Sexual Harassment is a Grassroots Political Movement. So Is Feminism.
Alright, so the man who catcalls you from a construction site is annoying. Disgusting, even. According to Amanda Marcotte at the Raw Story , he's politically maneuvering. Marcotte makes a convincing argument for harassment as part of a political movement—not something that should be ignored or diminished, but a form of widespread sexism that should be met with an equally strong opposing force.
Women are too often pressured to go along with harassment for fear of appearing hypersensitive; no one likes to be accused of being a frigid prude. This fear is something men are well aware of and play into. Harassment is often dismissed as awkward flirting. Asperger's is sometimes brought up. "The point of harassment is not to get consensual interactions with women, and that myth needs to die already," explains Marcotte. Making such excuses only increases harassers' power to portray themselves as victims when women fight back.
So if most men—excluding actual rapists—don't expect to have sex with the women they harass, what is it they're after? Marcotte thinks she has the answer:
What’s interesting to me is that sexual harassers subconsciously (or hell, consciously, I don’t know) understand themselves as a grassroots political movement to put bitches in their place.
Marcotte backs up her claim that sexual harassers are a political movement with evidence of their pack behaviour, both online and in real life. When a woman writes an article about some jerk harassing her, there is inevitably some male commentator who posts something along the lines of "bitch needs to get laid." Here's how Marcotte breaks down the movement:
Belief: Bitches ain’t shit.
Goals: To feel free to put any random woman in her place both for the immediate pleasure of doing so and for the long-term gain of women feeling stuck in second class status.
Tactics: Inundate any woman who pushes back against harassment with even more harassment, hoping to make the price of speaking out so high that women give up.
Marcotte makes a good case for something we should all already know. Harassment and the sexism of which it's the product are not centered at the individual level. Instead, the drive to push women into a second-class status is systemic, and can only be countered with an equivalent collective movement. If our harassers are ganging up on us, we need a movement of our own. Luckily, it already exists. It's called feminism.