Friday, August 29, 2014

Just put down the harassment whistle. There ya go. You can do it. It's okay.

Note: I do not approve of "adult" language on my blogs. There is a violation of this rule in this post. I do not have permission from the author of the comic to edit the image in which the language is present, so thus it must stay. I apologize for this in advance.

So, I was scrolling through my news feed on Facebook the other day when I came across this comic strip-esque conversation about harassment toward women. It's from this website and has been shared over 10,000 times on Facebook alone. I've seen other things from this author that I've enjoyed, so I was looking forward to this one, too. As expected, I liked what I was reading:

"Yes!" I thought. This is going to be good. The comic addressed things like groping, workplace harassment, and rape. It's true that many men are oblivious to harassment in the workplace, on the streets, and in the homes of women they know and care about.

But then the author started to give other examples of harassment, starting with this one:

I looked up harassment in the dictionary. It's defined as "aggressive pressure or intimidation. Persecution, force, or coercion."

Ladies, expecting to get an abortion when asked for is not the same thing as expecting antibiotics, even though that's what many would like you to think. You're not fighting the common cold. You're choosing to stop a human heartbeat. It's a medical procedure. It's not just as simple as popping a few pills and waiting to get better. If that's what you think, it would do you well to get some research under your belt.

Cancer patients have to wait much longer than a day to begin treatment for their illness and you're trying to make it seem like "harassment" and "a product of power and control" to have to wait 24 hours? You're not even sick. There's nothing medically wrong with you. In fact, you're body is doing exactly what it's supposed to do when a sperm fertilizes an egg and unless you were raped, your actions caused this result regardless of how many methods of birth control you were using.

Please be aware: Some women (and men) feel intimidated when they speak to medical professionals, but just because you feel that way doesn't mean you're being harassed. It's not an aggressive move to explain medical policy and procedure. In addition, some of you may want an abortion because you're afraid of what your boyfriend/husband would do if he found out you were pregnant. If you are in fear of harm coming to you, tell your doctor and he/she can let you know where to go and what to do to keep yourself safe.

First thing's first: No one should belittle someone for the way he/she is dressing. Second: Regardless of how she dresses, no woman is ever asking or handing out invitations for harassment or rape. Period. However, she cannot say that she's not the easiest target for both when all the other women around her are in jeans and a T-shirt. 

Prostitutes, strippers, and many animated females in current video games (all primarily directed at men) have taught males that women who dress like them are supposed to be treated a certain way, whether or not they actually like it. Is it harassment? Um, YEAH. But if you don't want people to think that you allow such things, it would be wise to stop dressing like those who do; that attitude toward "easy women" is just going to get worse as more and more women are allowing it these days. If you decide to leave your current dress style unchanged, constant harassment is something that, very unfortunately, you will need to train yourself to handle. I don't like saying that, but it is the truth of the situation.

As I address the two comments on the left side of this picture, it's important to understand something: In my sex and gender class in college, we learned that somebody decided to find out why guys just whistle and yell cat calls at girls while walking or driving past them. So they did a research study and asked a bunch of guys what they were thinking. You know what? The researchers found out that a majority of guys actually thought they were being nice to the girls; they had been told their entire lives that girls like to be complemented because many don't feel pretty. They thought they were being helpful when they randomly whistled and yelled things like "Hey, hot stuff!", "Lookin' good", and "I like the way you walk." 

They had no idea that their actions actually scared the girls. 

In addressing the comments on the right side of the picture, guys who do that late at night or when drunk can be very dangerous and you do need to be on your guard.

But for the most part, be careful when you call something harassment just because it comes from a random guy. Chances are you don't know the whole story. 

Ladies, if a guy walked up to a girl and told her that she should take her shirt off, then yes, that is harassment. But "smile"? Really? The guys who say things like "smile!" are usually men in their 60s or older. They grew up in a time when it was okay to say nice things to everyone and nobody would accuse them of misconduct. Maybe you had a really bad day and you don't want to smile, so it was annoying for somebody to say that you should, but calling it harassment is going way too far. I mean, is he aggressively pressuring or coercing you? Probably not. Let's be real here. Just accept the nice gesture (that older people know that humans just look naturally better when they smile, including you) and move on with your life.

If you feel aggressively pressured or intimidated when the only thing some random person says is "smile," then either professional counseling or a chill pill would be in order.

And then:

You know what? I don't like it when men use language like that. But it's okay because, as a woman, I can tell him what to do all I want because if he fights back, I can cite him for harassment and discrimination.

