at all costs even when they’ve broken that social code first.

So maybe try rejecting the need to do that.

And if all else fails:

Ladies, as much as we all love scathing comebacks, chances are you’re not always going to be prepared with the perfect response while being harassed. But here’s something you can practice saying in front of a mirror: “Stop harassing me.” It’s simple, it’s straightforward, and it signals everyone within earshot—including your harasser—that you’re uncomfortable and you need help. And if the harassment doesn’t stop or you feel like you’re in any immediate danger, call 911 immediately.

And guys: We don’t want to hear any horseshit victim-blaming about women these days not knowing a compliment when it jumps out at them from a dark alley. Here’s a good litmus test for compliments: Would you say it to your mother or niece? No? Then don’t scream it at the woman who’s just trying to catch the number 8 bus. And if you find yourselves justifying any of the behaviors mentioned above, practice saying this in front of a mirror: “I’m a sad, delusional trap-door spider who repulses women with my words and actions.” And then knock it the fuck off. [x]

Deviant/Default, Media, Street Harassment

Blurred Lines

Most of my friends have no idea what I’m talking about when I say “Blurred Lines.” And that’s fair. They play it at work a lot and until I saw the internet’s reaction to it I only knew one line “I’m the hottest bitch in this place,” which I recently learned isn’t even the correct line.

As I thought that was the correct line I enjoyed the song a lot (which in my opinion went “Na na na na na na na na I’M THE HOTTEST BITCH IN THIS PLACE  *repeat ad nauseum*).

While the mainstream reaction to Blurred Lines was to play it every freaking minute on every top 40 radio station, the internet collectively reacted by making lots and lots of parodies.

The original we can all agree isn’t really particularly forward thinking. Fully dressed men checking out models with no clothes on, so original I can barely stand it.

But the parodies are priceless.

Feministing has an interesting critique of this one. I think my biggest problem with this song is that I’ve seen men look at me with these thoughts running through their heads and I don’t appreciate it. I don’t want anyone thinking of me “I know you want it, I know you want it, I know you want it.” Rapey/Creepy! “You’re an animal, it’s in your nature, I wanna liberate you,” I think not. I think very much not. Genderswapping that might be sort of interesting but it doesn’t do as well at showing how wrong the aggressor is in their assumption of your interest as the next one.

This is just delightful and gave me lots of giggles.

“There’s more to life than penetration and sexual discrimination.”

And then there’s the best thing in the world which I just found today. I think I need it playing all the time everywhere I go. It might be my new theme song.

Ask First from Brendan Anckaert on Vimeo.

Bodies, Confidence, Street Harassment

Warpaint

Local FG celebrity, The Yankee himself left a comment on this post the other day that made me think.

I’m sorry that you feel like women look better without make-up. Post Second-Wave feminism there have been lots of dudes (and some ladies) who try to establish either their supposed feminist ideology or “good guy-ness” by labeling makeup and other tools of self-presentation (e.g. clothing, accessories and jewelry, style) as tools of oppression. Unfortunately, most of these tools (and they are tools) are linked to a femme or female identity, and criticism of them really comes from an anti-woman place. You don’t hear as much folks telling dudes that “You’d look so much better without that beard or muscles”, or “I think men look better without penises”.

Femininity is criticized in our culture as inauthentic, and dismissed as unserious. Why? We all do things to affect our self-presentation. Sometimes wearing makeup is a tactic that women choose to gain some form of power in an unjust world. Sometimes wearing makeup is done for pleasure or to emulate other powerful Femme women (think Dolly Parton, who embodies femininity but also maintains a ton of real world power in most every sense). No decision to wear makeup makes a person less serious, less authentic, or less powerful.

Maybe you really do have aesthetic reasons in your brain for preferring women without makeup. But those reason don’t exist in a vacuum. They come from socialization and a culture that dismisses Femmes, and has for a long time.

And I’m making no assumptions about you as a person, but I will say that in my own experience I have been in lots of non-mainstream communities where dudes use aversion to makeup, or porn, or sex work to prove their feminist street-cred as a means to sleeping with women. I’ve done it myself. And I think it requires a lot of self-examination to stop doing it.

Having women in my life is a privilege, and with that privilege come the responsibility of looking at where my ideas about their appearance come from, and often criticizing my responses.

It got me thinking about what I use makeup for.

Last summer when I fell of my bike and tore half the skin off my knees I enjoyed walking around in the least attractive outfit I could wear. Some awful khaki shorts and a fantastically clashing green shirt. My color-blind-camp-counselor look.

Similarly when I’m nervous about something at work I’ll load on the mascara and wear actual lipstick. The same way football players put black streaks on their faces to intimidate their enemies, I bust out the liquid liner when I want everyone to know I’m a badass.

The problem of course comes in when men assume that whatever choices I make are purely for their benefit. And don’t get me wrong, sometimes they are. The dress I wore to opening night, with the matching undergarments and heels, that was purely for the benefit of my date to that event. And no one else. And he knew it. Which in turn benefitted me of course.

