The Thing All Women Do That You Don’t Know About

image: Shutterstock
image: Shutterstock

There’s this thing that happens whenever I speak about or write about women’s issues. Things like dress codes, rape culture and sexism. I get the comments: Aren’t there more important things to worry about? Is this really that big of a deal? Aren’t you being overly sensitive? Are you sure you’re being rational about this?

Every. Single. Time.

And every single time I get frustrated. Why don’t they get it?

I think I’ve figured out why.

They don’t know.

They don’t know about de-escalation. Minimizing. Quietly acquiescing.

Hell, even though women live it, we are not always aware of it. But we have all done it.

We have all learned, either by instinct or by trial and error, how to minimize a situation that makes us uncomfortable. How to avoid angering a man or endangering ourselves. We have all, on many occasions, ignored an offensive comment. We’ve all laughed off an inappropriate come-on. We’ve all swallowed our anger when being belittled or condescended to.

It doesn’t feel good. It feels icky. Dirty. But we do it because to not do it could put us in danger or get us fired or labeled a bitch. So we usually take the path of least precariousness.

It’s not something we talk about every day. We don’t tell our boyfriends and husbands and friends every time it happens. Because it is so frequent, so pervasive, that it has become something we just deal with.

So maybe they don’t know. Maybe they don’t know that at the tender age of 13 we had to brush off adult men staring at our breasts. Maybe they don’t know that men our dad’s ages actually came on to us while we were working the cash register. They probably don’t know that the guy in English class who asked us out sent angry messages just because we turned him down. They may not be aware that our supervisor regularly pats us on the ass. And they surely don’t know that most of the time we smile, with gritted teeth. That we look away or pretend not to notice. They likely have no idea how often these things happen. That these things have become routine. So expected that we hardly notice it anymore.

So routine that we go through the motions of ignoring it and minimizing. Not showing our suppressed anger and fear and frustration. A quick cursory smile or a clipped laugh will  allow us to continue with our day. We de-escalate. We minimize it. Both internally and externally, we minimize it. We have to. To not shrug it off would put is in confrontation mode more often than most of us feel like dealing with.

We learn at a young age how to do this. We didn’t put a name or label to it. We didn’t even consider that other girls were doing the same thing. But we were teaching ourselves, mastering the art of de-escalation. Learning by way of observation and quick risk assessment what our reactions should and shouldn’t be.

We go through a quick mental checklist. Does he seem volatile, angry? Are there other people around? Does he seem reasonable and is just trying to be funny, albeit clueless? Will saying something impact my school/job/reputation? In a matter of seconds we determine whether we will say something or let it slide. Whether we’ll call him out or turn the other way, smile politely or pretend that we didn’t hear/see/feel it.

It happens all the time. And it’s not always clear if the situation is dangerous or benign.

It is the boss who says or does something inappropriate. It is the customer who holds our tip out of reach until we lean over to hug him. It’s the male friend who has had too much to drink and tries to corner us for a “friends with benefits” moment even though we’ve made it clear we’re not interested. It’s the guy who gets angry if we turn him down for a date. Or a dance. Or a drink.

We see it happen to our friends. We see it happen in so many scenarios and instances that it becomes the norm. And we really don’t think anything of it. Until that one time that came close to being a dangerous situation. Until we hear that the “friend” who cornered us was accused of rape a day later. Until our boss makes good on his promise to kiss us on New Years Eve when he catches us alone in the kitchen. Those times stick out. They’re the ones we may tell your friends, our boyfriends, our husbands about.

But all the other times? All the times we felt uneasy or nervous but nothing more happened? Those times we just go about our business and don’t think twice about.

It’s the reality of being a woman in our world.

It’s laughing off sexism because we felt we had no other option.

It’s feeling sick to your stomach that we had to “play along” to get along.

It’s feeling shame and regret the we didn’t call that guy out, the one who seemed intimidating but in hindsight was probably harmless. Probably.

It’s taking our phone out, finger poised over the “Call” button when we’re walking alone at night.

It’s positioning our keys between our fingers in case we need a weapon when walking to our car.

It’s lying and saying we have a boyfriend just so a guy would take “No” for an answer.

It’s being at a crowded bar/concert/insert any crowded event, and having to turn around to look for the jerk who just grabbed our ass.

It’s knowing that even if we spot him, we might not say anything.

It’s walking through the parking lot of a big box store and politely saying Hello when a guy passing us says Hi. It’s pretending not to hear as he berates us for not stopping to talk further. What? You too good to talk to me? You got a problem? Pffft… bitch.

It’s not telling our friends or our parents or our husbands because it’s just a matter of fact, a part of our lives.

It’s the memory that haunts us of that time we were abused, assaulted or raped.

It’s the stories our friends tell us through heartbreaking tears of that time they were abused, assaulted or raped.

It’s realizing that the dangers we perceive every time we have to choose to confront these situations aren’t in our imagination. Because we know too many women who have been abused, assaulted or raped.

It occurred to me recently that a lot of guys may be unaware of this. They have heard of things that happened, they have probably at times seen it and stepped in to stop it. But they likely have no idea how often it happens. That it colors much of what we say or do and how we do it.

Maybe we need to explain it better. Maybe we need to stop ignoring it to ourselves, minimizing it in our own minds.

The guys that shrug off or tune out when a woman talks about sexism in our culture? They’re not bad guys. They just haven’t lived our reality. And we don’t really talk about the everyday stuff that we witness and experience. So how could they know?

So, maybe the good men in our lives have no idea that we deal with this stuff on regular basis.

Maybe it is so much our norm that it didn’t occur to us that we would have to tell them.

It occurred to me that they don’t know the scope of it and they don’t always understand that this is our reality. So, yeah, when I get fired up about a comment someone makes about a girl’s tight dress, they don’t always get it. When I get worked up over the every day sexism I’m seeing and witnessing and watching… when I’m hearing of the things my daughter and her friends are experiencing… they don’t realize it’s the tiny tip of a much bigger iceberg.

Maybe I’m realizing that men can’t be expected to understand how pervasive everyday sexism is if we don’t start telling them and pointing to it when it happens. Maybe I’m starting to realize that men have no idea that even walking into a store women have to be on guard. We have to be aware, subconsciously, of our surroundings and any perceived threats.

Maybe I’m starting to realize that just shrugging it off and not making a big deal about it is not going to help anyone.

We de-escalate.

We are acutely aware of our vulnerability. Aware that if he wanted to? That guy in the Home Depot parking lot could overpower us and do whatever he wants.

Guys, this is what it means to be a woman. We are sexualized before we even understand what that means. We develop into women while our minds are still innocent. We get stares and comments before we can even drive. From adult men. We feel uncomfortable but don’t know what to do, so we go about our lives. We learn at an early age, that to confront every situation that makes us squirm is to possibly put ourselves in danger. We are aware that we are the smaller, physically weaker sex. That boys and men are capable of overpowering us if they choose to. So we minimize and we de-escalate.

So, the next time a woman talks about being cat-called and how it makes her uncomfortable, don’t dismiss her. Listen.

The next time your wife complains about being called “Sweetheart” at work, don’t shrug in apathy. Listen.

The next time you read about or hear a woman call out sexist language, don’t belittle her for doing so. Listen.

The next time your girlfriend tells you that the way a guy talked to her made her feel uncomfortable, don’t shrug it off. Listen.

Listen because your reality is not the same as hers.

Listen because her concerns are valid and not exaggerated or inflated.

Listen because the reality is that she or someone she knows personally has at some point been abused, assaulted, or raped. And she knows that it’s always a danger of happening to her.

Listen because even a simple comment from a strange man can send ripples of fear through her.

