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Articles, Feminism, Liberalism

Feminists and Sexual Harassment

20130409-142752.jpg“Sexual harassment” in streets, transportation and places of work seems to be endemic to many societies, including London – 43% of female Londoners say they have been sexually harassed in London’s public spaces (YouGov). The legal recognition of sexual harassment in the work place in the 1970’s was considered to be a success of feminism, and ongoing feminist campaigns now seek to legislate against “street harassment” in the same way. However, the feminist drive to legislate against “unwanted” sexual attention from men hypocritically ignores two fundamental realities of sexual dynamics in Western societies.

Firstly, feminists ignore that women too engage in sexual advances upon men, so they do not rail against sexual attention in general but only against sexual attention from men they dislike. If she finds him attractive, he’s described as a handsome admirer that had the ‘guts’ to pursue her; if she does not find him attractive, he’s described as a disgusting pervert that had the ‘audacity’ to pursue her. For example, feminists say that women dress only to “feel good about themselves”, rather than to attract men, but the reality is that not only do women dress to attract men, but they dress to attract the right men – and advances from others who happen to be caught in the line of fire of a woman’s public display, end up being condemned as sexual harassment.

In other words, sexual harassment seems to be less about what the man does, and more about who the man is. As long as women remain the sole arbiters in deciding what is or is not “sexual harassment”, men are somehow required to be mind-readers in order to avoid crossing ‘the circle of salt’ drawn around women who they should have known were ‘out of their league’. Feminists seem to be suggesting that the solution to sexual tension in Western society is that men should abandon pursuing relationships completely and leave the job entirely to women.

Secondly, sexual harassment measures seem to be a chastity belt designed only for men and not for women. The reason women have been victims of “sexual harassment” so much more often than men is that women control the criteria for it in the first place. When the man is pursuing the woman it is called “harassment”; but when the woman pursues the man, it is called “seduction”. The assumption is that a woman’s sexual appetite is natural and innocent, but a man’s sexual appetite is predatory and unnatural. If a man were to expose a woman to a regular onslaught of unsolicited sexual stimuli, creating an “offensive” and “hostile” environment for women, this would most certainly be classified as sexual harassment – but this is exactly the environment that women regularly create by the sexualisation of their public appearance, even in the work place, without objection from society or feminists.

Feminist campaigns go as far as to cry “human rights violations” when it comes to men harassing women, arguing that it limits women’s access to public spaces – but they do not protest that men’s access to public spaces is limited too when women are barely clothed in public, especially during summer time, exposing men to unrelenting and unsolicited sexual stimuli, creating a hostile, frustrating and uncomfortable environment for men. The imposition of female sexuality upon men in the public space interferes with men’s public, professional and private lives.

20130409-134847.jpgThe reality in the West is that liberalism has eroded the previous cultural formalities which regulated interactions of courtship between men and women. These formalities helped to manage expectations between men and women and keep public areas free from becoming sexual arenas. Now, men and women are left to engage each other haphazardly, without security or trust, and being vulnerable to exploitation. This has given rise to the anarchic dynamic known colloquially in the West as “the game”, where people come not for serious purposes – but to ‘play’.

In this milieu, feminists, under the guise of “sexual harassment”, campaign for the law to act as a selection process, giving women the power to punish and reward men based on the whims of female vanity. This will result in nothing but malformed legislation and a malfunctioning society. This unclear and anarchic laissez-faire “system” comes from and is essential to liberalism, where laws and values are no longer sourced from a higher, objective moral authority, such as God. Rather, values, laws and morals become no more than the product of one interest group against another. Sexual harassment laws, excited by feminist campaigning, protect one gender and villainise the other.

Islam provides a social system to regulate the interaction between men and women, and provides a system for courtship without the risks we find in liberal societies. Islam recognises that men and women need to work together in order for society to live and prosper; but also that men and women are naturally attracted to one another. Whilst enjoying this attraction is encouraged within the context of marriage in Islam, it also realises that this attraction can become a threat to the institution of marriage or family where it is outside of the loving and committed bond of marriage. Rather than expect us all to be perfect (which nobody is), Islam aims to minimise sexual tension in society in the first place, so that men and women can go about interacting with each other in fulfilling their interests in society – be it advancing technology, economy, education, or going about one’s daily errands with minimum temptation, distraction or worry.

