Gretchen L. Kelly, Author

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

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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.


1,982 Responses

    1. Thank you my friend! And no worries about not being here much, it’s been slow going with the blog posts lately! Can’t wait to see what you’re cooking up… new book maybe?

      1. Eventually yes! Since the summer, I have really been neglecting my own writing. I’ve been doing some freelance work for other people, but I’m ready to get back to my own stuff! It’s been almost three months since I’ve published a blog post. That just feels icky to me.

        1. Oooohhh, freelance. At least you have good reason to not be blogging. I hit a writing road block (of my own making) and now I’m doing NaNoWriMo so the blogging is taking a backseat for the short term. And not posting here does feel icky to me. It’s like I forgot to feed my fish. Or something that doesn’t sound quite so silly…

    2. Bladderflap!

      My lie/exaggeration detector went off several times during the reading of the article-comment.
      I think you lie to us when you tell us that every single time you’ve written on this matter others write in to diminish the supposed importance of your statement.

      While others sometimes fall in love with the sound of their own voice, it appears that you’ve fallen hopelessly for your own word collections.
      There’s a power to being succinct.

      I agree with the male who wrote in pointing out that males have to bend over for females too…and always have.

      Your accounting of today’s world is strongly slanted.
      Don’t you care to be fair and balanced at all?
      Phooey. May your eyeglasses be repaired.

      1. I’m giggling that the thing you’re taking issue with is that first statement. That I get the “you’re making a big deal out of nothing” type of response. Out of this whole looooong post, that’s what you take issue with? Sadly, it happens every time. I write about these things quite often. I’m part of a Feminist Friday Writer’s Group and it happens to them as well (the group includes a few men as well). It happens whether it’s in my writing or real life discussions or even on social media. It happens.

        As for brevity? Never been my strong suit. Sorry. If succinct is what you’re looking for you won’t find it here. My style of writing is LongForm. There are the short form writers, the Six Sentence Story writers, the listicle writers. I’m Long Form. It’s not the sound of my voice I like, it’s the need to use my voice. That’s what it’s all about, finding your voice. Mine happens to be long-winded. Not everyone’s cup ‘o tea, for sure.

        As for my account being slanted? There’s a whole lot of people who this is striking a chord with. This is by far my most popular blog post. I am getting messages and emails and women who are saying they relate, this is their experience too. Not everyone has lived this. Obviously you haven’t. Congratulations on that, sir.

        1. I struggled with this article . Not with the topic , but the writing . Tedious and long winded, self indulgent . And your reaction to this man’s criticism has taken me from , give her another chance to , buh bye. Snarky , defensive . Two things you shouldnt be when receiving criticism .
          Shame, because I believe you have raised many valid points , important ones and you could reach more people if your writing was better. More succinct and less about you. A trap in any art form .

          Best ..

        2. Maybe if women weren’t the inferior sex they wouldn’t be having these issues? Wonder how evolution made you this way? Like it or lump it I say. Try not being so darn vulnerable and just plain out inferior, no amount of manipulation is going bring down every single guy to your levels.

      2. Dan, I feel ashamed for you. That you are so willfully ignorant on this topic, and yet, you still commented. An ironic comment no less. One that is the antithesis of progress and understanding.

        This is my first time reading your articles Gretchen, and I can’t wait to read more! I love the way you write. The way you eloquently word what we go through in a direct manner is fantastic. Thank you!

      3. You really got nothing at all from this article?

        Let me tell you something, Danny Boy, for me it was like reading my own biography! This didn’t over-emphasize, in fact it did exactly what it complained about–it minimized the issues.

        I’m sorry for you if it rattled your self-importance or shook your world-view. Too bad if it makes you uncomfortable–an experience I have felt all my life–but if you can’t be part of the solution–at least stop being part of the problem.

        You have no position you can stand upon. Your audience is going to see through the posturing and posing. And you have very bad manners.

      4. This was a great read & I enjoyed the down-play of your overly balanced article immensely! When I was 15 I was statutorily raped by a prison guard & gave birth to a son having Down Syndrome & diagnosed with leukemia on xmas of 94′. At the age of 18, I walked my son through intensive chemotherapy treatments all on my own! Even my son’s pediatric oncologist, Dr. Peter Saddowitz, came on to me at Syracuse University 5C clinic during a platelet transfusion. So, I just want to commend your writings & reiterate that girls like me who undergo these types of treatments while growing up become hardboiled badass butches who not only are able to physically defend themselves but can verbally cut a man up like a can of sardines & spit his bullshit out in 2 seconds flat! Then all you whiners out there wonder why you can’t meet a nice woman who’s loving & nurturing?

  1. Do you realize that many of those things are experienced by men as well? I could give you numerous examples of how I choose to ignore or de-escalate throughout my day, each and every day. Now, true, my experiences in this area aren’t because I’m a woman, but should it matter? We all as humans have to do this, otherwise, we would all be at constant war with each other. Unfortunately. This is the problem I have with any kind of “ism” … the selecting out of a characteristic for heightened awareness, when we all, as human beings, experience many of the same things but for different reasons.

    1. I would be very interested in men writing about their experiences in this subject. I think the more we share about our experiences, the better off we’d all be. This was partly inspired by my own experiences. Particularly raising a teenage boy and teenage girl. The difference in their experiences at school with the opposite sex is staggering. STAGGERING.

      Of course men are victims of abuse and rape. And sexual harassment. And those things are just as important and worthy of attention. My experience has been that men are genuinely shocked and surprised when they do realize the scope of what women deal with. The online harassment women receive is staggering. The amount of women I know personally who have been sexually abused or raped or physically abused is staggering. It’s actually easier to point out the number of women who haven’t. Talking about this issue as it pertains to women does not negate what any man has experienced.

      1. I’ll try to write something in the next day or two and post the link here. But be forewarned, I’m not saying that all of my experiences or reasons for discomfort are the same as yours or what other women experience. What I’m saying is that we all have various reasons for not feeling safe, for being uncomfortable, for having to find ways to ignore and de-escalate.

        1. I agree that it’s valuable for the other side of the story. I’ve experienced things that could make that list also. Many people, both men and women have. On the other side, there are women who have hardly experienced these things, compared to others. Possibly insulated in one way or another. I think that Gretchen’s point seems to be that men for the most part, can’t understand the overwhelming disparity experienced by women, and at the hands of men.

          To miss this point, or to bring up another issue, even if it’s an important one, just seems to prove the point of the article.

          She’s not saying that there aren’t other facets to this, she’s just saying that if you’re a guy, don’t miss the main point. Especially for the sake of the women in your life.

          1. I agree with pretty much everything you said, been a small, skinny guy (I was 3rd shortest in my senior school when I was in my final year, so smaller than kids 4 years under me) so I am very familiar with the constantly de-escalation needed by the ‘weaker’ people in a situation, been a goth so an easy target probably didn’t help.

            The one thing I take objection too is your implication that women are inherently weaker than men. You only have to look at the UFC to know that isn’t always the case by any manner or means. Certainly I’ve had encounters, a few of them unpleasant with women who physically were far more imposing than me.

            I would strongly suggest Martial arts classes, it really helps for you to feel more comfortable that if that sort of situation ever did arise, you at least have an idea how to survive long enough to get help in that kind of scenario, it also helps you to realise that your agility is as powerful as weapon as strength. Don’t take a ‘do’ style (Karate, Judo, Aikido e.t.c.) they are just art forms, not actual combat styles. Learning a real combat style like jujitsu or a kung-fu style gives you a degree of confidence in your own abilities.

            I know it certainly helped me a large amount.

          2. Steven, I have fantasized for years and years about learning a fighting technique that would make me an untouchable bad ass. My husband teases me about it all the time because he knows if we’re watching a show or movie where someone is taking someone down I always say something about wanting to learn how to do that…(he teases because I’m so predictable and he knows what I’m going to say before I say it) I was searching for a Krav Maga class years ago but couldn’t find any near me at the time. I may look into it again at some point. Or one of the classes you suggest.

            Yes, there are women who are as strong or stronger than many men. Those women are pretty amazing. On average, most of us can be overpowered my a man. Due to size and the fact that men have more testosterone and muscle mass. On average, not always. I took a self defense class years ago, it came highly recommended. I would come home and practice the techniques on my husband. He could overpower me each time. It was very disheartening. Maybe I will find a class… and have my daughters learn it as well… thank you.

