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Street harassment, sort of

I've been moderating on Jez and Jez-affiliated sites for several years now, which means I've spent a lot of time reading a lot of responses on the site. There's always some that stick with you. There are some worth screencapping in their complete inanity. But there's a particular flavor of comment that I think about quite often, especially as I navigate around in public spaces.

Inevitably, on any discussion about rape, there's always some guy who says something along the lines of: "It's really sad that you walk around all the time worried about how some guy is gonna rape you." They don't mean "It really sucks that you, as a woman in this world, have to be hyper-aware of your surroundings because of the threat of rape and how people won't believe you if you report it."


They mean, "Ugh, you women, just shut up about rape already."

I honestly think about it a lot. "It's really sad that you walk around all the time worried about how some guy is gonna rape you."


My personal matter required a trip to a rural part of the country and before we left to come back home today, we stopped in the bazaar to get some blankets, since it's gotten surprisingly cold recently. As we tried to navigate back to the guest house, we got lost in the bazaar's side streets.

Most people in this part of the country don't speak English and they certainly don't get a lot of white foreign visitors. So we had already attracted a lot of attention — that's something that can be a bit overwhelming. As we walked past a group of teenaged boys, they stared at us very openly (which is also common). But then they started trailing us. And then one of them started talking to me. He said the same thing over and over, walking a few feet behind me — "I want to fuck you in your ass."


My husband and daughter were a few feet in front of me and talking to each other, so I'm not sure they heard this. And the guys gave up after a while when I didn't turn around. But they just kept repeating this and laughing. In the US, I'd probably have confronted them. In a culture where I am a minority, not from a well respected country, and a woman, I keep walking.

And I thought about that comment again, about how sad and misguided we women are, always afraid we might get assaulted. About how that commenter, or that kind of commenter, just has no fucking idea why we always have to be so alert to our surroundings, why we have to worry about getting assaulted. How common it is to be trailed by guys, to be harassed by guys, to be threatened by them just for walking by them on the street. And that happens in my hometown in the US and it happens on the streets in Pakistan, and it's happened to me in literally every country I've visited or lived in.

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