A recent coding assignment lead me to this Learn Without Fear report, discussing the obstacles girls and boys face at schools throughout the world. The following quote stuck out to me:
“In India incidents other than rape are dismissed under the inappropriate term ‘eve-teasing’ [a euphemism for sexual harassment or molestation] … Eve-teasing degrades a girl or woman without affecting her physically and is considered by men as something ‘light in nature’ and ‘fun’, whereas for females it is a violation.”
The research I did on eve-teasing suggests that this term is in fact a reference to the Eve of the Bible, who several major religions view as the mother of the human race. If so, the comparisons between the two situations are worth considering:
Historically speaking, Eve has frequently born the burden of mankind’s fall from grace. In many interpretations of the story (which are extremely problematic for me), Eve’s foolishness and natural susceptibility to the devil lead her to partake of the fruit, and then her sensual influence causes Adam to follow her example. The interpretation continues with Eve becoming subject to Adam’s dominion throughout her life. Unfortunately, this reasoning has frequently served as a justification for perpetuating women’s second-class status throughout the world.
In the eve-teasing situation, a woman is subject to sexual harassment, which men view as lighthearted and fun. Frequently, the woman may be blamed for the unwanted advances—her dress, appearance, attitude, and even her simple presence in open society are seen as more than enough justification for her treatment.
In both of these cases, the woman is portrayed as naturally weak, inherently sexual and ultimately responsible for anything bad that happens. For me, this is so obviously incorrect that it should be laughable…except that it has been going on far too long. It’s time to stop.