          3. I am disappointed, but not surprised to read your essay. In the 60s, the phrase
            “Men are pigs” became popular. While I consider that to be an insult to pigs, I get the point. I have to say that if I saw any of these things happening, I would hope I would have the courage to call the guy on it. My parents taught me to respect all people equally, no matter what their sex, race, religion, etc, and that has stuck with me through my entire life. I hope that one day, that attitude will become the norm, not the exception.
            Now…as for Martial Arts training. I disagree with the poster who dismissed Aikido as not being a combat form. Unlike many martial arts, it is not based on aggressive striking (although that is a part of it). Rather, it is focused on making it impossible for your attacker to touch you by redirecting their energy against them. When it works well, the attacker will move at you and reach out to grab you, then, find themselves on the ground with no idea how they got there. Now, I, for one, have practiced Taoist Tai Chi for a decade now. It is not so much a combat form, as it is focused more on exercise, building balance, and meditation that increases inner calmness. However, the moves I use are essentially identical to those of the combat form, and with a small change in focus, I can activate the combat aspects of it.
            Needless to say, much of the fighting we see on television is theatre, and has little to do with the reality of combat. However it can be close. When Steven Segal was Steven Segal, he used Tai Chi as a fighting style, and actually did a fairly decent job of keeping it real.
            One of the benefits of martial arts training is that it also changes ones spirit, and can remove nervousness and fear that is communicated to the predators. That, in and of itself can eliminate many problems. A strong spirit can add the clarity that causes the weaker spirits (such as the guys that invade your personal space) to leave you alone.
            Finally, I do want to point out that there are a lot of guys like me out there. We are sometimes clueless but we are aware that we can be pigs, and work as hard as we can to NOT behave poorly.

          4. Maybe I missed it, but I rarely see anything in feminist writing these days that says “for the most part” when discussing how men view and treat women. These pieces paint with an extremely broad brush and seem to suggest that it is impossible for any man to understand because they don’t experience it themselves. I completely reject that notion.

          5. I don’t know how this post is seen as bashing men. I was actually saying “how can we expect the good men in our lives to know if we don’t tell them what we’ve been through?” I have NEVER bashed men. EVER. In real life or in my writing. I have written posts about the unfair and destructive ideals we place on boys and men in our society. I advocate for boys and men as well. I have a son, a husband and had a younger brother. I want them to live in a world that treats them fairly and doesn’t expect them to be “tough” and “macho” and doesn’t shame them if they decide to be the Stay At Home Dad. And even when you mentioned writing about your experience? I asked you to please do so and link it here. I am genuinely interested in learning more about what it is like to be a man in our society, the things you come up against that I may not be aware of. What I’m doing here, in this post, is writing about what women, most women, experience. That’s it. Not bashing men. Not saying that men don’t have things they have to deal with. I can’t imagine reading a post that a man wrote about his experience and the things he’s gone through (even if those things are at the hands of women) and responding with defensiveness or dismissing it because I have things I’ve gone through too. That’s akin to reading a story about someone’s abuse and saying “but… but… I’ve been abused too, so you shouldn’t talk about yours” Honestly, that mentality baffles me. If we are reading and commenting are we not here to learn from each other and learn more so we can all try to understand each other better?

          6. Gretchen, I owe you an apology for a couple of things. First, I likely did exactly what you bemoaned always happens when you post on these issues in the outset of this post. I should have respected that and just keep my thoughts to myself, or just vented on my own blog. Second, for getting distracted by some things in your post that are to me like a red cape to a bull. There’s a piece of this post that seems like a litany of “men are horrible people” complaints. I got distracted by those and failed to give the full post my complete attention. As I read it a third and fourth time and finally focused on the final couple of paragraphs and read your responses to my comments, I realized what your objective was. Third, for going off without proper consideration of what I was saying and how you might take it.

            I didn’t intend to criticize you directly or personally. I didn’t intend to accuse you of bashing men.

            Instead, I responded to your post in the context of my own experiences and my own idealistic view of how I wish the world was. It was not defensiveness or dismissal, but instead an effort to suggest that we all have experiences that create many of the same reactions you described in your post in an effort to get to where I’d like to be. That we no longer talked about gender relations, racial relations, religion relations, but instead focused on human relations.

            I consider myself to be very liberal on the political spectrum in this country, but I have grown weary of the identity politics that both sides play and wish that we could step away from the never ending outrage and tension that grows out of those identity politics. We are human beings first, the rest should be irrelevant. So …

            My apologies. You are an incredibly intelligent and thoughtful individual with a lot of value to add to the discussion on the issues that bedevil us. For responding in a way that you felt didn’t fully respect your efforts here, that was my mistake.

            And, by the way, I may still offer a response to your post over on my blog and link to it here. I’m still kicking that around. Although much of what I would say has now been expressed through my series of comments here.

          7. I appreciate that. And to be honest, there are things I would like to add. I wish I would have made the point a little more clear: most men aren’t aware of this phenomenon because a. we don’t inform them and b. they are good guys who don’t grab women’s asses and don’t kiss women who have told them no. Most men don’t do these things I’m mentioning. But there are plenty who do. And sometimes? It’s a harmless guy who thinks he’s being funny or complimentary. I’m not trying to demonize anyone, just alert people to how it is received and why it’s received that way.

            I SO wish we could just focus on humans as a whole. I wish we didn’t need to discuss things in compartmentalized ways. With sexism, racism, any kind of “ism” there’re specific things that are being addressed. One day (because I’m optimistic) we will be there.

            I would still be interested to read your post. I’m sure there’s a dynamic of feeling like you have to tiptoe around women at times, that you don’t want to be seen as “that guy” and it probably sometimes seems like a minefield. I want to hear all the perspectives on this issue. Truly.

          8. I’m a hugger but I can’t hug most women at work because, you know. There are even some men at work I’ll give a hug too. And every time I do it I have to worry about whether they are really comfortable with it. Or how people who witness the hug feel about it. And these hugs have nothing to do with sex or attraction or anything else. In fact, the women I find physically attractive are likely to be the last ones to get a hug from me if at all. My hugs are about a way to show I care about the person. That this isn’t just about work. That we are all humans and a little hug here or there can go a long way to reminding us all of our humanity.

            I love little kids. They way they laugh, the way they smile. Their love of life and their simple joy at all of it. When little kids are nearby I’m a different person. And I always fear that if I give a little girl a hug or invite her to sit on my knee one of the people in the crowd will wonder if I’m one of those monsters. And here’s the deal. I oppose the death penalty with every fiber of my being but the one exception I might be willing to make is for child molesters

            But I can’t get away from the fear that being myself, being open and affectionate to the people in my life, will be viewed by somebody as inappropriate and offensive. I give my secretary a hug every Friday before we leave work for the weekend. Is that wrong? How could it be? To some, it is. So tiptoeing … You betcha.

          9. It suggests that if that is what you’re looking for. If you feel deprived of your own sense of “victimization” than you would see all kinds of things in what you are calling “feminist writings.” But the fact of the matter is, women, by virtue of the culture we live in, the rules that have trickled down through the centuries, and the fact that in most cases they are the physically smaller person in a confrontation with an average man means that it is in fact something that a woman will have to deal with, as described, more often than a man does. That’s simply the way it goes, and no amount of “well, me too” is going to change that. It certainly sheds no light on the problem.

            If one’s view of “feminist writings” is some kind of indictment, and they feel the need to crusade against such writings and positions every single time, perhaps they need to ask themselves why.

            I don’t see much difference between this attitude, and deciding that slavery in this country’s history had no racial component, because after all in some places, there were white slaves. (A positition which is sadly rather common among a lot of the same people who decide that somehow “humanist” is more appropriate than “feminist.”

            A person can start a blog, a movement, an organization dedicated to the protection of men who suffer from abuse, and in fact, many exist. But there is a big difference between advocated on behalf of a victim than happens to be male, and challenging the very notion that female victimization is not prominent, not ingrained into out social structure, and not “a thing.”

            The squeaky wheel gets the oil, as they say. When the problem is clearly more on one side of the fence than on the other, there is no amount of screaming that will make both sides even. Advocate where you think you powers are most useful, but I’m mighty tired of the notion of DEadvocating feminism because men hurt too.

          10. I neither claimed victimization for myself or men in general not indicted feminist writings except to the extent they rely on unrealistic generalizations that focus on differences that divide rather than argue for the reasons we should be together.