So, Islam prescribes a number of safeguards, including that both men and women should “lower their gaze” from one another and both men and women should dress modestly (men must be covered at least from the navel to the knee, and women must be covered except for the hands and face). These measures compel men and women to value each other not based on looks but on virtue and personality; it also minimises insecurities arising from women comparing themselves to other women, and it also protects men’s desires from being exploited.

Whilst liberalism leaves men and women to blindly and chaotically risk accosting each other in the pursuit of relationships, Islam seeks to organise courtship between men and women so that they are both honoured in the right way and relationships are pursued for serious purposes. This leaves the public and professional life free from the vagaries and frustrations of sexual politics, so that people can go about their lives without fear of being distracted or harassed.

(Updated – Apr 9, 2013 @ 16:00)

Discussion

27 thoughts on “Feminists and Sexual Harassment

  1. there is something not right with the above argument—-
    2004 survey of Egypt showed 83% of the women had been sexually harassed on the street at least once. The survey also showed that wearing a veil or not wearing one made little difference.

    A report many years back concerning rape showed that the crime is about power. Perhaps newer reports give a more comprehensive picture…..however, it is possible that sexual harassment is not just about sexual stimuli but rather about power.

    Also–sexual attention and sexual harassment are two very different things—harassment is about bullying / coercion of a sexual nature.

    Shallow arguments based on a superficial understanding of gender relations does not benefit Islam or women. Islam does offer a better alternative—in that it encourages respect among human beings—both self-respect and respect for the other. Thus, a man who bullies someone weaker than himself (male or female) has no respect for the other—and no self-respect either………

    Posted by anon | April 9, 2013, 6:13 am
  2. “A report many years back concerning rape showed that the crime is about power. […] it is possible that sexual harassment is not just about sexual stimuli but rather about power.”

    When crime statistics in the U.S. and UK showed black people were more likely to commit crimes than white people, was that because black people possessed power? Or was it because they were relatively powerlessness in that society when compared to white people?

    “sexual attention and sexual harassment are two very different things—harassment is about bullying / coercion of a sexual nature”

    Who decides when attention becomes harassment? “Attention” for one woman could easily be “harassment” for another. Just as receiving flowers every day for a week at work from a guy you’re attracted to would be romantic and “attention” – but receiving flowers every day for a week at work from a guy you’re not attracted to would be creepy and “harassment”.

    The problem is not only that the rules are made up as they go along – but that they are made up by women only. For example, in the U.S., sexual harassment includes quid pro quo sexual harassment (demands for sexual favours in return for career advancement) and creating a hostile environment sexual harassment (including “unwelcome sexual advances”) – even if unintentional by the perpetrator! The latter should also catch women who dress provocatively in the work place – but feminists are not concerned with this, which gives rise to the hypocritical measures that leave men vulnerable as victims of sexual harassment, as well as vulnerable to accusations of sexual harassment. Most men want to go to work to focus on their professions, and not have to deal with unwanted sexual provocation in the workplace – to impose such an environment upon them, especially against their will, is the very definition of sexual harassment.

    “2004 survey of Egypt showed 83% of the women had been sexually harassed on the street at least once. The survey also showed that wearing a veil or not wearing one made little difference.”

    Liberalism, and its permissive view of sexuality, has led a generation of young people to become very sexualised. The statistics you have shared serve only to demonstrate that Liberalism has degenerated Eygpt to the point that sexual harassment has risen up in society. It should be noted that such public sexual harassment is a relatively new phenomenon, and non-existent according to historical sources which harken back to Islamic times. The hijab is only one part of the treatment that Islam offers, and modern day piecemeal applications of Islam will not work in a secular and materialistic society – Islam has to be implemented comprehensively to bring about the desired protection and harmony.

    Islam does not place the entire burden or blame upon women alone, or upon men alone. As mentioned in my article, Islam prescribes a comprehensive social system – this requires the participation of society together and not just women. For example, this means both men and women should lower their gaze, dress modestly, make marriage easier to give a legitimate channel for sexual energies (e.g. the Egyptian ‘marriage crisis’, where exceptionally high marriage costs prevent young people from getting married), eliminate the porn industry that has polluted Muslim lands and corrupted Muslim minds, and say no to the capitalist exploitation of women’s bodies and men’s desires in the media.

    Sexual harassment is a truly disturbing problem and can be a traumatic ordeal – but unless we are honest about the causes that give rise to these problems, we will not be able to implement an effective solution.