Listen because she may be trying to make her experience not be the experience of her daughters.

Listen because nothing bad can ever come from listening.

Just. Listen.

 

76 Comments

  1. I have to say, I like this article. I agree with the arguments made even if not the absolute tone (minor issue, I get that you are making a point). I like that you provide a different perspective and some insight into what other women may be thinking.

    It makes me wonder, “Is this what women think when I say ‘good morning’ in passing?” I don’t understand all that women go through (don’t know if I ever could), but I’m not “that guy.” I’m married with my own family, don’t want anything from them. In fact, if stopped for a conversation after a “good morning” I’d be slightly surprised.

    I mention this because I get the “what do you want from me” look from women often enough to take note. It’s a bit irksome, to be honest. Some days, I won’t even bother to speak to women I don’t know (which occasionally makes women more nervous, when I pass without a word). I’ll pause here to mention that I am a 6’3” African American male. I have my own struggles, I’ll leave it at that.

    Intellectually, I feel like I should be more sensitive to this issue (and regarding my wife or female family members; I am quite concerned). Generally though, I don’t find myself as concerned as I might be. I’d like to have a free exchange with everyone I meet and hear their stories; given a chance I’ll do just that. However, when I feel I haven’t gotten a fair shake; it’s hard to be civil let alone reach out.

    I see the words, I don’t yet understand the story. I’d like to at some point. I can’t help feeling that the solution is a more common denominator; something more central to the human condition. Hopefully there is something that transcends gender/ethnicity/etc. If not that leaves us fighting our own private wars, in our own little bubbles.

    Hopefully this is not interpreted as dismissive, just another perspective.
    Either way, good read, you have me thinking.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. I’ve been meaning to respond to your comment and I’m sorry for the delay. What you said here really stuck with me. First, I didn’t find your comment dismissive at all. I think it was thoughtful and comments like yours are one of the reasons I write about these issues. I want to have discussions with people who are genuinely interested in understanding each other.

      As for stopping to speak to women you encounter… I just had a discussion on Facebook with some friends regarding this. It’s all about intention and tone (for most of us.) A man saying “Hi” or “How are you” or even “You look really nice today” in a friendly tone is (in my opinion) a nice gesture. Who doesn’t want a friendly greeting or a nice compliment? When this happens to me, I smile and respond or say “thank you.” I don’t look at men as the enemy and I have been incredibly lucky to have wonderful relationships and friendships with men throughout my life. But here’s where things get tricky. Sometimes a seemingly friendly “Hello” turns into aggression (like my incident in the Home Depot parking lot that I mention in the post.) I said “Hi” in return and really didn’t think anything of it until I realized that he (and his friend) had turned to watch me continue walking and he started saying angry things, calling me a stuck up bitch for not stopping to chat further. Even though I smiled and said “Hello.” So, you see, there have been numerous times (for most women) where an initially friendly comment is followed by aggression or anger. I personally choose to assume that most guys are nice and hope for the best. But I completely understand and relate to why some women are on guard from the start.

      None of this is meant to divide us or separate us. I want to understand what men go through as they navigate the world and socializing as a man and dating and loving as a man. The same way I want men to have a better understanding of what women experience. I think understanding where each other is coming from is the first step to having a productive dialogue and subsequent action. On that note, one of the things that stuck with me about your comment was “I’m a 6’3″ African American male.” I don’t for one second assume that it’s easy to walk in your shoes. (Or any man’s shoes, for that matter.) A few years ago Quest Love wrote a beautiful post for The Huffington Post after Trayvon Martin’s death. He discussed the daily difficulties of walking around as a large, imposing black man. How he goes out of his way to look non-threatening. I cried when I read it and it pissed me off. You shouldn’t have to feel like you need to look less imposing or less threatening. YOu shouldn’t have to feel like a friendly “Hello” is received as a threat. THAT is part of the problem. These things I write about affect women, but they indirectly affect men in a negative way too. (with both sexism and racism) And I’m sorry that you’ve seen some of that in your own life. But I’m grateful that you are sensitive enough to read this, comment and engage in a way that is trying to make things better.

      Lastly, as to what you can do? Be understanding when your wife or daughters or friends experience these “small” aggressions. Be patient and don’t take it personally when women don’t want to receive your friendly gesture. And most importantly, call out men when you see bull shit happen. Hold them accountable. I don’t know if you read about Killer Mike breaking ties with his friend and publicist after he was accused of sexually harassing a female singer. This is the most recent example of a prominent and successful man doing so publicly that I can think of. And I thought it was powerful. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/rapper-killer-mike-calls-on-men-to-fight-sexual-harassment-in-the-music-industry_us_56a0ea90e4b0404eb8f05b68

      I hope this clears some things up or answers some of your questions? If not, please let me know. I intend to write about this aspect of it, how men are affected by all of this, and if I’m not coming through clearly I’d really like to know.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Well first off, I do appreciate you responding. Your thoughts are clear to me, and thanks for ideas on what I can do to be better. The only thing I can’t stress enough is that both men and women want to be treated as a person first and foremost. Once that happens, solutions follow naturally. I’m looking forward to your next post.

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      2. Yes! I just wanted to chime in and agree that it’s a tone, an intention. Plenty of men of all sizes and races say hello to me on a daily basis and I feel no threat, only friendliness. But you can sense when there’s something more there (making a wild guess, I’m gonna say 20% of the time) and that’s when it makes you fearful. You sound like a friendly man with whom any of us would enjoy a nice chat. I love your concern.
        And I LOVE this article! Great job.

        Liked by 1 person

    2. OK, one man can be a sexist, but why other women didn’t help us to clear the situation.
      I believe every woman is been in situation when shared that she is feel uncomfortable and her friends just rolling eyes.
      I was on good job, but almost full year I wore a fake ring and photoshopped pic with an actor for boyfriend in my wallet, just because most ladies into the office do not want to stand on the side of the work ethic, and to stop our supervisor sexist humor, they just waving a hand and said: “he speak this way only because she is single”, “is not big deal they both are single”, “you are free people, so what”. It’s so humiliating and makes you feel helpless.

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  2. This is a truly remarkable piece. I, as a man, do not typically objectify women. I’m not one of those “conquerors” that have slept with dozens of women. At 56 years old, I have only slept with six women. Two of them were my wives. One was my fiance. The other three were women I was in a long-standing relationship with. A lot of my friends are women. I worked with mostly women during my career as a paralegal. Also, I believe being a writer gives me a “default setting” of being kind and gentle and respectful. I think writer’s (true writers) don’t look down on others, abuse others, or objectify anyone because of their sexuality. What pisses me off most about this issue you’ve adeptly written about is the number of rapes in the military and on our college campuses. I am including a link to my post in April of last year regarding campus rape. I would love to hear your feedback.

    http://theaccidentalpoet.net/2015/04/22/dark-clouds-on-the-horizon-campus-rape/

    Liked by 1 person

  3. And if she moves away in an elevator when you get on, and you notice she has her keys between her fingers, don’t feel bad that she thinks you might assault her. Recognize that she has no way of knowing if you’re one of the good guys or one of the others.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. This idea has some validity and we do need a societal change, a lot of them actually. But long-term how is this mindset helping? How is this mindset different from thinking “all Muslims are terrorists” and being afraid of them too? Are all white men uni-bombers? We could go on forever. I guess my point is, reaching out, when possible and as often as possible is a better strategy. One might find their fears reduced and some allies to boot.

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      1. Your argument is a non sequitur. Men use their power and access to resources to intimidate and control women (and other men according to many replies) at all levels. It’s called patriarchy and it is safe to say ALL men benefit from this system.
        And “reaching out” has traditionally been about women changing themselves – the way they dress, the way they walk, where they walk, where they live, what they drink, how they talk, etc etc etc. The point the author is making is to stop putting the burden on women.