          11. I beg to differ Ty. Kingmidget is shedding light on “the problem” by saying all people are able to be perpetrators and all are able to be victims. Do you think the 13 year old boys being pushed into sexual acts by their female teachers feel any better about what has happened to them because “woman will have to deal with, as described, more often than a man does”? Of course not. It shouldn’t be happening to anyone no matter what boxes they fit into or labels they have. Implying it is more ok for it to happen to one group of people than another group of people for any reason at all is simply not good enough. That includes your comments about You just did to males exactly what the article tells males not to do to females. This culture of “men aren’t allowed to speak about their issues ever” and “men are monsters (or pigs)” leads to another problem. Unsurprisingly it one of the reasons many men find it so difficult to share their emotions with anyone, and why suicide rates amongst male age groups are generally significantly higher than those amongst female age groups in many countries. As much as society likes to tell men they are all emotionless robots (or worse, monsters) men actually have emotions, feelings, and mental health issues too and tarring them all with the same brush as one person “sheds no light on the problem” as you say. It just creates another.

            I haven’t yet seen Kingmidget minimise what any woman feels the way you just did to men Ty. Nor have I seen the part where he apparently said or implyed that female victimisation is not prominant. He is simply sharing a males perspective on similar issues faced by men (something the author of the post asked for). He never claimed anything about frequency or severity. He marely implied men are as human as women, for better or worse.

          12. You just confirm my point, Drew. I detected about four things you created out of whole cloth about the points I and the OP made, and that’s when I stopped counting. You’re not reading, your responding. To what, I’m not sure.

          13. @ Kingmidget…this shows how ignorant you are about women ;o)
            In women language, when they say “always”, “all the time”, “never” it’s a way to express a serious discomfort or sadness or frustration…
            Didn’t you know that ?

            And of course here come the guy with his rhetoric.
            Of course WE know it’s not “always”, or “systematic”
            This matter is actually the reason for a lot of couple disputes and arguments…

            Example: woman “You never do the dishes !!”
            man: ” Yes, I do, I did them last Friday, and the week before, on Tuesday !”

            But that equals a “never” for a woman…

            Do you get it :o)) ?

            ps: but just fyi, I get “systematic” unwanted attention when I’m back home in Paris…and it’s not exaggerated :o)

          14. Every time a woman starts to tell her story, I hear a man say “but men___.”

            Stop trying to change the conversation.

            Instead, *listen* to what women are saying. We’re not saying that all men or bad or that men don’t experience this thing or that thing or the other thing. We’re talking about what we experience as women.

            There’s room to talk about what men experience, too. Plenty of room. But disrupting an ongoing conversation to do it is not the way.

          15. I think one reason that men tend to assume women are saying that all men are horrible is because in describing their emotions when walking alone at night, being greeted by a man in a parking lot, speaking to your boss ,or even being approached by a man for romantic reasons, women always seem to be expecting the worst of men.

            De-escalating situations with men reflexively for fear of being beaten, raped, or fired kind of sounds like you reflexively assume that all men you deal with are monsters just waiting for an excuse to abuse you in one of these ways. This is particularly infuriating for men who, though maybe not incredibly well informed about women’s issues, do their level best to be respectful to women and walk on pins and needles when they are speaking with women for fear of coming off as a “creep” or “pig”.

            I am not saying any of this to belittle anything you said in this piece. Just trying to offer perspective. It’s just that, for some of us men, it’s hard not to get a little insulted when we hear that the immediate response most women have to us is one of fear, especially when the last thing we would ever want is to do something monstrous. Often when men express offense to pieces written by women that are similar to this one, we are asked to examine why we are offended. I have, and this is why. Maybe this has been said a million times before and I’m just another asshole with a shitty opinion, but this is how I feel. I apologize if that’s the case.

          16. I agree Nathan. Very rearly do I hear “that man” or “he” or any other singular word in these situations. Very often I hear “men”. “Men” means all men. Credit to this authour for pointing out that she doesn’t mean all men. Unfortunately, most of the time men see womans rights advocacy the also see deamonising generalistions about all men. Is it any wonder some men stop listening? If you mean some or most than say some or most. They only take one sylable or four letters but over time it will make a huge difference to the effectiveness of the advocacy. I know many men who stop listening immediately after a generalisation about a race or gender or age has been made.

            I have never commented on a post like this before today because, like i just read, “There’s room to talk about what men experience, too. Plenty of room. But disrupting an ongoing conversation to do it is not the way.”

            However, the author has specifically said she is interested in hearing male perspectives too. Her blog = her rules.

            With that said I also agree with what Kingmidget is saying from personal experience. I have to be careful about what movies I see at the cinema when I have no one else to go with eg. I heard Frozen was good, I grew up watching and loving Disney movies, I plucked up the courage to go alone because everyone I knew had already seen it, the only showing left happened to be a “mothers and bubs”. Sadly my immediate thought was of how many of those mothers would think i’m a predator for watching a movie. So of course I didn’t do something innocent and fun because of that. Like King says, I can’t hug people, I can’t complement people, and I can’t touch people without the fear it will be taken the wrong way. I’ve been bombarded with the message that the only negative emotion i’m allowed to show is anger because men get angry and women cry. Every time I do everyone’s dishes in the staff kitchen, without fail, I am told “you’ll make someone a good wife one day” (There is only one other male in the office and it isn’t him saying that). I’ve had complete strangers come right up to me with the sole purpose of groping and jiggling their breasts in front of me just because I’m in a bar/club having a drink with a couple of mates. Even now i’m thinking “how many people will assume i’m gay because of what i’m typing” – i’m not, I did however grow up with sisters who had a big influence on my life, my world view, and my interests. Because of the prevaling societal view I have to either justify or hide my enjoyment in certian completely innocent movies, songs, and other interests. It’s not just the men who make it that way, nor is it just the woman. For me though, the saddest part of it all is that I can’t do my job properly because I’m litterally not allowed to be alone with a female client at any time for the sole reason that I am male and males sometimes abuse females. When will everybody understand that people abuse people regardless of gender. In my opinion, the fact that there are more female victims than male victims says two things. 1. Many men don’t speak up about their abuse. I have to add here that even if every man did the may still be more female victims of abuse although this is not yet my experience as someone who works with abused and neglected people on a daily basis. 2. (and pehaps more universally correct) the culture of our society sets men up to be disrespectful and abusive by promoting the notion that violence, sexualised behaviours, arrogance, and anger are all male attributes and respect, sadness, innocent displays of affection, love, and self control are all female attributes that men could either never display genuinely or should be ostracised or minimised for doing so.

            I’m not saying women have life easy or never experience any of these things. I just need to say, in this one post that men have been given permission to express their own experiences without being lablled as “mansplainers”, or “anti-feminist” for sharing issues they face as so many women have done on the post, that men aren’t pigs or mosters or emotionless robots. Men don’t have perfect lives where everyone loves them and they can get away with doing anything and everything. Some men might. Some women might also. But to suggest that men have nothing legitimate to feel upset about is just as wrong as dismissing woman’s rights issues.

            Thank you Gretchen Kelly for showing a legitimate interest in hearing about the issues both women and men face on a far too frequent basis. For some men who found themselves reading this I can guaruntee you would be, if not the first person, within the first five people to do so.

      2. I may or may not follow through on my commitment to write a responsive post with my story. I’ve read your post more closely and there are differences in your experience as a woman (and those of many other women, of course) than my own as a man. What I initially responded to was some portions of your post that describe a set of fears and reactions you have to your experiences as a woman that are very similar to my own fears and reactions to things that have happened over the course of my life. Just to give you an example, I have never slept soundly. When I think about it, I wonder sometimes if it relates to back to some childhood experiences. First, we lived across the street from houses that backed up to a field. Every summer, the field went up in flames and to this day I have vivid memories of the flames reaching into the night sky right behind those houses that were right across the street. I was terrified of fire and terrified of fire destroying our house while we slept and the resulting race to escape that would be necessary. Second, at some point in my childhood, our neighborhood was in the epicenter of a part of town that was victimized over a period of several years by the East Area Rapist. There was a lot of fear in the late 1970’s in my neighborhood as a result. Those crimes were never solved. He attacked over 50 women. Again, maybe it’s not related. There certainly could be physical issues or other reasons for my sleep difficulties. But I know this. I rarely go to bed at night without the dual fears of a fire or an intruder inserting themselves into my mind and I regularly wake up in the middle of the night convinced that somebody is there. In the shadows lurking around the doorway to my bedroom, or quietly approaching up the stairs.

        Yes, this has nothing to do with my gender or race or some other special characteristic that applies to me but not to all human beings. But that is my point, while I may not be a woman or an African-American, I have had experiences that lead me to many of the same fears and concerns women have.