    Posted by zarafaris | April 9, 2013, 5:22 pm
  3. People around the world are finally waking up to the reality that Feminism is a politically-motivated ideology that does not have the best interests of women or men at heart. Men and women of good conscience from different cultures and creeds must come together to foster mutual respect and cooperation, and begin to repair the male-female dynamic, and the family structure, that Feminism purposefully corrupted.

    Posted by TMG | April 10, 2013, 12:33 am
    • Your comment suggests you do not understand feminism or its purpose. Real feminism aligns seamlessly with the last sentence of your comment.

      Posted by Sarah | May 31, 2013, 1:51 pm
      • By qualifying “real” feminism, are you admitting that there are proponents who have done what TMG is suggesting under the guise of what you would call “fake” feminism?

        Posted by Adam McPhee | October 10, 2013, 8:55 pm
      • That’s quite inaccurate given that ‘real feminism’ is about as subjective as your clothing preference. In the Western world, there are so many schools of feminist thought that conflict with one another, it is astonishing that you carry this notion of ‘real feminism’. Reputable feminist academics like Dr. Warren Farrel, who say all sorts of reasonable things, are repeatedly mocked by various brands of contemporary feminists with no academic credentials (i.e. effectively initiating yet another school). These are then relied upon by working class and rich (white) women and exported in the world of tumblr as if to say “first world problems are real!” There is no unified coherence when it comes to feminism. None.

        Posted by Enjoining Knowledge | November 11, 2013, 9:34 am
  4. crime statics based on race compared to gender crime—-what motivates human behavior is complex enough without comparing apples and oranges.

    “creating a hostile environment”—cannot apply to someone “persistently giving flowers”. As with any other kind of harassment/bullying—a hostile environment comes with a criteria that can be upheld in court.

    Egypt—scholars analyzing those statics concluded that economic frustrations (such as unemployment) may have led to feelings of stress, anxiety and inferiority leading men to take it out in street harassment.

    Reports from Cambodia are even more dismal—Gang rape is prevalent and interviews with men showed that they did it for “entertainment”. The report did not make any conclusions—but it is my opinion that perhaps socio-economical situation plays a part in men feeling inadequate and taking it out on those who are weaker than them.

    Any conclusion that only a particular set of criteria play a role in human behavior is a mistake….Yet, I think men must be held responsible for their behavior. If men feel their space is being violated by excessive sexual stimuli so that it is leading to inappropriate behavior—it is their duty to voice their concerns and/or not consume material that promotes such stimuli. If the cause is something else—it is their duty—once again to solve it. (But Men should not evade responsibility for their behavior by the excuse that “women wanted it/were asking for it….they say no but mean yes…..etc…etc”—nor should women allow men to use them as excuses for inappropriate behavior)

    If women choose modesty (of whatever level) it must be to promote self-respect…an essential human value. However to correlate women’s clothing with inappropriate male behavior perhaps evades male responsibility for their own behavior.(as statistics in Egypt show—women’s clothing have little effect on men’s inappropriate behavior) If men need women’s or society’s co-operation then they should say so….but it is a dialogue that needs to be started by men.

    You are correct in your assessment that Islam is a wholistic system that works best when it is properly applied. Islam teaches self-respect and respect for the other in both gender relations and human relations.

    You are also correct that the Islamic system works best when grounded in Tawheed—however, what the Quran advocates in its wholistic systems is so practical and common sense that it can be transferred into a secular system with a few tweaks and still work. I agree that the West (and Western feminism) needs to learn to stop thinking in a simplistic binary mode and embrace a more wholistic, co-operative way of thinking. Likewise, IMO, Islamic/Quranic gender relations do not need to be framed “against” western feminism—they can stand on their own very well.

    Posted by anon | April 10, 2013, 8:48 am
    • Anon,

      “If men feel their space is being violated by excessive sexual stimuli so that it is leading to inappropriate behavior—it is their duty to voice their concerns”

      Firstly, the point of the article is not about the correlation between women’s lack of clothing and men harassing them. The point is that women’s lack of clothing is a form of harassment in of itself – regardless of whether it results in harassment from men. Even by feminists’ *own* criteria, the provocative, sexualised appearance of many women and girls today, constitutes a sexual advance, creating a hostile environment for men. The hypocrisy is that feminists will ignore this and, in their attempt to absolve themselves of any blame for the problems in society, they will fume about men’s offences, but cover up their own. This is why feminists will often try to conflate issues by raising the same argument that you have (“women were not asking for it”).

      Secondly, we can talk about levels of modesty and levels of harassment until the cows come home – the point is that sexual advances of any nature – from men *and* women should not be occurring in the public sphere at all and should be reserved for legitimate relationships in the private sphere.

