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New submission from Kathrin
I have read posts on hollaback Berlin, Dresden, Delhi and London, and I must say, I am puzzled – comparing the posts, the incidents seem to be more shocking in London, the men less respectful, and the reactions of many women quite intimidated or at least surprisingly nice (as a reply to being treated with much lesser respect before by the men). I am shocked.
Reading the London posts I get the impression, that the balance of power on the streets is much more on the men’s side, I feel really sorry for you women out there.
In Berlin there was a time when I was almost constantly shouting at men who were staring at me or saying something to me, in London I guess I would have to hit one man in five minutes in order to feel alright again?
From what I have read e.g. in Delhi or Dresden and from what I have experienced myself, I strongly encourage you to NOT SHOW RESPECT towards those men – it is one thing that really helps. Please just try it out! In my view the important thing is to rebalance this im-balance of power on the street. If he is treating you disrespectful, dare to be rude, be whatever you feel like, shout at him, nudge at him with the elbow in his side when he is being too close in the tube! I and several other Berlin women made the experience that this helps. Please don’t be nice and polite, it keeps the disrespectful guys from fearing your reaction, and they should fear your reaction!
I have tried so many ways of reacting during the years, and the most effective is to make the man feel embarrassed and small.
How can I do this?
For me the key was to understand, that street harassment is about power. It is about men having the power and using it against me. If they didn’t feel powerful they would not have a “weapon” anymore. So I started to act “powerful” in a way that men can understand (I work with a lot of men, so I am firm in the male form of communication).
One of the best ways: establish an arrogant feeling in yourself and stare at the man (eg in the tube) with the head lifted a little bit. I know it sounds ridiculous to women. But men understand that. It is not about being nice or respectful or eloquent, it is very simple about power. So stare at him and make sure you don’t smile. Feel as arrogant and condescending towards him as you can, this ridiculous, stupid and so very “LITTLE” guy.
I bet, this works well in London, where everyone is expecting politeness. (I have lived in London for a year when I was younger.)
What works also very well for me:
When a guy approaches you in public and you feel harassed, react at once and be loud, whatever you say. Do not ignore him, this shows fear, and your fear makes him feel more powerful.
Try turning your head and telling him right away, with an unfriendly face, with a loud and angry voice: “go away, you are disturbing me”. Or you could say: “go away, you are harassing me!”. Or even: “Go away, or I will call the police.”
I know for you Londoners this will sound really unfriendly, but who is more unfriendly: you defending yourself against an attack, or the attacker coming out of nowhere ignoring your needs and rights of being respected?
I am a fan of treating harassers disrespectful really, because that is what stops harassing, and it puts you back in the state of power. Of course you are respectful to all other people, people who deserve it. But harassers do not deserve politeness in my eyes.
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