I realized this morning that I have become a perplexed old feminist fart, utterly baffled at modern young women. There is a lot of admirable gumption out there but sometimes I wonder how they expect anyone to take them seriously.
This morning a newish, local newsblog featured a story about a jackass who hangs around a nearby subway station checking out women and taking upskirt photos with his cell phone. No one’s busted him yet, but a local blogger went to the police after he tried it on her, and caught a good photo of him (what comes around goes around) with her own phone, so it’s probably a matter of time. I salute this chick for doing her damndest to shut down this obnoxious behavior, but I’m utterly weirded out by the language used in discussion of the incident in various places online.
“Horrifying.” “A special place in hell for this guy.” “Things like this make me question humanity’s worth.”
Hello? Horrifying is the Gulf oil spill. Special places in hell are held for people like Slobodan Milosevic or Ted Bundy. (Granted, if cell phones had been around when Ted Bundy was he probably would have tried this.) Questioning humanity’s worth is what you do when digging in the fields of Cambodia yields a harvest of skulls, or a farm in the Tidewater turns out to be a dog-fighting operation, like Michael Vick’s. And if you want to zero in on real gender-based harassment, shake with tears or howl with outrage over the people who shoot abortion doctors or refuse to sell the morning-after pill at their pharmacies.
This guy just takes pictures up skirts, for God’s sake. It’s icky, it’s probably the behavior of someone who would rape if he had the guts, but at the end of the day, no one was physically injured, the incident was momentary and the picture is not going to be recognizable even if Mr. Jackass puts up his own page at upskirt-dot-com or something and plasters it all over the Net.
I remember finding myself in a crowd that had formed to watch a Chinese New Year parade downtown, years ago, alongside a friend from my school days who probably stood about 5’1″ and weighed in at a hundred pounds. I thought I was just being jostled at first, then realized that the guy behind me in the press was copping a feel off my ass. I stomped down and backwards, scored a glancing blow on his loafer, grabbed my friend around the waist and bodily dragged her away, then explained. Then we went on wherever we were going, and we mostly remembered it as “the day you carried me across H Street under one arm.”
I’m glad the cops pay attention to these things now in a way they wouldn’t have back then (Bundy did start out as a window peeper, after all) but if this is what provokes tears and trembling outrage, what do we have left for mass murder, or Abu Ghraib?