HarassMap Achieves More Than Just Crowdsourcing Data

It’s basically impossible to ignore the obvious major drawback of crowdsourcing: the unreliability of the data it gathers. Taking HarassMap as an example, it’s not a far stretch to image fake or otherwise untrustworthy incidents being reported. This is not to say that in Egypt (and worldwide really) sexual harassment doesn’t exist, because it very much does, this is only to point out that the idea of crowdsourcing incidents like this is not completely reliable. What I personally love about this project isn’t the data at all, but rather the fact that it’s managed to do the impossible. HarassMap, against all odds, has managed to inject sexual harassment and the maltreatment of women in Egypt to the forefront of social discussion. This in itself is monumental. I was shocked and angry and completely dumbfounded when I read that victims often didn’t even report their abuses because cops, the very institutions that we would think of to go to in times of crises not only didn’t defend their rights and privacy, but they were the ones abusing them as well. I became terrified thinking about the prospect of living in a society where the rights of women are so far removed from social norm that even the law enforcement was harassing half the population with abandon. When you fall that low in terms of your place alongside other genders in society it becomes nearly impossible to reclaim yourself. When you matter so little that 99% of you can be sexually harassed and still nothing is done about that horrible injustice, it’s terrifying. Personally I would’ve given up faced with those odds. And that’s why I love HarassMap so much. That’s why I love so much what they were able to accomplish. Using their greatest strengths, their numbers, their connectedness via cellphones, victims and their supporters alike are able to shed a light on this very real issue. When they were turned away by the institutions that are supposed to protect them, they found the strength and the will in each other to address the issue. There’s just something so powerful and inspiring and respectable about how these women have fought back against their oppression that I admire completely.

Advertisements

“Hosts”

At the risk of sounding incredibly rude, the single biggest obstacle for me in terms of debating women’s sexual and reproductive health and rights would honestly have to be the fact that just can’t seem to sympathize with the views of those that seem hellbent on controlling women’s bodies. With all of the issues we talk about in this class, I can see the complexity of the social relations, the dynamics of class structure, the obstacles that an authoritarian regime might impose, but on this specific subject I can harbor nothing but disdain and anger towards people like Justin Humphrey. I read the Huffington Post article and was overtaken by such rage at the complete audacity of this male to even think about introducing House Bill 1441. The first problem I have with this whole situation is the sheer hypocrisy of it all. For Humphrey to simultaneously cast the responsibility of pregnancy sole on women and then claim that men deserve the right to be involved with matters regarding the fetus is just so blatantly pigheaded that even now it’s hard for me to write this level headed. You simply cannot tell women that they know what they’re inviting in when they have sex and therefore they should be the ones taking care of themselves. That in itself is problematic because it completely absolves men of any responsibility for the conception of that baby. The onus of the conception should be shared equally between the two individuals (with all the credit and praise of the miracle of life being awarded to the mother but that’s something to get into later.) because it takes two people to get pregnant. A man should not be allowed to have sex with a woman, impregnate her and then tell her its her fault for not being responsible enough. This is made even worse by the fact that Humphrey then goes on to say that men should not be left out of such decisions like abortions. I guess it’s just baffling to me that this man could actually sit there and claim that a woman should be responsible for her own pregnancy but that men have a right to decide what happens to her body once she is, in fact, pregnant. You can’t have it both ways. To do so is just a blatant exercise of sexist patriarchal powers that exist in our current societal structure. It’s terrifying because men who think this way (and why is it that almost all movements for the regulation of WOMEN’S bodies are being spearheaded my MEN?) are completely oblivious to their own sexism. They have no idea why they’re way of thinking is so inherently authoritarian and problematic. We’ve lived so long in a system that coddles and caters to the whims of men (White men in particular) that they don’t even have to worry about their own arguments contradicting themselves. Where they can actually feel comfortable calling women “hosts”, reducing them to nothing but literal human containers for this organism whose very existence would never even have a chance if not for the beauty and power of the female body. Ultimately the abilities of the female body are just but one characteristic of the individual that is the woman. That is to say, the woman is an individual. One that deserves the right and is more than capable of making her own choices regarding her sexual and reproductive health.