Friday, 25 May 2012

Rude and crude

It's still not possible for a woman to walk down a street confident her privacy will be respected and she will not at some point be intruded on and harassed by some unknown man who feels she owes him some attention.

Research by the organisation End Violence Against Women has found that 41% of London women under the age of 34 have been subjected to sexual harassment in the street, and a third have received unwanted sexual attention on trains and buses.

Will men ever get the message that women are not sexual playthings provided for their personal pleasure but are other human beings whose lives are their own and nobody else's? Answer - only if they come under a lot more pressure than they're exposed to at the moment.

As usual, reports on the research call for changed attitudes from just about everybody - councils, police, government, public transport staff. Everybody that is except the people actually causing the problem - men.

Where is the emphasis on teaching men to respect women and not invade their privacy? When are men going to be told firmly and forcefully, just stop harassing women. Stop it now. Or you'll be ostracised and isolated by the whole community.

But no, it's still women who're advised to change their behaviour to ward off harassment, as if they're the ones to blame. They should dress differently, avoid certain areas, not go out, take taxis, stay sober, not look too friendly.

Women are still seen as asking for it. When in reality it's men who're asking for it. Not even asking, assuming their male prerogative. Assuming their feudal entitlement. Assuming they're God's gift to women. Well, they're not. They're just predatory arseholes.

27 comments:

Secret Agent Woman said...

I have been harassed while walking down the street and while driving my car more times that I can count. Mostly verbally, a couple of times I've been grabbed. It's difficult to describe how upsetting and frightening that is.

Grannymar said...

Since I am a recluse I have no need to worry about being harassed in the street! :lol:

Nick said...

Agent - I can imagine exactly how upsetting it is. You're walking along the street quietly minding your own business and suddenly someone makes lecherous comments or grabs at you. What gives them the right?

Grannymar - Ha ha! Not quite a recluse but hopefully no longer young enough to attract every passing would-be Casanova.

CheerfulMonk said...

Fortunately that hasn't happen to me here in the U.S., except for some wolf calls from construction workers years ago. Even that sounded more like friendly attention than harassment. I was groped once in Paris years ago and never again went out alone there at night because of it. I had assumed Italy would have been just as bad. I hadn't expected it to be a problem where you are.

Nick said...

It's a big problem all over the UK, including Northern Ireland. Men just egg each other on to pester vulnerable women. In most cases women don't bother to report it because they know little will be done about it.

Ursula said...

Nick, please do not exaggerate: It's NOT a BIG problem here or anywhere else.

I am not quite with you: Women are not "vulnerable" and perfectly able to take care of themselves.

U

Nick said...

Ursula - I think you're in denial. If it's not a big problem, try telling Rosie Wadey who's quoted in the article. She's been assaulted three times and has had to radically change her behaviour. Of course women are "vulnerable" only in the sense that some men regard them as soft targets.

Maybe where you live there's no problem, in which case you're very lucky.

Ursula said...

Nick, nothing to do with 'luck'. It's attitude. I am not being made into a victim. I am NOT a victim. And I will not be told by you - a man - that I am in denial. I know what I know. There is nothing wrong with a wolf whistle. Talk to those women who aren't whistled at. Oh the shame of it. Talk to the men doing the whistling. They don't mean any harm. Groping? Well, there is a way to deal with it and no, it does not involve running to the Human Resources Department to lodge a complaint. You take your life into your own hands. That's what.

By way of example: When I came to this country, very young, my first name being Ursula, there was a man, someone I worked with in the same office, who, every morning and without fail, would say to me "Ursula, undress". A particularly humourous play on Sean Connery's maiden on the beach,Ursula Andress. So, fucking what? It was nothing to me. Whatever makes you happy.

I dare say there are some sassy (female) readers of yours out there who will agree with me. Let's see.

U

Nick said...

Ursula - I've heard many women saying something similar, that men are just flirting with women and there's no harm in it. But then wolf-whistles are peanuts compared with what some men are capable of.

However,as you rightly point out, I'm not a woman and I have no experience of such behaviour. I'll leave it to my other blogmates to comment - if they wish.

Bijoux said...

Until people stop laughing it off and excusing men for childish behavior, it won't stop. Part of the problem is that the harrassment typically occurs when women are younger (ages 15-35, though I realize it can happen at ANY age) and aren't confident enough to call out an a$$hole. Most 40-somethings I know would take a jerk to task!

Nick said...

Bijoux - Interesting thought that young women simply aren't confident enough to object, while older women would probably tell an obstreperous male to back off. In which case I guess we need to educate young women not to put up with shitty behaviour.

Roses said...

Attitude does not address this issue.

I'm not known for being a shrinking violet, but when two yoofs in a van decided to shout sexual suggestions at me from traffic lights, I found it upsetting and actually, threatening.

In a face to face encounter, I would have no problem in deflecting unwanted advances, but their behaviour was ridiculous and unnecessary.

