And The Solution To This Phenomenon Is Simply Ethics. Why Is That So Hard?

construction_workers_at_voi_bigWith her “Letter to the Guy Who Harassed Me Outside the Bar” , Emily Heist Moss makes me briefly wonder, not for the first time, why all men haven’t been murdered in their beds by an organized feminist vigilante posse. The conduct she describes is disgusting and infuriating just to read about, and I don’t even have to experience it.

The amazing thing is that this kind of ritual harassment would vanish with some slight behavioral additions to our culture, many of which once were the norm, habits of good conduct like etiquette,  manners, consideration, civility, fairness, kindness, respect, and the Golden Rule. They could become cultural norms again, and rather easily, I would think, with an increase in responsible parenting, a responsible popular culture, and the development of role models with integrity. Not featuring serial and unapologetic sexual harassers as stars of sitcoms (Charlie Sheen) and political conventions (William Jefferson Clinton) would help; so would a serious effort by Hollywood not to trivialize workplace harassment as cute or amusing, as in the long-running “Cheers,” or in current TV  dramas like “Criminal Minds” and “NCIS.”

Moss writes,

“You were a harasser, the guy they make subway posters about, the guy who contributes to rape culture. Ask your female friends, if you have any, if they’ve ever walked home late at night with a key pushed through their knuckles, just in case, if they’ve ever crossed the street to avoid a stranger, just in case, if they’ve ever taken the long way home because of the weird guy on the corner, just in case. Ask them if they’ve ever made up a boyfriend to get a guy to leave them alone, if they’ve ever gotten off a train car and moved to the next because you just never know, if they’ve ever shelled out for a cab because men like you were at the bus stop. Do you really want to be that guy?”

Not only are a disturbing number of men, young and old, “that guy,” a shocking number of them either don’t realize they are “that guy,’ or don’t see anything wrong with it.

Yup…murdered in our beds.

Read her whole piece here.

Then send it to that jerk you know.

Yeah, that one.

UPDATE: Amptoons has an interesting commentary on this essay as well, which you should check out here. As Barry (The 2012 Commenter of the Year!) is wont to do sometimes, he misreads my point and implies that I am arguing that sexual harassment is worse now than it was in “the good old days.” In fact it was worse then: go see a production of “How To Succeed in Business…” sometime. Many of the norms of the past would certainly help today, however, like teaching boys that you don’t stare at women in public, and that you are always polite to everyone in social discourse. (Just because they were norms doesn’t mean they were followed by everyone, or were everyone’s norms. The men I observed in Boston’s North End, a traditional Italian neighborhood, certainly had a different idea of how one showed respect to a woman than I was taught, for example.) Manners and basic social graces have declined, but the toxic sexism and gender discrimination of the past more than overwhelmed some of the cosmetic benefits of chivalry.

_______________________________

Source: Role Reboot

Graphic: The Daily Andy

124 Comments

Filed under Character, Etiquette and manners, Gender and Sex, Popular Culture, U.S. Society

124 responses to “And The Solution To This Phenomenon Is Simply Ethics. Why Is That So Hard?

  1. What a sad American culture we live in.

  2. I read her piece and it struck me as sensationalized misandry. Theres a lot ethically wrong with the article and its not just the men she writes about.

    • I read her piece and it struck me as sensationalized misandry. Theres a lot ethically wrong with the article and its not just the men she writes about.

      How so?

      All the incidents described are clearly harassment. None were mere clumsy attempts to make conversation.

      This does beg the question of the reason behind harassment. The harassment is not for the purpose of getting a one-night stand, let alone a relationship. Someone who says to a girl, “Nice titties” or “I wonder how tight your snatch is,” clearly is not looking to hook up (with her at the time at least) , let alone propose marriage.

      They just want to embarrass her in public, to feel powerful.

      • Im glad you asked (and Im also glad it was a classy rebuttal).

        The part that struck me as misandry is the same part that you use to counter it. Her use of the descriptor: harassment. From her writing, none of her interactions with men would constitute harassment. For any of these men to be harassing her, those specific men would need to be doing it systemically or chronically; and yet all of her negative interactions seem to come from different individuals. Thus when she uses the word harass, shes not saying that these individual are harassing her, she implying the male gender as a whole. Its not – “these guys are being rude to me” (logically true); it’s Men are harassing me (emotionally true). She is negatively characterizing an entire gender. When, men do it, its misogyny, when women do its Feminism. Screw that, its misandry.

        That in and of itself is sensationalist, though I’ll cover the other points as well:

        The woman clearly has some deep seated paranoia or… she’s shamelessly sensationalizing. Normal people on the receiving end of boorish behavior dont think “OMG IM GOING TO GET ATTACKED” nor do they start looking for make shift weapons with which to remove eyes. But saying, “O that guy was rude to me but when I blew him off he left me alone” doesnt sounds as good as “He harassed me so he must have been a rapist! Where are my knife-knuckle-keys!”

        Additionally, though its the lesser of the three crimes, I thought it arrogant, solipsistic, and sensationalist when she repeatedly used the word “we” when expressing her opinions, as if she were the Oracle of Womanhood and her word was all.

        And to respond to your thoughts on the motivations behind guys acting like jackasses. I would agree that it could be a power mechanism, though if it is it’s almost certainly not limited to just women-in-passing; if its power based, that kind of behavior likely extends through to anyone they perceive as not being able to fight back – men and women alike.

        …This particular feminist just happened to punch a lot of my pet peeves. If you want to see a classy and reasonable feminist, Ive always liked Judith Jarvis Thompson’s work. Though for the record, I tend to disagree with the macro points of the modern feminist movement.

        • Lianne Best

          I apologize for being so late to this conversation. But Jeremy, you are wrong, wrong, wrong. ALL of the men mentioned in Moss’s essay ARE harassers. YES, women ALWAYS worry about our safety when men call out and make lewd suggestions. Men, almost universally, are bigger and stronger than we are. A lot bigger and stronger. And from my extended time with men in the free weights room of Gold’s Gym, I well know that they think and say things that are more aggressive than are things women think and say.

          I did not grow up with worries of being attacked. I grew up in the suburbs, as a teenager walking a half-mile alone in the dark to and from the bus stop. My parents did not go to great hysterical lengths to impress upon me worries of my own physical safety. And yet there are rules, for all women, everywhere, of all ages: park under streetlights. Look in your back seat before you get into your car. Always have a friend walk with you after dark. Hold your car key between your index and middle finger for jabbing. Be ready to kick to the groin. Don’t use an ATM with large bushes on the sides. Look men in the eyes, confidently, when you pass by.

          I am not hotter than your average woman. At 46, I am definitely less hot than many. And yet I get comments constantly (Gold’s Gym ….). Men just seem to think it’s their right. I can’t imagine why, I don’t know of any woman anywhere who would actually turn to a cat-caller, smile, and say, “Hey, hot stuff, let’s do it! Let’s go! Rowrrrr!” Hearing your thoughts about the shape of my ass, about what I’m wearing, about what you would like to do to me, that’s not a compliment. It’s not friendly. It’s not gallant. It’s aggressive and scary, because we have little defense should you actually try to act upon your fantasies. Moss describes people following her, and having to push past them: those men are displaying physical aggression towards here, and it is harassment.

          • I can’t imagine why, I don’t know of any woman anywhere who would actually turn to a cat-caller, smile, and say, “Hey, hot stuff, let’s do it! Let’s go! Rowrrrr!”

