Ok, so recently some of y'all may have been witness to me really upbraiding Ethan about a shirt he chose to wear - and while I admit I was perhaps a little harsher than the situation warranted (and I have already apologized to Ethan for that fact), I absolutely stand by my critique.
A little background - Ethan chose to wear a shirt to a party that had the phrase (or one very similar to it), "When you run out of pepper spray, can I have your number?" on it. He thought it was funny - one would assume because Ethan (as anyone who knows him would tell you) is not at all the sort of man who would harass a woman to the point where she would genuinely fear for her safety (and would then presumably use pepper spray to defend herself), and certainly not enough of a dolt to continue to harass a women through a blinding haze of pepper spray. Ha ha, funny!
Nope. Not actually funny.
If I'd been a little less pissed and a lot more articulate, here's what I would have said.
"Dude, there are men out there RIGHT NOW who think that a woman owes them her time and attention. They think it's ok to harass her in the street, catcalling and yelling lewd suggestions. They think it's ok to approach her in a bar and continue to ask for her contact information after being repeatedly turned down - they think it's ok to follow her to her car and continue that harassment. THEY THINK WOMEN OWE THEM SOMETHING, AND THAT'S NOT OK. Now you, you're not one of those guys. We both know that. But every time someone, especially someone who is "not one of those guys", thinks it's funny to make a joke about assult, or about rape, or about race or any contentious and highly problematic issues...it makes it a little easier for someone to actually get away with being a douchebag who assults women (or men!), or a rapist, or a racist, because we've humorized and humanized it. It's a tshirt slogan, it doesn't actually happen to women. That's why that shirt is not ok, and why I'm calling you on it."So to you, my reading few, this is a heads up - if I see you doing something shitty, something that demeans a real issue that people face the world over...whether it's wearing a crap tshirt or dressing up as a "Native Princess" for Halloween or making a rape joke, I'm going to call you on it. I will do my best to unpack my issues and to communicate with you in a meaningful way about why I feel your attitude/dress/demeanor/joke isn't ok, and how I feel it's damaging. I may be pissed and not do the best I could, which I apologize for.
But really? You're better than this. We all are.
PS: If you would like to educate yourself about street harassment, go to http://ihollaback.org and check out some of their stories.