During New Years, many women in the city of Koln were sexually assaulted and once again, the conversation of women’s rights has lost its spotlight.
Did we forget to consider the female victims themselves? Instead of reinforcing a clear message that it’s never right to sexually assault women, the incident is used as a weapon against refugees or immigrants, over-emphasizing rampant stereotypes about Arab men.
I’ve learned from one recent incident, in which both Western and Arab men have disrespected me as a woman. A few weeks ago I was in the Berlin metro when a group of Arab men came in and sat a bit distant from me. One guy conspicuously and suspiciously left his gang to come and sit directly right across from me. I didn’t think much of this until the creep was aggressively staring up and down at me incessantly. I’ve encountered creepy stares before but the aggression in his eyes instilled a great fear in me. After 5 minutes, I asked the person accompanying me who was a male German, if we could move to a different area in the train or even leave this cart and grab the next train. Seriously, ANYTHING to relieve me from this uncomfortable situation. The situation was so obvious and uncomfortable for the both of us that he had already acknowledged it. Unfortunately, this person didn’t even try to resonate with my fear because they were probably too preoccupied with their own fear of the situation, whatever that was, or they didn’t think it was that huge of a problem. Problem one, he was aware of the situation before I announced it but didn’t do anything. Problem two, he continues to believe inaction was the better solution, just so we don’t make things obvious.
So I suffered for another 15 minutes with the creep but I should have gotten up and left, even if I had to leave the accompanying person behind. I regret it every day now because I didn’t take matters into my own hands when I clearly knew the situation was bad for me.
A discussion with one western male on this situation brought me no support. It was even more discomforting how he highlighted about how I was dressed that day. He agreed with me that although I am not to blame because I have all the right to dress how I want, but according to him, if a real situation exacerbates and I fall victim to sexual harassment or assault, blaming the other guy won’t reverse the consequence. And from this stupid, sexist rationality, he urged me to dress more conservative to take more precaution. Not even my own conservative, traditional Asian father would stoop so low to tell me this. If you were bullied in school, how about you just stay home and forgo your right to be educated like how you are telling me to give up my right to dress. Because both suggestions sound so intelligent.
I value my personal liberty to go wherever I want and dress however the hell I want and if anyone tries to violate this in my own home turf, I rather suffer the consequences of standing up against my aggressors than suffer in my reluctance to take action. There will always be sexual aggressors but I am more pissed at the men who believe they are protecting women by expecting them to take a more passive action by changing her way of life out of fear. Yes, please accommodate these sexual aggressors so we can perpetuate an even more chauvinistic male dominated world. What a stupid idea.