lipgloss*suicide

A very UN-glossy look at popular culture... and whatever else takes my fancy.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Violence Schedules?

Jessica Valenti of feministing.com is interviewed here where she talks, on the second page, about how all women live on a 'rape schedule'. That is, we are constantly thinking ahead, planning ways to stay safe when getting from A to B, whether it's pre-booking a taxi, getting someone to walk you to the bus stop, carrying a personal alarm or taking the longer but better-lit route.

Predicatably, many people (in the 'letters' section) responded, stating that this way of life is not just exclusive to women - men fear attacks in public too and plan their routes with just as much paranoia. One person states that this is part and parcel of living in an urban environment. Not that I wish to belittle men's fears, I think that the way some men even try and compare them to womens' fears of sexual attack it just demonstrates what litte understanding they have of what we have to experience. When a man is attacked on the street, the motivation is usually economic - he will be mugged for his wallet or phone, and probably experience some nasty violence. But it lacks the sexual element present in the fear and intimidation that it part of most women's lives. They are targetted for their money, not for their gender. I have been mugged and pickpocketed, I have also had cars trawl me, men follow me home and more than my fair share of catcalls and intimidating sexual comments. They are different - they have a different motivation, take a different form and ellicit a different response in you.

When discussing this issue with my boyfriend, who lives in a pretty grim area of London, he pointed out that some attacks on men ARE related to their gender - those guys you see out binge-drinking and picking fights with everyone, they will target men in order to prove their 'manliness'. Beating up another guy shows just how macho you are. This is a good point, and just goes to show how restrictive and damaging gender roles, stereotypes and perceived notions of 'masculinity' and 'femininity' are to every one of us.

Although, steering away from gender issues, perhaps we should be asking ourselves exactly why we all feel so scared in public every day, why we constantly look over our shoulders at the cashpoint and the bus stop, why we fork out that extra tenner for a taxi that we really can't afford. Statistically, chances of attack are low, and when you think of those living in war zones with none of the luxuries we enjoy, it almost seems laughable. Who does it benefit for us to be this fearful, exactly? Certainly not ourselves. How about those above us - after all, how much easier is it to coerce and control people through fear than anything else?

2 Comments:

  • At 8:25 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    When a man is attacked on the street, the motivation is usually economic - he will be mugged for his wallet or phone, and probably experience some nasty violence. But it lacks the sexual element present in the fear and intimidation that it part of most women's lives.

    The lack of a sexual element does not make him any less injured than a woman who is attacked.

     
  • At 1:08 AM, Anonymous Mandelina said…

    Thanks for writing this.

     

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