Yesterday, at the farmer’s market, I encountered a man starring at me all googly-eyed and weird, who then sidled up next to me and said, all breathily, “Excuse me, what’s your name?” My instinct was to say “My name is Fuck Off And Die You Fucking Prick,” but I was so caught off-guard by a guy looking at me all googly-eyed and weird and asking me for my name in a breathy voice when I didn’t know him at the god damned farmer’s market that I just stammered, “Uh, Rebecca?”
“Rebecca,” he said breathily, again, his eyes boring into mine. “Nice to meet you.” I walked off and he sort of half-whispered, “Have a nice day.”
Why did that guy need my name? Keep reading »
Last week, we published a story by Tiffanie Drayton about encountering a strange man multiple times in her neighborhood in the span of a few days, including on her own block, who then hunted her down on social media and sent her creepy and “flirtatious messages.” The experience made her feel incredibly unsafe, understandably so, and I was distressed to see some commenters be quick to dismiss his completely bizarre actions as coincidental or a misinterpretation on her part, mimicking the way some of her friends responded. Unfortunately, I think that happens a lot. On one hand, the instinct to dismiss those concerns — “I’m sure he’s not stalking you, he probably lives on your block/has an innocent crush/won’t actually DO anything to hurt you” — could be a (misguided, but well-meaning) attempt to make the person feel better/safer. On the other hand, they are also an example of the ways in which we tell women to ignore their instincts and give complete strangers, in particular men, the benefit of the doubt and a trust that has not been earned. There are very, very good reasons for women to not feel safe in this world of ours. The ways in which women’s personal spaces are violated on a regular basis are plentiful, from street harassment to inappropriate comments at work to online threats, and sadly, so too are stories of these behaviors taken to the extreme. As these 12 examples from Whisper illustrate, women who have been stalked are left isolated, do not always get the support they deserve from family, friends and community, and find the fear stays with them even after they’re finally “safe.” Keep reading »
Author Kathleen Hale has been in the middle of a shitstorm this weekend because of an essay she wrote for The Guardian about how she stalked a Goodreads reviewer to try to prove that she — the reviewer — wasn’t who she said she was. Why that matters, no one can really figure out. Hale’s beef was that the reviewer, who goes by the name Blythe Harris on Goodreads and elsewhere but — at least from what Hale could infer — is presenting a false persona online (who’s named Blythe these days, anyway?) posted a pre-release review of Hale’s book No One Else Can Ever Have You that was profanity-laced and described problems with the book that had no apparent correlation to the book itself. Hale obsessed over it, found out that there’s a whole community of online reviewers who bully authors for no apparent reason, and proceeded to dox Harris, both privately, and, ultimately, more publicly through the Guardian essay. Hale went so far as to book a car rental months in advance and showed up on Harris’s doorstep. Keep reading »
Last week, I had a stalker experience that left me feeling very uneasy. I frequent a Starbucks about a mile away from my house and sometimes just spend the entire day there writing. On one particular afternoon, a young man came into the cafe. I just happened to look up at that same exact moment and we made eye contact. I politely smiled, then returned to my work.
The following day, I was walking my dog on my street, when a very familiar guy approached me.
“Hey, what’s your dog’s name?” he questioned.
“Um, it’s Sam,” I responded casually then noticed his face look very familiar.
“Hey, didn’t I see you yesterday at Starbucks?” I asked the stranger. He haphazardly nodded, responded, “Yeah, I think so.” Then we both said goodbye and parted ways.
I didn’t think too much of it at first. I figured the guy just happened to live on my street. A coincidence, right? That was until I got home and checked my Facebook inbox and noticed one unread message in my “other” folder. Keep reading »
He’s got all the makings of a future star of the Republican Party: criminality, sleaziness, and treating women like shit!
Adam Savader, 21, a former intern for Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign, has been arrested for sexual extortion. Savader has been accused of stalking 15 women in total over the past year by emailing them saying that he possessed nude photos and threatening to make the photos public unless they gave him more naked pics. (It’s unclear if any of the women actually sent him demanded pics.) Hiding behind the pseudonym “John Smith” over Google Voice, this little creep allegedly wrote emails and text messages to his high school and college classmates reading things like “If you fuck with me again I will send these to your parents” and “do u want ur family and everyone in DC to see your tits? Just agree to e-mail me a pic of you in a bra.” Nice! Savader, who also worked on the campaigns of New Gingrich (above) and Paul Ryan, allegedly asked at least one woman sexual questions over email, like her favorite positions, and told at least two women he was jerking off to the pics. Oh, family values!
Savader has been charged with cyberstalking and Internet extortion and faces five years in prison if convicted. Five years isn’t that much, son. Still plenty of time to get involved in government. Surely there’s a position for you somewhere as Director of Women’s Affairs. [Raw Story, Politico]
Over the past few months, India has been racked with high-profile gang rapes and deaths of little girls and women. From the three sisters under age 11 who were sexually assaulted and murdered to the student who was gang raped with a metal rod, which mangled her insides so badly it eventually killed her, the brutality of the country’s rape culture is horrific. One of the main problems with the rape culture in India has been placing the onus on the victim instead of the perpetrator — society as a whole, including police, had been blaming women for being out in public where they could be attacked, instead of punishing the men who hurt them.
The new laws aren’t perfect. First of all, as legal scholar Karuna Nundy for the BBC notes, the laws only protect the “modesty” of women, not boys, men or transgender folks. Additionally, marital rape is still legal (including if the wife is a minor ages 15 through 18) and homosexuality is still criminalized.
Alas, it is with cautious optimism that we welcome India’s new spate of laws criminalizing rape and other acts of violence which went into effect yesterday. Keep reading »