The images above were taken by a woman in Edmonton, Canada when she found one of the STWTS defaced with violent, misogynistic imagery. She explains it in this email she sent to city officials.
The STWTS posters are often defaced with gendered insults and abusive language and imagery. When it happens, it highlights the type of abuse that the work was initially created to speak out against. But, this particular defacement is so violent. It demonstrates that women are subjected to violence and aggression from men even as a piece of art.
There’s A LOT to unpack with the Elliot Rodger killings. But what sticks out to me because it’s such a huge part of what I see with this work is his entitlement. His entitlement as a cis white male that everything should be given to him, especially women. Women’s bodies are constantly being perceived as up for consumption and the entitlement that men feel they have over those bodies - that they are owed pleasure from a woman because that’s what women are here for.
Women do not awe anything to anyone. As women, we are not required to be pretty. To be sexy. To be likable. To be pleasant. To be a “lady”. To be approachable. We should not have to feign interest in a man out of fear that he’ll attack us if we reject him. We do not owe you shit. Not sex. Not conversation. Not a smile. Occupying this body does not put me in debt to anyone for anything.
Yet, occupying these bodies puts us at an inherent danger. And the important intersections of who you are as a woman will increase that threat of danger (race, class, gender presentation, sexuality…).
I met a woman in South LA who told me her friend was shot in the head when she refused to give her number to a man.
I’ve received emails from teen girls who’ve been stalked by grown men.
One woman was physically fought by a man because she wouldn’t talk to him. Another woman was slapped for the same reason.
A few women I talked to had trash or objects thrown at them from cars.
I’ve had too many conversations recently with men where I try to explain, unsuccessfully, the seriousness of street harassment and the general treatment and perception of women’s bodies. And in these conversations the men are taken aback by the stories I tell them.
"Damn, that really happens?"
"Yes. All of the time."
"That’s crazy. Those men must be…"
As a supposed ally your job is not to tell me that “Not all men…” or, that this behavior could only come from a particular type of man. Because 1) I’m not an idiot. And 2) That is not the point. The point is not that all men are perpetrators, the point is that ALL women have received some form of sexism or sexual harassment. Relaying stores of harassment is not accusation on you as man - it is declaration of the treatment that women endure all the time. And as a male ally, your job is to listen, understand, and then go check your male peers and/or yourself. You do not get to disassociate yourself from the problem because you are not one of “them”.