tim: Tim with short hair, smiling, wearing a black jacket over a white T-shirt (Default)
[personal profile] tim
"...compared to what women have to sacrifice to feel safe."

A friend linked to this post, from a woman talking about her experiences with constant, lifelong street harassment (and worse) from men. Reading it, I thought, "huh, this doesn't jibe with my experience having been perceived as female for 26 years." It's not that her experiences, or those of lots of women like her, are anything but real -- just, it's never been like this for me and I can't recall any of my female friends ever saying it was bad for them. Maybe I was just never attractive enough to appear on the radar of random male douchebags; sure, there was the time a guy at the beach told me he'd like to spend some time when me when I was 11 standing next to my mom, and the various guys who have driven by in cars while delivering shouted feedback about the amount of hair on my body, and the guy in a Pizza Hut parking lot in Baltimore who (when I was 16) asked me if I had a boyfriend, and when I said yes, asked if that meant I could still date someone else. But I have few enough of those stories that I can itemize them, and I've never feared for my physical safety whether while walking alone in Oakland at night or on a frat house roof deck (not that I've ever been on one anyway).

So I'm curious...
Open to: Access List, detailed results viewable to: Access List, participants: 22

A question for women and people who have been perceived as women at some point: How much do the commenter's experiences resonate with you?

If anything I've gotten *more* harassment and threats than the commenter has.
3 (13.6%)

Yeah, sounds about right.
3 (13.6%)

It's not quite that bad for me, but close.
4 (18.2%)

Sure, I've gotten a few whistles here and there, but nothing remotely like what she talks about.
7 (31.8%)

I have never gotten any such comments or feared for my safety. Maybe I'm wearing an invisible burqa.
0 (0.0%)

I was too lazy to read the comment, but I wanted to click the clicky thing.
1 (4.5%)

I am a cisgender man, and will therefore take this opportunity to practice my listening skills.
4 (18.2%)

(no subject)

Date: 2009-11-23 07:19 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] oh-annalouise.livejournal.com
It's not that it seems wildly unlike my experiences, it's that her interpretations and the context of her life are wildly unlike my experiences....to the extent that I'm almost offended by some of her assumptions.

(no subject)

Date: 2009-11-23 09:50 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] imfallingup
No kidding. It's hard to tell.

(no subject)

Date: 2009-11-24 08:16 pm (UTC)
elusiveat: (Default)
From: [personal profile] elusiveat
Thirded, almost. I think that some of her experiences are far more extreme than what I've experienced, and I give her some leeway if that has influenced her subsequent reinterpretation of previous encounters (which were more similar to what I've experienced).

(no subject)

Date: 2009-11-23 07:25 pm (UTC)
yam: Cartoon mad science version of me. (Default)
From: [personal profile] yam
I ticked off the "more harassment" option, after totting up the threats and actual assaults etc. I've had happen to me, but it felt weird to do. I certainly don't experience the fear that the commenter expresses. I feel safe walking alone almost anywhere.

(no subject)

Date: 2009-11-23 07:55 pm (UTC)
autumnus: A purple monochrome portrait of Zoe from Dreamfall, with drawn stars in background and "the Dreamer" written on bottom. (Default)
From: [personal profile] autumnus
experience with actual assault and guys attempting to follow me (or block my way) had several of these happening by the time between the ages of 10 - 15. Considering how overbearing my parents are and how rarely I was out on street alone or with friends in the first place this is a pretty impressive number.

It is definitely about culture.

Since then I have sort of learned to spot potential problems and learned to not wear miniskirts when I know I will be walking about so worst that happened is a lot of catcalls, and harassment when driving. (I don't drive so the latter is not an issue).

I don't feel unsafe at all. I just keep track of my exists and possible stores etc I can ask for help if need. If I deem a trip unsafe by walk, I take a cab or bus and arrange accordingly.

(no subject)

Date: 2009-11-23 10:20 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] oh-annalouise.livejournal.com
I think that what gets lost in these discussions is that feelings of safety are really complex and really personal and sometimes have a lot more to do with something internal than something external. I feel a lot less safe than I did 10 years ago for reasons having to do with a combination of growing out of my adolescent fearlessness and some personal trauma.

