In another sick example of rape culture, a San Francisco man was stabbed nine times for asking another man to stop catcalling his girlfriend. The incident happened in the Tenderloin District of San Francisco, resulting in life-threatening injuries to 31-year old Ben Schwartz, according to CBS San Francisco. Schwartz confronted the man, which led to an argument and the stabbing.
Street harassment is alive and well, and is part of rape culture. It’s the idea that one person has the right to comment on the physical appearance of another. It includes catcalling, asking a stranger to smile or say “hi,” and any number of other things. It usually occurs between one stranger and another, and it’s generally directed from men towards women, but can happen to men, too.
According to SF Gate, Daniela Saavedra, a friend of Schwartz and accompanying the couple home from a gathering, said that they had passed by the man twice already, and that he’d catcalled Schwartz’s girlfriend each time. Schwartz said to the man, “Can you please just stop?” Then the man followed them, and stabbed Schwartz nine times in the neck, arms and back. The knife punctured one lung, and just barely missed his spinal cord.
The San Francisco Chronicle reports that the man said things like, “I’ll show you how a real man treats a woman,” and things that were much worse. He should know that a real man would never treat a woman that way. Schwartz told the Chronicle that they tried to get away from the man by crossing the street, but he followed them and continued harassing them.
Is this where street harassment can go in our increasingly violent culture? Clearly this man was sick, but with violence on the rise, and some factions getting angrier over the backlash against rape culture, how often might this kind of thing escalate like that in the future?
Sadly, some have resorted to blaming Schwartz for what happened, according to the Chronicle. They’ve asked what he was doing out so late at night, why he was walking through the Tenderloin District so late, and so on. In other words, he got what was coming to him because he should have been more careful. Blaming the victim in person-on-person crime is counterproductive. It would be better to address the culture of this kind of crime, instead of brushing it aside by telling victims they “should have been more careful.”
Schwartz said that he hopes his case will help bring more attention to street harassment. He hopes that there will come a time when a man catcalls a woman on the street, and a friend will say to him, “That’s not cool.”
As of earlier this evening, police still did not have any information on the suspect. They are asking anyone with information to call them at 415-553-0123, call their anonymous tip line at 415-575-4444, or text TIP411 with “SFPD” at the beginning of the message.