shit men say to men who say shit to women on the street

A long time ago, when I was in my early 20s, I was once venting to my mom about some ongoing street harassment. There was a construction site near my workplace, and all the women in the area were forced to run a gauntlet of catcalls and obscene chatter, every single day.

My father overheard us and joined the conversation. He suggested that the women find a different route to work to "avoid that scene".

I explained that this wasn't a "scene" one could avoid. It was everywhere, every day, every place where men gather. I explained that women shouldn't have to inconvenience themselves and take different routes to work because men can't keep their mouths shut. But even if we wanted to, where we would walk? Where was the harassment-free street?

My father then asked what the women were wearing, if their clothes were "appropriate for the street".

He then claimed he had never heard of this kind of thing, even though he walked city streets daily.

He then dismissed the complaints as the over-sensitive imaginations of "womens-libbers". He actually said that. This is the same man who regaled us with tales of striking workers laying down in front of trucks to prevent scabs from entering a factory, the man who took me on civil rights marches when I was barely old enough to walk. The person who taught me to speak out against injustice.

It was a painful lesson in hypocrisy. It was maybe the first time I clearly recognized the gap between believing in the right things and doing the right thing - the space where we take responsibility for the injustice and privilege in our own lives.

This video gives me hope that things can change, and do change, and are changing.

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