Sexual Harassment is Not Okay

Yesterday at the SPARK Summit I learned a lot about the sexualization of girls in the media and the ways in which we can can help stop and prevent this issue.  I really enjoyed the workshops I was apart of, which included a ‘zine making workshop and a workshop on sexual harassment.  I enjoyed the workshop on sexual harassment the most because I most resonated with this issue.  We watched a video made by a group of girls in Brooklyn, who asked random men on the street their opinions on sexual harassment.  I have to say I was very disturbed and disgusted with the responses from the men in the video.

Most of the men saw it as not only okay to try and “holla” at a girl in the street, but to also attack her if she ignored them.  A lot of the time, girls and women are attacked by men for just ignoring them on the street.  Bottles and trash are thrown at girls, they are cursed out by men, or even worse, they are jumped and beaten.  I have personally seen girls being cursed out and verbally attacked by men on the street for rejecting or ignoring them.  This is both embarrassing and frightening for girls. Imagine being put in danger for the simple fact that you said “no” or rejected a guy you don’t even know on the street.

It is because of this that most of the time when I am walking alone in the street I am afraid, especially in my neighborhood where I’ve seen girls get verbally attacked by men numerous times.  Not only am I afraid a guy will sexually harass me, but also that he will attack me in some form.  Every time I see a group of men or boys up ahead on the same block as me, my heart immediately starts pounding because I know one of them will say something.  All that goes through my head at that instant is “keep looking forward and don’t make eye contact.”  I know if I make eye contact with any of them it will be inviting them in and giving them a reason to say something to me.  It is a shame and unfair that I as a woman have to live day by day like this.

The fact that most men find it okay to sexually harass females is deeply rooted in the issue of the sexualization of females.  This leads men to only view women as sex objects and not as their equals.  It also relates to power dynamics and hierarchy.  Since a lot of men view women as beneath them, they feel as though they can do anything as they please to women.  When men sexually harass a female it is a way of showing off their masculinity and boosting their egos.  So when a girl rejects a guy she is turning the tables and flipping the power dynamics by  taking charge.  Men see it as being disrespected, so in turn they respond with anger and violence.

2 thoughts on “Sexual Harassment is Not Okay

  1. Yeah, I think this is an issue that a lot of people just don’t talk about: guys that actually feel like they deserve a response from the women that they are basically harassing on the street.
    I agree with “The fact that most men find it okay to sexually harass females is deeply rooted in the issue of the sexualization of females.” It shows that the issue did not just start happening all of a sudden, but it came from a much larger issue (sexualization of girls in the media), that is in turn branching out to other issues (sexual harassment, personal issues with themselves, etc), and people have trouble figuring out why this is becoming a kind of epidemic.

  2. I really like this post Meiling, I can really relate to what your discussing. That workshop sounded great and I would love to of seen that video on the male opinion of street harassment. Your third paragraph on your personal fear is something I can really relate to. That feeling of your heart beating in your chest and the repeating “Just keep walking, just keep walking, ignore them,” in my head is exactly what I feel when alone to. There’s this dread almost, because you know there’s no way to really avoid the situation. I try walking to the other side of the street sometimes but it only worsens the situation at points. They call out about how I may to scared or whatever. I think that if this is something that both you and I experience when we walk by then this must be an experience felt by many more. So many, together we should be able to be a powerful force about it.

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