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I have been a member of the CouchSurfing community for more than five years. In that time I’ve gotten a few messages that could be considered slightly suggestive. Yesterday I received a completely revolting message from a might-as-well-be anonymous CSer who is clearly there to abuse the system as he has no friends, no recommendations and no photos and yet has “been a member” for almost a year. I reported his profile and both messages he sent me. Below are his messages and my responses.
Frank: “After looking at your pictures I have resolved to buy you a an extra large heavy duty bag and throw it over your entire body because you are the most beautiful thing that I have ever seen in my life. Any man who would look at you would want you for a wife! You can only marry one man at a time or even bed one man at a time! If you reject any of then they must accept No! Come on girl be reasonable! I am not saying that any man should take advantage of you by getting you drunk or hitting you over the head; however it is going to happen time and again unless you wear a large bag over your entire body! You are the most desired commodity in the world ever. You are finer than Gold! You are also worth way more. If you would be mine I’d give all my Gold away! That’s it become a gold digger and get you a huge bag made out of gold to hide under! God bless you and please be mine!”
Me: “You’re a fucking skeezer man. Trolling a feminist with threats of “bride kidnapping” because “you’re so hot I can’t control myself” is fucking pathetic. This website and this project were designed to bring travelers from all over the world together when hotels get too expensive, not to give you an easy way to harass strange women. Obviously you didn’t care enough to read anything on my profile before you sent me this disgusting, misogynistic message or you’d know I already have a partner. Not that I would ever consider “being” anyone’s who felt it’s ok to see women merely as objects to possess. Fuck off sleezebag.”
Frank: “All I am saying is that you can not avoid abuse because all that scum where you live will make a rodeo out of you if you don’t wear a large trash bag to shield your body or if you give into their demands. I am not saying it’s right and if I was there I would kick their ass and protect you like a brother. All I am saying is that you have to wear a bag over your head to keep men from wanting you or even molesting you other wise those Texans will get while the getting’s good. Damn those Yankee Masonic fuck boys to hell! I mean come on you are the most beautiful woman who ever lived! What are the chances that you will be raped over and over again! Its not like your a dog! You have been raped before because you are so fine thus the anger! And thus this has caused you to create this site. I am sorry that it has happened to you. I love you and I respect you and I am 100% pro women’s rights. Darling I love you more than anything in the world! Your wish is my command! Look the price of Gold is sky high and you could make a lot of cash manipulating someone like me!
In the the entire world. Men who drink may rape you in fits of insanity and what else can you do other than hide your perfectness under a bag! I would never take whats not afforded me!”
Me: “Telling someone who has been raped that it’s her fault is the lowest thing you can do. You obviously have no human decency if you’re throwing around the word rape trying to compliment someone. Do everyone a favor and only speak when spoken to. And do not contact me again.”
My self being a New York native was walking through times square on my way to do some volunteer work. It was an extremely hot summer day so I dressed accordingly to the climate. When I was walking through Times Square this man came up to me and said “Hello I am visiting New York and I love the women here do you mind if I take a photo of you” Me being the non confrontational person that I am said no thank you but before I knew it he grabbed me and held me up against him while his friend took a photo. I may have been lightly dressed due to the weather but that is no invitation for men to treat women less then human.
BY ANGELA DALLARA
It’s always encouraging to see criticism and internal dialogue within movements for equality—conversations that constantly question whether activists have the best priorities, are being as inclusive as possible, and are making a positive impact. I think one of the most admirable things about the modern feminist movement is the way we are always educating ourselves and each other, remembering that feminism is about equality for everyone regardless of their sex, gender, race, ability, and other factors—and asking whether our perspectives are complete and fair.
But I wish to see more of that healthy debate in the mainstream movement for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) equality today. Dialogue among LGBT activists often takes a more tense, accusatory tone about which goals are the most important, which queer community suffers more than the others, and which organizations aren’t good enough.
One of the clearest indications of this is the classic “debate” over how transgender issues fit within the broader LGBT circle. No matter how increasingly educated and informed we become about trans people and the issues surrounding trans communities, it seems like every couple of weeks there’s a new op-ed or forum debate or Twitter fight or public service announcement about whether the “T” should really be a part of the “LGBT” acronym. It never fails: just last week openly gay news anchor Don Lemon made that question a large portion of a panel of transgender celebrities he hosted on the Joy Behar Show. (The segment was extremely problematic, as Lemon is clearly not versed in trans conversations in any way; but promising in a larger sense, as I blogged about elsewhere).