Pro tip: If you don’t know very clearly that it’s for your benefit then it’s not.

And if you like my choices for the day, or if you dislike them, I still don’t care. I like them. And I matter me to me a whole lot more than you matter to me.

Bodies, Gender, Street Harassment

Ghost-me and Body-me

Last night the Yankee and I were cuddling and he said my body was so perfect he feels so honored to get to touch it, nuzzling my neck. I froze.

I could hear in his voice he meant it only as a compliment to the girl he likes. But somewhere on it’s journey from my ears to my brain it morphed into ‘your body is amazing, why don’t you share it?’ I heard it in the context of him showing it off to a friend like a sandwich he just bought “This is amazing. You should get one too. Here, have a bite of mine first. Right? I said it was good!”

And I just laid there, right next to him but miles away.

Sometimes I think of body-me and me-me as being completely different people with different likes and dislikes. Sometimes I imagine dropping body-me off at a spin class and ghost-me sitting in the juice bar for an hour reading John Green. I imagine dropping my body off at orgies to be enjoyed like a vegi tray, just a token of my appreciation for my invitation (which, she considers, is sort of a compliment in itself) but I don’t need to stick around. The rest of me can use the time to catch up on Shameless. I let my body walk home from the party while ghost-me takes the train, it’s slower but safer, and I care less what happens to body-me anyway.

Sometimes it feels like they’re unlikely friends from an after school special. They can be BFFL’s inside but then once there is a pair of eyes nearby they drop hands and pretend not to know each other. Ghost-me walks behind body-me, inconspicuous, no one notices her trailing behind, looking down, hips decidedly not swaying. Noticing in awe the attention her friend gets, wondering how she does it.

There is so much to be said about the effect of prolonged objectification of women on women.

The American Psychological Association has found in recent years, that self-objectification has become a national epidemic. The more women and girls self-objectify, the more likely they are to be depressed, to have eating disorders, they have lower self-confidence, they have lower ambition, they have lower cognitive functioning, the have lower GPAs. How does this connect to women in leadership? Women who are high self-objectifiers have lower political efficacy. Political efficacy is the idea that your voice matters in politics and that you can bring about change in politics. So if we have a whole generation of young people being raised where women’s objectification is just par for the course, it’s normal, it’s okay; we have a whole generation of women who are less likely to run for office and are less likely to vote.
-Caroline Heldman, PHD, Associate Professor of Political Science – Occidental College

We learn that sex is about being desired, staying desired.

So how does this translate into real life? Women spend a lot of time and energy trying to please men. We learn early on that we are being looked at – that we are to be looked at. That we are performers. It took years before I actually started enjoying sex. YEARS. I think what I enjoyed most about sex, when I was younger, was the feeling of being desired. The actual sex part was super boring for the first while.

We learn, as girls and women, that the performance is more important than the actual feeling.

Facials, feminism, & performance: On f**king men in a patriarchy

None of this is new information for me. I’ve been noticing this tape running in my head for years. Now I just have the opportunity to deal with it.

The worst part is that I know this man doesn’t feel this way about me.  I know that if I announced over dinner tomorrow that I didn’t want to have sex with him anymore he would ask me about the decision, tell me he was really bummed and then when we had talked it out and understood each other he would ask me about my day again or the latest episode of Girls. He would ask me about my latest blog post or if I’d read any good articles lately.

The problem isn’t him. The problem is the fact that I’m a patriarchal woman, a woman raised in the patriarchy and I have a loop running in my head telling me that even though this is different from the street harassers it really isn’t.

His touch of my face or my hair or my leg might as well be a whistle on the street. And I’m afraid that no matter how kind the soul adoring me is I’ll always hear that. And, like in the ending of Lady Han when her lover comes back to marry Hanjo after she’s gone crazy, they can be together forever but his love can never undo her insanity.

Street Harassment

Must You Really?

Today on my morning commute a young guy with a purple mohawk got on the train and asked for food. I carry protein bars in my purse so I gave him one. He opened it up, bit into it and asked me

‘Hey, will you be my girlfriend?’
I said No, thank you.
‘If I can’t make love to you I’ll kill myself’
‘I don’t negotiate with hostage-takers.’
‘Do you want to go to a punk rock show with me tonight?’ (Have I mentioned that I was listening to Taylor Swift at the time?)
‘Definitely not’
‘What kind of music do you like?’
‘Showtunes.’
He grimaced and left the train

When he got off the train the little old lady next to me told me that when she worked at Macy’s one day one of her colleagues asked her to get security because there was a pantsless man asking her out on dates.  He asked her to breakfast, she said no, ‘What about dinner instead?’

I looked at her a while longer, trying to get the punchline.

‘I just thought this was similar.’

After she finished and got off the train I looked around, thinking about how every woman on the train probably has a similar story.

And I just couldn’t help but think, Why?

