Tuesday, October 09, 2007

A thought

After the bus stop thing yesterday, I was talking to a friend about it, and she mentioned her own strategy of putting on an old hoodie and cap when she rode the bus, to avoid unwelcome attention. At a certain point, how different is this from putting on a veil?


Factorial said...

I found that headphones made a big difference. I could just pretend I didn't hear people.

Hoodies really do help, even if that does seem kind of unsavory.

Rich said...

A hoodie is defense against male aggression. A veil is a symbol of male aggression. I think that you can take your shield off is important.

Yay for headphones! I've had great times on the bus zoning into music.

Magniloquence said...

Heh. What popped into my mind was that we think people with veils are terrorists, while people with hoodies up are merely vandals.

I have serious trouble with the idea that a veil is always and forever a symbol of "male aggression" or cultural backwardness or whatever we're calling it now. It can be these things, yes, but so can a bloody lot of things.

Even considering the various troubling aspects of the veil's historical context and current cultural stuff, to simplify it that far is insulting to pretty much everyone. If freely chosen, a veil is a perfectly acceptable symbol of one's religious beliefs - no more harmful than a yarmulke or a habit. If not freely chosen, well, there's your problem right there.

But that's a digression.

Headphones are useful, and so are cell-phone headsets, but neither will stop a determined talker. (I always think of Zuska's "puke on your shoes" thing when things like this come up. There are some people you just can't get away from.) They offer a level of social shielding in the form of a visibile reason for you to not pay attention to the person bothering you.

Hoodies and caps help in a different way; they allow a certain measure of invisibility. Unfortunately, that invisibility is pretty limited - a lot of people who like to start stupid/scary conversations don't care what you look like, only that you're alone and you look botherable. Not only that, but it makes the claim of harassment harder on the surface, because if you're wearing something old and beat up, many people (bus drivers, other people in the area, etc.) won't believe that you've been harassed... why would anyone say anything to you?

The combination of both techniques seems to work fairly well, I hear. Of course, you'll still get some people, and they'll be the scariest ones... but there really isn't anything to do about them but stay home. They're the kind of people that will walk up to your car and start yelling at you if they see you driving down the street, or will follow you (or block your car) for miles, and so on and so forth, and ... they sort of come with the territory, I think.

Factorial said...

This is kind of unrelated, but when I'm in some situation where someone is talking to me against my will I just walk away.

Or you could fake a seizure.

little light said...

Rich, it's not that simple. I've known of many women who have written embracing their choice of hijab for precisely the same reason--there are times it gives them the freedom to move about in public partially shielded from the male gaze. Especially in countries where the veil or head-covering is not compulsory or enforced, women do choose it, at times, for the same reason loveless' friend chose a hoodie--defense against male aggression.
It's just a lot more complex, especially in situations where the veil is more voluntary.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, i think the ability to be able to shed said "veil" is important. I think of it as, if you were travelling to a dangerous part of town, you'd put your purse or wallet somewhere hidden, right? Same idea. Public transport can offer up situations that are just too sketchy.


Twin Lauren said...

I'm not sure if it matters anymore, but I have found two strategies to work amazingly well.

1.) Scowl all the time and look like you are trying to decided whether or not to kill someone.

2.) If someone does something inappropriate to you, tap them on the bridge of their nose with two fingers (like you would a puppy) and say, firmly, "No."