Last week, Jezebel posted a story about a new iPhone app that allows people to quickly post photos of street harassers to the website Hollaback. The gist is that if a guy threatens a woman or follows her or grabs her ass she can snap his picture and upload it to the site. Ordinarily, such a post would not cause too much of a stir, but on Friday the story was cross-posted at Jezebel’s brother site, Gizmodo, and all hell broke loose.
Responses from Gizmodo readers ranged from concerned to outraged. Oh, they weren’t concerned for the women who must navigate a virtual battlefield every time they go out in public; they were concerned for the innocent men who will be falsely accused of harassment simply for tipping their hats and saying “How do you do?”
My rage-o-meter quickly exploded. Many women shared their street harassment stories in the comments, but what do women’s lived experience matter when men’s imaginations are at work?
Yes, but, how will I find my soul mate if I am discouraged from approaching strange women who are just trying to get to work on time?
Women must understand that powerful chemicals course through men’s bodies, making them do things they cannot control! Yes, someone really said that.
There are a lot of vindictive women out there who will post pictures of ex-boyfriends!
And so on and so forth. But, some promised that they cared about street harassment just as much as victims, because it makes them–the supposed “good guys”–look bad. They pleaded with the women to open their eyes and realize Not All Men Are Like That! Ending street harassment is a worthy goal not because it will benefit those on the receiving end of the harassment but because it will make them seem less suspicious. Street harassers are cock-blockers to these “good guys.” Their objective is to preserve their own positive self-image, not to end oppression.
My response is the following:
Don’t tell us you’re not dangerous, not out to get us, not one of them. We don’t want to hear it. We don’t need to hear it. Tell them. Tell those men who operate under the assumption that all men are like that. They think you’re on their side and that emboldens them. Contrary to one commenter’s claim, I am not asking for chivalry. I am asking you to put your privilege to good use and be an ally. If you are, as you say, one of the “good guys.”