succumbing to peer pressure

Monday, May 19, 2008

Feministing reports the sad but not shocking news that 90% of teenage girls report having experienced at least one instance of sexual harassment. The article breaks it down into specific types (my response in parens):
unwanted romantic attention - 67% (yep)
demeaning gender-related comments - 62% (yep)
teased because of their appearance - 58% (yep)
unwanted physical contact - 52% (yep)
bullied or threatened with harm by a male - 25% (nope)
discouraging gender-based comments on the math, science and computer abilities - 52% (shockingly, nope, considering my profession. either I'm incredibly lucky or conveniently deaf)
sexist comments on their athletic abilities - 76% (yep, and all the damn time, in ways subtle, glaringly obvious, and everything in between)

In slightly more uplifting news, also from Feministing, hundreds (or thousands, depending on news reports) turned their backs in protest to Washington Univ. awarding Phyllis Schlafly an honorary degree. Photos here. The third one is my favorite, as it clearly shows faculty members on the podium turning their backs. I favor this type of silent protest, as I think it makes a very clear point without being disruptive, but in settings like a graduation how best to do it without blocking other people's views? Kneel on chairs instead of stand? Step to the aisle and stand there?


Blogger Sudhir said...

Come on, Meg. First, teenagers of both genders are not representative of anything. Well, except immaturity. Who doesn't get made fun of a teenager? And I mean for everything.

Second, is unwanted romantic attention really harrassment?

6:34 AM  
Blogger reyn said...

I'm with Sudhir on this one. How are guys supposed to know that a female will be positively receptive to romantic attention? If we never hit on you, we're dense, stupid boys. If we do hit on you, it's sexual harassment? And let's be clear on one thing: I know there's a line. And if a female makes it clear that she doesn't want that attention, you don't give it anymore. Ever. But if a guy is into a girl, is he supposed to ask her permission before letting her know?

7:51 AM  
Blogger Megan said...

I admit, I thought about including more in that first parentheses along the lines of what you two are saying regarding unwanted romantic attention. I haven't read the actual study, just skimmed the report summarizing the results, so I have no idea how they operationalized 'unwanted romantic attention.' In my head, I considered it reyn's point about crossing the line after a clear no thanks has been given*, but certainly it's possible that's not how everyone interpreted the question/the question wasn't clearly defined in such a way.

And yes, being a teenager blows, and typically does come with being made fun of. But I don't think that means we shouldn't be quantifying those instances, or that just because it's so prevalent it's somehow ok, especially when the teasing in question has the possibility of turning into something tragic, like an eating disorder.

*luckily at Case this typically didn't occur in a scary or threatening way, but it still had the power to alter my daily routine, as I know it did several of my female classmates.

9:51 AM  
Blogger reyn said...

I remember an instance between two friends of mine; the three of us sat together in every class we shared, and one day the female asked me to make sure that I sat in the middle henceforth, because he had asked her out and she felt awkward sitting next to him. Maybe one of the easy avoidances Megan mentioned. On the other hand, I can remember writing extremely lewd and suggestive items about Megan on a chalkboard in front of 200 students four mornings a week, and she always just laughed it off. (which is a big part of why I like you)

8:27 AM  
Blogger Sudiptya said...

Damn. All the easy criticism of your statistics have already been made. So, I guess I'll just put my yes/no answers like you did as a counterpoint!

unwanted romantic attention - Suprisingly, yes.
demeaning gender-related comments - Frequently. With the expectation that, because I'm a guy, I should just suck it up and take it.
teased because of their appearance - Indeed.
unwanted physical contact - Um, yes, but not by the opposite sex.
bullied or threatened with harm by a (fe)male - Also yes.
discouraging gender-based comments on the math, science and computer abilities - No. Admittedly, guys are kinda immune to this one.
sexist comments on their athletic abilities - No... just accurate comments about my lack of athletic ability.

So, reversed, how do our yes/no totals compare?


10:27 PM  

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