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Tuesday, 20 March 2012

When Men Don't See

By: Liberate Zealot

Content Warning: Depictions of Street Harassment

I've seen and been in lots of discussions with men about street harassment. They almost always suggest that men aren't aware of street harassment, or how prevalent it is because they don't see it happening.  That no one harasses women when they're with men.  I hear or see this and I always flash back to times when I or friends of mine have been harassed. 

Two years ago my father came to visit me in the beginning on May.  It was late Sunday morning and hot.  We were walking to get brunch and I was wearing a sundress and heels.  As we walked across the street some middle aged men honked their horn at me.  One leaned out the window to "compliment" me on my legs.

I was leaving a restaurant late at night with three female friends.  There were various male patrons and servers around.  As we were about to leave four young men came in.  One of them reached over and tried to grab my crotch but I moved enough that he got my thigh instead.

My roommate was commuting home using the public bus.  It was nearly full with various men and women.  An older man took the seat next to her.  He didn't look at her or talk to her during the ride.  When it was her stop and she walked past him he reached out and grabbed her bottom.

In my senior year of high school some of us juniors and seniors went on a school trip to Italy.  In one day in Roma my friend was groped on public transit almost as soon as we left the Vatican.  It was packed, and there were many men around. Two hours later we ran into some guys we knew at on outdoor cafe.  We stopped quickly to say hello and a waiter came forward, grabbed me, and tried to force me into one of the teen boy's lap.  

Numerous times my friends and I have walked down streets and been hollered, honked, and whistled at.  Every time was in public.  Every time there was multiple men around. 

So I have a question for these men.  Where do you live that no man will harass a woman if she is with or near other men?  Because it isn't Rome, or Zurich, or Boston, or New York, or London, or Baltimore, or LA, or Lima, or Washington DC, or any place (small or large) that I have ever been.  Almost every time I am harassed other men are close by, but somehow they never see.  They don't see the women on the street being honked and hollered at.  They don't see the women on public transit being groped (even when we raise a "fuss").  Why?  Why is it they can ignore what happens to women in public, in front of them?

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