In case you haven't seen it yet, in this video posted two weeks ago on iHollaback, Nicola Briggs screams at Mario Valdivia after he rubbed his penis against her. Valdivia wore a (vomit) condom, proving that this jerk was some kind of sick expert in the perv dept. Thanks to Nicole Briggs, Valdivia is not only in jail, but he will be deported back to Mexico, where he is sure to jam his junk up against more ladies south of the border.
Nicola Briggs, can we be friends? You are the type of person I like to roll with: strong, outspoken and possessing bigger balls than the flasher who messed with you.
My last Huffington Post piece addressed "cat-calling" without even delving into the common and crude problem of flashers. Flashing, cat-calling, harassment -- it all falls into this category of behavior that most people with souls consider inappropriate and a steps short of rape. Meanwhile, some people (i.e., perpetrators and jackasses) seem to think that such acts are justified, funny and flattering.
Salon.com's Broad Sheet posted:
Curious about the traffic this winner of a video ... was getting, I clicked over to YouTube and found that one of the top referrals comes from www.dickflash.com. Naturally, I couldn't help peeking under that virtual rock and watching all the creepy crawlies slithering about.
As you might have guessed, it's a message board site for "exhibitionists." (I put that in quotes because non-consensually thrusting your naked bits on unsuspecting others is more accurately "harassment" or "assault.") A user shared a link to the video and the comments came streaming in ([sic] from here on out): "Wow, what a red headed bitch," "What a bitch she is. She should be thankful he flashed his dick at her," "She should be on her knees giving thanks," "poor guy," "if she doesn't want to see it she can just look away," "It looks like he is new to the US and didnt at the time know how uptight American women can be about sex," "i would rape the fuck out of that noisy bitch."
Uptight? How is not wanting to be sexually assaulted make American women "uptight"? I'm a huge fan of sex -- consensual sex. If only enjoying sexual activities that I am willingly a part is the definition of uptight, then I am uptight with pride.
The first time I experienced being "uptight" was in tenth grade, when my older sister (a college sophomore) took me and my three girlfriends to see "Grease" at the Wang Center in Boston (wang! foreshadowing!). I was stoked to see one my childhood crushes, Mickey Dolenz, live on stage in the role of Vince Fontaine. On the subway ride home, a very sweaty, lanky man in running shorts stood close to me, holding the bar above me, as I sat in seat. While I did find it odd that on a not-crowded train this man felt the need to stand super close to my face, I didn't think enough of it to move. To avoid making eye contact with his stomach, I turned my body toward my sister and friends. My sister and friends all looked horrified.
"What?" I asked. One of my friends squeezed my hand, as my sister and two other girlfriends widened their eyes in fear. "What?!" I asked again. Now I was getting annoyed; why was everyone acting so weird?
Then a large man sitting with a woman across the car yelled at the jogger, "Hey you! Yeah, you! I see what you're doing! Get the fuck off this train right now or I'll kill you!"
The jogger exited the train. I turned to my friends and sister and said, "Whoa, why is that guy yelling at that poor jogger?"
And then they proceeded to explain to me that the "poor jogger" had his penis sticking out of his shorts and was waving it back and forth inches from the side of my face, while I sat there totally oblivious.
"Why didn't anyone say something to me?!" I asked. I was horrified, upset, disgusted. They explained that it all happened so fast and they were too shocked to know what to do.
As we got off at our stop, I thanked the man who defended us and then immediately started to cry. I was upset not only because some sicko had had his nasty balls next to my 15-year-old face, but also because I hadn't noticed and therefore hadn't had the chance to defend myself. I, like Briggs, am not one to stay silent. Even as a teenager I couldn't let someone get away with violating me. This fighter instinct has often gotten me in some scary situations in which I, a lone, 5'4", petite female, have found myself confronting 6'4", large, ignorant males. I can't help it; harassment pushes my explosive anger button, the same button thank ignites road rage and booze balls.
Just as I've asked many harassers before, I ask flashers the same: "How would you feel if someone did this to your mother, wife, daughter or sister?" Would that give you a boner? Huh? To know that a woman in your family is terrified, threatened, and invaded? Does that notion make you all hard and excited?
I'm an idealist; I have to be or the reality of how crappy the world can be would force me to never leave my apartment. I like to believe that everyone has some good inside, it's just that with some people their good has been buried beneath garbage, causing them to be evil. So what the hell happened to these flashers, harassers, rapists, to cause them to behave so unfairly and frightfully? The men I know would never do anything like this. The men I know are respectful, intelligent, compassionate human beings who don't need to violently dominate the opposite sex to feel empowered. Which makes me think there is something missing in the upbringing of some boys that causes them to fail to learn how to respect other people. Women are constantly being taught how to protect themselves, yet who is teaching men to not be a threat?
Despite the fact that the Briggs video has apparently become a turn-on to Internet perps and has received a barrage of (shocking!) ignorant comments on YouTube, most reactions to Briggs's bravery have been supportive and inspiring. Sadly, there will always be dumb people who hear a story of a woman simply standing up for herself and turn it into an opportunity to rant about "feminazi male-bashing." (Ugggggh! That term "feminazi" makes my educated feminist skin crawl. Just to clarify, a Nazi is a hateful murderer responsible for the deaths of over six million Jews, a feminist is someone who believes in equal political, economic and social rights and opportunities for women. So how about we stop combining the two? Sound good? Great!) But this flasher story isn't about women vs. men; it's about right vs. wrong. As Briggs explained on CBS News, "it's about taking away the shame, from you, as a woman being violated -- and bringing the shame back on the perpetrator." Now that's true empowerment.
Follow Giulia Rozzi on Twitter: www.twitter.com/giulia rozzi