Monday, October 27, 2008

Week 5 Homework

Not to demean Melissa's comments but her last sentence about how "they didn't really do anything to her" is very similar to the overall tone of Jesse Clark's article. Since nothing actually happened, why are we making a big deal over it?

We should make a big deal over it because that walk was not an isolated incidence. Just because no harm came to Ashley that night doesn't mean that the same scenario wasn't played out with another group of men and another solitary woman a few blocks away or in a different state or on a different night. The important thing is that it happens, and it happens because we live in a society that tells women that they have a reason to be afraid of men and tells men that women are allowed to be used as a receptacle for sexual and physical violence.

Now if we had changed that group walking in front of Ashley to a group of girls, would the story be the same?

"I was walking on Jackson Ave. from class and three older women started to walk in front of me. One had given another a large sum of cash, which she promptly shoved into her pocket. The girls were staggering all over the sidewalk and, even though it was only 1 p.m., smelled of alcohol. I let them stay ahead of me, but the woman who was clearly most intoxicated started to say how she bet I was scared. And she continued to turn around - I figured she was trying to make sure I knew she was talking about me, and possibly trying to scare me. "

How many women would change their route home to avoid the possibility of sexual violence at the hands of women? How many women would automatically assume that they could be in danger of sexual assault? Since only MEN inspire such thoughts this can be seen as a form of terrorism.

I think many people think that terrorism = violence and therefore most harassment of women can't be terrorism. Yes, terrorism often includes violence but the key to the definition of terrorism is the word terror. What kind of emotion is terror? Extreme fear. A terrorist then is someone who uses their power to instill fear. Fear of violence, fear of death, fear of the unknown... there are many things to be terrorized by. The scariest part of any movie for me is not when the killer jumps out of the closet with the butcher knife and hacks up their victim. No, it's the 30 seconds before that when the unknowing sucker starts to reach for the knob and turn it.

When a man uses the power given to him by our society to instill fear into a woman, that is terrorism. The simple fact is that there is a difference between most men and most women. Most men are stronger than most women. Especially when it is three against one. Ashley probably knew that IF those men had turned and attacked her, the chances of fending them off were very slim; even if she knew self defense or had pepper spray or -god forbid- a gun. The fact that they didn't attack her was their choice, not hers. Their power, not hers.


Melissa said...

So, I thought I should reply to this just to kind of add my two cents in, again anyway.

I completely agree with just about everything you said. A big deal should be made over women being afraid of men because of the terror they can instill in women. However, to call it terrorism or to say she was terrorized is just something I cannot fully agree with. A terrorist, by definition, is someone who uses violence and threats to instill terror in someone. Yes, I agree. My first reaction in this situation probably would have been the same, I probably would have taken the extra 10 minutes, honestly. But these guys were drunk, people were around, and it was daylight. Small factors, yes but again, nothing happened. This incident was not another night or another woman.

It should be a big deal, it is a big deal, but calling it "terrorism" is overstating it. It seems more like sexual assumption. Ashley assumed (because society has told women they need to fear men and has given men that power) these men would do something and reacted accordingly. I think it's more about her reaction and not so much their actions. She reacted in a way she saw fit, with fear that they might attack. I just don't see how that can be called terrorism.