        Liked by 4 people

        1. Whoa, you assumed a lot there. First off, I never even mentioned women changing anything, you said that. Secondly, I was referring directly to my own experience with women, as mentioned in my previous post. There is no “burden” being placed on anyone group more than another. I’m suggesting we could all benefit from reaching out, by which I mean we could at least stop assuming that the “other” is out to harm you. While we’re at it, lets be real, the “bad actors” are a minority, so to assume that every man presents a danger is unrealistic and not very helpful.

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        2. The last time a woman could assume that “the other” wasn’t out to harm her was like never. And this isn’t just about physical harm. There is financial, social, reproductive, and even religious harm at play. You are not getting the social conditioning that happens; the messages that women confront every single day; the workplace innuendos from colleagues and superiors; the uncomfortable glances or comments from complete strangers. For a lot of women (I won’t put a % on it so it doesn’t cause myopia when you read this), confronting a guy does not fix the situation, it escalates it. And it’s not necessarily physical escalation. Sometimes it’s punishment – like not getting a well-deserved promotion, or getting a bad deal for a car or house repair, or even being treated like a child and dismissed; or being told “she asked for it”. If nearly 50% of women have faced some sort of sexual assault, there’s either a lot of bad actors out there or too many men being complicit and not denouncing this sick statistic.

          Liked by 3 people

        3. “The last time a woman could assume that “the other” wasn’t out to harm her was like never” – Your opinion, ill just agree to disagree.
          As far as the rest of it, I don’t deny any of what you said, I don’t even want to minimize it. What I am saying, is that other people have their own struggles as well. I do know that I am not a part of your problems, so to assume that I am alienates me, and frankly leaves me less caring than before. I’m not pretending to understand all that women go through, but the writer and yourself are asking me to care about it. In return I’m asking you to reach out. (once again, by “reach out,” i simply mean don’t assume I’m a criminal/rapist/whatever. Is that really asking too much from anyone, regardless of what ever oppression they are facing? I personally don’t think so…

          Liked by 1 person

        4. I pretty much make contact whenever I can, with anybody, and it has been a good thing for me. I pretty much walk anywhere, day or night, in any neighborhood, in various countries, and people tend to treat me as one of ‘us.’ I fully agree that reaching out is the best thing we can do as humans.

          Liked by 1 person

        5. I can only assume you have never been “oppressed”. You are conditioning your “caring” on whether they alienate you or not, which shows the patriarchy from which you benefit. Why do you have a choice? Because you never have to prove that you actually aren’t part of the problem. Radical thought.
          And the problem with me not assuming you’re a “bad guy” is the consequences I pay when I am wrong. Did you know that more than 1/3 of men in college would rape a woman if they could get away with it? So if 1/3 would do that, imagine how many more would do insidious shit that perpetuates my feelings I am expressing to you. And to reach out would mean all that social conditioning to which I was exposed is gone – I was taught not to walk alone, not to leave my place of work at night without an escort, to never get rowdy in a public place, to sit like a lady, to be demur and benevolent, to defer to the male colleague who interrupted me, to wear clothing that “doesn’t send the wrong message”, to not “put out” (like sexuality is only a guy’s thing). And the issue is if I break with this conditioning, if I break the mold, it starts the escalation cycle to which I referred in my previous response to you.
          Essentially you are asking “me” to trust you when really men haven’t done anything to show they are trustworthy.

          Liked by 1 person

        6. If being black in america doesn’t count for anything, then i guess your right. I know nothing of oppression, not in the slightest. Aside from that, I think there are many women, who don’t agree with the practice of painting all of a group with a broad brush, even while admitting there is a problem. Even in this post you are making assumptions, that may apply to any number of interactions between women and men, but certainly not all. You are also mentioning things that, I have never even hinted at.
          Further more, these consequences you talk about, I dont get. (Its clear you never read my previous post – I mentioned getting a weird look or reaction for just saying good morning in passing – at work!) Its not as if, by giving me the benefit of the doubt (and saying hello or good morning), you place yourself in danger. You dont get magically teleported to a dark alley with me. You dont end up in a bar with me force feeding you drinks.
          At any rate, I wont argue anymore, if you can’t offer enough civility to not assume an automatic threat, then good luck with life. For those women who can see me as human and not a serial rapist, I support you wholeheartedly.

          Liked by 1 person

        7. I see you as human, and I appreciate your comments to this post. Let none of us forget that dehumanizing is considered one of the eight steps of genocide. I don’t think any of us can afford to dehumanize each other, and given the current state of police killings of black people, I think you have shown great compassion and restraint in your comments.

          Liked by 1 person

        8. If I think about it, I have never felt threatened by a black man like I have by a white or Hispanic guy. I have never ever felt any threat from Asian men. This says something about the power structure.
          I also think being a black man and being a white woman in this society is very possibly similar (I wonder what perspective black women have).
          And while not all white people are racists, I believe I have a responsibility to call it out when I see it, to demand equality for everyone, to help create a system that does not benefit or control one group over the other. I do that because I know that the system is rigged, not because a black person gave me their benefit of the doubt. For decades, black people have been subjected to police brutality. We should have been outraged when ANY citizen died in custody of a public servant. Sadly, it is ONLY because these incidences can be caught on video that white people actually believe the reality – otherwise the (white) system works in favor the police. So (here come A LOT of assumptions) you can’t tell me that when you get stopped by a cop, you give him the benefit of the doubt of being a good cop. I am certain “you” have learned to adhere to a strict code of behavior in order not to escalate the situation. It is very similar for women. Like I said, so often when a woman sticks up for herself (breaks the mold), things escalate because women are seen as objects to be controlled, not be in control. It’s about the power structure. Again, the escalation may not be rape, but getting called a bitch, cunt, slut, whore, or followed, or turned down for a promotion or paying more for a car, or whatever the outcome simply for being powerful is something that hits deep. It affects your being, your spirit. It makes you feel like an object, powerless. And just like the cop who gives a black guy an unwarranted ticket, that’s the intent, whether conscience or not…

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        9. You are making this about YOU. “I’m not like that.”

          “All men are not the same. Don’t generalize. ”

          It invalidates a woman’s experiences.

          Maybe “not all men” but YES ALL WOMEN experience this.

          Your solution of “reaching out.” Just makes me feel like you missed a HUGE chunk of what was said.

          Like, it just sailed right over your head.

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        10. It sure does sound like you are saying, “if women would just not assume the worst of men and reach out and extend trust that will fix the gender realations and then women will be safe from these aggressions.

          That is just not so, and if the opposite of what the author is trying to show you.

          You DO seem to be suggesting that women change the way they interact, suggesting that somehow we are the ones responsible for the sexism towards us.

          Also, you mentioned in your first post that you thought some of the things mentioned were minor.

          I read NOTHING that seemed minor or blown out of proportion. Your attempt to minimize it shows that you still don’t get it.

          You seem more sincere than most, but you are doing the things that most men do. Defend themselves, fail to believe that we are actually describing our experiences, etc.

          Ask yourself- WHY is it so difficult for you to just believe that what a woman describes as her experience is accurate? What makes you assume that she must be exaggerating?

          As A black man I believe you have experienced the share of oppression. But often times people can understand the oppression that they experience and not the oppression they don’t experience personally.

          Just as many white women can see make privelege and still fail to see white privelege. I feel like you may be aware of white privelege but blind to make privelege.

