Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Follow up post on feminism...

Last Friday I wrote a post about how I thought feminism was becoming mainstream. Julian Assange, George Galloway, Todd Akin and others all combined to convince me it really wasn't, or else it's job was far from over. 

As you probably will not have been able to miss (much as you'd probably like to), Akin and Galloway have seen fit to share with us their rather inventive interpretations of likelihood of pregnancy under "legitimate" rape  and how if you've consented to er... entering "the sex game" as Gorgeous George so temptingly puts it then you automatically have consented to everything else your partner has in mind.....

Both, of course have been elected and are in office. I rather removes my faith in the democratic process tho, hopefully, at least in the case of Akin, he may not receive his hoped for Senate seat - though he's still ahead in the polls. 

But, as the age old issue, apparently, of what rape actually is poured over again on twitter, and as the exemplary project Everyday Sexism continues it's laudable project of explaining just how much sexism is endemic, Louise Mensch calls for legislation.

You know, I've never ever thought of a policy response before. As, I suppose, the liberal in me revolts about freedom of speech. But how about the women's freedom of speech? And freedom of movement and assocation (or not) ? 

When it comes to the issue of street harrassment, the thing is we've all had it.  I'm alarmed at just how much there is out there, as all my female friends report similar....

When we say street harrassment we mean  people deciding the best way to compliment us is to shout obscene, vaguely or overtly threatening, or salacious "compliments" at us in the street. 

This can be in the form of awkward "You're dead gorgeous" comments or outright crudely  sexual "invitations". The thing is if you ignore either or say no thanks to the common follow-up of the offer of a date,  you regularly get more abuse.

When did we all, collectively, decide this was acceptable? Has it got worse since the rise of internet pornography or was it always thus? Personally, I think the latter, remembering even gettting all this unwelcome attention as a 17 year old.

Having talked it over with a few friends, it's clear we change our behaviour in the following ways: 

- avoid being alone with certain men
- warn each other about being alone with same
- try not to go out without a male companion
- avoid certain places - this includes pub gardens in the middle of the day btw!
- stop smiling in the street and other situations as it's seen as a come on... 

What the hell is going on?  Why on earth are women's freedoms being curtailed ? What can we do about this?  Clearly,  the parents of these mendidn't do a good enough job. And society itself with it's worship of the perfect female form is possibly enhancing these people's sense of entitlement.

For anyone who's concerned about possibly crossing a line: 

First of all, if you are concerned you're probably not crossing it - the sweetest guys can sometimes get all wrapped up in what they are saying and where they might be going wrong, and they are the ones most unlikely to be causing the issue.

However if it helps I can confidently say I have never dated anyone who's hit on me in the street. Anyone with an ounce of sense knows if you want to ask a girl out, it's best to talk to her in a normal way -  "Hi, How are you?" is OK, really. Sense if your approach is welcome and if it isn't, quit! Compliments are OK but can we try perhaps, not doing them in public, where they more than likely embarrass the recipient. Anyway - why so keen to compliment a woman in public? Something about THAT is creepy, and more about trying to embarrass or humilate a woman than please her.  

However street harrasers are probably not likely to be reading this blog, just needed to write down what I've been dying to for the last couple of days on twitter, as it takes more than 140 characters.

I don't want to rescind my previous post, as over the last few days I've noticed a lot of my male followers engage and disprove a lot of the bobbins that is being talked about on twitter, and to a certain extent I think that's increasing, and is very welcome. 

But also the fight is clearly not won. I'm glad to count more men amongst our allies, but we have to continue to fight. 

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