Tag Archives: Rape culture

You Can Find Me in Da Club—but Don’t Touch Me!

31 Jul

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A few years ago I was with a group of friends at a party, wearing one of my staple going-out pieces: a short, tight, high-waist pencil skirt. Now, I kinda have a big booty (I’ve discussed my prior insecurities about it in a previous post). That night, my favorite skirt and my rear-end got a lot of unwanted attention.

While I was minding my own business and dancing with my friends, some drunken fool walks over, grabs my ass, and then stumbles away.

I was embarrassed—but not nearly as embarrassed as I was after it happened again only a few moments later. I went over to one of the guys I’d come to the party with and told him what had happened. “Well, your ass is nice,” he responded. Then, when I turned my head, he grabbed my booty and walked away laughing.

After that, I stood up against the wall trying to protect my ass from any more attention. In hindsight, I know I shouldn’t have felt the need to do that. Here’s my question: When did my body become public property?

Just because my ass is big doesn’t mean you have license to grab it.

Several people may be quick to blame the guys’ actions on my choice of clothing. However, I shouldn’t have to cover up my curves just because some guy wasn’t taught how to act in public. It’s a free country (kind of). I am allowed to adorn my body (mine—not anyone else’s) however I please. People should know better than to touch others inappropriately—it’s called sexual harassment. My skirt didn’t make them grab me—skirts don’t have magical powers like that; they grabbed me because they wanted to. Don’t blame the victim, blame the offender.

The problem is that our society often embraces Male Sexual Entitlement*, the idea that men are owed sexual attention and that women are expected to “give it up” to them. This entitlement shows up in social interactions at bars, parties, and clubs.

Some of men think that just because a woman is dressed up and at a party, she must be seeking attention. Some women are, some aren’t. I won’t deny it: I like attention. And by attention I mean conversation and polite complements—not touching, hugs, high fives or any of that bullshit. Sometimes this entitlement isn’t as serious as groping, but strangers shouldn’t feel like they have permission to put their hands on a woman they don’t know. If she didn’t grant permission, it’s inappropriate. If you see me at the club—look, wave, say hello, judge me if you must, but don’t touch!

In addition, I, like every other woman and man in the club, reserve the right to be selective. In other words: just because a woman dresses up doesn’t mean she has to acknowledge every guy that approaches her. She can pick and choose based on looks, personality, or whatever she wishes. That’s her decision.

But some idiots are too aggressive, too touchy-feely, and too angry when they get rejected. Am I a bitch because I told you “no”? (Even though I said it politely?) Okay—then you’re an asshole for assuming that you are entitled to my attention. (Perfect example of Male Sexual Entitlement).

So here’s my advice for combating this kind of entitlement at a bar, club, party, or wherever. aka:

How to Get Rid of Assholes at the Club

no-assholes

  • A firm, smileless “No” solves most problems. A decent guy would back away after hearing the word “No” in a serious manner.
  • If he doesn’t back away, you may have to get a little more verbal and embarrass his ass.  Yell as loudly as you can “Excuse me! I do not want to dance with you. Don’t touch me!” That not only humiliates the hell out of him, but also makes him look like a huge creep. And, other people may come to your defense or at least give him dirty looks.
  • Another option is to do like the Plastics on Mean Girls. If he’s being inappropriate (and you’re bold enough) you can yell “Excuse me, I DON’T WANT TO SLEEP WITH YOU!” I’ve never tried that one—but good luck.
  • You may have to get physical (just a little bit) if none of the previous recommendations  work out. Some young women, I’ve noticed, if they are in a situation where there are creepy guys around, they move. Yet, I hate having to change my location or actions just because some idiot doesn’t have manners. So I will sometimes push (lightly yet firmly) a guy away from me. I mean “push” as in soft shove that signifies for him to back the hell up—NOT “push” as in I’m starting an all-out brawl in the bar.

*If you’re interested in reading more on Male Sexual Entitlement, you can read the article that inspired this post.

Related posts: Wanting to be a Big Booty Hoe

Welcome to Slut Shamer Rehab

25 Jul

ShaeSlut

Confessions of a Reformed Slut-Shamer

We’ve all done it: Shook our heads at the girl who decided to dress in a way that was too provocative for our own good taste, while in the back of our minds thought, “Where are the rest of her clothes?” Then we’d mentally label her a slut or skank, and if we were mean enough, we would give her a stank face and utter a few words under our breath. We’d stand high and mighty in our not-so-skanky stilettos and turn our noses up at the “slut” who dared leave the house and enter our wholesome presence showing all her goodies.

Sometimes I am that “slut.” I’ve worn ultra mini-skirts with my high heels to show off my legs and curves.  I used to think that because I was smart, sophisticated, and in fact, not a slut—I could dress however the hell I wanted and if people judged me, the joke was on them.

I know better now. I know that criticizing a woman for dressing proactively, for having an overtly sexual presence, or for having an active sex life is called slut-shaming. Basically, slut-shaming teaches that a woman’s (but not a man’s) body and a woman’s sexual desires are immoral, and must be restricted. It’s a specific type of bullying that targets women. Men are rarely victims. We all know the double standards: men are applauded for sex while women are shamed. There are such things “man-whores,” as people call them, but within our society, they do not bare the same burden as women who are known to have sex. The fact that you have to put the word “man” in front of whore displays just how gendered the term is.

