By now, I am sure you have seen this video of a prissy white woman walking the “streets” of New York for 10 hours and being subjected to “harassment”. Those words are in quotations because it turns out that the majority of the people saying hello and other inanities took place on one street in Harlem. Princess has rightly been called out for racism and hysteria, forcing Hollaback to issue an apology. “Gee we had no idea targeting men of color would make us look racist”. Oh whatever. Nice backpedal there, assholes.
I’ve written about street harassment before, specifically from the racism angle but today I want to talk about something bigger than just the racial element, although that’s still a big part of it. What the Hollaback video, and indeed the entire organization and all that is represents does is contribute to a climate of fear. And not just run of mill, my Spidey senses went on alert fear, but full on hysterical, run away screaming fear.
Fear of what?
Of men. And of black men in particular.
Same shit, different feminists, right?
Interestingly enough, I had a feminist email me asking me to address the issue of street harassment based on her personal experiences. Originally, Lexi wrote to me that it was fine to use her full name, but I sent her back an email asking her to think that through carefully. Clearly, Lexi has never been the target of a social media harassment campaign by feminists, and had no idea how graphic, violent and vitriolic that kind of attack can be. I strongly suggested that she choose to limit her identity, and she agreed, asking to be called “Lexi M”. This is important, because even though Lexi has no personal experience with online harassment, she knew that it exists and it’s real.
So let’s talk street harassment. Does it happen? I don’t mean men saying hello or “hey baby, lookin’ good” – I mean full on terrifying street harassment that makes you concerned for your safety?
In my personal experience, it is exceptionally rare. I am fairly well travelled, and I have spent extensive periods of time (months at a time) in Greece, Germany, the UK, China and Australia. I have briefly visited Thailand, Japan and Mexico. In Greece, men made an odd hissing noise, the sound my mother used to make when the kitten would climb up the curtain, and it took me a while before I stopped reacting, but all I ever received from the men I looked at was a smile. Maybe a wave.
I was never even approached for conversation by an unfamiliar man in Germany, Japan or Australia, much less harassed. Mexican men often smiled or whistled, but in no way did I ever feel threatened. Thai people are affable and friendly to everyone, both men and women alike. Again, nothing even approaching harassment.
In China, if someone came up to me and started discussing my hair, clothing or any aspect of my appearance, it was invariably a woman. The first few times, I was rather taken aback until I grasped that the comments were always in the spirit of friendly advice. It is not at all unusual to have a Chinese woman say “you are only a little bit fat” and then have them launch into hair, makeup and diet advice. “You are only a little bit fat” is a Chinese woman’s way of saying “with a little more effort, you could be perfect!”. It is 100% a compliment, and I took it as such. It was never meant as an insult and it was certainly not harassment. I don’t think I took a single bus ride without having someone talk to me, proud to show off their English skills. It could get tiresome, but as a guest in another country, I prided myself on never being rude. I certainly never felt harassed.
The UK was probably the closest I ever came to experience anything that could be even remotely considered harassment. I spent a semester in Manchester. In 1996 the IRA detonated a bomb in the city center, essentially destroying an entire city block. When I went, the city was busy rebuilding into a modern metropolis with shiny glass buildings and all the same stores you find in any large metro center around the world.
Since I wanted to experience more of the “real” Manchester, I chose to live in a working class suburb called Levenshulme which was about an hour’s brisk walk from the Manchester Business School. The walk put me into daily contact with the regular people of Manchester and Fridays after work when the guys hit the pub, I would get chatted up.
I got comments on my appearance and lots of men said “hello”. And that’s it. No one threatened me. No one pushed my boundaries. No one made me feel uncomfortable. No one acted like an asshole. For the prissy bitch in the video, this would undoubtedly have constituted harassment. For me it was a little Guinness inspired boldness that was a bit silly and bit funny and more than a bit flattering.
No matter what city I was in, no matter what country, what I never, ever felt was fear. This likely has a lot to do with the fact that I grew up with three brothers and all their friends. Coming home to find a bunch of teenage boys I had never met before sitting in front of the TV or running around the backyard was perfectly normal. Men and boys feel a lot like home to me. They don’t scare me. I am very familiar with the way boys and men are and how they talk and wrassle and take the piss out of each other, just as any man who grows up with three sisters will be very familiar with the ways of women.
