|Harvey Weinstein (Source: videomovie.in)|
Me too.Several posters, with commendable courage, added personal stories. The clear impression is that verbal or physical harassment is widespread, and affects a huge swath of American women. (Several posters included a rhetorical question asking if any women were exempt.)
If all the women who have been sexually harassed or assaulted wrote "Me too" as a status, we might give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem.
Sexual harassment is of particular interest to urbanists in part because it violates the spirit of community. Recall the words of Isaiah that inspired the name of this virtual space: "They shall neither hurt nor destroy on all my holy mountain." One person hurt is one too many, but it's clear that so many incidents occur and so regularly that it represents an epidemic. This must not go on.
Another pressing concern is that, while sexual harassment can occur anywhere, many women's stories show that urban living can increase the danger. Urbanists commend density and street life because they are more economically and financially sustainable, better for business, more intellectually stimulating and more fun. But the more unplanned encounters occur on urban streets, without something changing rather drastically for the better, the more incidents of harassment will occur. And public transportation! It's an essential element of a successful urban place, but I've read any number of accounts of groping on buses and trains (not including the train scene in an episode of the Netflix series Master of None). I'm all in on urbanism, but it's no good if it makes women less safe. (See below for other potential costs to some people of even the good aspects of urbanism.)
Clearly we need to strengthen the norm against sexual harassment. But, for goodness' sake, how is it not already strong? I realize gender roles have changed, but that was mostly in the 1960s and 1970s. People like me, in my sixth decade of life, have never known an America where women were not publicly equal to men. Is the problem isolated individuals-with-problems? Subcultures where the value of women's equality has not taken hold? A general fear/respect/awe of financial power that is stronger than our sense of what is right? Low expectations/standards for male behavior?
This problem is clearly widespread, and attention must be paid, for the sake of women everywhere, and for the sake of the community we must be building.
"Peace and Quiet," Holy Mountain, 22 July 2013
Charles Marohn, "Autism, PTSD and the City," Strong Towns, 28 August 2017
Tamara Coffman Wittes, "#I Will? What I Learned From My Week As An Online Activist," Brookings, 19 October 2017