        I could tell you about the time I was sexually harassed at work by a woman almost twice my age and which led to me changing jobs so I didn’t have to deal with her. I never complained to a supervisor, it was easier to just move on. I could tell you about the time just a couple of months ago during a period of heightened concern about crime in our neighborhood when I went for a late afternoon run mere blocks from my house and several teenage males rode their bikes by me and the one in front looked at me in a way that had me convinced that if I turned down the wrong street, I likely would have been victimized by he and his friends. I could tell you about the last three times I’ve been pulled over by a cop it’s been because of their mistakes and not because of anything I’ve done and that one of those times was because the cop was having a bad day and I chose to cross him on the wrong day. And how did I cross him on the wrong day? By passing him because he was driving too slow, I glanced at him as I passed him (he was in a civilian car, not a marked car), and then stopped at a stop light and turned right in compliance with the law. He wanted to give me a ticket for reckless driving. But he basically was mad at me for something that apparently had already happened to him because he was having a bad day. I could tell you about how because of that incident I will never again feel comfortable with a cop car behind me. I could tell you about how I work across the street from a State Capitol Building and have believed for the last 15 years, ever since 9/11, there is more than a remote chance the terrorist idiots may choose to mix things up and strike at smaller yet still significant targets than New York City and Washington, D.C. I could tell you that there are many homeless in the area where I work and how when I walk to my car at the end of the day I am hyper vigilant to my surroundings because you never know who might be lurking. I could tell you that I rarely attend public events where there are crowds when I don’t wonder about an attack either from a terrorist or from a mass shooter. There are times when I can feel the bullet enter my brain while I sit in the dark in a crowded theater.

        I could tell you about so many experiences at work where I have had to de-escalate and ignore to defuse situations rather than standing up for what is right or defending my interests and beliefs. I could tell you about the number of road rage incidents I have done everything I could to remove myself from without taking the other path and create a calamity for myself, my family, or others on the road. One of them actually happened today and involved a neighbor who I don’t think realized I was the driver of the other car — a female neighbor by the way.

        I could tell you all of those things, but I wonder if it will make a difference because I don’t experience those things as a woman. I am not “targeted” as a woman or a member of a minority group. No, actually, I am a part of the problem. I am the problem. Because I am a white male. It is impossible for me to understand what it feels to walk delicately in this world and ignore the slings and arrows that are thrown up constantly. Even though I find myself taking that walk and trying to ignore those things on a virtually daily basis. It is, unfortunately, a function of living in the world we live in.

        Maybe I don’t experience racism and sexism directed at me on the daily basis many women and minorities may experience. But living in the world I grew up in in the latter part of the 20th century and the first part of the 21st century, I have experienced enough myself and heard the stories told by those who have suffered far worse. I truly do understand and I resent the notion that I can’t possibly understand because I am a man and because I haven’t walked in a woman’s shoes. I so wish that just as the people who victimize women and minorities do so based on generalizations built largely upon fear, ignorance, and disrespect, that those who are victimized would stop making the same kind of generalizations in return.

        1. The original post isn’t saying that women are the only ones who go through this world with fear, or having to de-escalate situations. The point is that in addition to all the fears and situations you’ve described, women have this other set of fears that they get ON TOP of those.

          If I can use the example of your experience of your neighbourhood being “victimized over a period of several years by the East Area Rapist.” Very scary! I’m sure you were worried for your mother’s safety, your sister, your female friends. That worry is real. A woman in the same situation would also worry about her mother, sister, friends… and also herself, and how she might defend herself, and whether she should go out at a certain time of the evening, and whether she should have a drink tonight and walk home or be sober and drive so she doesn’t have to go down that alley, and if she wears this outfit and god-forbid she WERE attacked would people say she’s asking for it?

          None of this is to say you weren’t worried or that you felt safe at that time. But women have an extra layer of concern in that situation that you are free from.

          1. The suggestion that as a child, or as an adult, I wouldn’t also feel victimized personally by somebody breaking into my home to assault an occupant whether it is me or somebody else is just stunning to me. Yes, it is victimization of a different sort and degree but that you barely recognize it …

            The other problem is with the endless and seemingly universal notions expressed here and elsewhere. All women experience this and no men understand. No, that wasn’t the intent? Go back to the title and tell me that isn’t a legitimate reading of the title.

            Here’s the deal, I have no interest in minimizing or disrespecting Gretchen’s thoughtful post. As I acknowledge in other comments I failed in a number of ways in my initial response to it. I also have no interest in minimizing the concerns and feelings of women who have been treated poorly and worse. But I will also battle against unrealistic generalizations that I believe do more to divide than to unite.

          2. @ Kingmidget: it is a fact, universally acknowledged that women are far more victims of men that the opposite. In general- based on stats.
            Example: In France in 1 year something like 92 % of sexual victims were women.
            96 or 97 % or perpetrators were men.

            As a woman, I have never been harassed sexually by another woman.
            I know women do it to men, but it’s a minority.

            It should not be ignored, and I am quite sure most women are sympathetic whereas I heard MEN say that those guys being harassed were actually weak, were pussies (using the female sex as an insult…) were faggots etc…
            Who is unfair here ??

            Now just to make things clear: CHILDREN are even more victims to what adults can do to them. They are bullied , they get raped, exploited whatever horrors you can imagine is done to them.
            OK ? (just to add: little girls are statistically more at risk than little boys…that’s how it is !)

            So what’s your point ??

            We can go on, black, asian or oriental women are more at risk , more harassed than white women. It’s a fact.

            Here the subject is: what do women feel, experience, what they have to go through, and how they are discredited by …mostly…men (I’m careful, not saying all…because it’s not true indeed)

            It’s a bad habit when someone is expressing something that others need to discredit it by saying it’s not all true and giving irrelevant examples.

            I am really sorry about my tone, I don’t like doing this, but it’s annoying.
            It’s almost childish.

          3. If you’re referring to your tone as annoying and childish, you would be correct. Nothing I have said was an effort to discredit anything that Gretchen said. Nothing. But, it’s pretty clear from your response and your tone that nothing I can say will persuade you of that so I’m not going to bother.

    2. I agree. We all, as human beings, experience confrontations and we all deescalate the majority of the time . Yes, many of these confrontations are based on gender, race, religion, etc. , but it is part of being a social creature. I’m not saying that we should not listen or react to the concerns raised on this article , but it should be mentioned that no one single group of people do not experience these types of issues. We all do , and as humans we decide when we should take a stand and when we feel it’s better not to because if we all stood up and confronted every issue that didn’t sit well with us then we would all be standing and staring at each other. We all have been victims and we all have been abusers in some form or another. Instead of self pity or self righteousness maybe it’s time for self reflection. Change how you treat others first.

    3. @Kingmidget: Only one guy I know (and I have lots of buddies) has experienced unwanted sexual attention in the metro in Paris…Even with this experience he hasn’t made the link with what women experience.

      There was a recent video in the US, on CCTV, of 2 women rubbing their butt on a guy in a 7/11 or so.
      That is so rare that it’s on the news !!!

  2. It really is amazing to think about how in general we are told to just ignore it. It is the standard response to being bullied to just ignore it. At the same time we never discuss the times you shouldn’t ignore it.

    Also going to an all girls college, that was in a consortium with other colleges, part of the safety precaution was giving every girl a whistle so that she could get the campus security attention if needed. I know guys who felt uncomfortable because there seemed to be extra security on campus who paid particular attention to any guy lingering around. The school itself felt that these precautions were necessary to protect the students.

    1. We had a similar thing in college. There were these blue lights all over campus. If you felt in danger you could call and security would come help. And some of the organizations had male students volunteer to be available if you needed someone to walk with you after dark.

      And I think there have been many times that I’ve been told to ignore it, it’s not a big deal, but I also think I have just adopted some of the “just move on” attitude all on my own. I didn’t even realize I was doing that. I was unaware of just how often I was doing it. It was kind of surprising when I realized it…

  3. I agree 100% with you. It’s that silent anxiety that we just shrug off because we have lives to lead. We must however remember that some men have also been assaulted, raped or abused. I hate that the world is like this.

    1. Me too, Sarina. And I hate that when men (or boys) are assaulted or abused that it is brushed off as no big deal.

      I like the way you put it: “silent anxiety.” That’s the perfect way to describe it. Thank you.

  4. “Play along to get along”. -Story of my career.

    I’ve worked in kitchens and the restaurant industry since my very first job. This behavior runs rampant. It is also “common sense” that we can all talk to each other in such a way., while at work. It keeps things light. But then again, I’m talking about TALK.
    When I was younger I was certainly approached in the ways you wrote about. Now that I’m older and wiser, I stay away from situations like that…even at work.
    I can see both sides of this.
    It triggers some women. And I also understand how destructive it can be to some people/personalities.
    This piece is so relevant to our young girls. As a mom, it’s my priority to never make my daughter feel inferior. Even in the midst of her social complacency.
    Every decade we see much improvements. So, that shows that our teachings and lessons are sinking into our future generations’ heads. – Jain

    1. Sigh… I think the service/restaurant industry is especially bad. At least in my experience. There’s the camaraderie and playfulness that makes the job fun, but then there are the times it crosses the line. And the customers. They can be the worst offenders. There seems to be a mentality with some that just because you’re serving them you should be “serving” them. If I could go back I would handle it all differently. But at the time I needed the job and couldn’t afford to lose it.

