Check out this new documentary addressing the state of the streets for women in Afghanistan and let us know what you think in the comments!
What do you think of this ad critiquing toy marketing for little girls? (Via Slate XX Factor)
Recognize any of these scumbags? (Via Buzzfeed)
A very interesting short documentary by Amber Deniz Altan about the mistreatment of women in Turkey told through a series of interviews. In Turkish with English subtitles: [youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lQJK7bYYviU[/youtube]
Sometimes it feels as though things will never change, but take a look at these old advertisements from 40+ years ago. Change can be slow-going, but if we work hard enough we can make a difference!
Walls Are Not Tumbling
He said “When you pay too much attention to your looks, you give a message.” I said “What message?” He didn’t clarify. I said nothing for the next few minutes, kept looking at him in jaded disbelief and asked: “Why do you think a woman wears a miniskirt?” He said he didn’t know.
For a moment, I didn’t know either. Sobs and slight convulsions up to that point during the session had fired a headache I suffer only during times like these, my eyes were so swollen that they shrank into a squint. I said “These are my legs. These are my legs.” The man in front of me was my therapist.
The night before, I was walking up Tarlabaşı Boulevard after midnight in heels, transparent stockings and miniskirt- oh please let me justify first, this was my business attire and Sunday happened to be a workday- crying and talking to my friend on the phone. The boulevard was alive, brightly lit by lamps and headlights of cars and busses, but the sidewalk was narrow, narrower with my hurried but exhausted steps. Before I could reach Taksim Square, I received leers and intrusive remarks from a handful of creeps, one of them following me closely until I threw myself into the boulevard as I quickly thought that drivers would show more kindness than this hideous man to a woman trying to walk, talk and keep herself collected after midnight in the second most populated city of the world.
I wear miniskirts to work, to clubs with friends, to a casual day in the library by myself. I grew up having to cover all my body; I am only recently coming to terms with accepting, appreciating and most importantly loving my body the way it is. It has been a slow and painfully guilt-ridden process. It means loving your limbs without letting anyone, any rotten ideology or system deciding on how to cover them properly because they will cause men to have sex with you.
My therapist suggested that I didn’t pay this time for he had broken my heart. I refused and walked out. He has done so much in the better part of thirty six years of his life, dedicated so much thought and energy into winnowing out all sexism in his makeup that I simply could not not forgive him for making a confused and uncomely remark. He has been my biggest support in my rebirth as a fully independent human being and proved how doable it is to show effort and rid oneself of the backward patriarchal bigotry hardwired in both men and women. Of all ages and ethnicities.
A dear friend of mine, born and raised sexist in Australia where his masculinity would be cruelly suspected by male peers if he didn’t sleep with a new woman every week, told me that he had been on an internal journey of enlightenment for the past six months and that he had been questioning and restructuring his definition of manhood through a complete turnaround in his approach towards women. He told me, his eyes glowing like a curious child, that he had found out about how complex and beautiful women are and that having profound talks with them with no intention of sexual advancement was a most precious thing. A few days ago, he made a thoughtless joke on prostitution and consensual one-time sex between strangers. He had no idea about what it could mean to a woman and felt deeply ashamed when he found out.
In my experience, every human being is sexist until proven otherwise. Thousands of years of patriarchal tar runs through all of us, men and women alike, and it requires a conscientious and constant effort of unlearning to eliminate. It took me a good deal of fifteen years to realize that there was something wrong with having to cover my entire body, another two years to make peace with a new self, and countless everyday experiences that forced me to rethink and question the web of patriarchy interlocking many cultures. Most often, men do not have as numerous visceral experiences that lead them into an epiphany on the status quo. And mostly, women suffer more from patriarchy than men do. When I told my friend that if you equate sex with prostitution in any linguistic register it will only serve as an underhand perpetuation of degrading a woman’s sexuality, no matter the receiver of the joke, he was deeply sorry and he accepted that “jokes” have been the blind spot in his unlearning efforts. My therapist has been working intensely on gender roles since he was an adolescent and part of the reason why he chose his profession is rooted in his staunchly patriarchal background. Ever since, he has been striving to understand himself, his sister, his girlfriends and now his daughter and to correct his behavioral patterns. He says to me, with unease and in a markedly apologetic tone, that sometimes, despite all efforts, a sexist monster from deep below pokes his head out in unwarranted ways and says something he fails to account for in a fleeting moment. At first, I thought all the walls were tumbling. My therapist and my friend, my brightest beacons of hope had also failed. But when I thought it over, I realized that it takes a while for both sexes to acknowledge the wrongness of behaviors or words on the wide spectrum of sexism. And after so much sincere effort, when we sometimes fail, a quick shake-off will be enough.
