May 10 2007

Lessons in blaming from the celebrities

Not all discourse on the subject of celebrities has to be vapid. Sometimes the cynosure class’ exploits, as reported by the legion of professional watchers charged with the duty of exalting them to an insatiable public, can be instructive. I won’t say that the “Free Paris” thread scaled any unmastered pinnacles of blaming greatness, but it wasn’t a total bore. As blamer Catherine Martell pointed out, “Nelson Mandela she ain’t.”

Anyway, how about this?

This celebrity hottie was strolling along in the streets of L.A., minding her own beeswax, when a Porsche slowed down next to her. Three creepy things then transpired. The blamanalysis follows in italics.

1. The celebrity was “quite flattered” that the male driver of such a prestigious car would take notice of her. Because approbative attention from wealthy male strangers is one of the many useful perks women receive in return for practicing femininity, women know to appreciate it as a substitute for love.

2. The driver turned out to be a john soliciting a pay-per-rape. All women in public are fair game for the pornsick.

3. The celebrity was offended that she should be mistaken for “a hooker.” Male dominant culture divides the sex class into two subclasses: titillating ‘nice girls’ who are rewarded by having to service only one dude at a time, and interchangeable faceless fuckhole sluts who have to screw all comers; members of the former subclass guard their slightly more privileged status jealously, since they know that just one false move could land them among the untouchable sluts at the drop of a hat.

See how BravoTV makes blaming as easy as 1-2-3? Our celebrity demonstrates, in functioning as both victim and practitioner, how an undertaking as seemingly innocuous as walking in public is not and cannot, for a member of the oppressed class, be a politically neutral act.


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  1. Sara

    “Because approbative attention from wealthy male strangers is one of the many useful perks women receive in return for practicing femininity, women know to appreciate it as a substitute for love.”

    Not to nitpick, but I thought we were supposed to appreciate it as a substitute for respect.

    I am just never going to get the hang of this femininity thing, am I? There’s always something I could be doing better, like going after the “right” goals. (sigh)

  2. Feminist Avatar

    I love the way the link sees the whole problem with this scenario as lying in her walking in public. You see the real blame is not with some misogynist approaching random women for sex, because that’s fine and to be expected, but with the stupidity of being female without car.

    This stupidity is then explained by virtue of her Scottishness. An American woman would have known better than to think that she could walk in public safely and without harrasment, and thus would have taken her car. Naive Europeans!

  3. Amananta

    It doesn’t have anything to do with living in LA, as the article so charmingly suggests. I’ve been approached with “offers” of prostituting myself when I walked alone in Boston, New Orleans, and Washington DC – in the daytime as well as at night; when dressed in shorts, in skirts, and once when dressed so snugly against a snowstorm that I’m surprised the person could even tell I was female – this last on Christmas Eve as I was heading back to my home laden with shopping bags; at ages ranging from 18 to 33. The only factor in common with all of the incidents was that I was walking alone. How dare I!

    And let’s not even go into the insultingly low prices random men in cars think random women walking down the street should think is acceptable for allowing themselves to be used as semen receptacles, except to say the sheer arrogance of it all has never failed to take my breath away.

  4. sam

    Because I have never had a driver’s license I’ve done much walking and public transport taking, and in those milieus I have been solicited by many predatory pricks. Looking back with what I know now I’d say those men saw in me a girl who was 1) too poor to own a car and therefore easy prey and/or 2) too young to own a car and therefore easy prey.

  5. lawbitch

    I explained to a dude the other day that I don’t walk my dogs at night. He looked at me like I’d lost my mind. It must be nice for him to have the dudely privilege of never having to fear for his own safety walking alone. I wouldn’t know. IBTP.

  6. Hawise

    I’ve been propositioned eight months pregnant waddling to the store in hot pink sweatpants. It is SO being a woman in public.