            I think it’s usually either an act put on for the benefit of the guy’s male friends who are there, or it’s an expression of resentment towards women. (Or both.)

            Sometimes, at its most benign, the guy is hoping for a brief but positive flirtatious encounter with a woman – he’s hoping she’ll turn towards him, smile, and say “you wish!” before walking on. But although that’s a better motivation than the other two options, it’s still inexcusable behavior – it’s not okay to accost 19 women in order to find the 1 in 20 who will react flirtatiously.

            • The old crude joke about the disgusting guy in the bar is, in my experience, disturbingly representative of the rationale of too many men. The story goes that a patron watches in amazement as this ugly little creep walks up to every woman who enters the bar and says, “Hey hot stuff! Wanna f$@&???” One after another, the women slap him, kick him,knock him down. Undeterred, he keeps getting up and trying his next target, with the same painful result. Finally, he is knocked unconscious, and lies bleeding against the wall, missing two teeth. “My God!” says the patron. “Who is that guy?”
              “Oh, he’s here all the time,” shrugs the bartender. “Same routine, every night!” “That’s incredible,” says the patron. “Why does he keep harassing those women?”

              “The thing is,’ says the bartender, “sometimes they say ‘yes’.”

          • 1. Great comment, Lianne. Wish you would do it more often.
            2. You can’t possibly be 46.
            3. Here’s a secret: I always thought you were hot, and I never gave you a clue, now did I?

          • Im am seriously behind in homework so you’ll have to excuse me if I just respond in points [macro-ed for convenience]:

            None of these men are harassing her for reasons stated above. At worst they are being rude of showing a several lack of social courtesy. The only one who may ostensibly be harassing is the guy from work and even then, only because she has repeated exposure to the same man. The use of the word harass is inappropriate in that it is an emotionally loaded word with little bearing to the actual events and in that, for reasons explained above, it unfairly implies the male gender as a surrogate for actual harassers.

            No, women do not always respond with worries of their safety when lewd calls are made at them. You’ve made the same solipsistic mistake that the original author made. Its more reasonable to say that in most cases when a women hears the words of a douche-hammer they think to themselves “What a dick” and ignore them. Likewise, in most cases when a woman hears those same men and reacts with fear it is because she is isolated from sufficient physical protection or other deterrents (i.e. hard targets) – specifically a firearm, physically capable company, crowds, daylight, etc. All of which are easily mitigated by forethought and awareness. A prime example of which is the list of precautions you provided.

            You get comments constantly? From the same place – Gold’s Gym? And yet you still go and still get comments? It would appear calling them “aggressive and scary” would be a fair bit of exaggeration then. If not, I would hope that you’d alert management so that the perpetrators would get their asses bounced out of the gym and in doing so, warn other against that kind of behavior. I promise you aggressive and scary comments would stop. Alternatively, you could just go to a different gym – yours just might be an unusual congregation of testosterone jacked criminals. But since neither of the above appears to have happened, I have to assume your exaggerating the emotional impact of these comments or that they are sufficiently rare to make it not worth the effort.

            Furthermore: walking in lock-step with someone for a few feet (or at least within shouting distance of ones friends) hardly constitutes physical aggression or harassment in any reasonable context.

            Face-palm: that really wasnt points at all…

  3. I’m a little confused on this, Jack. Is this woman condemning all masculinity because some guy made a clumsy pass at her outside a bar? Am I to understand, as well, that she went to this bar unescorted? Now, if this guy (assuming those circumstances) behaved with boorish disrespect, there’s no excuse for him, naturally. Just because a woman is at a bar unescorted is not, by itself, a “come on”.

    However, this woman should also have had better sense. Didn’t she realize that women under such conditions are liable to meet some jerk with booze on his breath and his brains dangling from you-know-where? For example, I should be able to walk into a queer bar in Montrose, order a beer, leave and not get jumped on. But I’m not dumb enough to try it unless I’m armed to the teeth.

    Given my assumptions then, I’d advise this woman to go out either with a bunch a female friends, a close male friend or relative, or start carrying a derringer in her purse. In any case, use some sense and quit crying on everyone’s shoulder because some guy makes you nervous, lady. Maybe you make him nervous, too!

    • In what parallel universe should a woman in the 21st century have to be escorted to a bar?

      • The Common Sense Continuum, Jack. When a woman is with a man, she makes the point without saying anything that, 1) she’s spoken for and, 2) if you don’t like it, take it up with my guy. When feminists all but killed off that long standing custom (by falsely masculinizing women and neutering men into the bargain) they brought a lot of misery down on a lot of girls. Those ‘”quaint” old customs were there for a purpose.

        • Because women being property is “common sense.” No, really, that’s what you’re saying. I’m not an actual person, but an object up for the taking. So, um, thanks for that.

          • No thats not what hes saying. Hes saying sexually aggressive men will be less sexually aggressive towards a woman who has already formed a pair bond, especially if the other half of that pair bond will punch his face in. Its an observation that would seem to be supported by both informal practice (e.g. anecdotal evidence and social customs) as well as more formal observation (e.g. sociology or psychology).

            This is an important fact of life in that men, by virtue of comparatively massive amounts of testosterone, are inclined towards aggressive sexual strategies. And in a bar environment, any social conditioning against those impulses is likely to be muted by the alcohol. If we follow the bouncing ball it leads to a fairly reasonable assertion that women who are accompanied by men to said bar are less likely to experience the come-ons of drunk horney guys (or those who are temporarily disposed towards aggressive sexual strategies – if your feeling verbose about it).

            Testosterone in men is not likely to go away, nor is drinking in bars, so plan for the obvious. And as a courtesy to others, and because it a huge pet peeve of mine, dont make unreasonable jumps in someone else’s logic for the purpose of enforcing an emotional point instead of a rational one. Thank you.

            • Thanks for making my point, Jeremy. I can’t understand this ongoing attitude of feminists… and after all that has and is transpiring in the cultural degradation of women, largely as a result of the feminist campaign. Showing traditional respects to women is not “ownership”, except in the radicals’ fevered dreams. It’s a vital part of the system of courtesies that allows decent society to function. It’s also a societal acknowledgement of the importance of women and the natural role of men as protectors. Women and children are key. Men are expendible on their behalf. Our biological instincts reflect this, as do the norms of any healthy civilization.

              • Treating a female politely only because she appears to be claimed by another male? Yes, that is “ownership”, particularly when the courtesy is extended simply because she’s with a male, and not because the male is physically imposing.
                I find the man-as-protector argument interesting in the context where men are protecting women from….other men. It’s as if everybody with a penis is in some kind of Mafia, whereby you pay protection to one group to insure they leave you alone and make sure no other organized-crime group bothers you.

                • “Treating a female politely only because she appears to be claimed by another male? Yes, that is “ownership”,
                  I think your pulling an Underpants Gnomes; explain that logic in small steps please.

                  I find it interesting that your first thought was about how the male gender is a mafia. Negatively characterizing an entire gender are we? Its a metaphor that over-reaches. Men protect women from other men not as a sort of protection racket (where I assume your metaphor for payment is sex) but because there are some genuinely mal-formed individuals out there. There always have been and there always will be. I dont need a women to sleep with me in order to protect her and I don’t think any man of sound mind would either.

                  • Mrs. Miller

                    Justin, mythago was describing SMP’s argument as “man-protector” as a sort of Mafia. So talk to SMP about that.