World, meet Khaos. According to the ‘About’ page it “contains so many issues I can’t even really list them. Some of the things you may find here include: Gays, lesbians, those weird bisexuals everyone is talking about, faggotry, homophobia, transgender issues, dubious consent, body issues, abuse, hate and most important of all, a big old helping of LOVE. There’s a reason I called it Khaos.”
We love it. You’ll love it.
We couldn’t! Check out the article and the conversation at Jezebel.com.
Do you think street harassment effects the way you treat strangers in public? One of our Canimiz Sokakta’s volunteers does! Check out this piece on how she thinks her street experiences have changed the way she views others .
It’s noon on a sunny spring day on Istiklal Caddesi. I’m walking quickly down the street, trying to be as inconspicuous as possible with my headphones in and eyes straight ahead. I notice a grinning young guy a few meters ahead motioning and saying something. Rolling my eyes and mentally ticking a box next to ‘creep’, I think of how much I hate this street and keep walking. The man keeps talking and begins walking alongside me gesturing towards the side of the street, but I ignore him and keep walking, stoic-faced and fast-paced. After a few seconds the man grabs my arm and begins pulling me to the side. Shocked by his brazen action on such a crowded street in the middle of the day, I rip my headphones out and prepare myself to throw down, thinking about how much I’ve had it up to here – HERE – with these men and their creepy antics. I’m just crafting a strange sentence in broken Turkish about shame and killing and his hairdo when I realize there’s a tinny ringing sound close behind. The guy’s face crumples in confusion as he points behind me. Sure enough, that illustrious symbol of Istanbul, the Nostalgic Tram, is hovering impatiently, complete with an “Ooof yaa!”-ing driver grumbling about yabancilar (foreigners) as I stand in the middle of the tracks completely unaware. I had been walking on the tram tracks all along and the poor guy was trying to stop me from getting steamrolled by the rickety red carriage hurtling down the street at a solid 5kph. The only thing I could do was laugh at myself, mumble thanks to the guy, and duck into the Mango outlet to hang my head in shame amidst the racks of discounted sequined sweaters.
This incident really made me realize how defensive and aggressive I had become, how much I expected the worst from men, and also how bad I am at recognizing basic traffic patterns. I don’t want to assume that everyone has bad intentions. I don’t want to believe that treating people with warmth will give people the impression that I’m on the prowl or that treating people with coldness will keep me safe because neither are inherently true. But after having so many incidents where people have mistaken friendliness for flirtation, walking on the street for solicitation, and conversation for invitation, many women would rather sacrifice manners if it could mean possibly saving themselves from experiences ranging from unpleasant to extremely dangerous.
I was in Morocco during the 2012 American presidential election and the owners of the hostel I was staying in knew I was keeping a close eye on the race. I had stayed up late at an internet café across the street the night before chatting with friends and family as the individual state results came in, but eventually I tired and resolved to wake up early to check the results. The next morning I sprinted across the street and my personal reaction to the election results was relief and happiness. Feeling good, I headed back to the hostel, but was met with several whistles, hisses, and jeers from a group of men as I crossed the street. A teenage boy then tried to talk to me, first about going on a tour to some nearby ruins and then about engaging in some no strings attached casual sex with him at 7:30 in the morning. By the time I had walked the twenty meters back to my hostel my joy had dissipated and I felt furious and disgusted. I barked at the hostel owners as they happily invited me to join them for a celebratory tea and slammed my room door in their faces. Who knows what they thought of me or my country and culture after how I had treated them?
Street harassment leads many people to view strangers as predators rather than humans and to approach people with hostility rather than kindness. It can make a cheerful person having a perfectly good day into an irritable person who feels angry at the world. Eventually a coping mechanism of being unsociable and withdrawn derived from a fear and distrust of others can become engrained in a person’s character and even in an entire culture. Thus, for me one of the saddest effects of street harassment are the unknown missed opportunities – the polite chat between two respectful strangers that could have been struck up, the smile or joke that could have brightened someone’s day, the tourist that could have saved a lot of time wandering around had they asked the group of tea-drinking men for directions. For every person who harasses or leers at someone on the street there are thousands of others who have actively chosen not to degrade someone in public. But they aren’t the ones who stick out in our minds or influence us to treat others better.
The other day I was walking down an empty street at night when a car slowed and honked. Rolling my eyes and mentally ticking a box next to ‘creep’, I thought of how much I hate streets in general and kept walking. After a few more beeps, I glanced over, broken Turkish speech about perverts and abstract spiritual concepts at the ready. It was a single man saying ‘excuse me’ and asking for directions, which I gave him. He thanked me and went on his way.
There was a flurry of excitement and attention in the Turkish parliament today, with female lawmakers attending a parliamentary session wearing headscarves for the first time in a very long time. People should be able to present themselves how they wish in public without fear of reprisals or discrimination. Link via Hurriyet.com