Why is the “T” part of the “LGBT”? I hope that for feminists the answer is rather obvious. The stigma surrounding transgender, transsexual, genderqueer, and gender non-conforming people is the same stigma that people who aren’t straight must confront: They’re not expressing themselves according to the strict rules and rigid binaries that society has created for us, where there are men and women; men are masculine and have sex with women; and women are feminine and have sex with men. The trans community confronts these most fundamental notions of what the world tries to tell us about gender.
And this has devastating impacts. Transgender women make up 44% of all victims of violence against LGBT people. People of color make up 70% of the victims. It’s worth repeating. Transgender women of color are the single most targeted group in the LGBT community. But gay men, lesbians, and other groups are also regularly harmed—usually not for their sexual orientation, but for their expression of their gender; for “looking” gay.
“There isn’t much that compares,” said advocate Ja’briel Walthour in the Huffington Post yesterday, to living life as a transgender woman of color. “To face discrimination and biased attitudes is one thing; to stare down the barrel of a loaded weapon is another.”
Feminists are beginning to recognize the integral importance of speaking up for and protecting our trans sisters (and brothers), and why it’s relevant to them. But it remains an issue for many LGB and straight people who continue to ask “Why should I care?” The fact that they think this is even debatable is scary. The answer is glaringly obvious to me.
BY YASHAR, cross posted from the current conscience
The other day, my friend Dina was talking about her experiences of being catcalled—street harassment is a more accurate term—while walking around the streets of New York.
This wasn’t the first time I’ve heard about the epidemic of street harassment. Many of my women friends have remarked about experiencing and dealing with this kind of harassment and how unsafe it makes them feel.
For Dina, one particular instance of harassment on the streets of New York was cemented in her memory. She was walking alone, during the day, on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, when she heard a man taunt her, “Hey baby, you’re lookin’ good…”
“Don’t call me baby,” she responded.
He looked her up and down and said, “…fucking dyke.”
For the record, Dina is straight—not that it would have been okay if she weren’t.
This wasn’t the first, nor will it be the last time Dina faces street harassment. She has been harassed in public places, and on a number of occasions, followed by men. Many studies indicate that almost 100 percent of women will face some sort of street harassment at one point in their lives.
Most men don’t even realize street harassment exists as a very real, serious problem. Yet, many women see this kind of harassment as part of daily life. For the few men who are aware of it, they assume the extent of street harassment is something akin to harmless, or at worst, annoying flirting, which still problematic if that attention is unwelcome.
The reality of street harassment is far worse than what most men think or believe. In cities large and small, women have to contend with comments that range from the mildly offensive to the disgusting. Beyond being verbally harassed, many women are followed and some women are even forced to deal with the same harasser on a daily basis. And for some women, this “harmless” harassment leads to assault.
But I realized, as Dina was telling me her story, that I have never actually been witness to the kind of street harassment my women friends tell me about. If a woman is walking down the street with me, other men generally won’t engage in any kind of harassing behavior towards her because street harassment, like all forms of harassment, is about attacking the vulnerable.
And despite what some readers of this column may think about my gender, I will never know what it feels like for a woman to walk down the street alone. How am I to fully relate to the pain, fear, and humiliation of street harassment when I have never witnessed its full form and lack the the personal experience of being harassed on the street?
Street harassment is simply one issue that plagues women in their everyday life. They are constantly barraged with discriminatory obstacles that we don’t even see as obstacles.
To read the rest the of the article, click here.
A new t-shirt marketed to tweens and teens contains this message:
“I’m too pretty to do homework so my brother has to do it for me.”
Hey, JC Penny: It’s 2011. Your sexist t-shirt messaging sucks. Big time.
That’s right, let’s keep telling young women that their looks are more important than their brains or than doing homework. Maybe they’ll just start believing it.
Sign the Change.org petition to let JC Penny CEO Mike Ullman III know that his paying customers don’t appreciate being disrespected like this and that our daughters will not be wearing sexist propaganda. Ask your friends to do the same.
Thanks to your quick response, JC Penny has pulled the offensive t-shirt from their website and issued this statement:
jcpenney is committed to being America’s destination for great style and great value for the whole family. We agree that the “Too pretty” t-shirt does not deliver an appropriate message, and we have immediately discontinued its sale. Our merchandise is intended to appeal to a broad customer base, not to offend them. We would like to apologize to our customers and are taking action to ensure that we continue to uphold the integrity of our merchandise that they have come to expect.