  7. Ugly in Pink

    The first (and only) time I went to a high class club I was waiting for the people I was there to meet, and was offered a drink by a middle aged chap and some of his (female) work friends. We chatted, he bought me a glass of wine and I accepted with the caveat that I was there to meet someone else but I appreciated his gesture in a spirit of just plain niceness. We talked about my plans to be a police officer and his boring job….then he offered me 10k for a night. I TOLD HIM I WAS TRYING TO BE A COP. Apart from everything else that was wrong with this, how fucking stupid ARE men?

  8. Sean

    “Our celebrity demonstrates, in functioning as both victim and practitioner, how an undertaking as seemingly innocuous as walking in public is not and cannot, for a member of the oppressed class, be a politically neutral act.”

    I don’t have the intrawebs at home right now, so I only get a few minutes every once in a while when I’m in the library to read this blog. So if my comment isn’t insightful in the least, I blame my new apartment.

    Twisty, that line is perfect in every way. Someone should add that to the “Feminist 101” blog within the “What’s the big deal?” (or something like that) FAQ.

  9. Panic

    We’re not supposed to want respect, we’re supposed to want love.
    Love means never having to say you’re sorry, after all.

  10. Cecily

    While I’ve never had the car-slowing solicitation happen to me (chalk it up to my amazing luck and sheltered existence), it does occur to me that one could easily jot down the license of the car and a description of the yutz and report him to the police as having solicited. That is a crime in the non-Nevadan USA, is it not? These jackasses are exposing themselves in more ways than one.

  11. kathy a

    sam, there is a third possibility that you haven’t even considered, and it is that you are a woman traveling along without 2000 lbs. of steel to protect you, and therefore easy prey. asking for it.

    cecily — good thought, but one doesn’t always have a pen handy quickly enough. and have you ever had your car broken into? you make a police report, and absolutely nothing happens. the cops tell you to expect nothing will happen, because they won’t investigate.* exactly the same thing would happen if one reported a suspected drive-by solicitation. zip. zero. nada.

    * the police only write up reports on car burglaries so owners can try to get their insurance companies to pay for the damage.

    on one occasion involving my car, the car burgler evidently was interrupted after the window-breaking and before stealing my stereo, and he left someone else’s stolen stereo in my car. i called the cops, reported it, and asked what to do with the extra stereo. they said, “do whatever you wish — we don’t want it.”

  12. LMYC

    The one time I was propositioned in public, I still regret not taking down his license number, because he had ALL the earmarks of a Ted Bundy in retrospect.

    I’m walknig through the shopping center near one of my old apartments, and a white BMW pulls up with what looks like a stockbroker type (you know the sort, with-it sunglasses, rich-looking asshole), and he asks me where the Christian store is. Now, ther was a huge Christian store in that place, in plain sight. The fact that he could obviously have seen the place with his own two eyes and yet stopped adn asked me with a very “poor apologetic me” little-boy voice made me feel like he had some other reason for asking me where the place was.

    That only became obvious to me after I walked out of the supermarket (where I was headed to pick something up) and he propositioned me, still driving past. I told him no and kept walking.

    That sad fuck thought that if he asked me where the CHRISTIAN STORE was, it’d be like wearing a pretty little glittery “I’m not threatening” sign on his chesty, and I’d get in his car. I still wish I’d taken down his plate number now, over ten years later. I have no doubt that fucker has committed crimes since. I just have NO doubt. You know how some people just set off your “psycho” mental alarms, like “The Gift of Fear” style psycho alarms? That guy in that beemer set them off. I could still pick him out of a lineup if I had to.

    I’m glad every day that I have the temperament to work in marketing — I can sniff out manipulation a mile off.

  13. Amananta

    Paulette – indeed, I cannot imagine reporting leading to anything other than a “he said-she said” scenario, in which it is entirely possible the complainant will be painted as some crazy, hysterical woman who just really secretly wishes men would think she is valuable enough to be offered financial compensation for use of her body. Because, you know, it’s supposed to be a compliment.

