When street harassment is discussed, inevitably, the perpetrators or potential perpetrators of street harassment are men. This is because the majority of street harassment is perpetrated by men, just as the majority of people who experience street harassment are women.
The vast majority of any kind of sexual harassment or assault is perpetrated by men. Unsurprisingly, this can make women, particularly women who have experienced sexual harassment or assault, be wary of, or angry at men.
If you’ve read this far, you may find the tone of this post sounds very condescending, possibly to the point of rudeness. That is the same tone that women hear whenever someone has to add “you know, not all men are like that.”
“You know, not all men are creeps.”
“You know, some men know how to treat women.”
“You know, it’s not fair to blame street harassment on all men.”
Dear men in our lives: we know that the majority of you are decent, well-meaning and kind individuals. We know that there are many men who are basically decent people. We know. Men occupy half the planet. It would be incredibly difficult to walk through life only ever meeting women and male street harassers. There are quite a lot of you.
Before you add a comment like, “you shouldn’t blame all men,” please think about what you hope to accomplish. It is not helpful, it is not news, it doesn’t reaffirm a person’s faith in the male gender. All it does is detract from the person’s experience to make it about men.
There are no anti-street harassment movements that are focussed on blaming men because the focus is never on men. The focus is on people who experience street harassment.
When you add these comments, you tell us that your ego is more important than our experiences. You tell us that your discomfort at knowing you have the potential to harass someone is worse than the actual experience of being harassed.
Don’t beat yourself up, don’t think that you can never talk about street harassment again, just remember what Craig Ferguson says:
1.) Does this need to be said?
2.) Does this need to be said by me?
3.) Does this need to be said by me now?
We need to support each other if we want to combat street harassment, and more importantly, we need to support each other well.