I prefer to side-step the gender debate completely. It's actually about good manners and how PEOPLE should treat each other with kindness and respect. Quite simple really.

Nick said...

Roses - As I've said before, just what gives those two youths the right? Are you their property? In theory, you're correct about it being a good-manners issue. But that turns the focus away from the men who're causing the problem, and their particular insolence gets overlooked.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Yes, oh yes. This still happens to me on a regular basis and I am in my early 70s. It has been going on since I was about 12, in school (by teachers,) in the workplace, on the street and even in public libraries. I do not dress provocatively and it seems that by now I should have earned a bit of peace and privacy. Cretins like that give men a bad name which is unfair not only to the women they harass but to decent men as well.

nursemyra said...

I've been harassed overseas but not so much in Australia and we have plenty of yobbos over here. depends on what you mean by harassment though. Wolf whistles from a building site don't bother me one bit.

Maybe it's because I don't go out much any more, or maybe I'm getting a bit long in the tooth.

Nick said...

Heart - I had no idea you were in your early 70s! I have that old pic of you in your shades and red tee and you look about twenty!

It's appalling that you get harassed even now - I guess you're still thin and short and that's what men go for. Why should you still have to put up with all that? As you say, it gives all the decent men out there a bad name as well.

Nick said...

Myra - You don't look remotely long in the tooth to me. There must be something about you that warns men off. Do you look in any way intimidating?

Roses said...

When I was at uni, I did a gender studies module and whilst much of it was hard-core feminist studies, by which I mean women are good, men are bad, some of it was quite scary.

The issues around gender are so murky and grey, I am loathe to blame men solely for their behaviour.

The subtle backstabbing and indoctrination happens through women and men. After all, those boys had mothers, aunts, sisters...other women in their community, if not immediate family.

It would be a real shame if smiling appreciatively at someone attractive becomes viewed as 'sexual harassment', because that also falls within the definition.

What gave the yoofs the right? Because they could. Simple as that really. Rather than criminalisation, I like to see more people going 'what're you doing mate?'

Rummuser said...

As a coincidence, I too have written about it and I could not agree more that the problem is with the men and not with the women. I find it vile and whenever I come across it, I try and do something about it like going up to the men and berating them, if I think it is safe. On those occasions that I did, I found them to be cowardly without exception and inevitably also found support from the bystanders. I am too old now for such shenanigans but find it to be a disgusting feature of modern urban life.

Nick said...

Roses - When you say backstabbing and indoctrination, about what exactly? How awful men are? How women are asking for it? How you just have to accept boys will be boys?

I agree, it would be absurd if an appreciative smile was seen as harassment. I can appreciate a nice bum or a well-cut dress the same as the next man!

And I also agree, more people saying "What're you doing mate?" would be a lot simpler than consulting me learned friends.

Nick said...

Ramana - Good for you intervening and stopping the men concerned in their tracks. A lot more people should be doing exactly that. I would do it myself but fortunately I move in the kind of workplace and the kind of neighbourhood where it seldom happens (or not to my knowledge).

Jenny Woolf said...

Don't you think there is now the issue of culture as well? Many Western cultures have got the message over ...hm... reasonably well. Some other cultures are a million miles away from it. As a feminist I am absolutely not in the business of blaming women for the unenlightened behaviour of disgusting prejudiced men, but also think that sometimes women need to be sensible and just street aware. Just do. In an ideal world they wouldn't need to.

A far from ideal situation. Do you think I'm being pragmatic or just giving in?

Nick said...

Jenny - You're right that some cultures are a million miles apart when it comes to women's rights. And while I think sexual harassment of women is entirely a male problem, the sad reality is that women are forced to take precautions to keep out of trouble.

kylie said...

i have never been harassed in the street. i keep hearing about it but it doesnt happen to me. maybe thats attitude? maybe because i dont reveal my body, i dont know.....

i was sexually harassed in the workplace when i was very young. since then there have been occasions when i have ignored some jerks who werent harassing me but were being stupidly inappropriate. they were way too dumb to be found threatening.

i guess all i can say is that if a woman feels threatened , she is and men should stop with the nonsense, theres not a whole lot of kudos in getting ones sex by force

Nick said...

Kylie - You've never been harassed in the street? You're very lucky. Somehow you don't trigger off all that testosterone. But what exactly is "stupidly inappropriate" behaviour?

Absolutely, if a woman feels threatened, she is. End of story. Men really need to absorb that very simple fact into their insensitive brains.

kylie said...

sometimes i would like to trigger some testosterone, wouldnt i?

stupid inappropriate behaviour is things like discussing the latest conquest in front of colleagues or making dirty gestures....

the guys i am thinking of were buffoons but so stupid i couldnt take them seriously

Nick said...

Kylie - Ah, yes, I know exactly what you mean. Funny how that sort of thing is still regarded as obligatory masculine behaviour. Do they really think it enhances their status?