“Almost every woman in Russia has faced the fact that men do not perceive rejection as a rejection,” Alena Popova, a women’s rights advocate, explains to The Insider. – This happens because a thought is instilled in them from childhood – in this way the girl flirts. Everything rests on the question of the culture of consent, what it is and how it should be expressed. “
Statistics confirm her words. According to poll of the project “We believe”, even if a girl responds to harassment with active resistance, uses force and tries to hit, a quarter of men perceive this as flirting. And almost half of the respondents do not consider the woman’s “no” as a refusal. A quarter of the respondents believe that putting their hands on the waist and below is an acceptable form of flirting. Also, almost half of the men surveyed (44%) said that even touching under their clothes may not be harassment.
Women and girls interviewed by The Insider confirm that even a clear-cut “no” has little effect on Russian men. Here are some examples.
I was 16-17 years old, we did not part with the young man very well, but continued to communicate in the same company, I got used to it and thought that he had forgotten me too. He had a party, celebrated someone’s birthday. I agreed with my parents that I would stay overnight. When it came time to sleep, they wanted to put me to bed with my ex. I said that I would not lie there, asked to change places with me, no one wanted to. I said that then I would leave, but they did not let me go: “We will not let you go at night.” He persuaded: “I will not touch you, just lie down.” I lay down in clothes – tights, knee-length denim skirt, warm sweater. He started pestering me anyway. I said that I needed to go to the toilet, he let me go. I took my things in the hallway and ran out into the street, the transport no longer went, I went home on foot. Suddenly a car stopped nearby, they offered to give me a lift, I refused. Then two guys got out of the car and said: “Then we’ll see you off, don’t go alone at night.” The car drove off. They walked next to me, I tensed, but pretended that everything was in order. Then one went over so that they were on either side of me. I decided to go to the convenience store, there are at least people there. She said that I needed to turn right, we went to the parking lot and their car drove there. One of them grabbed me by the elbow, the second by the player, which was hanging around my neck. I broke free, the player broke off, I ran into the store.
There were tall racks and a door for employees, I jerked it, it opened, I ran in and locked it on the latch. The sales girl yelled at me to come out, I said that some guys were chasing me, that they snatched the player away from me. At that moment they entered. She asked me if they were, I looked through the window and nodded. She told them to give the player to her and said that if they did not leave, she would press the panic button. They gave and left. I don’t know if she had a panic button, but they believed it. I sat at the counter for 15-20 minutes, she looked out into the street, they waited. I called my friends, but no one answered the phone. Then she said they were gone. I thought they were close and took out a penknife from my backpack – I have no idea why I carried it with me, I was just showing off, I guess. When the door slammed behind me, they came around the corner. I ran. I’ve never run like that in my life. I ran through the courtyards, bushes, went down to the shore of the pond so that I could not be seen from the road, through the dark streets, where you could hide in a ditch if you saw the headlights. I ran all the way to the house and went into the house when my mother was getting ready for work, disheveled, out of breath, with a knife in hand. Mom asked: what happened? I said that everything was fine and went to bed.
Around the same time, there was a story on the train. My mother and I drove to another city, it was four hours to go. I was reading the book and noticed that a handsome guy, 20-21 years old, was looking at me and smiling. With a gesture I called to smoke, I went out with him into the vestibule. He said that he liked me, I liked him too and was kind of cute. He said that he was 23, I said that I was underage. He asked for my number, said that we can just talk for now. I was young and stupid, I believed. She dictated the number and went to my mother. Two minutes later, I received an SMS where he described very disgustingly how he would have sex with me. The next time I went to smoke, he followed me and came very close. I hit him in the ribs, as my dad taught me, and said that I would file him for molestation. He bent over, I returned to the car. Then I received a message that I was nutty and misunderstood.
At the same age, I asked my father to teach me how to use a penknife and heavy blunt objects that came to hand. Then there were many more trash stories, but they did not hurt me or hurt me anymore, I was sure that I would fight back. Now I understand that I was very self-confident. If I walk along a dark or empty street, I always call someone to chat, I think that they will not approach me that way, and as a last resort, the person with whom I am chatting will know where I am and will be able to promptly call the police.
