Let me start by saying unequivocally that I believe street harassment
is abhorrent, especially when the target does not wish for such attention. All people have the right to make as much of a display of themselves as they wish without becoming open to oppressive attacks.
Just as one person has the right to look however they wish, so does another has the right to take in that display and interpret it as they will. It is very similar to art in such that one may see a painting and become transfixed by the transposition of the rights of man against the tyranny of society whereas another may see just a gray background with a single red dot. The exhibitionist has no right to regulate the opinion of the voyeur just as the voyeur has no right to push their opinion as the exhibitionist's intent.
Let us look at an examples.
An individual leaves their home expressing their feminine gender by wearing a dress with a plunging neckline, fishnet stockings, and transparent heels. Others who watch this individual walk from their home to the train station, then ride the subway, react to this display. One whistles in lusty approval, another shields their child's eyes while shaking their head disapprovingly, and yet another vocalizes their critique of the ensemble. All three should observe the prime directive of any polite culture: if you do not have anything good to say, then say nothing. I posit that this should be pushed further to mean make known your opinions if they may contribute something constructive or said opinions are requested of you.
The whistler, unless given some sign from the target of their lust, has no societal right to make their feelings known. Just because someone happens to feel a bit randy does not imply they have the right to let others know about it. Further, if their intention is to satisfy this lust with the target through their actions, they should expect rejection and all the negative connotations that go along with it. This should be incentive to act better, however, without excusing such behavior; it is difficult to for some to reign in the impulse of such a base instinct.
Shielding the eyes of a child, to me, seems fruitless. Intending to protect the innocent eyes of your offspring by denying them the view of another person only imprints upon them that this is something you do not approve of and, as we find generationally, those that come after gravitate toward those things restricted to them by those that came before. The child will more than likely want to see around the fingers and will see out what the parent has denied in order to understand why it was denied in the first place. As a parent, the role in this case should be education and not censorship. Fostering within the young the ability to think on their own is far better than forcing them to think like you. Most parents fear their children forming opinions different then their own; an issue they should address in absence of the young.
When the person got dressed, it is unlikely they decided to request criticism from the public at large. As such, it is beyond unacceptable for persons unknown to voice unsolicited opinions about said outfit. This is not to say that the opinions themselves are unwarranted. We are back to the art; each interpretation, and therefore opinion, is just within the context of the individual voyeur. As the voyeur, you are well within your rights to look, to judge, and to consider, however all of these rights are valid within your thoughts. Once voiced, they are subject to the mixed context of society and may not violate the rights of the exhibitionist in making whatever display they wish of themselves.
In the question of rape victims being blamed for their attack for 'wearing that outfit,' I am reminded of orthodox Muslim patriarchal communities where women must be almost entirely covered to protect them from the otherwise uncontrollable lusts of men. It is preposterous to require half a species to involuntarily subjugate themselves to the will of a few leaders of the other half. If the last statement seems out of place, then apply it to the forced slavery of Africans prior to the United States Civil War, or the internment of Hebrews during World War II, or the colonization of India under the English East India Co, or any of the numerous examples we have record of.
I am the first admit that in any conflict, all sides are culpable, though such culpability is often never equally distributed. The rape question mentioned refers to the victim being equally to blame as the victimizer, which is a complete fallacy. The victim did not incite the rape in any manner save for being in a position in which the attack may occur. This is very much like being a tree in a forest in which a bird decides to settle a nest. They tree continues along its cycle of life and then became co-opted by the bird as a living space only because of it being opportune for the bird. The victim can only be blamed for existing and the victimizer is to blame for choosing the victim, for attacking the victim, for violating the victim, and for violating basic tenants of society to not act on impulse.
The clear option for the rapist was to politely take the impulse to rape into their fantasy and masturbate away from the target, something I think orthodox Muslim communities do not expect. They seem to forgive men for raping women because men cannot control themselves. Within that context, the Muslim orthodox function to the dismay of others.Street harassment
, in my opinion, is an aspect of cultures similar to orthodox Muslim wherein approximately half the people within it are subjugated to the impulses of the other half. Often it is men who perpetrate, so if the society accepts such behavior it is implying that half of its members are not on an equal standing as the others. To me, this leads to social slavery, censorship, and other things most intelligent people would consider 'bad.' As such, I can find no reason to personally comment on how attractive I find strangers I pass by, unless in an environment conducive to such exchanges (often not in public), and I hope that others feel the same. I am dismayed when proven wrong, so I do my part to discourage the positive reinforcement sought by the perpetrators. Where they seek validation, I provide none. I cannot force others to do so, nor am I inclined to interrupt such action when it remains within non-invasive harassment.
Say what you wish, as you are free to, but know you are responsible for what you say and others will respond.