      “You are also correct that the Islamic system works best when grounded in Tawheed—however, what the Quran advocates in its wholistic systems is so practical and common sense that it can be transferred into a secular system with a few tweaks and still work.”

      Strange, you say the Islamic system should be grounded in tawheed but then advocate that it be grounded in secularism instead? So you believe Islamic gender relations will “stand on their own very well” by stripping out God and having a secular model? I think you’ll find that piecemeal application and tweaking the Islamic system is the precise reason secular Muslim countries are in the dire state they are in today.

      Posted by zarafaris | April 12, 2013, 3:24 pm
    • “Egypt—scholars analyzing those statics concluded that economic frustrations (such as unemployment) may have led to feelings of stress, anxiety and inferiority leading men to take it out in street harassment.”

      No Muslim can deny that if the men and women in any Muslim society are sincerely practicing their religion, if they have taqwa in their hearts, then women would simply not be suffering the sort of harassment they do today, no matter what their economic circumstances.

      “If women choose modesty (of whatever level) it must be to promote self-respect…an essential human value. However to correlate women’s clothing with inappropriate male behavior perhaps evades male responsibility for their own behavior.(as statistics in Egypt show—women’s clothing have little effect on men’s inappropriate behavior) If men need women’s or society’s co-operation then they should say so….but it is a dialogue that needs to be started by men.”

      What the statistics don’t tell you is how much the men who are involved in harassment are practicing their religion. Are they close to Allah, do they take their religion seriously…or are they far away from it?
      Both groups of men exist in Egypt, but I would be very surprised if the majority of harassment comes from those in the first group…it’s more likely to be from the second.

      I think that however you look at this problem, the answer lies in both men and women getting closer to their religion; women in Egypt are not without fault either. It’s one thing to say that these women are ‘veiled’ but when a ‘veil’ is interpreted as a tight top, a pair of jeans and a fancy scarf (as it quite often is) then you’re going to get problems, because those girls/women are sending out mixed messages: ‘I’m covered but I’m still displaying my beauty’.

      “Likewise, IMO, Islamic/Quranic gender relations do not need to be framed “against” western feminism—they can stand on their own very well.”

      They most certainly can.
      But the problem is that many young people living both in the West and in Muslim countries are now bombarded with western ideology, of which feminism is a part.
      Feminism claims to promote the welfare and interests of women whereas Islam is portrayed as doing the opposite.
      So it is very encouraging that Sister Zara and others like her discuss these issues publicly so that Muslims and in particular the Muslim youth are aware of just how flawed and impracticable they are.
      And it is also important that misconceptions about Islam are corrected

      Posted by mareya | April 14, 2013, 9:20 am
    • If men need women’s or society’s co-operation then they should say so….but it is a dialogue that needs to be started by men.

      Men like women’s open sexuality, coz they believe that their chances of getting a piece of it are good.
      The biological reality is that men crave for lot of sex. When the sexual revolution happened in the West in the 60s, men were apparently happy that women would be liberated to have MORE sex with them.
      Roger Devlin explained this in his article ‘Sexual Utopia in Power – Roger Devlin’,
      an interview with him here http://youtu.be/iMd1kf3OSuU
      But society didnt understand how Women’s sexuality works. It doesnt work one to one. Women want QUALITY men ONLY. Its called Hypergamy. Which means most women are having sex with only a minority-percentage of men at the top. Thats why in the West, plenty of successful women are unable to find men for marriage.. there are smaller and smaller number of men they find attractive.

      This left lower status men ONLY exposed to women’s open sexuality and getting no piece of the action, and therefore VERY frustrated.
      See: The booby trap: Liberated women are confusing the hell out of men. by Bettina Arndt.
      http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/society-and-culture/the-booby-trap-20120211-1syoi.html

      The internet is now bristling with men writing about what they regard as women’s sexual arrogance. Provocative female attire is an assault against men, writes Giovanni Dannato for In Mala Fide, an online magazine of heretical ideas. He argues women exposing themselves without intending to reciprocate the attention they attract is impolite and inconsiderate — which he bizarrely suggests is rather like school children who bring something tasty to class that they are not prepared to share. It amounts to “an act of aggression in which they use the power of their sex as a weapon”, he writes.

      Posted by Astrokid MHRAA | October 11, 2013, 4:46 am
  5. V. good article.