          What do you think might be an exaggeration? Holding your keys between your knuckles at night? I was taught this as a young woman in my early 20s, by an older friend. If we manage to escape fear for a while, society in some way will teach it to us. This is not made up or exaggerated. Ironically, I always felt LESS SAFE walking home alone at night AFTER I learned this technique than I did before!

          If you think there are ANY exaggerations in the author’s account, you need to back up and examine why you don’t believe her- 1. You’ve been taught not to believe women’s own accounts of their experiences. And 2. It doesn’t seem real it frightening or whatever because it’s just not your experience.

          I assure you, these things are true. Keep working until you believe them. Fully and completely. Then work some more until you *feel* them.

          Women don’t feel unsafe because they unfairly stereotype men. We feel unsafe because we live in a world that is unsafe for us, and men constitute a huge part of that danger. It doesn’t matter if ask men rape. It matters that all women are evenly vulnerable to being raped (usually by a man). It doesn’t take “all men” it takes a system that makes it pretty easy for *any man* to do it and get away with it.

          You really need to stop telling women that we need to reach out and stop generalizing, because that is not the cause is the problem. You are, purposely or not, flipping the blame for us being victimized onto us, and suggesting in actuality that we make ourselves MORE vulnerable.

          It would be like a white person saying that if black people would just reach out and trust the cops and not assume they are all the same, that they would stop getting harassed and shot by them.

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        11. bhowardthinks, please ignore that woman. She clearly has not dealt with her own difficulties in life with as much grace as yourself, and is simply too angry to hear anyone else out. It’s women like herself that give feminism a bad name, and scare off many well-meaning men like yourself.

          I spent two hours trying to figure out how to make an account with wordpress simply so I could say that to you. – Turns out it was my own adblocker getting in the way. Go figure.

          Anyway, I hope that you continue to try and listen and communicate with the women in your life about their struggles as women, and your own struggles as a black man. Neither of them are easy.

          Liked by 1 person

        12. I really feel like I have to jump in here. bhowardthinks, you might say that ““The last time a woman could assume that “the other” wasn’t out to harm her was like never” – Your opinion, ill just agree to disagree.”. The thing is, as a man you have the privilege to assume that women do not have the collective experience that has been written about in this blog post. I do not know you or your experience but unless you are transgendered and have lived at least some of your life as a woman you cannot understand in a deep visceral way the gut wrenching fear that most if not all women live on a daily basis. I have personally experienced EVERYTHING in this blog post as have most of the women I know including my 23-year-old daughter. In fact, I just yesterday got a phone call from her because some guy came into her work and wanted to go out with her for a drink and would not take no for an answer. She told him she had a boyfriend. She told him that she wasn’t interested and still he persisted. She snuck out of work 15 minutes early and risked the ire of her boss and her job security just to avoid having to deal with this man. She phoned me on her way home to ask what she should have said. My daughter is not a “wilting flower” – she is a fierce, powerful young woman and still she didn’t know what to say. As for me, I was molested by my uncle when I was very little. I had a father who, even though he loved me, talked continually how women were not as good, not as logical, not as smart as men. My first boyfriend used to compare me negatively to all the women we saw on the street. My first husband raped me over and over for 6 years. On top of that I had all the experiences other women talk about – men cornering me, grabbing at me, forcing their attention on me even though I tried all kinds of ways to say “I don’t want to talk to you” nicely because that was what was taught. Over and over I had men rub up on me on crowded commuter trains. I’ve had men call me cow, slut, bitch, f’ng c*nt, when I have not done what they wanted. You might say, well, this is just your experience. But the thing is, it’s not. It is the experience of most women. I would say that all women have experienced some of it. And I consider that I live a life of privilege – I’m a white, well-educated women, middle-class, just retired from a professional career with a good pension living in the Global North. I know that I have a gifted life. I also know that women who do not have the same privileges that I do live what I have listed here and a lot worse. Do you know anything about female genital mutilation? Do you know about the systematic rape of women by the Jangaweed in the Sudan. Do you know anything about they way young women in south and southeast Asia are sold into sexual slavery? Have you read anything about the hundreds of young women in Nigeria who were kidnapped, how their schools were burned and their teachers were run off? Please, before dismissing a woman’s opinion by saying “I’ll agree to disagree”, try – really try – to think of how her life might be and why she might feel that she needs to be distrustful of men. She probably has some very good reasons. I know I do.

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        13. Although I agree with blowhard’s comment that the “bad actors” are a minority, the author of this piece was talking about the prevailing treatment of women over the years. Men have always been in charge, based in large part on the assumption that it’s just supposed to be that way. The author’s intent was not to paint all men as serial rapists. Blowhard’s replies truly show a lack of understanding or empathy for what men have put women through over many decades.

          I would like to add, however, that a new survey of college students, one of the largest ever focusing on sexual assault and sexual misconduct, has reignited the debate over just how big a problem sexual assault on campus really is. Among female college students, 23% said they experienced some form of unwanted sexual contact — ranging from kissing to touching to rape, carried out by force or threat of force, or while they were incapacitated because of alcohol and drugs, according to the new survey by the Association of American Universities (AAU). Nearly 11% said the unwanted contact included penetration or oral sex.

          The Huffington Post recently published a study indicating that nearly one in five college women were victims of rape or attempted rape during their freshmen year, with the most falling prey during their first three months on campus. The article refers to a study published May 20, 2015 in the Journal of Adolescent Health, and included results of a survey of 480 female freshmen at a university in upstate New York in 2010. The results confirm other research that has found about 20 percent of women are victimized by sexual assault in college. A Centers for Disease Control report last year showed 19.3 percent of women are victims of rape or attempted rape during their lifetimes.

          How can women not be concerned about this issue? The statistics are alarming. Things are getting worse, not better.

          Liked by 1 person

        14. Let me clarify, since I kind of left it in a bad way before. If I don’t make any sense here I give up. I don’t mean to say that the author referred to anyone as a rapist. That comment was in response to one writer. Secondly, I think there is a difference between the birds eye statistics you offer and interactions with an individual. Despite our difference’s we should be able to talk to each other.
          Responsibility – I get that men at large have perpetuated crimes against women. However, treating the individual man as if he’s responsible for the crimes of the “group” doesn’t add up for me. It’s similar to me holding all white people responsible for slavery, or assuming they are all KKK members until they have proven otherwise.
          At best, this is a bad starting point for dialogue. In reference to my own experience; whats the harm in a simple good morning as you pass? At least it serves to build some civility between us.
          Lastly, whats the take away for me? Give me three things I can/should do to make any difference at all.

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        15. you sound like the kind of guy we want to be around, but there is no way for us to know if your cheerful “Good Morning” is going to either be A: just “Good Morning” or B: “Good Morning” , then “Why don’t you talk to me?”, then getting punched in the face or shot in the chest. Because the men who do this look just like the men who don’t, they smile, they may be well dressed or not, they act cheerful and friendly like they have an interest in me. but as soon as I don’t return the same level of interest, either because I didn’t notice, am in a hurry and can’t converse, don’t have an interest in talking to this person, or don’t want to date or give my phone number to this guy, I become a target of violence, and it happens in a flash. Some of these guys already have it in their mind what they are going to do to the next girl that rejects or fails to respond appropriately to them, and there is no warning or way to know that THIS guy is a psycho instead of being You. What can you do to make a difference? Be the man you are and want us to want to be around. Stop another guy if you see one bothering a girl and she seems uncomfortable, Confront a guy if he is catcalling a girl. Call the police if you see it happening. It may seem “silly” but it won’t be silly to the girl who doesn’t die that day, because you were a man and the other guy was a predator that you could stop. Don’t let your guy friends cat call someone. Be a Good Example for them. Teach your sons that girls don’t want to be catcalled but like to be appreciated as a person. Teach them to give a compliment without expecting something in return. That’s what a compliment is, in fact, a gift given freely without expectation of reciprocity. Teach them to compliment real things, not the girls body. “Excuse me Ma’am? I wanted to say that I like the dress you are wearing, It’s pretty” or ” Hey, that’s a cool hat you’ve got!” Not “Hey baby, Nice legs!” or “Hey, I’d like to get in bed with YOU!” We would appreciate that, and we will still say “Good Morning” to you as well.

