Street Harassment: Being “Nice”

WCP blogger Amanda Hess has a post up today detailing how responding in a polite fashion to more apparently benign forms of street harassment doesn’t deter but encourages it.

I experienced this type of outwardly friendly yet completely creepy behavior during the summer of 2008 when I still lived in Midwestern College Town. It was an absolutely beautiful day – not too hot, sun shining, light breeze – and I was walking down to the City Pool to enjoy myself. I was also visibly pregnant. It was a short and enjoyable walk; I had the option to drive, but no need.

As I was making my progress along a residential street, a middle aged man in a red pickup pulled up to me and offered me a ride. I don’t remember the precise exchange, but it boiled down to something like this:

He: [smiles] Can I give you a lift somewhere?
Me: [likewise friendly but wary] No thanks, I’m enjoying my walk.
He: [still smiling] Are you sure?
Me: [no longer smiling] I’m fine, thanks.

I sped up my pace a bit, made it more purposeful, and the man drove on. I changed my direction slightly, going first to a local coffee shop where I knew there would at least be people. I endlessly debated whether or not to report this incident to police, but my gut instinct was that they would just slough it off, as nothing identifiably bad had happened. I already had one dude thinking he knew better than me (as evidenced by the offer + “are you sure?”) – the last thing I needed was a (chances are) male cop added to the mix.

As I approached the coffee shop, the truck reappeared – he had apparently circled the block in order to continue following me.

It’s entirely possible that this man just thought he was being kind, practicing the sort of benevolent sexism present in all kinds of thinking about women: that we are to be protected, especially when pregnant, so far that if we’re out by ourselves, we can’t possibly be protected enough, so some dude had better hop to and assist, being all gentlemanly, etc. Trouble is, there’s no way for us to distinguish benevolent vs. malevolent intention until it’s too late.

It was abundantly clear that this man, while he may have had the best (if sexist) of intentions, was acting in a way that patently denied my agency and self-determination in favor of whatever random thought was in his head. That alone told me he was to be avoided at all costs.

But see? I was “nice”. I didn’t do all the things we’re told to do (be rude, put up a fight, shout for help) only after being conditioned to be polite or else. It didn’t “save” me, even though “nothing” happened. In fact, something did happen: that dude was demonstrating, yet again, that men’s desires trump women’s in every single case, no matter what mundane thing she has chosen to do. Even seemingly “innocent” encounters like this smack of patriarchial privilege, and serve to remind women of their designated place, which is certainly not making decisions for themselves to take a nice walk on a pretty day.

More Geek Love.

Just a quick one this time: thanks to a new poster at the IBTP message boards, I’ve been introduced to something I should have seriously missed* before now: Feminst SciFi – The Blog!(TM)

So far, it’s good. Touches on just about everything: on the front page right now are posts about BSG: Razor, the passing of Verity Lambert**, aliens and sex/gender (not sex with aliens, which is more typical), and a bit about Joss Whedon’s new series, Dollhouse.

I’m looking forward to more reading. (Although I still have to see Razor. Bah for me being so wiped out the Saturday after Thanksgiving I didn’t even remember it was on that night.)

*I’d even asked for recommendations for feminist/not-horribly-misogynist scifi lit on said boards. Didn’t even occur to me there’d be a blog about it somewhere. I really am clueless sometimes. Or just so used to SciFi==Teh Menz Wurld, kthxbai.***

**Which I knew about, amazingly, even though I’m not the Dr. Who fan I used to be. Thanks Richie!

*** and if I ever forget again how to make bog-damned footnotes, this is the code to use with this version of WordPress: <span style=”font-size:0.8em;”> </span>

Random video goodness?

So. I’m hanging around IM, minding my own business, when a buddy of mine sends me a pretty damn cool video, thus:

Laser Graffiti

This, I say, is pretty damn spiff. In the words of lolcats everywhere:

PLZ I CAN DRAWZ LZR GRFFITI??

