There is nothing more awkward than talking about street harassment on a first date. It was almost summer time and my date made a comment about being excited to see all the ladies out and about in their sundresses. I giggled and said I don’t think I’ll be wearing a sundress and he couldn’t understand why…
My Date: “You’re trying to tell me you don’t like the attention? I would love it for women to be throwing themselves at me all the time. It would make my life a lot easier haha.”
Me: “I think you’re making this about the opposite sex but I’m making this about men specifically. Would you love it if men were throwing themselves at you all the time? You’re comparing the attention I’m getting from the opposite sex to the attention you would love to get from the opposite sex. However, I’m speaking specifically about attention from men.”
My Date: “I’ve had that too before. A guy has winked at me or kinda tried to talk to me to see if I’d be interested.”
Me: “I don’t think you get it. Imagine if everyday, one man or a group of men, who are bigger, stronger, louder, taller, more masculine, and aggressive than you are, either winked at you, hollered at you, grabbed your hand, approached you aggressively, cornered you, or did all these things, all at once, every single day. What if you knew that every time you walked outside this would be your reality? Think about it. Let’s say tomorrow you’re walking to the gym and a car full of men slowed down to ride slowly next to you and starting yelling obscenities. Everyone could hear them shouting “Take off your shirt Zaddy.”, “What you got in those pants?” and “You gonna squat for me baby?”. Would you continue to walk all scared and sullen or would you be ready to fight?
Me Some More: “What if starting tomorrow this is your reality? If you knew you would encounter one or all of these things every day do you think you might start going out less? Not like you can fight every day. How would you feel about simple activities like going to the gym, running errands, etc.? You think you might start getting a lump in your throat every time a man got too close for comfort?”
My Date: “Whoa, whoa, okay, okay. I get your point but why do women get mad when they are dressed as if they want attention?”
Me: “You’re speaking from the paradigm that women’s bodies are objects to which men have rights. Besides, assault and rape are not a result of temptation in close proximity. It is a result of a perversion where dudes get off on dominating and subduing their victim. The only thing millions of rape and assault victims have in common is their vulnerability, NOT their attire. So yes, scantily-dressed women also get harassed, assaulted, and raped as a result of the fact that perverted men are EVERYWHERE. In schools, prisons, churches, the workplace, marriages, children’s bedrooms, parties, in human trafficking, and on the streets every morning on my way to work.”
Me Some More: “Your perspective is that only perverts harass women in skirts and that’s a major fallacy. The majority of sexual assaults and rapes are committed by someone the victim knows so this has nothing to do with the victim’s attire. When I’m walking to work every morning, I’m properly dressed, and I’ve been harassed at least 800 times.”
When someone is robbed or killed we shout, “Thief!” or “Murderer”!
We don’t ask the victim or their families, “How expensive was your attire?” or “What did they do to force the killer into such action?”
When a man or child is raped we cringe in agony as we shout, “Pervert!” and “Scum!”
We don’t ask the victims, “What were you wearing?” or “Why were you even in prison, school, church, and/or at home that day?”
When a woman is raped we shout, “Well, what was she wearing?”, “Why did she take so long to come out?” and “Why was she even at the party or in his office?”
SEE THE DIFFERENCE?
Me: “Think about prison. What is your #1 fear if you were sent to prison? Probably getting raped or gang-raped right? Don’t drop the soap?”
My Date: “That’s not funny.”
Me: “Neither is how common street harassment and sexual assault is against women. 1 in 4 women will experience being sexually assaulted or raped. That’s a significantly higher assault rate than prison. In other words, the world is OUR prison x 10. Don’t you think men could empathize with women and simply not say anything to us on the street that they wouldn’t want a man to say to them in prison?”
My Date: “Wow. That’s deep. Damn, I’m sorry. I never thought about harassment and sexual assault as a whole. I’m not saying blame the media but the media only really reports on the drunk college girls at parties. They don’t really shed light on all victims across the board the way you just did.”
Me: “I’m not trying to come at you, but I just know a lot of guys who think women love it and that’s because we live in a patriarchal society. Those who are in power write the narrative. Thus it becomes, “Women love attention so have at them. If they complain that they are getting too much attention then blame them so we can have at them some more.” It sounds crass but that is the reality. Just think about it, do we bring up the attire of thousands of children caught in human trafficking? Child brides? Students? Altar boys? No yet, we bring up the attire of harassed women just trying to get to work in the mornings. Victim-blaming is illogical and the worse thing anyone can do. Sorry, didn’t mean to get so deep!”
My Date: “It’s ok. How can I help?”
He was a total gentleman on our date. What do you think y’all? Anything I should have added or taken away?
Photo Credit: thestar.com