Sun | Feb 23, 2020

Women aren't asking for perverse groping

Published:Saturday | August 9, 2014 | 12:00 AM


On August 3, 2014, The Sunday Gleaner published an enlightening column on the daily realities of sexual harassment, written by Karen Lloyd. I, too, have experienced this kind of harassment and have written about it in the past. I would like to publicly commend Ms Lloyd for bringing this serious issue to the forefront.

On Tuesday, August 5, 2014, Cedric Richards issued a response to Ms Lloyd's column. I was disappointed in his pronouncements and I submit the following comments:

1 Mr Richards blatantly analogises the body of a human being to items in a hardware store, goods in a market, and 'things' that can be tried free for 30 days. My mind immediately goes back to the days when men and women would arrive on our shores to be examined, fondled and sold to the highest bidder. Mr Richards states, "Things on display are for public interest and pleasure."

I submit that the body of a woman does not serve the sole purpose of being a 'thing' on display for the entertainment of others. Further, Mr Richards proclaims, "That's the marketplace. That's the name of the game." This blasé statement suggests to me that this is just the way things are and we should just sit idly by and allow the status quo to remain in effect for all eternity.

2 Mr Richards suggests that men are primitive creatures with little or no self-control and that this lack of self-control is justifiable. By asking, "Can you imagine what it does to a horny man?", Mr Richards insinuates that the sexual urges experienced by men are uncontrollable and that women should make their decisions always keeping in mind that their very existence can and will attract unwanted and dangerous attention.

3 Mr Richards contributes to the problem by excusing the behaviour. While he states that he "condemn[s] the behaviour of these good-for-nothing men", he proceeds to blame the victims of sexual harassment for their plight. Why is so much time dedicated to blaming the victim and so little time spent educating these "good-for-nothing men" in an effort to put an end to their disgusting habits?

4 It seems that Mr Richards fails to realise that women and girls in any kind of attire are sexually harassed daily - the 12-year-old girl in her school uniform; the businesswoman in her suit; the Muslim woman in her hijab; the college student in her jeans and T-shirt. Are these girls and women "asking for it" as well?

Sexual harassment stems from one thing and one thing only: the perpetrator having a false sense of entitlement over the victim's body. In order to change this disturbing reality, we must adjust the mindset of the perpetrator instead of continuously blaming the victim.