street harassment ‘relentless’ for women and girls

I was very surprised to see this article on street harassment on the front page of the BBC today. I’m glad to see that this is finally on the Government’s radar, although in my opinion it’s long overdue.

I’ve emailed the BBC through the ‘Have Your Say’ details at the bottom of the article, both sharing my experiences of street harassment in Nottingham and suggesting some additions to the article:

  • That it isn’t always safe to confront your harasser and that’s okay
    • Although it’s good that they say ‘If you choose to speak directly to the assailant’..
  • And also what you should do if you see someone being harassed
    • Make eye contact with them, let them know you see them and don’t condone what is happening
    • Ask the harasser for the time to break the harassment in a neutral way
    • Start a conversation with the person being harassed (about anything at all)
    • And, if the harasser has gone, let them know that what the harasser did was wrong and was not their fault in any way

Although it’s helpful that they gave tips on what to do if you’re being harassed, you should always assess whether or not you deem it safe to confront your harasser. It’s completely okay if you don’t feel confident to do so. I myself have had knee-jerk reactions of shouting at someone who has harassed me on the street only for my stomach to drop and a feeling of dread to set in because I knew it could escalate and I would be in serious trouble.

I also feel that there should be a section on what to do if you see someone being harassed. Although we know that street harassment usually takes place where the only two people around are the harasser and the person being harassed, it does also happen on public transport where there are lots of other people. In these situations it’s important for you to connect with the person being harassed so they know it’s not their fault. It may not be safe for you to directly confront the harasser, and you’ll need to gauge whether approaching the person who has been harassed will intimidate them further, but the recommendations above are there if you deem them appropriate.

If everyone looks away and pretends it’s not happening, the person being harassed is completely alone and thinks it’s their fault. It’s important to show that you don’t condone what is happening and that the person doesn’t feel isolated and at fault, otherwise you’re just perpetuating the culture of normalised sexism and victim blaming.

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Here are some excerpts from my dissertation on street harassment for anyone thinking that street harassment is a compliment:

Goffman (1963) argues that street harassment is a compliment but as it does not adhere to the norms of compliment behaviour (Gardner, 1980) and often yields negative emotions or reactions from its recipients (Kissling, 1991; Bates, 2014a) it can be argued that even if the intention is complimentary the effect is not.

Gardner (1980) demonstrates street remarks do not adhere to norms of complimentary behaviour; they occur between two strangers in a public space, the remarks are often about a person’s body which is not usually up for public scrutiny and saying thank you, which is the usual compliment response, can lead to hostility. Furthermore, the remarks are not always positive but can be rude and/or derogatory (Gardner, 1980), which does not suggest intentions of flattery or complimentary behaviour.

 

References

Bates, L. (2014a) Everyday Sexism London: Simon and Schuster

Gardner, C. B. (1980) ‘Passing by: Street Remarks, Address Rights and the Urban Female’ in Sociological Inquiry 50 pp. 328-56

Goffman, E. (1963) Behaviour in Public Places New York: Free Press

Kissling, E. A. (1991) ‘Street Harassment: The Language of Sexual Terrorism’ in Discourse and Society 2(4) pp. 451-460

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man attacks innocent woman, smashing her windscreen, after he accosted her with unwanted advances

Street harassment is a real issue with real consequences. Although not every instance of street harassment is as ‘serious’ as this, many are worse and almost every single one leaves a lasting negative impression on the person it was aimed at. In this case, a woman not only has to shell out to repair her vehicle, but she feels so unsafe she’s had to leave her home and move back in with her parents, all the while the man that attacked her and kicked in her windshield has thus far not been found or held accountable for his actions.

To me there’s little difference here between a man feeling entitled enough to make vulgar comments about my body when I walk past him down the street, to the countless men who have followed women home, to those men that have inflicted physical and mental damages such as this and to the stalkers that have killed their victims. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, smaller instances of sexism that people so often brush off, such as everyday sexism and street harassment, pave the way for the ‘bigger’ things with more severe consequences and women and nonbinary people ending up dead.

