It’s generally a real pleasure to have you as a friend on Facebook. I appreciate that I can keep up on what the kids are listening to these days on Spotify and I thoroughly enjoy eyeing pictures of high school ragers. But I’ve noticed that lately your taste in “likes” has changed. It’s out with Bieber, in with Tosh.0.
You’ve indicated that you will be attending “Booty Slap Day” and have started to share videos of young men running up to women they don’t know in order to grope their behinds, run away and laugh—videotaping it all for hilarious posterity.
Now, I hate to get all Aunt Feminist Killjoy on you—but I love you and it’s my job. And I imagine you care about me too, at least enough to read on.
Here’s the thing: those guys running up to women just to grab their ass? Stuff like that happens to women all the time. It’s happened to me. When I was your age, guys—from boys in school to men on the subway—used to grope and touch me against my will too. I don’t know if any of them videotaped it or if they did it as a “joke”—all I know was that it was really scary.
Once it happened on my way to school on the train. I was wearing a dress because it was my seventeenth birthday. The subway was crowded and a man—I never saw his face—put his hand up my skirt and grabbed my ass right over my underwear. The memory of it still makes me feel like vomiting. This was just one incident—it’s happened to me at least a dozen times. The girls you know at school—girls you’re friends with?—I’m betting it’s happened to them, too.
Being touched against your will has become a twisted rite of passage for American females. It’s a reminder that you’re never safe anywhere. That your body is not really yours—but instead public property, there to be rubbed against by an old man or pinched and videotaped by a young one.
I know that a quick click on the “like” button may not seem like a big deal to you—but it scares me to think about the larger implications. I think about the high school kid in Steubenville, Ohio, joking and laughing about the unconscious teen girl in the next room who had just been raped by two of his classmates. That may seem a million miles away from “liking” a video—but it’s all part of the same world, the same culture that devalues women. Even laughing at a joke about rape supports the idea that women are less than and makes rapists think that you are like them. And the more you laugh at this stuff, the easier it becomes to take the ideas you’re laughing at more and more seriously.