Some notes on harassment

I just happened across a 2012 chat among female Rookie magazine staffers, discussing and listing a few dozen instances of street harassment they've experienced. (Warning: Triggery.)

Note to readers, but especially to male readers who haven't had these experiences: You might be inclined to nitpick some of their comments. If so, please try to take a step back and look at the underlying issue, the vast ongoing systemic harassment that can start at age 12 (or earlier, of course), and can go on for decades.

As the intro to the transcript says, if you're not female “you might be surprised to learn what all your female friends go through.”

Or you may not be surprised; in which case no need to tell me that you weren't. I'm bringing up the surprise thing because I have been. For the first year or two after I started hearing this kind of thing, I always responded (to myself if not to others) with surprise, noting that this stuff is invisible to me, that it goes on where I don't see it, whether because I'm not paying enough attention or because harassers do it less when other guys are around.

But at some point, I realized that it's not invisible to me any more, in the sense that women have been telling me and telling me about it. The information that this crap is going on, all the time, should not be a surprise to me at this point. I didn't intend my surprise to mean “this must be something rare and weird, 'cause I never see it happen”; but I think that may've been a subconscious part of my reaction. So these days I'm trying to get over that, to be more aware that a lot of women are living in a different social experience than I am.

See also a discussion of the word “creep” and “On Creepiness.” (Thanks to Sumana for the links!) Again, if you're inclined to nitpick either of those (as my initial impulse was, for one of them), try to look past that to the core of what they're saying.

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