He has the same right as I do to speak up about something he dislikes, so who's really the one getting harassed in scenarios like these?

Then they start bringing relationships into it:

Hate to break it to you, but I've heard many-a-wife/girlfriend say that she's got her husband/boyfriend whipped. While it may have started as guys harassing other guys, many women do it to show that they have their men on a tight leash. Women are becoming just as much the culprits as men, and both genders need to stop it.

Is it annoying and in some cases, harassment to have someone constantly bug you? Of course it's annoying and, at times, it can turn into harassment. But studies have shown that (1) across the board and (2) regardless of culture, most women participate in relational aggression while most men participate in physical aggression. This means that apologizing to the man instead of the girl has nothing to do with who has control over the woman; He's apologizing to the man because he doesn't want to go home with a bloody nose and a black eye. Okay, fine, the man is protective of his girlfriend or wife. But have you ever seen a woman who saw her husband or boyfriend being hit on by another girl (or even thought he was being hit on)? It's not a pretty sight...

...and not getting apologized to has nothing to do with harassment or control. It's falls under the category of what we used to call "rude."

If you've never seen a man lie and say "I have a girlfriend" to a woman he wasn't interested in, then I would appreciate it if you would come out of your bubble and go be social because it happens all the time. I've even pretended to be somebody's girlfriend to stave off a woman that was interested in him and considered it a challenge when he said he was taken. Harassment is not synonymous with annoying. Someone being insistent like that is completely annoying, but it's not harassment. Insistent is not synonymous with aggressive. However, if you are followed home, that's a different story.

Apparently, these people have never been in a conversation with a group of girls who saw a handsome guy walking down the street, because all they do is say things like "Check that out", "I want to go out with that", and "Oooooh, Eye Candy!" So, not only are women referring to men as objects, but they are also referring to them as junk food that can just be devoured at will. These women must be people whose operating model of men are as things that are controlled or can be controlled by women, right?

Right. (Insert eye roll here.)

The end part let men know that they can help end harassment. I totally agree with that! They mentioned how men can stand up for a girl who's being harassed by someone. They also talked about the fact that even when there are no girls around, they can still stand up for respectful treatment of women. They also threw this into the mix. 

I agree with this wholeheartedly; too many women are legitimately being harassed because no one will believe them. But here's the thing: If your stories of harassment include things similar to the ones mentioned in this post, don't be surprised when people don't believe you if you are ever harassed for real.

Maybe your feelings were hurt. That's not harassment.

Maybe you were really bothered or annoyed by something someone did. That's not harassment, either.

Maybe you were irked because the physician said that you had to wait for a medical procedure. That's still not harassment.

Maybe you were offended. Again, not harassment.

As a woman, I'm all for standing up for my fellow women in harassment situations. But if a random guy said "smile" on the train, I'm not going to call the guy a pervert just because you were bothered by it.

If you have to wait 24 hours for an abortion, I'm not going to join in on your rant of how you're offended because you feel you can't control what happens to your body...even though (with the exception of rape) you were the one whose actions--that you can control--caused the pregnancy in the first place.

Now, if somebody is hitting on you to the point of annoyance or is cat-calling you from their cars on the street, I will definitely sympathize with how uncomfortable that situation is. I'm not going to say it's okay, because it's not, but please don't go so far as to call it harassment. Stop seeing the world as a place that's just out to get you.

Also, think about the following:

Have you been diagnosed with depression, anxiety or panic? Do you have constant symptoms of one of these and haven't been diagnosed? These (and many other) mental illnesses can cause you to have a skewed perception of the world around you. They can make it very hard for you to be able to let go and move on from something that most people would just shrug off their shoulders.

Do you have a history of legitimate trauma, bullying/harassment, or abuse? This can also cause you have an inaccurate perspective regarding anything that even slightly reminds you of your past experiences.

Do you seem to be the only person (male or female) who has a problem with whatever happened? You might have to consider if you're really just being too sensitive.

As I said, I definitely agree with the author in this comic when it was said that men can be huge advocates for respecting and defending women. But ladies, you can also be advocates for yourself and other females by simply calling a spade a spade and not making a mountain out of a mole hill. The world is not a terrible place where men rule and women are just waiting for the next chance to be harassed. Stop looking for the bad in people and start realizing that most people are good. It's okay to be positive. It's okay for a medical professional to inform you of official policies regarding a procedure. It's okay for a random person of the opposite gender to complement you and for you to take it with grace.

...and yes, I just implied that you should smile.

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