And I'm still the same person, 10 years apart. With different people the differences are more complicated.

(no subject)

Date: 2009-11-23 11:05 pm (UTC)
autumnus: A purple monochrome portrait of Zoe from Dreamfall, with drawn stars in background and "the Dreamer" written on bottom. (Default)
From: [personal profile] autumnus
agreeing with this.

Also, I think it has a lot to do with a given value of safe for an individual. One might argue that growing up in a country that had just came out of a serious political instability, plus active terrorism probably warped my idea of being safe in a funny way.

In a smaller scale, I would guess people growing up in a big city would have a less expectation of being safe out in street than someone who grows up in a safe suburb.

(no subject)

Date: 2009-11-24 08:19 pm (UTC)
elusiveat: (Default)
From: [personal profile] elusiveat
In a smaller scale, I would guess people growing up in a big city would have a less expectation of being safe out in street than someone who grows up in a safe suburb.

I wonder if this is true. It might be. On the other hand, I've encountered some folks from the suburbs who have a really warped sense of the hazards of walking alone, because when they go somewhere they drive.

(no subject)

Date: 2009-11-23 07:56 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] rho
I really didn't know what to check, because I find it difficult to tell apart transphobic ill intent from generic male asshole ill intent, and certainly never stick around long enough to figure out just why someone is being unpleasant in my general direction or how unpleasant they're likely to get.

(no subject)

Date: 2009-11-23 08:09 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] anemone.livejournal.com
I don't know how to vote in that poll.

I have had uncomfortable dealings with men when I was a teenage volunteer at the Seattle Aquarium walking through downtown Seattle. Men driving by at 8 or 9am (in the summer, in broad daylight) saying stuff to me. I suspect my shorts may have been to blame. There was the one guy who hit on me at the bus stop but stopped when I said no. Then there was the really annoying bus guy (likely due to ill-chosen tank top). I was never very scared by them, not as she was.

The only time I did feel scared was walking home (in my own suburban neighborhood) at 1am and a car drove by me twice and said some stuff.

So, no, her experiences haven't been mine. But I don't dress in feminine ways, and while youth has been on my side, I'm not particularly pretty. (No one is going to call me hot.) So...yeah, I could believe that being pretty would change things.

(no subject)

Date: 2009-11-23 09:52 pm (UTC)
ivy: (spatterdash boot)
From: [personal profile] ivy
That's about what it is like for me, yes. It's a huge part of the reason why I do martial arts, and why all my clothing is functional before fashionable. (I'll take both if I can get it, but if I have to pick, I want something I can fight in.) I refuse to be scared off going places by myself when and where I please, so my addressing of the situation is mostly aimed at ensuring that I will not easily become a victim. I'm at least going to make it hard for them.

It is slightly disturbing to me that my reaction to things like that when they happen to me is mostly "what an asshole, good thing I avoided the fight", but I'm much more horrified when it happens to others. Also, it bothers me that it's so common in my life that I often don't even bother bitching about it in my blog.

(no subject)

Date: 2009-11-23 09:59 pm (UTC)
ext_17921: (Default)
From: [identity profile] lindseykuper.livejournal.com
I'm vacillating between "It's not quite that bad for me, but close" and "a few whistles here and there".

I've had a guy come up to me at a coffee shop, sit at my table, and ask me questions for half an hour when I was trying to work. It was extraordinarily fucking annoying, but not what I'd call frightening. He didn't try to touch me.

I used to walk to work in Chicago through a neighborhood where there were lots of trucks being unloaded every morning, and I would get whistled at and catcalled every morning by the guys unloading the trucks. It was especially bad if I was wearing feminine shoes. On the other hand, I have fond memories of the truck guy who would actually say "Good morning!" to me, and I was sorry when I no longer saw him in the mornings because I'd had to start walking on the other side of the street since his colleagues had gotten unbearable. But again, this was all annoying, but not scary.

