By Guest Contributor M Dot originally posted at New Model Minority
This “Black men walking on the outside of Black women on the street” business touched a cord here on my blog, and opened up a really interesting discussion on race, gender roles, Black men and women, and patriarchy. I plan on doing a some follow up posts to address some of the issues that came up. This post is one of them.
The issue that I want to address is how a woman’s ability TO BE IN THE STREET is connected to her ability to participate in public life, in Democracy.
Tonight I reread Cynthia Grant Bowman’s paper, “Street Harassment and the Informal Ghettoization of Women” which was published in the Harvard Law Review. I am going to provide some quotes from the paper then offer some comments.
Street Harassment and Liberty for Women
The liberty of women, in this most fundamental sense of freedom from restraint, is substantially limited by street harassment, which reduces their physical and geographical mobility and often prevents them from appearing alone in public places. In this sense, street harassment accomplishes an informal ghettoization of women — a ghettoization to the private sphere of hearth and home.
If we can’t be on the street, we can’t feel comfortable in public, if we can’t feel comfortable in public how will we participate in a democracy?
Working Definition of Street Harassment
Street harassment occurs when one or more strange men accost one or more women . . . in a public place which is not the woman’s/women’s worksite. Through looks, words, or gestures the man asserts his right to intrude on the woman’s attention, defining her as a sexual object, and forcing her to interact with him.
So, if I am on the street, and you are saying something to me, you are trying to FORCE me to interact with you. Patriarchy says that men, by virtue of simply being born biologically men have the right to dominate over women and children, in the home and the street. This street shit is patriarchy in action.