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Jul 18 2008

Egypt’s national pastime

In case you were wondering, two-thirds of Egyptian men cop to sexually harassing women. Naturally it’s the women’s fault. So sayeth a Reuters report on a survey conducted by an Egyptian women’s rights group. The group has noted that street harassment is epidemic in their country. Like it is everywhere.

“The vast majority of women did nothing when confronted with sexual harassment,” the survey said, adding that most Egyptian women believed the victim should “remain silent”.

Some 53 percent of men blamed women for bringing on sexual harassment, saying they enjoyed it or were dressed in a way deemed indecent. Some women agreed.

“Out of Egyptian women and men interviewed, most believe that women who wear tight clothes deserve to be harassed,” the survey said. It added most agreed women should be home by 8 p.m.

Although a sexxxy lady walking down the street is clearly asking for it, piling on pious yards of cloth doesn’t appear to protect Egyptian women from jeering, ogling, and weener-wagging; the study says most of the women reported being “dressed conservatively“ when their harassment ocurred.

Egypt, the US, wherever; a woman in public, the world over, is either a prostituted woman, or is trespassing on traditional male territory, and is fair game either way. Street harassment is a convenient method by which men can enjoy participating in rape culture, whenever the urge strikes, without going to too much trouble.

51 comments

  1. Dr. Steph

    Yep. I felt the leering eyes of a couple of men the other day while walking across campus. It was creepy and I didn’t like it much. Guys and many women would say that since I am no longer in the age of hotness (since I’m 38) I should like the attention. Me, I don’t like the power game that leering and other street harassment represents. Leave me the fuck alone and keep your eyes to yourself.

    IBTP

  2. Emily

    Yeah, god forbid a man should keep his opinions to himself as to whether or not he finds a woman sexually pleasing to his eye. Where would the world be without that freedom?

    IBTP.

  3. miss crabby pants

    Ah, “weener-wagging.” That is my new favorite description of dudely studliness.

    I can’t tell you how much better life is now that you’re back in the blogosphere, Twisty. Your blaming is like manna from heaven.

  4. Citizen Jane

    It doesn’t matter what you do or what you wear, these sorts of men will find something that they deem to be sexual and this will of course be your fault. Off the top of my head, here’s a few things I have done which resulted in someone accusing me of being promiscuous:

    * stretching
    * having nipples that get perky when it’s cold
    * wearing knee-high boots
    * wearing red
    * walking “sensuously” (what?)
    * wearing rabbit ears on Halloween (with a baggy sweater and jeans)
    * wearing purple shoes
    * bending over to pick something up
    * reaching up to get something high up

  5. Delilah

    Greetings from Egypt!

    Emily said: “Yeah, god forbid a man should keep his opinions to himself as to whether or not he finds a woman sexually pleasing to his eye.”

    And God forbid a man would, like, not even form any opinions about the degree to which a particular woman toots his flaccid sexual horn.

    When I was 14 in the U.S., my girlfriends and I would walk to the mall and count how many times random pervs would honk at us from their cars. We took this as affirmation of our hotttness. Only recently have I come to understand that this is, in fact, how the male of the species acknowledges that he is in the presence of a vagina. Hey dude, I know I have a vagina, so shut the fuck up.

    IBTP.

  6. Ginger

    Gak!

    Wonderful post, as usual, Twisty.

    If it weren’t for dudely “weiner-wagging,” I wouldn’t have a blog, so I guess the patriarchy peddlers are good for sumthin’.

  7. Amananta

    Well just consider one of the “euphemisms” for a prostitute is “Streetwalker”. Translation: women who go outside (especially on their own) are for sale.
    How dare we subhumans expect to be able to walk around in public without being mocked and attacked!

  8. Stella

    This happens to me nearly every day. I guess I shouldn’t have legs, or hips, or breasts, or, you know, walk to work.

  9. lawbitch

    Twisty doth blameth verily. Good to have you back calling men out on the “weener-wagging.”

  10. wisewebwoman

    Best response EVER given by my daughter to a leering ogler amongst his chortling buddies who said to her:
    “Here baby, come sit on my face”.
    “Why,” she said, “Is your nose bigger than your dick?”

  11. Dawn Coyote

    I was street-harassed by the police in Egypt. At least they were friendly about it. In Jordan and Syria, they were scary-hateful, like I was some aberration that needed to be corrected. I was dressed from neck to ankle in modest clothing, usually with my hair up, though rarely covered. Someone pinched me on the street in Aleppo. My instinct as he sauntered past me was to run after him and kick him in the back of the knee, but I restrained myself.