I’m sorry for being so awesome and distracting.  Or actually wait, no, I’M NOT AT ALL. Leave me the hell alone, my body is not here for you.  It’s here for me.  It’s mine.  Leave me and it alone and go live out the rest of your miserable life without me.

You’re welcome for the protein bar.  I know, it’s delicious and filling.

Street Harassment

street harassment

 

I’ve been thinking a lot about street harassment lately.  I’ve been getting a lot of it lately.  So much so that I started keeping a log of every encounter.  For the first two days I wrote down locations, times of day, what I was wearing and the specifics of what was said.  On the third and fourth days no one said anything to me and I couldn’t really write down “gawked at at 4pm.”

On the fifth day it was a Friday night and walking past the bars gave me such anxiety that I started tuning out everything that was said instead of mentally trying to jot it all down for later.  I considered taking a side street but the side streets were darker than the main street with all the bars on it, making my choice a)walk on this street which will make you incredibly uncomfortable but probably keep you physically safer or b)walk on the other street which will probably have fewer drunk guys but also fewer people to notice if anyone should touch you.

I walk fast.  I’m fine.  I always am.  But if you’re a man who is still under the misapprehension that street harassment is a compliment I’d just like to tell you that you are very very wrong.

Street Harassment

Even Stoya Needs A Tourettes Break

The other day a friend referred me to an article that made me cry.  I would copy/paste the whole thing here but I won’t.

It’s written by adult performer Stoya about how the treatment she receives as a porn star tends to be less cruel than the hostility of common street harassers.

First she counts off the times she’s been harassed at a trade show.  The harassment is creepy but sounds not much worse than Bridget Jones’s family reunions.

The following bit is what made me tear up.  It’s too familiar.

They say I have a sweet ass, nice tits, a real pretty dress. They say I’m their future wife, or I’d look good with their dick in my mouth. They try (and probably succeed at times) to take pictures down my shirt. They ask if they can get my number, they ask where I live, why I’m not smiling, why my boyfriend lets me walk around by myself. Then they ask why I’m such a bitch, if my pussy is made of ice. They say that they never do this, as though I’ve somehow driven them to inappropriate behavior and deserve it. They say they’re just having fun, trying to pay me a compliment. Pretty frequently they get mean, slipping into a loud tourettes — like chant of bitch-whore-cunt-slut.

Street harassment is not a rare or isolated occurrence. It does not only happen in America. It does not only happen to young or traditionally-considered-“beautiful” women. It does not only happen on public transit or in low income areas.

We shouldn’t have to have a big angry dog named Funster to protect us. We shouldn’t have to carry Mace or a knife, hoping that we’ll be able to use it properly if necessary or investing hours of our lives in self defense courses (something a lot of women have neither the time nor disposable income to do). We shouldn’t have to travel in packs to feel safe (again, something that isn’t really feasible).

I don’t know what more I can say about this other than it makes me want to die.

They say that 1 in 6 women will be raped in her lifetime.  And based on the number of friends who have told me about their rapes I’d say that’s a conservative estimate.  Well, then I would say that at least 5 in 6 women “has at least one truly terrifying story of street harassment and a whole bunch of other stories that are merely insulting or annoying.”

Can you imagine if 5 in 6 men had a story of being harassed in the streets for being a man?

What if all women were bigger and stronger than you? And thought they were smarter? What if women were the ones who started wars? What if too many of your friends had been raped by women wielding giant dildos and no K-Y Jelly? What if the state trooper who pulled you over on the New Jersey Turnpike was a woman and carried a gun? What if the ability to menstruate was the prerequisite for most high-paying jobs? What if your attractiveness to women depended on the size of your penis? What if every time women saw you they’d hoot and make jerking motions with their hands? What if women were always making jokes about how ugly penises are and how bad sperm tastes? What if you had to explain what’s wrong with your car to big sweaty women with greasy hands who stared at your crotch in a garage where you are surrounded by posters of naked men with hard-ons? What if men’s magazines featured cover photos of 14-year-old boys with socks tucked into the front of their jeans and articles like: “How to tell if your wife is unfaithful” or “What your doctor won’t tell you about your prostate” or “The truth about impotence”? What if the doctor who examined your prostate was a woman and called you “Honey”? What if you had to inhale your boss’ stale cigar breath as she insisted that sleeping with her was part of the job? What if you couldn’t get away because the company dress code required you wear shoes designed to keep you from running? And what if after all that women still wanted you to love them?”

– For the Men Who Still Don’t Get It, Carol Diehl. (via theseasonofthewitch) [x]

I just don’t believe so few people would care.

We are not asking for a right to the streets, we are taking them; we are not asking for advertisements that do not objectify women, we’re destroying the commercial mechanisms that objectify women; we are not appealing to male power for an end to rape, but threatening: ‘If you touch me, I will fucking kill you.’

For once, the mechanisms that create and maintain identities of womanhood were refused, and our desires were our own, our bodies were our own, and our violence was our own.

– We’ll Show You Crazy Bitches (via trill-wave-feminism) [x]