friday fun: my sister tells a story about street harassment
As @feministhulk observed this week, HULK TRY TO OPEN MIND, SMASH EPISTEMOLOGICAL FRAMEWORKS WHICH LIMIT HULK'S THOUGHT, BUT HULK WILL NEVER GET CAT-CALLING.
My sister, Maggie recently moved to Austin, Texas and started a personal blog to share pictures and videos with family members. Last week, she posted this story about two guys who harassed her at a local mall, trying to recruit her (they claimed) for a modeling agency.
Since Maggie is a great storyteller I mostly want to let this story stand on its own and let you make of it what you will.
I do want, briefly, to say this. What struck me when I watched the video is how important it is to remember that sexism and beauty standards end up hurting even the women who are supposedly privileged by them. In this situation, because Maggie's harassers thought she looked "like a model," they felt entitled to proposition her in the coffee shop at the mall. This is a different type of harassment, to be sure, than the ridicule we who don't fit the norm experience. It's easy (because women are encouraged to compete with each other when it comes to beauty) to resent the attention "hot" women receive from strangers. But those women I know who experience that attention usually don't feel more than passingly gratified. Mostly, they feel under constant siege from people who act like their bodies are somehow public property, perpetually on show, simply because these women had the gall to walk out of the house in the morning in something other than their pajamas (and at times even then!).
My sister has learned how to reject these intrusions and even turn them into humor. She's in a position to recognize the harassment for what it is and protect herself. But, as she points out some young women might not be so critical of the harassment disguising itself as flattery. Which is why raising awareness of the fact that this kind of harassment is not okay -- particularly through humorous means such as the collaborative Hollaback! website -- are such awesome resources. Make sure all the people in your life who experience this kind of public harassment know there are ways to speak up and fight back.