After becoming frustrated, angered and upset at yet another piece I read about the abuse and harassment women have to put up with on a daily basis, I got to thinking.
All of the great groups there are out there working to combat this sort of disgusting behavior are headed by women, run by women and spoken about and promoted mostly by women. Of course there are some wonderful men out there who are also vocally against this sort of treatment of women. But overall, it seems that it is just the same good people who are speaking out about street harassment and sexual assault over and over again.
The abusers and harassers never seem to write about their experiences, try to make us understand what it’s all about or even offer some sort of explanation or justification for their behavior. Why is this, I wonder?
My conclusion is, it has to be because the men that do this sort of thing don’t see anything wrong with it at all. I call it a Y Chromosome Sense of Entitlement.
They think because they are men, they are the stronger, the more dominant and important sex, thus, they have a sense of ownership and claim over women so they can treat us in any fashion they please. The street harassers and abusers think that women are objects put on this earth just for their pleasure.
What they don’t understand is for someone to be entitled to something, they have to earn it. For example; you go out for a few drinks over the weekend after a weeks’ work because you deserve it; it is your reward for your hard work. People who feel a sense of entitlement when they ultimately have done nothing to deserve it come across as nothing but childish.
Sadly, a lot of men are afflicted by the Y Chromosome Sense of Entitlement. Here are five types:
1. The guy who thinks it’s funny and feels he has the right to play the ‘big dog’ or alpha male in front of his friends and show his dominance over a woman walking alone. Oh how manly you are, sir to call me baby and comment on how much you like my boobs, please catch me as I swoon into your big strong arms. Well I have news for you dawg you’re not the pimp you think you are. You are an ass, a nuisance, a street harasser and no woman would find you in any way attractive or touch you with a bargepole covered in antiseptic cream.
No decent men will ever have respect for you for behaving like a cave man in public. You make women feel deeply uncomfortable, you scare and upset us. When you do this we have no idea how to react because if we ignore you or call you out things could escalate either way, so we just try to look confident while quickening our pace until you and your homies are out of sight and earshot and we breath a sigh of relief that we haven’t just been raped or sexually assaulted.
2. There is the creepy loner guy who just seems to hang around. He makes you nervous at the sight of him and your gut is screaming at you to keep your distance from him. But of course you don’t want to cause a scene, he hasn’t done anything yet, so you subtly keep your back away from him and are on high alert with your most defensive posture all the while trying to look nonchalant and really into your book or music player. However, in reality you haven’t read a thing since you spotted him and your music is down so low you can’t even hear what song is on. You stay on guard until he walks past you or gets off the train/bus but even when he is out of sight your mind is filled with thoughts that he might come back.
3. There is the guy who is in a position of power which he will happily use to his advantage (and he’s usually a little smarter and a little more subtle, often married). The boss man, the friendly and charming guy, who sometimes gets a little too close for comfort but he does it to everyone so you take no notice at first. Then he will make the odd comment about how you look but you can’t really do much because he is your superior and once he knows he can get away with it he will start to brush past you when you are in a tight space. You want to keep your job so you have to put up with it.
You don’t- it is sexual harassment and it is illegal. I know people need to earn a living but at the end of the day your personal safety and well being should be more important than a wage packet. To those creepy bosses that abuse their positions of power and trust I say, a lot of you have daughters well just think one day your daughter could have a boss just like you or worse marry a guy just like you.
4. There is the opportunist guy who will quickly try and grope or touch you either in a subtle or obvious way. Mostly it’s on nights out in crowded areas so you can’t see exactly who did it or as they fly past on a bike or in a car. Some of them actually don’t care if you can see their faces, they wanted to touch an intimate part of you so they come right up to you and do it and they will not apologize for it. They think they did nothing wrong. Meanwhile you are feeling a mixture of tears and venom bubbling up inside of you, but you know there is nothing you can do, they are gone and you will probably (hopefully) never see them again.
5. There is the good guy and secret misogynist who will sit down or come up beside you and try to make conversation with you while it is obvious to everyone but him that you want to be left alone. But why wouldn’t you want to talk to such a wonderful man? After all you are lucky he choose you to converse with. You nod and smile while trying to get away or maybe you politely say you’re not interested/have a boyfriend/are waiting for someone. This is when you see the good guys true colours and he erupts shouting at you calling you a bitch saying HE JUST WANTED TO TALK TO YOU! What’s your fucking problem, whore? And to think you actually felt bad for turning him down in the first place and tried to be nice about it!
It is not right that women are in constant fear for their safety day or night, whether outside, traveling, or in a work environment. The abusers and harassers have never been leered at or groped so many times they can’t count. Men are not entitled to treat women in this way, we do not deserve it. It has got to stop.
There is also another type of guy I want to mention, this is the most important type.
There is a man who sees women as his equal and talks to them as such, who treats them with respect and who doesn’t have a sense of entitlement. Without these men, the world’s population would have severely depleted! They are real men. Decent men, who don’t hurt or mistreat women and don’t stand for other men doing it either, in fact they call them out on it. So I want to say thank you to them for helping to restore my faith in the male gender.
Below find info for some groups that are focused on ending street harassment and violence against women.
Yvonne Ní Mhurchú promotes female empowerment, safety and equality. She lives in Limerick City, Ireland. Yvonne studies Psychology and Philosophy at Mary Immaculate College and is a Sexual Assault Treatment Unit (SATU) Support Worker at Rape Crisis Midwest. She is completing a Rape Crisis Counselling course at Rape Crisis Midwest as well. Yvonne’s writing has also been published on ihollaback.org.