Men Suggest Things To Me

(With apologies to Rebecca Solnit)

15317878_10155611551468146_4105978790934883612_nA scary thing happened to me on the half-block walk between my bus stop and my house the other night. As I walked along the sidewalk, a man in a silver BMW tore out of the quiet, one-lane alley behind my house and pulled into the street, nearly hitting me. Seeing me (and possibly hearing my standard response when this happens, a resigned “No need to stop”), he slammed on the brakes, leaped out of the car, at charged at me, and screamed at the top of his lungs, “Why don’t you wear something I can SEE next time, you stupid fucking cunt? Get out of my fucking way, you stupid ugly bitch!” The guy, about 50, was tall, white, bald, and much taller and larger than me. I was pretty sure he was going to attack me, but he didn’t, and I managed to stumble home physically unscathed.

Later that night, I posted a quick note on my Facebook page, describing what had happened and concluding, “This man is probably my neighbor. Welcome to Donald Trump’s America.” (Shorthand for: Electing a man who cheerfully brags about sexual assault and has been accused many times of harassment, assault, and even rape, has emboldened some misogynists to act out in more extreme ways than before the election, as part of a documented increase in crimes based on a person’s gender, race, sexual orientation, or perceived religion.) The next day, I found the car, which was parked at one of the new townhouses about 50 yards down the alley, and posted an update, which read in part:

I know there’s no point in repeating this to people who just won’t believe my experience, but this kind of explicitly violent threat, and this level of aggression, has been escalating in my experience, and the experience of many women I know, since Trump was elected. Misogynists like this guy may have WANTED to lunge at and threaten women physically before Trump, but now they are empowered and validated when they actually do so. This is new. It is different. It is terrifying. So don’t tell me that if I had just dressed differently (wearing lights and reflectors to walk the half-block from my bus stop to my house) or been meeker, smaller, or more passive in some way, this wouldn’t have happened. I didn’t bring this attack on myself. Neither did the many women who have experienced similar incidents since November 9. I will not accept any excuses for this kind of violent misogynistic behavior, and neither should you.

You’ll never believe this, but some people–all strangers or relative strangers, almost exclusively men*–didn’t listen. So I decided to compile some of their helpful suggestions here, in case any other woman ever finds herself confronted with a large, screaming man who lunges at her and won’t take “I was just trying to walk down the sidewalk” for an answer. (I should note here, of course, that most of the responses to my post came from a place of genuine concern and desire to express support or offer help; that said, the responses below are typical of the comments from men who never learned that lesson about opinions and assholes.) Notice how many times I’m told that it’s my responsibility not to get myself hit by a speeding car or physically threatened by a man (“Just move to another part of the city/country!”), and how many people turn out to be mind-readers who just know that this man didn’t mean anything malicious when he threatened me and called me a “stupid fucking cunt.”

Time to move if this is your neighbor!

She should have been packing and she could have “feared for her life”.

 

In no way trying to excuse or support his behavior but I do a lot of running. I have been hit (daylight) wearing bright colors, hit at night with a light and reflective clothes. The point to be made is that even when supposedly obvious drivers (both genders) can’t/don’t see me. If you are out at night in dark/non-reflective clothes drivers can’t see you. Be seen.

stop and think about his point of view for a minute! Assuming it was dark, he barely missed you due to not seeing you because of the dark clothing you were wearing. [Note: I did not say what color or shade of clothing I was wearing.]

As a driver, IT IS very difficult to see pedestrians in the dark. Unfortunately, he handled the situation with immaturity, blame and anger, but I doubt he meant any danger to you. It was just a poor way to express himself and try to make his point, as he was caught off guard when he suddenly noticed someone walking in the alley that he didn’t see before.

Try to consider it from his angle, please….and what does Trump have to do with this? Nothing.

You marginalize the incident by trying to illogically link it to a politician you dislike. It stands on it’s own the guy who verbally accosted you is an ass.

You have to remember that even though you think that you might be able to be seen at night, dusk, that actually it is a scientific fact that drivers cannot see people on the street as well as you might think they can.

So yeah wasn’t right that he was mad at you but I think he was scared that he almost hit you. You might think about how close you came to being hit and how you can contribute in the future to your own safety.*

I would suggest moving to some place like Los Angeles, Chicago, Detroit or Philadelphia. 

If you want to see real hatred
[nope, didn’t say I did], try that coming from Clinton supporters. Here are some examples: [irrelevant links to right-wing sites]

sometimes in the dark or bad weather if you can move your arms or make a quick movement make yourself as visible as possible to a driver, a small flashlight could save you and others life. Also with people on cell phones both walking and driving it is tougher these days were all at risk even under ideal conditions.

Empower yourself with MACE and a taser….and/or carry a lil .380. Take self-defense classes and kick his ass

Go and get you some bear mase. Next time this asshole approaches spray his ass then kick him on the balls and beat the shit out of him. Real Talk a lesson should be taught to this son of a bitch!

Stop casting blame. Some people are just jerks. And others are judgemental.*

There HAS been a rise in violence since the election, mostly from HRC supporters: [irrelevant link to right-wing site]

stop demonizing people who have a different opinion and perhaps consider listening to the reasons and facts behind that opinion.

Car drivers did this well before Trump was elected

I  hear muzzle flash is visible for a split second from quite far away.

Women go through our lives not being believed, particularly by men. We go through our lives being told how we should have behaved differently, that we were probably just misinterpreting the situation, that we were probably at fault, that we should bend as far as we can to make sure things don’t happen to us, as if making ourselves as small as possible, or taking a self-defense class, or covering ourselves with lights and reflectors will protect us from men who want to harm us. (The idea that we might expect men to be better is never on the table.) We are constantly told to question our own experience.
So when I explain something that happened to me, something that was, by any interpretation, a crime, what I don’t need is a bunch of men telling me what I did wrong or why what happened to me didn’t actually happen or that I should really try to see things from the perspective of my attacker. I can explain until I am blue in the face all the ways in which misogynists have been emboldened since the election of the pussy-grabber-in-chief, using not just my own experience (which is so easily invalidated by a simple, “Are you sure it really happened that way”?) but the experiences of many, many women I know as well as statistics on sexual harassment and other gender-motivated crimes. But the truth is that people who won’t believe my experience won’t believe the experience of millions of other women, either. Because the bottom line is we’re all just women. And until people start believing women, I’m afraid these incidents are going to continue to be ignored, and dismissed, and rendered silent by the chorus of voices, mostly men’s, but some women’s, too. saying “Yeah, but…” We have to start saying “I believe you” instead.
 * And some women! Whose comments are marked with asterisks!
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One thought on “Men Suggest Things To Me

  1. I believe you, because I have also experienced similar behavior. Including blaming me for nearly being hit.

    Our society seems to have a mental illness when it comes to blaming victims, it also appears that the reactions become increasingly pathological as the victim slides down the scale of privilege. The more markers you have, the less sympathy you see.

    I wish everyone could try a little empathy on for size. Its severely lacking in our world today.

    If one of these men would try walking around their own neighbourhood at night to experience how dangerous our country has made this simple human act, they might not be so quick to rage at the person who dared to speak up.

    At least, I’d like to hope there is at least that much humanity left our there…

    Like

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