The War on Terr’r Part 1: Shut Up, Asshole

The most common form of terrorism that women face is street harassment. How many times have you had some dickface drive by you and yell something that you couldn’t make out over the din of the Eminem or Insane Clown Posse blaring from his “system” or the buzz of his enhanced exhaust, but were still sure was perverted? How many times have you walked by a group of dudes and had one of them tell you what he’d like to do to you or, worse, grope you? How many times have you had to deal with some asshole looking you up and down and asking, as if he gave a fuck, “How you doin’, girl?” I lost count before I was old enough to drive, as I’m sure most women did.

What is the source of this kind of terrorism? Are these guys all members of terrorist cells that get together and devise ways to make going outside a pain in the ass for women? Unfortunately, I don’t think that’s the case. It would be nice if it was, because then we’d have an easier target, but the roots of this kind of terrorism go deep and it’ll take some serious anti-terror action to shut that kind of shit down. The message of street terrorism, though most of these assholes haven’t thought it through consciously, is, “Woman, what the fuck are you doing outside? You’re making me and my sense of superiority as a male uncomfortable with all your freedom and shit. I want to make sure you know who’s in charge, so I’m going to remind you that I can reduce you to a few body parts with nothing but a poorly-constructed lewd phrase or some grab-ass that you can’t do anything about ‘cuz I’m bigger than you!”

But street terrorism is even more invidious than that. Have you ever heard men talk about their own terroristic activities? The MRA types, with straight faces, often argue that their taunts and their small acts of aggression are compliments, and they actually expect women to be flatterred at having had the opportunity to serve as the victim of an act of terrorism. They thus get to terrorize those women they consider fuckable, and also those they don’t, who they can say aren’t “worthy” of their acts of aggression. In either case, the goal is to make women uncomfortable or to control their behavior when they go outside, which amounts to an attempt to restrict women’s freedom. That sounds pretty un-American to me. This aggression will not stand.

So, what is one to do when one is the victim of street terrorism or sees it inflicted upon someone else? Call the cops? Riiight. When was the last time you sat around and listened to what cops talk about when they get together? I’m pretty sure if you don’t hear the word “pussy” at least five times a minute, there’s one of the, like, five female cops in the universe nearby. I’ve never tried this little experiment, but I may soon and I think you should, just to see if it works: next time you are a witness to or a victim of street terrorism and there’s a cop around, ask him or her to do something about it. If that works, then maybe we can use some of the master’s tools (Haha! Get it? I called cops tools!) to tear down his house, but I’m betting it won’t, and besides, how often is a cop handy when this kind of shit goes down?

I’ve heard a lot of talk about what women should or shouldn’t do in the face of street terrorism, and it usually amounts to, “Don’t say anything back, it may enrage the dude to the point that he’ll get violent.” Bullshit. If these guys weren’t weenies, they wouldn’t be engaging in that kind of shit in the first place. Besides, that threat is just another form of terrorism, isn’t it? “Don’t fight back, or the consequences will be worse! You don’t want to provoke men’s terrible rage!” Balls. The idea that we ought to sit there and take abuse from male strangers without responding because of the threat of more abuse is obscene. I still say that the vast majority of people in the world are decent and will come to the aid of someone who is being victimized, so I recommend that, if there’s a crowd around, you let the terrorist know about himself, come what may.

I think the reaction ought to be commensurate with the offense, but let’s remember that his words have more of an intended impact than most of our retorts are capable of creating, so that doesn’t mean that a reply in kind will always suffice when one is faced with street terrorism. If a terrorist attempts to force you back inside by reducing you to body parts with his words or deeds, you need to respond with something that will have a similar effect on him, something that will make him wish he hadn’t left the house. Let’s say you’re at a bar and some terrorist touches you uninvited. Would touching his wiener teach him a lesson? Not likely. So, let’s get practical. I’ll run through a few situations and provide some possible responses, and I hope people will comment with their own ideas.