                    • SMP’s argument = men protect women [end of story]
                      mythago = men protect women… as a kind of protection racket reminiscent of the mafia

                      if I reject the mafia metaphor who should receive that rebuttal? It pretty straight forward follow-the-bouncing ball logic.

                      Mrs. Miller… Im starting to think your trolling.

            • Mrs. Miller

              Jeremy, this late in the conversation I just read this response. I want to ask about your “testosterone” theory; I don’t think it has been discussed here yet. I agree that men and women are “wired” differently. But are you saying that men can’t utilize self-control when it comes to “sexually aggressive strategies”? Where is the line drawn between an “aggressive strategy” and assualt? It seems thinking like that would soon land one in jail, with “I couldn’t help myself” as a defense. We are all inclined to bad behavior, even children are. We grow up and learn not to act on these inclinations.

              • Obvious answer is obvious:

                “Jeremy, this late in the conversation I just read this response. I want to ask about your “testosterone” theory; I don’t think it has been discussed here yet. I agree that men and women are “wired” differently. But are you saying that men can’t utilize self-control when it comes to “sexually aggressive strategies”?nope Where is the line drawn between an “aggressive strategy” and assualt?Is that rhetorical or can you really not see the difference? It seems thinking like that would soon land one in jail, with “I couldn’t help myself” as a defense.Except no reasonable person thinks its okay to assault someone “just because”… case in point – Aaron Morris We are all inclined to bad behavior, even children are. We grow up and learn not to act on these inclinations.”

                i think I see the counter argument your trying to build here. But, the thing is, its reliant on patently misrepresenting my logic – something Ive already brought to your attention. To be clear “sexually aggressive strategies” doesn’t mean aggressive in the sense of violence it mean aggressive in the sense of proactive.

                Mrs. Miller… Im starting to think you’re trolling.

      • In what parallel universe should a woman in the 21st century have to be escorted to a bar?

        The same universe where banks have to keep cash in a vault, instead of a burlap sack in the lobby.

        • Mrs. Miller

          Again, you see women as “objects”, not human beings. Well put, if that is your mindset.

          • Another stupid comment in the feminist fashion. If you’d had the ability to read and understand my comments, you wouldn’t be making a fool of yourself like this. Common sense and common courtesy will not enslave you, for God’s sake. Quite the reverse.

            • Mrs. Miller

              Stop with the “feminist card” already…..That’s just the same as pulling the “race” card. Thinking of women as cash needing to be locked up in a vault is not “objectifying”? Then what is it?
              Common sense and common courtesy are very much needed in our world today. What did I say to imply I am against that? I understand your comments quite well. (Once I realized you werent joking) Your way of thinking is actually very, very simple to understand. And disagreeing with you, finding you abhorrent is not “making a fool of myself”, quite the contrary.

              • Madame: When you repeat feminist talking points and reflect their mentality, I have to assume you are one with them. Your comment about “objectifying” is a case in point. I bluntly accuse feminists as being a major factor in the degradation of our culture and in the rise of crimes against them since that “philosophy” came about. As for my advocacy of traditional decency and courtesy, I can assure you that I am NOT joking.

                • Mrs. Miller

                  I actually agree that feminism did have negative, unintended consequences. Thus the reason I requested you stop trying to paint my comments with such a broad brush. Men, women, children, any human being can all be “objectified”; it is not a mistreatment only for feminists. (just like Moss’ article has nothing to do with feminism). I understand you are not joking when you advocate traditional decency. I thought you were joking when you tried to make this about a male-bashing female who went where she shouldn’t. I really thought you were joking when you talked about going to gay bars, armed to protect yourself. I would still like to know what you meant by that.

                  • “Unintended consequences”? Well… that just makes it all right, doesn’t it? That’s along the same lines with Lindsey Lohan running someone else down while drunk and calling it “a mistake”. In both situations, the problem is a lot more basic. It stems from an inherent disdain for all forms of decency and responsibility in favor of self-gain by any means. The women you speak of are the same ones who laud serial womanizers who vote leftwing- regardless.

                    Now… what was it about my queer bar allusion that you didn’t understand?

            • I am amazed at how many people who profess to value courtesy and traditional norms revert to petty nastiness at the slightest disagreement.

          • Why do banks keep money in vaults, not in burlap sacks in the lobby.

            • Don’t we agree that there is a difference between bad manners and poor impulse controls and thievery? Even money isn’t human…I think regarding women as irresistibly enticing to a significant group of men waiting to rape them is unfair to men, women, and civilization.

              And money is kept in vaults as much for appearances and liability as anything else.

    • Steven, the very first sentence of the essay: “It’s a drizzly Friday in Chicago and I’m leaving a bar with my roommate sometime after midnight.” So apparently the presence of one other woman is not enough to deter the drunk jerk. How many female friends do you believe she needed? Three? Four? Ten? Should women remain quietly indoors if they can’t assemble a posse or find a man to escort them?

      • They should exercise discretion. As I pointed out, any woman has the right to courtesy, but she’s a fool if she takes it for granted. Two women coming out of a bar alone on a Friday midnight? In Chicago?? Chicago has one of the toughest pistol laws in the country. Therefore, neither would be likely to be packing heat in their purses. And Chicago is one of the most crime-ridden cities in America!

        Discretion, Mythago. If you’re going out with a female friend, pick a good, well-lit area and a place with a good reputation. And yes, taking along a male acquaintance would be a good idea, too. Unless, of course, you enjoy playing cat-and-mouse with you as the rodent.

        • Steven, you’re being extremely vague. How many female friends should a woman choose to have accompany her on an outing in Chicago? How does she determine the reputation of the place (and what sort of reputation)?
          You’ve proposed a standard that allows us to always blame the subject of harassment: if she was harassed, then she must not have behaved in the correct way to prevent such harassment, QED.

      • Mrs. Miller

        Apparently Steven feels she must have a male, a close relative to escort and chaperone her at all times. And she must wear hijab at all times as well.

        • That’s a pretty stupid comment, madame.

          • Mrs. Miller

            How is it “stupid”? How are your ideas that different from those of Muslim males? By the way, unless you are a Brad Pitt, George Clooney et al, I really don’t think you need to be “armed to the teeth” when you go into a gay bar, and even then, that wouldn’t be a reality. Why do you think of that as an analogy to this situation anyway?

            • That’s crazy. You’re actually trying to establish a moral equivalence between, 1) an American man treating a woman with respect and diligence to her comfort and safety with, 2) a Moslem (maybe with multiple wives) who locks them away or forces them to be covered from head to toe and who can treat them like dirt by the tenets of his culture? Their culture is insane, Mrs. Miller. There is no comparison at all between traditional American values and their’s. It may be the ultimate false analogy.

              • Mrs. Miller

                I am saying that because you think an adult woman should require a male escort when she goes out in public. That is what I see as analogous to the Muslim culture. These things don’t just happen in areas with “bad reputations”, as you put it. They happen anytime of day, almost anywhere. You put the women at fault for the places they go, the people they are with….that is really not the reality.

                • Of course, it can happen anywhere! This is key to my overall point. Nor have I put anyone at fault, here. Once again: Practice discretion. How many times do I have to repeat common sense to you?

                  • Mrs. Miller

                    “However, this woman should also have had better sense…..” and you go on. Putting the blame, or at least part of it, on her is EXACTLY what you did. You are contradicting yourself, sir.

