SDS Womyn's Caucus Blog

Archive for the ‘oppression and privilege’ Category

Aliya

College Park, MD

Hey all,

I hope people are still reading this blog! I wrote a poem/spoken word piece about street harassment and I figured that others might appreciate my words, since I know I’m not the only person who experiences street harassment. Before my poem, I’m putting up a video about street harassment called “Walking Home.” I won’t spend a lot of time discussing why street harassment sucks, but it is an especially shitty situation because I have yet to figure out the appropriate way to respond. If you ignore the harasser or if you react, they will know that their words and behaviors affected you and they’ve accomplished what they intended (to harass you!).

I believe in the case of cisgendered male harassers, it has a lot to do with male privilege and entitlement. I also think it’s a matter of maintaining hierarchal relationships and societal power dynamics (male v. female, queer v. heterosexual, cisgendered v. transgendered/genderqueer), since it allows harassers to exert their supposed dominance over the individual being harassed. Their behaviors say in either a verbal or non-verbal way “you are weaker and of less value to me and thus I have the right to harass you.” I know many harassers plead ignorance, and there is definitely an element of ignorance in some instances of harassment, but I don’t believe that is the explanation for why harassers behave the way they do. Anyway, I hope this gives some solace to individuals who have experienced street harassment and empowers people to have conversations, call out harassers (when it is safe to do so), and check their own potentially harassing behavior. Also, check out the website for Holla Back DC!, a DC-based anti-street harassment organization.

Catcalls

I am not sorry for my curve

For the fine, rounded edges of my hips

The arm bare in summer dresses

You grab as if it’s yours.

You can keep whistling

But I don’t do tricks;

Nor do I lay down.

My ears are wide open and hear every word

But yours must be closed, because you can’t hear the tears I’ll no longer cry.

Your power is bullshit,

Your dominance, an illusion.

And PLEASE spare me from the “what? I was just playing!”

Or the “can’t you take a joke?”

And especially the “you’re just a dumb bitch/slut/ho/cunt/whore.”

The culture of fear you perpetuate is no game,

The only joke is you,

And I am only the labels I choose to take on.

What if I was your mother?

Your sister? Your grandmother?

Your girlfriend? Your niece?

Or any of the other women in your life you clearly failed to listen to?

And yes,

I know my dress is short.

That’s how I like it.

So swallow your words,

Keep your hands to yourself,

And if you even think about harassing me,

I will find an opening in your head (perhaps through the ear),

Voyage to your brain,

And pick that thought right out of your stupid fucking skull.

With a bounce in my step

I glide down the street with no apologies.

Posted by Robin, Philly

hugging salt n pepper

A person-shaped salt shaker and pepper shaker hug each other, the salt shaker looks a bit taken aback.

This is post #2 in a series called I.N.A.Y.: It’s Not About You. I.N.A.Y. #1: “Effectively” Calling Out Patriarchy can be found here.

Recently, I had a series of discussions with a new male acquaintance about touching. Basically, I had tried to communicate that I disliked him touching me, and he kept doing it anyway. When he was confronted about this, his explanation was that he thinks people in our society are too isolated from each other, and in an effort to bridge our isolation, he goes out of his way to touch people.

The guy is certainly not the first person in my life to repeatedly touch me when I’ve tried to make it clear I don’t want them to, but I’ll give it to him that he’s the first person to have apparently put so much thought into it, indeed to have a theory around it.

The problem is, by reducing it to a formulaic theory (we’ve talked about the link between theory and patriarchy on here before), he is putting his ideology before the desires of actual people in his life. He is being harmfully dogmatic, his actions say “I know best what is good for you, better than you do. Even if you ask me not to touch you, I will because I know what you need.” I.E., he’s being paternalistic and entitled.

Read the rest of this entry »

by Christa (Philly)

Words…

The words I choose became a much bigger deal when I went to college (moving from a conservative area to a liberal one) and especially once I became an organizer.  I had cut out retarded long ago…but I learned why words like bitch, gay, gypped and lame are problematic.  I’ve heard many reasons why offensive language is or isn’t important by radicals and non-radicals alike (as well as privileged and oppressed folks) but I’d still rather stick with better safe than sorry.  I don’t like when people say “fag” or “that’s so gay” so I’m going to do onto others how I want to be treated. Read the rest of this entry »