  • The sitch: guy in car yells lewd comment. The response: if he’s going slow enough, do some damage to his car. If he’s not, get his license plate number and call the cops and tell them you saw him cruising for victims near an elementary school, or that he’s out driving intoxicated and putting the public at risk. If you can get his contact information with his license plate number, do it, and post fliers in his neighborhood about how he likes to verbally terrorize women on the street.
  • The sitch: group of guys make rude comments or gestures. The response: this is tricky. It’s not likely that a group of guys will all be comfortable with violence against women, but use your judgment. All things considered, I’d say an appropriate response would be to spit in the face of whoever seems to be the ringleader, then call all of them something really emasculating or make reference to the inadequacy of their wangs. I’ll leave the wit up to you, but I think the spit is key. If you’re a dude and you see some dudes terrorizing a woman, you have one tactic at your disposal that she doesn’t: you can pee upward. Pee on the guy’s pants (I recommend peeing on the shoe for any woman who wants to attempt it, too, but I think it might be easier for dudes). If it seems dangerous to approach the group and you have a car, go get in it and get out your pre-filled Super Soaker full of piss and do a drive-by on them.
  • The sitch: dude at bar/party does some uninvited groping. The response: I’d go either with pouring a drink over the guy’s head or a kick. Where to land the kick is up to you, but make sure to draw attention to him. Shame is one of the most effective ways to deal with terrorists. If the guy has to go home because he’s covered in Whisky Dick Pale Ale or because everyone in the bar/at the party saw him get kicked in the nuts and yelled at by some chick, you win.
  • The sitch: dude does the head-to-toe sweep and makes gross noise or otherwise irritating comment. The response: men almost never do this when they’re alone, so you have part of your response built right in. If you respond with, “I’d rather drink a glass of cat piss” or something, he’ll be pretty well embarrassed in front of his bros, and he’ll surely think twice before repeating his routine. If he’s alone, or if you’re particularly irritated, toss whatever you’re drinking on him. A face full of Tab is a powerful training tool, and you’ll still get the benefit of shaming him in public, because any bystanders will know exactly what went down.

To be continued…

* Thanks to the esquire for the graphics for this 5 (or 7, or 9, or 3) part series.

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33 thoughts on “The War on Terr’r Part 1: Shut Up, Asshole

  1. Great post, I was glad to check the blog today and see new additions.

    I also think that gender-based terrorism in America manifests itself in more discrete ways, like professional men in authoritative positions who administer professional advice from a privileged male’s point of view.

    A personal example would actually be my therapist (whose services I will not continue after my prepaid check runs out), who will offer such responses as, “Well, it’s all biology; males can’t help it,” when I talk about my experiences with the discrepancies between female and male sexual experiences.

    He will also repeatedly respond with such statements as, “That is, until you find the right man,” when I talk about issues like personal, academic, and professional ennui. He even responded to my personal statements regarding my dissonance from my family with the advice, “You’ll find the right guy with a great family you can adopt.”

    Unbelievable, isn’t it?


  2. Fuck yeah they are, I’d love to read more about the topic of medical terrorism on the female subject.

    I’m especially sketched out by the traditional insistence that women give birth lying down in a hospital, administered by a male doctor, rather than giving birth in the natural squatting position with the assistance of a midwife. I’d actually love to read up on the history of childbirth and how it’s varied through different times and cultures because there is something wholly unnatural about a woman needing institutionalized male assistance in an act as biologically reflexive as childbirth.

    Post-industrial American culture seems to have conditioned its female subject from an early age to believe that pregnancy outside the institution of Christian marriage is an unnatural and dangerous phenomenon. The fear of dying by childbirth seems to be a timeless and exaggerated fear, because come the fuck on, people — the female body (as many misogynists love to observe) is perfectly designed for the process of conception and birth.

