Being Seen and Being Ignored


Thursday, 30 October 2014

So you may have seen this video that's doing the rounds of a young woman walking the streets of New York City.  The director has a camera in his backpack, and as they record 10 hours of walking (wow, tired feet?), there are over 100 instances of her being spoken to by men on the street.  Or spoken at, it probably feels more like.

I tuned into the contradictory feelings and thoughts that welled up in me on watching this video.  One part of me was really pissed off that this woman not only couldn't walk the streets without feeling harassed.  She also couldn't walk the streets and be able to forget herself. Beautiful? Mindful of the narcissism that engenders in this beauty obsessed cultured?  Want to get out, walk, lose yourself in that beautiful way that creates a nice little dose of mental health? Well, don't expect any respite when you leave your door because you're not going to be able to forget it for long.  'Cause those curves of yours, they make you belong to everyone else, baby.

The contradictory and jealous part of me (she's a pretty girl and I'm getting older) is a little jealous of all that attention.

But then what comes after that?  What gets left for women AFTER this kind of thing STOPS is a silence. But it's not a nice silence. It's a heavy silence full of condemnation. Because while you might have hated the attention before, on one level it made you feel good (the level that wasn't intimidated and harassed) because it's exciting to be admired and to be found attractive.

The dead zone after that confusing space is a reminder, once again, that you are on the other side of the beauty barrel. It's a reminder, from the cradle to the grave, that you are always going to be judged on how attractive you are.  Whether you've got it or you ain't, you won't be able to forget that the outside of you is seen, or ignored, and that it will make it so much harder for you to bring forth what is inside because of that.

I think that's why some women who wear burqas claim that they give them a certain amount of freedom.  Seen from this perspective, you can understand a little of what they might be getting at.