When girls commit suicide because of this type of criticism, the need to end slut-shaming becomes even more serious. A few months ago, 15-year-old Audrie Pott killed herself after finding out that explicit photos of her being sexually assaulted were circulated via texts and emails from her peers.  A year before that, 15-year-old Rehtaeh Parsons endured a similar fate of photos going around, and in addition, was tormented by her classmates. In response, she hung herself.

Unless we take slut-shaming and victim-blaming seriously, more young women will die.

In an article I recently read, which discusses these suicides, the writer argues that everyone, including you and me, is responsible for these deaths. When we perpetuate certain ideas that blame the victim and shame young women, we spread hate and violence.

I am guilty.

I have never shamed anyone after they’ve been raped; however, I have shamed women for having active sex lives and wearing revealing clothing. If you are like me, then you have a problem.

 Welcome to Slut-Shamer Rehab

Step 1: Be woman-enough (or man-enough) to own up to your mistakes.

Step 2: Know that it is only partially your fault. We grow up in a society that likes to blame the victim. Our mother and grandmothers have sometimes taught us that only “loose girls” dress provocatively. Generations and generations of women have been raised to believe that women who have sex lose their purity and become forever tarnished. But those outdated ideas don’t have to be your ideas.  Cut the crap! Repent and don’t do it again.

Step 3: Whenever you see someone you want to call a slut, skank, whore, (or any other variation), stop yourself! Take a moment and ask yourself: “If I think this way about this woman, what oppressive ideas am I progressing?”

Step 4: Educate Yourself. Google “slut-shaming” or visit this awesome blog I found recently called She Must Challenge, a blog to promote strong women and positive trends toward gender equality. Read up on the implications of slut-shaming. You might also want to learn more about rape culture while you’re at it.

Step 5: Know that we all are prone to relapse. Just last month I was in Vegas. At the Hard Rock Hotel, where I stayed, a lot of women walk around in their bathing suits. The slut-shamer in me thought, “What the hell? Put some damn clothes on, we’re in public!” Then I caught myself doing it and had to repeat Steps 1 and 2.

Step 6: Take a healthy dose of humility. Do you deserve to cast the first stone?

Try Hard: The fate of women’s empowerment and freedom lies in the ideas we spread.

Related Posts: I Wear Short Shorts BECAUSE I’m a Feminist

“Aye Sexy” is NOT How I Like to be Approached

7 May

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I’ve wanted to write a post on how to reject a guy who disrespectfully approaches women with ignorant comments like, “Damn sexy!,” “Aye shawty,” and “Where yo boyfriend at?” like the guy from the Mad TV sketch, “Can I Have Yo Number?” I wrote that post several months ago but never published it because I felt like it was missing something.

After recently watching the video “Take Back the Night – Catcalling” by students at USC, I realized the seriousness of all those rude comments catcallers say.

First of all, let’s call it what it is: street harassment. When guys on the street rudely approach or speak to women in demeaning ways that are unwanted, it’s harassment. However, many people are under the false impression that catcalling isn’t a big deal.

There’s a serious problem when people feel they can’t be who they are out of fear that they may be harassed. Many of the students in the USC video talked about how they felt the need to change their behavior. Some women said they changed their walking route so they would feel safer. Others talked about the need to change their clothing so guys don’t think they are “asking for it,” as many rape culture promoters like to say. One student in the video talked about how she went to great lengths to avoid her harassers, saying she was “active in creating [her] own invisibility and really adamant about being invisible to all men around [her].”

What kind of society do we create when people feel they have to somehow make themselves unseen in order to safely walk down the street?

Catcalling creates a power structure. Usually, it belittles a woman and reduces her to a sexual object in order for a man to feel he has a certain power. Street harassment is intimidating, it creates fear, and it’s embarrassing.

Yet, some people have this distorted idea that catcalling is a complement. One ignorant blogger, who must’ve somehow crowned himself an expert on how women think, said that women only pretend not to like catcalling. He wrote:

“…are you women so delicate that you can’t take a construction worker giving you a compliment…Grow up already! Though you’ll never admit it, even to yourself, you enjoy the attention.”

All I could think while reading his bullshit was, “Oh yes, please tell me more about how I crave my own commodification through rude comments from guys who were never taught manners!”

And yes, I’ll admit it: I do love attention. I do like complements. However, I prefer to be approached respectfully. Tell me I’m beautiful. Introduce yourself. Tell me you would like to take me to dinner. Offer me your number. Maybe I’ll give you mine. If I decline, don’t get mad—move right along.

If you can’t do that you’re not worth my time.

As blogger Anna Nettie Hanson of Girl Who Fought Back says, “Catcalls function as asshole identifiers.”

Now ladies, there are a few things we can do about street harassment. Some people say just ignore it—but really, we need to speak up. Ignoring the guy doesn’t teach him anything. He might speak the same way to the next woman he sees.

So here’s the best approach I can offer:

Step 1: Reject him. You don’t need a fool who talks to you like that (but of course you know that already).

Step 2: Call him out! Reeducate him. If you don’t do it nobody will, and he’ll just keep talking to women the old kind of same way. Break the Cycle!

Step 3: Confidently, with your head held high walk right on out of there. Show him that if he wants a woman of your sophistication, beauty, creativity, and intelligence, he’s gonna have to do better. Also, be proud that you were brave enough to speak up. Consider it your small form of  activism for the day.

I’m beyond tired of hearing “Aye Sexy,” “Where yo boyfriend at,” and all the variations. It’s time we put a stop to it.

To view the USC students’ video, click here.

IMPORTANT NOTE: I only suggest speaking up if you feel physically safe to do so. I know some guys do invade physical and personal space, in which case you know get out of there as fast as you can.

 

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