Almost every woman who has ever been in a public space has been sexually harassed. I have yet to meet a female who doesn’t have multiple stories that range from cat calling, to violent rape. Yet even though this attention is not asked for, we are often supposed to consider it a compliment when someone yells “cute nipples” as we are trying to walk to work.
Street harassment is a type of verbal assault. Of course there is spectrum, but shouting your feelings of attraction at somebody who you are not otherwise conversing or connected to, isn’t exactly coming from a place of respect. It’s one thing to be engaged in a mutual conversation of flirtation, and compliment the person you are talking to in a sincere manner. Yet it’s totally another thing to yell, “your ass is tight” and a woman biking past.
The ingredients that delineate appropriate from inappropriate behavior are intent and reception. If your motivation in communicating is to genuinely honor that person, then that authenticity should prevail as energetically pure. And if that person receives your methods with enthusiasm, one can assume the interaction is positive. Many people have different standards, and there is no one size fits all model. If both parties are comfortable, then you can assume that no one is being violated.
Yet to participate in a one sided dialogue, where you are insisting another person hears your inner monologue, is aggressive. It is perfectly okay to think to yourself “man that chick is sexy, and I would love to put my penis inside her warm lady hole,” but you can keep that too yourself. You don’t have to scream it at her in front of your friends who cheer you on!
Even though women do not ever deserve to be harassed, we can’t just vilify men as monsters. In order for this practice to stop, we also have to try to understand where they are coming from. The pressures of masculinity are great, and in order to empower men to handle themselves with grace, we can’t simply point the fingers and suggest they are all barbarians. The best way to address this issue at its core is to examine why these men feel the need to objectify women, and help them to move past this paradigm.
No body wins in this culture of sexual aggression. Men don’t appreciate women in this context, and women are demeaned. The human condition craves intimacy and connection. When we are separated through these confused ways of relating to each other, we discredit then symbioses of the genders. Men and women need each other in a profound way, and when this pivotal relationship cannot be explored with genuine integrity, then the anger, resentment, and bitterness takes its place.