- Posted August 24, 2013 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Speaking up about sexual violence
Sexual Harrassment is Everyone's Problem
While I understand that fear, it is distracting the conversation away from the point. It is a valid fear and deserves its own conversation. However, what THIS conversation is about, is the sexual violence and sexual harassment against women.
Whenever you say "that problem belongs to *those men* over there, and not to me", then your distancing actually further enables the systemic problem, which is the objectification of women as second class beings there for entertainment or use.
I live in Michigan, U.S.A., and have experienced street sexual harassment countless times. Something typical would be: I'm out on a road bike ride. Several times, each ride, I will be tooted at, hollared at, and nearly cut off. If I express any anger at this, often times those driving will turn around and "buzz" my ride, swerve into my lane, or use other intimidation tactics to let me know that *they* own my space, and I have no right to freedom of personal movement and public spaces without it being invaded or dictated by a man. Ask any woman who has done alot of biking anywhere - be it a city big or small, rural, country, etc.
Women cannot adventure alone, but men may, without fear of sexual violence.
Women cannot have a man enter her elevator late at night and quiver in fear as he makes sexual innuendos or even just makes a polite pass at you, .... because history, patterns and smarts at this point tell you that if it's late at night, you are alone in a small silver box, and you reject or ignore this man who may to all appearances seem polite, he could turn violent. We've all seen it before with the "what are you some kind of frigid bitch?" and then what will happen next?! No, men do not have that fear. There is no established precedent for that in their realm of "expected".
Women who are homeless cannot expect to be safe of sexual violence and are incredibly vulnerable. Oftentimes it can be expected that if you are a homeless woman, you will be raped, you just will be, how can you avoid it? Unless you are skilled with a knife and on alert at all times. You can expect to use your body as currency for basic needs. I have not been homeless, but have nearly been and researching tips and stories online, I became absolutely terrified of the possibility.
Men and women both, but I say especially men, we need to stand up to the media images, the message, our peers, our family members, our loved ones when we hear these messages and power-trips of harassment etc. being expressed or just allowed to slide by without comment. Or being blamed on the woman receiving the harassment. Educate yourself on this issue. Otherwise, the more we educate each other that women are sexual objects for entertainment, the more that is expressed, the more we blame women who do not feel safe to walk alone.... the more we approve of it with our silence...we will be complicit and it will not change. It's a raging river that when left alone, will continue to erode all in its path, ALL, including the humanity and agency of men to be persons of dignity who respect, rather than use, other human beings.
So people in India, I say to you that yes this is a global problem. DO NOT let that allow you to distance yourself emotionally from the problem. There is a system of enabling going on in your country, of which you are a part. It is your place as well, just like it is the place of every American in the USA, to work to re-educate your fellow citizens and push for a better culture towards women.