                    • Only in your liberal mind. Here’s the gist, Mz Miller. An adult in a free society, be he male or female, still has to take responsibility for his actions and is expected to make logical decisions for himself. There comes a point to where you can no longer blame others for your own follies or miscalculations. Judging from your previous comments, I’m not surprised that this concept has so long eluded you.

                    • Mrs. Miller

                      There you go again with the name calling, knee jerk stereo-typing. I am not going to return the favor, though I have formed some pretty concrete ideas..
                      ..I am not a “Liberal” at all. I firmly believe each individual makes choices and should expect consequences for those choices. What does that have to do with someone being abused in such a way while going about her
                      life?

                    • I’m a firm believer in the adage, “If it quacks like a duck and if it waddles like a duck…”.

    • Bill

      She said she was walking past the bar and the guy was hanging out in front of it and started following her Nd her friend down the street.

      • That’s where the creeps usually do post themselves, Bill. Discretion, again. The wise young woman would ask the owner of the establishment if he could have one of his employees escort her out to her car. No respectable proprietor would refuse such a request. He, like anyone in law enforcement, would know that this is where such a large proportion of violent crimes against women occur. I get those requests quite often still. I DON’T refuse… ever. It’s part of a man’s natural duty to women.

  4. Mrs. Miller

    SMP, Are you SERIOUS?

  5. ByTheFarmstead

    Actually, except for the ‘if you have any female friends’ crack, it’s not showing much misandry and is not written in a rage. Mentioning fears and daily safety worries are too often dismissed by guys. I am sure she didn’t start out in misandry, but after X number of intrusions, harrassments, and violenceto loved ones or herself, it was get angry at the offenders or live in fear. A woman who goes out has to be careful, and she will still be blamed that she wasn’t careful enough, (like the comment that they were casually dressed and not drinking)

    Conservative statistics on verbal harrassment, physical intrusion/threat, assault, and rapes are sobering.

    Why would listing problems be ethically wrong?

    • It means the culture stinks, Farmstead. Don’t we all know it. Turn on the TV at any given time or channel and you get all that right in your face. I’m perfectly aware of how intimidating men can be to women for any number of reasons. That’s why the concepts of gentlemanliness and ladyship was developed. But all men and women aren’t! They have never been. The big problem was abandoning and disparaging the ideal. Feminists played a large role in that.

    • Even that crack was justified. I doubt that men who harass women in this fashion could have genuine female friends. How? They obviously don’t respect the gender, and see them a pleasure objects designed for their selfish use and abuse. There’s not a note of misanthropy anywhere in the essay, except for men who richly deserve it, and worse.

  6. The amazing thing is that this kind of ritual harassment would vanish with some slight behavioral additions to our culture, many of which once were the norm…

    I really liked that article, too.

    But I disagree with your implication that this is anything new, and a return to old-fashioned norms would mean that women wouldn’t be subject to street harassment anymore. You may remember that in 1906, the great singer Ernie Caruso was once put on trial for allegedly rubbing up against women at the zoo.

    When a man wrote in to the New York Times to say he had never seen any improper treatment of women in public places in New York, numerous women quickly responded with assertions to the contrary. Typical were letters claiming that inappropriate behavior by well-dressed men was far from unusual and praising the police prosecution of the case. According to one letter about harassment on elevated trains, “these detestable practices do not seem to be confined to any particular line of cars nor any one class of men.”

    Street harassment isn’t a new thing.

    As for “role models,” I’m not convinced that celebrities behaved better in the past. Caruso’s trial didn’t prevent him from becoming perhaps the most popular singer of his day, and he was notorious for chasing women around backstage trying to kiss them.

    • There was no implication that this was anything new. Just before I read your comment, I linked to your post. In many ways, harassment was worse in the past, because gender discrimination was also a norm. But the kind of “hey-chickee” stuff the essay begins with was more restricted to class, ethnic and socio-economic groups than today, in my observation. Women were not harassed on public transportation routinely. Families taught boys and young men that women were to be treated with respect at all times, and boys like me learned the lesson. When Bill Maher is calling women “cunts” on TV with impunity, I think its fair to say that some cultural norms that might mitigate harassment have faded.

      • When are you defining as “in the past”? What are the class, ethnic and socioeconomic groups that, in your observation, engaged in these things?
        You are pining for a past that never existed. It’s not a reality-based argument; it’s simply fitting the When I Was A Kid Things Were Better nostalgia into the argument of the moment.

        • The past, When Vice-Presidents and Academy Award winners didn’t say “fuck” in public. When people respected others when they went out on public. When manners and etiquette were not considered quaint, but a mark of trustworthiness and civilization. It wasn’t so long ago, you know—the slope started tilting sharply downward around 1967.

          It must be comforting to pretend that it was always acceptable to be rude, but the fact is that it wasn’t. The dividing line was that people with education, responsible parents and who were raised according to the prevailing norms and culture were, generally more cognizant of these things than those were were not. I’m from Boston. The blue collar Italian neighborhoods in the North and the Irish neighborhood in the South, as well as the poorer black neighborhoods engaged in more openly harassing conduct where women were concerned than the largely Protestant, upper-middle class neighborhoods elsewhere in the city.

          Sexism and chauvenism was everywhere, gentility was not. Now gentility is, essentially, extinct. Pretend what you like.

          • AJ

            What good is gentility if all it does is mask the underlying sexism and chauvinism? it seems to me, all it does is make it easier to deny their existence.

            • If that’s “all” it does, sure. But that’s not all it does. Like all manners, gentility requires symbolic respect for others, which is the first step toward internalizing genuine respect. Whats’ the alternative, acting like a jerk so there’s no doubt about it? Sexism, and chauvinism are meaningless and harmless if the individual recognizes them and acts to counter their biases. There is nothing unethical about biased thoughts, something some people refuse to accept. It’s the conduct that matters.

          • Yes, Vice-Presidents and Academy award winners didn’t say “fuck” in public. They said “nigger” in public instead. You are confusing vulgarity with civility. But as you say, pretend what you like; the imaginary everything-was-better-when-I-was-young nostalgia country has plenty of fellows for you.

            • Vulgarity is a a subset of incivility. You show me an example of an Academy Award winner OR a VP who used “nigger” for public consumption, ever, and I’ll eat my hat. Lots of things were better, and that will always be the case—entropy rules, especially where conduct and manners are concerned. I couldn’t care less about the generic dinosaurs, Luddites and others who regard all change as for the worse. That’s not germane to the issue at hand, which is gentility and civility, which have declined, and pretty obviously, The fact that open racism and anti-antisemitism have become less culturally acceptable than they once were is no rebuttal at all. Respect for the elderly? DOWN. Respect for the obese? Respect for veterans? Respect generally? DOWN DOWN DOWN. And civility is a cornerstone of respect, one major reason why the structure of respect is tumbling. How many of George Washington’s 110 Rules, the ones not obviously obsolete, are taught and practiced today? Very few, and that has consequences.

    • And you are ignoring the counter-culture of Old World Italians, like Caruso. Street harassment isn’t considered rude in some parts of Italian (and French) culture, even now. It took the country forever to get rid of a pig Prime Minister who would have been arrested here. I don’t think he is a fair example, though I’m sure there are better ones.

      • I’ve updated my post to let my readers know you updated your post with a response to my post. (Pant, pant.)

