I’m gonna be honest with y’all: lately, I haven’t been engaging as much with this campaign as I should because I have been feeling burnt out.
It has nothing to do with the actual street harassment movement or the people or organizations involved with it. Instead, it was a combination of varying personal issues combined with the persistent feeling that can best be summed up by this photo:
While this is the general reaction I have to most stories of street harassment and the spread of rape culture, there are certain stories which produce more violent reactions from me.
And just this month, the Delhi gang rape case? I can not believe I still have to protest this shit. Just about every new development has either made me want to flip tables or curl up into a ball in the corner.
Basically, it has gotten to the point where I’ve been disengaging because I would like to care a little less.
The reason why I’m telling y’all this is because I think it’s really easy to feel this way. When you become aware of rape culture and street harassment and the daily impact it has, it can be overwhelming.
If you get to the point where you are just sick and tired of trying to tell your male friends about how street harassment is a problem, or telling your parents why dressing differently is not the answer to rape culture, or telling your friends why rape jokes are wrong, I’m here to tell you that it’s fine. Everyone get’s burned out, and no one can expect one single person to keep fighting all the time.
As the new year approaches, I would like all of us to pledge to work harder to make rape culture a thing of the past. At the same time, I would also like all of to pledge that the next time someone harasses you, and you find that you can’t speak up, you don’t have to feel like a failure. The fact that you are here and able to survive the daily abuse a person can receive on the streets is enough.
Personally, I feel incredibly lucky that organizations like Hollaback! and Stop Street Harassment have bothered to pay attention to a small campaign like mine, and I think it’s because they know that we’re all in this together.
If you start to feel burnt out, take a break and take care of yourself. We will still be here.
I’ll y’all in 2013.
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.