  14. sam

    kathy a, I completely agree it’s being female that makes me a target in the first place. While it’s true being in a car would physically remove me from the possibility of solicitation as well as allow me to don a 2000-lb metal suit of armor, how then to figure in the total lack of solicitation I’ve gotten riding the 20 pounds of metal that is my bicycle? I get comments every now and again from sexual harassers while riding, but nothing like what it was when I walked everywhere and not one john solicitation has come to me that way.

    Pressed to analyze it I’d say a lot of it comes down to how an athletic-seeming young woman is perceived differently than a young woman passively waiting at the bus stops where most johns have solicited me. I’ve waited at bus stops with my bike and not gotten solicited, but in all fairness I don’t use public transport nearly as much as I used to so there’s a sheer numbers thing going on. Also, while I’m still what our culture considers young, I’m not as young as I used to be and that has likely had an impact on the way kerb crawlers perceive me. With the age of entry into prostitution doing a steady downhill slide the past 5-10 years I’m probably considered an old maid by today’s sexual exploiter standards.

  15. mearl

    When assholes slow their cars down to say things to me in public, which has happened numerous times from the age of 12 onwards, it’s usually a sign that they are some sort of predator who has plans to nick you off the sidewalk and do terrifying things to you. Prior to a couple of the incidents where some bag of feces slowed down his feces-mobile and offered me a “ride,” I had heard, from my school or from local authorities or my parents, a warning about some guy in the local neighbourhood trying to pick up girls at bus stops. Naturally, the guy was a rapist.

    I’ve had a businessman creep in a banana-yellow Ferrari stalk me down one of the main drags in the city, I’ve had a young guy drive up to me at a bus stop, open the car door and say, “Hey, it’s me, come on, I’ll give you a ride!” all friendly-like, even though I didn’t recognise him AT ALL. I just don’t understand why, if a carload of unknown men pulls up beside you while you are walking alone, you would EVER consider it to be FLATTERING. ARGH!

    I am a vocal advocate of getting the plate numbers and reporting it to the po-po. I also carry a large rock in my pocket, for those instances when I am either being propositioned by a creepy mobile bag of feces, or when I am being splashed intentionally by a carload of teenaged bags of feces on a puddly day.

  16. ::Wendy::

    “an undertaking as seemingly innocuous as walking in public is not and cannot, for a member of the oppressed class, be a politically neutral act.”


    My 36 yrs without owning a car in the UK included many colourful propositions and one stop by the police because I was walking down a city street with my girlfriend from a bus station to my home, at night, neither of us had purses/bags. Apparantly not having a bag is a clear prostitute identifier to UK police.

    Being European is insufficient reason to plead ignorance to the fact that walking in public unprotected by car or male-owner is an invitation to rape.

  17. raj

    I kind of cringe to read Ashley Jensen described as falling into the “vacuous celebrity/Paris” category, just because she’s actually a brilliant actor.

    There’s irony, also, in the fact that her most well-known performance, as the female protag in “Extras,” succeeds, in various ways, to deftly avoid so much patriarchal fuckery. She’s a slacker who dresses comfortably, is perenially single, and manages the trick of personifying a kindhearted, sweet, vain, oblivious jerk. She has a meaningul friendship with the main male character, and mocks Orlando Bloom’s vast male privelege by failing (to the other womens’ horror) to find him interesting.

    In other words: it’s the sort of well-developed, well-written character that female actors never, ever get to play. Also, she gets to be funny.

  18. Feminist Avatar

    I am Scottish and I found it weird that she thought that a man approaching in a car was flattering. My first instinct when a car slows down beside me is to think what item that I am carrying is the most effective weapon and to look for a good direction in which to run. Especially a rich dude’s car, like a porshe, I mean your just adding class priviledge to male priviledge- never a good combination.