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        16. While I love the idea of being able to reach out and get to know anyone I feel you’re missing something essential in this instance. It may not be safe.
          I had a friend for seven years who I loved, trusted, and respected. I would have trusted him with my life and after seven years of knowing him he raped two of my friends within three months of each other.
          If I cannot know my then friend well enough after seven years to see his violation of my friends coming how can I really make the judgement call about a stranger I walk past on the street?
          I get your wish that women not assume the worst in every man they encounter but it is dangerous not to do so and until that reality is changed it’s not practical to make another choice.
          The threats of violence inherent in many of the encounters I face on a daily basis are my reality and I have to do my best to protect myself through preparedness and de-escalation and yes that probably shuts down many productive encounters but I’m just doing my best to stay safe.
          All of that being said if a man in in front of me in line at the grocery store strikes up a pleasant conversation I’m not going to be unkind or assume nefarious intent but if, afterwards, he follows me into the parking lot you better believe I’m going to call my mom and talk to her on my way to the car so that there’s a witness of things escalate.

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        17. We would love to do that… But, in most cases, it is better to be safe than sorry, and that’s just one sad part of the whole picture. ;/

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  4. This is amazing. I had to share it with my sister because just the other day we were talking about how difficult life is for women in Kenya. Every day I walk out of my house and I feel like I am in an episode of Mad Men because of how men treat us here. I didn’t know that women in other parts of the world are going through the same things we go through. And this is the 21st Century?? Thanks very very much for this article.

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  5. I was just linked to you after posting a blog on the same topic, but you really captured the ‘de-escalating’ piece of the situation better than I could. I still beat myself up for silence, and reading this was a revelation.

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  6. The only sentences that made sense to me are the last two:

    “Listen because nothing bad can ever come from listening. ….Just. Listen.”

    Because it sounds to me like God was guiding you right there. Why aren’t you listening to HIM? Coz 1400 years ago, He revealed in his guidance to mankind, how any woman can take ownership of her modesty without being subject to “play along” to get along.

    If you are interested, look for this spell-binding answer to all of your questions. It solves them. Honestly, nothing bad can ever come from listening.

    If you need help to point you in the right direction, I will.

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    1. The book you refer to is about patriarchy which pretty much sums up what the author of the article is talking about. And “modesty” is about men deciding how women are supposed to dress and act; the exact opposite of what she is talking about. The bible or any other so-called holy book is the last place I would look for any advice let alone about how to respect women.

      Liked by 2 people

    2. IMy understanding is that Allah has no gender, so I’m not 100% sure what you are talking about, though “1400 years ago” points to the Quran, so I’m going with that.

      When I was in Iran I found out that “hijab” or “modest dress” refers to modest dress for both men and women as a way of keeping public space de-sexualized for all concerned. Though it’s true that I wouldn’t want to be ordered around in terms of what I wear, and Iran isn’t an example of the kind of society I’d like to live in (in part due to U.S. geopolitical games there in the past), I enjoyed being free of the subtle and not-so-subtle pressure to sexualize appearance in the name of Western ‘freedom.’ When in Iran, I played chess with a stranger in a hotel lobby and I don’t think I would have felt that relaxed about playing chess with a male stranger in the U.S. A big difference between that and the U.S. was he and I were both respecting the rules of Islamic public space. Something very different can happen when I’m playing by those rules in America and men are not.

      It might also be of interest to consider that the Ka’aba that Muslims face during prayer, was supposedly built by Adam and Eve when they realized the masculine principle was lost without the feminine principle and vice versa, So much tragic loss in the whole tradition of the people of the Book, and it pains me that the Bible and the Quran can be used to perp agendas that cause harm and suffering to women.

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    1. Hey, after reading loads of replies you made. I’m assuming that you nearly hate men? I’m not asking but I’m also going to assume you do have a very valid and just reason and I accept That your 100% correct in your decision.

      I personally USE to hate females, so much so I’ve had myself castrated (long story). I was never violent against them or even abusive, was always to scared to be or do any of that. Now after my castration, I’m not as worried and have no need for a female in any way shape or form and just find females attitudes annoying. So I’m definitely not of any harm, not interested in any contact what so ever and most importantly I have a idea what it’s like to hate the opposite sex just like you do.

      Up to you to view this however you wish, I’m not sure venting your anger on a website is constructive,especially when you write stuff in such a manor that will make a male get offended and possibly give them more “fuel” to carry on doing exactly what you don’t think they should be doing. Possibly professional help could be beneficial for you?

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  7. I was routed here by Google under the search, women don’t know what men go through. Interesting it took me to the other gender, but I dove. After all I’m here to grow. I’m here actually, online to find sanity and peace of mind primarily in the moment right now just from numerous minor chronic relational frustrations. It seems that’s something we share. So though I’ve trolled before, I didn’t come here to troll but to take away value. I didn’t come here to empathise either btw or be a Mr. Rogers hero. I came here to take away value for myself in relating to people and understanding why they are that way, and take comfort in the fact that everyone faces obstacles.

    Alright, it was a good reminder of things I broadly understand about what women go through. I recognize more than ever that most American women take these things very serious, and are easily offended by any minimization. In communicating with such women, and I mean no disrespect, it is generally wise to keep ones mouth shut if one doesn’t have anything positive to say if you want her to like you. One could call this an uptight personality, and I prefer them who are not so uptight, but if they indeed face these fears and hassels every day I could see how it could add up.

    I don’t think thats the main problem though. When s girl has high interest in a man, she will walk over hot coals to get to him. I thought long ago an open gender dialogue would be the way to go but now I’m not so sure. We do have a crisis I think in our generation.

    Am I mansplaining? I’m only trying to give my perspective.

    I consider myself a man with goodwill to women, a protector of noble, kind honest women actually, but also a giver of sensual pleasures when consensual. Harassment or whatnot is the last thing on my mind, but I am certain numerous times women have taken things the wrong way. Yes I was born and grew up in the US and have travelled to many parts of the world and the sadfact is I struggle here more than anywhere feeling comfortable to be open and honest around women without them taking it wrong. If I can’t be at least somewhat open, what do I want with a person. Now I see this originates in their accumulated stress and fear, but I love women and want to protect those I consider if character. Every woman is eligible to be such a one. It starts with honesty, and if you’re a slut, be a discrete, and self funding slut ;). Anyway that said, I, and I think men in general have an image problem here in the US.

    There are things women don’t understand about what men go through daily, but I don’t think they care. I didn’t come here to change the subject though or even make points but to take value.

    My purpose investing time in this piece is to grow as a man, for the sake of such things as peace and pleasure in my life and the world. Note I did not day for the sake of being a better nice guy who is always there for her when she needs a tissue. Lol.

    Maybe it’s sick for us to focus on what’s bad I’m the world, and we should give more thought to how we can have pleasure. Healthy sustainable pleasure, but pleasure nonetheless. Women are strong. I know some women who don’t go through this type of thing, even in America, but like a duck through water. Maybe it’s something in their personality that can rebuff such advances from men, or put down or zingers, but they exist, and it might be good to model them.

