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The Blue & Gray Press | February 24, 2018

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Letter to the editor: Crude harassment is degrading and dangerous

To the Editor:

I would like to voice my concern about a problem that I have noticed occurring frequently around campus. I am a woman, and I do not like to be street harassed.

Street harassment is when a person, or a group of people, yells, whistles, makes lewd gestures or draws unwanted attention to another person. Usually, the harassment is directed toward female pedestrians by groups of young men in cars.

The comments range from annoying, wordless yelling to vulgar and unsettling shrieks like “Nice breasts, baby!”

Being talked to this way by a strange man in a car makes me feel vulnerable, angry and dehumanized.

Since the interaction is basically anonymous, there is no opportunity for the victim of street harassment to confront her harasser.

Some people will say that women invite this sort of unwanted attention by dressing a certain way. This viewpoint is not only ignorant, but it is dangerous. It puts the responsibility of avoiding harassment on the victim and excuses the harassers for their behavior. It does not matter what a woman is wearing, nobody deserves to be reduced to a piece of meat. In fact, I argue that street harassment not only reduces the victim, but the harasser as well, by turning men into anonymous roadside bullies.

Street harassment is not funny. It demeans women and, in the process, turns men into bullies. It is not flattering. I hope that we as a community can work together to eliminate this problem.

Lucia Morey is a senior.

Comments

  1. Dave

    I find this letter generalizing and offensive towards men. Surely as a man, I am against “street harassment” as are most people regardless of sex. How is the author backing up the assertion, “Usually, the harassment is directed toward female pedestrians by groups of young men in cars”. Was there some study done that they failed to cite? Then using the quote “Nice breasts, baby” makes it seem like they witnessed this particular vulgarity and based on the wording I find that hard to believe.

    I agree with the underlying thought that harassment is a problem. However it not only demeans women but all people including homosexuals, overweight youths, redheads, and Lady Gaga fans. Bullies also cannot be identified by their gender as this letter leads you to believe. If we want to curb “street harassment” then we cannot fall victim to the same generalizing that is often at the root of such harassment.

  2. E

    I’m with Dave on this one. As a girl who has experienced the “street harassment” you speak of, it’s never been to the extent you claim and it’s often comical, pathetic on the part of the gentlemen seeking my attention and overall, doesn’t affect my day in the least. Plus, this letter makes it sound like every group of guys in a car is a predator. Far from the truth – most men who have cat called me are Fred locals, not students, and it’s been absolutely harmless to my self-worth. I just wish this made a more original, specific argument rather than just expressed “I don’t like this”/”men are pigs” mentality on behalf of all women.

  3. E

    I’m with Dave on this one. As a girl who has experienced the “street harassment” you speak of, it’s never been to the extent you claim and it’s often comical, pathetic on the part of the gentlemen seeking my attention and overall, doesn’t affect my day in the least. Plus, this letter makes it sound like every group of guys in a car is a predator. Far from the truth – most men who have cat called me are Fred locals, not students, and it’s been absolutely harmless to my self-worth. I just wish this made a more original, specific argument rather than just expressed “I don’t like this”/”men are pigs” mentality on behalf of all women.

  4. Suzie

    ‘I find this letter generalizing and offensive towards men. Surely as a man, I am against “street harassment” as are most people regardless of sex. How is the author backing up the assertion, “Usually, the harassment is directed toward female pedestrians by groups of young men in cars”. Was there some study done that they failed to cite? Then using the quote “Nice breasts, baby” makes it seem like they witnessed this particular vulgarity and based on the wording I find that hard to believe.’

    Wow Dave, this post offends you? Seriously? Maybe you participated in such an act of harassment and now feel guilty about it?

    As a fellow victim of street harassment, every single time I’ve been harassed, it’s been by – guess what? MEN – or rather, boys horribly failing at being men. It has happened to me more than once, and it always bothers me. The first time it happened, I was walking home when some boy from school was driving by, shouting lewd & demeaning comments at me with a group of his hoodlum friends riding along. I imagine my neighbors all heard him. I was upset for at least a week, as I had done nothing to deserve that kind of embarrassment.

    Due to my own experiences, I would venture to say that this woman is basing her statments on personal experience. Therefore, she doesn’t need to “back up” her assertions. The proverbial cat calling/wolf whistling is ubiquitous. It happens to both men and women pretty much everywhere, though no one wants to talk about it or admit it. However, the majority of such street harassment is instigated by men at women. So you cannot weasel your way out of that dumb comment.

