HBDC! was blessed to have six wonderful interns these past four months. They assisted on our social media campaigns, reaching out the LGBTQ communities, and raising awareness about HBDC! and street harassment on their campus. Each week, they were asked to read a scholarly paper on street harassment and tie it back to the experiences people share on this blog. They wrote about how or if the theoretical melded with the practical, which widened their scope of understanding about gender-based violence.
These next couple of days, we will be showcasing their work.
…As men take away women’s rights to control, assertiveness, and her physical space, they make it easier to work they way in to dominate in even more terrifying ways: physical abuse, sexual abuse, and the omnipresent and paralyzing act of rape.
Street harassment is more than just catcalling and butt grabbing. It is the long-term and deeply instilled fear in the victims that is the reason rape makes itself so prevalent. When a woman is vulnerable, it makes her so much easier to take advantage of. The fact that a man can simply leave a woman so defenseless and outside of herself while she goes about her daily routine is simply put, unfair. The fact that rape can be instigated from the norms of everyday life makes me want to fight back, always protect myself and the women of the world, all of them. The fact that I can’t digs at me on a level I can’t even articulate.
Hierarchy once again presents itself in street harassment; it simply cannot be escaped. Though patriarchy is present, this stretches above and beyond the normative man controlling woman factor. Women also create their own hierarchy by means of street harassment. Because they remain silent, oppressed, and stagnant, they are creating an order. Women who talk about it street harassment are shamed, women who don’t suffer alone. Women are unintentionally supporting the hateful acts against them, and the hierarchy supports this. Women do this all the time. They wear hyper-sexualized Halloween costumes, use the words “bitch”, “whore”, “slut”, to describe other women, don’t fight back. It is an unending spiral of self and gender deprecation. As much as I loathe saying this, women are, for the most part, are hurting their own cause more than they are helping it. By brushing a crude comment or a gross display of public indecency off their shoulders, women are giving men the right to do the same and the harassers the privilege to continue.
Since the time of slavery, African American women have put their own needs in on the far backburner… They suffered their own kinds of harassment by the controllers of the house, and had no means to express their pain and frustration. African American women had to fight and fight to make themselves present beings, the rights so many others got for free. Every time an African American woman is harassed on the street, that assurance is taken away from her, and it is taking us back a step in the progress gained through blood, sweat, and tears. It is once again, completely and utterly unfair.
As a white woman, I find it hard to discuss and analyze issues through a racial scope, feeling that I don’t have the right. This is something that I need to move beyond, because it is so critical in explaining behaviors and defining things in a cultural and real sense. I, as a white woman, feel heavy guilt on a daily basis… But I know when it comes down to it, women are women. We are one race with the same genetic makeup and the same love in our hearts, and we have to come together to stop the plague of street harassment and beyond. It matters to me. And I know it matters to the women around me. United we are, beyond all other determining factors of our existence.