Roots of Sexual Harassment
Matthew: You're listening to the Solidarity Podcast; we're your hosts
Natalia: Natalia Estevez and
Matthew: Matthew Ondeyo
So last episode we went over Asian American Hate Crimes that are going on in our country.
This episode we're going to go over the roots of sexual harassment.
This month’s intention of celebrating the accomplishments and hardships of Women’s History have been shifted aside to create a greater stage to highlight the often shadowed and neglected topic of sexual harassment/assault.
On March 3, Sarah Everard was kidnapped and murdered while walking home. This caused many to reflect on the true dangers of being a woman in public. Due to the fact that this story is not uncommon, most women can attest to feeling unsafe while being outside of their own comfort spaces at any time or place. Some women empathized and could relate to Sarah’s story, some men tried to create a narrative as to how women are to blame, and others simply believed it was normal. This “normal” shouldn’t exist in our communities today; this feeling of uncertainty and worry is something women should not carry outside of their home along with their keys in between their fingers and their phone in the other hand.
In this episode, we want to recognize that sexual harassment and assault (experienced by any sex) is an issue we must unify against in order to get rid of this “normal” experience.
Natalia: To clarify, sexual assault and sexual harassment are two very related but different situations. Sexual harassment is an umbrella term for unwanted verbal and sometimes physical interaction; sexual assault, however, is mainly physical in which the person involved as little to no control over the situation, leaving them even more vulnerable.
This does not take away from the fact that sexual harassment is still non consensual and dangerous. Sexual harassments more often than not can lead to sexual assaults, so it is extremely important to not diminish the fact that experiencing catcalling, unsolicited pictures, intentional touching while playing it off as an accident, repeated offers for dates when the person has repeatedly said no, and other unwelcomed and unwanted behavior can cause severe trauma in a person’s life.
For centuries, internalized misogyny has continuously fed the fuel for, creating the notion that women are easily controllable and therefore inferior.
This does not take away from the fact that men too are also sexually assaulted or abused, however, the majority of sexual perpetrators are male. Studies show that sexual assault against children and teens report that more than 97% of perpetrators were male, and most male perpetrators identify as heterosexual and are often in consensual and sexual relationships with women.
There is a small percentage of female perpetrators (6% for young adolescents while only 1% for adults), but the rulers of this terribly neglected issue are men. The main reason for this issue to be casted aside is due to the strong roots of sexism and the patriarchy in which our societies are built upon; whenever, this topic of sexual harassment or sexual assault is brought up, men-- and some women-- are often quick to judge and justify as to why this has happened, often diluting the severity of the issue and eventually causing many women to interpret that their experiences are “common” or not important, and since men do not experience sexual assault as often, they express these concerns and situations even less.
In order to break this cycle, we as a community must realize that this is a societal issue we cannot keep sweeping under the rug but rather build a space in which these victims can have the confidence to address this trauma and try to build a greater community of acceptance and safety.
Matthew: Some next steps to help women heal include creating safe spaces for women to talk about their experiences, if they choose to. If they choose to, don't interject with your own opinion, but rather listen and support. Learn boundaries and do not try and justify what they experienced with questions like “what were you wearing” or “what did you say in the moment”. When it comes to physical touching ask first, especially if they are not relatively close to you. If you happen to know anyone who experiences familial abuse, check on them and ask if they are doing ok. Present them with opportunities to escape the suffocating environment they are in.