        I don’t think Caruso is a bad example, because what’s important is not Caruso the individual, but the fear women had of coming forward, the way his defenders blamed his victims, the man in the New York Times claiming it hardly ever happened, and the bunch of responses from women saying “it happens all the time.” (And it’s likely that the Times received many more than it printed.) That’s not bound to any one particular culture, except the culture of 1906 Times readers.

  7. Pingback: Street Harassment, in 1906 and Now | Alas, a Blog

  8. Debbie Swartz

    I’m a little perplexed by some of the comments. In reading the entire post by Moss, I think it’s very descriptive of the events; Moss and her friend discussing what they were going to eat after exiting a bar and details on the harassment by the unknown male. I’ve been in similar positions and the feelings that go through you can be anywhere from irritation to fear, depending on the exact words and actions of the intruder(s). The post also mentions that she had several other episodes of harassment in that same week.
    In my own experience, the harassment by strange men go from being harmless and easily forgotten (a whistle from a construction worker across the street), or lewd and frightening (being followed for blocks while a group of men detail explicit acts they’d like you to perform while they laugh amongst themselves).
    I don’t think any woman (or man) – and I don’t see what feminism has to do with it – should be harassed by others in such ways as mentioned by Moss. There’s no excuse for any individual to bully, harass, frighten, rudely interrupt or intimidate another.

  9. Bill

    Small pet peeve. No where in her article does she mention being harassed by construction workers hanging out side a construction site yet the clip art you use shows that exact stereotype. In every contract I sign for a job it specifically prohibits this type of behavior and spells out that not only will the person doing it be banned from the job site but also that the company he works for may be banned and responsible to pay addition amount of money to complete the job by another company. I’ve fired people on the spot for this type of behavior.

    • Fair point, Bill. Tough thing to illustrate, I found—Ampersand had a really good, if period photo on his post about the essay.

    • That’s to your major credit, Bill. Decades ago, it wasn’t uncommon for a woman to be greeted with a chorus of “wolf whistles” when she walked by a construction site. American “hardhats” tended to be a red-blooded (!) type, but it rarely went beyond that. It was an old joke back then about young women deliberately walking by with the intent of eliciting such a response! But there’s a difference between rough good humor and sexual harrassment, even if some agendas seek to blur the line. Today, however, many such workers come from foreign lands and have a “different” outlook. So do many young Americans, I’m afraid, who’ve been raised in a coarsened culture. You have every right (and every need) to set rigid standards of behavior, just as you would for safety and professional guidelines.

  10. Mrs. Miller

    Bill, before I stayed home with my children, I was in the commercial architecture field and visited many job sites. I have to say I never felt disrespected or intimidated. I actually felt the workers went out of their way to be more courteous to a female on the job site. Driving down the street (day and evening) is when I have encountered lewd behavior directed at me….now how did I not practice common sense and discretion?

    • Well, now we have a different setting, don’t we? Just how do you suggest we assuage your sensibilites under these circumstances? Should we clear the streets of all masculine types when you see fit to drive in public? Obviously not. So there isn’t much either you or I can do, is there? You have to drive to handle your job. If you don’t like the nature of modern society, I suggest you take it up with the seniormost bra-burners of your acquaintance. They made it this way. Not I.

      • Mrs. Miller

        What?! Wow…..I have no response to that, whatever it is…or means…?????

        • MEANING- that under this circumstance, you are allowed little discretion in where you go, as you have a job to perform. It’s not a matter of going out and socializing. But you’re at least in your car, so you don’t have to acknowledge some occasional creep who makes a lewd gesture at you. Certainly (and again) you shouldn’t have to put up with anything like that, anywhere. But they’re going to be there and it’s up to you to take precautions.

          Since the cops are rarely at the scene when crimes occur and since (in Chicago!) you can’t legally pack a Thompson in your pantyhose, logic would suggest a big, mean looking boyfriend to forfend any obnoxious intrusions on your privacy. One of the reasons the human race has survived since the days of Ally Oop is due to women understanding this. They weren’t being chattel or submissive by being on the arm of a good man. They were being smart. But law or no law, the best male escort of all is Colonel Sam Colt.

          • Mrs. Miller

            “But you’re at least in your car, so you don’t have to acknowledge some occasional creep who makes a lewd gesture at you…”

            I guess you could say exposing oneself and masturbating is a “lewd gesture”. Ignoring what I just saw makes it less disgusting, vile, demeaning and frightening?

            • I could spend hours correcting counter arguments like that… no thats not what hes saying, hes saying lewd gesture viewed from a moving vehicle are inherently less threatening than those viewed up close and personal. Lets pretend for a moment that all boors are also rapists or murderers. Which setting is more likely to end badly: coming upon one while walking down the street or driving past one while in a locked car?

              More importantly your “counter argument” in no way shape or form responded to the actual assertion of his argument. You picked something you didn’t like emotionally, presumably based in indigence, and rolled with it as if it were a logical counter point. It isnt. And if were feeling especially plucky, your emotional counterpoint is based on deliberately misrepresenting your opponents thought process.

              Its really frustrating when otherwise reasonable people see an otherwise reasonable argument and reject it on emotional grounds. Its almost impossible to have a discussion about points that run counter to established feminist conventions because of the intensity of that particular social reflex.

              • Mrs. Miller

                Jeremy, dear, I am sorry you put such a great deal of time and effort in your response. I was not trying to argue SMP’s point. I was simply clarifying what the “lewd gesture” was. That’s really all it was. So calm down, move on, it will all be okay.

                • Well… if you missed it… Ill describe the mechanics of your response in the context of its effect on an argument.

                  You highlighted his use of the phrase “lewd gesture”. You then proceeded to describe, in extreme terms, what your lewd gesture was; specifically exposing oneself and masturbating. The effect of which is to portray your opponent as trivializing what is clearly an extreme act, and in doing so reduce the credibility of his argument by virtue of that inappropriate trivialization. You then followed it up with a rhetorical question meant to add emphasis to your emotional argument, that you cannot in fact fail to acknowledge an extremely lewd act, and to specifically counter SMP’s point that being in car makes a lewd act inherently less threatening – “Ignoring what I just saw makes it less disgusting, vile, demeaning and frightening?.”

                  So I guess… Miller, dear, my time and effort went towards what it was intended to do. And for the record, I wrote my response in the serenity of a cup of honey chamomile tea and a cheesecake topped brownie. Mmmmm… I promise you I was okay – wouldnt want you to worry.

    • Bill

      I never argued that she didnt exercise common sense or discretion. From what I read she was going about a normal everyday life and these assholes acted like animals.

      My point to Jack about the construction trade was that in my experience it doesnt happen on constrcution sites anymore. I know the behavouir is prohibited in the contracts I sign and that I will, and have , fire people for acting this way.

      • Mrs. Miller

        Bill, I apologize. That last comment about common sense was only directed at SMP et al. I didn’t make that clear at all.
        My point was that you are absolutely correct about the construction trade in that the stereotype no longer fits. I was treated far worse driving down the road.

  11. ByTheFarmstead

    I’m not sure either. Expecting respect when going out alone or with a female friend is too much. At some point asking women to show discretion became an accusation of indiscretion to even go to a bar. I also don’t get how feminist asking for more respect destroyed modern society.
    No feminists expect or want men to be cleared from the streets. That’s just taking this to silly extremes. The only hope is for everyone, male and female, to be treated with respect and courtesy.

