Listen: Harassment, Dr Dr Fiona, Dr Gray discussed on The Electorette Podcast
"I'm Jim Taylor skinner and this is the electorate on this episode. I talked with Dr Dr Fiona Very Gray About Street harassment in her book the right amount of panic how women treat freedom for safety. I opened my conversation with Dr Gray. Eh The story from her book of a woman describing her first experience with street harassment when she was only seven years old. The woman describes her confusion about the incident and her family's family's reaction. She told him about her experience. Yes that was a woman cook later from memory sold. The women women gave pseudonyms. Some of them are real name. Some of the things that she told us really interesting story about she grew up on state and she had her school was quite close to our state and so it was quite quite safe to walk my parents socialize. I I walk to and from school and she was either coming back home going to a fancy dress party that they had at the school and she had forgotten to toe apparent that it was fancy dress as kids do and so at the last minute they had to kind of struggle around the house and try and find something can. I'm not sure actually what she went his in the end but that they managed to put like a black bean bag on her bottom half so it looked like she had a skirt on and she was saying that when she was either going to coming back from US event at school at seven years old she had some men whistle letter or like call out like well hey as she was walking and one of the things that really struck me about her store. It's very similar to some of the other ones that the women's told me of when they're around that time is that because you seven years old. She actually didn't understand what that meant. She didn't understand why the men were doing that. She I mean shouldn't understand what sexual harassment was all all that because she was female she was going to be a target of it at some point in life and so she kind of came home and told the people there that you know this had happened and she it wasn't quite sure what it was or what it meant and you know that their response was oh. That's bad thing you know. They went saying this shouldn't have happened but then they will have sun went all oh it's because of what you're wearing. It's because you know what you're wearing must look like it's a miniskirt towards a leather skirt towards a short skirt so the problem is by the men's behavior but a little bit what you're wearing at it just really stands out that you know this is a seven-year-old go who's wearing a bin bag literally and that that still oh get seen as being a justification for men to interrupt intrude an harasser when she's public right. You know that's amazing to me that this happened when she was seven and also that so early that people would put the blame on her behavior. When first of all she didn't really even make the decision herself for parents helped her make the decision right right and I have a seven year old the the innocence they're really really innocent. Seven year olds aren't thinking about sexual harassment or thinking seeing about that at all really absolutely I mean that's really showing in response that she didn't know she didn't know what this was and what's interesting is the over time I saw was that it women start to change that response where it seven because she's so innocent and so naive. She goes Heineman immediately. Tell somebody of time women learned to not go home immediately. Tell somebody because because the response you're going to get is going to be a little bit dismissive like that. It might blame you am narcissistic or paranoid and so it really shows choice you know this little seven year old having no idea what the response was going to a and how that first response is so important because actually impacts how she learns should make sense of this as she goes through her life. Yeah you know it's funny. You know thinking back on my own experiences and I think one of the earliest memories I have is one where there is you know creepy guy driving around the neighborhood asking young girls for hugs. We were warned to stay away from this blue car but the second memory I have was of a similar to hers. Hers is about my clothing like so much of this intertwined with a woman's appearance or girls appearance being warned mixture screws into shorter. Make sure you know all of the baggage in the responsibility. That's put on women now absolutely and that there's no way of getting the right you know that that I've spoken to women who have been blamed whenever never been wearing a coat like a full length long big wool coat because it was red and red attracts attention and so you should not wear a red coat and of spoken to women that have been harassed when they've been wearing a short skirt and so you've got on both sides like you either completely cover yourself up or you don't cover yourself. It doesn't really matter I saw either way something to your doing is going to be seen as being the core of this kind of behavior rather than the 'cause actually being located in the way that society has situated man and a situated women told men repeatedly through lots of different avenues that it is okay to interrupt a woman into comment on her appearance to to judge on her appearance and to value based on what she looks like right and you know even schools perpetuate that I was thinking you know. All of the school dress codes which feature which are kind of focused on the girls right dead grigor point we had over here. This was a couple of years ago in Yorkshire. There was they were trying to make it was ghost. Guts heads pay be below. The knee or there was some kind of comment about go skirts because the male teachers were finding it distracting and the fact that as a society we can in any way say that that is is an appropriate response from outages to talking about finding fifteen sixteen year old goes distracting because of what they're wearing. I mean that just that just shocks me. Kids are in school so they can learn and be educated by adults not so that adults can view them in any kind of way that would crossover into sexual harassment or a sexual type of gays but how embedded this idea of women's clothing women's actions as being responsible for men's violence is can you help establish the scope of this. How do you define sexual harassment or public