A stranger grabbed my crotch on the metro today. and then tried to deny it and get away from me when I started screaming at him. eventually he mumbled ‘sorry’ and walked away and i didn’t have the energy to keep following him. but i’m proud of myself for yelling: you can’t treat women like that! you are disgusting! you should be ashamed of yourself! that is unacceptable! next time i’ll be mentally prepared to take the next step and report it.
Unfortunately I’m no stranger with harassment on the streets, having lived in Sydney and small country towns before Newcastle, I mean as appearances go I don’t consider myself unattractive, I’m not by any means thin, or conventional, but I take pride in myself and am careful to dress appropriately.
However the intensity and consistency of verbal and physical attacks since living here have been unprecedented, from having drinks thrown at me in bars, creeps asking incredibly personal things, even having my hair sniffed while walking the streets.
Mostly I try not to take too much notice, my long term boyfriend having even bought me a tazer to make me feel safer when I am out, and though it does its incredibly heartbreaking that it should come to that.
But rather to the point, I only just discovered this website and felt that I should share my most recent, and probably the most hurtful of experiences, being a late Sunday night, my boyfriend and I went for a walk to the 24hr grocery store to pick up some things so I could bake him some treats before he had to head home for work (he works rather odd houred shifts)
In my year of living here I was somewhat surprised to see the local club was going and quite lively, being familiar with the rather unkind crowd we opted to keep our distance and went on to do our shopping, however on our return as we took the same back streets avoiding the drunken crowds a car drove by slowly, a man leaning out the window screaming “fat slut!” at me as I stood there right next to my boyfriend, I felt completely humiliated, and angry for being judged at such a stupid hour on a Sunday night, I felt I had a right to be a little haggard, but I couldn’t dare even express the pain to my boyfriend as he silently ignored it, walking back home all I could do was try not to cry.
All I could ask myself was, “What kind of man would insult a woman, a complete stranger, in such a way? Why should anyone ever have to put up with such a public humiliation?”
I yet to understand, but I certainly found some solace in this site, I’m glad to not feel completely alone.
Walking toward my house, I made eye contact with a guy walking the opposite way on the other side of the street. I looked away. He did not. He kept staring at me, slowly turning his head a full 180 to keep staring at me as I walked up my driveway. It was completely silent, less than 30 seconds, and he was pretty far away from me, but I still felt shaken and threatened, and at the same time silly for feeling so threatened when nothing “really” happened, and angry that something so small means so much.
I had never lived in a city before this summer, and it took a while for me to get used to the unending comments I heard on the street. They always made me feel uncomfortable, and I found listening to music protected me the most on my walk to work.
My last week of summer work, I had run out of power to listen to my music so I was walking around without my usual guard up. I started to notice someone yelling, “Bitch!” at me as I was walking. At first I ignored it, but the yelling got worse when I turned around.
When I got to the cross walk and it looked like me and the man who was yelling at me would be standing together, I decided to walk off to the side and stand by a populated bus stop until he passed. As he walked across the street, he hatefully spewed, “bitch,” and “white cunt” with “privileged pussy” my way.
I didn’t know what to do; I just wanted to go home. After I crossed the street, he turned around to see me again. He stopped dead in his tracks and threatened me until I crossed the street again to walk on the other side.
I was wearing sunglasses, so no one could see me cry on my way home. I don’t let anyone talk to me like that, but he was so much bigger and filled with so much anger. I felt so powerless and so small.
Saturday night at about 8pm I parked on Little Raven street, at the far end of the mall from the Denver Library, where I was heading to drop off some books in the drop box. I made it to the library and successfully dropped off my books in about fifteen minutes. Walking back from the library to the mall (which involves walking down the street between a city park and the Denver capital lawn), a man started following me. I sped up, he did too. First, he just tried talking to me, to get me to stop. I responded, but kept walking. Then he asked me if I could sell him a bowl. I said no and kept walking. After crossing Colfax, I was passing the bus station when he angled his walking and tried to cut me off against the wall.
I ran into the bus station and went straight to the security guard. He followed me into the bus station, and the security guard made him go away for me. After I watched him go out of view, I walked out of the bus station to catch the Free Mall Ride down 16th street mall. A stop later, he got on the mall ride and started staring at me. I work on the mall at a place in which my coworkers are predominantly males, so I got off the ride and went to my work with the hope of losing him based on the intimidation factor of other males.
I waited 15 minutes, then tried to leave. I was partway down the block when he walked up next to me and said “hi”. I turned around and went back to work and waited for them to finish closing so I wouldn’t be walking alone. I didn’t get to my car till past 11pm.