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Just A Smack On The Ass
April 19, 2011 3:29 PM   Subscribe

Just A Smack On The Ass: A Tale of Sexual Assault, Vengeance and Nervous Swearing. Stop Street Harassment offers further ideas for targets and bystanders to think about.

Previously: Schrödinger's Rapist, Hey, Baby!
posted by cybercoitus interruptus (70 comments total) 43 users marked this as a favorite

 
Bravo, Robyn Shepherd. Bravo. You are an inspiration, and what you should be commended to the skies.
posted by koeselitz at 3:33 PM on April 19, 2011


YES. This behavior deserves public shaming. Thank you, Ms. Shepherd, for not going on your way but going on the offense. Brilliant.
posted by cereselle at 3:36 PM on April 19, 2011


that's the first time a street harassment story has made me grin.
posted by changeling at 3:36 PM on April 19, 2011


I've done something similar a couple of times, and they both degenerated into "Fuck you!" "NO, FUCK YOU!" screaming matches. But the guy always walked off first. And it made me feel better.
posted by rtha at 3:37 PM on April 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Also, "Fuck the police?" Really? I don't care how much of a badass you think you are, you are not Ice-T. To quote Denis Leary, "You aren't even A Tribe Called Quest, asshole!"
posted by cereselle at 3:39 PM on April 19, 2011 [7 favorites]


I've done something similar a couple of times, and they both degenerated into "Fuck you!" "NO, FUCK YOU!" screaming matches. But the guy always walked off first. And it made me feel better.

Huh, I did something similar once and the guy cowered. He was also a 20-something guy, with a sort of spacey demeanor (he may have been a little buzzed); he almost conversationally told me as I was passing him by that he "sure would like to suck my pussy". I called him on that ("dude, WHAT did you just say to me?") and he instantly cowered and apologized (and I told him "you're not sorry for what you did, you're just sorry you got caught"), and chewed him out a bit more.

But yeah, he left first. Funny how they always seem to be scared when we actually respond.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 3:49 PM on April 19, 2011 [14 favorites]


That story made me grin, in part because I, too, have been walloped on the ass by a stranger in public. You go, girlfriend!
posted by immlass at 3:59 PM on April 19, 2011


I live in Tucson, some of the downtown bars have a policy, enacted last year to stop this sort of thing.
posted by Catblack at 3:59 PM on April 19, 2011


Best part, right here:
the detective said, "So you ran up and confronted him and screamed at him in a bank."

"Yep."

"...Awesome."

posted by Mister Moofoo at 4:05 PM on April 19, 2011 [11 favorites]


If I'm not mistaken, in Italy she would be permitted to smack him in the face with an open hand.
posted by StickyCarpet at 4:19 PM on April 19, 2011


I was hoping it would turn out he worked at the bank. I also think she should have kept following him until the police caught up but I'm crazy like that. Still, definitely awesome.
posted by Jess the Mess at 4:22 PM on April 19, 2011


Was it former PM John Turner?
posted by Capt. Renault at 4:25 PM on April 19, 2011


In my running days, I did a lot of screaming back at guys who hassled me while I was exercising. Just screaming and charging toward them a few feet always made me feel better, and scared the shit out of them most of the time. They're just so used to having their abuse passively accepted that they're really not expecting it. Screaming incoherently worked better for me in shutting them down than any other response I tried. I got a lot of chances to try, unfortunately.

One guy I charged and also took a swing at on the block next to mine. Not the wisest move on my part, but he was being pretty egregious. He ran. Weeks later I saw him walking across the parking lot to the gym on our campus with a buddy. "Dude...that's the girl who took a swing at me," he said to his friend. "Hurry."

I also used to wear a homemade t-shirt when I ran on the street that read, in big letters, back and front, "MEN WHO HONK HAVE SHORT ONES." It always seemed like it cut down on the honking.
posted by jocelmeow at 4:35 PM on April 19, 2011 [35 favorites]


Brava, brava, Robyn Shepherd! I've been lucky enough to never have encountered physical sexual harassment: just the all-to-common a**holes who think (IF they think!) that they're making clever remarks.... I too swear like a longshoreman, and I too have been known to get right up in some jerk's face.

I think I've scared a few of 'em..... hehehe.....
posted by easily confused at 4:38 PM on April 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


I also used to wear a homemade t-shirt when I ran on the street that read, in big letters, back and front, "MEN WHO HONK HAVE SHORT ONES." It always seemed like it cut down on the honking.

