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Street harassment video

By now you've probably seen this video of the harassment faced by women on the streets in New York:

I've noticed two main reactions to people watching it:

1) If the person watching is a feminist: "Yup, that's about right. Pretty bad."

2) If the person watching has previously said they dislike "feminism": "That's not bad. It's definitely not harassment. That's just people being friendly/polite!"

To be completely honest, if it were the me from 10 years ago, I'd be in the second category. I wasn't completely unenlightened: I was a fairly feminist guy. I had appropriate views on most "feminist issues". I merely had no way to apply my empathy to the situation. After all, I would love to have dozens of women a day chat me up, some in a semi-sexually-suggestive way.

For other men in a similar situation as 10-years-ago me, try this on for size:

Imagine if it was you doing the walking, but all those men were obviously gay. I don't know your sexual preferences, but in this hypothetical world, you are straight, maybe leaning bisexual.

Also most of those gay men are body builders and extremely strong. Most are much stronger than you in fact, and could easily overpower you, if they wanted to.

So you walk around the streets and those same comments are made in the same tones of voice.

You have places to be and are clearly not interested in talking, and definitely not interested in hooking up, but they completely ignore your "clearly-not-interested-in-talking-and-definitely-not-interested-in-hooking-up" facial expression.

Probably a few of them were just friendly and wanted to say "hi", but many use an aggressive tone, and many react angrily when you decline or ignore their unsolicited "conversation attempts".

Sometimes it is groups of several burly gay men who aggressively attempt to "strike up a friendly conversation".

And this happens every single time you walked down the street. Every day of your adult life.

Really, put yourself there: all those aggressive gay[1] men, focusing their attention on you. You don't have a problem with gay men – you're quite fond of your gay friends – but in the back of your mind, you know most men could overpower you, if they wanted to, and these guys in particular are being quite aggressive. The guy who angrily asks if he's too ugly for you and the guy who leeringly says "hey beautiful" could beat the crap out of you without much trouble.

Now watch the whole video again. Actually do it. Pay attention to the tones of voice and body language.

Would you view most of that unsolicited attention as friendly, or as potentially scary?

2014-11-02 #gender  
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