Everything is…misogynistic (Part 2)

For the first part, please go here.

For another take on this story, please go to The Grand Narrative.

On the way to work one afternoon, I was walking down a small side street in Chungju. It was raining and I was carrying a heavy bag on one arm while my umbrella tried vainly to keep me dry in the other. A few men were standing in an empty lot nearby presumably talking about this year’s corn crop. I saw a man walking toward me from the opposite direction; he seemed to be walking right into me. He was also completely mesmerized by my chest.

“Oh dear God,” I sighed and took a step to my right hoping the action would break his stare and prevent us from running into each other. Instead he took a step to his left and didn’t even look up.

“Hey,” I said hoping to get his attention and out of each others’ way, as I was now brushing against the cars lining the street.

He looked at me. Something about the way he looked at me scared me. I don’t know–almost like he recognized me for a second or was daring himself to do something.

I moved as far to the right as I could holding my umbrella high and my bag close to my chest. At the same moment, the man shuffled and kicked himself in the foot which sent him tumbling into me. Then before I’d even had time to straighten myself out his hand was down my shirt grabbing my breast.

“Oh my fucking God!” I screamed and pushed him into the street. Then I walked away as quickly as possible.

I heard a shout behind me. I turned around, but the old men were still standing in the field and the groper was standing up.

“Fuck you.” I huffed and went to work.

Having my breast forcibly grabbed in the middle of the day while walking down the street, was a tremendously upsetting experience. I felt like I’d somehow done something to bring this on myself. I thought I was a horrible person for pushing the groper and screaming. All the while, the feminist in me is saying, “Hey, this isn’t your fault. Calm down. The guy totally deserved to get pushed. And you aren’t to blame for someone else’s actions.”

But then when I related this story to a couple friend’s, both Korean and Western, they seemed to indicate that I’m somehow at fault for having breasts and for wearing revealing clothing.

Excuse me? My boobs came out this way because of genetics; there isn’t anything I can do about it. No woman in the world should be in constant danger of groping (or any sexual harassment) just because she has tits. And revealing clothing? I was wearing a tank top that showed my collar bone. What’s with this Korean idea of modesty that it’s okay to wear booty shorts, but not okay to show your collar bone? (Or any ideas of modesty for that matter?) Finally what is going on when we reach for explanations and excuses for a man’s behavior when it upsets a woman?

I’m sorry, but if you for one second thought, “Hey maybe you’re overreacting a bit. Maybe this guy really did fall and maybe he grabbed your breast on accident.” Then you’re excusing an attitude that allows a rape culture to exist. This isn’t a problem exclusive to South Korea. Rape culture is this world we live in. And what are we going to do about it?

Tell women to wear less revealing clothing, to not stand out, to stay quiet, to mind their own business, to carry mace and learn self-defense?

Why don’t we just tell men and women it’s not okay to invade another person’s space, privacy and person without their permission?

Sexual assault is not okay anywhere at anytime against anyone and the perpetrator is the person we should blame not the victim.

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14 thoughts on “Everything is…misogynistic (Part 2)

  1. Very brave of you to share your thoughts/story. Sorry this happened to you. I am very feminist and proud to be and also an active advocate for rights of women everywhere. I get upset almost daily to think about all the injustices that women face, that mainstream society thinks we are being too sensitive about. But, until they could understand the fact that we have to worry about being groped just b/c of who we are. And the whole idea of victim blaming when it comes to “revealing” clothing is bull shit. They’ve done studies with men who sexually assault and clothing has nothing to do with it. it is the power and control issue.

    Whew I could go on for pages and pages, but I won’t.

    Hope you are feeling better and I am glad you pushed him. 🙂

    • Thanks, Stevi. I’m glad I’m not the only feminist from ‘Cello. I agree the injustices against women and all minorities are frustrating. Again, this kind of behavior is not okay. That’s why I think it’s important to share these stories, to show that we are not upset over nothing. This is cause for concern grab someone against their will is disrespectful of another person’s basic humanity.

  2. oh my god, that is so horrible. i’m glad you’re ok.
    i wish you woulda hit him with your umbrella.

    Jackson Katz is a feminist in the U.S. who says our entire take on rape culture is wrong because it’s a problem with men and violence, NOT women.

    i’m sorry you were traumatized. i would be bawling for hours.

