If you want to kill someone and get away with it, tell the police that he attacked you. Tell them you stepped out of your SUV, because you wanted to look at the name of the street you were on. Tell them the kid jumped you from behind. Even if he didn’t have a criminal record. Even if he was an A and B student. Even if you have 110 pounds on him. Even if he was staying at his father’s fiancé’s house, and carrying Skittles and iced tea he’d bought during half time at the local 7-11.
Don’t worry if you sound drunk or high; the police won’t test you for drugs. Don’t worry about your gun; it’s licensed. Don’t worry about your seven-year-old arrest for “resisting arrest with violence and battery on a law enforcement officer”; the charges were dropped. Don’t worry about the cell phone that the kid was on, calling his girlfriend, as he fled from you. No one knows where it is, and no one’s going to investigate it.
Do it in Sanford, Fla., and there’s a good chance the lead investigative officer will be the same guy who didn’t arrest a lieutenant’s son who’d been videotaped attacking a black homeless man. Do it in Sanford, where seven years ago two security guards — one a cop’s son —shot and killed another black teenagerwhom they claimed was trying to run them down after dropping his friends off at an apartment complex.
Do it in a town where the police chief will say without any trace of ironythat his “investigation is color blind and based on the facts and circumstances, not color,” and that he “can say that until I am blue in the face, but, as a white man in a uniform, I know it doesn’t mean anything to anybody.” Kill someone under the jurisdiction of a police chief who’d say that both you and your victim would “probably do things differently” if you both relived that night.
If you want to kill someone and get away with it, do it in a country where two of the three major news networks will barely cover your crime, and where it takes three weeks to become a national story. Do it in a country where the only possibility that you might get prosecuted is when the federal government steps in.
You know why this hurts so much? Because it’s true.
“What do you think street harassment is about? Sex? Benign flattery? Attraction? Women who can’t just suck it up and deal? It’s power. Catcalls, sexist comments, public masturbation, groping, stalking and assault: gender-based street harassment makes public places unfriendly, frightening and dangerous for many girls, women, and LGBQT people. It’s power to control public spaces. Power to alter paths. Power to shame, scare and intimidate. Power to define what is safe and what is not. It’s the power to say: “I’m entitled to touch you, comment on your body, coerce you to smile, control your movement.” Even when women perceive catcalls as flattering, they are nonetheless aware that it’s an unpredictable degree away from possible harm.”
Perceptions and Implications
If social confidence explains the greater contributions of women in some social contexts, it is worth asking why girls in school tend to contribute less than boys. Why should they feel unconfident in the classroom? Here is the answer which one sixteen-year-old gave:Sometimes I feel like saying that I disagree, that there are other ways of looking at it, but where would that get me? My teacher thinks I’m showing off, and the boys jeer. But if I pretend I don’t understand, it’s very different. The teacher is sympathetic and the boys are helpful. They really respond if they can show YOU how it is done, but there’s nothing but ‘aggro’ if you give any signs of showing THEM how it is done.
Talking in class is often perceived as ‘showing off’, especially if it is girl-talk. Until recently, girls have preferred to keep a low profile rather than attract negative attention.
Teachers are often unaware of the gender distribution of talk in their classrooms. They usually consider that they give equal amounts of attention to girls and boys, and it is only when they make a tape recording that they realize that boys are dominating the interactions. Dale Spender, an Australian feminist who has been a strong advocate of female rights in this area, noted that teachers who tried to restore the balance by deliberately ‘favouring’ the girls were astounded to find that despite their efforts they continued to devote more time to the boys in their classrooms. Another study reported that a male science teacher who managed to create an atmosphere in which girls and boys contributed more equally to discussion felt that he was devoting 90 per cent of his attention to the girls. And so did his male pupils. They complained vociferously that the girls were getting too much talking time.
In other public contexts, too, such as seminars and debates, when women and men are deliberately given an equal amount of the highly valued talking time, there is often a perception that they are getting more than their fair share. Dale Spender explains this as follows:The talkativeness of women has been gauged in comparison not with men but with silence. Women have not been judged on the grounds of whether they talk more than men, but of whether they talk more than silent women.
In other words, if women talk at all, this may be perceived as ‘too much’ by men who expect them to provide a silent, decorative background in many social contexts. This may sound outrageous, but think about how you react when precocious children dominate the talk at an adult party. As women begin to make inroads into formerly ‘male’ domains such as business and professional contexts, we should not be surprised to find that their contributions are not always perceived positively or even accurately.
Bauer, Laurie, and Peter Trudgill, ed. Language Myths. London: Pinguin Books, 1998. 41-9. Print.