Where’s the line on street harassment? September 29, 2013
Soraya Chemaly argues that violence is a natural end-result of the same principles which operate in what we ordinarily refer to as street harassment:
Earlier this week a man in a car pulled up next to a 14-year old girl on a street in Florida and offered to pay her $200 to have sex with him. [. . .] The girl said no. So what does this guy do? He reaches out, drags her, by her hair, into his car, chokes her until she blacks out, tosses her out of the car and then, not done yet, he runs her over several times. Bystanders watched the entire episode in shock. He almost killed her, but she lived and ID’d him in a line up and he’s been arrested and charged with Attempted Murder, Aggravated Battery with a Deadly Weapon and False Imprisonment. What was the Deadly Weapon referred to in the charge I wonder? Given our normatively male understanding interpretation of what is threatening, does a man pulling up to a girl like this and talking to her in this way constitute imminent harm?
This was an incident of street harassment taken to extremes.
You’re thinking, “He’s crazy! You can’t possibly put what he did in the same category as street harassment!” Yes, I can.
He stopped and talked to a girl he did not know and he told her what he thought and what he wanted her to do. Clearly, he felt this was okay, or he wouldn’t have done it. This isn’t insanity, it’s entitlement. This is, in principle, the same as men who say, “Smile,” “Want a ride?” “Suck on this” and on and on and on. And, that’s all before the public groping that might ensue.
OK. No big deal I’ve been told. But, he went further, as is often the case. When she said no, he just took her. He crossed a red line that seriously needs to be moved. “Taking someone” should not be the “red line” for public incivility and safe access to public space.
You can read the whole piece here on the HuffPo Blog. About a year ago or so, I went to the store — I pulled into the parking lot, and I noticed that in the space next to me, a man was sitting in his car. When I came out of the store, he was still there — except now, he was masturbating. In his car. In broad daylight. He smiled and waived at me. I called the police about it, but effectively, they do didn’t do anything (when the police came, he wasn’t doing it anymore, and by the time I requested specifically that the police allow me to file a witness report or press charges, they had already let him go without taking his name or any information, so there was no one to press charges against). Certainly this experience is no where near the sorts of extreme cases mentioned in Chemaly’s piece, but I have wondered since, if this is the sort of thing that’s effectively permissible in public space, where is the line? When I voice discomfort over my inability to go to certain gas stations without being cat-called, hit-on, etc., my less fervently feminist acquaintances think I’m being over-sensitive, or give me the usual “You ought to take that as a compliment” (which I think is a ridiculous response for a million reasons that are probably obvious to all of our readers) and yet, my run in with the public-masturbator seemed like it ought to be a predictable escalation of that same sense of entitlement to women’s bodies.
Is physical violence likewise on that same spectrum?
Vaginas of Anarchy July 10, 2013
North Carolina’s GOP tacked on abortion restrictions to State Bill 353, which was the Motorcycle Safety Act. This, just after tacking on abortion restrictions on to House Bill 695 (originally aimed at banning the recognition of Sharia law in family courts). As of this moment, I can’t access the new text of the bill via the official NC legislative site, but you can find more information from those on the front lines on twitter.
And in the meanwhile, here’s a song about what’s been going on (with some explicit language).
UPDATE: More information from HuffPo:
On Wednesday morning, state Rep. Joe Sam Queen (D) wrote on Twitter, “New abortion bill being heard in the committee I am on. The public didn’t know. I didn’t even know.”
Rick Perry on what Wendy Davis should have learned June 27, 2013
You read that right. Rick Perry think he knows both what Wendy Davis has or has not learned from her own experience, and what Wendy Davis should have learned from her own experience. He must have some amazing (and, seemingly, impossible) epistemic skills.
“Who are we to say that children born in the worst of circumstances can’t lead successful lives?” Perry asked in a speech at a convention held by the National Right to Life organization. “Even the woman who filibustered the Senate the other day was born into difficult circumstances. She’s the daughter of as single woman, she was a teenage mother herself. She managed to eventually graduate from Harvard Law School and serve in the Texas Senate. It’s just unfortunate that she hasn’t learned from her own example: that every life must be given a chance to realize its full potential, and that every life matters.”
Of course, this quote illustrates that he has fundamentally missed the point, and is trying to change the subject.
Guess who March 13, 2013
Women priests (no doubt)
Sometimes people become radicalized when they enter the upper positions in an extremely conservative institution. The US Supreme Court demonstrates some instances of this transition. So let’s hope that Pope Francis can do the same.
A new pope is thought to choose his name to signal the tradition he will align himself with. Francis I is not situating himself in such a line. So let us hope.
More forced ultrasound measures February 26, 2013
“The bill, approved by the state Senate Health and Provider Services Committee on Wednesday, would require clinics to conduct trans-vaginal ultrasounds on women both before and after dispensing the abortion-inducing drug known as RU-486.”
Oh, and the “argument” against medically unnecessary trans-vaginal ultrasounds being too invasive? Sue Swayze, the legislative director of Indiana Right to Life, had this to say:
“I got pregnant vaginally. Something else could come in my vagina for a medical test that wouldn’t be that intrusive to me. So I find that argument a little ridiculous.”
I take it the natural reductio to this argument is obvious.
Sandra Jensen: Why she kicks ass February 7, 2013
I found this short bio on tumblr and wanted to share it:
Sandra Jensen: Why she kicks ass
- She devoted lots of her time working as an advocate for the rights of people with disabilities; she worked part time as well as being heavily involved in volunteering.
- She was denied a heart-lung transplant by the Stanford University School of Medicine in California because she had Down syndrome. She then (along with supporters) began a very public battle, gaining nationwide attention arguing that Down syndrome should not be enough to automatically deprive a patient of a chance to survive, this resulted in her receiving the transplant (1996).
- She became the first person with Down Syndrome to ever receive a heart-lung transplant.
I’ll be over here in awe
I also found her obituary from 1997, which you can read here.
Jensen, an activist for disabled rights, served as president of a Sacramento disabled-rights group and was invited to watch then-President George Bush sign the Americans with Disabilities Act in 1990. Despite her disabilities, Jensen lived on her own, graduating from high school and busing tables at the Capitol cafeteria.
There doesn’t seem to be a lot of information about her or her story online, but I did find this report, which is taken from NYT and US News articles.