      And you’re right, in regards to the relevance to our young girls. I know I have become more passionate about these things since having daughters. And having a high school boy and middle school girl? The differences in their experiences are really shocking.

      1. Much much different between the sexes. I agree completely. We certainly ARE groomed to accept things that we can’t change…or that we believe we can’t change.
        It’s dangerous for both sexes.

      2. I’ve worked in that industry. It’s very sexist indeed. Guys in the kitchen !!!! We are just meat…like what they cook.

  5. You really nailed this, Gretchen. I wish I would have had this to pass on to those who questioned my attitude or toughness in my late 20’s when I decided to put an end to my own, seemingly innate, practice of de-escalation. Very relevant piece and very well written!

      1. I wish I would have put an end to it, or even realized it, in my 20’s. Sadly, I’m just now getting there. And yeah, when we do decide to stop “playing along” and say something it probably comes across as as abrupt or bitchy. I’m sure to some it seems like it’s coming out of nowhere. But good for you, you always were a “take no shit” kind of person 🙂

  6. STANDING OVATION. Well done, SW. This gave me the big chills. What stands out to me and has the biggest consequences in my life, is constant vulnerability or fear of safety. Half the things my husband does without even thinking are things I feel forced to either not do at all, or do with precaution. I’m jealous of that!

    I also offing HATE when my opinion/advice/whatever is devalued over a man’s. Grrrrr

    And yes, I have had to explain some of these things to my husband, who, through no fault of his own, was unaware simply because he has never experienced being a woman (that I’m aware of hahahaha).

    1. Yes! My husband goes jogging at night sometimes. I would never do that alone. There are so many things he can go and do without thinking twice about being vulnerable. And he worries about some of those things with me. If I’m running out to do last minute Christmas shopping at night he worries. I think what he was probably unaware of is how often I feel vulnerable when it’s the middle of the day, just doing my normal stuff. Hell, when Mandi was picking me up at the airport some guy said something to me and I had to pretend to be on my phone so he would leave me alone. I forgot all about it until I was writing this!

      1. I pretend to be on my phone whenever I’m alone at night but especially when I think there’s any possibility of someone watching me. I’m awesome at faking half a phone call. 😉

        1. Make sure you also look alert as well! Ive heard some victims are chosen because they do not seem aware of their surroundings and so they are easier to over power.

          1. Been doing that for the past 20 years. I also watch my shadow so as I don’t look paranoid, but I am keeping track. I’m old, and have been a woman for maanny years. Got piles of tricks.

  7. It was interesting, my reaction, when I got to “It’s positioning our keys between our fingers in case we need a weapon when walking to our car.” I do that all the time. I believe there are aspects of what you describe that are experienced by humans in general – but I don’t think men “get” the women’s version – and to be fair, we don’t understand theirs. We may walk down the street in fear, but we fear different things. You touched a lot on what I was trying to write about way back when we talked about it. 🙂 Excellent post.

    1. On a complete tangent — what -is- it with the whole “keys between our fingers” thing? If I really wanted to hurt somebody, keys between their fingers would be worthless. It’d just piss me off. If you’re that concerned about your safety, don’t carry keys, or pepper spray. Carry a nice folding knife with a spring-assisted blade.

      These sorts of things are why I think women should take self-defense courses. There are so many misconceptions about what will keep them safe, not the least of which is that you need to be armed against faceless strangers, when the majority of assaults come from people you know. Your weapon may not always be near you, so if you feel afraid, become a weapon. I’d love it if the abusive jerks would disappear overnight, but as that’s unlikely to happen anytime soon, martial arts training is a good thing to engage in while we wait for education to take effect.

      Changing viewpoints is generational; learning to kick ass deals with the present reality.

    1. Sigh… frustrated tears. I had a few writing this. Especially thinking about my daughter. The stuff she’s already experiencing. She had a moment on the bus where she had to sit next to a boy who kind of scares her. He’s the violent type. He kept talking to her and asking questions and was being very pushy with her. She came home upset and wasn’t even sure why. After talking to me about it, she realized it was because she “played nice” even though she didn’t like the things he was saying (none of it sexual). And that could have just as easily been a boy sitting there feeling what she was feeling. But after she told me all of this I started thinking about all the times I had a similar experience. And damn… Yeah. Frustrated tears.

  8. Wish the “Like” button here was an “Applaud” button. Seems wrong to just like this, when it’s not something to be liked, but understood.

    I have three daughters. I will encourage them to keep saying this stuff until they don’t need to say it anymore.

    1. Thank you Damian! Yes, our daughters will probably be the ones to change things. This generation is pretty remarkable and I’ve been so impressed with the young people I see fighting back against things they see that are injustices. My older daughter is the main reason I write about these things. Witnessing things she’s experiencing already that I can relate to has been eye opening.

    1. Phil, I have no idea what you’re talking about. I have never done that. 🙂 Kidding, of course. You know, it’s actually an interesting question. I think there are so many reasons a lot of women do that, and they can be quiet different and personal. It’s something I’ve personally been working on. But I do wonder if this plays a role in it.

  9. Great post Gretchen. I am always glad to be reminded of how much I have the luxury to take for granted. It is rare that I’m made to feel intimidated. I’m not sure if I’ve ever felt that way for any of the reasons you’ve cited.

    It is really important to have this perspective heard. I was brought up to respect women and my father has always been a good example to follow. However, it isn’t as simple as that. It is important to try to understand the issue. A man needs to think about it humbly, and realize that despite his own best efforts, he’s probably crossed these lines in one way or another along the way.

    Great comments about the service industry, too. I believe the intention behind most of the banter I saw and participated in with fellow employees was meant in good fun. On reflection, I believe that there were those that were minimizing and were hurt by this banter. I also suspect there were situations I could have influenced in a better way, to which I was blind.

    1. You know, the only thing I liked about all the years I waited tables was the banter and the camaraderie. I never took offense to the jokes or playfulness. Of course, I’m a huge fan of inappropriate humor, so… the only times I was offended or upset were the times when I was touched inappropriately or spoken to as if I was a child. Some of those things were experienced by the male waiters too (rude customers who talk down to waiters, etc) but the touching was mostly experienced by the females. And my boss kissing me? That changed the dynamic at work for me, for sure. I never really felt comfortable at that job after that happened.

      Most of the men I know or come across are very respectful, good guys. And I kind of wrote this for them. The guys who don’t say suggestive or disrespectful things to women they don’t even know. It’s the majority of men, the nice guys, who probably have no idea how often these things happen. I so appreciate that you “get it” and understand what I was trying to say here.

  10. *slow clap*

    I do SO love your thought process and your determination that we all take responsibility for changing the world.

    My initial thoughts were that most of this only applies to attractive women/girls, because certainly my experience of growing up (unattractively) was that I was pretty much overlooked. Well, by everyone, but anyway. Then I thought about how the abuse is probably more a power thing than anything else, and I did experience LOTS of bullying for the opposite reasons – because I *wasn’t* attractive enough. Though again, that came from both sexes so I’m still not sure the point stands.

    The incident I would most need to report at work (IF I spoke out) was the time my ass was grabbed after a barrage of inappropriate comments. By a patient – an old, crazy grandmother.

    The times that cheeky old men make comments, I let slide because I figure they’re just set in their ways and it’s easier and simpler to give them a terse smile and refocus on the appointment – there’s not enough time in the schedule for a combat over appropriateness, just because some old geezer said he’d thought about asking me to sit in his lap while I took his ancient mother’s retinal photographs.

    Adunno. I think as with anything, you have to pick your battles.

    1. I completely agree with picking your battles. I was just telling my daughter that when she was talking about the sexist and offensive things she hears boys at school saying.

      I am wondering, though. It seems women get comments if they’re attractive because *some* guys think they owe them a date or a smile, etc. And I have known women who have gotten their fair share of remarks for being overweight and wearing a bathing suit or a tight fitting outfit. Remarks you don’t hear overweight men getting. It seems like even if it’s not in the form of a sexual come-on, women get assessed and graded based on their looks more than men. Of course, that’s a whole topic and a whole other post on it’s own.

      The childhood bullying is despicable. I wish I could go back in time and be there with you, holding your hand and telling those little shits to f*ck off.