    The thing the stock boy at the grocery store does doesn’t bug me. He doesn’t talk to me, except to offer to find something for me if I stand too long in one place. The guy at the restaurant where I was getting take-out recently was a different story. He was attentive and friendly. And he wanted me to go on a date with him. Why can’t people just be nice and do their damn jobs without the hopeful frottage? I won’t go back to that restaurant, which is a damn shame, because the food was awesome.

    In a few months, I’ll be 44. I suppose it would stop if I cut my hair and wore really non-descript clothing (though what I wear now is hardly sexxay), but conformity makes a persuasive case for itself.

  12. Matilde

    No amount of hair cutting or non-sexxay clothing can help avoid that kind of behaviour. Take my word for it. The other day, on the train home from work (it was crowded), two middle-aged men noticed me because of my short hair and – I suppose – the way my clothes failed to place me in the ‘fuckable’ category at first glance (jeans and a jacket. How subversive).

    They loudly commented on my being “a tomboy”, then attempted to force me back into my natural position of inferiority within the human hierarchy by staring at me and making grotesque pseudo-seductive faces (eyebrow-wiggling, sticking at their tongue, etc). Clearly, I didn’t look vulnerable/sexually available (i.e. female) enough according to their standards, and that was just as good a reason to harass me as if I’d been wearing stilettos and a miniskirt.

    There is no winning against the P.

  13. Matilde

    Sorry. Sticking out* their fucking tongues. That was weeks ago and I’m still angry enough to get my words mixed-up. IBT you-know-what.

  14. Dawn Coyote

    Matilde, you’re right. Your awful little story reminds me of the time I was parking my bike at school after a half-hour ride in traffic. I was sweaty and tired and feeling the adrenalin burn, and as I pulled my paniers off the back of the bike and turned to go into the building, a guy approaching me said, “You look like you’re about to beat me up.”

    “I wasn’t even looking at you,” I snapped, without even looking at him.

    My first post should have said, “those higher up on the dominant paradigm’s food chain make a persuasive case for conformity.”

  15. Dawn Coyote

    Oh, and I was wearing a helmet, cycling tights, a gigantic plaid shirt with the sleeves cut off, and Doc Martens.

  16. Lara

    The interesting (and annoying) thing about this is that people, both in Egypt and in many other countries (including the U.S.), are “surprised” that street harassment is on the rise “despite” conservative social and religious values in Egypt. Um, there is definitely not a contradiction between patriarchal fundamentalist forms of religion and conservatism and increasingly sexist behavior shown by men. That increasing conservatism has everything to do with it.
    The street harassment was probably not as bad many years ago (around the 60s, 70s, and even 80s) when people weren’t so god damned conservative and fundamentalist. My mom is from Egypt and she used to tell me about how it was there in the 60s.

  17. j

    Comment by an old man to me and my sister as we were walking down a street when we were about 7: “So girls, I see that you are streetwalking…” Said while leering creepily of course.

  18. Lara

    That’s strange that you didn’t find the harassment in Egypt quite as threatening as in Syria/Lebanon. Do you speak/know Arabic? I’ve heard that it’s the types of things the Egyptian men say that’s absolutely awful.
    They feel entitled to judge you, name-call you, and humiliate you right on the street.
    Apparently (and this is what my mom told me) back many years ago in Egypt, even in a big city like Cairo, if a man harassed a woman on the street in a very explicit way people would yell at him, hell, even hit him with their sandals. It was considered absolutely unacceptable for a man to act in such a lewd and immodest way, especially to a woman.
    Things are clearly a lot worse now…

  19. Windstorm

    Being a “boomer,” I’m much too old to be harrassed on the street. But no, harrass they do. Stare they do. It affects all women of all ages and persuasions and modes of dress. It’s definitely a collective male attempt to make sure they do “own the the streets.” I’m going to take a self-defense course and carry a sharp pen.

  20. Denise

    I’ve lived in North Africa and visited Egypt and my first reaction was, “These numbers are seriously under-reported.” It didn’t matter what I wore or how I carried myself (of course; it doesn’t matter here either, but you get suckered into thinking you won’t be harassed if you don’t, you know, ask for it in some way).

    I had to steel myself just to go to the corner store or wait for the bus. I learned to put on a “game face,” reacting to nothing that anyone said to me, while at the same time being alert to a groping hand. The only thing that sometimes curbed them was a stern “Allah yshufik!” (God is watching you), IF I could deliver it in a convincing accent, to make them think they had picked on an Arab by mistake.

