September 17, 2010

Ines Sainz (another feminist rant)

I stupidly got into a discussion about Ines Sainz today. My friends were complaining about her unprofessional clothes, how she was asking for it.

I kept saying things like: Nobody deserves to be harassed. What she was wearing doesn't matter. Sexual harassment is wrong.

And then everyone jumps down my throat about how NOBODY IS SAYING HARASSMENT IS RIGHT but we all know IT'S REALITY that SEXY SLUTTY WOMEN GET HARASSED. And since that's just the UNFORTUNATE FUCKING REALITY, women who wear sexy clothes deserve what they get. It's their fault. Ines Sainz is responsible for what happened to her.

And I think about the men who have followed me to my apartment, squeezed my ass on the street, cat-called me sexy and gorgeous and cunt and bitch -- when I was just walking home. The man who tried to follow me into my building, and pounded on the door after I shoved him and slammed it behind me.

What could I possibly wear that would make that my fault?

But for some reason, you can't say, "The Jets harassed a reporter and it was wrong" without everyone jumping down your throat about how she's slutty and unprofessional and an embarrassment to women everywhere. Everyone seems to think her sexy outfit is worse than what actually happened -- otherwise, why have I seen three times as many columns on how "she bears responsibility too" as I have about what the players actually did?

It really gets me down. And my friends want to debate this, like there are two sides, and we happen to disagree, and so we're having a lively fucking discussion about whether women are humans who deserve respect at all times, or whether it depends on what we're wearing.

And then they twist my position into, "Women should never consider professionalism when they choose their outfits! Women shouldn't take any safety precautions when they walk around!" As though I'm encouraging women to make themselves more vulnerable to harassment, and I need men to warn me to be careful (for my own good). But women don't need men to tell them to worry about how others perceive them, or about their personal safety. We already worry. We already make compromises. In a world with fucked up beauty ideals and perverse, conflicting incentives, we make the best choices we can.

But nothing I wear can force another person to harass me. I am not responsible for making sure that men never get the idea to shout at me -- and I couldn't stop them anyway. They are responsible for their own behavior. And harassment is always unjustified, always unwanted and wrong.

It just blows my mind that other people don't see it like I do. That otherwise reasonable people are lecturing me about how women are responsible for provoking sexual harassment. These things are hard for me to debate partly because I'm offended and hurt, but also because it seems so obvious to me, and so ludicrous that mainstream discourse is not on my side.


  • Thank you for being supportive to women. It's hard enough to succeed in the media as a woman; the last thing we need is to knock each other down.

    By Blogger Kylafornia, at 9/17/10, 1:30 PM  

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