This post shall include everything from simple sexist comments over sexual assault right up to rape, because, in a way, they all stem from the same idea: A woman has no right to have some dignity.
One of the main questions I ask myself when it comes to sexist comments or actions (like catcalling) is "should I really take that immature behaviour of some men serious?". My mature side says "no, just ignore those jerks". My cautious side says "leave it be, who knows what they might do next otherwise". My angry side says "give them a verbal lashing for it". My Feminist side says "that's the prove all men are swine".
None of those sides is completely right - but none is completely wrong either.
The coolest way to react is, of course, some female sexist behaviour. Something along the lines of "so, looking and catcalling is the only thing you can do, 'cause you can't get it up anymore". And it's quite efficient most of the time, because it shames the man who behaved so sexist before. But, alas, it is just as immature as the whole thing before. And, in some situations, it can be dangerous.
So, how should a woman react? Ignore it, because it's below her anyway? Ignore it, because it could be dangerous otherwise? Tell the man what a jerk he is for saying something like this? Write off all men as immature animals and either become gay or a nun? It's a tough question.
But let me make one thing clear: not every sexual comment is a sexist one. In the right company even women can make quite risqué jokes. After all, we have a sexuality as well.
The different between a sexual comment and a sexist comment is the way the woman (or man) is treated. If you just make a joke, it's usually not about a certain person. It's about a general, nondescript, non-existent person. You're not trying to debase women (or men) in general or a certain person. Those jokes are fun, because they just might contain a grain of truth about everyone listening to them. So, in essence, people laugh either about themselves or about someone they know, but have not named and thereby outed. Or they just laugh about the image the joke creates without depicting a certain person.
But commenting loudly about the good or bad points of someone's body, whether it's a man or a woman, that's debasing. It turns the person from a human being into an object. Even if it's just a general "women (or men) are ...", it's still debasing for every woman (or man) hearing the comment.
And debasing someone, in my experience, is the first step do doing worse things. That goes for Sexism as well as for anything else. If you can, without being punished for it, make sexist remarks about a person, you can, perhaps, get through with the next step.
Like touching that person's body (especially the parts generally considered to be sex-related) without permission. I'm not talking about really coincidental touches in a full train or elevator. Sometimes brushing another person's body (a woman's breasts, groin or behind as well as a man's groin or behind) cannot be avoided. But, usually, if it was coincidental, people will either say they're sorry or they will not remark on it at all, neither with words, nor with gestures or mimics. Touching someone else on purpose, on the other hand, is rightfully considered sexual harassment. And it doesn't have to be touching, either. Looking at someone suggestively or making off-hand comments about that person's qualities (in looks or in bed), can qualify as sexual harassment, too.
Now, if you're a man, you might say "that's really harsh". But, in that case, try to imagine this: At work, whenever a woman passes you by, the grab your behind, fondle your groin, stare at your lower regions (no matter whether they see the front or the back of your body) and make off-hand comments about the size and functionality of your primary sexual organs and the rest of your body, either to you or to other women. And I'm not just talking about the young, good-looking women. I'm also talking about the sixty-something secretary of your boss or the highly overweight girl working as an accountant (and I don't mean old or overweight or less attractive women don't have a right to be sexually active, I just want to emphasize this 'interest' in your body doesn't just come from women you'd like to be interested in you). That's sexual harassment. And I bet you wouldn't like that. And now imagine the only thing your boss has to say about it is "oh, don't get so dramatic, it's just fun".
The next step up that spiral of debasing behaviour is rape. Rape isn't about sex at all, it's about humiliation and degradation of the raped person. And, while most rape victims are indeed women, men can be raped as well.
A myth that just can't be killed off about rape is that it's always the dark stranger lurking in a shadowy corner who does it. Yes, there are rapes committed by total strangers, but most rapes are committed by people the victim has known beforehand. Date Rape and forced sex in a relationship are rapes as well.
Forced sex is always rape, not matter what kind of relationship rapist and victim had before it happened.
It doesn't matter whether the person raping someone is married to them, dating them, a close relative or a complete stranger.
And it doesn't matter what the victim looked like, what the victim wore at that time or what the victim did with/to the rapist before.
The moment someone says "No", it's over. Even if you've been fooling around for hours before it happens, "No" means no more of it. Stop what you want to do and step back.
And a woman (or man) doesn't "deserve it", just because she happened to wear a mini-skirt or revealing clothes. Even if she walked down the street completely naked, that would not constitute anyone's right to simply do to her whatever they want.
There is no excuse for forced sex with anybody!
Women aren't around to be 'used'. Neither are men. Every human being has the right to not be debase, degraded or humiliated. Everywhere in the world.
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