17 April 2014

"It's not your fault, but let's punish you anyway."

I biked to work today; I'm lucky in that I have a pleasant ride, in bike lanes and parks and along or above the water. I got to work in a good mood.

The nice security guard at my job gestured toward the service elevator, and I crammed myself inside with some smiles at the workers going to various floors. They were nice and I'm sure admiring what a lovely bike I had.

When we got to the 10th floor, one of the construction workers in the elevator got out, and one of his passing colleagues said, "Nice helmet" in a sarcastic, obnoxious way. It is a nice helmet, and it's much better than having your skull cracked open and brains on the pavement.

"How obnoxious," I said to the elevator operator.

"Yep. That's why the construction workers take these elevators, and why we don't have the regular people in this building take the service elevators."

I got out on my floor, and as I wheeled my bike into the file room in my office, I thought, "Why do they have to do that? Why can't they just have the construction workers act in a respectful way instead of saying that they don't like having the office workers in the service elevators?"

Then I thought how our society does this - punishes the victim. "What were you wearing?" we ask the rapist. After I complained of sexual harassment, I was asked, "What did you say to him?"

Can we get to a point where the victim does not have to be punished - and the complete jerks are the ones who have to change their behaviors? 

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