    • So would I! If that’s what feminism was all aout, I’d be their biggest supporter. But feminism has nothing to do with that at all and never has. They were foremost in a movement that set out to degrade and destroy the very ideals of which you speak.

      • ByTheFarmstead

        Telling the other commenters over and over that they must exercise ‘discretion’, as if going out with a friend is not unless the friend is a big guy isn’t holding the offenders responsible for their actions. This whole forum is about behaving in a responsible, curteous, and ethical behavior way. Those that catcall, follow, get in the space of, say crude things to women are the ones without discretion, which includes the ability of the offenders outside the bar to shut their mouths. I doubt these same guys will approve of it as much when they have daughters.

  12. zoebrain

    I have to admit SMP’s comments angered me.

    I will assume though that he’s not a bad hat, merely uneducated, and with some blind spots. I have them too, we all do, but his is unusually large. SMP, MCP.

    Anecdote is not the singular of data, but. I’ll give some of my own, very personal story. Simplifying the medical aspects, I have a rare congenital medical condition that made me look (mostly) male most of my life, and only changed to look (mostly) female in my 40’s. It was… educational.

    With that in mind, a look back on the morning of July 25th, 2005.
    My body had started changing in May. By late July, the change was 80% complete. I’d seen the specialists at the Gender Centre in Sydney, various specialist doctors and endocrinologists, and was starting to prepare for transition from a male to female social role. A process that takes years, normally.

    I’d taken some lessons in early July from a professional cross-dresser. Before then, I’d never worn female attire. I figured I needed to learn how to, for example,put on a bra, something that I’d never thought I’d need to learn. Also makeup, walking in heels, all the stuff other women learn in their teens.

    But I still dressed as male, binding my chest to conceal as best I could the changes. What wardrobe I had was bought from this cross-dresser, old ratty stuff from Vinnies (Goodwill). I thought I had plenty of time.

    On the morning of the 25th, walking the considerable distance from the nearest place I could park to my work, wearing the same clothes I’d warn for years…There were some drunks. Had to have been up all night. They accosted me, calling me a “Butch Dyke” and “Drag King”. Offering, rather forcefully, to “convert” me, to show me what a “real man” was like.

    They were drunk, I easily evaded them.

    I learnt two things: Firstly, no matter how awful I looked, even in male clothing I no longer “passed” as a boy. No matter how awful I’d look in female attire, it wouldn’t be worse.

    Secondly, I learnt to be afraid. My male privilege card had been revoked.

    I had thought of myself as a feminist, pretty clued up as to the oppression women suffered at work and elsewhere. I think I was as clued up as any man can be.

    I didn’t know the half of it.

    Thank God I had female colleagues who took me under their wing, and gave me tips. I’m still reliant on the kindness of G/Fs there, I’m really too geeky to do anything else.

    Take it from me, if someone as plain-jane as myself can be threatened with rape, and in broad daylight, just because she’s alone, so can any woman.

    BTW the day after, July 26th 2005 I started presenting as female, fashion disasters and all. Long before I was remotely ready. Never tried to resume the boy act since.

    • Really good post, Zoe. Thanks. (And nice to see you again – you left about a half dozen comments on my blog last year).

    • Mrs. Miller

      Zoe, That is by far the most enlightened, most intelligent post on this topic. Thank you! I admire your restraint with SMP as well. I admit I am too thin-skinned for some of this; he obviously is in some kind of bizarro time warp. For example, who the hell wears pantyhose anymore?!?

    • What is this… the third time now? How does your post, in any way, refute SMPs comments? I see an emotionally loaded story about a group of drunk guys being jackasses but little in the way of logic or reason to go with it.

      If anything you personal anecdote would seem to support his conclusion. “Take it from me, if someone as plain-jane as myself can be threatened with rape, and in broad daylight, just because she’s alone, so can any woman.”
      To be clear, I remain unconvinced that drunk guys shouting lewd things is equivalent to seriously threatening rape – with the caveat that, if you live in South Africa, guys threatening to “correct you” is probably cause to start running (or shooting if thats your preference). But for the sake of argument, well say that these guys were the real deal, they beat the odds and they are that group of particularly soulless individuals. And even more, well assume that they are common place; poised loiterously around every street corner. Would not many of SMP’s comments make sense? Buy a gun if you live in a city that allows it. Have a male employee escort you to your car. Avoid the historic roosts of drunk men.

      Emotional indignation at reality doesnt change reality. Some men are bad people. Its not a pandemic societal problem unique in that its caused by men’s perverse understanding of entitlement and sex. I promise you, ten out of ten mentally sound men find rape to be abhorrent. And of those that are mentally unsound, or made that way by alcohol or drugs, you are unlikely to fix them by further social engineering, i.e. feminsim. The best response to those degenerates, is the same one for all security concerns: make yourself a hard target. And if you want a list of how to do that, look at some of SMP’s comments.

      • Debbie Swartz

        So drunk guys yelling lewd things at a woman (or group of women) shouldn’t frighten them because chances are they aren’t going to be raped, felt up, grabbed, etc. The original post by Moss is about horrible behavior and how it affected her and her friend and how she has been subjected to it by various types of men (not only those in front of bars) and what it affects her (and many other women).
        How is it that its the common sense of women that is at issue here? As long as there is no threat of physical assault, it isn’t relevant? If there’s a chance that you’re going someone where men could be behaving in a boorish manner, or worse, women either shouldn’t go there or go there with a male friend? That’s ridiculous.
        Yes, it’s smart not to go out alone at night, especially in certain areas. Yes, it’s wise to be always aware of your surroundings. But what do either one of those things have to do with some men thinking it’s OK to harass women in public, saying obscene things, obstructing their path and generally acting in a base manner, just because they think it’s funny, think it’s OK, think it’s socially acceptable, think it’s legal so who cares?
        Moss is trying to enlighten men, those who are intelligent, have sisters, mothers, aunts, and other female loved ones, to think before they act like an ass toward women.

      • Jeremy, many (possibly most) women have at least once, had the experience of being followed by a creepy or hostile guy, or accosted by a hostile guy who would not go away. Many times, these guys start out with a friendly-sounding overture, and then escalate. Nearly all women, even if they’ve never had that happen to them, knows of a friend or relative it has happened to.

        Somewhere in the range of one in eight women in America will be raped in her lifetime. Somewhere in the range of one in 20 men is a rapist (the numbers don’t match because a significant number of rapists rape more than one woman in their life).

        Virtually all women know perfectly well that odds are that the particular guy saying “hey baby” to her as she walks by on the street is not going to be a rapist, and probably isn’t considering assaulting her, or follow her down the street making increasingly hostile comments. But they don’t know for sure. They can’t know for sure that this particular stranger making a comment, out of the hundreds of stranger guys who make comments to her over the course of a lifetime, isn’t the rare one who is going to harm her with more than words.

        So as a result, for many women, every strange guy who says “hey baby” or whatever is a potentially threatening situation. And that’s a logical response.

        Think of it this way: I wear a seatbelt when I’m in a car. Probably you do as well. The odds are very strong that there will not be a car crash, but I choose to be cautious, because there’s a slight chance that there will be an accident, and being in an accident without a seatbelt can lead to severe harmed. Being cautious about the possibility of an unlikely but severely harmful event is not illogical.

        Further reading: Schrödinger’s Rapist.

        One final point: Emotional appeals, also called “pathos,” are an important part of persuasive argument. Human beings have evolved to respond to empathy, and a good argument should include elements of emotion as well as logic and credibility. (Read Aristotle if you’d like to learn more about this.)

