Street Harassment: Reality or feminist hyperbole?

Feminist blogs tends to give me the impression that those people live in a fantasy world. Of course, the automatic response is that due to all the white male privilege I enjoy, I’m not able to perceive the plight of the oppressed. Yet another one of those tools of suppression is the recent phenomenon of “street harassment” that leads to the consequence that instead of running errands, women nowadays run the gauntlet whenever they leave the house because there are hordes of men harassing them.

Never heard of “street harassment”? Don’t worry, you’re in good company, because before a few years ago Google didn’t know much about it either.

There is certainly a lot of excitement online nowadays about “street harassment”. I don’t have to link to Jezebel, but other sites you may not be familiar with include Hollaback!, Stop Street Harassment, or a relatively active Tumblr blog with the all-caps title HOW MANY WOMEN FIND STREET HARASSMENT FLATTERING?

I can only encourage you to check out some of those sites since they make for a bemusing reading. Don’t be surprised if something doesn’t make much sense to you. You might even be surprised that “street” is interpreted rather generously. As a warmup, read how Laura was “channeling her inner wonder woman”, not on the street but in a bar:

“There was one night when one of the wait staff a friend of mine had a drink poured over her head by a guy because she didn’t get it to him fast enough. So I was already pissed off. Then as I was making my way thru the crowd to take orders without a huge tray of drinks and some guy grabbed me in the crotch and gave me a “hey baby”. Really? Without much thought I turned on the asshole, channeled my inner wonder woman, grabbed him by the front of the shirt and slammed him against the wall. I remember yelling something about “don’t you ever” with my finger in his face, and I don’t know who was more surprised- him, me or his friends. Felt good, and a little bit scary.”

Oh, I totally believe you, Laura! Probably she’s been using steroids, because otherwise I wouldn’t be able to explain how she was able to “slam” that guy against the wall. Please note that she was in the middle of a crowd, so she presumably grabbed that sucker, levitated, and flew him right into a wall of bricks.

Sure, I get it, sometimes men are a bit too aggressive when they fancy a woman and do something inappropriate. It’s just the same with drunk women who grab your ass or rub your chest. This tends to come out of nowhere because you weren’t even paying attention to those women to begin with. They are simply invisible. To deal with it, you either ignore her or you say to her that she’s probably been drinking a bit too much, and that’s it. Women are used to rejecting men, too, but normally they aren’t quite as polite.

However, the problem is that women do not communicate specific interest, but instead tend to present themselves so that they are appealing to men in general. So they doll themselves up, grab one of their single girlfriends, and spend three hours at a bar, standing there and hoping that one of the guys there will like her. It’s all well and good if the dude looks like the hunks she has threesomes with in her wet dreams. If not, then she has the option of drinking a bit more, or to turning the guys down and complaining to her girlfriends that men are “such pigs.”

In the curious case of “street harassment” the same principles apply. She dolled herself up, and maybe she was even planning to “go shopping”, and for hours went through the clothes racks in her favorite boutiques, hoping that some guy will zoom in on her obvious hints. Of course, it had better be the right guy. If Brad Pitt told her she’s got a nice dress, she’d feel flattered. However, if those words come out of the mouth of a guy she finds repelling, for whatever reason, it’ll then be a case of sexual harassment. Needless to say, this double standard doesn’t make much sense if you think about it for a minute or two. But thinking is hard, and two minutes is an awful lot of time.

To me this hullabaloo about “street harassment” looks like a thinly veiled attempt by feminists to get attention. However, if you asked any halfway good-looking, popular, or wealthy guy how often he got hit on by girls he didn’t fancy, he’d have quite a few stories to share. I can’t even count how many times women pinched my ass or rubbed my abs in the club, in the most inappropriate ways, like sneaking up sideways and trying to cop a feel. The percentage of those women I found attractive was a low single-digit number. Still, in those few cases I appreciated that they made things very easy for me, but the others I just ignored. There is no need to be a dick about it and humiliate those homely women who hit on you just because they’ve had a drink too many.

Even worse, if you’re a reasonably good-looking man you not only get hit on by women that make you puke. No, you’ll also have to deal with guys who feel insecure about their own sexuality. I don’t think it’s common at all that guys shout “slut” at random girls. I’ve been called “gay” or a “fucking faggot” by guys plenty of times, though, and also by girls who felt offended by my lack of interest in them. Of course you’ve got to be gay if you don’t show any interest in a woman that looks like a dog. People can be pretty rude, and women are often as bad if not worse than guys. None of this has to lead to any kind of “trauma”, though. Oh, and we guys don’t have the need to create attention-seeking websites about our poor lives because some dude called us “faggot” or some ugly chick at the bar tried grabbing our junk.

Having established that both men and women can be assholes, what does this leave us with? One conclusion is that maybe, just maybe, feminists blow those incidents way out of proportion. I’m not saying that “street harassment” does not exist. For instance, there are clearly cultural differences, and foreigners living abroad may not always adhere to local customs. I don’t want to single out particular cultures or races, but I certainly had the impression that in some area in, say, Berlin or London, foreign men approach local women in ways that are quite inappropriate. Discussing this issue would mean that I’d have to open an entirely different can of worms, though.

Another problem are “pickup artists.” If you dig around online, you quickly find stories of guys who got banned from shopping malls or college campuses. Sure, if you walk around hitting on three dozen girls in an hour, no matter how disinterested they may look, most if not all won’t be pleased. This is an issue of a lack of social tact among “PUAs,” though, and shouldn’t be held against regular well-adjusted guys. In that case, a failed attempt at flirting with a girl is just that.

There is no need trying to attempt to publicly shame normal guys. Girls, think a bit further ahead: what if all your campaigning led to men not hitting on you at all anymore? I mean all men, not just those you for some reason don’t like. It’s not as if we can read your mind, just like you can’t read ours. Surely, being ignored by all men isn’t what you wanted either. This seems to happen to more and more women, though. Just Google for a phrase like “where have all the good men gone”, and you will get to read countless sob stories. Campaigning against “street harassment”, which doesn’t seem to deserve the attention feminists think it should get, will only make even more women wonder where all those good men are. Chances are they didn’t bother paying any attention to you in the first place.

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