NOTE: A version of this comic with the term ‘fuck’ edited to f&@k for use in fuck-restricted environments can be found here.
ANOTHER NOTE: A Portuguese version of this comic can be found here.
TRIGGER WARNING: This comic discusses harassment, sexism, rape culture, and toxic attitudes towards women and femmefolk. It includes examples of slurs, harassment, and quotes from sexual offenders.
This is the longest comic I’ve ever done and it’s a monster and it took me forever and I never want to draw again.
Ok, that’s not true.
I used to take a certain route fairly frequently, a couple of times a week. And there were these two guys who were almost always hanging around on the sidewalk, and they’d always talk at me:
“Good seeing you again”
“Looking good, red!”
(I had red hair back then)
And I thought I didn’t care so much, but then I found myself altering my route, or feeling stressed, knowing I’d likely encounter them again.
I took the same route with a guy once, and they were there, and they said nothing. But next time I was alone, it started again, and that said it all.
Fuck those guys. It’s my sidewalk too.
2: Quotes from sexual offenders from… (I read through this shit and it’s terrible awful terrible stuff)
– Interview in “Rapists’ accounts of their motivations, levels of premeditation and target choices: Some Trinidadian and Tobagonian data”
– Reddit thread, 2012
– “Rapist files” – a book
I had a good friend of mine ask me about this the other week:
Friend: I’m not doubting that everyday sexual harassment of women happens. I promise, I know it happens. I know it’s a problem. I just never really see it. Why is that, and where is it happening?
RH: That’s a really good question!
One of the challenging things about talking to men about violence, harassment, and sexism against women and femmetype folk is that it so often seems invisible.
Dude: I certainly never see it! Are you sure you’re not just being sensitive?
It’s important to remember that, like rape, harassment is not a product of sexual desire, but a product of power and control.
There’s lots of examples of how women’s bodies are considered public property, from legislation
Doctor: We can absolutely perform your abortion. It is a common, low-risk, simple process. But you are required to wait 24 hours from this point before we can proceed.
Patient: It’s my body, can’t I control when and how I get medical treatment?
Doctor: Not till tomorrow you can’t.
…. to slut shaming
Man: Look, all I’m saying is that you can’t dress provocatively and then get all offended when guys treat you in a certain way!
… to groping.
Person on train: Hey!
Street harassment is part of a larger system in which men feel entitled to comment upon women’s bodies based on their appearance and mannerisms.
Yeah, I like the way you walk….
You look like a slut!
Yeah, I’d like some of that!
Hey, what’s your number?
This kind of harassment is based on the problematic idea that public spaces are actually men’s spaces – and that women passing through them are subject to the desires, needs, and opinions of the surrounding men.
We see this manifest in other ways
[men's splayed legs on a subway]
“It’s not cute when you talk like that. I don’t like it” (cite Tina Fey I don’t fucking care if you like it)
Sexual harassment is not about desirability – these men also feel very compelled to point out how women in their spaces are not sexy to them, or choose to insult challenging or uncooperative women by dismissing their attractiveness.
Cover the fuck up, fatty!
Are you a dyke? You look like one.
Yeah, you know what, keep walking, I wouldn’t fuck you anyways.
So, why does this matter?
Remembering that the basis for harassment of women in public spaces is around the ownership of space by men, and consequently control of the women in those spaces…
If you’re a guy and you’re with a woman, as a partner, lover, friend, coworker, or acquaintance, you are less likely to witness casual harassment towards that woman.
To the person who feels like he needs to control women by harassing them, that woman with you is already controlled. She is yours. They generally wouldn’t challenge you as a man by harassing her. An unaccompanied woman is an uncontrolled woman, and is as such, a target.
How can we tell that this is true? There are some symptoms you can sometimes see:
Some men will mock other men for seeming to be controlled by women, instead of being the controllers.
Guy: Have you seen the easy she treats him? He is so whipped.
Or had a guy apologize to you for hitting on a woman you were with, even after she was previously trying to shut him down? Why wasn’t he apologizing to her?
Guy: hey! sorry I’m late.
Guy2: Whoa, sorry dude. I didn’t realize she was taken.
along the same line, haven’t you heard a friend or acquaintance stave off an insistent man by saying ‘I have a boyfriend’, even when it was a lie?
Woman: Sometimes the only thing that will make them go away is thinking that I’m already ‘taken’. Even then, some of them seem to consider that some kind of challenge…
Have you ever had someone speak about a woman as though she’s an object?
“I wouldn’t mind borrowing her for an evening!”
These are people whose operating model of women are as things that are controlled or that need to be controlled by men.
And one thing we know is that men who abuse, assault, or harass women think that all men have the same ideas around ownership of women that they do.
“You know what I’m talking about’
“They’d flaunt themselves.
If I wasn’t in a position to do it, someone else would”
“But the reality of the situation is that women have to be careful because guys are one way when they’re hanging out and another way when they’re horny or worse drunk and horny.”
So what can you do?
Believe us! Don’t deny or minimize our experiences
‘He was just trying to compliment you’
‘that sounds really creepy. are you ok?’
Make sure you respect and enforce women’s agency!
Ask the women around you how they’d like you to respond if there’s harassment or trouble when you’re together.
Do they want you to speak up?
Do they want you to let them handle it?
Do they just want to ignore it?
Recognize what harassment looks like, and speak up when this happens.
Whenever it’s safe for you, be the guy who shuts these assholes down.
Turn ‘not all men’ into a force for good: Let harnessers know that not all men share their toxic views, that most men aren’t like them.
This is as important when women are not around than when they are.
Bystander intervention works! [cite]
Guy1: She’s a cold bitch, I wouldn’t fuck her.
Guy2: Seriously? no one asked if you wanted to fuck her.
Guy 1: Looking good, sexy!
Guy 2: Come on, man. Don’t be that guy.
Guy1: You know what I mean…
Guy 2: No, no I don’t. What could you possibly mean?
Guy1: You would have done the same.
Guy 2: No, I wouldn’t have. Most men wouldn’t have. It’s not cool.
Will it work?
‘hey, fuck you, man. Mind your own business.’
Probably not. But if there’s a visible and pervasive culture of harassment and disrespect towards women and femmefolk, then you can create your own pervasive visible culture of respect and agency. I think that would be pretty awesome!
Men are our greatest allies in ending casual sexism and harassment! We believe in you!