    Unfortunately, most young girls throughout historical cultures have been raised in a heavy fear of illegitimate birth for reasons beneficial to men, and this fear has been wrapped tightly around the spaces of the female body. Childbirth is a natural act that even a mute retard in a McDonald’s stall could do simply because that is what the female body is equipped to do.

    Why, then, should young girls be conditioned to believe that she must not, under any condition, be impregnated without the proper social sanctions in order to give birth? Most reasonably well-do young girls are raised to believe that a successful live birth is absolutely impossible without expensive medical care and a team of medical practitioners. Is it an issue of class or something? Do the upper and middle class women unconsciously seek to require such extensive professional care in regards to the primitive instincts of childbirth in order to distinguish themselves from the lower classes that are forced to give home births like crossbreed bitches because they simply can’t afford the “proper” medical care?

    Most contemporary women who decide to get pregnant are subjected to a series of social obligations like frequent medical checkups leading up to the Big Day when she will be placed on her back on a stretcher before being wheeled into a room full of doctors and nurses to give birth. The helplessness conveyed by a body lain out on a stretcher is further magnified by the fact that this position defies the very gravity that is actually a helpful proponent in easing the fetus out of the womb through the vaginal canal.

    Anyway, I could go on forever. I’ve been meaning to read my copy of Foucault’s “Birth of the Clinic,” so maybe I’ll go ahead and do that over summer break, because it seems to be an appropriate supplement to my personal suspicions regarding the cold, callous, and oftentimes sexist medical gaze.


  3. I often find myself staring into the florescent lighting on the ceiling of a doctor’s office thinking, “Surely, this system was designed by men.” I’ve been meaning to address the fact that being female is treated as if it’s a disorder in and of itself, and the fact that women are practically required to live in a state of terror over the fact that our bodies might betray us. I think this series might be the place to fit that in.


  4. Shit, I actually had a doctor try to refer me to a shrink because he was being an asshole toward me, and I had the nerve to tell him stop treating me that way. Can’t have those “hysterical females” going around standing up for themselves, you know!


  5. God I know! I have a suspicion that after Hillary’s unpopularity during her campaign, women will be further encouraged to subdue their opinions and rights for fear of appearing “shrill” and unattractive. I’m disgusted by how easily male voters will hurl ad hominem attacks on her and not only get away with it but be applauded by both men and women alike for it. Hillary may not be the ideal candidate in terms of presenting herself to the general public, but she’s definitely not THAT incompetent to warrant the extreme hostility and internet misogyny she’s facing now! The resentment many Americans hold towards her might be related to suspicions of nepotism or the fact that she is an ex-presiden’t wife, but unfortunately all of the potential reasons voters might dislike her are blanketed by a general misogyny. The worst thing about her campaign is that she might have had a better chance if she had first acknowledged the fact that she would have to face sexism, and then angle her campaign towards working around that sexism. The fact that a woman would need to navigate the public sphere like this is unfortunate.


  6. Speaking of therapists… do you think it’s a coincidence it can be broken up as The Rapist?

    I, luckily, don’t go to the doc often enough to be manhandled, but my experience of male doctors is that they are cold and clinical, whereas my female doctors have been warm.

    I believe women are inclined to be warmer and more nurturing (it’s instinct for me, at least) but many people confuse that for being a doormat.

    I know you said you don’t believe in the new age feminism thing, but I first learned about feminism from that side because of my mother, and a lot of the stuff makes sense (to me), without being too ditzy. But I’m in the lucky position to know just enough to draw my own conclusions and make up my own mind.

    As with everything, the theory makes sense, it’s the connotations that fuck it up.


  7. Chlorophyll, your therapist is appalling. How do you resist the urge (if you do, that is) to bludgeon him senseless?! And what sort of training and/or qualification procedure produces “professionals” like that? Argh.