I have about a dozen such stories. For example, there was a case when I lived in Peterhof, and went to work in St. Petersburg, a guy sat down with me in the minibus and began to pretend that he was reading with me, constantly asked why I didn’t answer, persistently asked what my name was and etc. When I asked him to leave me alone, he just laughed. I was already relieved when we got to the metro, but he said that he would not lag behind until I met him. I turned on the music on the headphones and entered the carriage. But in the subway, he did not stop talking to me and pulled out the earpiece by the wire so that I could listen to it, but a man had already noticed this, asked me if everything was all right, I said no. A skirmish ensued between them, under which I quietly fled at my station. But on the escalator he caught up with me and said that now he would definitely not leave without my phone number. It didn’t even help when I said that I have a boyfriend – he said that I made it all up. Fortunately, there was a police post on the way, which I threatened him with, and it suddenly worked. He hesitated and said something about the fact that I might not be so rude.
It was in Moscow a month ago. We sat with a friend in “Kharats” on “Novoslobodskaya”, drank beer. Two men came in, sat down at the next table, and immediately started trying to throw something out at us, some questions in the style of “what are you drinking” and so on. We ignored, and suddenly one of them says to the second: “yes they are bitches.” Then I went to the bar and when I returned, one was already sitting in my place and just angrily nagged at my girlfriend with his eyes. I approached, said that this was my place, to which I received the answer “so what”. I said: “I got up and knocked over,” he replied, “repeat.” I repeated, he got up and began to choke me. Fortunately, the bartenders quickly ran up, dragged him away and called the Russian Guard. But the Russian Guard did not even take any written explanations or data from them, and I went home in shock.
What psychologists say
According to Elena Golyakovskaya, a psychologist at the Violence.net project:
“The roots of this rejection of the word“ no ”are in patriarchy, when men are the masters of the world, and therefore the masters of women. Not just his wife, which is also wild, but all the women he sees. Roots in those times when all resources were in the hands of men, and a woman could not physically survive without male care. First, her father provided her, then her husband. If she suddenly outlived her husband, then the son had to provide.
For some reason, many men believe that this is still the case. That if he drew attention to a woman with some mythical resources, then she should be glad and if it suddenly occurs to her to refuse, then she should do it as gently as possible so as not to offend him. They say that the biggest chance to stay safe and sound when refusing to meet is to say that there is a husband. That is, it’s as if I’m already someone’s thing and you cannot touch me. And it’s disgusting.
This problem can only be solved at the educational level. Unfortunately, very often even family upbringing does not solve this problem, because as a teenager, a person finally enters society, and what mom and dad tell him there – he does not care deeply, the approval of his peers is important to him. To find such a school, such circles, such a courtyard, where the boy will communicate with people of normal progressive views, is not only difficult, but practically impossible. “
What the lawyers say
The law does not in any way protect a person from persistent harassment if it does not develop into physical violence or damage to property. According to Maria Zamolotskikh, a lawyer for Viziliyu.net, from the point of view of legislation, the concept of stalking as such does not exist, which means that there is no clear algorithm of actions for the victim:
“In practice, stalking can be carried out in the form of persecution, for example, when a person chases another person on the street or waits near the house, or repeatedly calls. If a person just walks alongside, responsibility is not provided, but if, for example, one person insults another on the street, spreads some information discrediting honor, dignity and business reputation and information that does not correspond to reality, then if there is evidence, you can try to attract him to responsibility.
Situations on the street are more difficult: for example, if someone is following you and you understand that there is a threat, you can draw attention to yourself, call for help, go to a safe place to call a police squad. If the perpetrator shows obvious aggression, for example, tries to inflict bodily harm – grabs the hands, tears clothes, damages property, then his actions can be characterized either as beatings, hooliganism, or as a criminal offense if minor harm to health is caused. For example, one person pushed another in the street, he fell, hit his head and received a concussion.
How to prevent everything? You need to attract attention. If there are witnesses, it is necessary to collect data – name, address and telephone number, so that later their testimony can be used in the police and in court. If harm was caused to health, then you need to call the police and an ambulance, if there is no way to go to the emergency room. If there is such a possibility, then it is necessary to fix the damage. Then there will be an evidence base and grounds for prosecution.
There are times when stalking manifests itself in the form of damage to property: for example, your car or the door to your apartment has been scratched. In this situation, it is important to record the fact that a particular person did this, to request video recordings, and to interview witnesses. Then you can prove the fact that a particular person caused the injury. If the locks are being opened right now, the police squad should be called. “