It’s not the same

Loud cell phone talkers are annoying and exhibit bad manners. The same is true for men who harass women on the streets. But, oh yeah, the men also are obnoxious, insulting, demeaning, infuriating, scary, and sometimes dangerous!

In an article about rudeness in public, the New York Times highlights ways some people confront those who have loud cell phone conversations in public or play their ipod way too loud. Then near the end of the article, the author mentions how one woman posts people’s cell phone conversations she overhears on her blog and that HollaBackNYC is a blog where women can submit photos of street harassers.* Whaatt?!

I hate that a big newspaper like the New York Times can characterize groping, stalking and sexually explicit comments as “bad etiquette” comparable to loud cell phone talkers in almost the same sentence. It’s a hell of a lot more than that!!

It’s predatory, bullying behavior that also oozes of male entitlement. (Men, it is not your right to talk to or try to get the attention of a woman in public just because you see her.) It contributes to women’ s continued inequality and leads most women to feel less safe and welcome in public than most men.

I hope that one day the NewYork Times will publish substantial articles about the problem of street harassment instead of articles like this one, in which it is mentioned offhand and out of context. And when I say substantial, I mean articles that don’ t just go: man masturbates on subway, woman takes photo and reports him, man is arrested. I mean stories that get at some of the complexities of street harassment and the very serious impact it has on the lives of so many girls and women.

*(I also think the author’s comparison of loud cell phone talkers to people who illegally park in handicap spots is off base. That is a fine-able offense; talking on a cell phone is not. Also, street harassment negatively impacts women and is perpetrated by men, illegal parking negatively impacts persons with disabilites and is perpetrated by able-bodied persons. As far as I know, loud cell phone talkers are not found primarily in any one demographic and they don’t impact only people in one demographic.)

4 Responses to It’s not the same

  1. Great post. One minor point: illegal parking of the sort discussed can be perpetrated by people with disabilities whose disabilities don’t impact their mobility.

  2. @Elizabeth Switaj point well taken. thank you

  3. Emily May says:

    Great post Holly. You are right. They originally wanted to make us the focus on the article and I spoke with the author and made the exact same point — street harassment is about violence, not etiquette. He took the point and at the very least made HollabackNYC a lesser focus of the article.

  4. @Emily May thanks for that extra insight and good for you for standing up for the reality of issue.

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