      1. Bless your boots, G. I bet you would have, as well!

        Yeah, okay, so in the negative ways, women are also subjected to more judgement than men. That’s true enough, but I think that often we do THAT to ourselves, or each other, perhaps more than men do. I wonder whether it all hearkens back to the same thing though – of trying to be ‘enougher’ than the others, so that we appear most attractive, so that we end up propagating the species. We have a lot of heritage to override with critical thinking, I reckon.

  11. The thing that I don’t think most men do understand is that our very existence is treated as novel. As Irconsiderer above said about being asked to sit in a man’s lap, it’s like many men believe that the insinuation of “Hey, you’re a woman, I’m a man, we should be doing something sexual” is a. appropriate, b. funny, c. new, d. welcomed (even when they’re told to knock it off). And if we don’t “Take a joke,” somehow we’re the ones with no sense of humor. And we’re the ones who are causing a problem. And we’re the ones who should go along to get along, because “why is that so wrong(and yet, no one wants to hear the answer)?” And I can’t believe that I always have to say it (but we know that I do), but no, it’s not all men. However, the general culture says “Hey ladies, get with the jokes, your existence is sexual and you’re not to be taken seriously. . .I mean, you’re not a *man,* right?” Maybe not all say it, but enough do that we hear it everywhere. And men *don’t* usually understand that as the OP says, this behavior starts when we’re children. I was 12 the first time I was touched sexually in public by a male stranger who not only made no attempt to hide the fact that he was touching me (right out in the open), but who gave me a look which clearly said “We both know that you want this.” And somehow if I speak out and say “That was wrong!” people respond with “Yeah, there’s something wrong with you.” No. No, there isn’t. There was something wrong with him. He made me (a child) think that I had done something to ask for that behavior and I puzzled about what it was for weeks afterwards, so that I knew never to do it again (because, surprise, I didn’t understand what sexuality was, or how it could be fun–because I was a child and never should have had to worry). But I think we can all agree that no, it wasn’t my fault. It’s never a child’s fault when an adult abuses them. But the trouble is, that while there have yes, been times in the subsequent 30 years that yeah, I was flirting with men near me, it’s been rare that I’ve been in situations with straight men where they believed that flirting with(or sexually harassing) me wasn’t appropriate, natural, and even their right(again, even when told to stop). It’s hard sometimes not to see it as one long arc over the course of my life. And again, when I talk about this, people (usually men) say things like “Oh, well, you must have a terrible life with all this abuse.” No. No, my life is pretty typical and standard for a professional woman. I get up, go to work, care for my household and family, do my job, go on with my life, come home, etc etc. And, when your objections to simple things like flirting or sexual innuendo are ignored with the frequency that ours are, when you’re flat out told “I don’t care what kind of interaction you think we should have, this is the interaction *I* want,” it’s extremely hard not to be concerned about what else that might mean down the road. If a man ignores your objection to being teased, if he crosses a line that you drew for him at that level, what confidence do you have that he will stop there? Will he stop with teasing? Will he escalate that to touching? Will he stop there? What happens if there’s no one around? Will he grab me and take me somewhere where no one will find us? Would that man in the mall have done that to 12 year old me? There’s no way to know. But it sure informed me at an age well before I had any idea of what was going on what I could expect from many of the men in my sphere. That my mere existence was going to be enough to “cause them” to leer at me, touch me without consent, and treat me as juuuust a little bit less than they. Again, maybe not all men say, do, or treat women this way, but enough do that we hear it just about everywhere. Enough do that we have to carefully evaluate whether or not each man is going to behave that way. And enough do that we’re surprised when you’re not one who does.

    1. Everything about your comment… so spot on. And maybe that’s one of the biggest factors that most men, hell, most people aren’t aware of. So many of us were touched inappropriately or sexually abused at a young age. The numbers are staggering and they’re not even fully represented. Any woman can poll her closest friends and find that at least half if not more have been victims. A man can poll his closest friends and find that most of them have not. And yes, I have to say that it is just as appalling and tragic when abuse happens to a boy. I hate that I HAVE to say that just because I’m referencing the issue as it pertains to women. But the fact is, it happens way more often to girls. And it puts us on guard with men we don’t know. The bottom line is, there is this epidemic in our society of rampant sexual abuse and rape. And no one tells, no one talks about it. And we keep these secrets and it colors our interactions with men. And because we don’t talk about it, they don’t realize that a comment from a stranger on the street is scary. They think we’re overreacting. That’s why I wrote this. To open their eyes to WHY we make a big deal out of these things. I feel like people are starting to talk about what they’ve been through. People are trying to take the shame away from the subject. I’ve written about it a few times as well, just not on this blog.

      I can’t thank you enough for your comment. I wish I could incorporate it into my already too long blog post…

  12. This makes me emotional for many different reasons but mostly because it mirrors my sentiments but I truly feel that even in these eloquently constructed sentences that they fall on deaf ears for most men. How are we to make a change when no one listens.

    1. We keep trying. We keep rephrasing it and saying it in different ways.

      I do think that most men want to understand. Most men want to know why their girlfriends or wives say and do some of the things we say and do. And they want to protect their daughters from it.

      There’s a learning curve because so many of us are just beginning to talk about it.

      Yes, it’s frustrating when a guy dismisses this type of stuff. Or derails the conversation or tries to say “not all men!” when I don’t hear anyone accusing “all” men. It’s frustrating but we keep trying and we don’t shut up. Even when we’re dismissed, even when we’re told we’re overreacting, even when we’re being called “bitchy.” I love men, I love the men in my life fiercely and maybe one day my son will marry a woman who doesn’t have to explain it to him. That’s my hope.

    2. Sarah, If it makes you feel just a little better, there must be many other men like me who are reading this, taking it in, and thinking, without feeling the need to weigh in or rebut in some way. I just spent two hours reading this sometimes sad and sometimes thoughtful and enlightening exchange.

  13. I’ve been so far removed from reading everyone lately, but I’m so glad I saw this. It is so important to find ways to be comfortable speaking up. But part of that comfort is in knowing that we’ll be heard – and that’s a huge thing, as you’ve addressed here.

  14. Now, this is a great post. Made me think of that horrible horrible math teacher who thought that touching me in front of the class was fine, or the gym teacher who told us girls that if we want to wear shorts we should think about shaving… Grr
    And so much more, creepy stalkers and whatnot.

  15. Excellent, important work, Gretchen. You’re so right about all of it. I still can’t get over the amount of men my father’s age who showed me blatant attraction when I was 12 or 13, like it was the most normal thing in the world. And yeah, I began to think of it as “normal” too.

  16. I just recently realized how frequently things like this happen to me, and how normal it has been up until now. I started telling an older woman about some of these things that men have done to me, and suddenly realized how wrong it all was. It is pretty cool to find this post right now, while I’m just pondering how not to allow this any more. However, a lot of men are super subtle about things like this, and it’s hard to stand up for myself in situations where a man can quickly deny any flirting happened at all. (“I was just telling you a story about my aggressive secretary and how much I like aggressive women… and winking at you a little… what’s wrong with that?”) Anyway, it feels good (in a sad way) to have company. If we all speak up against this, maybe we can change the world. 🙂

  17. As a man, the thing that pisses me off about reading this (beyond the situation itself), is knowing that when we’re told at least 50% of the population is suffering from PTSD amplified by their daily experience with us, most men are going to want to chime in with their version or analysis of how on or off point the perspective may be. For F*$k sake, can’t we let a woman have her say? For one fricking time. Just once? Here’s a hint: this is not about how YOU feel.

    1. Thank you. I swear, it’s piling frustration on top of frustration when we’re trying to talk about what bothers us and then we have to divert energy to “proving” to men that it happens or to comforting men for their problems. Yes, we understand that men have problems. No one’s questioning it. At all. But when a man is not our direct family member (as most men are not), it’s not hard to become resentful when he insists that we prioritize his story over ours. It’s like if you and I are in a relationship and we live together and we both get the flu, we should care for one another to the best of our abilities. Same with our stories. We listen to one another, care for one another, and both of us feels heard and taken care of. If one of us is “sicker” than the other, the “less sick” at the moment should take care of the “sicker.” However, if I’m sick and you’re sick, it becomes incredibly exhausting for me to constantly be taking care of you when no reciprocation or concern for my health is forthcoming. I can’t feel better if I have to attend to you nonstop. And this goes double for someone I don’t even know. If I’m feeling bad, let me vent. Let me talk about how and why without challenging me or my feelings. And then, I’ll be happy to do the same for you, providing that you listened kindly and “took care” of my story, I’ll happily take care of yours. But a lot of men don’t do this. They jump on a stranger’s story as if it were attacking them personally and berate the teller. “That’s not me,” they say. “Why don’t you say ‘not all men?'” Welp, now I sure feel like you’re not one of those guys, thanks. /s 😉

  18. You’re right, Gretchen. In my case, I’m unaware and have never seen a man treat a woman like this. The only place I hear about it is online, whether it’s blog posts like this or videos posted on YouTube. Frankly, it’s unacceptable.

