Thursday, June 03, 2010
The common thread
I’ve seen a couple of links recently that have a good, if somewhat terrifying job, of connecting the type of street harassment I wrote about last week with the larger issues of violence against women and rape. First up (hat-tip to Ben A-Z), a Welsh campaign called “One Step Too Far.”
And next, a somewhat logical (if brutal and not necessarily beneficial) step from this type of harassment: the game “Hey Baby.” The game lets you play a (what is insinuated to be) woman who is fed up with street harassers, and who also has a machinegun. This game is exceptionally violent.
My goal is not to examine whether violent video games are good or bad or anything along those lines - I’m a long time gamer, I’ve been the cause of more virtual deaths than I want to think about. But I do think it’s valid to look at both why a game like this exists, and why men who see it might have a shocked or confused reaction to it. Thankfully, someone’s already done that - Leigh Alexander, game critic and news director at Gamasutra, wrote a great piece on Hey Baby:
It’s latent misogyny that happens in big cities; it takes my power away. It makes me an object in front of people I don’t even know, and that’s not okay whether they’re nice about it or not. It is nothing less than a slow-burning chronic trauma.
This idea, that these every day irritations are on a continuum with rape, is an essential point in my mind: rape is not a crime that has no grounding in the other aspects of our culture. If street harassment were generally understood to be unacceptable, would we have less rape? I’m not sure, but I bet that survivors wouldn’t have to jump through all of the hoops they do now to report it and be believed. By stopping things like harassment, we areworking to stop rape, also.