    Having said this, although I walk a lot, including late at night (which I do think is true of Scottish city life- walking places not an unusual phenomenon), I have never been solicitated for sex. I’ve had cars slow down, men whistle and make rude comments, but no offers of cash for sex, and to my knowledge none of my friends have. Until Wendy commented I was beginning to think such brazeness was an American thing.

  19. CannibalFemme

    When I was dancing for a living, and thus obliged to walk home at 2a.m., I had a lot of problems with being propositioned and/or harassed. For the drive-bys, I am blessed with an alto that goes basso and SERIOUSLY LOUD with very little effort, so I would bellow ‘suck my dick’ in a voice as close to James Earl Jones’ as I can get, which is pretty close. That always worked.

    One other incident stands out particularly. I was riding my motorcycle downtown in the early dawn hours, and was shadowed by a Porsche-driving psychopath who drove closer and closer and finally started honking. When I looked, I saw that he was screwing a doughnut. While driving. I slowed way down, and finally pulled into the police station parking lot. There were a bunch of officers out by the cruisers, and when I told them the guy in the car behind me was fucking a doughnut and propositioning me, they took care of it. I understand that doughnut molestation is a serious cop offense.

    But I find that this type of harassment is less and less of a problem as I get older. Aging rocks. Patriarchy sucks.

  20. Bird

    Sam, I don’t think it’s being athletic or not that’s the problem, it’s being female and on foot. I run long distances (half marathon training) with the full gear, hydration belt and all. I also have obvious biceps. Despite all the trappings of being a seriously athletic woman, I get propositioned and ogled by men—in cars, on bicycles and on foot—along my route. Needless to say, I never run at night, and I always ensure that my partner knows where and when I am running so that the police at least know where to start looking for me if they have to.

    I hate it that I can’t go for a run in the river valley without wondering if somebody might just try to drag me off into the bush this time.

  21. H

    I am Scottish and I found it weird that she thought that a man approaching in a car was flattering.

    I’m English and I feel quite the same way. It’s a bizarre reaction.

    although I walk a lot, including late at night (which I do think is true of Scottish city life- walking places not an unusual phenomenon), I have never been solicitated for sex. I’ve had cars slow down, men whistle and make rude comments, but no offers of cash for sex

    I’ve never had the sex-for-cash thing, but I’ve been followed by creeps in cars on several memorable occasions: most terrifyingly when I was eleven years old (and looked it), walking alone up a quiet country lane to meet my mum after a riding lesson. I think only the fact I was carrying a bloody big whip at the time – a whip I was ready to slash the geezer across the face and bollocks with should he leave the safety of his car – saved me from actual attack. The second creepy incident was at sixteen, waiting one sunny afternoon outside school at 3 in the afternoon for my aunt to pick me up. Some middle-aged bloke pulled his car in next to me, spent a minute or two leering at me in digusting fashion, then sped off. The third was when I was 28 and walking home at night with several female friends in Japan. A middle-aged man followed us in his car for about half a mile, leering and screeching obscenities. He pulled in in front of our building and when we drew level with him, he flung open the door of his car and swivelled himself to face us, revealing himself naked from the waist down, dick in hand. Lovely. That kind of shit was par for the course there, unfortunately.

  22. jbeeky

    There is nothing more deppressing than getting leered at from men in cars and having to act flattered because you are scared if you act angry they will hurt you. IBTP.

  23. kathy a

    CF, i’m totally with you on the advantage of growing older. i don’t think i’m to the point where i look like a good robbery target due to frailty, but i have become fairly invisible to the sector of predators looking for a hot young thing. [nothing has convinced me that those “hot young thing” trollers have disappeared, so i’m having next-generation anxiety for my daughter, who is heading off for college and knows not much of the damned idiots she might meet on the street.] ibtp

  24. LMYC

    Celebrities can’t really speak freely — they censor themselves constantly and have to act liek they think date rape is cute and having to show their tits to get work is liberating because if they mouth off about feminism, they don’t work. I ain’t defending it, just explaining it.

    Anecdotes like the ones we’re all sharing are a major part of why I think firearms should be outlawed for men — and mandatory for women.