    Good times.

  21. Chai Latte

    Wisewebwoman, your daughter is my new hero. Please ask her if I may use that quote, as I think it’s quite useful.

  22. Bushfire

    I was on a transit bus last night and three teenage girls came running into the bus saying they were being followed and harassed. They had no money and were almost home but just needed some safety. The bus driver told them they were crazy for running in front of the bus (which they had to do to get on it) and then drove them to the end of the bus route but wouldn’t bring them home. They were only about 15 years old with no money and started crying. He just kicked them out and my girlfriend stayed with them and called them a cab and paid for it. I didn’t realize until later that the driver said “why did you get on the bus if you didn’t want to go to the end of the route”. I wish I would have heard him say that, I think it would have put me over the edge enough to yell at him. I feel badly that I didn’t speak up.

    Classic fucking victim blaming and belief that street harassment means nothing and doesn’t matter. These girls were terrified. IBTP

  23. AngryJules

    As Reuters states, most women are silent regarding their harassment. This is clearly the problem! Those poor men in Egypt probably believe their onslaught of sexist remarks is part of a fun little flirtatious exchange. If these women don’t want comments made, they ought to be clearly stating “Gentlemen, your objectifying, humiliating and degrading comments about my body are UNWANTED.” You know, kinda like we have to explicitly say no when they’re raping us.

    Oh, wait– they rape us anyway. Nevermind then.

  24. Lemur

    Not to mention how many guys I’ve heard say: “All the girls I talk to enjoy that- they like the attention.” No, really! I have to fight the urge to ask them “girls on what planet, exactly?” Sure, I like attention. That I ask for. From, say, my girlfriend. Leaving the house in possession of a vagina? Not particularly stunning in my experience. Yargh. IBTP.

  25. Delilah

    The thing is, I think a lot of women *do* like this hootin’ and hollerin’ because we learn from infancy that a whole host of aggressive or controlling male behaviors are in fact *interest* in us (or worse, chivalry). Like when I got into a fight with three boys in 4th grade. They weren’t beating me up. They were flirting! Cute!

    Though I’m a white American, I can pass for Syrian (some Egyptians have my light skin and bright blue eyes, but not many). In my conservative city in the conservative south of Egypt, I have enough time to talk back and relatively calmly explain why perhaps their behavior would be an indication that they’re assholes. Some of them feign comprehension, some don’t. Unfortunately, the argument goes further if they think I’m Arab.

    What I would really like to do is start taking pictures and names of each man and post the information in the neighborhood in which the harassment occurs. Isn’t there some sort of project like this in NYC?

  26. Delilah

    Just to clarify:

    I think a lot of young women (and most people) distinguish between “harmless” catcalls and situations like the one Bushfire described. In my experience, young women feel threatened if (1) they do not find the man attractive, (2) the situation escalates to being followed, and/or (3) it happens at night. But cute guy, catcalls, daytime? Validation. I, of course, blame the P.

  27. mikeb302000

    I personally avoid these behaviors, the staring at attractive women, the sexist commenting, harassing in general. But here in Italy where I live, the majority of young women wear extremely revealing fashions. Often the undergarments are visible. I don’t know whether they’re inviting this kind of attention, of which they get plenty, or if they’re just swept up in the whole peer pressure, patriarchal-driven culture. And how do I teach my girls who are 11 and 8 to not go there?

  28. Jennifer-Ruth

    I’ve been to the Middle East, traveling alone. No one bothered me in Lebanon or Syria. The people in Syria especially where extremely friendly and generous, and the men did not leer or do any “weener-wagging”. This was just my experience…

    However, in Egypt, you can’t do a single thing without a man commenting on your body or offering you something (even marriage…).

    My worst experience was in Jordan though. A man who gave me directions and walked me up to an ancient temple seemed very nice at first. He was even telling me some history of the place. Then he tried to get me to have sex with him – not by physical force but by begging. I was totally freaked out and just kept refusing. I was scared to run because he had hold of my hand. He let go of my hand to pull his dick out though, which gave me the chance to run. I swear I have never ran so fast.

    I ended up running into a security guard – he was disturbed by my story and after running off to find the first man (he had run away by then though) he went to great lengths to explain to me how all men in his county where not like that. I wandered around the temple for a while and eventually got a taxi back to my hostel.