harassment or street harassment specifically because you know some behaviors. I think that you know people say all that just falls into the wrong of friendliness leanest and you know for a lot of people boundaries aren't clear yeah. It's a really good point. I mean there's there's lots of problems with definitions around this area and it's one of the reasons why it's being so over looked for so long. I think that now since everything that's happened with me too and there's been a much bigger focus on it. We've just had parliament's ivy here has just finished an inquiry on public sex harassment grasping amazing that would have been unimaginable when I when I started looking at this in in like two thousand ten two thousand eleven but one of the reasons why it's been so missed his because there are those differences differences of definitions even there. You know it's difficult to know. We don't even really know what this is. Cold is public sexual harassment. Is it a street harassment. Is it mile intrusion and let we find it really hard. We don't have a word for it yet. That means that research when it tries to address this a lot of the times they're addressing different things. I Some studies will include things I with saying being commented on sexual that made you feel uncomfortable or being touched in public others will also include things like being followed or feeling as though you're being followed instead at feeling as though you're being stirred up in public right the way up to other studies I mean when I was kind of looking at it and trying to define I included things like right that took place in public spaces vices where the perpetrator was a stranger because when women were talking about these experiences. It's very difficult for them to say exactly when something started and win something I stopped united way so there was one woman for example who beck who talks about an attempted ripe that took place in public space after a stranger Emmaus stranger on a cheap stop have walked pasta kind of stared at her in a way that made it feel uncomfortable and said hello and I'm sure many of us have had that experience in and she she says hello back because we're taught to be polite and that you should engage in all of this stuff and so she said hello back and then he walked down platform instead Ed are and then when she got off at the other end she heads steps behind her she turned around she saw it was him and at that moment she knew that something was really wrong because he would have had to follow her over a number of different stops tube lines and then he actually followed an attempted to rape her. She was able to get into a gate before he was which was done tastic but that for me is of you know that's a form of public. Sexual harassment is also former public. Such violence is also a former attempted ripe so it's a categories of blur into each other and overlap so it's very difficult difficult to pin down this phenomenon but but the thing that makes it quite clear is that when you talk to women women notice women and girls notice they've all had experiences once you start to explain it. There has been no one that I've spoken to that hasn't been able to say as you just have. Yes I can remember this experience from Childhood and actually I remember these couple of weird things that happen you know in my adult life the things that we forget the things that happened. Maybe earlier this morning or yesterday or last week because we learned to forget get them to dismiss them and to downplay them but it's such a common experience and for for men. I think we do have again optime toy. There's been a lot of discussion for men saying at least at least in the UK. You know does this mean. Is this the end of flirting. Does this mean that heterosexual men not going to be able to talk to a woman that they find attractive. Dave and I think that those kind of those things I it belittles how complex we are as as human means and how much we can read other people's verbal and physical as a corn social cues that is actually not very hard to tell when you're making someone feel uncomfortable with not very hard to toe and somebody is maybe engaging with you but doesn't want to. She keeps looking down at a book. She keeps turning to a mobile phone. She's moving away from you but you'll still sitting with her on the bus and trying to engage engage in conversation nation as I do think that sometimes it's a way of deflecting responsibility again back onto women say something like Oh. You know how we to know you guys. Make it so confusing for us men to know where the line is How are we supposed to be able to behave appropriately but the fact that I mean to honest majority of men to behave appropriately darts electricity sexually harass women in public and that to me says it's actually hard and this kind of behavior is purposeful and has an intent behind it right. That's a really excellent when I was just thinking about that. I mean the idea that you know th they're putting the work back onto women right the work on to get to give them a definitive list of things that they can and cannot do when more than likely most men do understand what the boundaries are yeah. I mean the research that's being done shows that we as human beings we are incredibly built for empathy and built to be able to understand emotionally what is happening for other human. It's been part of our evolutionary benefit. You know to to live as a community to be able to know what's happening for other community members. You know we know this again. You've child the the way that children can really read them others expression in their father's expression in the way that parents learn to become quite adept at responding to their babies needs even when they're an appreciable stage that continues through adult life and so racist that's being done on something called sexual miscommunication for example which is the idea that a sexual assault and sexual violence right happens because of a misunderstanding because someone didn't communicate no strong enough for one on potty not the mile potty generally thought that this was something that the other party wanted but the other potty didn't but those miscommunication and the research evidence for that shows that it's really really weak peak actually people are very very good at understanding queues whether they be verbal or whether they they nonverbal."