The Guidance Counselor on Flying Pigs and Street Harrasment

Emily is not a licensed guidance counselor, but neither was Ann Landers.


Q:

If there is such a thing as evolution, then why can’t pigs fly?


A:

Ugh, yes, there is such a thing as evolution but there is also a thing called natural selection, which you actually mean to ask because it drives evolution, resulting in adaptive phenotypes. For genotypes to be passed on, they need to be advantageous (and variable and heritable) to an organism in regards to its niche. Also, animals that are selectively bred for girth are not especially aerodynamic. Speaking of pigs…


Q:

The street harassment in this city is freaking me out. I never feel safe and I don’t know if I should say something or just ignore it. What is your advice?


A:

It sucks to not feel safe in public and it sucks to be anybody’s domain against your consent. It’s awful, it’s unfair, and it’s reality. I’ve found that being assertive and calling out the behavior has resulted in violence, death threats, and other heated and unsafe situations (and maybe reinforces the behavior). But not standing up for yourself also reinforces the behavior, in addition to betraying your morals and sacrificing your self-respect. However, that doesn’t mean that we should be docile victims who’ve accepted our fate of being consistently and publicly sexualized. Do what feels safe. Scream, call for help, raise your voice, attract attention to the situation and the perpetrator. Alert bus drivers, store clerks, train conductors, or whoever the authority is in the situation. Take pictures of the offender if the situation is safe enough for you to do so. Don’t get into a conversation or a power struggle, and don’t let them turn it around on you. Make a commotion and vacate the situation, or leave as soon as possible if that’s what decide is safest. Carry mace if it makes you feel safer, but be cautious because it could be used against you (look into a style with a wrist or hand strap). I’m sick of the “travel in groups and/or don’t go out at night” advice because it disempowers the individual and takes accountability away from the instigator. A huge issue with this conversation is that it’s not just some political debate, it’s the lives of women living in fear of violence.


Unhello,
Emily

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