The leftward and other blatherings of Span (now with Snaps!)

Sunday, May 29, 2005

give us a toot

From the logs, someone found this blog through a yahoo search to find out whether honking at women is harassment.

What's disturbing about this is not that my article about the political strategy of character assasination that some men use against women was ranked 9th. But, the fact that white supremacist website Stormfront was at numbers 3 & 5 is quite a worry.

I'm not going to gratify Stormfront with the linkage, but basically the articles are about how women are attracted to violent men because they are interested in powerful men, that a majority of us actually want violent abusive men as partners:

"If you tell a woman that you are just out of jail for armed robbery they will
LOVE you, trust me!"
Oh dear.

But back to what our hapless yahoo user was searching for - is honking at women harassment?

It's useful here to consider two factors:

1. Why are you honking?
Basically because you see a fine piece of meat. That's it. So yes that's harassment.

2. What is the reaction of the person on the receiving end of a toot aimed at their tits? (or arse)
Some women feel gratified and appreciated. I would argue that they are misguided. They are being tooted at on the basis of their attraction as a sexual object and I don't think they should feel good about being judged in that way. Other women will feel threatened, or dirty, which I think is more understandable. On the rare occasions when I've been honked at I've felt both pleased and afraid. It's the warped state of the modern woman that we judge ourselves by unhealthy standards dictated more by airbrushed magazine advertising rather than the way we would want our daughters (and sons) to assess themselves.

After all what is the difference between a driver honking and a worker on a construction site whistling and yelling out comments? The worker is clearly harassing, and in my view the driver is too.

Now I know that some of you think I'm a dried up old stick (in fact I was told that I "wished" I was being sexually harassed once, when I finally took the very difficult step of confronting someone who had quite seriously sexually harassed me over a period of some months). But I'm just sick of women being judged on their appearances. It is starting to happen to men more too, and I think that's a bad thing, not a shift to equality. I'd rather than women were lifted up than men dragged down.

As I said to a work colleague the other day - I'll start wearing makeup to work everyday when Mr Little Tiddler does. Meaning? Never.


Graham Watson said...

While I tend to agree with you Span refer to this link to find one left wing woman who seems to welcome this sort of behaviour. It appears she may play in to the stereotype advanced by proponents of this behaviour.

I thought her post was rather unhinged at the time and when I read yours it reminded me of it. Most amusing.

Oliver said...

It's really not a hell of a lot better for men, except whistling tends to be replaced by screeching and everything is a hell of a lot more subtle (you might say that's better, but in a lot of ways, it's worse).
And in addition to all that, I've seen a carload of women honk at some shirtless guy running along the side of the road before :P.

stef said...

I cop more than my fair share of harrasment in Korea .

But I think sometimes getting a wolf whistle can be fun, but sometimes it's sleazy. It all depends on the context. Age, soberity of the whistler, etc.

But I have a bit of a problem with this idea that fashion magazines are bad for women. My idea of a sunday treat is to read my vogue and get a pedicure. I love buying make up and I have too much pink in wardrobe.

Isn't the point of feminsim that we should be able to choose how we look without being judged by anyone (men or women alike).

span said...

I like girly stuff too stef, don't get me wrong, but i do frequently find the women's mags (more New Idea etc than the actually fashion mags, oddly) very depressing - they build a woman up then totally tear her down - criticising the same woman in the course of a few months for being too fat,then too thin, then she must be anorexic, then she must be wanting to have a baby, etc. Not healthy for anyone.

What I really object to about fashion mags is that the images are all airbrushed, the clothes are frequently pinned, it's all completely artificial and thus not something the average woman could ever achieve. I think it's fine to read them if you know this, and are thus inoculated, but a lot of people don't.