  25. Garden Gnome

    The first, and thankfully only time I was propositioned was when I was 13!! I was walking home from school and a guy slowed his car down and flashed some cash at me. This was just before I threw away all my femme clothing and became a baby bulldyke. Any misgivings I had about wearing guys’ clothing were gone after this incident.

  26. A.Non

    Last week I had a drive by incidence, of sorts. The phone rang. I was working and preoccupied, picked it up Hello? to hear grunting breathing gasping. Hello? More. Slammed the receiver down. I knew the voice. I called last number redial and the phone number of acquaintances was given to me. Yes. The husband of a friend.

    And I hadn’t even left my desk. I felt sick, disgusted, somehow responsible, then hated myself for feeling responsible.

    If I tell, he’ll say I’m lying, say I had been putting the moves on him or something like that. Our friendship is over.

    If I don’t tell, our friendship is over anyway because I will never phone her, or be with her without being enraged at what he’s done. To me. To us.

    And I didn’t even leave my desk.

  27. Burrow

    It’s just sad because as a celebrity this story will get more attention then any of ours and is saying ‘if you pull up to a woman on the street it’s not creepy, it’s flattering!’ Which is the defense I hear for street harrasment all the time.

  28. LMYC

    A.Non, if I weren’t so fucknig revolted by the very idea, I’d say you tell him you’ll give him a blow job, then chomp down like a rabid mastiff on his dick. Let his wife ask him where the bite marks came from.

    Some men should be decapitated.

  29. Costumegoddess

    Just the other day I had my own little reverse sort of drive by. I ride my scooter more often than not now that it’s nice out and had gone out on my lunch break to pick up some food. On my way back to work, while I was stopped at a light I had a whole bus stop full of cretins yelling at me to “show some more leg” (I had on a _knee length_ skirt!) and telling me what a “sexy honey” I was.
    I responded with a hearty “Fuck off”, but not till the light turned green and I could ride away without fear of them doing something violent. Why the hell should I be afraid to defend myself against something like that in the middle of a busy street on a bright sunny day? It’s just not fucking right.
    And I was angry at _myself_ later for not being able to form a more coherent and immediate response. How do _they_ get to make _me_ angry like that? I don’t get it.

  30. Spit The Dummy

    When I was an innocent 12 year old country girl out riding my bike I got stopped by a creepy guy in a car who asked for directions. I was a very naive 12 but even I could tell there was something wrong about the way this guy was looking at me and the way he wanted me to “come a little closer” and despite the fact that I’d been brought up to be massively polite to all adults, I legged it as fast as I could home. I didn’t stop shaking for a couple of hours, all the time not knowing exactly why I was so weirded out. It was years before I learned the real meaning of words like “lascivious” and “leer” that described the filthy, disgusting way his eyes had looked that day. A long time before I put it together in my mind exactly what sort of sick creep this guy was and what he had wanted.

    The other one that sticks in my memory was the week before I got married. I attended this party and when this dude found out I was getting married he tried everything he could think of to try and get me to have sex with him. Apparently he had some sick idea that getting married meant I “belonged to” some other guy and he got his rocks off on imagining he was “stealing” some other guys property. I don’t think there’s anything that could sicken me more than being considered property or a notch in some imaginary bed-post of masculine delusion by some bag of shit patriarchal douchebag, but he seemed to think I should be flattered. IBTP

  31. KMTberry

    interchangeable faceless fuckhole sluts who have to screw all comers

    I have never read this put more succinctly. Bravo Twisty.

