Friday, June 6, 2014

A Day in the Life: Heels, Cramps, and Harassment

I remember a quote I read from Sofia Vergara’s Covergirl page to the effect that women should wear heels! Flats weren’t as flirtatious or fun. I, personally, love wearing heels; I love the way they make my calves, outfits, and height look. My goal, however, isn’t mass flirtation. I just love to feel and look good. Nonetheless, what I also have to consider is that I may have to use said heels for protection against the advances of someone who thinks my choice to wear heels down the street is his green light to pinch or grab me. There is no reason women should feel the need to cover up for fear that a man won’t be able to control his sexual urges and physically act upon them. Whether a woman is wearing a pencil skirt and blazer or crop top and hot pants, no one is entitled to another person’s body but that person alone.

I’d like to live in a world where my biggest concern as a woman is why manufacturers have yet to expand upon a larger assortment of tampon variety packs. A box of Super Plus and Light? Ding, ding, ding! However, the world we live in almost forces women to continuously campaign that they are not inferior, walking music videos here for some men’s grinding or verbal bashing pleasure. I put my pants on one leg at a time just like everyone else, in addition to wrestling out of my skinny jeans like a WWE champ. Therefore, when I go out I would like to go about my business without living in a constant state of awareness of my safety.

Snickers Australia had an advertisement where construction worker actors yelled out intellectually positive, empowering comments to unsuspecting women walking down the street. The ad ended with its usual slogan of, “you’re not you when you’re hungry,” implying that what these men would normally be doing on a full stomach is practically pounding on their chests while yelling out brutish, unintelligible, sexual remarks. The ad was an insult to all involved and acknowledged a national awareness and acceptance of the roles society has come to believe genders should be playing and tolerating when we are in our right minds. Further, it illustrates that women should be okay either way when a lone man or group of men yell and single her out on the street. Honestly, unless you’re yelling in a state of caution for her to watch out for a sinkhole or bee hive, it is unnecessary. I don’t need to be told to smile by a man who will see my face in passing for about 6 seconds out of life and knows nothing about me; neither whistled at; offered a suggestively vulgar “ride;” or told that my breasts, butt, and thighs look good in my clothes. The fact that women often subconsciously contemplate these things as they dress and plan for their day is one of the major problems resulting from this social acceptance in and of itself. It is horrible to think that a man exhibiting harassment against a woman feels comfortable doing so in the presence of other men because either they, too, subtly take pleasure in the degradation, or they would rather not cause contention in the name of pack mentality.

Women move through their daily lives in a world where it is almost socially tolerable for a man to walk up on her in a public place thrusting his pelvis at her, grabbing her hair on a subway, cornering her at a bus stop, and the majority of eyes around sheepishly fall only upon her as the single voice that speaks up is her own; that is to say she is even motivated to do so without the lingering fear that a rejection of such harassment will lead to additional verbal berating or physical assault.

Santa Barbara murderer Elliot Rodger is a prime example of the misogyny and violence women often receive when they don’t fulfill a male sense of entitlement to their bodies. There have been many arguments towards Rodger’s mental health, and while there may be something to that, based on his premeditated video announcing his “retribution” and “revenge” before his killing spree, I see an angry pubescent with a superiority complex who, with malice and forethought, sought to kill as many women and minorities he could with the weapons and ammunition he meticulously acquired. He collectively resented young women who may, or may not, have rejected him as though sex should have been based solely on his anatomy and not his character. Here is an example of entitlement to women’s bodies and a belief that we should have little to no standards at all to ensure that every youthful male loses his virginity at a socially appropriate age.

I often wonder if the number one question some women hear in severe situations is a variation of, “well, what did you do to him?” It could be related to a man’s resulting road rage, domestic violence, rape, etc. It seems that society has an accepted mindset that every woman’s action results in an unequal and extreme reaction from a man. My hope is that as tragedies, like the one resulting from Rodger’s killing spree, and the countless other acts of violence and harassment upon women are acknowledged for the true offenses that they are and not the “occurrences” many have grown numb to expect, we will see a decline and, ultimately, an end.