This is the best thing I've read in the long time. I might steal your idea!
posted by MaryDellamorte at 4:46 PM on April 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


Righteous story. Too bad they find & didn't arrest him. Even beyond his sexually-harassing assault, his continuing aggression suggests he needs a little more "oversight".

I doubt this would have been his first visit to jail.
posted by IAmBroom at 4:50 PM on April 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Good for her, awesome stuff.
posted by tumid dahlia at 4:52 PM on April 19, 2011


Also, neat story. It's nice (as it turns out) that she didn't let herself get cornered by the conventional "let it go" wisdom. If something like this happened to me (or whatever the equivalent thing is that happens to men, if there is such a thing), I often wonder whether I would confront them or let the fear that they're mentally unhinged stop me.
posted by dixiecupdrinking at 4:57 PM on April 19, 2011


Reminds me of a video that was going around of a woman confronting a flasher on the subway. One thing that doesn't get talked about is how the men who do this are getting off on violating taboos, and strengthening the taboo can have the opposite of the intended effect. Obviously when the woman responds to the violation by confronting the man, it ruins his enjoyment - if she polices her own boundaries, then it's no longer a social taboo. The other dimension is that its an expression of power: the man says that he is ready to violate social norms and commit an obscene act, something which he thinks she would never do. Within the patriarchal universe, this is flirting. The man offers to violate the social taboos for her, so that she can maintain her position as "the nice girl" within the patriarchal morality that she identifies with. But if she responds with an obscene act herself, then she is saying "I am not a nice girl, I am also powerful, ready to violate social taboos."

But this can also be undermined. If the woman reacts on behalf of the social order rather than on her own behalf, then this is already part of the dynamic - in a strange way, it comes very close to a sexualized sadistic act, as if the men are unconsciously trying to provoke this reaction, of turning the woman into sexualized mother-figure disciplining them for being dirty.
posted by AlsoMike at 5:15 PM on April 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


I see what you're saying, AlsoMike, but life is too short to spend second-guessing the twists of a jerk's psyche.
posted by emjaybee at 5:20 PM on April 19, 2011 [3 favorites]


AlsoMike: And that's where the police come in. Something important about this article is that not only did she confront her attacker, but she got the police involved. I think that's the most significant step, really. I can't imagine how much of this stuff goes entirely unreported.
posted by cyphill at 5:25 PM on April 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


AlsoMike, I explore similar logic when I confront people who harass me for being gay. "If I escalate the situation and shame them, are they just going to end up taking it out on the next gay person they decide to pester -- someone who's less capable of defending him/herself?"

But in the end I decide to risk it, because it's not just THAT person I want to send a message to -- it's onlookers and passersby. They need to get used to the idea that they live/work in a zone where this will not be tolerated.
posted by hermitosis at 5:26 PM on April 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm still not sure I handled this right. The other day, I was walking back here, and this kid did a Tex Avery face and yelled, "DAAAAMMMMMMNNNNN, look at that ASS!" at this woman who was walking away from him. And I happened to get to the end of the street just as this was going on, and so I stopped and turned and looked -- I'm like five feet from this starey-leery dude -- and said, "Damn," as in agreement, and then I stood there and looked at the starey-leery dude with a smile until he started to look confused and uncomfortable. So I kept smiling, and eventually he drove off.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 5:29 PM on April 19, 2011 [7 favorites]


This is the best thing I've read in the long time. I might steal your idea!

Thanks, MaryDellamorte. I thought about that locution a lot while I was running. What could I write that would insult the guy but wouldn't involve actually wearing an obscenity, so as not to get complained about in the small college town where I was living? Everybody knows what a short one would be...but I didn't have to spell it out on my own body.
posted by jocelmeow at 5:36 PM on April 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


This is what cell phone cameras are made for.
posted by Long Way To Go at 6:46 PM on April 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


This made me happy. Good on her!
posted by torisaur at 6:59 PM on April 19, 2011


Decades ago I got slapped on the rear.

I was working at a country club, my hands full, going up some stairs. The tipsy older doctor going downstairs was the perp. Oddly he was the one of the nicest guys at the club when sober.

If I had made a scene I would have lost my job.


At the time I just thought it was funny. The sad thing it was the mildest bit of sexual harassment I had at that job and sadder still is I thought I just had to put up with it.

