I know there are a lot of varying opinions in these parts about that, but I like it. I hate that men don't listen to women when they speak about it, but when a man actually speaks about it in a way that shows he's listened to women, I can get behind it (as long as he's not expecting cookies). Saw this about street harassment on EverydayFeminism today, which is reposted from this blog I'd never heard of (figured I'd give the original post the clicks). Personally, I agree with all of it.
I also know there are some varying opinions about street harassment around here. I am of the, "don't even compliment my hat" camp because I do not like getting comments from strange men, period. I don't ever feel like it is done in complete innocence (even subconsciously). Maybe it's because I've spent my entire life trying to make heads or tails, analyzing intentions of comments I get from men in public, to the point that every time a man looks at me and starts to talk I get a knot in my stomach.
When he says something like, "you dropped your wallet" or "do you know how to get to X" I feel my heart start to slow - that, THAT is just how two genderless humans can interact with each other (unless, of course, there are ulterior motives). Why? Because my appearance is not involved. When he says, "I really like your hat," I wonder exactly what kind of response will work out for me: If I am nice, will he try to get my number and fuck me? Not ideal, but maybe he will do that. If I nod politely will he be mad I didn't say more, or was that nice enough he'll still try to fuck me? If I say nothing, or am rude, will he back off any not try to fuck me (which is the exact thing I want), or will he get mad and will the situation escalate? No matter what, whether you are complimenting a body part or a hat, I feel as if you are staring at me and sizing up my appearance. I feel gazed upon. You are not going to explode if you don't get your male opinion out in the open.
So anyway, I sit firmly on Team Don'tTalkToMeAboutMyAppearanceNoMatterWhat. I know others have different preferences and I respect that; my preference requires all men to err on the side of caution, which makes it admittedly hard for me to deal with any argument otherwise. But I do try to respect that all women have a different set of boundaries.
From the post, choice passages:
This is not a feeling anybody enjoys being forced upon them. Take, for instance, that woman you saw jogging in your neighborhood last week. You remember, the one that you howled at while you and your pal were driving past her?
All she was doing was attempting to do something healthy and just happened to be doing it in public. You, however, with your unwanted cat-calling, managed to reduce her to a thing that is merely to be fucked.
Given that you're directly dehumanizing her by treating her this way, do you really think your comments and whistling are flattering or encouraging? Can you still really not understand why women don't enjoy and welcome your cat-calls?
Oh, I see. That's not how you mean it. And besides, you respect women and can't figure out why they're so defensive when you try to talk them up at a bar.
You're one of the nice guys. You're not trying to objectify her. I get it.
Here's the thing about that, though: objectification aside, you're not the first unknown man who's attempted to talk to her. And while you may genuinely think that there's nothing wrong with affirming her attractiveness when trying to start a conversation with her, she has encountered other men before who tried a similar approach and it took a nasty turn. In fact, when she said "no thanks" to that guy's advances, he got nasty, snarled the word "bitch" at her, and became a real threat to her safety.
Just because you may have innocent intentions in acting a certain way doesn't mean that it is exempt from following a pattern of behavior that is historically threatening, demeaning, condescending, and otherwise just sincerely terrible. Yes, I know, you've never meant to scare women like that. I sympathize, but your private intentions don't really matter here.
I'm sorry, but it's impossible for you to be exempt from all the other men who harassed and threatened women simply because you decided that history shouldn't apply to you.
I like that the post is addressing a lot of guys who think they are well-intentioned. I think no one will flat out say, "I harass women because I think women are meat and they should do what I say." It's those guys who repeatedly ignore us when we say we don't even like the seemingly innocent stuff, or that we don't feel sexy when someone calls us sexy. Those guys who don't believe us and don't listen to us are doing THE MOST harm.