    Not here to lecture, here to learn. Here to adapt, to the current culture of things, to have some kind of road map, to be able to avoid unnecessary pain of doing or saying the wrong thing. Thanks for your piece.

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    1. “I am only trying to give my perspective.”

      Am I mansplaining? Yes.

      Stop trying to give your perspective. You ARE effectively saying, “women you are looking at this ask wrong.”

      “Not to lecture but to learn.”

      You contradict yourself at every turn.

      “I know women who don’t experience this, they just sail through it like a duck through water. ”

      This sentence tells me every thing in this around went over your head.

      Also, great job listing your good fit credentials. I’m sure you are “not like other men” but you have done every single thing we women expect a man to do.

      You are, in every way attempting to minimize our situation, while claiming to want to understand.

      You are talking out of both sides of your mouth!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. This texts resonates on so many levels. I am Italian, sexism is something very “subtle” and most people don’t admit there is any. I was 10,5 years old when a man put his hand on my crotch the first time. He was my guitar teacher. I was 13 and then 14 when it happened again. I was travelling in the subway with my classmates during a journey to Milan. I don’t recall doing anything special to attract attention. I don’t know how it works for men but women learn very early they are potentially in danger all the time.
    If you never mentioned it in your blog I would like to mention the Brazilian hashtag #PrimeiroAssedio https://twitter.com/search?q=%23PrimeiroAssedio You may read the original story here
    http://www.brasilpost.com.br/carol-patrocinio/quando-uma-menina-de-12-a_b_8348388.html

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  9. Well I haven’t read all the comments but the usual response when we DO tell them is.

    * That doesn’t happen.
    * It doesn’t happen that often/isn’t that bad.
    * You’re overreacting.
    * It’s your fault because of how you dress/act/respond.
    * It doesn’t matter if you just brush it off.
    * You just need to learn to stand up for yourself (or ignore it)
    * It must be really bad for men to think you are hot.
    * But you really secretly like it don’t you?
    * You just want attention/to play the victim.
    * First world problems. You think you got it bad? Look at how women are treated in Afghanistan.
    * I wish I could be objectified.
    * Not All Men are like that!

    Etc.

    Letting them know if not the answer. They don’t listen. They don’t hear.

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  10. Everything that I have read in this article as well as the comments has been cogent and enlightening. But i feel that what Bhowardthinks said earlier has been minimized. Thinking that all men are rapists and a threat is EXTREMELY PROBLEMATIC. As a black man such thinking is what gets me stopped by police while walking, held at gun point in back of my own house without explanation or apology. I’m not trying to minimize or compare threats but at some point you have to chose whether you’ll acquiesce to fear or rise above it. And this is completely separate from acknowledging and addressing the very real problems of misogyny and sexual violence perpetrated towards women. …. As black man the ability for non-black people, yes including women, to see me as something other than a threat is a matter of life and death. … A catcall is inappropriate and should be condemned but let’s not forget that many black men were lynched … most famously Emmett Till, for the alleged threat they posed to women, white women specifically. You could literally be castrated for making eye contact. This perception of black (and many other non-white) men persists to this day. Perpetuating the thinking that any one group is to be uniformly considered a threat will and has led society down a very dark and dangerous road. — So while I understand and appreciate the alarm reflexive fear based decision making rare solves social problems, it generally makes it worse. So yes all men need to step up and confront misogyny, harassment, etc. and believe and appreciate the experiences of our female family, friends, and even strangers … But the other side of that coin is we can’t walk around being afraid of entire groups from the jump …That’s bigotry and a whole host of other “isms” even when it’s for an ostensibly useful purpose. I’m not asking to feel comfortable with the terms of the feminist struggle … But i do ask that you realize that this shit doesn’t happen in a vacuum. Your reflexive fear could very easily get me killed or imprisoned. Just as any indifference and complicity on my part could result in similarly sever consequences for any number of women.

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    1. I want to be very, very clear. I do not look at all men as threats of any kind. I rarely look at any man as a threat. And perhaps I was too nuanced and didn’t make it clear in my writing. When the man passed by me in the Home Depot parking lot, he said “Hi.” I said “Hello.” I was not one bit concerned and I smiled as I said it. I did not view him as a threat until I heard him call me a bitch and berate me for not stopping to talk further. THOSE are the kinds of incidences I’m referring to. I can be out, by myself, and speak to a stranger. I can have nice conversations and this happens frequently, with men I don’t know. I am not threatened or worried. Am I on guard if I’m leaving a restaurant at night by myself and it’s dark in the parking lot and no one’s around? Yes. I hold my keys with my knuckles and I am vigilant. But the thought that you took this to mean that I am generally afraid of men or look at all men as threats is extremely upsetting to me, both as a woman and a writer. I love men. And I don’t want that to sound silly, but I have always had great friendships with boys and men throughout my life. I have men who have been my closest confidants. I make friends with men (and women) very easily. Your comment makes me feel like I failed in making my point clearly.

      The whole point of the post was to point out how pervasive it is over a woman’s life time. The little comments that come from creepy guys- NOT a nice guy giving a compliment. The two are very different, believe me. A compliment from a man is something I always appreciate. But those creepy comments, the kind not meant to brighten a woman’s day or make her feel nice, the ones that are overtly sexual and imply a kind of ownership and control over a woman’s body, those comments happen enough times and some times we call them out and some times (if we don’t feel safe) we walk by and ignore it. And all the times we are groped. Pursued after we said NO very clearly. These things can happen over a lifetime and become “normal” and it still doesn’t make us look at all men as threats. Sigh… I’m worried I’m still not coming across clearly. And I’ve considered writing a follow up to clear up this misconception that some have taken from my post. I have a son. I don’t want him to grow up in a world where men are demonized or made out to be dangerous. I have written many posts advocating for men. I’m truly concerned with how our society and the cultural norms we operate within affect men, women, people of all races and religions. I’m concerned with social injustice to ANYONE. I hope this clears that up. If not, please respond and let me know.

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      1. No, you DO NOT need to write a follow up. The issue is that people are trying to tuck this very uncomfortable reality into a nice, neat category of nice guys versus creepy guys. But lets face it – nice guys can very often turn into creepy guys. I recently requested help from an ATT technician who was sitting in his truck in the neighborhood. It was a random request because we were having so much trouble with getting Internet access. We exchanged information and he then went the extra mile to assist me by escalating the problem to people beyond “customer service”. A week later, he texted me (at 7:50pm) to ask if I had gotten resolution. I was surprised with the follow up but wanted to be nice so I texted him back – and when I said “yes”, I also shared with him when the service was going to be installed – in a way to show/prove that his help resolved our problem. Well, a day before installation, he texted me and said “hey, go figure, I am going to be the installing technician.” I felt that he had purposely requested the install and it made me feel very uncomfortable. I was uncomfortable enough to go to our neighbor and ask him to casually drop by during the install time. Why? Because the technician had been nice, he had done me a favor, and when guys go out of their way for a woman, very often, they feel owed. I could be totally wrong, but guess what, how do you know the difference and still remain safe? Many women don’t live to tell this kind of story. And THIS is the dynamic, the nuance that directs our actions, our responses, our thoughts, our opinions and our fears. But guess what? People will blame me for responding nicely to a text; for telling him the install date; for “leading him on” so that he would do the install; for being by myself in a house with a complete stranger; for having even asked him to help at all. They won’t look at HIS actions or tell him to redirect his intentions.

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        1. Yes, you’ll get blamed for being too nice, should something happen to you. And you’ll get blamed for being paranoid or bitter or thinking all men are rapists if you react as you did.

          You can’t really win, can you? That’s the double bind that women are almost always in.

          All you can do is be as cautious as YOU feel you need to be, and hopefully stay alive and unvictimized.