  32. Joanna

    Where to begin? the time I was followed home when I was ten by a pervy guy who sat down and jacked off in front of me four times on my way home? the time the man next to me on the bus jacked off under a newspaper? the time a man dropped trow while I was walking to school? the mastubator in the Paris metro? the guy in the movie theater who crawled over the seat into my row so he could jack off during the movie? the honking, yelling, soliciations when walking down the street alone? Being grabbed on the ass by guys riding by on scooters in Rome? the guys who start out with flattering remarks only to switch instantly to “bitch!” when I don’t respond. The commands to smile! from perfect strangers? The groping in the Mexico City metro? It took me years to realize I didn’t have to pub up with any of this shit, and to stand up for myself. Yeah, walking down the street in a suburb seems to give some people licese to heckle and harrass. IBTP.

  33. Ruth

    Sam, Kathy a, CanniballFemme, everyone. aging does rock but don’t think it’s any kind of protection. At 45 I was propositioned while waiting for a bus at 4:30 in the morning, dressed for a day labor job.
    Last year at 50 I was again propositioned waiting for a bus in the middle of the day.
    By the way, I am not only ‘old’ I am under 5’5 and weigh over 200 lbs!

  34. vee

    I literally just got home from being beeped and yelled at by a car full of jerkoffs while I was waiting for the bus before reading this. IBTP.

  35. Catherine Martell

    What really annoys me about street harassment is something that Costumegoddess, Spit The Dummy and Joanna, among others, have just hinted at – the impossibility of comeback.

    If you are harassed in the street, do you:

    a) Smile back and give a little wave? Good god, no.

    b) Shout “Fuck off!”, or similar? Tends to provoke them further, often into outright nastiness. Recently, a friend of mine told a bunch of men who leered at her from a car late at night to fuck off. The bastards actually drove slowly behind her all the way home. She had to run off down a pedestrian side-street to get away from them.

    c) Just ignore them? I tend to go with this, on the principle that it’s attention they want, and that’s the one thing I have the power to deny them. But it leaves me brimming with fury every time.

    LMYC is completely right that most celebrities are in no position to take a stand against this stuff. Unfortunately, that’s also the case for we non-celebrities. I have some hope to offer, though. I’m sure you’ve all seen this, but, if you haven’t, you should: http://hollabacknyc.blogspot.com/

    And there’s also this from India, where street harassment (known as “Eve-teasing”) is epidemic: http://blanknoiseproject.blogspot.com/

  36. jodie a.c

    Men are obviously disgusting animals who refuse to curb their base natures. I think it’s about time women in the free world start arming themselves to the teeth and culling the herd. IBTFP.

  37. Harpy

    Despite apparently being disgustingly fat, I still get guys calling out sexually “suggestive” stuff at me. Only mostly it’s supposed to be utterly hilarious to them and their dipshit mates because who would ever fuck a fat chick? They’ve taken photos of me too, also for apparently hilarious purposes. I dread the day I wind up as some intarwebs viral “humour” photo. A woman and fat – two great hates that hate great together!

    Of course this never happens if I am out in public suitably accompanied by my boyfriend or brother or male colleague, for even if he has degraded his manhood by deigning to be seen with Unfuckable Woman, he’s still got a willy, which is all that really counts. You can see the shitheads start to spout some verbal rape and then (male friend) comes out of the store where I was waiting out front, and they stop. Sometimes they even look quickly at (male friend) with a slightly apologetic look – not because they have realised the error of their ways in behaving in a disgusting manner, but because they stepped on obviously (male friend)’s privilege to be the first in line to abuse me.

    Go patriarchy!

  38. Twisty

    You know, if you’re walking along and some knob in a car starts following you, just flip’em off and turn around and walk the other way, preferably into the nearest shop. Works best on a 1-way street, but either way it’s pretty funny, because they never expect it, and by the time they execute their illegal U-turn to continue stalking you, you’re long gone.