‘I have a boyfriend’ or ‘I’m gay’ shouldn’t need to be used to reject someone’s advances – ‘I’m not interested’ should suffice. It seems funny to be saying this when almost everyone in the circle that I’m posting this in would agree, however street harassment is SO prevalent in every country in the world, that very clearly (and very unfortunately) these things still need to be said.

In my personal experience, and that of many other women’s, often men will only stop hitting on women once the woman tells the man that they have a boyfriend, to be read as: they’re already another man’s property. Only then will the man hitting on you relentlessly respect another man’s perceived right over you, more than your right to say no, and leave you the fuck alone. How this is still happening in 2018 is beyond me. How 90% of people are still allowing this to happen in 2018 is beyond me.

The headline shouldn’t mention the woman’s sexuality and shouldn’t describe what the man has done in retaliation to her denying him – it should read that an entitled and unstable man has attacked a woman and damaged her vehicle after not respecting her right to deny a stranger’s unwanted advances.

It’s just the icing on the cake to hear later in the article that people have criticised this woman for her retaliation to the attack. If someone was stood on the bonnet of your car, kicking your windshield in, I’m pretty sure most people would take the same course of action: firstly, reversing to try to knock them off and then getting the hell out of the car when that didn’t work. To hear criticism of the WOMAN’s actions in this article and not the MAN ATTACKING THE WOMAN AND HER VEHICLE is just baffling. Yet I can’t say that it’s surprising, because we all know two lovely words beginning with V and B that rhyme with bictim vlaming. (That’s ’victim blaming’ for those of you that aren’t sure.)

Misogyny is a hate crime in Nottingham. Misogyny needs to be considered a hate crime across the globe. It doesn’t matter how many #metoo’s, #timesup’s, protests, strikes or marches it takes; women and nonbinary people all over the world are going to make this happen.

 

 

there is no damn place for racism

I am sick to fucking death of racism, ignorance and blatant disregard for humanity.
Shame on you if you can’t see past the writings of The Sun to understand that people are driven to act on fear and desperation, and that people are suffering and dying in the process.
Shame on you if you cannot understand that another human being has died, emphasis on ‘human being’ and the fact that they are dead. But who cares? At least it’s not another person in the country, leaching off the state and the NHS.
Fucking shame on you if you likely voted in the Tories and are now complaining that they’re ruining the NHS whilst doing absolutely fuck all about it.
Shame on those that dare to be racist whilst listening to almost any form of music, eating Indian/Chinese/Italian/whatever takeaways and planning your next holiday abroad – enriching your life with other cultures whilst condemning anyone that isn’t British.
Shame on you if you can’t take six seconds to search on the internet to find out (something that I thought most people knew) that the media blows all statistics way out of proportion – the country is not ‘full’, our immigrant population was between 13-15% in 2013 whereas the Great British Public thought the figure was 31%. Assumed figure for percentage of UK population being Muslim was 24% – whereas the actual figure is 5%. It doesn’t take long to realise that the media feeds the racist trolls.
Shame on you if you instil your vitriolic views on your innocent children who grow up thinking it’s acceptable to judge another human being on the colour of their skin or the country that they come from.
Shame on you if you can’t even understand that refugees are human beings too, they aren’t animals that will shit on your lawn and steal your food. Stealing would be a last resort, to keep their family alive, just like you need food to be alive too. And if you didn’t have any, I’m sure as shit that you would acquire it for your family or yourself by any means necessary. If you were to feed and shelter your fellow human beings, however, there would be no need for stealing.

You people are like the bands of ‘punks’ in every zombie game, that are still human, that go around killing the other humans. Who the fuck does that? Can’t you see that everything is already so, incredibly shit? Why do you need to be there making everything worse? Why can’t you stick by your fellow human beings and have some goddamn compassion?