I must remind you that starving a child is violence. Suppressing a culture is violence. Neglecting school children is violence. Punishing a mother and her family is violence. Discrimination against a working man is violence. Ghetto housing is violence. Ignoring medical need is violence. Contempt for poverty is violence.
In examining reports of hate crimes against transgender people, researchers found that 98% of all “transgender” violence was perpetrated specifically against people in the male-to-female spectrum; of the 38 murders of transgender people reported internationally in 2003, 70% were women of colour.
When gays get so angry about a chicken sandwich, it is because Chick-fil-A has given around $5 million to fight to discriminate against us. When we praise brave Eagle Scouts who give up their badges in protest of the Boy Scouts of America’s prejudice, it’s not about scoring political points; it’s because there are kids in dens who are being taught to believe that they are less than equal. When we rant about the pastor who preaches that gays should be thrown into a concentration camp, we scream out of fear. And our fears are justified — in the last seven days, a lesbian in Nebraska was carved with a knife, a gay man in Oklahoma was firebombed, and a girl in Kentucky was kicked and beaten — her jaw broken and her teeth knocked out — while her assailants allegedly hurled anti-gay slurs at her.
What do you think street harassment is about? Sex? Benign flattery? Attraction? Women who can’t just suck it up and deal?
It’s power. Catcalls, sexist comments, public masturbation, groping, stalking and assault: gender-based street harassment makes public places unfriendly, frightening and dangerous for many girls, women, and LGBQT people.
It’s power to control public spaces. Power to alter paths. Power to shame, scare and intimidate. Power to define what is safe and what is not. It’s the power to say: “I’m entitled to touch you, comment on your body, coerce you to smile, control your movement.” Even when women perceive catcalls as flattering, they are nonetheless aware that it’s an unpredictable degree away from possible harm.
Yes, it was the hoodie’s fault. A hooded sweatshirt can make an innocent teen look like a criminal. Just like a suit and glasses can make Geraldo Rivera look like a journalist.