Kos: the “island of Hippocrates” but also of extreme tourism and refugee humiliation, the island of cycling but also of disgusting sexual harassement.
As a cyclist and especially as a nature lover, I consciously choose to ride my fixed gear as far as I can, all around the island. My bicycle is my passion and my therapy, a way of training and meditation, my partner and my coach. I feel an indescribable freedom, self- reliance and autonomy. Cycling gives me strength, desire, joy, and for the most part I feel that the fear of travelling alone disappears over time. Safety is unfortunately not on that list because of lack of general manners, driver education, but also sexist behavior.
A few days ago, I was systematically harassed in a central but remote part of the highway (Villa Tartaruga turns), in broad daylight, by a passing driver who decided to overtake me 4 times, making dangerous u-turns and flanking me, on a steep uphill road, where I decided to dismount and walk. I get horns beeped at me on all of my cycling routes, for one reason or another, but this time included shouting sexual obscenities repeatedly, making me wonder if that piece of trash driver was waiting for me at the top of the hill. Not to mention the danger he posed to other drivers with his repeated u-turns up a steep hill with zero visibility. In this case, the driver decided to continue his course, since I did not grant him a ‘provocative’ reaction, for various reasons at that time.
Harassment, discrimination, domestic and sexual violence against women are unfortunately endemic, and sexist, chauvinistic behaviors are considered a kind of normality by those who lack elementary education and turn every interaction with their environment into a display of domination. Kos is an island where the above, combined with the greed for profit, the sell-out to tourism and the “greek flirt” type, has a destructive effect on Nature and has corrupted the character of entire generations, promoting fascist behaviors and practices, especially the phenomenon where a majority of men think they can exert control and terror on female bodies and minds. On the one hand by accepting the ‘freedom’ of tourists who come to the island every summer, taking advantage of the alcohol culture and rape culture (how many millions of incidents on the islands have occurred and been neglected over the decades?). On the other hand ideologically sunjugating the local women – wives,daughters, sisters, grandmothers who are considered property. The recent shameful example last July of the rape and murder of Suzanne Eaton, an American molecular biologist who went for a morning run in Chania, Crete where she was invited to host a lecture, is just one of thousands of eponymous or anonymous events which cause sorrow and fury. Or the daily drama of immigrants and refugees driven to extermination through invisibility.
And we come to cycling, where women go through various processes. How many stories exist of women who stop cycling because they are tired of sexual harassment or because they do not feel safe and prefer to stop being exposed. They are ‘advised’ by their relatives to quit in order not to expose their family, name and property. A reality of many countries around the world. We also see far fewer sports activities for women and
less financial support. Of course there are more women who decide to take up cycling and change their lives. There are always possible routes, they just involve more advanced logistics and risk assessment.
The analysis of the dominant culture, in the question of freedom and self-determination, makes it clear that it has been established by a growing enslavement. The struggle against power is synonymous with the struggle against the patriarchy. The level of freedom of a society is defined by the level of freedom of its women. Sexist, chauvinist, fascist, racist, hierarchical behaviors will never become a ‘’normality’’. Terror, destruction and domination, regardless of gender, are done for and you will find us in opposition. As individuals we respect Nature, respect our fellow human beings, and all the non-human species that suffer from the violence and indifference inflicted. As collectives we are bonded by solidarity and love.
This particular driver is provocatively stupid. Choosing to be in a recognizable work vehicle, belonging to himself or worse a colleague or boss, choosing to show his face and to behave so covertly on such a small island, shows his ignorance and his false sense of security that none of us will react to the daily sexist violence, whether we are cyclists or pedestrians, in our living and/or working quarters, even in our own homes. We know names and addresses and will act accordingly to humiliate you. You do not scare us and not only will we not stay quiet, but because we are sorry for you we will educate you. Through love or through fire, the choice is yours.
SMASH THE PATRIARCHY
ΜΑΙΝΑΔΕΣ ΕΝΑΝΤΙΑ ΣΤΗΝ ΠΑΤΡΙΑΡΧΙΑ