    I felt it was my fault – one, for being a woman and traveling alone and two, for putting trust in a stranger (which I have to admit, I generally just *do* tend to trust people, and most of the time that leads to some pretty cool adventures) and not considering he could be dangerous. I was stupid, you may think. I thought so then, but at the time I was only just starting to read feminist texts. Now? I blame the patriarchy.

    I blame the patriarchy because a woman should be able to walk anywhere she wants and wear whatever she wants without being afraid that something bad will happen.

  29. Helen

    mike, the “revealing clothing”, as you call it, frequently has nothing to do with wanting to attract the male gaze. You need to get that through your head first and foremost.

    And that’s what you need to keep in mind when you deal with your daughters.

  30. CoolAunt

    And, Mike, once you get what Helen posted through your head, start pounding it into the heads of the males around you. That’s the best thing that you can to protect your daughters from street harassment by men. Teaching them that their behavior or clothing is the cause of or can change men’s behavior is the same ol’ same ol’ that’s been taught to girls and women for thousands of years and so far, no matter how we twist and contort our behaviors, we’ve not made much of an impact on men’s behaviors.

    If you don’t understand that, you should probably read Feminism 101 before plunging head-first into this land of patriarchy blaming.

  31. Ginger

    Yeah, uh, Mike? If men harass women because they wear revealing clothing, how do you explain the sexual harrassment of women wearing burquas?

  32. Lara

    The problem with men in many other countries, especially ones like Egypt, is that they think ANY attention (even if it’s very negative) is a “come-on.” So let’s say a guy wags his penis at you or says something awful to you and you give him a really nasty, dirty look. He’ll STILL like the attention. Just goes to show you how street harassment has to do with male power and showing that they “own the streets.”
    That “Allah yshufik!” is a good response, Denise. I always thought that perhaps the best thing to say to them is “ya ghrabetik” (which is an extremely mean and direct version of “fuck you” in Arabic, cuss words are much stronger and harsher in Arabic than in English). But then again, I am worried those harassers might lash out in response.
    Just keep practicing your accent, Denise. Haha ;)

  33. katarina

    Mike, you make me think of my mother, who said “Well, it’s those clothes you wear” when I was fifteen and a man tried to pick me up in the street.
    Your daughters need/deserve something better than your present attitude. Please stop writing nasty things here and go and read about feminism so that you can do better for your daughters than blaming women’s clothes for men’s behaviour.

  34. Amananta

    I’ve been sexually harassed while siting eating in a restaurant while wearing an ankle length dress and visibly, hugely, pregnant.
    I’ve been sexually harassed while wearing a high necked shirt and a loose, flowing, mid-calf length smock in the middle of the day.
    The only common factor I can think of in any of the many, many incidents I’ve been harassed was that I was outside my home without a man. Simply being identifiably female and not accompanied by a daddy-husband-owner is enough to mark one as an acceptable target of abuse. (Being inside the home with the daddy-husband-owner doesn’t protect women either, of course.)
    There is nothing a female can do to avoid being sexually harassed on the street unless it is to refuse to go outside without clinging to the arm of an appropriately aggressive seeming male. This is an unacceptable limitation to almost all women, and frankly impossible for most.
    There are two ways to look at that conclusion. One is to say “Oh you are playing the victim card!” That is a lie. Stating the bald truth – that I cannot make men stop harassing me unless I live as a complete agoraphobic – is not me “playing the victim.” It’s telling it like it is. The other way to look at it is – “Since I know I cannot control their behavior by my choice of clothing, I will not blame myself when they are being scumbags.” (I blame the patriarchy, of course – and those men who are choosing to strengthen it by verbally assaulting me.) Unless you reinforce this second statement to your daughters, you aren’t doing them any favors.

  35. Virago

    wisewebwoman:

    I had some asshole say the same thing to me when I was eighteen years-old asking me to sit on his face. My response, “Only to fart!”
    I like your daughter’s response better though. Anyway, why do these stupid assholes leave themselves wide open for these kind of responses is beyond me. This must be the number one most popular comment for men who like to sexually harass women. WTF? Do they have a how-to book on sexual harassing or something? Gah!

  36. Citizen Jane

    I see men’s undergarments all the time. I can’t go out into town without seeing a good three inches of their underwear peeking over their trousers. Oddly enough, I have never harassed any of these men.

    Sometimes I even see their genitalia when they’ve got on loose shorts and sit with their legs wide open. It tends to instill a few giggles and maybe an uncomfortable look, but I’ve never seen it turn into harassment. I’m just trying to imagine what would happen to a woman who wore loose shorts and sat with her legs open so that her genitalia were exposed in a public place.