    Dave and “E” – Nowhere does she accuse all men of engaging in this type of offensive behavior. You have both read a “man bashing” mentality into her letter, the spirit of which does not exist. What I’m hearing from the both of you is that she has offended your ideals, but what she’s espousing is reality. And part of that reality is that many women feel “vulnerable, angry, and dehumanized” because they can do nothing to stop street harassment.

  5. I Can See Clearly Now

    I’m not disagreeing that the majority of it is done by men toward women (it probably is) but anecdotal evidence is not a factual assertion. Given that you’re a woman, yeah, I would imagine that most of the harassment you get it done by men, but that doesn’t mean it’s all done by men all the time just because you got cat-called by men. If you were a man, I would imagine that most of it would be done by women.

    Again, not disagreeing, just pointing out the fallacy of trying to make a factual assertion based on anecdotal evidence.

  6. Suzie

    Um, last time I checked personal experience is generally accepted as factual evidence when enough people have the same experiences (which so far appears to be the case). When that happens, it then usurps the traditionally accepted, so-called “fact.” Just ask a bunch of your friends about getting cat-called and you’ll probably get a similar story. BTW My boyfriend used to get cat-called by men when he wore his hair long. By your own standards, your own argument about most men getting cat-called by women are not “facts” either. Just saying.

  7. Suzie

    Correction: is not a “factual assertion”

  8. You Get What You Give

    It’s still anecdotal evidence, even if it’s a lot of people. You’re talking about a *relative* fact. For you, sure, it is a fact that men are the ones doing the cat-calling. But that simply isn’t true across the board. A man who gets cat-called by women all day long might think the majority of cat-calling is done by women, but that doesn’t mean it’s true for everyone.

    That kind of thinking is what made life so dangerous for Muslims after 9/11. An extremely small, extremely violent contingent of Muslims attacked us, and that, for a lot of people, was the only anecdotal evidence on Muslims that they had, so they assumed that ALL Muslims must be extremists.

    I was simply saying that I personally agree that most of it is probably done by men too. You can probably find statistics and research out there to prove it and then you’d have a fact on your hands, but your experience and my experience are still just anecdotal and not facts. That’s all I mean.

  9. Suzie

    You have good intentions, but you apparently didn’t read over my first post very well. I never said men were the only ones doing the cat calling.

  10. This Is How We Do It

    “…the majority of such street harassment is instigated by men at women.”

    Without an objective source, that’s a generalization, not a fact, and the kind of thing that Dave is (rightfully) upset about. It’s not fair to men who do not practice this kind of behavior to throw out information like that without something other than personal experience to back it up. Remember that your first instinct to Dave being offended by that kind of generalization was to assume he’s one of the men doing this. That’s why it’s dangerous. You’re punishing the many for the crimes of the few.

  11. Suzie

    You and Dave perceive that I am attacking all men for the crimes of the few, and I am NOT doing that. Personal experience is fact. It may not be provable, but neither is what you’re saying necessarily provable with “scientific evidence.” What you seem to have a problem with is scientific (measurable & reproduceable) data vs. eye-witness events. Both occur and therefore are facts. Absolute provability does not exist. Eye-witness testimonies are used every day in the legal system to establish the factuality of an event. No one at any time in this threat ever claimed that all men harass women. The animosity is towards the men who, in fact, DO! And you know some men do.

  12. Suzie

    *No one at any time on this thread ever claimed that all men harass women.

  13. Hey Jealousy

    And I totally agree with you that some men do. I just know that, as a man who has never done that, it’s not fun to notice a woman getting visibly nervous as she passes just because I’m a man and she’s assuming danger.

    It’s like how girls are raised with the “men only want one thing” mentality. I understand it’s there to protect you, but it makes me as a man feel really creepy when I haven’t done anything and it can make girls nervous of all men.

    Same here. I think Dave is probably like me and tired of feeling like because we’re men, we’re already guilty in some way. I know this isn’t what you’re intending and it’s totally inconsequential compared to what a woman feels when she’s harassed, but I think this kind of collateral damage is still something to consider.

  14. b.

    Instead of criticizing women who have a valid reason to be afraid of men (and the rape culture many men perpetuate), maybe you should be criticizing men who do perpetuate sexism, who have no such reason.

  15. She's So High

    That was my whole point though. Don’t judge the many for the sins of the few. Just because a few men have been awful doesn’t justify being scared of all men.

    If I got mugged on the street by black women a couple times and then said I’m now scared of ALL black women, people would tell me the same thing that I’m telling you.