If anyone slapped one of my daughters on the rear now he might wind up missing the hand he did it with, if I had anything to do with it.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 7:18 PM on April 19, 2011


Yes, yes, this is all very fine and well, but what I want to know is, was or wasn't she supposed to pull the subway emergency cord?!






(Sorry, after the last conversation about this topic, I couldn't resist.)
posted by magstheaxe at 8:35 PM on April 19, 2011


Good for her.

Last time my ass got grabbed in public, the shitheel laughed at me and told how sexy I was for fighting back. I'm still not sure which was more humiliating.
posted by Space Kitty at 8:54 PM on April 19, 2011


I know there are arguments against them, but this is one reason I would like to see universal surveillance cameras in America. Then, all someone would have to do is quote coordinates, find the SOB who *illegally* touched someone, and put said SOB in a pubic pillory - something else I would like to see universal deployment of. Yup. Yup, put 'em in a pillory for one day with a sign over their head, telling what they did. Just water and bread for sustenance, and put an adult diaper on 'em! We save jail costs, and publicly shame the living crap out of the SOB's!
posted by Vibrissae at 10:19 PM on April 19, 2011


AlsoMike, I think your assertion that this kind of behavior is predicated in large part on the violation of taboo is correct. However, there's a difference between the kind of person who's acting out of some pathological impulse, and another who merely feels entitled to express his (or her) "appreciation" for a stranger's body via unsolicited contact. In this particular case, unlike the flasher story to which you refer, it doesn't seem as though the aggressor was trying to derive even the kind of titillation supplied by the exhibitor/voyeur dynamic; he was just asserting his dominance.

What dixiecupdrinking refers to as "the conventional 'let it go' wisdom" necessarily renders the harassee complicit in his/her own victimization. Perhaps it seems safer in a more immediate sense; a policy of non-engagement means that the object of the unwelcome attention doesn't have to confront a potentially violent aggressor. On the other hand, the actions taken by the author of this blog post have probably ensured that her harasser will think very hard about the consequences of his actions the next time he feels the urge to play grabass.
posted by myownlostrib at 10:25 PM on April 19, 2011


Magstheaxe, the newest trains in the NYC subways have a red button where one can alert the conductor. Nicola Briggs( the subway flasher woman) was in one of those cars. It may well be that someone pushed it when she first yelled out what the smegma was doing to her and he was more easily caught this way.

I hope that Robyn Shepherd's groper was caught on the bank's video and that they're willing to turn it over to the cops.
posted by brujita at 10:40 PM on April 19, 2011


I really should try to adopt this woman's strong response to street harassment. I am a young overweight woman so I alternately get either whistles and "let me see your tits" or "oink oink, walk faster fat-ass" depending on the person doing the harassing. I always try to ignore them completely on the outside but end up feeling really shamed and humiliated. Maybe next time I should fight back.

My first experience with street harassment was when I was in 5th grade. I was walking home from basketball practice after school and a car full of guys much older than me started whistling and saying really sexual things to me while their car was at a red light. I was mortified and felt gross. Another incident I remember quite well happened when I was a junior in high school. I was walking to a sick friend's house and a whole construction site full of workers started catcalling me as I walked by. It really scared me because there were so many of them. Those two incidents stand out to me more than the times I was actually touched. Words hurt too.

It is disgusting what people will do when they think they won't be called-out on it. Is there a woman out there who has not been touched inappropriately and/or catcalled? Street harassment is a major problem and the apologists just keep acting like it's no big deal.
posted by delicate_dahlias at 10:44 PM on April 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


Every time I've fought back against assault, it's resulted in either physical harm to me or terrifying horrific murderous threats. Each time, it's resulted in me hiding in my baggy work clothes again, hood up, not so much from fear, but from a combination of shame and the thought that if I don't dress up in girl clothes, if I don't let my femme side out to play, I don't have to deal with this shit.

Until two weeks ago, when I got to start my workday with pervy comments about how my fall arrest harness emphasizes my breasts. So now not even my baggy butch work clothes are a safe haven.

And then I read an article this morning about how a guy has been twice reported sexually assaulting women in my neighborhood (within two blocks of my house!) this week. As well as in the next neighborhood over.