  37. mikeb302000

    Dear Twisty, I trust you’ll tell me when I’m 86ed. I don’t think I’ve been writing “nasty things” here, nor do I think I’ve got the wrong attitude, as katerina said. I grant that I’m still learning and I welcome the reminders given by the other commenters, Helen, Cool Aunt and Ginger, about the fact that the way women dress has nothing to do with men’s wrong attitudes towards them.

  38. speedbudget

    Until men take responsibility for their actions and quit holding everyone and everything else accountable, our rape culture will not change, Mikeb. You would do well to be the example for your friends, and by doing so, you will be the male example for your daughters who will then compare any men they meet to you.

    If a woman is wearing something attractive, don’t leer. If a woman is being harassed on the street, say something to the harassers. It’s easy to do, and it might even be catching.

    I don’t think you’re saying nasty things, I think you’re just saying things that are steeped in male privilege unknowingly. Because you’re a man, and you’re a benefitee of the patriarchy, whether you know it or not. But patriarchy hurts men, too, Mikeb. Keep that in mind.

  39. Twisty

    Well, mikeb, I sense that you have not fully grasped that I don’t write this blog to teach men about feminism. Commenting at I Blame the Patriarchy is reserved for fully-formed radical feminists. Neither I nor the blamers are interested in the male perspective, or in giving men “reminders.” Using the comments section as a learning lab derails the discourse.

    Since you asked.

  40. brainiac9

    I hate to say it, but sometimes I’m still shocked by how totally out of the blue a lot of this street harassment is. Every time it happens, my first thought is “What the fuck? I’m wearing a (shapeless dress/Batman t-shirt/no make-up/whatever), not a sign that says ‘I demand attention!’”. My second thought is less a thought than red-hot rage. My third thought is “Goddamn. I should have taken a picture of that asshole.”

    I really need to speed up my thought process in these situations.

  41. Interrobang

    I don’t even live in the Middle East and I just had a teenaged boy get in my face on the bus and demand I give him my seat (even though there was an empty one next to me) because “I want to sit there.” Boy, did he look shocked when I said, “No” in an absolutely authoritative voice. I think he just expected that since I was a woman, I’d just hop to doing whatever the hell he wanted.

    I really wanted to grab him by the collar and scream, “Who the fuck do you think you are? You can’t order people around like that!”, but since he was with four or five of his little asshole buddies, I didn’t. I can’t run away from a fight, being disabled and all, and I don’t relish the idea of being pounded into powder. The optimistic part of me wants to believe he learned something about attempting to order strangers around.

    He was definitely one of those “Make way, ladies, Cock-Bearer coming through!” types.

    Holy freakin’ hell, I’m still pissed about this, and it’s been days.

  42. Lara

    Interrobang, interestingly enough, if that incident on the bus had happened to you in Egypt (which it probably wouldn’t as elders are relatively more respected there than they are here) you could have smacked that boy so hard he would have flown to the moon and back and nobody else on that bus would mind. Hell, they might even just nod at you in approval, haha.

  43. Bushfire

    “Well, mikeb, I sense that you have not fully grasped that I don’t write this blog to teach men about feminism. Commenting at I Blame the Patriarchy is reserved for fully-formed radical feminists. Neither I nor the blamers are interested in the male perspective, or in giving men “reminders.” Using the comments section as a learning lab derails the discourse.”

    Yikes… I am not fully formed, and I do use the comment section as a learning lab. Sorry if I annoy anybody.

  44. Red

    Brainiac9,

    I have the same thoughts! I train myself w/standard responses to male comments, but when it happens, I am so flabbergasted I can’t respond appropriately. Most of the time I can’t think of anything to say to the speeding cars but ‘Fuck you!’ instead of the ‘Women are not public property’ I would love to say in my dreams.

    I got street harassed even more than usual when I was walking around with a broken foot; I always had a walking cast on, often was on crutches. I thought maybe it was the skirts I was wearing, but they were big bulky skirts, called ‘tents’ by one guy at my work who complained that I didn’t titillate him enough with my clothes.

    It led me to the fact that men inevitably prey on the most weak and vulnerable they can find.

  45. Jezebella

    I had a Southern moment this afternoon in the grocery store when a random dude looked at me and said, “You sure are pretty.” And I sort of stuttered and said, “thank you” and then finished my shopping stat and ran out of the store because I didn’t want to see him again or make eye contact. I mean, I’m effing *Southern* and when someone offers a compliment, you’ve got to say “thank you.” It took me *forever* to learn to do that instead of saying something self-deprecating. There’s no WAY this guy – or anyone around me – could’ve interpreted that as harassment, but to me, it felt yucky and invasive and it totally harshed my mellow.