        • Touchdown spike! Thats the kind of response Im talking about! Well reasoned and clear steps of logic; thank you. Rebuttal to come tomorrow, its miller time.

        • Again, thanks for the quality of your response. Rebuttal time is going to be interesting because it appears we agree on a lot of points. Also, big-post warning; Ill be referring future counter-responses back to here (provided they don’t contribute anything new).

          Your argument is sound in the context its presented in – indeed I use many of the same points in my own argument. The problem is that the context is unrealistically narrow. It fails to consider mitigating conditions. To demonstrate this, well rehash one of my other comments (no need to re-invent the wheel): Its more reasonable to say that in most cases when a women hears the words of a douche-hammer they think to themselves “What a dick” and ignore them. Why? Because in many cases a woman will have sufficient physical protection or other deterrents to prevent an already unlikely possibility- that the man talking to her means more harm than just words – from ever taking place. For example, crowds, being publicly viewable, having physically capable company, broad daylight, the safety of a moving vehicle, etc. In these cases reacting with genuine fear for your safety is unreasonable – the odds of being sexually assaulted drop so low as to be completely negligible. Ergo, fearing for your safety in most common cases of rude conduct – or at least the ones presented by Moss – is illogical and (not to beat a dead horse) unreasonable.

          This is where the common sense refrain comes in. Practice it and the chances of being raped or sexually assaulted by a man in passing drop to near zero. And make no mistake you need to practice it because society will always have its drunks and degenerates.

          So what does this have to with “some men thinking it’s OK to harass women in public, saying obscene things, obstructing their path and generally acting in a base manner, just because they think it’s funny, think it’s OK, think it’s socially acceptable, think it’s legal so who cares?” Specifically because the subtext of fearing for your safety is a powerful emotional and reasonable support to advocate social change. Social changes that the feminist movement won decades ago. Retaliating against the drunks or the hold-out dregs of society by shaming men as a whole is a less productive strategy than educating women in (or advocating women to follow) security basics.

          At this point shaming men is either foolish or misandrist. I promise you, the GP American male gets it – now lets focus on strategies that enable women to protect themselves. If your safe and some d-bag says some sexually rude things to you, practice some emotional composure and brush it off; hes obviously drunk or broken. If your not safe, then modern feminism has failed you by trying to change reality instead of preparing you for it.

          And to the final point: Pathos is an important part of a persuasive argument. The problem is that the original comment was big on the pathos part and not so much on the argument part – its mostly personal anecdote and rarely (if ever) ties back in to refuting SMP’s points – Ive read a little Aristotle in my day.

      • Chris

        “Its not a pandemic societal problem unique in that its caused by men’s perverse understanding of entitlement and sex.”

        How many stories like this do you have to hear before you can acknolwedge sexism against women as a “pandemic societal problem?” How many women have to tell you about fearing for their safety? Give me a number.

        • Okay, just one more before beer:thirty, and only because this one is simple.

          Your argument = assertion + shameless appeal to emotion (or appeal to shame if thats how you want to look at it). Take a look Ampersand’s response style; thats where the credibility is.

          Sexism as a “pandemic societal problem” in the context of today’s society is far from established fact. 60s? Definitely. 2013? Not so much.

    • Jeff Long

      Hello all.

      I have never posted here before. I read various things on the internet sporadically, out of intellectual curiosity, a desire to procrastinate, or what have you, which has included in the past several topics on this blog.

      I usually prefer to read in silence. I feel compelled in this case to comment on the truly remarkable comment in this thread by Zoe (zoebrain).

      Other posters have already remarked on the excellence of Zoe’s post and some few have attacked it; I, however, feel that almost no amount of praise can do it justice. In fact, I think a more granular breakdown is needed to truly appreciate just how good it is.

      First, look at the way that Zoe disclaims her own story. The natural human tendency is to prefer anecdote to statistics, when of course it is far more rationally valid to do the opposite. Many tellers of personal tales – even and especially powerful and emotionally persuasive ones – make claims to the effect of “I don’t know care about all the cold, calculating data, I’ve *lived* my tragedy, I know it better than you possibly could.” Zoe, remarkably and commendably, does the opposite; she reminds us herself at the outset that anecdotes are no substitute for data and science.

      But in fact, although what follows is indeed an anecdote, it is drenched in evidence that a deeply scientific mind lies behind the words. It goes without saying that Zoe presents the right level of background to understand the story, much like a good scientific abstract. Simple in its language, graphic but unpretentious in its detail, the story is quietly believable, without a hint of hyperbole because it needs none. Furthermore, Zoe also presents exactly the *right* details to show that this “anecdote” is an incredibly remarkable one; in many ways, it is close as one could possibly get to a controlled experiment on the difficult subject at hand. Although (as Zoe has already correctly pointed out herself) anecdotes in general are not significant, *this* one is. Why? Because in this case, the anecdote does not exist in a vacuum. We have, independent of Zoe, overwhelming amounts of data from women who say that “I get horrific misogynist treatment on a shockingly regular basis BECAUSE I’m a woman.” What can the skeptic say to this? Well one of the last possible rational objections is that while yes, there may be complaints, the plaintiffs are correlated not by virtue of being women, but by a hidden variable, by virtue of being, perhaps, thin-skinned whiners. Men are sometimes treated badly too, don’t you know. Then all of a sudden, along comes Zoe, who can credibly say like few others can: “No. I was a man. I know how I was treated. My body changed, I wore the *same clothes*, I was the same person, yet all of a sudden I was treated worse and dramatically so.” Zoe’s situation is powerful, scientifically; it seems to me analogous to finding identical twins separated at birth for studying classic nature versus nurture questions. It’s that exceptionally rare case where controls arise just out of nature. And because of that, it smashes down the final barrier to the question of systematic misogyny, that of the hypothetical hidden variable. Yes, even so, the story alone cannot be called *proof* of anything – but a “mere” 30 or 40 more like it could.

      I saw that one poster later called Zoe’s account an “emotionally loaded story” with little reason or logic, but that is simply absurd. The story is one of immense logical and scientific poignancy, not because it is “just another sob story,” but because of the details, the specifics of Zoe’s truly unusual life circumstances.

      So far, then, I have praised Zoe’s honesty and commitment to reason, and expounded on the exceptional power of her testimony in a scientifically convincing sense. But we cannot leave out a crucial point, that Zoe’s story is an intensely personal one, far more so than any of the stories in the original article by Ms. Moss. She was under no obligation to share it, and she must have known it had the potential to make her a target of ridicule and hate at least in some quarters (which, as we later see, was indeed the case). She posted it publicly, where even an anonymous schmoe like me could read it, presumably (for I find it difficult to conceive another motive) in the hopes that her story would illuminate even a few minds. Such courage, in my view, is the most remarkable thing of all.

      Zoe, I am in awe.

  13. zoebrain

    Ask your female friends, if you have any, if they’ve ever walked home late at night with a key pushed through their knuckles, just in case, if they’ve ever crossed the street to avoid a stranger, just in case, if they’ve ever taken the long way home because of the weird guy on the corner, just in case. Ask them if they’ve ever made up a boyfriend to get a guy to leave them alone, if they’ve ever gotten off a train car and moved to the next because you just never know, if they’ve ever shelled out for a cab because men like you were at the bus stop.