And this just leaves me wondering what the hell I can do? Going everywhere in groups or pairs isn't practical--I'd never leave my house. Clearly, what I wear doesn't make me less of a target. Do I just shut the hell up and accept it?
posted by mollymayhem at 12:14 AM on April 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


That story was a fantastic way to start the day. Thanks for the smile on my face :)

I travelled all the way up the country last Friday, and I got aggressively hit on in every place I de-trained. I guess towing a huge suitcase on wheels really sends out the "do me" signals.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 1:05 AM on April 20, 2011


It's really unfortunate that the police did not catch him. Being labeled a sex offender is exactly what he deserves for desecrating your sacred holy bottom.
posted by TheCoyote23 at 1:15 AM on April 20, 2011


Being labeled a sex offender is exactly what he deserves for desecrating your sacred holy bottom.

If some douchebags being labeled sex offenders is what it takes to get through to some people that a person isn't an object for them to freely grope, then let them carry that label for the rest of their lives.

Everyone deserves to be able to move about freely in public without being harassed. I don't know if you've ever been publicly groped by a stranger, TheCoyote23, but it feels pretty fucking violating.
posted by girih knot at 1:24 AM on April 20, 2011 [13 favorites]


From the third link: Ask a Socratic question such as, “That’s so interesting – can you explain why you think you can put your hand on my leg?”

Uh, no.

Also, Tell the harasser that you are conducting a street harassment research project or survey. Take out a notebook and start asking them questions such as, “How often do you do this?” or “How do you choose which people to harass?” or “Are you more likely to do this when you are alone or when you’re with other people,” or “Do you discuss people you harass with your mother, sister, or female friends?”

WTF?
posted by lollusc at 1:32 AM on April 20, 2011


A Human Being is not an example. I'm been drugged and rapped and am also permanently disfigured from being publicly held against a well a beaten, so I find it it hard to feel much empathy.
posted by TheCoyote23 at 1:35 AM on April 20, 2011


Being labeled a sex offender is exactly what he deserves for desecrating your sacred holy bottom.

Damn straight he does. Violate my person, suffer the consequences. Should have thought of that before assaulting me. I feel exactly no sorrow whatsoever for someone who commits sexual assault.
posted by mollymayhem at 1:44 AM on April 20, 2011


I'm sorry, but your bruised butt and ego isn't on par with the bruised butt and ego of a child who has been raped. Thats basically the equivalency everyone here is pushing. Thats the most ridiculous part about this discussion. The worst part is that if someone like me says, "they are not equivalent" it makes it out like I am defending the butt slapping as being acceptable, which is not the case. Maybe you should be ticketed every time you do 66 in a 65, or get charged with vehicular manslaughter every time you run a stop sign even if you never hit someone, because well, it happened before when people ran stop signs, so running it requires the same punishment right? Maybe if people were thrown in jail for running stop signs, that kid wouldn't have been run over....
posted by TheCoyote23 at 3:07 AM on April 20, 2011


Dude, you're the one making false equivalencies; there are different kinds of sexual offenses and different kinds of sexual offenders. Labelling this guy a sex offender (which he is) has no bearing on what other kinds of people bear that label.
posted by smoke at 3:15 AM on April 20, 2011 [3 favorites]


There should be a different label for street harasser than sex offender (which in the states, as I understand can really make miserable for teenagers who engage in willing sexual activity together if one is over and the other under the statutory rape age), I agree. But street harassment while not being on par with actual violent rape, is a constant drip-drop rain reminding ladies who really owns you girl, as it's never our bodies, ourselves. It needs to stop too.
posted by dabitch at 3:15 AM on April 20, 2011 [4 favorites]


It's points on a continuum. None of it needs to happen, period.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 4:44 AM on April 20, 2011 [5 favorites]


TheCoyote23, you might want to back down from the condescension. Phrases like "desecrating your sacred holy bottom" and "your bruised butt and ego" make it sound precisely like you're not taking this very seriously.

This is not a competition as to who was assaulted the worst. Man who physically manhandle women in public, or private, without consent are sex offenders. That's precisely what they are. And it shouldn't have to escalate to something like what you experienced before it matters, legally or ethically speaking.
posted by Astro Zombie at 5:25 AM on April 20, 2011 [11 favorites]


No many butts they slapped, I don't think they deserve to be forced to stay at least 1000 feet away from any school or playground.