    I mean, do I want to be an asshole to a guy in the store who thinks he’s being friendly? No, not really. Did it make me uncomfortable and nervous? Yes. Did it make me *more* uncomfortable and nervous because he was a lot older than me and more than a little raggedy-assed? Probably. Does this make me a classist ageist asshole? Yes, kinda.

    So goes the calculus of deciding whether to “make a fuss” or just get on with one’s life. I don’t have any answers. Just more questions.

  46. Lara

    Jezebella, I don’t think it’s ageist of you to not like a much older man making that invasive type of “compliment.” He should know that it is completely inappropriate for an older man to speak that way to a younger woman. You’re not disliking him because he’s old, you’re disliking his actions because in the context of a patriarchy there are lots of privileges given to men, even older men, to make lascivious and inappropriate comments to you as a younger woman. It’s pedophilic of him to say that to you, really.
    There is a much older man who comes into the art gallery I work at every now and then. He would originally come in to chat with my female manager, who is around her mid 40s. He is probably in his mid to late 60s. Well, one day I was working alone and this same older guy comes in and starts talking to me. THEN he says something about how I am “prettier than” my manager and how he would like to have a coffee with me sometime. ::shudders:: The fucker is MARRIED and was probably in his mid 30s when I was a zygote, FFS. Older men, particularly older white men, like harassing and hitting on younger women all the time. There is nothing ageist about telling the guy that what he is doing is wrong. Now when this older man comes into the gallery I deliberately ignore him, even if he tries to say “hi” or make eye contact. I just don’t put up with that shit anymore.

  47. Lara

    Correction: the older art gallery pervert is 73!

  48. sealander

    I was walking down the street one day when a car slowed next to me. “Here we go again” I thought – usually they yell something unintelligible….sometimes they throw eggs. What a waste of food :)
    Anyway, this guy leans out, yells “Jesus loves you!” and drives away. Hmm.

  49. apostatepakistanigirl

    And get this, I read this first on Muslima Media Watch. This is the strategy of Islamic Feminism.
    1) Highlight abuse(as they did with this report)
    2) Recommend Islamist conservative mores like the veil to protect women from the abuse
    3) Which represses men and leads to…..
    4) More abuse
    5) So there are even more calls for veiling as a necessary “feminist” protection.
    6) Western feminists then point out it’s ‘what Muslim women want’.
    7) Check mate- or so they think.

    I know that the more socieites veil- the worse the abuse gets, hence abuse in places like Saudi Arabia and Yemen where 97% of women veil- are endemic.
    We got our own stragetgy, we’re fighting back
    Yours,
    apg, (apostatepakistanigirl)

  50. EventualFutureMother

    I live with my fiancee in the Dallas area, and it’s always bad around here. My fiance is blind and, while shorter than me (I’m 5’8″ and he’s 5’4″) is trained in martial arts and it shows. We both get harrassed, him for impaired and me for being female. He’s always afraid someone will attack me, and I’ve already seen people verbally attack him. The Patriarchy, which has some definitely Greek ideals about the male body, has rejected him as a member because he can’t/won’t join in, for which I’m glad. I just wish the P would stop picking on both of us for being “weak” and “available” for abuse.

    Maybe one day when sane people rule the world…

  51. Megan

    [Note: I realize these posts are pretty old, but I'm new to this blog, and feel compelled to respond to some of them.]

    A few years ago, after traveling in Europe and the UK, I came back to the States, read “Backlash,” went to my grandfather’s funeral, departed for a visit to my best friend in California, and then made my way up to Alaska in search of summer employment. I decided, upon reaching California (and completing Backlash), that I would not wear any makeup that summer, and if I didn’t want to wear a bra, and felt like wearing men’s tanktops and cargo shorts, well, I would. So I did. I was called a dyke, I was honked at, I was yelled at. Once I got to Alaska, I started hanging out with a guy I’d seen on the ferry. He ended up seeing another girl, and once hinted that I should get a makeover. The night I left Alaska, a drunk guy in the ferry office harassed me. I looked from him to the guy working at the ticket window in shock; the guy working at the window, instead of being sympathetic, smirked and said, “You know you like the attention.” By the time I got back to the lower 48, I was bitter, angry, and depressed. It’s really hard to be a complete person in this culture, being a woman, and I don’t want to be angry in order to be strong, but I have to.

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