Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.
Some thought on harassment, threats and fear:

For me, the real dividing line for this case is at the difference between a threat and offensive language. If something causes offence, of course it should be dealt with, but when it gets to the point of threats the game is different. A threat always (not always, of course...), I think, generate credible fear. I don't want to speak about this situation specifically. Yes, these threats are wrong, should be condemned absolutely, and telling Sierra to 'get over it' is incredibly insensitive and idiotic. What interests me more is the related series: crude jokes, teasing, offencive remarks, and harassment. The lines are not clear, there are always conflicts around living and working together, and this is as it should be. Let me elaborate a bit, though perhaps not completely coherently...

Offencive language and harassment: Here I think it actually does call for people to 'grow a back bone'. I am not a fan of hyper sensitive PC rules. Simply because these really cut in to the fun of having people around... I enjoy the teasing (sometimes with sexual overtones) in my workplace. I would not get rid of it for the world! I have however never felt, um, violated by it... It is very good natured. I have however on one occasion had to clarify to a colleague that in fact I don't mind these sorts of jokes, and if they ever go to far, I'll be sure as hell to make it know directly, and not through some report to HR or whatever. I think the expression I used was: "You'll feel my fist in your face before I'd ever consider reporting you." I do believe we all have a duty to challenge the source before running around denouncing people to the thought police.

I am a bit worried sometimes that women get told that they are supposed to be offended by certain remarks, a certain attitude, when in fact one can approach it in different ways. I don't like the feminism that advocates a wussy 'oh, poor me, I'm so harassed' line of approach. Stand up for yourselves, girls, give them a foot in the ass, if necessary... Yeah, I like a more, um, confrontational approach. Yeah, I've seen PC over reach, and I've seen abusive harassment, and neither of them are pretty... But I don't want to live in a suffocating PC culture, I really don't.

Story time!
Okay, so everyone is not like me, nor should they be. Find your own personality please, mine is taken! [With credit to Sven for that line...] I have found myself in pretty heavy gender unbalanced situations where a direct and outrageous approach worked well. This is probably not for all, but those nasty, dirty minded men, can be brought to their knees with quite simple tricks sometimes... Like, if you can embarrass them by being even more explicit and nasty. He he he...

When I was a young woman of 18 and was preparing to head abroad for university my (socialist) father came to insist that before I went to join the bourgeoisie I would spend a summer doing manual labour, to appreciate the plight of the proletariat, as it were... Thus I was found I position for the summer in the construction business, and set out to toil with jack hammers, dry wall, screws and hammers. The very first day, having lunch with the other workers, I discovered directly their crassness. Very crude jokes, "hey, little girl, come to work with the real men, huh, heh, eh, heh...", "let us show you, heh, how real men work...", and so on. To me, for reasons unknown, this never seemed either offencive or threatening... I mean, I knew that this was supposed to be 'demeaning', and was not necessarily offered in good spirit, but they just fell short of being injurious. They seemed ridiculous, and I could not quite bring myself to feel put down. I was, however, annoyed that they were trying this. A bit angry, really. I mean, who the fuck did they think they were? Hot stuff? Intimidating? Hardly! So, anyway, I ate a banana that lunch. In a way that had them all staring at me in horror and embarrassment. After this, all I really had to do was give them a look, whenever they got a bit out of line. I had a very good time that summer. The only part of my assignment to 'appreciate the plight of the proletariat' that I minded was getting up at 5h30 every day. Yeah, I really enjoyed quite a lot the crude jokes thrown about, after I had positioned myself to be included on the side that was laughing. I would not have missed this for the world, I would not wish to have worked with people afraid to offend me. (These construction guys were really not kind to any minority group. Shit, they were racist, sexist, homophobic assholes. Also, they were quite funny, and economically firmly on the left. Nasty little bigots, though...)

Is this for everyone? Probably not! And not for all contexts or ages. But my point is, there are options. There are ways to confront intolerable behaviour and make peace with those that would offend. Simply refusing to be offended can be a powerful tool. I hate that women are essentially told that they are supposed to be offended, supposed to feel put down, belittled, and demeaned. And then, they are supposed to turn to some pansy ass PC channel to register discontent and get everyone to fall in line in the most boring, bland, humourless form of civility. I am against this, totally, and completely. So, please, grow a back bone, talk back, get on the other side of the jokes, etc. And yeah, if there is 'real harassment' (how does one tell?), if nothing works, you are excluded, etc. As a last resort, yes, one should be able to make a complaint, to have the situation officially rectified. But before this, I'd say, one has an obligation, a duty, to be there in the fray, to entertain the idea that the crude joke might not be the end of the world, might not threaten all of womanhood, can be confronted, joined, or ignored. Not a legal duty, but a personal one, to not denounce to the authorities other than as a last resort. Too many are all to happy to do it as a first resort, sometimes as a punitive measure against a 'creep', for being what, a 'creep'? Ie. not attractive enough or suave enough... And that is indefensible!

I do not support excessive fear, and fear does not always correlate with experience. Let me show you some data from Sweden... (Would be fun to find and compare to other nations as well. If anyone knows where I can find equivalent statistics, let me know.)

Refs. These data set includes people who:
Data, fear of violence:

Har svarat "ja, ofta" eller "ja, någon gång" på frågan "Har det under de senaste 12 månaderna hänt att Du avstått från att ge Dig ut på kvällen av oro för att bli överfallen, rånad eller på annat sätt ofredad?". Have answered "yes, often", or "yes, some time" to the question "Have you during the past 12 months refrained from going out at night because of fear of attack, robbery, or other kinds of violation of your person?".

Data, experience of violence:

Har svarat "ja" på någon av följande frågor: "Har Du själv under de senaste 12 månaderna varit utsatt för någon eller några av följande händelser: A) Våld som ledde till sådana skador att det krävde besök hos läkare, tandläkare eller sjuksköterska; B) Våld som ledde till synliga märken eller kroppsskada utan läkarbesök; C) Våld som inte ledde till synliga märken eller kroppsskada; D) Hot eller hotelser om våld som var farliga eller så allvarliga att Du blev rädd?". Have answered "yes" to any of the following questions: "Have you during the past 12 months experienced any of the following: A) Violence leading to injury requiring the attention of a physician, dentist, or nurse; B) Violence leading to visible marks or other bodily injury; C) Violence which didn't lead to visible marks or bodily injury; D) Threats of violence that were so dangerous or serious that you got scared?".

Okay, so for all kinds of categorisation we observe that fear of violence in no way correlates with experience of violence for that group. (For the age groups we even see an inverse correlation) The groups that are more afraid (women and the elderly) are exactly the ones where there is more media attention around incidents, and where the group perhaps has some reason to feel vulnerable. But I don't find it very positive, empowering, or progressive that those groups are encouraged to be afraid, and told to be excessively cautious of being in some was violated or exploited. And by extension discouraged from directly and personally confronting offensive behaviour. ("Better tell some authority, don't talk to him, what if he retaliates? You could get raped!" Yeah, bull, I say. That's rather unlikely...)

by someone (s0me1smail(a)gmail(d)com) on Mon Apr 16th, 2007 at 08:27:47 AM EST

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