So, one of my students shared a tweet they had seen in a paper they wrote for me and I was so intrigued by it. The “Feminist Next Door” wrote this: “Women, imagine that for 24 hours, there were no men in the world. No men are being harmed in the creation of this hypothetical. They will all return. They are safe and happy wherever they are during this hypothetical time period. What would or could you do that day?” (@emrazz).
Here are some of the replies:
- “Go out without worrying, dress however I want to go out, go for a walk at night or generally going for a walk with headphones at whatever volume I like, the list is endless…”
- “Enter my workplace without being harassed.”
- “…the freedom to move around the world without fear and with confidence.”
- “Walk my favorite trail at night, with or without my large dog, and marvel at the stars away from the city lights.”
- “I was thinking I’d let my daughter be free in public, take a deep breath and just let her be, not watch her like a hawk.”
- “Hike in the woods, sleep with my windows open, or outside, walk everywhere, leave my home any time of the day I wanted too.”
- “…not be forced to smile and respond to strange men making jokes for fear of them becoming hostile.”
- “Talk about things I have expertise in, uninterrupted.”
- “Talk without being corrected. Talk without having things explained to me when I hadn’t asked for it. Talk without constantly watching my tone or making what I was saying more palatable.”
Wow. When I read these responses, and this is just the tip of the iceberg, I was gobsmacked. Truly. Now, before anyone starts defending men, let me do it myself.
Obviously, from my many many many (🙄) marriages, I love men (maybe a bit too much 😳) . And besides my rockin’ son, I love my nephews with all my heart as well. My dad is a good man…my grandpas were good men…and I have tons of male students/colleagues/friends etc. that are good men. THERE ARE REALLY GOOD MEN IN THE WORLD! Got that? Good.
But, like with everything, there is always good and bad. And here’s the thing: men do prey on women much more than women prey on men or other women. Let’s take a look-see with stats from The National Coalition against Domestic Violence:
- 1:4 women and 1:7 men have experienced severe (injurious) physical violence by their intimate (opposite sex) partner.
- 1:10 women have been raped by an intimate partner (no data available on men)
- 1:5 women and 1:71 men have been raped in their lifetime.
- 19.3 million women and 5.1 million men have been stalked in their lifetime.
Wow. Again. Obviously, violence is an issue for both men and women but when it comes right down to it, women are violated more by men than vice versa.
I think it’s really hard for men to understand how scary the world is for women. Let’s face it ladies: men are stronger then we are. Yeppers. It’s true. It doesn’t mean women aren’t strong…of course not. But when it gets right down to the nitty gritty, men have much more muscle mass, power, etc. that puts us all at a disadvantage. And anytime a person’s size is used as a tool against someone (bullies always pick on the little guys…right?), the ‘fight’ is no longer fair. Grip tests have women scoring 90% less than 95% of men, and the fastest woman in history (Flo-Jo: RIP ❤) has world record times that wouldn’t qualify for the men’s Olympic team.
A study in the Journal of Applied Physiology found that men (on average) have an average of 26 pounds more muscle mass than women. Also, women exhibited about 40% less upper-body strength and 33% less lower-body strength.
Is it no wonder that women fear this population who can feasibly ‘win’ against them at any time? Man on man violence? More of an equal fight. Man on women violence…not so much so.
I know that whenever I go to a store by myself at night or run until dusk or even just take a hike at our local nature center by myself, I’m leery. I’m watching my surroundings. Listening for noises. Hurrying on my way. And I’m not being ‘paranoid’ by doing so. The top places for women to be attacked (besides their own home 😕) are grocery store parking lots, office parking lots, public restrooms, trails, and college campuses. To top it off, the most common time for attack is between 5:00 – 8:30 in the MORNING.
“So, don’t do these things, dumbass.” Rrrrriiiiiggggghhhhhttttt. I’ll refrain from going to the store. Parking my car in my school’s parking lot. Not running on the bike trails in my town. And I’ll be real sure not to do any of these things in the morning.
But I think the responses of the women on Twitter show it’s more than just being fearful of men in specific areas, etc. but an overall unease that seems to permeate a woman’s world everyday. Not being taken seriously. Not being listened too. Feeling you have to soften things when addressing them. Feeling the humiliation of being talked too in a condescending way. It’s almost as if women have to ‘monitor’ their words so carefully…not over-step their bounds at work lest they be seen as bitches. Not be too much smarter than a guy lest they be called the same. Not out-run a guy too much (like I could do Hubby 3) lest you be a ‘ball buster’. And the list goes on.
Then, IF we do get attacked, victim blaming is often the norm. “Why were you out late?” “Why did you go to the store then?” “Why didn’t you wear something more conservative?” “Why didn’t you look around more?” In other words, the ‘whys’ center on the victim’s behavior…and not the perps. Fucked up, huh (sorry ma, but I know you agree! 🤨)?
I get this. An incident happened at a workplace once where a subordinate sent me texts describing how he’d like to rape me and make me into lampshades (he knew I had some Jewish ancestry). We had been friendly at one time, and when I passed on his desire to be more than friends, this was the result. So how was this handled at that particular workplace? I had the texts. The literal texts. And I was blamed. I must have been too ‘flirty’ (i.e. nice/funny/kind 🙄) so what the hell did I expect? Of course he should have sent me these. Of course I should have been threatened with rape. Right?
All of this isn’t women’s issues though. When it get’s right down to it, it’s men’s issues. It’s like bullies at a school: help the victim and the bully will move on to another and another and another. Help the freaking bully…find out what the hell is happening in his (or of course, her) life that might be causing the anger, frustration, feelings of inadequacy, etc. and work on that. Fix the bully…fix the problem.
So why aren’t we doing that? Why aren’t all parents teaching their sons to be the ‘good men’ we know they can be? Is it that difficult to teach our sons respect? Kindness? Sensitivity? Empathy? Or do any of the parent’s messages really matter when the media and their peers often tell them otherwise.
I didn’t do a perfect job raising my sonshine. In fact, I fucked up (sorry again, ma…I couldn’t help myself 😐) many many many times…as do all parents. But I like to think I did teach him these things the best I could. Some he’s better at than others. And like a lot of other men, I don’t think he takes the fears that women have as seriously as he should simply because he doesn’t live in that world. A world of power and strength that physically puts you at a disadvantage regardless of anything else. I used to ask him to check on my while I ran and he’s say “Ma…you’ll be fine.” Yes. I have been (except for 1 time a guy ran me off the road and came after me 😞 ). So far. See, he wouldn’t have to worry going out for an early morning run as much as I have too.
I believe the majority of men in this world are great guys. I believe that because I’ve seen that. But I also know the world can be a very dark and scary place for women because of the bad ones. And how we can fix this is something we need to work on. Now.