Everyday Encounters with the continuum of sexual violence

Everyday Encounters with the continuum of
sexual violence
Have you ever experienced attention
from a man you didn’t know in public?
Being told to ‘cheer up’ or ‘smile’
Having comments made about your appearance that
you either liked or disliked
Being assaulted, flashed, touched or followed by a male
Feeling as though you are being stared at
Or any other experiences you want to talk about?
Starting Points
 ‘The manifestation of men’s gender power through the
routine use of aggression against women is connected to
‘non-routine’ assaults, such as rape, which are extensions
of more commonplace intrusions.’ (Kelly, 1988:70)
 ‘(A)n understanding of women’s oppression can be
gained only through understanding and analysing
everyday life, where oppression as well as everything else is
grounded.’ (Stanley and Wise, 1983:135)
 ‘It is not the body-object described by biologists that
actually exists, but the body as lived by the subject.’ (de
Beauvoir, 1954:69)
‘Actual Crimes’ vs.
‘Potential Annoyances’
 The third bullet point is a serious problem. In fact, the disgusting part
here is how that third bullet point (actual crimes) were put on the same
bullet list as potential annoyances. (AlekNovy)
 I do feel for women who do get groped (which is pretty rare, as much
as you’d love to claim otherwise), I just can’t see how being looked at,
complimented or being told to ‘cheer up’ is oppressive. Annoying
maybe. (noneofyourbeezwhacks)
 The only bullet point that should be considered a problem is the third.
The others… if you can’t deal with these things yourself- you are a
special precious snowflake so don’t go outside. (Tim)
‘And I was walking down the stairs at the Metro, and this guy
goes to me ‘Bonjour’ which like, I don’t know why I said
bonjour back to him but I did, I think it was because I’d had a
really good night. And then he said to me like where are you
from and I said, oh Australia, like I think it was because I was still
on a high. And then I kept walking and he came up behind
and said ‘can I talk to you?’ and I said no. And I walked away
and I walked down the platform…’
‘I was basically just walking home from a night out, it was
about 5 o’clock in the morning, but people walk home there
because it’s a little village and it’s safe most of the time. And
this strange guy was walking up the street in front of me and
then he slowed down and watched me walk on a bit…’
‘We’d been out on Valentines Day actually and some guy
who was a bartender who I didn’t know, asked me if I’d just
change the tape for him while he was serving someone, if I
could go behind the bar and change the tape, I was just
stood there to press a button and he was like can you just
press that button and that was, well obviously he must have
been looking at me in some way…’
The Continuum of
Sexual Violence
‘Every interaction with men for ages afterwards becomes a kind of
cat and mouse thing and you’re just weighing up what are they
trying to do. And you just feel massively threatened all the time.
Even if someone comes up to you and they’re just trying to be
friendly or something, it just seems to be all the same thing, it’s all
harassment in different forms.’
The Continuum of
Sexual Violence
(I)t wears you down in the end. That’s what happened to me. It
wears you down. Unfortunately it happened to me from an early
age … I didn’t have any defense against that at all. But I do feel
like it’s just worn me down. You know none of that would have
happened. I do think I would have been subject to it at some point
in my life but I don’t think that my course in life would have been
the same, that I would have ended up making some of the
decisions that I’ve made, it wouldn’t have been such a normal
part of life.
The Continuum of
Sexual Violence
‘(Before) I think it was more like annoyed. Like, oh can you just go
away you’re annoying me, if they’re annoying me. Or I would just
ignore them. Yeah. But now there’s fear. And then, yeah, then I get
angry that I’m so scared…Angry at them. At them making me feel
like I can’t feel the way I used to feel, just like free and confident
and independent and safe.
The meanings are the same, ‘only the form, the intensity, differs’ (Stanko, 1985:71)
 Women-only space and women-only services
 Social rather than individual cause
 Encourage exploration of links and connections
 Women-centred definition of what counts / doesn’t count as violence
I think they’re all linked, this is why it’s harder to get over things
because you just get constant reminders. So the first thing happens
and then every time something else happens it just links it all back.

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