Girls for Gender Equity, the organization that I mentioned in my recent post on street harassment, is organizing the Second Annual New York Gender Equality Festival this Saturday, July 28, from 11am to 6pm in Von King Park in Brooklyn. From their site: “Featuring performances by artists including singer/songwriter Pamela Means, hip hop artist Carlethal, Women’s Project theater group, and spoken word poets Urban Word NYC, the Gender Equality Festival is a free public event for education, networking, resource sharing, community interaction, arts and recreation that is open to New Yorkers of all ages and genders.” Check out the GGE site linked above for more info.
Archive for the 'gender' Category
Several parishes (like the counties, not the Catholic congregations) in Louisiana have banned saggy pants, clothes that leave underwear exposed, and “dress not becoming to his or her sex.” Parishes are proposing fines up to $500 and even jail time for violators of the new laws, which may yet be unenforceable since they’re most likely unconstitutional.
Of course, the numbskulls who support this legislation have already started with the cries of “we’re not racist!”:
Despite concern that enforcement could result in racial profiling, supporters of the ban insisted that the dress code would be applied uniformly.
[Lafourche Council member] Toups argued that this isn’t a black and white issue but said he sees the ban as opportunity to put parents and grandparent back in charge.
“If you are Canadian, Serbian, or Afghan and your pants are hanging low, it doesn’t matter what color you are. We will ticket or arrest you,” Young of Pointe Coupee said.
Oh, that’s comforting. A fashion style that’s typically associated with (though certainly not limited to) Black folks and other people of color is banned, but it has nothing at all to do with race! Next, dreads and cornrows will be banned, but you know, some white folks have those, too. The law will be applied uniformly to any Black folks and folks trying to dress like Black folks! Can’t have those white folks trying to imitate Black people, you know.
However, the part of all of this that I find to be really chilling, personally, is “dress not becoming to his or her sex.” Um, what? Does this mean that people can’t wear clothing that’s typically designated to be worn by a person of the sex to which they weren’t assigned? Man, remind me never to visit those parishes in Louisiana or I will be screwed. KatRose at Pam’s House Blend says that a representative from one of the towns appeared on MSNBC and said that the law wouldn’t be used that way. But, like KatRose, I’m not really willing to buy that. The law will be on the books as such and I don’t see that much is going to stop people from applying it in a way that cracks down on people who aren’t conforming to their assigned gender roles. As if trans and gender non-conforming people aren’t vulnerable enough.
So, I have to admit – I was a little nervous when posting about street harassment the other day. I was really eager to open up the conversation, especially because it was focused on a queer/gender non-conforming/trans experience and perspective that I’m not used to hearing. But I was also worried about certain dynamics that tend to surface during these conversations, namely dynamics of race and class.
While women and other gender underprivileged folks of all races, ethnicities, and classes can and often do experience street harassment, the voices that I usually hear in these discussions are most often of women with either race or class privilege. This is not unique to conversations about street harassment: most larger conversations are dominated by the voices with the most privilege. In conversations about street harassment, though, this has an interesting and profound effect, as you’ll often have some very complex and conflicting power dynamics going on: men exerting their gender privilege and sexism over women who have class and/or race privilege over them.
Yesterday morning I listened to a segment on the Brian Lehrer show about street harassment (cat-calling) in NYC. Lehrer interviewed three women: Latosha Belton and Ashley Lewis, two Brooklyn teenagers who worked with Girls for Gender Equity to create “Sisters in Strength Strikes Back: Our Struggle with Street Harassment,” a city-wide summit this past May; and Maggie Hadleigh-West, maker of the anti-street-harassment film War Zone.
The three women talked about their extensive experiences with street harassment directed at them from men of all ages. Ashley Lewis described how she feels like her new way of responding to street harassers is better than staying silent:
The approach I’m taking now, I feel like it’s better ’cause I’ll ask a man something, “Do you really think it’s appropriate to come at me in the street?” And they’re so taken aback by the question that they’re stunned, they don’t know what to say. So instead of answering it, they kind of walk away from me, so it kind of helps.
Hearing that, I couldn’t help worry that the girls would encounter some men who would do far more and far worse than run away. Continue reading ‘Gender/queerness and street harassment’
Manny Ramirez and Julian Tavarez of the Boston Red Sox act with surprising affection towards each other in this video, during which the sportscasters grow increasingly uncomfortable with the display and eventually respond with predictable ridicule and horror.
Kenyon Farrow responds to the video, saying that, while Manny and Julian may well have something more than platonic going on (which would be fun times, indeed), maybe they’re just perpetuating a rare phenomenon in US society: straight men touching.
But maybe they are straight! I actually wish more straight men would get over their fear of touching other men (Have you ever seen straight men in a movie theatre on on a train sit next to one another without leaving an empty seat between them?). Maybe they’d be less likey to feel the need to beat and bash women, children, queers or men they percieve to be less man than they. So whatever the case, Manny and Julian, be not moved by the naysayers! Hug on! Caress on! Fondle on! Wrestle on!
Whatever the larger import of this interaction, I’ll say this: while I’m a Yankees fan and am therefore pretty much required to hate Boston, this video made me love the Sox just a little bit. (Please don’t tell my mom, she already calls me a turncoat for attending the occasional Mets game.)