    • Yes, I’ll definitely be looking into Katz. As weird as the whole breast-grabbing was, seeing how people respond is almost more disturbing. Most people seem to agree I need to be afraid and should be prepared with mace and a whistle. No one seems to be prepared to talk about how the problem is expecting men to be unable to control themselves when a woman is around. Double-standards are so exhausting.

  3. You captured it perfectly with that last statement. We shouldn’t HAVE to be “prepared with mace and a whistle” In my undergrad internship I work at the sexual assault and anti-violence info office and we were trying to implement an international program call Men Can Stop Rape, on USU campus, among other things. I think the only way we can combat this issue is to involve men in the process. 97% of all sexual assaults whether the victim is female or male are perpetrated by males (bureau of Justice stats). We need to look at how we are socializing men, why it is that social norms set up a society for violence, and a million other things. You should look into the program I think it has great potential, if we start educated men young. http://www.mencanstoprape.org
    We can have self defense classes, but that will only do so much. Why don’t we stop the problem before women have to learn to defend themselves. B/c then if they don’t defend themselves society can blame them even further b/c “they didn’t fight back.”
    ahhh. again, I could write a novel. There are so many things that go into this problem all around the world. It is just insane to me that 1 in 4 women in the U.S. are victims of rape/sexual assault, and 1 in 3 women are victims of physical abuse. And these #’s are even higher in most developing countries. It is a world wide pandemic that has been going on for far too long. Something has to change and it starts with every person who will no longer stand for these injustices, both female and males.
    This is my passionate area and what I want to continue to work on in my career, but as you said earlier Krista, there are so many injustices facing all minority groups.

  4. I haven’t cared much for Modesty since I fucked her sister Chastity. I think chastity and modesty are overrated and used for control. The theory is that women need to be modest in order to not overly tempt men. To me that’s like saying that men have absolutely no self-control. At the smallest glimpse of female anatomy they’ll go berserk. Get real! Men do have self-control otherwise we wouldn’t have any civilization. A naked woman should be able to walk down the street without being harassed or molested. Okay she would draw a few stares, but she shouldn’t be bodily threatened or harmed. To me pontificating against homosexuality is an extension of misogyny where men & the masculine is valued & preferred over women & the feminine.

    • You are completely right, Uncle Al. Misogyny is about power and control. Anything that is viewed as other–femininity, homosexuality, non-white–is seen as a threat that must be controlled. And yes, I would agree both modesty and chastity are used as methods to control women.

    • so you are saying you don’t value traditional female values by comparing them to women you’ve fucked, thus devaluing them? Am I following here?

      • I don’t want to get ahead of myself and speak for Uncle Al, but it might help to know that he is gay. I think he means Modesty and Chastity in a more figurative sense. I don’t think there’s any direct comparison going on between traditional female values and women.

  5. I’m really proud of you for this post and for pushing him….and for saying “fuck you” to him.

    Rape (in 85% of instances) is a men’s problem.

    In two of my sociology classes we had the girls of the class list every way they had been told how to avoid rape. After a super-long list of everything from talking on your phone to carrying your keys like Wolverine, we had covered the board in “safety suggestions” while the men’s list topped out at two.

    So much goes in to telling women how to not get raped, like it’s a natural occurrence…it’s basically like “Don’t swim during a lightning storm so you don’t get struck by lightning” and if you’re struck, it’s because you’re stupid, but we forget that the rapist isn’t nature or weather, it’s a person that can be educated, too.

    Why do we focus so much on teaching women how not to get raped while so few men even understand what rape is?

    You hear people talking about how they’re afraid to have a daughter because they would be too worried about them getting knocked up/raped, but no one is every worried that their son may grow up to be a rapist.

    I realize, of course, that this wasn’t an instance of rape as we’re used to it, but this guy scared you, if nothing else, and I’m sure it was at least a mildly traumatizing experience. Rape isn’t about sex. It’s about power and he reaped power from your fear – that’s the issue.

    • Thanks, Ty. You’re spot on. I completely agree with what you’ve said. And you’re right, what happened to me isn’t rape, but I think it’s easy to see how being comfortable with groping makes it easy for us to be comfortable with rape. It seems to me that societies general attitude towards groping being okay contributes to our rape culture.

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