Charlotte's Web

Blogging my world since 2006

Fighting Entitlement

12 Comments

One of the things that I’ve had to face as a white South African is that the many advantages I had were largely due to my privileged position – the apartheid government spent more money on my education, made sure the hospitals I went to were better and allowed me to live in leafier, safer suburbs than black kids my age. These were not things that came to me because I was a better person, but merely because I was white in a society that oppressed black people.

Something that comes when false privileges are built into society is a sense of entitlement. White South Africans had to let go the notion that they deserved their privileges and have had to adjust to the concept of earning them. White South Africans have also had to step back and allow the previously disadvantaged time to catch up – hence the government’s policies of affirmative action and social equity.

On Sunday night, a blogging friend of mine marched with 2000 other women in London’s Reclaim the Night march. They were marching against sexual abuse and violence against women and for women’s rights to walk the streets in safety. While on the march, while surrounded by other women and police, she was sexually abused. It is hard to believe, but a man – apparently one of a number who had been jeering, cat-calling and making lewd gestures at the marchers – pushed through the barricades, knocked her aside as she was marching and grasped her breasts. You can read her post here, and that of the friend she was marching with.

It is staggering and sickening to believe that an individual was so threatened by a group of women marching for their rights that he found it acceptable to assault one of them.

It shows that the streets still aren’t safe.

It shows that there are many men out there who still believe that they are entitled to abuse, jeer, grasp, grope, comment and instill fear.

It shows that we have to fight not only the privileges that still run artificially through society, but the entitlement that goes with it. (For anyone reading who may not know what male privilege is, let this blogger tell you. Here’s his checklist.)

And to the man who abused my friend, let me tell you that groupthink is not going to save you. The march goes on. We will march, both literally and metaphorically, until you understand that we are not for your taking, until you understand that our bodies are not yours, that you may not comment or point, that you may not approach, or turn violent when rebuffed. We will march until the night is safe again.

ETA: Those of you who live in London and want to show your solidarity can join tomorrow’s vigil in Trafalgar Square at 7pm to mark International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women.

Author: charlotteotter

Novelist, feminist, crime writer

12 thoughts on “Fighting Entitlement

  1. that is sick. i hope that he was caught and the book thrown at him.

  2. How small the bloggerverse is: I had read this on a few other feminist links. It amazes me constantly how people don’t realize what a patriarchal, misogynistic, racist and antisemitic world we live in. Sometimes I just despair and am grateful that I live in the part of the world where I am less likely to be raped and murdered for my gender and religion. And that is less, not won’t, as the police guards around every Jewish institution remind me.

  3. Maybe you should fight the good fight online, too. Google roissy in dc to find an enormously popular wordpress.com blogger – popular in the sense that abusers, wife-beaters, and misogynists of all colours love him. He bases his theories on a twisted view of sociobiology and alpha dominance. In the end it’s a manual for psychopaths, imho.

  4. I am appalled by the actions of that man. I cheered when I read this part of your post “We will march, both literally and metaphorically, until you understand that we are not for your taking, until you understand that our bodies are not yours, that you may not comment or point, that you may not approach, or turn violent when rebuffed. We will march until the night is safe again.”

    A resounding Yes we will!

  5. Really disturbing, Charlotte. Their accounts of what happened have chilled me to the bone. I read the male privilege checklist, too – yes, you can see the parallels between sexism and racism, can’t you? So what must it have been like under Apartheid to be a black South African girl or woman? No picnic.

    People who fail to see their own privilege gall and astonish me; those who feel inherently entitled to it make my stomach turn. Everyone has to keep talking, keep speaking up, keep marching always.

  6. I am horrified that no respect was given to those women who marched on Sunday. I pity the poor sod who felt the need to empower himself in such a sick way. His actions will only cause women to rise up stronger and louder against people, like himself, who, due to this form of behaviour, show themselves to be weak in our global sense of humanity.

  7. I think a mob of fed up women should have beat him unconscious with their signs. I suppose I’m missing the point but fighting back is another way to take back the night, particularly when one is surrounded by a huge support group. As for entitlement, I agree it’s wrong as an accident of birth, although your mom was probably just glad to get good healthcare for her child. But quite a few people seem to think enjoying earned priviledges are also a form of entitlement.

  8. Just keep on writing about it – keep pointing it out, keep marching. This is a terrible thing to happen, but it’s a perfect example of gender rancour, alive and well and causing terrible consequences. It cannot be denied when it’s acted out this starkly. That list of male privileges is quite something. I must show it to Mister Litlove.

  9. I’m shocked and angry. Wow, what an ignorant, oafish idiot. I suppose it might be helpful to see why a guy like that was so threatened by a women’s march that he felt that he had to do that. But it’s more important to, as you say, keep marching and keep acting. I think women vote with their feet by avoiding such men, which in turn makes them more abusive and angry. I see men like that in the military and it sickens me. But we can’t give in to them.

  10. I read about Noble Savage’s horrific experience on her own blog and I’m still absolutely shocked by it. As I said there, just what has our society managed to do the minds of men in general that various of us should think that this is normal behaviour? And what on earth can be done to unpick it?

  11. I like to abuse men with my fists whom abuse woman.

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