Sexist or Victim?

February 21, 2012 § 3 Comments

I admit as a girl, when I go out walking alone at night, carrying nothing but a purse or handbag, it gets kind of scary when someone is walking towards or behind you. I do the things Brent Staples noticed girls do in his essay Just Walk On By, I clutch my purse a little tighter, walk a little faster, and try walk under the lights. Although I can confidently say that I do not specifically take race into account (I can’t see very clearly when it’s dark, and I don’t tend to stare at people to avoid provoking them) , I do notice that I tend to relax more if the stranger is a girl, and get more nervous if there was a large, loud group of men.

But in my defense, I’d rather be extra cautious and wary of people in the dark, rather than trading my valuables and possibly life just because I’m trying to be… nice. Especially in the neighborhood I grew up in, snatch thieves and mugging are common occurrences that happened every night. Just by reading the news or hearing stories about people getting robbed, the gruesome details of snatch thieves pulling someone’s diamond earrings from their ears while passing by on a motorcycle, or my mother, who also experienced getting her purse snatched while in a brightly lit shop where she thought she could let her defenses down for a second. All these things made me precautious, and determined that I will not become a victim. The media contributes to this awareness. Just by watching most movies and tv shows today, it is always the girl who falls victim to men in the dark. Always the girl who get murdered in her own room because she was followed home by someone who she wasn’t aware about while walking home. All these images contributes to our stereotypes of men.

There may be some girls who are stronger than some guys, but the majority of women are physically weaker than men. Being so, girls should rightfully be more cautious about falling victim to them. Even though some people take self defense classes to avoid becoming a statistic amongst the thousands of girls who’ve fallen victims to men, doesn’t mean they should purposely allow themselves to get into problematic situations; your skills can fail during times of shock and confusion. So in my opinion, men shouldn’t get offended if they find a girl who feels a little uncomfortable while walking around him, they are not judging you, they are merely looking out for themselves.

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§ 3 Responses to Sexist or Victim?

  • I agree with you in that how the media shapes how we see strangers on streets late at night and how we mostly associate these stereotypes with men. Women are the ones who are advised to carry stun guns and pepper sprays and need walking home. I don’t deny that women are the ones who are often statistically more prone to fall into prey during late nights on deserted streets.

    After the Chris Brown and Rihanna incident, a friend of mine and I conversed about this. He told me that in no doubt is Chris Brown in the wrong but he brought up an interesting point. He said that he felt like often times people favor women because of our weaker physical nature. If a policeman saw a woman and a man arguing on the street, in most cases the policeman would go up to the woman and ask if he was bothering her. If the woman hit the man, that’s okay and often overlooked but if a man hits a woman or even retaliates, he’s screwed and labeled as a violent criminal. My friend said that often times people underestimate the damage a woman could do to a man whether it’s physically or emotionally and overlook her faults in triggering his violent reaction.

    I don’t completely agree with him but he brought up a valid point. We all subscribe to the stereotype that women need protection from men and men are always the perpetrators. We need to question whether or not this is always true.

    • stephoa says:

      It is true that men are usually seen as the person who ‘harrasses’ or ‘abuses’ a woman. This could be because in general, men are usually physically stronger than women, and in a fight with one, the men would usually win. In another point, research shows that men are more aggressive than women because men portray emotional distress through physical means, as opposed to women. Also, this point might be linked to the essay Taking It, but men are expected to ‘take’ any abuse handed over by anyone, especially women as they are seen as weaker. Although, I definitely do not deny that some men can be very much abused by aggressive women, mentally and physically, it’s just usually not the case. Women prefer to ‘hurt’ people through emotional, not physical means.

    • Rachel, how do you know your friend’s “valid point” is true? Is it true that law enforcement always assumes women as victims rather than perpetrators? Is it true that “it’s OK” that a woman hits a man? If this were true, that would mean women are not charged and jailed for assault. Does that sound true or even likely to you? Or is your friend’s point an example of a “mystified concept” that we discussed in the readings for the first essay in this course? We often pass around certain ideas in society that are commonly held beliefs, but have no basis in fact. What are actual crime statistics regarding assault by gender? If you are interested in these issues, I’d turn to the Department of Justice, which keeps and collects data on crime in the US.

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