Thursday, December 19, 2002

Dervala in Phnom Penh

If you're not reading Dervala's blogging of her trip to Asia, you should. It is wonderful for so many reasons. She writes recently of an experience walking down the street in Phnom Penh and having her breast grabbed.

"I've dealt with these kinds of minor assaults many times," she writes. "So have most women I know. I've been groped on the New York subway and on an Aer Lingus flight. I've been flashed at, heard lewd insults, endured unwelcome, lingering hugs. But despite all this experience, I can never get it together to shout, kick, slap, or ridicule. My first reaction is still always disbelief, followed by disabling politeness. By then it's usually (and thankfully) too late."

Dorothea wrote about verbal badgering in her Grunchy Stuff posts a while back.

Dervala's experience involved someone actually grabbing her--a physical violation rather than words and whistles. Still, Dervala's initial reaction is similar to many who have written on this--deciding to hurry along on our way, make it to the next place that's "away" from scene of the crime, a reaction of fear, disbelief, and/or embarassment.

What casts us into this role of runner/avoider in the ultra-second of an event like this? Certainly Dervala was no match for two locals. So high-tailing it away in case they decided to return was a smart move.

I like Dervala's vow to do things differently next time, though. To use her new-found arm cast from her broken wrist to knock the next guy who tries it in the teeth. I just hope she's a good aim and a quick runner the first time she gives it a try. You go, girl.

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