          Thank you so much for your comments about how the “nice guy” often turns out not so nice. Important.

          Liked by 1 person

      2. I have to agree with MAC67 & bossnotbossy; the problem here isn’t you, you’re not failing to be clear enough… there’s just something about this kind of topic where people*, even careful thinkers who pride themselves on being sure that they understand what’s presented before responding, just don’t bother to actually read what’s written. Sure, their eyes might track back and forth across the words, but all they seem to be able to take from it is, “all men are evil, and I’m afraid,” even though that’s neither in the text nor the subtext. Laurie Penny dedicated a chapter in one of her books to expressing so much compassion to those of us who’re stifled by the expectations of masculinity that it brought me to tears, but she’s still called out for misandry on a regular basis.
        I’m sure Statamind is fully aware of this on the matter of racism. Everyone who has called you out for man-hating is likely aware of it in at least one area: the socialists whose criticisms of our modern economic systems are misrepresented as mere jealousy and laziness; the secularists whose criticisms of religious sectarianism in governments are misrepresented as their trying to ban religion… etc. They may be adept in spotting it in their own pet topic(s), but it never seems to occur to them that they might also be susceptible to it for some reason, so they never bother to develop defences against the exact same failures of reason in themselves, and there’s really very little that you can do to get through to them until they do. (No, person about to angrily reply to this, I’m not claiming that feminists are in any way perfect or immune to that flaw – there’s a reason that terms like “white feminism” exist, and I’m pretty sure this is it. I’m also not claiming to be immune to it myself.)

        Err, so anyway, the point is that I don’t think you need to write a follow up either. That doesn’t mean I think you shouldn’t because, hey, you never know, a differently worded article might not trigger the same “oh no, misandry!” vision filter for all of the same people that this one does, and it’s always worth approaching the same topic from different angles at different times, but you didn’t fail to be clear enough in your original post.

        *#notallpeople(butmostpeople(okactuallyprobablyallpeople))

        Liked by 1 person

    2. Instead of replacing “all men” with “black men” or “Muslims”, try replacing the word woman/women with black men or “Muslims”.

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  11. There’s so many comments, I can’t find if I’ve mentioned some of this before: I’ve been following the comments on this while I’ve been going through leaving an organization devoted to cultural transformation and a future of ‘just’ societies. There was a guy there who was a bit odd, and other people kind of shunned him, and being the underdog lover I am, I befriended him and was even flirtatious with him now and then. The organization met in person several times a year, so it wasn’t a daily thing, as we all traveled from different states.

    When I spoke to this guy about his ongoing wrist slaps about behaving inappropriately with women, especially given his stated hatred of women on numerous occasions with me (except for me, of course) he started threatening me. When I attempted to extricate myself, he wrote an email to both me and the head of the organization about his feelings of “murderous rage” and vivid, explicit fantasies of deadly physical harm towards me. The head of the organization and I discussed this over email for about six weeks in an increasingly bizarre exchange as he told me to go to therapy and apologize to the guy if I had said anything negative about him to anyone else.

    It was at that point we found out he hadn’t read the email, and he suddenly freaked out that he might be in danger of losing his license (he’s a licensed psychologist.) Things went from bad to worse as the head of the organization insisted on labeling it my personal problem, and ordered me to ‘work it out’ with the guy, who told me he wouldn’t threaten me anymore as long as I never said anything that he might interpret as criticism, because of the shame/rage cycles associated with his disorganized attachment disorder and masochist depressive narcissism, so if I said anything that he interpreted as criticism, it was actually my violence, not his, that came out as his rage, because he is nothing but gentle, kind and caring and I am cruel. He seemed rather benevolent about explaining this to me.

    I’m not hating on him for being a broken person. What continually blows my mind is that there is awareness among people that he has some kind of mental health issue, and he has gotten numerous wrist slaps about his behavior. I’m a 61 year old mother of two grown sons, who has no wrist slaps in her history with this organization. Yet, when that initial email happened, the head of the organization dismissed my concerns until he found out he was implicated — and I had done nothing to earn that lack of trust (except being a woman and being flirtatiously friendly with this guy on occasion.) I’m profoundly saddened that even within an organization whose mission statement contains all kinds of rah-rah about a just future, there’s a marked resistance to examining unconscious perping of this kind of injustice. I wrote to the board about two months ago and more recently an exit letter to the community, and have gotten some private words of support, I have heard nothing from leadership.

    So, thanks to all of you who are discussing this, as following this has been a friend to me while I navigate something that feels like a personal twilight zone, even though it’s real, insidious and part of our culture. I’d hardly be able to believe it if it hadn’t happened to me, and as I’ve gone through this experience, the threats are much less painful in my mind — I always knew the guy was unstable — than the responses about the threats. I made my choices based on some kind of bubble that at 61 I had left the harrassments of my 20s far behind, and that in an organization of shared values it was safe to reach out to someone who had personality problems.

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  12. I’ve never felt the need to “de-escalate” a situation with a man. This is pure anti-man psychosis. I know many women who have no fear of men and any woman who FEARS men (in general) needs to get psychiatric help! The so-called “Women’s Studies” movement that started in the 70s has done nothing to help women and has only worsened the anti-man feelings of the (antiquated and nonsensical) “women’s liberation movement” of the late 60s.
    Rape culture my butt!

    Like

    1. “It doesn’t happen to me” doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen. Isn’t it the least bit meaningful that this is a regular part of so many women’s lives and that it’s (probably) not ok for any of them?

      Stop taking such a myopic view – it’s not JUST work places, it’s not JUST streets, it’s not JUST bars etc. And it’s ordinary men, from ordinary walks of life, who do it when they know they can get away with it.

      It just happened last week. I went out for a run along a pipeline trail – it is very wide and sits between residential neighborhoods whose backyards butt into it. It was after dinner and the weather was looking a little ominous (like it was going to rain), so no one was around. But as I approached one of the hills, a man was walking down on the other side. As I continued up, he crossed over onto “my” side of the path. My first thought was “god dammit why is he making me break my pace to avoid him?” Then my body went into flight mode; “will he say something?” “what should I say” “is he going to jeer at me?” “how far could my scream carry?” “can I slug him hard enough?” “what do I do if he grabs me?”
      Nothing happened but how would I know? He crossed over to get in my way. In the animal kingdom, that would be a predatory act, kind of like peeing on territory.

      “Society” would say, “why did you run by yourself?”; “why did you run during a time when no one else was around?”; “why didn’t you just keep running straight into him”; why didn’t you go a different direction?; “Nothing happened, what’s the big deal?”; “Just say hi to him”; “Well, did you saaayy anything to him?”; “I would have said something to him.” etc etc etc

      Very few would ask, “what the hell was a guy thinking to cross over into your path?” So I deescalated – I crossed over, didn’t make eye-contact with him and held my breath until I knew he wasn’t coming back behind me. Gee, what a great run. Glad the problem is all in my head.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Ms. Gretchen,
    Thank you so much for what you have written here. It touched me deeply, and as a woman I’ve experienced virtually all of the scenarios you’ve listed above, as has virtually every woman I know. Beautifully and articulately written.

    thank you,
    Ariadny

    Like

  14. Where do the people in your circles work? You describe things that just aren’t true in my circles with respect on at work experiences – yet, it is portrayed as though it is an experience common to all women. I’ve been a manager for over 15 years and if butt patting were to occur in any of my workplaces, I am pretty confident it would result in a trip to HR and disciplinary action. Even a false accusation against a long term employee with no history of such behavior an accusation would result in immediate disciplinary action, future monitoring, and a big hit to the accused’s reputation limiting their future options at the company at a minimum. I receive training at least once per year on these topics that should just be common sense of how to treat people. This isn’t limited to where I work, even McDonalds can and has been sued for sexual harassment and takes steps to avoid it. There are real repercussions that most employers/business owners fear. Moreover, false claims can easily cost thousands of dollars in legal costs just to defend. I think part of why you find people don’t identify with what you are saying is that it just isn’t consistent with their experiences or the experiences of those close to them.