  39. Adrienne

    I don’t usually post but I’m having a particularly shitty week so I thought, why not. My own experiences match most of the others who have posted. When I was 11 a bunch of my friends where simply playing in the front yard while some creep drove past us several times. He finally slowed to make sure all the little girls got a good look at his dick in his hand. Then there was the time my sister and I, about 14 and 16, where on the NY subway and a guy standing outside the train just whipped his dick out and started masturbating. Then there was the creep who followed me while I was in Nashville. Really early in the morning, no one around and no matter where I turned he was behind me. I was lucky enough to find some security guards in a building that was closed. The guy actually stood across the street for about 10 minutes waiting. One of the guards was a nice woman who said she would drive me wherever I needed to go when she got off work. When I did the backpack through Europe thing during college the only place I was harassed was Rome.
    I usually just ignore men. I don’t know if that’s good or bad but I never respond and it’s starting to bug me. I want to turn around and flip them off as Twisty suggests.

  40. Bird

    On my lunchtime run today, three guys on bicycles were taking up the whole path. I refused to move off the trail (they can ride single file). I was rewarded with one threatening to run me down, one calling me a bitch and one supplying obscene gestures with his tongue. All for the crime of not giving way to their dudely right to the trail and running on the mud where I belong.

  41. Twisty

    Blamer Cycles will take issue with this, but here in the land of Lance Armstrong, the most aggressive, machobag assholes are always to be found excrescing from the seatposts of 6-million-dollar titanium stealth bikes, aiming straight for your pathetic little pedestrian ass.

  42. Bird

    Too true. I run on shared-use trails, and the guys on bikes are often total pricks (they even have the helmets).

  43. kathy a

    well, back to paris hilton. did i ever mention how i mostly love leonard pitts? here is his piece on paris in the springtime.

    pitts comes from a civil rights perspective, as a journalist. it is not so far off from feminism. in my opinion.

  44. mearl

    I’m all over a nice, big, heavy rock, maybe palm-sized, that will sail in a beautiful, breathtaking arc right through the window of a car full of harassers, or into the face of a guy on a bike who is trying to run me down. I’ve never been flashed, but I think it would bring me great satisfaction to lob a rock right at some asshole’s exposed bits. I just make sure I also have a baby exacto on me, or some bear spray, in case they have the temerity to come after me for defending myself/retaliating.

    I think the fact that I DO carry a rock somehow triggers a Murphy’s law that keeps guys from screaming at me or harassing me these days. I can’t wait to use the rock and so far haven’t had to. If I do get the chance, I’ll let y’all know how it worked out.

  45. Cathy

    Reading all of the sad anecdotes here made me even more certain that we should definitely find a way to get salt peter into the water supply.

  46. ABK

    I grew up in India, a country of a over a billion people. There is just no place that you can go to avoid the teeming crowds. I developed a deep distaste for crowds, growing up. Although it wasn’t a rational or logical thought process that led to this distaste, I was somehow very aware that crowds meant a lot of men. And being squished against a lot of men meant being vulnerable to their touch, intentional or otherwise. I hated public transport, one of the most vulnerable places I could be in. My family would dismiss my protests, saying that I was being fussy and behaving like a spoilt kid. I never spoke up, I believed that I was indeed fussy. I had to be vary while walking on the road at all times, watching out for anyone who might try to deliberate try to “bump” into me. I’ve known friends who have been hurt while riding a two wheeler on the road. Some guy in a bike would zip past and hit them on the back or the chest.

    It never struck me that I could retaliate. My thoughts were focussed on how to avoid getting into such situations. What streets to avoid at what times, which buses not to take at peak hours, and so on. From what I’ve heard, most women I know back home do much the same. Patriarchy at its worst.

    It wasn’t until I went to college in a secluded campus in a remote village, essentially a protected safe place, that I realized I could walk on the road and still be lost in my own thoughts!

    I haven’t shared this in such detail with anyone I know. I am a recent but avid reader of this blog and its absolutely wonderful to see such incredibly brave and intelligent women (and men I guess) share their thoughts on what I can only describe as issues that definitely ought to be raised. It always surprises me when many women settle for whatever is meted out to them and tell themselves they dont have a choice.

    Anyway, I just wanted to say that the mention of street harassment struck some cords and brought back unpleasant memories and I wanted to share my experiences.

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