Speaking of which:

Internet Commenter Business Meeting 1 and 2

Anyone who’s commented on a blog bigger than this one, let alone a forum, knows exactly what this is about.

What good is it, anyway?

annie annoyed« Even the cat tries to keep me away from those evil fem-blogs. I needed something to break up the monotony of text, so I’m copying Twisty by posting photos.


I’ve asked myself that question lately, especially in regards to reading feminist blogs. It’s something I feel I have to justify, somehow, although that comes with the awareness that the gut-twisting worry associated with Even though I’m angry more often (and that, coming from a woman, is definitely seen as negative by our society-at-large) I’m definitely learning, chiefly about myself and my privilege as a white middle-class educated Westerner.
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Feminists in public

I’ve been back to reading the occasional feminist blog, as well as Salon.com’s Broadsheet. Usually I just read the articles, without even realizing, I guess, that there was a comments section too.

Perhaps, though, my subconscious was protecting me from what I was certain would be there.

What is intriguing (well, discouraging, really) to me is that the first (or early) response to each post there is some sort of personal attack, or statement meant to belittle, demean, or trivialize the topic — and usually by an anonymous poster.
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Addendum to: Who *would* cry rape?

Having read Thinking Girl‘s first guest post on Slant Truth (which boils down to “if you have privilege where another person doesn’t, and they feel marginalized, demeaned, etc.: shut up, listen and believe them. It’s their experience, not yours”), this thought ran across my head while catching up on the Twisty archives:

I believe a rape allegation because I wasn’t there, and she/he was, and that was her experience. If a woman says she was raped, the case needs to be taken seriously. Let the courts/judge decide, based on actual evidence, presented fairly.

Virtually everyone calls the reliability of a rape victim into question. The general consensus by the ugly side of the media machine (FOX News, I’m talking about YOU), once the declaration of insufficient evidence has been made, suddenly nothing has happened and ‘the girl’
made it all up.

Just because the prosecution couldn’t get up enough witnesses / the witnesses were not treated as credible doesn’t mean nothing happened.

Ladies and gentlemen, the Defense rests.

hot teen action

So, is getting a bunch of spam advertising porn a sign I’m doing things right or what?

Seriously, this blog must have graduated or something. I only just to get ads for male sexual enhancement.


UPDATE (2007-04-25 08:24):

On a related note, Twisty takes note of the responsibility of porn has in maintaining rape culture.

As Vera Venom comments:

Simply put – people saw the *men* tortured at Aru Gharib and they were horrified!! Horrified!!

They see women tortured in brutal porn and it’s sexysexy!

I ❤ her, muchly.

It’s the little things.

It’s always chicken butt.

Like this terribly accurate depiction of the early days of our marriage. Yes, really. [link]

Do go see him. David Malki ! is also the creator of what is possibly my favorite Alien loves Predator strip ever.

ALSO: I discovered landoverbaptist.org today. Yay for NSFW parody sites.

Note: In typing landoverbaptist.org the first time, I transposed two letters. You guess which ones.

ALSO, again: I’m a little hacked at WordPress making full CSS customization something you pay for. I mean, what gives? Even if I just want to make slight color alterations… *sigh*.

AUCH: Facebook is occasionally quite entertaining, like when this happens:

Which came first?

(Chuck is an acquaintance from elementary school — and his wife, Alice, had a FB account long before he did. He just added me as a friend tonight, and I was #4, so I’m guessing his account is brand-spankin-new.)

Feminism Friday, belated.

There’s been much on-bandwagon-jumping lately by the name of Feminism Friday (which I discovered via Thinking Girl), and I, on a Monday, have decided to start out with this. I’ve seen many ways to do this, and since I’m not in a place where I can do analysis of feminist issues with a (to me) clear voice, I am going to simply share where I’ve been, and maybe what thoughts they’ve provoked. We’ll see where all this goes, and how long I can keep it up.

Lessons this week(end) have been in discovering misogyny and the exercise of privilege in the durndest places.

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