  8. Well… not to start an argument, but the whole idea that women are beautifully and perfectly suited to give birth and it is only the medical establishment that has made it seem dangerous isn’t true. The myth of natural birth being better and easier for “primitive” women is a myth invented by the father of the natural birth movement, who just wanted middle class and upper class white women to have more babies and so tried to make them feel really guilty for not doing so. “Look, those savages pop them out without a single cry, and you, oh spoiled white women, think you need all this assistance and help! Shame!”
    Women of course are *the* sex that can give birth, but birth has always been known to be dangerous. It was the most likely way for a woman to die until very recently in history, no matter what culture she lived in.
    All that being said, the supine position during birth is just stupid, as are many other hospital rules about birth. But feminist pressure on the medical establishment has changed a lot of these rules. We just need to keep it up.


    1. No, it’s actually true that it was easier for pre-civ women to give birth. It wasn’t one guy who said that, it was eyewitnesses too. Like doctors who worked with pre-civ tribal people just as civ was coming to them, who in the beginning was hardly called at all but only presented with the baby later, and then wound up twenty years in having to admit women to the hospital who then took a day or more to get the baby out.

      How on earth did we last for over a million years as human beings if it was that hard to give birth?

      Some women still find it easy or at least relatively painless. My dad’s sister never hurt for any of hers and she had three.

      A woman on her back is definitely working against gravity and will struggle more. A woman stressed out is going to struggle more, and any hospital stay is stressful. Being yelled at is stressful; lots of birth attendants in hospitals yell at the birthing woman. Then there’s the shit diet most of us eat now, even those of us “being healthy.” That has an effect too, both in the initial development of the female reproductive system and in how it behaves later. Vegetarian women take note. You’ve got it worst of all.


  9. i have this kinda stuff happen to me all the time when i go out by myself, its never when im with other guys, just when im with one girl friend or by myself.

    When i was in school we where having a school sleep over and i was hanging out with my boyfriend and some of his friend and we went up onto the stage in the gym i went behind the curtain and it was dark and i couldnt really see who was around me, and this guy ran up to me grabbed my boobs and ran off, i didnt know who it was untill a year later when he told me that he did it online on MSN.

    Then when i was baby sitting and i was sitting on the couch waiting for the mom and dad to leave the dad was saying his goodbyes to the kids and he sat the kid on my lap and i noticed that he ran the back of his hand over my breast, and i was shocked and i moved back. and he said to me, “im not trying to grab your boobs you dont have to lean back” i though to myself “sure asshole” and the mom looked piss when i looked at her, i think she might have saw it. im sure he got yelled at for it.

    I hate the men that do that kinda stuff, and there always the really cocky ones that think they can get whatever girl they want, and think that there the best in bed. and there always the ones that cheat, and flirt with other girls, and check out other girls and then tell you about how hot that girl is. Like you really want to hear how hot your boyfriend/husband thinks another women is.

    Anyway, this sounds like a good idea to just spit in there face if they grab you. i think ill do it if it every happens to me again.


  10. I especially like throwing the Tab in his face. That, or a nice, dramatic slap in the face, is great – because they are highly visible acts, and they tell all those around that this man did something despicable.

    Thanks for the great post.


  11. I was talking to a friend earlier, talking about your blog and the idea of street harassment, groping, etc. She told me that some years ago, she was at a concert and a complete stranger grabbed her ass. So, she turned around and kicked him hard in the ass, and then punched him as hard as she could in the back! Woo!

    So, what does the guy say to that? He turns around and says, “What is your problem?” Oh, right. He’s groping complete strangers as if they are public property, but SHE’s the one with the problem. Yeah, right.

    I just thought that was awesome. And I’m totally gonna start carrying around a squirt gun with my own piss in it. And not just any piss. OLD piss. Stuff that has been worked on by bacteria for several days and is full of ammonia. Yeah! But I want a mask and a cape. I wanna be a superhero.


  12. “Well, it’s all biology; males can’t help it,”

    I get that argument from my fiance. His excuse for violence against women is that “men are bigger and stronger” and that “animals do it”, so “it’s nature”.

    And I just don’t know what to say to that. But I bet he wouldn’t be whistling the same tune if I were ever a victim of male violence.