    Keep on talking about this until, maybe one day, you won’t have to any more.

  19. Terrific post, thanks! Perhaps one thing is missing from it(?) Douglass said best: “Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did, and it never will.” ~Fredrick Douglass. In a future post I hope you’ll write more about that demand. One that comes to mind is to create a new social meme [may not be the correct term] that can be used IN THE MOMENT to shame the abuser. E.g., “STOP <insert bad behavior here" shouted very loudly 3 times in a row, for example: "STOP touching me, STOP touching me, STOP touching me". In early useage, it might lead to some unfair job losses, but after it became widely known it might well change the behaviors your post focuses on around the world(?) Of course it would never be useful in the parking lot example you gave, but imagine the impact it would have in an office setting or new age bar! And, just as they learn table manners, and where the knives, forks and spoons go, kids could be taught this technique in school, so it would eventally permeate all of society. Is this feasible?

  20. We all have to agree that there is a group of women out there who respond to inappropriate sexual harassment in the workplace, in an effort to put themselves in a position of favour, and thus help to perpetuate the workplace aspect of unwanted advances. I’ve seen this happen, and it disgusts me, and in fact may have contributed to the same person making unwanted advances toward me thereafter.

  21. it remains a “man’s world” — brawn over brains — fueled by testosterone and evolutionarily determined survival mechanisms — Mind renders this no longer necessary — we continue to be psychologically immature

  22. I shared this on my FB page with the following comment: This is a blog post that every man should read. In just a few words the misconceptions that lie in many a male brain are dismantled and clarified. For the men who have daughters (and sons, for that matter) it is especially important to read this. Please share to all of your friends and ask them to also share to their friends.

  23. Women must also be educated that this is an issue. Many are unaware of it themselves because it is such an everyday thing. We must be aware of it AND start dealing with it directly.

    In addition, many times women make the problem worse when they are the ones putting another woman down because of ‘that too tight’ dress. Women are the ones making those remarks. Whether it is out of jealousy or just agree with the men in the group, it feeds into problem.

    I know for myself, as I get older, I will say something. I will not let remarks or attitudes just slide by. And I will definitely tell a man if his behavior is inappropriate and tell them to stop. I have never had an adverse reaction to my standing up for my personal space. Ever. But I have when I let it go on.

    There is no need to be nasty about it. Just a firm response.

    So it is more than just ‘educating’ the men in your life. Women need to be educated in order for the culture to change. Stand up for yourself. Exert confidence and know who you are.

  24. I have learned to dance. The approaches started when I was 9. The molestations started shortly after. I had no affection from humans in my life at that time only neglect and abuse and I wanted affection so I became sexual. I did not want sex with grown men but I was desperate for attention and affection.

    It has remained a dance. I call it stay away closer. It is MUCH easier to deal with a man who thinks he may have a chance than one who is openly hostile and angry. And having grown up in less sexually repressed times this feels normal to me. We used to call it flirting and in the 80s it was actually fun to do at work and stuff…made the day go by faster. Now it is called sexual harassment and to me that is sad as it does not have to be unwanted and threatening.

    And I find myself still dancing and at this point I am afraid that MY dance hurts other women as it MAY be validating the men to continue doing it. But I am not willing to risk my life by ignoring them or telling them to fuck off. And I am still lacking affection and interaction. But I do not seek these comments…and I am getting old so not as much of a target…I expect at some point I will become invisible.

    I like to be sexy and look sexy. I do not dress like a street whore but I like to look attractive. Is THIS a bad thing too? Are we heading for some kind of burka or desexualised clothing as well?

    And I know how powerful testosterone is. It seems like men are now supposed to pretend that they are not interested in sex at all. I liked that interest. And now they seem scared shitless to even complement a woman that they are interacting with for fear that they will be accused of harassment..and I am not talking cat calling. It is like if they acknowledge any attraction or appreciation for aesthetics in clothing or physical attributes they are going to be accused or attacked.

    I do not know what the hell any of us are supposed to do at this point…but I have read science fiction books about desexualised societies and yeah I can totally see that happening.

  25. I really want to like this, and in many ways I do; it’s powerfully written.

    But I take issue with the way these experiences are presented as universal among women, as something that unites all women, and even as part of the essential experience of womanhood under patriarchy.

    Because they don’t happen to all women. There are many of us whom society deems too fat or too ugly even for “cat-calling”.

    This doesn’t mean we aren’t harassed in different ways, by men but also (sometimes more often) by women, and being “fat-called” is a different sort of experience than being cat-called (although they can be equally threatening and ultimately originate from the same sexist ideologies). Instead of being told by random men that they’d like to have sex with us, we’re told that they would never, ever do so. Instead of being sexually molested, we’re told that we would never be touched with a ten-foot pole. Instead of being threatened with rape, we’re told that we don’t even “deserve” sexual assault, because we are not women, but animals, monsters, garbage.

    When cat-calling and sexual harassment is presented as a common core of women’s experience, those of us who should be glad to be free of such experiences actually end up feeling even more desexualized, dehumanized, excluded from the category of “woman” that we are already constantly told we don’t belong to, can’t belong to. We don’t even exist as women.

    1. So, here’s the thing I love about blogging and the discussions in the comments. It makes me think and so often someone leaves a comment such as yours and I realized I missed a big piece of what I should have said.

      You’re right. And while I thought about that aspect of it while I was writing, it got lost in the many edits and rewrites and whittling down of a long post. I am regretting that. I think your experience is part of all of this. And I wish I would have written it with that included. Women who are heavier than what society deems “acceptable” or not within society’s conventional standards of “beauty” are harassed just as much and in such vile and hateful ways. Because the root of the problem is that *some* men think that women exist to be sexual creatures. Our culture reinforces that idea. So if you are seen as “attractive” they will try to sexualize you or demand sex. If you are on the other end, they will hate you for not filling that role in their mind.

      I have heard that attractive women make more money in tips, this seems to apply more to women than men. So there’s that inequity as well. I assume the fear of walking through a dark parking lot alone is universal as well. Having to gauge your vulnerability in a situation?

      Sigh… if my writing here made you feel dehumanized or excluded then I am truly truly sorry. If I re-write this for submission to a bigger sight I will certainly leave room to include those thoughts. Thank you for saying all of that.

      1. Thanks for your reply.

        Yes, both types of harassment can be severe and are rooted in the same sexist dynamics.

        (Tangential: The ‘beauty privilege’ experienced re: waitstaff and tips that you mention is a tiny tip of the iceberg of weight discrimination, actually. Women deemed ‘underweight’ by BMI earn by far the highest average wages, and are most likely to be promoted into managerial positions, and women in the upper BMI classes are by far paid the lowest wages, with very fat women the most likely to be found in physically intensive, minimum wage jobs, even with equivalent education. This is important, because it’s another example of the ways that conventionally attractive women and those who are not live in dramatically different social realities.)

        I wouldn’t say that I experience fear in dark parking lots at night, at least no more than most men. Because, at best, I’m treated as if I am ‘sort-of’ male, and, at worst, like I’m just a physical object in the way or even an active offence to people’s eyes. I just don’t have the experience of being targeted in the ways that I know are routine for most attractive women.

        It’s not that I was offended by the essay, but that I was disappointed that it’s framed (even in the title!) as a universal experience of adult women.

        1. But you see you do experience it, even though you think it is different because of how you say you are perceived by males. You have experienced it in some way that is pointed at you.

          If you ever had a man say to you that you “run like a girl, throw like a girl, bleed for 7 days and don’t bleed, etc. then yes you have experienced it coming at you. Beauty as nothing to do with it. What we as women do is try to just let it roll on by, we have been impressed to have a stuff upper lip about it. That to me is where we learn to minimize and de-escalate it.

          1. But you see you do experience it, even though you think it is different because of how you say you are perceived by males. You have experienced it in some way that is pointed at you.

            If you ever had a man say to you that you “run like a girl, throw like a girl, bleed for 7 days and don’t die”, etc. then yes you have experienced it coming at you. Beauty as nothing to do with it. What we as women do is try to just let it roll on by, we have been impressed to have a stuff upper lip about it. That to me is where we learn to minimize and de-escalate it.

