Saturday, 1 November 2014

It is all men

In case you've been living under a rock for the past week, here is a link to a video titled "10 Hours Walking in New York City as a Woman". It's gone viral, as the say. The video documents the numerous catcalls and other forms of sexual harassment endured by a woman, just walking around town.

Disappointingly, but not surprising, the video generated a lot of controversy. "Most of these guys are just being nice." "It's racist! the white guys were edited out" "It's all in fun" and  "Boys will be boys". This is not to mention the hateful and ignorant comments posted by men who actually took offense at being called out for their sexist behavior.

I want to make the point right now that the responsibility for this anti-social behavior rests with all men. Not just men of color or white men or rich men or poor men or young men or old men; and it doesn't rest with women. The responsibility to treat women with respect lies with all men.

If you call after women on the street; stop it, you're not flirting and it's not harmless. If, while driving through town, your friends wolf whistle out the window; call them on it. They're acting like bullies. Most telling of all, if you witness street harassment and you're afraid to intervene, think about why. The purpose of catcalling is to intimidate. If you're intimidated, put yourself in her shoes. Most important of all; if you have a son. Teach him to treat women with respect. This is your responsibility.

There is no need to over intellectualize this discussion. I've seen too many online debates about this. "Is it inherent in our capitalist society", "Is it rooted in a particular culture", "Do we have to solve some other social problem before we can solve this one". All these discussions just detract from the point. Men are behaving badly and they should stop.

Here's a limerick that boils the issue down to its essence.

Out in midtown or up in the hood
Every "Baby, you're sure looking good"
Each "Hey Sweetie" and "Ciao"
Means "I'd fuck you right now"
Is there something I've misunderstood?

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