As I’ve devoted several columns to the problem of sexual harassment, I want to explain why. Sexual harassment is a form of bullying. It’s part of the larger dynamic of harassment that in particular affects women.
If we are going to change the culture where harassment becomes unacceptable, we have to deal with sexual harassment. And yes, we also have to deal with racial harassment and racism because – seriously – people are getting killed over that and lives are being ruined.
Sexual Harassment and racial harassment are cousins. They go hand in hand. When we fight one – we are fighting the other. And if you aren’t aware of that – you need to be.
It has to do with assumptions and stereotypes. For women, all women, the assumption is of sex and the promise or idea of sex. Or, if you are prude, the withholding of sex. Simply put, for too many men, sex is the only lens through which they are able to view women. We aren’t really human. We are just sexual objects that they may or may not have access to.
For blacks, the assumptions and stereotypes have to do with criminality. Black men in particular are thugs, to be feared. Which is why they keep getting shot by scared white people.
When you combine black with female, you get black women stereotypes, The idea that black women are either overweight and out of shape or man crazy or both.. (see: http://www.urbancusp.com/2012/03/eight-stereotypes-about-black-women-that-need-to-die-in-2012/) What you will notice about this list of stereotypes is that they are all still about sex.
My feeling is that if we women, of whatever color, can conquer street harassment, we can have a tremendous positive impact on society. Because the same skills we can use to force a cultural change that stops tolerating the dehumanization of women are the same skills we can use to stop the dehumanization of people based on skill color, or educational background or eye color or hair style or whatever.
So – with that in mind – here is a – how to prevent street harassment guide – in graphic form.
And for those of you who don’t understand just how sexist and offensive street harassment is – check out these videos – they are about sex and about treating women as sexual objects for the benefit of men. And yes, the men confronted in these videos are pretty explicit about that. They apparently have a right to judge women as beautiful or sexy and to consider complete strangers as potential sexual conquests. And if we aren’t flattered by the fact they want to have sex with us – there is apparently something wrong with us. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/07/21/street-harassment-filming-lindsey_n_5605484.html
Men and women – stop being silent. Start speaking out and don’t allow this to continue. If you witness it – speak out and stop it.