|Not as charming as it looks.|
Photo by Brandon Stanton
HoNY took the portrait, and found out afterwards that the man had twice (out of the blue) allegedly offered the woman money for sex. She turned him down, twice, and afterwards told HoNY that this was a common occurrence. In his words:
When the man left, the girl’s demeanor changed completely. She seemed shaken. Her eyes were tearing up. “He just offered me five hundred dollars to go out with him,” she said. “And then when I said ‘no,’ he offered me one thousand. Why does this always happen to me?”For some reason, the man's religion because the flashpoint of controversy. Apparently so many Orthodox Jews complained that HoNY was ruining the man's reputation (by publishing the story alongisde his photo) that HoNY took it down. In the words of one of those who complained (whose words HoNY still has posted, even though he's taken down the woman's story):
“It happens a lot?” I asked.
“All the time,” she said. “I’m sorry I’m getting emotional. I just can’t go out of my house without this kind of thing happening. I have a son. I’m a mother. I would never degrade myself like that. I just don’t understand why this keeps happening.”
“Do you mind if I tell this story?” I asked.
“Please,” she said. “Tell it.”
Let’s hope this man, and all men, realize the emotional damage they are inflicting on the women they try to buy. In the meantime, feel free to SHARE.
Nobility is a slippery slope, and often, in our quest to do justice, we rush to false judgment. To be virtuous, it seems we must be patient. We must be incredulous even about our own suppositions—especially about our own suppositions—in order to do right by others.This young man is correct: we ought not rush to judgment. We shouldn't assume that the man in the photo did what he was accused of doing, and we should give him every chance to tell his own side of the story. But that doesn't mean that we have any right to silence the victims of harassment and objectification. And make no mistake, that is what allegedly happened to this young woman: a stranger on the street suggested that she was a good for sale. Even those who think that prostitution should be legal ought to be able to condemn this sort of behavior.
Did the man do what he's accused of? I don't know. But I do know that the woman deserves to have her story told. HoNY did the right thing by posting the story and the picture; he did exactly the wrong thing by taking it down. He sent the message that communities can protect their image by silencing their victims. This is a deeply disturbing message, especially in light of other recent efforts by related communities to protect their image at the expense of victims of child abuse.
Everyone is innocent until proven guilty. Everyone who's accused deserves the right to defend themselves before people judge them. But they do not have the right to silence their accusers.