Please note. . .

Don't Be Silent DC has been inactive since March 2008 and has not been accepting entries since. If you are in the DC area and have a harassment story to share, please go to HollaBack DC. If you are outside the DC area and want to submit your story, go to Stop Street Harassment. Thank you.

As of 3/1/08, I will no longer be working on this blog. Please read this post for more details.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Statement From Kimberly Klinger

Kimberly Klinger had written two pieces which were published in last week's edition of the Washington City Paper. A lot of mixed reaction came in response to them, so she had written a statement clarifying herself, and asked if she could use DBS as the medium to do so.

Here is her statement:

In the wake of my articles' publication in the
Washington CityPaper, I've come to learn so much more
about harassment and the converging views on it. With
each blog post and reader comment I find a new way to
look at the problem. I've also found that my original
intentions have been a bit misrepresented, so I'd like
to clear some things up - and also, to make a call to

I’ll start by reinforcing my opinions about the
intersection of race and harassment. My article was
simply meant to explore the ugly feelings I've found
myself having after being the victim of street
harassment. Because in my daily life in Washington my
harassers are usually Latino or Black, I now have
knee-jerk reactions of fear and anger when I pass men
of those races on the street. I called it racism
because that's what it felt like: an illogical,
negative sentiment towards people of a race different
than mine. I don't feel like that all the time,
towards every Latino or Black man, and I do know in
both my heart and my head that not all Latino and
Black men are guilty of harassment or worthy of fear
and anger. What I'm truly mad about is street
harassment, plain and simple. It can and does come
from men of any color at any time, and my experiences
are just that: my experiences.

However, there are some who worry that speaking
honestly about these experiences amounts to racism -
that I am giving the real racists out there another
reason to hate Latino and Black men. Floating around
in society is the idea that Latino and Black men are
apt to harass, and harass more than white men or men
of any other race, because it is a part of their
culture. This is neither true nor fair, and my essay
was not meant to perpetrate this. I also realize that
my essay does not even begin to scratch the surface of
the larger discussion on race, class, and harassment.
It was simply meant to show that my anger from being
harassed would occasionally take me to a place where I
had to remind myself of something I know and know
deeply: that just because a nasty, false stereotype is
played out in front of me from time to time does not
make it true.

The majority of the time, my anger with harassment
stays strictly that: I am truly outraged that so many
women deal with harassment on a daily basis. I'm glad
to hear their voices ringing out loud and clear
(metaphorically) all over the Internet, but that's
really the only positive thing I can cop to. It's
disheartening to hear so many women say "yep, me too"
- and know that there are so many more who are not
speaking up for any number of reasons.

But we should keep it up, because it seems like the
only thing we can do is speak up. As it is with rape
and other forms of sexual violence and discrimination
the onus of fighting harassment seems to be falling to
women. It's not fair, of course, and the fight can be
futile at times, as evidenced by the women who attempt
to confront their harassers only to find themselves
being insulted and threatened. I leave it up to each
individual woman to decide whether or not she wants to
fight in that way. But I do believe women should fight
in some way - whether it's on the street, in a bar, in
the classroom, or on a blog - because if it is up to
us to stop harassment, then we better get a move on. I
commend every woman who has shared her story here or
found another creative way to fight harassment.

And I propose this: If the prime way for us to fight
this is to talk (or "talk" via the Internet) about it,
then prepare to be absolutely overwhelmed with women
talking about harassment.

Because the more we talk, the more people realize that
this problem is not to be taken lightly. The more we
talk, the more people will join in the fight. The more
we talk, the more we realize there is a community of
women who support each other and share a common
experience. The more we talk, the more men will feel
compelled to join in - to check their own behavior and
the behavior of their fellow men, and to add their
voices to the ringing chorus of people who want women
to be able to walk down the street peacefully.

So keep talking. Don't stop until the harassment
stops. Don't "suck it up" because it's just "part of
being a woman". It's high time "part of being a woman"
did not include putting up with blatant
discrimination, hate-mongering, objectification and
threats. Harassers should be scared. Women have been
facing discrimination for centuries, but we haven't
been beaten yet. And we sure as hell won't be now.

Kimberly Klinger
Washington DC
June 28, 2007

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