dinsdag 24 maart 2015

It’s not a compliment, it’s harassment

Dit zijn de eerste alinea’s van een essay geschreven door Risma Bissesar, student Sociologie, in het kader van het vak ‘Gender en Ontwikkeling’, welke zij in 2014 volgde aan de Anton de Kom Universiteit van Suriname. Deze essay deelde zij onlangs met Projekta. Klik hier voor de volledige tekst (PDF, 615 kb).

Vraag je dochter, is the title of a column written by Sharda Ganga in De Ware Tijd on the 5th of April. She addressed an issue women deal with on a daily basis, a social issue that is not given the deserved attention by society. Ganga referred to this problem as eve- teasing, the making of unwanted sexual remarks or advances by a man to a woman in a public place (Oxford Dictionaries). Society perceives this as a normal thing that men do, that it is harmless teasing. In the column, Ganga addresses this misconception and how it encourages the unfair treatment and objectification of women. She further argues that men think this is normal and acceptable behavior and advices them to go home and ask the women in their lives how they feel about it and if they would enjoy being “teased” (Ganga, 2014). The column is more of a cautionary piece to men and I suppose society as well, but does not fully address the problem.

This essay is meant as a continuation of the subject matter Ganga wrote about, by looking at eve-teasing as a socially constructed mannerism possibly caused by patriarchy, male-dominated social structures leading to the oppression of women (The Sociology of Gender: Theoretical Perspectives and Feminist Frameworks). To illustrate this we look at how the unfair treatment of women is stimulated on three levels: the normative level which includes family and education, the symbolic level where we look at the media and the personal level where gender identity is developed.

The term eve-teasing is mostly used in India to refer to the harassment of women by men in public places (Afridi, 2013). It’s an alternative name for a very common phenomenon every woman experiences on a daily basis, even in Suriname. Ganga illustrated this very well with her examples that many women can relate too. These included examples of women riding the bus and having men “accidently” brush against their breasts or butt, incidents where strange men whistle after women or call them derogatory names when their advances are ignored, women having their way blocked by boys from the neighborhood who want their attention (Ganga, 2014). These are all very relatable examples; then again which Surinamese woman isn’t familiar with being address with “pssssttt”[1] or “schatje”[2] while walking in the city. These advances are clearly unwanted and yet men persist.

In most cases women not only try to ignore them, but they also go out of their way to avoid them. Women deliberately avoid places where they know they will be harassed by men out of fear. Women try not to leave work too late, they avoid dark streets and maybe take the long way home, choose not to take crowded busses or busses with only men in them. Making sure there’s nobody in the parking lot that can hurt them. Women are made to feel afraid and uncomfortable by eve-teasing; they alter their lives around it and live with it. Yet these unwanted advances are publicly disregarded.

Als u hier klikt, vindt u het volledige artikel en kunt u verder lezen. 

[1] A vocal gesture made by an individual or group to attract the attention of someone of the opposite or desired sex.
[2] Translated from Dutch as “baby” or “sweetheart”

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