Facing Sexual Harassment: The Forces Behind the Humiliation When people think of sexual harassment, they usually think of extreme cases that go as far as sexual assault. The reality of the matter is that there are different forms of sexual harassment, which all have different effects of different people. In Salaam’s essay, she discusses her struggle with various forms of sexual harassment, especially catcalling. She discusses how it has become such a norm in society for men that women are expected to accept and be grateful for the fact that a man has chosen them to talk to, or should I say harass.
I believe that this is not Just the story of Black women, but the story of all women. I cannot begin to count how many times a man has called me out of my name for rejecting his passes towards me. In this essay I will show that it is up to women to take control over who they give power to, and how to use that power to navigate a society that has the odds stacked against them. “l was never taught techniques to protect myself from the whispering lips of adult men. In the absence of safety, I developed tactics to handle the pressure. (Salaam 327). It is sad that young girls and women are expected to learn how to handle men n their own most of the time, which speaks more about the family unit (which is another essay and another topic). “The men of my youth habitually positioned female disinterest as a hostile act of emasculation or genocide, while their harassment was defended as healthy male behavior. “(Salaam 330) Even though she grew up in a close-knit family, and her mother was somewhat a feminist, she had to deal with this on her own.
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She didn’t accept the societal norm that ‘boys will be boys’, because that entails that whatever they do, females are supposed to accept it for what it is. Society changes from generation to generation, and how our mothers dealt with men’s catcalling, is different from how we deal with it, but the point that I am trying to stress is that we have to deal with it appropriately. She stated that her tactics were to avoid any form of communication with them altogether, avoid any physical contact, and if she had to deal with them, hopefully they were older men who felt that she was too young to go for.
Some may feel that this is completely absurd, but this was her reality, and the reality for a lot of women in society. She is just one of the few women who are brave enough to speak out, however, she wasn’t always this brave. Like most women, she had become numb to this way of life. She felt that all men were the same, they expected women to feel as if it were a privilege to have them chose you to court, and they felt that it was women’s duty to respond accordingly. “l disinterest. I wanted to smash the expectation that I would supply details about my personal life. ” (Salaam 228).
She was fortunate enough to had been taught how she deserves to be treated, and even though this is so, the cycle of the disrespect entities because not enough women are taught their value. The cycle also continues because not enough men are taught the value of women. She didn’t believe that things could get worst, or that women would accept worst until she traveled to study-abroad in another country, the Dominican Republic. She had developed her tactics to deal with the men in the United States, but when she went to the Dominican Republic, different atmosphere, culture, women, men, values, beliefs, etc.
She was violated even more when she traveled there, because those men did not verbally abuse her, they were physical. She did not know what to do at first because she had never been confronted with physical abuse before. She instantly blamed herself, which most women do because society teaches us that ‘boys will be boys’. She thought that she was somehow attracting the unwanted actions, so she began to dress in baggy clothing. She knew that her clothing had nothing to do with that, but she did it to help her find peace, but she did not get peace.
When she and her friend fought off their attacker, who attempted to rape them at gunpoint, and her host family reacted as if it were normal, she then began to realize that she had to take the intro and power back herself. It was only when she went to Brazil, she began to realize that men’s behavior is regulated on a societal level, because most of the men there did not behave like the men in the U. S. Or the men in the Dominican Republic, so she felt more free to be herself and to watch who she gives power to because those men only had the power to upset her if she gave it to them.
She had no control over them harassing and violating her, but it is within how she deals and copes with what she has gone through is when she distributes the power; thus, she can take the power, or she can give it to the attacker. Another example of taking the power from a harasser is with the highly publicized case between Eunuch Browne Sanders and Isaiah Thomas. I chose this because many women feel ashamed that they were harassed because they believe that it is their fault somehow. Isaiah Thomas is a famous coach for the New York Nicks.
He is a very powerful man, and any woman would be intimidated by any form of confrontation with him. Browne Sanders is the former senior vice-president for the New York Nicks, and she took on him and Madison Square Garden. She described him as a “. Foul-mouthed lout who initially berated her as a ‘pitch’ and a ‘ho’ before his anger eave way to ardor, which Thomas making unwanted advances and encourage her to visit him ‘offset’. ” (AP 2). She was also fired from her Job, which added more fuel to the fire. What message is this sending to women in our society?
Was this supposed to be a message to ‘keep women in their place? If that is the case, what exactly is our place? From those actions alone, I am going to infer that our place, from the context of their arguments, is underneath the man’s feet. If women are going to be ridiculed and disrespected because they are standing up for what is right, that is exactly where our place is according to them. She was already rarity as the senior vice president of such a franchise because have been a lot different, as far as the publics reaction, if she was not a woman of color.
If she were a white woman, it would have perpetuated the stereotype of the untouchable white woman and the beastly Black man, but this was far from the case. “Thomas, who is married with two children, acknowledged trying to kiss Browne Sanders in December 2005, asking her ‘No love today? When she recoiled. MS president Steve Mills said he spoke with Thomas about the single incident, and the former point guard said it wouldn’t happen again. (AP 2). What is a woman to do after she has gone through the proper channels to report a sexual harassment incident, and the only thing that happens to the offender is a slap on the hand?
That takes an emotional toll on a person. Sexual harassment is a degrading, humiliating, and violating act, and if you’ve finally mustered up the courage to say something, and to no avail, it is a very stressful situation. It is not a situation that a senior vice-president should have been put in, or any woman for that matter. It takes hard work and dedication to be successful in a male-dominated world. She won the trial, but she was still ridiculed by men, and praised by women.