    Like

    1. Not every company has an HR dept. You’re going to have to take the word of millions of women on this, that these things happen. Check out #WhenIWas on Twitter. My waitressing job where my boss kissed me? It was owned by his best friend who was no better and had hit on other waitresses himself.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. And by the way, scores of women identified exactly with what I was saying in this post. It has been viewed here alone over 2 million times, published in 7 different languages that I’m aware of, on large sites (Huffington Post published it in 6 languages alone.) I have watched the comments, the reblogs, the tweets and FaceBook shares and comments from women who identify. I’ve received personal messages from many. A post doesn’t get that widespread when no one relates. I’m not saying this to be snarky, I just really want you to understand that I didn’t make this up, this is a very real every day thing that happens all over the world and it usually starts once we hit puberty. In fact, that’s when it’s most intense. I hope you open your mind to this because I’m sure there are women in your life, whether it’s relatives or friends or coworkers who have run up against this type of thing. Who’ve had to “de-escalate” for a number of reasons. The more we are aware of it, the easier it will be for us to stop it. Our daughters (I don’t know if you have any, but I have two) need to know that this is a thing and they need to have the tools to feel safe and/or speak up. Sometimes speaking up puts your safety in jeapardy. But this is something we all need to recognize if we truly want to change it. Thank you for taking the time to comment and share your perspective. I truly appreciate it and welcome it. And appreciate you doing it respectfully (I say that because some of the comments got pretty ugly and hateful)

      Liked by 2 people

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    you’re using? I’ve loaded your blog in 3 completely different web browsers and I must say this blog loads a
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    Like

  16. But the tendency to de-escalate and compromise is why women are SUPERIOR to men, the ability to apply compassion and sacrifice for the greater good is the lesson that women are supposed to teach men. The answer to the question “Is this that big of a deal is simply, “Yes”. It is correct, they don’t get it, that means it’s your evolutionary duty to educate them.

    The problem is that everyone is looking at the tree in front of them that nourishes them and they try to protect their tree, and since their tree is the most important to them and they don’t really care about anybody else’s tree. The issue to address is that their tree is in a forest where every tree is as important as the next to maintain the forest. If you allow one tree to be diseased, you place the entire forest at risk.

    Right now we live in a forest with multiple diseases and infestations, and everybody is trying to treat their tree whatever means they choose, and with it all mixed together is just making the situation more toxic.

    The only way to assure the survival of individual trees is when everyone cooperates to treat the entire forest.

    If you want to fix your problem, you have to be willing to fix everyone’s problem, and you start that by creating this:
    https://1drv.ms/p/s!AoXPlyjz_r8dgUyQUT1f5PUmwvTK

    Women have been fighting for the wrong thing for far too long, it’s all just a trap to make you ineffective.

    Like

  17. So this is what feminism is about now, not about economic or political equality or revolution or anything of the sort. It’s just that women are small and weak and “vulnerable”(males of course are never vulnerable) and they’re all sweet and innocent and then terrible bad men come along and “sexualize” them. Yes indeed men often look at women in a sexual way, and guess what women look at men in a sexual way, and sometimes men look at men in a sexual way and women look at women in a sexual way and when boys grow up this can be rather awkward and uncomfortable for them too, and boys get sexually abused all the time. So cry me a river middle class white lady, maybe the naysayers have a point. If only we could all just stay little innocent asexual children forever, like the Teletubbies, is that what todays feminists want?

    Like

  18. THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR THIS. dealing w a sexual harassment case at work involving many women and I sent this to them. I was the whistler blower. It did not happen to me. It I couldn’t handle seeing more of my friends treated poorly.

    Like

  19. I agree with you totally. This was such a powerful post, and you covered EVERYTHING. You write so well.

    For me… it’s a little different. If I tell you something: will you not judge me? I’ve never had my bum pinched. I’ve never been wolf whistled. No one’s ever asked me a drink or tried to talk to me in a bar. I’ve never have to lie and say I have a boyfriend (I don’t.) No one’s ever stared at my breasts. No supervisor has ever tapped me on the ass, no barista has held my change out so I have to reach over him. No one has ever offered to have ‘friends with benefits’ with me. I’ve never been cat-called, made uncomfortable. I’ve never even felt in danger.

    Now these all sounds like good things. What’s entirely ironic is the LACK of sexism toward me has made me feel unfeminine. Although this things are awful, I crave them. And I’m ashamed to say that because for so many people these are huge problems in their lives, yet I WANT them to happen. What’s wrong with me?

    I feel so little like a women that a little sexism would make me feel more female. Even if it was negative. How awful and backwards is that?

    Anyway, a very well written and engaging post. Thank you.

    Like

  20. Much of what you say makes sense. At the same time, it sounds like your opinion of the majority of men is extremely low.
    I hear you though; as a guy, there have been many times that I’ve witnessed other guys give women the laser beam “checkout stare”, and I’ve always considered it inappropriate, unless they were actually trying to make EYE CONTACT, versus simply staring open-mouthed at a woman’s body. Obviously, people will notice one another. Women will encounter guys that they find attractive, and they might even STARE for a prolonged amount of time; that happens too.
    But I understand that many women have to put up with these situations day in and day out, and a predatory male with a degenerate attitude could easily be a potential rapist. Yet, guys who don’t have an inappropriate habit of lewd staring are getting screwed over by those that do. And that goes for any other AGGRESSIVE, threatening or rude or even criminal behaviors that you could possibly name: “getting up in a woman’s space”, clearly sexual types of inappropriate touching/ physical contact, “cat calls”, “wolf whistles”, “checking out” girls that are obviously VERY YOUNG, and on, and on, and on. And that’s to say nothing of the aggregious crimes like rape, pedophilia, abduction, and so on.
    I gotta say though, as someone who engages in NONE of those behaviors, I’ve about FREAKING HAD IT!!! On the one end, there’s the scores and scores and scores of guys that give all men a bad reputation, or even a terrible one. Then of course, there are the scores and scores and scores of women that don’t like men, distrust men, bash men, hate men, make a mockery of the male species, and otherwise attack or seek to destroy men. As someone who is not part of the “herd” of men that act in the ways that you listed in your article, (the lewd stares, “checking out” little girls or teens, aggressive conversation tactics, inappropriate touching, swearing at women because they won’t talk to/go out with you, etc.), I’m REALLY SICK AND TIRED of getting caught in the crossfire.

    Like

    1. Ugh. Rick, you were almost there. And then you used the term “getting caught in the crossfire”. That felt like you placed legitimacy in the behaviors by creating “sides” to be watched like a football game. If there is anything this election has taught us is that we need men to step up and repudiate this behavior and evolve their way of thinking about it. That does not condemn you and wrap you into the arms of “being at fault”. But we need men (and women) to stop seeing these behaviors as mis-placed sexual advances and male entitlement and seen them instead as violence and micro-aggressions meant to intimidate and “keep women in their place.” You may not do any of these things but you are still part of a system that benefits from it; you are more likely to get the job, the promotion, the choice to walk alone, to be alone with someone in a room, office, elevator, etc etc; you are less like be sold into sex slavery; less likely to be raped or murdered by a partner, because men see women are as sexual accessories. I’m glad that you “have had it”. I have too.

      Like

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