I remember the very first time I was street harassed. I was walking on my way home with my sister. It was the beginning of summer in Philadelphia. Naturally, shorts and tee shirts were the uniform. Walking by an apartment complex, we passed a couple of guys who looked no older than mid twenties. Not really paying attention, we passed them heading to our house. One of them blurted out “Hey big titties.” so loud it startled both of us. When I turned to see who he was talking to, I saw him looking at me, licking his lips. Disgusted, I stormed home. My sister and I didn’t speak again for the rest of the walk.
I was eleven years old.
And the sting of that encounter has followed me for 20 years. And it would only be the beginning of the almost daily verbal assault i would receive from males because I dared come outside.
So when all of the anti-street harassment campaigns and social media exposure began, to say that I personally was both elated and disappointed is an understatement: elated because finally, there was a name for the terrible treatment I and many others were receiving and now there was a very public way to fight this very public sexual bullying. I was disappointed because there were so many stories and incidents just like mine. The Twitter tag #NoWomanEver is one of those giving a humorous spin on this dark behavior, showing how idiotic and disgusting street harassment actually is.
Yet, there has arisen another tag, the #NotAllMen tag, that was formed to combat the #NoWomanEver tag.
We, as women, know that not all guys act like this. The problem lies, not within men as a whole, but in the males who, while engaging in some very antiquated chauvinistic behavior, are and can be quite disrespectful to women. Behaviors that women in generations prior were forced to endure due to huge gaps in equality and understanding have bee, unfortunately, passed down and rear their ugly heads overtime a male feels privileged enough to call a woman by a piece of her anatomy or dare speak lewd language to her.
#NoWomanEver is one of her weapons to fight back. #NoWomanEver is not a man bash. Its a jerk bash. And quite frankly, there are too many jerks out there and not enough men.
Saying “not all men” as a response to these often times traumatic stories negates the fact that there are enough guys out there who engage in these disgusting and immature behaviors to flood social media time lines. It also negates the humiliation, frustration, and infuriation that comes along with these experiences.
Saying #NotAllMen is the equivalent to a person being hit by a reckless driver, and then, while the injured person is still laying thin the street, another driver pulls up and shouts out their window “Not all drivers hit people!” before speeding off. Its a dismissive way of negating all that the injured victim has experienced while speaking and stroking the man’s ego.
Lets be very clear: street harassment is a real thing. And unfortunately, not enough guys are serious about it. Not enough guys acknowledge it as a problem. Not enough guys even acknowledge that it exists; until it is their own girlfriends, sisters, or even their daughters, who experience the sting of verbal public objectification by a guy who felt totally entitled to do it.
Not enough guys…
My new response to #NotAllMen is #NotEnoughMen