    1. no offense, angry reptile keeper, but i’d DTMFA (dump-the-mother-fucker-already) while he’s still just a fiance and not a husband.


  13. “I get that argument from my fiance. His excuse for violence against women is that “men are bigger and stronger” and that “animals do it”, so “it’s nature”

    Break off the engagement immediately.


  14. i just sent the link to this article to my friend who a few days ago had some guy come up to her outside a bar, put $140 in her hand, and say “for 1/2 and hour of your time.”

    “Let’s say you’re at a bar and some terrorist touches you uninvited. Would touching his wiener teach him a lesson? Not likely.”

    i disagree!

    any guy who uninvitedly grabs a sexual part of your body (ass, boobs, crotch) should be able to take it like he gives it. i say grab his nut-sack and squeeze. and while you’re doing it ask him: “d’ya like that, doll face?”


    1. I love your line of thought.

      By the way, if anyone ever gives any of us money in that manner for any amount of our time, we should march back into the establishment, or any nearby open establishment, and proceed to sit there for that amount of time doing our own thing with his money in our hands [or pockets, or wallets, etc]. If the douchebag tries to say that we have stolen from him, we can point out that he started it, and make sure that everyone in hearing range knows about the little ”agreement.”


  15. Have you noticed that a man will only apologize for harrassing a womyn if she’s with another guy? If she’s by herself and she says “fuck off” the harrasser will say he was just giving her a complement. But if her boyfriend or husband says “That’s my girlfriend/wife” suddenly it becomes a great disrespect to to him, not the womyn being harrassed. Oi.


  16. Your post made me think of this sequence in Thelma & Louise in which they punish this extremely obnoxious trucker for being rude :)


  17. Oh NineDeuce, you inspire me! When I went to PartySan and SummerBreeze(German heavy metalfestivals) this summer, I punched one guy in the face, kicked one guy in the ass, pushed a bunch of them, flipped lots of them off, and verbally destroyed another. Why? One slapped my ass as I walked by, one tried to take pictures of me without asking, lots of them just grabbed/blocked my path me for no reason at all other than to harass me, others had “Show your tits for beer”signs, and one wore a rape joke tshirt. Normally, I’d just ignored it, but this post made me turn to violence. And guess what? It helps. Extremely well. Violence is the only thing dudes like that seem to understand. I thank you for making my festivalexperience more satisfying.


  18. Men love to pass this off as not much of a big deal, and certainly not rapey in any way, shape or form. I beg to differ, and ND is spot-on as usual that there’s quite a bit more to it. Lowly and unsophisticated as they may be, men do indeed know what the psychological impact of street harassment is.

    One of my favorite responses to this particularly nasty form of abuse was when I told one of them to ‘kill himself.’ You should have seen him! For one thing, it took him a while to register that a woman would ever dare say such a thing. Then once that awareness finally set in, he spun around like a mad beast, eyes lolling about and completely incoherent. It was a lot of fun. He knew I was basically telling him his only option was to off himself as there is simply no use for someone like him in civilized society. If he didn’t do himself in, I hope someone else does it for him :) When a male kicks the bucket, the world gets some much deserved peace and quiet!


  19. “Riiight. When was the last time you sat around and listened to what cops talk about when they get together? I’m pretty sure if you don’t hear the word “pussy” at least five times a minute”
    My grandfather (RIP) was a cop for almost 40 years and talked about corruption on the force even back then. My mom once went to a police supply store (they have them) to get a hat to replace her dad’s old one in memory of him and I saw a case of stuff you could buy there, like cufflinks and buttons and hats etc. In the case was a little pin that said, “Pussy Inspector.” Didn’t know they actually had those in the NYPD! Ha ha. ha? I was mortified by that. Just mortified. All of sudden any respect I had for cops just went right into the shitter. Obviously this was a boy’s club and I felt I no longer could trust these guys to protect me.
    This was over 20 years ago now and I never forgot it.


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