Having read the archives of HollaBackBOSTON, HollaBackNYC and HollaBackDC, that I found out about the other day and posted about… I gained more of an understanding of what their complaints are.
[Disclosure: Anyone who actually KNOWS me knows that there’s nothing I like more than an attractive chick, and I’ll be the FIRST one to check her out… regardless. :D]
The way I can empathize with what they’re saying is to consider bums that we have on the streets of NYC. For instance, you might have a bum standing outside of McDonalds, who has taken it upon himself to act as the doorman. As you go inside, he’ll hold the door for you and perhaps say something pleasant to you. On your way out, he’ll hold the door again, and then ask you for some change. That’s pretty annoying. First of all, it’s not like he has an actual JOB with McDonalds. Second, it’s not like you ASKED HIM to open the door for you either time. Third, you go to McDonalds all the time and open your own doors, so what in the world do you need HIM to open the doors for, and FOURTH, why would you choose to pay him for a service that you didn’t ask for. That’s a couple of levels more annoying than going to the bathroom in a restaurant or club and finding out that there’s some guy whose job it is to stand next to the sinks and hand you paper towels, and he expects you to tip him. 😕
The reason I see the bum @ McDonalds as a simliar situation is that he’s attempting to interrupt whatever you were doing, saying or thinking in order to try to get some money for you, totally to HIS benefit, and none to yours. This would be similar to the guy on the street that makes some complimentary statement to a woman so maybe he can ‘get on’ in the near future. The reason it’s NOT similar is that I’m a guy. I have all these fantastic, aggressive male options available to me, such as telling the bum to shut up or mind his business, saying I don’t have any change, or letting him know I take offense to him bothering me and if he keeps it up, I’m going to do something about it.
One difference is that many women are intimidated by male harassers and aren’t willing to attempt to get them to cease and desist. This makes sense, because most men like women that are smaller than they are, so they would be physically intimidating to the women. Another difference is that women can’t act like they don’t have what the guy wants. The fact that the guy has chosen to try to get some from her indicates that he’s already decided she has what he wants. The bum doesn’t know whether I have change on me or not. If I tell him I don’t have it, and he persists, there’s going to be a problem.
This is where I empathize with the HollaBack series the most, because a lot of the women who post there aren’t willing to do anything but talk to or about their harassers. Some guy says something or touches them or does something he knows damned well he shouldn’t be doing, and their only recourse is to talk about how ugly he is or how old he is or how out of shape he is or how badly he smells or how pathetic he is or how disrespectful to women….
The pattern is clear, though. In the vast majority of the cases, by the women’s own posts, the men didn’t give a damn AT ALL what the women thought or wanted, and they still don’t. This is something they understand, but they don’t seem to benefit from this knowledge. Knowing that the guys don’t care what they think or say doesn’t cause them to revise their complaints to a more efficient format that might bring about education and perhaps some degree of change. It’s the same reason why the porno industry is big business. The women look good, do what the guys want them to do, and have ZERO opinions about ANYTHING. It stands to reason that if you take someone whose only interest in women is how good they look and “what they’re good for”, and put him on the street and he does whatever he does, it’s not an effective retort to say stuff like:
“you’re old enough to be my father”
“you don’t even know me”
“your breath stinks”
“you’re disrespectful to women”
“would you treat your mother or sister like that?” (my personal favorite :D)
“have you no home training?”
[flipping the bird or cursing him out]
[some statement to him that she wasn’t “dressed sexy” at all]
“did I ask you to talk to me?”
“I didn’t give you any indication I was interested in you”
etc etc etc etc etc…….
I think HollaBack’s idea of the women taking pictures of the range of guys from pervs down to regular guys just trying to meet a woman he finds attractive is a good idea, although a dangerous one, for obvious reasons that I won’t bother to go into. Apparently they also give speeches and have other programs that they do. I think that’s great, because increasing education and awareness is key, IMO. They’re never going to outlaw guys trying to talk to girls… That’s just not going to happen. Society’s set up so that guys have to chase girls, period. That’s why guys court women and take them out to dinner and buy them drinks at the club, etc etc. It’s all an attempt to gain favor with her so he can eventually get whatever it is he wants from her… sex, a relationship, free food, a place to stay, money, whatever. Biologically, women are more of a commodity than men, simply by the incredible difference between how much sperm men have and continually create, and how few eggs women are born with and then they don’t get any more. It’s never going to be different, so the best bet is to increase awareness that women feel endangered when guys press up on them in the street.
So… With my new understanding of what the issues are for women being harassed in the street, I decided to take a walk tonight and pay attention to the interactions I had. I walked to a bar without incident. The male “doorman” checked my ID without incident. The female hostess greeted me without incident. I ordered my beer from the male bartender without incident. The few people that needed to get by where I was standing, some male and some female, excused themselves, I made way for them and they went by without extraneous comments. I left the bar without incident. I walked around the neighborhood some more, passing individuals, couples walking together and groups… no incident. I went into Barnes & Noble. I asked a woman there with a laptop if she was using a wireless connection. She wasn’t. I asked this guy behind the counter if B&N had wifi, he said yes, and got me a pamphlet on it. I thanked him and left. I ordered food from a female cashier and didn’t hear any extraneous remarks from her or from the waitress that was hanging out near the front of the place. I went to another store, then walked back home without incident.
Just about every one of those situations is mentioned in a story by some woman on those HollaBack sites, and I’m sure whatever other support groups that were created for this kind of thing. I can’t imagine how annoyed I’d be if every time I went to do something, someone tried to strike up a conversation with me or get something from me. For me, it would be like bums standing in front of every place that I want to go into and always asking me for change! 😀 Still, I can’t fully “get it”, because my aggressive nature makes me see situations like that as a challenge, not something intimidating. I don’t feel pressure… I just feel annoyed.
Anyway… Good luck to the HollaBack Girls. Some of the guys on those pages are legitimate creeps and need to be prosecuted. A lot of the guys are just “boys being boys”, and I can tell you, as one of the boys, a lot of them just don’t get it as far how the women feel physically intimidated by their street raps. A lot of guys aren’t going to care one way or the other, and they’re going to enjoy women as they see fit. I think that there are also a lot that would change their ways of being if they received some sort of education that what they consider flirtation and socialization is seen by many women as harassment and physical intimidation.