The Upper East Side may have a new serial groper plaguing the streets. On two separate occasions this week, police say a man who is “white, clean shaven, neatly dressed, with brown hair, about 30 years old, 5 feet 11 inches tall, and 180 pounds” has grabbed and groped women before running off.
Anna North at Jezebel makes a great point in her recent post “Rich White Dudes Can Be Gropers Too.” Anna focuses on avoiding perpetrator stereotypes and bad anti-rape advice like “stay out of ‘bad’ neighborhoods,” and instead concentrating on catching the bad guys:
“The case of the well-dressed groper busts a number of stereotypes about sexual predators: that they attack only at night and only in poor neighborhoods; that they’re unattractive men who can’t get women to notice them; that they’re never rich white guys. Law & Order: SVU, for all its faults, actually does a good job of challenging some of these myths: its perps are frequently powerful, good-looking white men. But the idea that all assaults are committed by certain kinds of men in certain kinds of places remains strong. The Upper East Side gropings are a reminder that telling women to stay away from “bad” neighborhoods at night isn’t going to stop assault. To do that, we need to stop the perpetrators. And since gropers sometimes escalate to more serious crimes, let’s hope the NYPD catches this one soon.”
Warning women to stay out of “bad” neighborhoods at night, as if there were a protective bubble of gender equality floating over places like the Upper East Side, is indeed laughable. Yet, this is still some of the most dispensed advice women receive on how to not get assaulted, that and “don’t wear skirts because then you’re just asking for it.” Thank you for that nugget of advisory gold.