Street Harassment and Second Class Citizens

20 Jan

BY  S. ARENDT
When we talk about street and public harassment committed against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender-identified individuals, it is important  we remember that this kind of violence does not exist in a vacuum.

 
“Second Class Citizens” BY RYAN JAMES YEZAK

Its roots run deep. Harassment based on perceived or actual gender, sex, and sexual orientation is firmly anchored in sexism, homophobia, and transphobia. Attitudes that endorse, excuse, or perpetuate discrimination  on the basis of someone’s (perceived or actual) sexuality and/or identity create a framework in which violence flourishes.

When members of the media, public officials, and organizations publicly harass, belittle, or undermine the rights of community members on the basis of their sexual orientation/sexuality/identity/gender/culture, the message is sent that it is “ok” for anyone to publicly harass others on the same grounds.
When laws are created or utilized to restrict the freedoms and protections of community members on the basis of their perceived or actual sexual orientation/sexuality/gender, it sends the message that those community members are not deserving of legal support or recourse – thereby increasing their vulnerability.

Street harassment, again, does not exist in a vacuum. Our public spaces echo the sentiments of our society. As long as those sentiments include categorizing human beings as “other” and “less than,” the systems that support harassment will persist.

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