When I tell male PCVs or other male friends at home about the sexual harassment I receive here, they say things like “that’s disgusting” in a way that I know they mean how Indonesian men are, or “the men over there are something else…”
Yes, there is absolutely a problem with Muslim men treating me as less worthy of respect because I am not Muslim. Yes, there is absolutely a problem with Indonesian men treating me as less worthy of respect because I’m not Indonesian. But I have had awful things happen to me and my friends in America and I’ve seen Indonesian men treat Indonesian women in a way that is completely unacceptable. This is not an Indonesian problem, or a Muslim problem: it’s a male problem.
So it’s time for a despicable little quiz! I’m going to list some of the disgusting things that men have done to me in my life, and you will guess whether it was an American or an Indonesian. Answers provided at the end.
Quiz: Was it an American or an Indonesian man who…
1. Circled around the block three times while I was waiting for a bus, eventually getting out and asking me if I wanted to “go on a walk” with him.
2. Masturbated next to me in a dark car.
3. Masturbated behind me on the bus and then put semen in my hair.*
4. Sent me an unsolicited and unwanted dick pic.
5. Harassed me at work for my phone number.
6. Exposed himself to me in broad daylight while I was waiting for a bus.
7. Propositioned me in front of his toddler son.
8. Slowed down his car as I was walking along the street and asked me to get in.
9. Trapped me against the wall of a relatively empty train car, pressing his full body onto mine.
I’ll provide answers at the end, but honestly they don’t matter. Men are a problem everywhere. I see a lot of people claim cultural superiority with the phrase “They don’t treat their women right over there.” Americans and Indonesians have said that to me about various other countries, or cities, or states. For being such an international standard of a country’s worth, men sure do have a hard time actually doing right by women and holding their fellow men accountable. I’ve talked about this before but it’s always someone else: the people from the town over, or people who don’t have a good education, or people from another country or race. But I’ve got to say, I’ve met good men from many towns and plenty of good men who didn’t have access to education and lots of good men from different countries and ethnic backgrounds; but every group has their shitheads. Pretending that it’s only a problem in some other place and that the men who do these things around you are just exceptions doesn’t help women get better treatment. This is not a women’s issue–it’s a men’s issue because men everywhere are doing it and allowing others to do it, and only men can stop it.
So which men are the worst? Answer: all of them.
Despicable Answer key:
* #3 happened yesterday and inspired this post