I don’t fear men automatically and efforts to teach me to be afraid inevitably collide with my lived experience of men as just people with shorter hair and bigger arms than me. They are what they are. No big deal. I have no personal lived experience with men of color as I grew up in very white towns in Northern Canada but they are men first and no more threatening to me than any other man.
Here’s how I see it: if I see a rough looking woman on the street ahead of me I have no illusions about what kind of violence she might be capable of and I will cross the street over to where the men are. I need some clue other than gender to trigger a fear response. I would rather get on an elevator with a group of men in construction vests than a group of women who look like they slept in a dumpster. I am not generally a fearful person and it takes a strong signal to get me to react with fear.
I have also been hunting since I was a very young child. I shot my first duck when I was around 4 yrs of age and I have been chopping the heads off chickens since I was 8. The idea of helpless women is not one that I have ever been taught to embrace. I enjoy throwing knives and target shooting with a bow and arrow. I walk through my life entirely confident in my ability to defend myself. I suspect that demeanor is detectable, too, and I simply do not attract predators. Predators generally prefer the weak and fearful.
Let’s go back to Lexi M. She described episodes of street harassment that were breathtaking in their violence and cruelty. I have never experienced or witnessed or even heard anyone in my life describe anything even remotely similar. She recounts a time when a man threatened her as a young girl saying he would “rape her so hard her mother would bleed.”
Who the fuck says that to a preteen girl? Yes, that would have triggered a fear response in me, followed quickly by a strong desire to nock an arrow and take the fucker out. That’s straight up psychotic and unequivocally harassment. Based on my entire exchange with Lexi, she is not lying. Nothing about her came across as attention seeking or deceptive. She finds a lot in my posts to agree with and lots to disagree with, so I would ask you to give her the benefit of the doubt with me.
How often does that kind of horrifying harassment happen? Genuine question to my readers. I know that Hollaback would like women to think it happens all the time, or that saying “hello” or “looking good” exists on a continuum of abuse that ends with rape threats, but I don’t believe it. Sure I am familiar with men, I am not generally fearful or hysterical and I am capable of defending myself, but I find it impossible to believe I have walked thousands of miles through cities around the world and just by a stroke of pure luck never encountered this kind of harassment.
Bullshit. The person who said that to Lexi was a monster, and while monsters do indeed exist, they are rare. The whole point of feminist harassment campaigns is to create fear. To make women think men are monsters. Feminists turn the truism that all men have the potential to be monsters into an imagined reality that men are likely to be monsters, ignoring the fact that women can be monsters too and that a tiny risk factor is being amplified beyond all proportion.
Why is it being amplified?
Follow the money.
How many jobs depend on the widespread existence of rape, harassment, abuse and evil, evil men? How many feminist journalists and domestic violence shelter workers and feminist campaign managers and campus sexual assault managers would be out of a job if the truth that crime is declining and has been for decades was the loudest truth in the media?
Feminists accuse their critics of hyperbole when they are compared to Nazis but I am more and more convinced the analogy is apt. The whole street harassment conversation is designed to foment fear and hatred of men, and men of color in particular. We’ve seen it before. Is it so far-fetched to think we won’t see it again, if we give these women they power they crave? Thank god the Republicans wiped the floor with the “war on women” bullshit Democratic candidates, but it is a mistake to think this battle is over.
Let’s be clear: street harassment does exist. Lexi’s stories are evidence I will accept, without reservation. She’s not lying. I also think they are quite rare and treating men who are performing the social requirement of making the first move, which a whopping 93% of women in one survey expected and wanted as on par with genuine harassment is just a way to pathologize behaviors that women demand men perform.
Check out how street harassment plays out when women think the man is rich and handsome.
What the fuck?
Does anyone else see the problem here? When feminists control the cultural narrative around things like domestic violence or rape or street harassment the same result invariably comes about: men are damned if they do and damned if they don’t.
It’s a no-win situation. Men are wrong no matter what they do. Women are always helpless victims who are right to live in fear. Both men and women are crippled while the professional feminists collect their paychecks and plan for …..
…. plan for what? Where does this end?
I, for one, have no intention of seeing where it ends. It ends here. It ends now or as close to now as I can get. I will fight for men to get out from under an intolerable banner that proclaims them all violent, woman-hating animals and I will fight for women to gain the confidence and courage to see themselves as adults capable of navigating the world without cringing in fear.
Yes, there are monsters in the world.
Our best defense is one another.
Holla that back.
Lots of love,