(But this is more of a beef with the "Sex offender" legal status having no nuances. Ticket them, or lock them up for a short time, but anything beyond that is excessive.)
posted by ymgve at 5:38 AM on April 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


I wonder if anyone in this discussion who have been busy typing about how butt slappers should be castrated ever considered the possibility that Louise may have been entirely mistaken. Read into the account more, and you find that she wasn't paying attention to what was going on around her and listening to music minding her own business. You'd think someone immature enough to slap someone on the ass would run away laughing like a child, but the guy seemed legitimately surprised and insulted that she was accusing him of slapping her ass. Imagine if you were late and hustling to get somewhere, and when you get there some woman you have never seen before runs up screaming at you about sexually assaulting her at your bank and you have no idea what she is talking about.

The thing is, I believe that she was probably slapped, but this is what I mean that people are getting all up in arms about putting this guy in jail for sexual assault and being labeled a sex offender for the rest of his life, and I end up looking like a butt slapper apologist when I say that's an over reaction. If butt slapping was something you could be charged with for sexual assault and thus being labeled a sex offender, I wonder how many people out there would not just stop slapping butts, but fear even brushing up against some woman at the subway on accident. Heck, it could be some of you indignant mefites talking about how the original butt slapper to be arrested for sexual assault.

You- "Oh pardon me ma'am, I didn't mean do brush up against you while passing to my seat"
Her- "OH NO YOU DID'NT! I'M CALLING THE COPS!"
YOU-"No, no, no... I'm sorry. I'm not that type of person, in fact, I'm one of the people who helped push the anti butt slapping law"
Her-"I don't give a fuck who you are, You touched my ass, you gonna pay mutha fucka!"
posted by TheCoyote23 at 6:25 AM on April 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


....Coyote23, are you seriously trying to pull the "some women lie when they accuse men of rape" excuse here? Really?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:32 AM on April 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


Saw that coming from a mile away. Now I'm a rape apologist too.
posted by TheCoyote23 at 6:34 AM on April 20, 2011


....If you "saw that coming from a mile away," perhaps that was a clue you maybe should have examined that thought before saying it.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:34 AM on April 20, 2011 [7 favorites]


I love it when I read a thread about women fighting back against street harassment that includes physical assault and somehow it's all about the menz and their fear of being accused because they have to try to not touch people in public. The fact that sentencing rules for sexual assault are fucked up doesn't mean that women (or men: this has happened to my husband in a SXSW crowd) should have to be struck in private sexual areas as a consequence of walking on the goddamn street. The solution to fucked up sentencing is to fix sentencing, not to hassle women about trying to prosecute strangers who HIT THEM.

Rape culture: we're soaking in it, as usual.
posted by immlass at 6:46 AM on April 20, 2011 [9 favorites]


I don't understand how stating that butt slapping isn't equivalent to other forms of sexual assault makes me the insensitive one. I think labeling it as so is deeply insulting to people who have been violently assaulted and deal with that fact every day. To equate the two is ridiculous. To have the nerve to point me out and pigeon hole me as a rape apologist, when I'm probably one of the few people actually here that had to deal with it is downright offensive, a lot more offensive than your minor petty feeling of indignity by living through Louise.

I just can't help but imagine Louise at a rape counseling center at a group session for sexual assault victims.

Anon girl "I was raped when I was 12 and he mutilated my genitals so I can't have sex or have children, even if I felt safe enough to be with a man. I still have nightmares about it, but luckily rapist will be in jail for a very long time."

Louise "I had my butt slapped in public once, I was soooo appalled. Luckily he is in jail too"

Once more I have to state that I don't think it was right for the guy to slap her ass in public, but to claim that it is in any way equivalent to rape is BS.
posted by TheCoyote23 at 7:03 AM on April 20, 2011


I don't understand how stating that butt slapping isn't equivalent to other forms of sexual assault makes me the insensitive one.

You didn't say that, you said it wasn't sexual assault at all. In fact, someone even gave you the out --

there are different kinds of sexual offenses and different kinds of sexual offenders. Labelling this guy a sex offender (which he is) has no bearing on what other kinds of people bear that label.

But you kept implying it wasn't assault.

