Thursday, March 03, 2011

I'd Like To Get Into Your Panties

That's from a joke about street harassment. A construction worker hollers that message to a woman passing by. She answers: "No thanks, I already have an a***ole in them."

There are pretty good reasons why that is not likely to be a real-world answer, and many of you know those reasons well. But I was reminded of the joke by an article about street harassment and female business travelers in the New York Times.

The article mentions Hollaback:
EVERY female business traveler I know concedes that she has experienced at least some kind of sexual harassment on the road. Usually it’s verbal, though sometimes it’s physical.
But rarely is it reported — not to the authorities and not at the office, where a woman who talks about harassment on a business trip may worry about being marked as a problem traveler.
Now, though, something new and aggressive is being done to publicly address street harassment of women. It’s a movement driven by young women in the United States and abroad who are using social networking and crowd sourcing to shine a light on the issue and organize support for doing something about it.
Street harassment of women has been around “probably since the advent of streets,” said Emily May, 29, the co-founder of, a Web site that encourages women to share stories and provide data about harassment so they can map locations where it occurred.
We really should get that Internet-equivalent started. A place where women can list the newspapers and websites which just love having woman-haters congregate and breed more hatred. But no, I cannot take on a single new duty. (Also, I need someone to do my laundry, take my teeth to the dentist and vacuum the Snakepit Inc.)

Back to the topic which is street harassment. The article focuses on business travel most likely because that was the assignment. But street harassment is not limited to women away from their home bases. Those who seldom walk to work or rarely take public transportation at home may not realize that until they travel on business or for pleasure.

At the same time, while street harassment can occur everywhere it is much more common in some cultures than others, and if a woman travels into a country with a different culture she may be shocked by the limits that being harassed places on her freedom.