**Trigger warning for sexual harassment/violence.
For those interested, the original post is here.
I stumbled upon your post on reddit far too late to respond; it was already flooded with comments and the thread was fourteen hours old. Yet, TwoXChromosomes is one of my favorite internet forums, so I decided to take a gander at the post crowning the front page with nearly 1500 upvotes.
In your post you address the reactions of women to sexual harassment, specifically the women who are upset by it and seek solace on TwoX. You preface your post with the statement "I know not everyone is the same, obviously, and I mean absolutely no offense to anyone on TwoX, but what's the big deal?" Oh boy. I should have known then I was in for a treat. According to you, women who face sexual harassment or violence should just simply cuss out their harasser and move on with their lives. You don't understand why some women are so traumatized by it that they feel the need to take their frustrations out in an online forum that is meant to be a safe space for women. Well, let me fill you in.
First, I notice that you tend to be of the mindset that, since harassment does not bother you, it should not bother anyone else. You acknowledge that "everyone is different", yet your tone suggests that you are right and everyone else who has ever gotten upset over harassment is overreacting. Furthermore, you state that you have been raped and have been to therapy for it, so you know how it feels. I have no doubt that your experience with sexual violence was life changing, probably not in a great way. I commend you for getting therapy and recovering and I am in no way belittling your experience. However, just because you have been raped does not make you the foremost authority on what it feels like for each individual woman who also endures that. You know what rape feels like for you. Everyone experiences sexual violence differently, and it is not up to you to decide the legitimacy of a woman's response to it. Although you may have been able to recover from your experience, many women have not and street harassment can often be traumatizing and triggering for women who may have not healed.
Furthermore, many of us exist in spaces where it could be detrimental, even dangerous, to accuse someone of harassment or sexual violence. Not all of us have the privilege of feeling safe enough to make a snappy retort, let alone fight back. In fact, many of us are not even mentally capable of brushing off street harassment with a one liner. Years ago, when I had anxiety problems, a sexually charged comment from a stranger would be enough to send me into a panic attack. Even now, when I am catcalled on the street my first instinct is to freeze. My body goes into fight or flight response; how do I get out of here as fast as possible? Telling my harasser off is the last thing on my mind, and even if I tried I probably could not form a coherent sentence. My first instinct is to protect myself; only once I am safe can I reflect on the situation properly. See, even though adrenaline is pumping through my veins while I shuffle away, what upsets me is not the risk to my safety. Sure, I dislike being in dangerous situations, but that's not what rattles me the most. What gets me is that approximately 10 seconds prior, I was strutting down the street thinking of everything except my gender. Maybe I was considering my research, or my future grad school plans, or a funny cat video I saw on the internet. Regardless, as soon as that man chose to lean in too close to me on the El and whisper in my ear, every other thought flew from my mind. Now, I am painfully, acutely aware of just how female I am and my status as sexual property. This is what hurts the most.
Maybe you don't feel that way Megantron, and that's okay. Maybe you have a thicker skin than I do and can brush off these remarks with ease. However, you should realize that many women feel the same way I do, and there is nothing wrong with that either. The only thing wrong here is that men continue to harass and our society, you included, rather than asking ourselves what we can do to stop the attackers, keep interrogating the victims, finding any flaw in their reaction that might suddenly make this whole ordeal their fault. Why do we have to follow some unwritten rule book when we get harassed? Why must we follow some code of conduct to the tee when we are confronted inappropriately, so that when someone inevitably asks "How did you react?!" our answers can be flawless and polished, leaving everyone free of any doubt that we brought any of this on ourselves. I feel like this is the core reason why so many women are afraid to respond to their harassers; we are too scared to do it wrong. We are terrified that, should someone else see this exchange, our response might give the bystander some insight as to exactly why we apparently deserved this. Thus, we deem it better to remain silent, to never respond at all, rather than incriminate ourselves with a reaction.
I have no qualms with telling off a street harasser Megantron, more power to you if you can do it. What does upset me is the victim blaming in your post. You tried to delegitimize women's reactions to sexual harassment, and as a result found yet another way to blame the women who endure sexual harassment on a daily basis. Next time you feel the need to complain about sexual harassment, perhaps you should address the fact that we allow sexual harassment to exist as a hegemonic part of our society rather than tearing down the women seeking support on an internet forum. .