(I could not make this shit up)
My apartment has windows facing the street, meaning I can hear pretty much everything that happens on the sidewalk beneath them. And this morning, just as my side of the street was getting the cars cleared for street cleaning, I heard some dude outside go, “C’mon, I just want your number, is that so much to ask? You’re so pretty, you know?”
Well, in light of recent conversations, I was like RED ALERT, and bustled my nosy butt outside to see what was up. Sure enough, a guy in his mid-to-late thirties had stopped his car, gotten out, and was now following a girl down the street. And when I say a girl, I mean a teenager.
Now, I’m brave and stuff, but this guy had shown himself willing to go so far outside the socially acceptable boundaries of behavior that I was pretty sure if I called him on this he wouldn’t take it well, and I was weighing my options when, like an angel of mercy and goodness, a parking enforcement officer came rolling up and she got out. First she saw me and was like, “Is this your car?”
And I was like, “It belongs to that guy down the street hassling that girl.”
And bless this woman’s heart, she gave this great eyebrow and was like, “EXCUSE ME SIR, UNLESS YOU WANT A $75 TICKET I SUGGEST YOU MOVE.”
I will give him credit for balls of steel, because he actually said, “Hold on one minute, I’m talking to my friend,” which, NOPE.
Fortunately the officer is like, “Sure, I’ll wait a minute, and in the meantime I’ll be writing you this ticket.”
So the dude goes grumbling back to his car, and of course he can’t park it anywhere nearby, so he drives off. In the meantime, I ask the girl if she wants to come inside for a minute to make sure the dude left, which she did, and sure enough DUDE CIRCLED AROUND THE BLOCK LOOKING FOR HER (I watched him while the girl was inside getting acquainted with my dog) before taking off. The girl is 18, she didn’t know the guy, and the whole time I was driving her to her brother’s house she kept trying to figure out what she’d done wrong.
Not all men harass women. But all women - and girls - are harassed by men.
Slut-shamed to death for saying yes to sex, murdered for saying no
Trigger warming: extreme violence against women, discussion of murder, suicide, online bullying
As a sexologist, I’ve been writing and educating about sexual double standards for years; the age-old damned if you do, damned if you don’t predicament women face about their sexuality. If you have sex, you won’t be respected, but if you don’t have sex, you still won’t be respected. It’s an impossible paradox. This week, that paradox became deadly. This week women have died for saying yes to sex. And women have died for saying no.
First, earlier this week the story of Alyssa Funke broke. She said yes to sex. And she agreed to film it for other people to enjoy while masturbating, and was paid to do so. When her friends and the internet found out about her porn video, she was harassed so vehemently she committed suicide with a shotgun. She was slut-shamed to death. She’s dead because she said yes to sex, and people (mostly men) tormented her about this fact. They tormented her about her decision the have sex until the point that she believed being dead was a better scenario that dealing with the torment.
BUT THAT WASN’T ENOUGH FOR THEM!
Even though she’s dead, men continue to tweet at her remarks that simultaneously shame her for saying yes to sex, relish her death, and delight in masturbating to her video. The tone I read over and over again was “She filmed herself having sex, so she deserved to die. I enjoyed watching her have sex, but she still deserved to die.”
If some men believe the death penalty should be the punishment women, and women alone, receive for saying yes to sex, they must believe that sex is the worst of crimes, and we should therefore say no to sex. But saying no to sex resulted in women’s deaths this week too. The double standard isn’t just damned if you do, damned if you don’t anymore. It’s dead if you do, dead if you don’t.
A man killed 6 people and wounded 7 others at the University of California Santa Barbara two days ago, shooting into a sorority house, as promised, as "retribution" that since puberty women have denied him the sex and attention that he thought he deserved for being a “gentleman”. Women said no to sex, and now women are dead.
BUT THAT WASN’T ENOUGH FOR THEM!
Men began posting to twitter, Facebook, and Instagram that, well, these women got what they deserved. The tone I read over and over again was “This is what bitches get for denying the guy some pussy. He was a rich, good looking guy, and stuck up selfish prude sluts wouldn’t put out. Let this be a lesson to you ladies, the next time you refuse a man a blow job.”
It is open season on women. If he was black and he drove down the street killing people from his car window, he would have been labelled a “thug”. If he was middle eastern and struck fear into an entire town by murdering strangers as they walked down the street, he would have been labelled a “terrorist”. But he was an affluent, young, white man on a mission to murder women, so he’s just a depressed guy who understandably snapped after being rejected by women for too long.
So what can we do to stop this? We can refuse to participate in policing other people’s sexuality. We can call it out when we see others doing it. We can petition the media to address the misogyny and sexual double standard when discussing these murders. We can talk about it- blog about it, post status updates about it, write school papers about it, talk to friends about it. When it happens online, we can report it.
But we have so much work to do. When I reported to twitter that people were still sending horrific messages to Alyssa Funke, calling her a “whore” and rejoicing in her suicide, twitter informed me that they will not investigate my complaint. Only the person being subjected to the harassment directly can file a report, they told me. Well, Alyssa can’t do that twitter. She’s dead.