(no subject)

Date: 2009-11-23 11:23 pm (UTC)
miang: Lana Skye, Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney: Ooh la belle, vous mentez. (lana skye - take to the sky(e))
From: [personal profile] miang
The general experiences she describes -- especially around going from very unattractive to very attractive to deliberately less attractive -- struck painfully close. I haven't had as many 'must run away now' fear experiences she has, but I attribute that largely to Wellesley's environment, in which I was -- or at least felt -- perhaps disproportionately safe considering the number of times I went back and forth between my dorm and the Science Center in the wee small hours of the morning. There were definitely a couple times in Wisconsin that made the hair on the back of my neck stand up (there are not enough swear words in the English language to describe my thoughts on drunken frat boys), and one so far in LA -- Burbank, actually, ha.

But it's definitely an odd feeling to realize you are likely to be safer if you pacify and behave agreeably toward a very insistent man, even as this encourages him to make another young woman feel awkward and threatened in the future, than to risk angering him by loudly insisting that he leave you alone. Yet I feel this way more often than not, and I don't know -- and don't like -- how much I might be contributing to the problem by letting it continue because of my lack of confidence in my ability to defend myself physically.

(And with that all said -- I still feel very safe. There are places that I don't walk around, by myself or with others, after dark, but there are places that I do. I expect I would feel much less safe if I had ever been assaulted or directly threatened with physical harm, wherever I lived at the time.)

(no subject)

Date: 2009-11-24 12:28 am (UTC)
sofiaviolet: drawing of three violets and three leaves (Default)
From: [personal profile] sofiaviolet
Can't vote in the poll, but...

I do not remember much street harassment - perhaps because I rarely go more than a couple of blocks without my ipod (I like music and Visible Earbuds help prevent strangers from approaching me). So even if I am being catcalled, I'm not noticing it.

My main problem (and the thing that rattles me worst) are the Nice Guys who engage me in pleasant superficial conversation, then ask for my phone number. Which I always wind up giving them, because I'm too shaken to come up with a fake one or to tell them to fuck off.

I feel very safe. Some of this is core personality, and some is being from New Orleans but living in Boston ("my mom got mugged on our front porch, and we live in a nice part of town," as I am fond of saying). But most of it is because all my bad experiences have been with men I knew. The statistics and my experiences reinforce each other: the guy I have never seen before and will never see again is not going to grope me because no one else ever has; my boyfriend raped me repeatedly and any other guy who gets that close might damn well do the same thing.

(That's probably why the Nice Guys on the train freak me out so much. They're trying to force their way over that line between stranger and acquaintance, and they're heading in the direction that loses my trust.)

(no subject)

Date: 2009-11-24 01:41 am (UTC)
eriktrips: me in hat, pink light (pinkHat)
From: [personal profile] eriktrips
slightly different experiences: incest, rape, lots of "fucking dyke" comments after I grew up and started presenting as an extremely unfeminine female, but I have felt the same fear on the streets both in the day and after dark. I've come close to decking men who have cluelessly walked just off my shoulder on an otherwise deserted sidewalk for more than a few seconds. yeah it was (and is) PTSD, but I'd be willing to bet that many women could be diagnosed with it--if they wanted to go that route--as a result of sexual assault and harassment.

I give women on the street a wide berth now, and act completely uninterested in them unless they speak to me or smile first. maybe I overcompensate, but the streets are completely different for me presenting as a man from how they were when nominally female-appearing. I don't really have any sympathy for men who won't listen to women when they say that public life is not the same for women. it might not be fair to the "nice guys," but it is not a personal insult and they really need to get over themselves.

(no subject)

Date: 2009-11-24 12:50 pm (UTC)
naath: (Default)
From: [personal profile] naath
I feel a lot safer than she describes; but I think I largely avoid street harassment by not walking anywhere (I have a bicycle), if I have to walk around (especially late at night) I feel a lot less safe.

(no subject)

Date: 2009-11-26 07:33 am (UTC)
ext_36143: (Default)
From: [identity profile] badasstronaut.livejournal.com
In fact I've had very few real problems, and yet I frequently feel unsafe. I think it's because I'm mad.

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tim: Tim with short hair, smiling, wearing a black jacket over a white T-shirt (Default)
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