Lemme ask - suppose someone grabbed your crotch and squeezed a little, then walked away. But didn't try to force you into sex. Would you consider that assault?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:48 AM on April 20, 2011


That would be a fucking delight compared to what I have been through. How dare you make such broad assumptions about me! Have you even bothered to to read any of these posts fully before your knee jerk posts? What are you some sort of feminist robot turing test AI? I've been drugged with GHB and taken advantage of before, and beaten, spit on, had people blow their noses on my shirt. I'd love for the worst thing to happen to me is to have my ass slapped!
posted by TheCoyote23 at 8:03 AM on April 20, 2011


feminist robot turing test AI

Wow, I was just taking a while to try to explain why people were seeing you as insensitive right now, Coyote, but please, just step away from the keyboard for a while. If it makes you feel any better, I think you've now killed almost any hope this discussion had of being about coping strategies for assault victims.
posted by heatvision at 8:09 AM on April 20, 2011


I've been drugged with GHB and taken advantage of before, and beaten, spit on, had people blow their noses on my shirt. I'd love for the worst thing to happen to me is to have my ass slapped!

I'm very sorry to hear about what happened to you, but I also hope when you calm down that you remember that policing other people's responses to being physically assaulted is not any cooler for you to do than it is for others to do about your experiences. Sexual harassment on the street may not sound like a big deal to you, but it is a big deal to a lot of women. The fact that you've had it worse doesn't mean other people don't have it bad. Please do not judge other people's responses to a sexual assault: a physical assault that has a sexual component.
posted by immlass at 8:17 AM on April 20, 2011 [4 favorites]


TheCoyote23: “Once more I have to state that I don't think it was right for the guy to slap her ass in public, but to claim that it is in any way equivalent to rape is BS.”

This seems largely to be an imagined disagreement; that is, I don't think many people here would actually disagree with the argument you're making if this discussion wasn't so contentious.

I think that's clear from what's been said here – because nobody here has stated that unsolicited butt-slapping is the same as rape. Nobody. And I certainly can't see any comments claiming that it's equivalent to child molestation, heaven forbid.

I'm genuinely having a hard time seeing where you perceive a disagreement with others in this thread, in fact. My guess is that you've read "sexual assault" and responded to that term by saying that there is no way that things like rape can properly be categorized with things like unsolicited butt-slapping. And, yes, I appreciate that feeling. They are vastly different in terms of degree and of character, and one is much worse than the other; granted.

However, speaking precisely, it has to be admitted: unsolicited butt-slapping is, in point of fact, a form of "sexual assault." That's what the legal term means; assault (in the United States, at least) means intentionally touching someone in a way they don't want you to. You may feel that that definition is unnecessarily broad, but you can't say that people are being imprecise or vague when they refer to unsolicited butt-slapping as "sexual assault."
posted by koeselitz at 8:27 AM on April 20, 2011


immlass, I think Coyote was just being a smart-ass, and was not actually in truth assaulted. And the fact that Coyote would make that kind of a "joke" is also telling on several levels.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:33 AM on April 20, 2011


immlass, I think Coyote was just being a smart-ass, and was not actually in truth assaulted. And the fact that Coyote would make that kind of a "joke" is also telling on several levels.

I have no idea whether TheCoyote23 was joking; I think we're probably best off if we assume people mean what they say and go from there.

That said, what immlass is saying is basically right on; anyone having to go through some sort of sexual assault is bad and deserving of empathy, but there's no brinksmanship thing here where having had something of degree n > m happen to you makes it cool to be a jerk about m. TheCoyote23, there are far better ways to have this conversation and I do think it'd be a good idea for you to step away from the thread for a while.
posted by cortex at 8:40 AM on April 20, 2011 [3 favorites]


I think we're probably best off if we assume people mean what they say and go from there.

Amen. I assume that the deleted comments were some angry responses there. I see no reason whatsoever to challenge coyote23's story. On the other hand, it's not totally relevant here, and yeah, he/she seemed more than belligerent about it.

I love it when I read a thread about women fighting back against street harassment that includes physical assault and somehow it's all about the menz and their fear of being accused because they have to try to not touch people in public.

That is not what has happened here.

Nice post. I appreciated the earlier article from Louise Melling.

It's an obviously charged subject. I found that the strategies on the stopstreetharassment and the wordpress site were both pretty useful.

We've had this conversation before, but men who step into stop street harassment need to be prepared to take it all the way, because 50% of the time the offender will want to fight. It's much easier to take action if you are in a crowded area, but, of course, that's not where most of the offenses occur.

Rape culture: we're soaking in it, as usual.

Seems like the jury is still out on whether it's evolutionary or not.
posted by mrgrimm at 9:28 AM on April 20, 2011


That is not what has happened here.

