Romanticization of (Sexual) Harassment

I’ve been having this thought for quite a while. And some time ago somehow I was “triggered” by this fanfic I happened to read and thought that I really had to write it down and post it here.

The poll that I created on Twitter.

When I was reading the story, I was like, “Gosh, this is not right.” One of the characters was somehow caught up in a situation that made him “sandwiched” (i.e. forced to have sex) for the night. He profoundly refused and tried to leave but somehow he wasn’t strong enough that he ended up being “the object of the other two.” Yes, there were two people who forced him. It was described at the end that this guy ended up enjoying what happened to him, was left being overwhelmed but actually loving it. But no matter how I saw it, I kept screaming in my head, “It’s rape!” There was also imbalanced power-relation here, in which the guy had some fear of losing his job and all. Is this not rape?

I felt bad for having all these thoughts but wasn’t able to tell the writer how I felt because I just don’t want to be considered a jerk. And I know it is just fictional, no harm whatsoever, and I love and respect the writer as a fellow fangirl. I know I can never be creative like that. And, really, I don’t want to be a social justice warrior or such. But, like, imagine it happened in real life, would that be okay to you? And, well, ok, let’s say such things happened in a real life, i.e. the guy felt blissful instead of getting traumatized, but, how many percent would actually end up that way? I find it quite “cringey” that something like this seems to be “normalized” and “romanticized“, both in fiction and in real life.

My Instagram Poll. And you know what? A friend who claimed to be a feminist actually chose that D option…

Take, for example, Fifty Shades of Grey. I read the book. (Ok, you can judge me. LoL) But, the first time I read it, I didn’t really pay attention to this kind of sensitive issues. I was just reading it for the story, wanting to know what happened, how the characters felt, etc., just as I usually do when reading novels. But, holy, the more I think of it, I can’t help thinking: Would the girl still feel the same way if Grey, the guy, wasn’t super rich or good-looking? Well, I know there was that “signed consent” and all, meaning that the girl did actually have a choice to refuse, but, oh, I don’t know. Have I turned to be so not fun to think of it this way?

But actually I feel bad for asking such a question, i.e. “Would the girl still feel okay if the guy wasn’t super rich or good-looking?” Somehow it implies that it is okay, acceptable, or understandable to do such things if the guy is rich and handsome but it’s not okay if the person is poor or looks ugly. BUT NO. That’s not the case. Whether they are rich or poor, handsome or not, harassment is harassment, assault is assault. Unfortunately, however, that’s what is often shown in movies or dramas, i.e. the “bad” guy doing the harassment is portrayed as someone handsome or rich and the girl, the supposed victim, ends up falling in love with them. Sigh. This somehow makes some people believe that “harassment” is only a matter of “looks and/or money”. When people feel uncomfortable, they’d be quick to say, “That’s because he is ugly or poor, if he is rich and good-looking, you wouldn’t complain, you would actually love it.” Well, that might be the case with some people. But I’m sure that’s not the case for many others.

And this kind of “normalization” and “romanticization” actually is not limited to the doers, but also to the victims. Take, for example, catcalling. Some people try to tell us that “if someone is catcalling us, it means we’re beautiful and attractive. It means they like us, so we should not get mad. Instead, we should be grateful. If we’re ugly or unattractive, they will leave us alone.” Well, really? Being grateful for getting catcalled? Seriously? This is so wrong. First of all, our beauty is not in any way measured by how much we get harassed. Whether we look pretty or ugly, catcalling remains catcalling. Second of all, no matter what, if we feel uncomfortable with it, then we feel uncomfortable with it. We don’t need to be told we should feel okay when we do not in any way feel okay. And, sometimes, people would resort to victim-blaming saying that if we are harassed that must be because our clothes, the way we wear makeup, walk, etc. are not proper. Say what? Even people with long/big hijab get harassed. Even people with no makeup get harassed. Even people who lower their gaze when walking get harassed. In other words, if people catcall you, they are the jerks, it has nothing to do with you, i.e. it is not your fault. So please don’t give them any reasons to justify such actions. Do not just accept the romanticization of such harassment to mean we’re attractive or to mean that we’re in the wrong. It is just total bullshit.

But, oh, I don’t mean to say that everyone is ignorant. Sometimes people aren’t just aware of it because, again, they’ve been made to believe that it’s “normal” or even “romantic”. No, it’s not. And, I guess, sometimes we need to patiently share our perspectives with them instead of getting all worked up and judging them. It’s because, really, sometimes people are really willing to learn. Not everyone does things out of their ignorance. And getting mad at them or judging them would only make them refuse our perspectives. But, well, ok, I understand that it’s not easy to be “patient”, especially when it’s not the first time we tell them. And especially when they are just so dense and are not willing to at least share perspectives or try to understand. But if they are willing to listen, I think it’s a good chance.

The other day, for example, there was this “friend” who had the idea of creating a “kill or rape” game by posting two pics of celebrities and having people choose which one they’ll allow to rape and by which one they’ll rather get killed. I commented something like, “Rape as a game? o.O I’m sorry, but…” and she said sorry and asked if anything was wrong. I explained that “If you’ll let someone rape you, it’s not rape anymore. It’s called rape ’cause you don’t consent to it.” Then she sent me a private message (you can see the pic), and somehow we discussed it. And, we were actually thankful to be able to share perspectives (though it’s mostly me who shared my perspectives with her. Sorry). But, like, at least, like I wrote to her, it’s nice that we could try to understand each other instead of judging each other. Like, I could’ve said it in terrible ways but I am glad I held my horses. Like, I was worried that she would hate me for my comment. And she was worried that I would scold her for what she posted. Well, we all are learning, and I’m glad that we could learn together.

But, well, not everyone sees harassment as harassment just like not everyone approves the romanticization of it. But, really, I think it’s important to share this perspective so we can create a safer environment for everyone. Yes, there are dense people who will keep doing it even though we tell them it’s inappropriate, but there are also people who will stop doing it after learning that it’s not appropriate. And I’m placing my hope on the latter. I really hope more people will understand that it’s not as normal or romantic as it seems, not as it is written in fiction, not as it is shown on TV, dramas, or movies. Well, it’s not so bad to be hopeful, is it?

PS: I had my own experience about these things. I’ve drafted it and scheduled to post it in one of my future posts, but unless you read every single post I write – even without me sharing the link, you’ll never know…

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