    I’ve never made up a boyfriend, nor had to catch a cab. But the rest, sure. When walking to my car from work,I keep to well-lighted sections, have my mobile set to dial 000 (911 equivt) and have my carkeys pushed through my knuckles. I try not to do it alone.

    We wonder, am I going to get out of this safely? Am I going to walk away from this? Where are my keys if I need to stab someone in the eye? Are there people on the street? Will they hear me? Which way will I run? Solar Plexus, Instep, Nose, Groin. I’m exaggerating, but only so slightly

    No exaggeration at all from my viewpoint.

    Old habits die hard though. The one time I was tested – hearing another woman screaming late at night – I ran towards not away from, adrenaline coursing through my veins, ready to do as much damage as I could to eyes and testes before succumbing.

    Fortunately not needed, and I terminated the 000 call.

    SMP… you’re clueless. I’m trying not to be unkind or rude here, and before 2005 I would have been sceptical too. But we’re not exaggerating, it really is like she says, only the degree varies.

    • I sincerely hope this finally marks the end of your midnight ramblings, Zoe. When you finally figure out what sex you are, I’ll entertain your notions about my “cluelessness”. Until then, I’ll just point out that I have been merely making observations based on the common wisdom of every age of Man. I find it intriguing that someone who has lived as both sexes should have so little understanding of what it means to be either,

      • SMP, you’re acting like a jerk. You’re being rude. Please stop it. Disagreement doesn’t require rudeness.

        You’re using a mean and condescending tone (i.e., “midnight ramblings”). You’re making fun of Zoe’s gender history and genetic condition, and pretending that she hasn’t “figured out what sex” she is, even though her first comment made it extremely clear that she now presents as female 100% of the time. What are you, in third grade? What would cause a grown man to descend to such a childish attack?

        Furthermore, being rude is illogical in a situation like this. There’s always a chance that you’re mistaken about whatever policy issue you’re discussing (anyone can be mistaken sometimes, because none of us are God). If you are mistaken, wouldn’t it be better to have at least have treated the person you’re arguing with, with respect and kindness.

        • Good moderating, Barry…my job, I know. I prefer to allow the assembled self regulate, and I hadn’t followed that thread carefully. I appreciate your stepping in.

          • This has been a really interesting thread to follow. What’s amazing to me is that 40-some years after the women’s movement began, some of the old myths are still around. Thankfully, some men commenting on this thread also seem very enlightened.

            I hope Zoe knows that we appreciate her telling us about her experience, which must have been very difficult and probably still is. I have learned not to react to cretinesque remarks, but I admire those with the courage to do so.

      • Chris

        “When you finally figure out what sex you are”

        Thanks for proving why feminism is still necessary.

      • Chris

        Also, it’s incredibly ironic that–in his attempts to prove that sexist attacks from men isn’t such a big deal after all–Steven Mark Pilling has launched several sexist attacks on the female commenters here.

        • Mrs. Miller

          He does seem to be trying to ingratiate himself with the men as well. “Future congressman!”. Rather interesting….

  14. Pingback: [link] Street harassment, in 1906 and now | feimineach.com

  15. Certainly it’s a sad state of affairs when a woman (or man) has to keep to the well-lit areas in order to avoid the dangers lurking in the dark. If Emily’s post is a lamentation that it would be wonderful if people needn’t fear the darkness, then I agree wholeheartedly. If Emily’s post is intended as a screed about how unfair it is that she can’t go walking down dark alleys as she would like because of all the nasty, brutish men lurking in the shadows, I can only laugh and say that I can’t walk down those alleys, either. Nor would I wish to, because I’m wiser than that.

    The old rules of gentility and civility weren’t perfect at eradicating boorish behavior, no. But they were a line of defence against it, and when we abandoned that line, boorish behavior advanced. Before that, chivalry and personal honor were similar lines. Religion and moral codes also played an important role. No, not every man was Gawain – in fact, none could be; he was designed to be an impossible ideal – but you knew where you were with the man who held him as a role model; who wanted to be like him. When society belittles Jesus, Galahad, and Washington – replacing them with the likes of Sheen, Sinatra, and Clinton – society doesn’t get to complain when people actually behave like the people they’ve been told to emulate.

    • Aaron, did you read Emily’s post? It has little to do with “well-lit” areas – street harassment happens in well-lit areas, too. She describes being actively harassed while walking home from the grocery store and from work, and in the doorway of an open bar, not being fearful while exploring unlit alleys.

      Nothing in her post could be fairly read as being about “she can’t go walking down dark alley” because of hypothetical men lurking in the shadows. The men she’s complaining about are not lurking; they are actively harassing. There’s a difference.

      The old rules of gentility and civility were largely class-based – many a gentleman who considered himself far too honorable to ever make a dirty comment to a lady of his own class, had no compunction about how they treated servant women. In the old South, the peak of veneration of honor and chivalry in US history, enslaved women had to constantly worry about being raped by white men.

      When society belittles Jesus, Galahad, and Washington – replacing them with the likes of Sheen, Sinatra, and Clinton – society doesn’t get to complain when people actually behave like the people they’ve been told to emulate.

      You think society belittles Jesus? In what way? Because I’m pretty sure that Christianity remains the most popular religion in the country.

      Please, name the specific decade when you think things were better. As I said before, Ernie Caruso became widely adored despite his publicly-known behavior towards women, so scratch the first two decades of the century as the alleged time when only well-behaved men were adored by the public. Forget the 30s and 40s, the era of heroin addict Eroll Flynn, who was famous for womanizing (and accused of statutory rape with two underage girls, which just seemed to make him more popular). The 1950s brought us Sinatramania, of course. So when was the golden age, exactly?

      I agree with Jack that some norms have changed – for instance, maybe earlier generations of politicians sometimes swore in public, but if they did journalists chose not to report on it. But I don’t see any evidence that sexual harassment of women has gotten worse.

      • There is no golden age. Certain men have always behaved abominably towards women. Others have always held them up as treasures to be revered. Some men allow fame, money, or rank to be license to do as they wish. Others are famous, rich, or powerful, and retain the compassion and humility that makes them shine. The difference is that more and more these days, the old beacons of light seem to be torn down, and no new ones are replacing them. Washington? Positively Machavellian. Jefferson? Slave owner, you know. Galahad – don’t you know that knights were little better than the thugs they organized against? Jesus – are you honestly insinuating that He is treated with respect in some way these days? Individuals may – society does NOT.

        There’s a fellow I know. Played Pickering in My Fair Lady. The amazing thing is, he’s exactly like that in real life. Everyone who knows him, when we discover someone else who’s had the pleasure of meeting him, all say the same thing: “What a gentleman he is – and you can tell he really means, it, too!” Sad thing is, we can appreciate it on an individual scale – he’s our Pickering – while on the grand scale, we all admit that society as a whole casts him firmly as Don Quixote these days. Quaintly adhering to a charming code of ethics and behavior that the rest of us have outgrown the need for. And I mourn the beauty that has left the world beause of that fact.

        If we hope to push against the darkness of man’s all-too-human inhumanity towards man, we need to erect MORE lighthouses. Tearing down the ones we have as ineffective, or archaic, or even secretly evil and manipulative can ONLY strengthen the darkness.

        • Aaron, I added this to your previous comment and posted it as the Comment of the Day. Good work. I would take issue with one item: Jefferson was the Machiavellian, not Washington, and George is the one pilloried for being a slave-owner—Tom was a lot worse than that.

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