We at PSA believe very strongly about playing devil’s advocate to our ideas, theories, and beliefs because we want to ensure that what we say, present, etc. is truly reflective of reality and completely unbiased. As such, we have to admit that there were small moments in which we wondered how the issues exhibited in the “Sex in Stock” series were relevant to everyday life, particularly for women who are NOT sex workers. Unfortunately, we must report that the answer to our self-posed question is “yes”—the social norm of purchasing women’s bodies affects all women as the following accounts of our very recent personal experiences suggest….
Last Saturday, we were on our way back from a friend’s birthday celebration when a guy began to harass Marie on the street. He was a young, white male who seemed to be somewhat intoxicated or high. We brushed off his proposition to which he responded with, “Oh, come on. Please! I will pay you.” There he was, blatantly offering to purchase Marie’s body in exchange for money.
Later than night, when Anna was on the subway with her sister, she experienced yet more harassment on a sexual level. A group of about eight Hasidic Jews were staring at Anna and Melania through the glass window in between cars. At first, the ladies thought this was quite funny because it was very entertaining to see eight men trying to squeeze their heads into the window to all get a better look. Nevertheless, the situation turned ugly when one of the men started making oral sex gestures and his friend started gesticulating money offers. Soon, Anna realized they were trying to offer her money in return for sexual services. She looked at Melania who was eating a sandwich at the time and said, “Wrap up that sandwich. We are going into that car.” Melania was hesitant, but Anna told her that they had to do this for all the other women out there, “We have to show these men that they cannot do things like this.”
At the next stop, the ladies exited their car and entered the car in which the men sat. They stood right next to them and looked them each in the face. Of course, all the nonverbal remarks stopped and the men were not offering money in return for anything at this point. Anna asked them, “Not so brave now, huh?” She stood there very proudly and dominantly. At the next stop, the ladies got out and returned to their previous car, but sat with their backs turned away from the men so as to not look at them anymore.
Finally, only a few days later, Marie was walking on the train platform waiting for a train to Connecticut when a beverage salesman started to whistle at her as she walked by. When she turned around and started walking toward him, he stopped whistling and looked away. Marie stopped right in front of him and said, “I’m not a dog so why are you whistling at me?” He looked down and mumbled something that sounded like “sorry.” After which, Marie turned on her heel and walked away. Although he was not explicitly trying to buy sexual favors, the man was treating Marie like a piece of meat to be called upon at his whim and partook in the very prevalent problem of sexual street harassment.
We’d love to hear your thoughts! Let us know in the comments section below.
Peace and Possibilities,
A & M