In fact, my comment about poor accused menz was a direct response to:

anyone in this discussion who have been busy typing about how butt slappers should be castrated ever considered the possibility that Louise may have been entirely mistaken

and

people are getting all up in arms about putting this guy in jail for sexual assault and being labeled a sex offender for the rest of his life

and

I wonder how many people out there would not just stop slapping butts, but fear even brushing up against some woman at the subway on accident.

So, yes, in fact, there was a derail of exactly the "let's make it about poor accused men" type in that comment, even though the derail later went off in another direction. I'm sorry TheCoyote23 was assaulted, but I make no apologies for being very disappointed and cranky about seeing those bog-standard objections to women fighting back against street harassment in this thread.
posted by immlass at 9:42 AM on April 20, 2011


Mollymayem--- what you wear, how you stand, even subtle cues relating to how you feel inside in relation to men--- predatory men can pick this sort of stuff up quite well. I am fortunate enough that I don't have to work in a work place with men (no offense mens!), but there are some workplace environments that can be just awful.

How do you respond when a man looks at you? Do you feel intimiated and look down? Because no matter what you're wearing he's already won if that's the case. The people who want to use that information against you can read it from a mile away. Then he's sitting right next to you, wants your help with something he doesn't really have to get your help for. He's sitting closer than you would like, and he knows he sitting closer than you would like. But you're freaking out, why is he sitting here, maybe he really needs help, maybe you're over reacting. You can't read peoples minds after all, and how is it wrong for him to sit there? It can't be wrong for him to just sit there.

Meanwhile, he's observed how all those thoughts affect your presence. You're terrified and I promise you it's visible even if you think you're covering it up. And he's observed that you're uncomfortable and don't know how to respond to a subtle violation. All he has to do is get you alone and keep you confused an uncertain about his intentions until you're cowering and fucked up inside and by that point .... well you get the picture.

The more you run, the more you cower inward, the more you try to hide---- you send out signals also over the place "Hello, I am prey, it's nice to meet you." It's like running from a dog. The dog might have just been sitting there but then you run--- "Oooooooh! There's something I should chase! Probably weak vulnerable easy prey if it knows it needs to run"

Some dogs are rabid and are going to attack you no matter what you do. Other dogs you may have influence in how they behave depending on how you respond to them. I like to imagine myself doing some really cool ninja moves with my car key. Hiya! I've got a totally fierce car key yo and I'm not afraid to pummel you with it quite severely if you get near me... wazzaaaaah ya! It's really cool. I've never tried it in real life, but I mean, it could be cool. If I did it.

The other thing that helps me if some guy is staring me down is I imagine that I'm like 80. And then I think, you're a dork you like old wrinkly ladies? That's silly, there's nothing even anything sexually attractive here and you're getting your dark man psyche all worked up over old 80 year old wrinkly granny boobies. I don't know that there is actually anything beneficial about this, but it at least lightens the mood lol.

(Jeeze, sorry about all the men as dogs references but I'll paint it this way--- the man as sexual harrassor is a dog to me, there are men who don't deserve to be equated dogs. Unless they like dogs. And some dogs are nice. Or whatever lol)

I can't tell you how to solve this other than, it doesn't matter what his position if you want to be further away from someone move. It doesn't matter if his intentions are innocent if you're feeling uncomfortable just move. If he really doesn't care either way about being close to you, why would he care if you move? You don't have to shout, "HEY YOU'RE VIOLATING MY SPACE CREEP" or something awful like that, but just move an usually if he really was trying to violate your space he'll be surprised by you assertively moving away without being afraid and leave you alone.

Unless he's a really skilled predator and then you're just skrewed no matter what. Sigh.
posted by xarnop at 10:15 AM on April 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


It looks like Coyote's real issue is that if the smacking of asses is sexual assault, the result isn't just that smacking of asses gets compared to (or put in the same category as) the violent rape Coyote alludes to, but the reverse also becomes true - that violent rape gets compared to a 'simple' smack on the ass.

Coyote - the honest appraisal of one form of sexual assault does not make any other kind less horrible. There isn't a scoring system. There aren't bragging rights. It's not a zero-sum system.

As for the rest of your flawed rhetorical devices - well, I'd just recommend dropping it at this point, you're really not doing your position any favors.
posted by FatherDagon at 10:32 AM on April 20, 2011


Fucking with the (literal) male gaze can be fun. When I moved to California, I kept finding myself getting checked out from the rear after I passed Mexican guys on the sidewalk. (Sorry, nice Mexican guys; I watched to see who were the most flagrant offenders, and, as a group, it was the Mexican guys.)

