Street Harassment - Not Sexuality or Gender Exclusive

Street-harassment-ishtalk

Earlier this week I was strolling through the bustling streets of downtown Vancouver when I felt a very distinct grab of my ass. I may have been better off rolling my eyes and hurrying off; unfortunately as a 20-something year old female living in the city this kind of thing happens to me frequently. I strongly feel that the pressure to stay quiet often compounds the violation, therefore I turned around to confront the pervert expecting one of the usual suspects: your stereotypical crass frat guy, a prepubescent hooligan or someone of an inebriated nature. Instead I was face to face with someone completely unexpected: another woman.

When accosted with why she would do such a thing she laughed and said, “I couldn’t help myself, you were asking for it” and went about her merry way. Caught in the moment I vocalized myself once more, quite loudly as she walked away.

“You shouldn’t go around grabbing strangers on the street, you fucker!”

What happened next irritated me more than the woman physically groping me on the corner of Granville and West Georgia. A man told me I should be glad it wasn’t a man getting fresh with me on the streets while a woman around my age said that I should take it as a compliment while her accompanied mother nodded in agreement. These reactions are an ignorant way of viewing street harassment as another form of sexism that is only disgusting when practiced by straight males.

I’ve always been adamant about the fact that it your sexuality and gender doesn’t condone the way your interact with other people. The idea that anyone should be flattered by catcalling or being fondled is offensive because it’s a form of bullying. It doesn’t allow a person to accept or reject the attention, which means there is no consent. Being treated as if  I am being overly sensitive goes to show a distorted view of what should make someone feel good. Real compliments are humanizing and use communication, not a random sexual gesture or comment with strangers. I was left embarrassed when I shouldn’t have been and found it disempowering.

Here's the bottom line: keep your goddamn hands to yourself!

Have you ever had a similar experience? Leave a comment below and tweet us @vickiduong or @theishtalk.