    Posted by Shariq | April 10, 2013, 5:26 pm
  6. What about American soldiers raping Iraqi women?
    most of the women are veiled?
    this is a prime example males disrespect of womanhood in a liberal society which use women as a commodity.

    Posted by Bukhtabur Palace | April 10, 2013, 5:40 pm
  7. The issue of rape not being helped by female clothing has recently been in the media also. How is the best way to articulate this point without offending people? For example people may think that I am trying to divert the attention from the males responsibility and instead holding the female responsible for the attack (which is not the case). So what is the right way of going about this issue? Thanks

    Posted by shaun | May 29, 2013, 7:05 pm
  8. Yeah! If an advance is wanted, it’s just in good fun, where if it’s unwanted it’s “sexual harassment.” Similarly, if I have sex with someone and they want it, it’s all good times, if they don’t, all of a sudden it’s “rape” and I’M the bad guy?! What gives? Also, if I visit a friend in their home and I’m invited I’m being a good friend for checking in. If it’s not wanted, and I jimmy open their patio door at 2 in the morning I’m a “home invader” or a “stalker.” So confusing. If I ask my buddy Dave, “hey, can I borrow your car”, and he says “yeah” and I borrow it for the day, all is well. If I smash out the window and drive to Mexico without telling him I’ve committed a “crime”! If I have friends over and say “stay as long as you like, the futon folds out” I’m being hospitable. If I say “You’re not going anywhere” and chain them to the radiator in the basement for 8 years all of a sudden I’m a “kidnapper” and a “monster.” I asked my liberal-feminist overlord (we all have one in the West) about all this confusing stuff and she said there is something called “consent” that makes a big difference in things. I said I didn’t even know what that means, so she showed it to me in the dictionary, but I made clear that I would not be corrupted by her liberal-feminist distortions.
    Can I tell you a secret? Men don’t have any trouble understanding consent. Rape culture just makes it seem plausible for us to be confused about it when it comes to sexual harassment and rape, which acts as an excuse for the most vile behavior imaginable. Goodness.

    Posted by Alex Moyle | May 31, 2013, 4:42 pm
  9. Reblogged this on Hakeem Muhammad and commented:
    Great Article.

    Posted by Hakeem Muhammad | June 16, 2013, 4:33 am
  10. You lost me @ Islam. Ignorrance and white washing at its finest.

    Posted by Sarah | June 16, 2013, 7:20 am
  11. I read this article and it was so descriptive of men’s reality that I almost want to cry. Men in this issue are badly discriminated by this feminist society all the time. By the way, I am a man and I’ve been groped hundreds of times by women I dont know, but when they do it “they are kidding” or “it’s fun”. It sounds very cynical to me someone saying that “If men feel their space is being violated by excessive sexual stimuli so that it is leading to inappropriate behavior—it is their duty to voice their concerns”, when why on Earth men would look sexually on women if they arent dressed sexually? isnt it completely obvious that you can’t watch sexually a women who isnt dressed sexually? By the way , it’s funny somebody still says feminism is about equality, in spite of you never ever see a feminist campaigning for men’s equal treatment. When feminists asked for men to stop dying in wars, or to go to wars obligated as they are? When feminists asked for funds and ONGs to study and solve the problem that worldwide “privileged” men are 4 times more victims of homicides than women, and that in every single country of the world dies more “privileged” men assasinated than women and that it was also so in the past?

    Posted by Mariano | November 24, 2016, 12:23 pm
  12. I read this article and it was so descriptive of men’s reality that I almost want to cry. Men in this issue are badly discriminated by this feminist society all the time. By the way, I am a man and I’ve been groped hundreds of times by women I dont know, but when they do it “they are kidding” or “it’s fun”. It sounds very cynical to me someone saying that “If men feel their space is being violated by excessive sexual stimuli so that it is leading to inappropriate behavior—it is their duty to voice their concerns”, when why on Earth men would look sexually on women if they arent dressed sexually? isnt it completely obvious that you can’t watch sexually a women who isnt dressed sexually? By the way , it’s funny somebody still says feminism is about equality, in spite of you never ever see a feminist campaigning for men’s equal treatment. When feminists asked for men to stop dying in wars, or to go to wars obligated as they are? When feminists asked for funds and ONGs to study and solve the problem that worldwide “privileged” men are 4 times more victims of homicides than women, and that in every single country of the world dies more “privileged” men assasinated than women and that it was also so in the past?

    Posted by Mariano Alonso | November 24, 2016, 12:24 pm

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