I didn't like this, so I made a habit of turning my head enough when any guy would pass me that I could see if it was happening. And if it did, I would just turn on my heel, stop, stand with my feet apart, and stare at the dude. Most of the time, they'd act cowed and keep walking. A few times, I'd just stand there and stare, and they'd try to stare back at me. I never "lost" one of these matches. They'd all eventually back down, uncomfortable being confronted.

Is that sort of man's behavior "okay" in a certain culture? For certain values of "okay," I suppose. Do I think it should be? No.

And I promise you all that I am not a "humorless feminist" in any other situation other than attempted oppression.
posted by jocelmeow at 10:39 AM on April 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


Your advice is really good, xarnop, but as a person who naturally appears meek and preylike, I found it really difficult to maintain the more assertive demeanor on a regular basis.

When I've had a long and/or particularly hostile commute, I just found it too tiring and unnatural to consistently comport myself in a way that is so totally contrary to my natural demeanor. I am an extreme introvert, I am very private, and I get all ruminatey a lot, thinking about work, to do lists, sandwiches, puppies, whatever, so keeping my head up and making eye contact and stuff just wears me out, especially if I have to do it two hours a day or more.

So I stopped. I made a conscious decision that I wasn't going to change my perfectly acceptable manners and behaviors as a defense mechanism. I can't keep that up, and I'm not the person whose behavior needs changing, anyway.

What I did instead was to steel myself to overcome my kneejerk politeness response (Oh, sorry my ass jumped all up on your hand like that!), and to lessen the disbelief delay, where I stand there thinking, "No, really, did this just happen? This really happened?"

So now, as a default, I act like myself, going about my business and doing the dumb stuff I gotta do; and people who mistake my introversion for meekness or stupidity get to be surprised!

In most cases, a loud and decisive "DON'T TOUCH ME" or "BACK OFF" will suffice, but also, I threw a pretty big guy against a brick wall once, too, and I still have a little reserve of swagger from knowing I can and will toss a bro into the side of a building when it's called for.
posted by ernielundquist at 12:07 PM on April 20, 2011 [7 favorites]


LOL that is awesome ernie! I am pretty messed up, so I would recommend duplicating anything that I do in this area LOL.

I was mostly hoping to add to the shared experience of dealing with it. Mostly I hide in my house which is not a particularly good solution...

I'm pretty sure that my pretend ninja car keys moves would not be helpful to anyone (don't try this at home kids!)
posted by xarnop at 2:20 PM on April 20, 2011


a woman confronting a flasher on the subway

I could never understand flashers. Unless you're ludicrously well-endowed, say, with a perfect gleaming nutsack, with the toned quads and glutes of an Olympic sprinter, well… I just don't think it's terribly wise for to go flouting such an obvious source of potential embarrassment. What if it's cold? What if you open your trench coat at the same moment the wind from an arctic breeze assaults your genitals? I don't get it.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 7:00 PM on April 20, 2011


Civil_Disobedient, I imagine the whole point for the flasher is that the horrified shocked reaction validates the powerful importance of their [pathetic] junk. Yes, that's really fucking sad.
posted by desuetude at 11:02 PM on April 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


via Stop Street Harassment:
I decided to take today’s posting, put it into a Word document and alter it a bit, and turn it into a 5×7 leaflet, copies of which I’m going to keep in my purse to hand out to men who find it necessary to communicate their sexual thoughts to me. It’s going to be a social experiment, but I’m very curious to see the effect it has.
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 12:28 AM on May 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Stop Street Harassment's twitter stream (@StopStHarassmnt) links to good stuff. The first two are venting frustration and the third made me grin:

Just A Cat Call

"You can’t win. If you ignore the guy, you’re a bitch, and he’ll let you know. Often, in one of the great mysteries of the universe, you’ll be called a slut for not dropping everything to blow this stranger in public. If you say hello, that’s rarely satisfactory. Then we need to have a conversation. This guy will feel at liberty to follow me. When I walk away, again, I’m a bitch."

"I got abuse for walking with a stick earlier today, it came from a gobshite with his mates around him. I didn’t realise he meant me at first when he shouted, ‘scrounging cunt.’ . . . I ripped into him . . ."
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 11:46 PM on May 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


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