        2. I’m not conventionally attractive either. I got a lot of teasing as a kid for that, and I rarely rarely get a cat call. However, I am aware I am still a potential rape target, because rape is not about sexual attraction– it is about violence and power. It is different from catcalls, even though cat calls are a form of violence in their own way. Anyone who doesn’t think a fat woman is vulnerable to rape should Google Fat rape and see all the rape fantasy sites that pop up– it is terrifying. Rapists have gone after old women. It isn’t us– it is THEM. Just the same as remembering it isn’t what we wear that causes rape– being a rapist causes rape.

          So I hope if you alter the article, there isn’t any implication that those of us who aren’t beautiful have no reason to worry about the assault part.

          I hesitated to say that, because I sure don’t want to make someone who doesn’t feel nervous about being assaulted live fearfully. I know it is part of the problem that we accept this awful thing of it being normal to be fearful.

          Thank you for this post. I have been in a professional meeting where as many as a third of us were highly educated and accomplished women, having to listen to a speaker tell “dumb blonde” jokes, dirty jokes where women were the brunt, and make derogatory remarks about women, only to see all of us freeze and have that weird half smile. None of us spoke up, and no man spoke up to protest. We made a beeline for the women’s room afterwards to say how we felt we needed a long hot shower to wash off the slime. We complained afterwards. But it was striking how completely unable we were to say anything at the time. It really made an impression on me how deep these habits are.

  26. I’m grateful that you wrote this post! So glad to know I’m not the only woman who feels this way about this issue. It’s so subtle it’s not something I’ve even really encountered in feminist writing before. So thank you!

  27. I would like to weigh in here a little. Men are sold a product. I have come to think of it as sexual availability. If you look anywhere in the media, which is now around all the time, you see women with very little or no clothes on looking sexually available. It’s used to market everything. Money makers know it sells products, and clearly many women know it makes them a lot of money. Most men really want this product. It is presented so very well. They even tell us what kind to want. Skinny girls around 20 always look very willing. It’s not a real product, but no one is telling men that they can’t actually have what they are being told they should want so desperately. Now, say I decide I do in fact want this product. I go out into the world and look for it. It is available, but with strings attached. There are hookers, but they come with disease and jail time. No. Strippers are there to sell you the promise, but not the product. Nope. Where is it? Now, if I see an attractive woman with clothing on that suggests she may have this product available, what can I do? Cat calls perhaps to let her know I would be willing if she would be.Now I am a scary monster. Well,hell. Now what? I could go to a bar. Common knowledge is that if you purchase alcohol, or provide drugs, target market women will be receptive and happy to provide the product. Now, they call that rape. As a consumer, I have to wonder why there is so much of this product promised every single day, when there is no actual provider, unless one is willing to use immoral means.
    Now, I personally do not think this way, but it seems as if many do. I know when I see sexual availability marketed, they are not talking to me.
    What I do wonder about is why so many women are so eager to sell a product they will not provide, when it seems common knowledge that many other women must live in fear because of it? Should you not also be raising awareness among them? Teach your daughters self defense, but also teach them not to become involved in selling the mythological product that causes men to roam the streets looking for a provider.
    This is only a small part of the conversation, but it is something I think about and would love input on.
    Thank you.

    1. I see ads for some really fancy cars all the time, many of which I would love to own. I don’t own one, and I don’t have the means to own one. I don’t, however, go around blaming BMW for the fact I can’t afford a BMW. Nor do I say to myself, “well, if it’s not socially acceptable for me to hotwire a BMW that happens to be parked near where I am shopping, why do magazines make me want to own it in the first place.”

      Nor do I suggest that people wealthy enough to drive a BMW not drive it to the mall, or the McDonald’s, “because that’s a place for poor people, and a rich person shouldn’t be showing off their wealth to those who don’t have any.”

      I don’t say such things because it’s lunacy, and in that case we really are talking about a product. Ads are ads, designed to make people look at them. But if a person has so little impulse control that the nature of ads dictates their actions (or aborted actions) in life, perhaps there are far bigger problems at play.

      There certainly are bigger problems at play one adopts the notion of “woman as product.” A woman is not a product, she’s a person. Her appearance in an ad, even a sexy one, doesn’t reduce her to the level of “desired product.” Her picture in the ad may sexually arouse someone, yes, and that makes the arousal a marketing METHOD. But that doesn’t make the woman the product itself, anymore than parking that fancy BMW on 5th Avenue makes Manhattan the product for sale.

      A model with sexy clothing on that appears in an ad is not selling herself. She isn’t saying, “Buy the rights to touch my body.” She is paid by an agency to make use of her sexual attractiveness to be a part of an ad campaign. That’s her right to make use of the qualities she has.

      But let’s just say for a moment that the sex and the women of ads ARE in fact selling their sexy selves. Let’s PRETEND the woman in the bikini in the magazine ad is actually a product for the sake of argument. That would mean that she, and only she, if offering her body, her sex, to the consumer. (And not, by the way, offering it for free because one desires it.)

      What the model is doing, however, has ZERO bearing on what the woman in your office, at the bar, or in your book club is doing. A sexy model being the product does not make the sexy woman in the tight shorts at the company BBQ a product too. One may be aroused by the woman at the BBQ just as much as by the model in the ad, but the latter’s choice to wear sexy clothing is not indicative of her desire to be a product of sexuality. It’s indicative of her desire to look sexy, to wear tight shorts, or some other desire on her part. Her lack of reciprocity for any given person’s lust is not mitigated by the fact that “models sell this kind of thing to us all the time. What are guys supposed to do?”

      What guys are supposed to do, indeed what anyone is supposed to do is to have the maturity, the restraint, the social and self awareness to accept the fact that an ad is an ad, a woman is a woman, and that being aroused by the public behavior of any of them is not a license for anything…INCLUDING complaining about how women dress.

      A lot has been said in this thread about “that’s life, for all people.” I don’t agree with that in the context it is most presented in here, but to use that same argument for my point now…not getting sex, just as not getting a BMW is life. Every woman doesn’t get every man she wants, every man does not get every woman she wants. Nor does every person get every car, amount of money, vacation or anything we want. If we can accept “that’s life” when we don’t get a thing, we sure as hell ought to be able to accept it when we don’t get to have sex with a specific human being for whom we lust, no matter what ads allegedly tell us about it.

  28. I consider myself a feminist so it’s a very interesting feeling to read an article and think about all your past experiences interacting with women and how there are probably many women who felt they had to de-escalate or minimize or quietly aquiesce or any one of the many, many actions women have to take to navigate their existence safely with you. It doesn’t even have to be that they were worried about being physically hurt by you or verbally abused by you. Maybe it can be something as small as they were worried simply that you wouldn’t be friendly towards them so they had to let you down easy.

    I never had the birds and the bees conversation with my parents. My mom gave me the book Our Bodies Ourselves and made me read the whole thing from cover to cover when I was ten or maybe eleven but the book never got into stuff like this directly and she never told me how not to be the sort of guy who has to be handled like this. There is a difference between being good and being the least of the bad.

    Also the grace you showed to the first two guys who commented on your post was amazing. The fact that women don’t go on a killing sprees every time they get derailed and mansplained to whenever they try to talk about this stuff is some kind of miracle.

  29. The other day I didn’t ignore a shuttle driver who made anti-woman comments. I joked back at him. He was hostile until he dropped everybody else off and had me alone. He told me his ex-wife had wanted him to hit her. That he refused and she divorced him. Then married a man who killed her. He said he was so sad seeing her in the hospital with a brain injury. He was threatening me. I texted his boss while it was happening. I have sub-clinical PTSD from assault, so I was on high alert prepared to fight him. I wasn’t scared so much as fully prepared for battle. Even though his boss dressed him down and thanked me for speaking up because he said he had a six year old daughter, nobody I spoke to about it understood what this was like for me. NOBODY! And of course I had so much self doubt. Could have done something different. Should have placated the bastard.
    Imagine a woman threatening a man like this! Think she’d still have a fucking job?

  30. I just finished reading this whole post. Wow! You made me think. But you have also reminded me of the different things that have happened in my life & how I had handled them. I wish I could have read this 50 years ago. Now I have 3 daughters, 1 son, 5 grand daughters, & 2 grand sons. I will make sure they can read this. Keep up the great thing you are all doing here.

  31. I am actually in tears here. I can’t believe it. This article hit the nail right on the head. I am saving this and passing this on, to my daughter, to my grand-daughter, to my girlfriend and her daughter…..

  32. Thank you for this incredibly articulate posting, and the remarkable comments that followed. I’m one of those men who is continually shocked, and infuriated, to learn how frequently this happens. And it makes me angry, mostly at myself because I wonder how many times I didn’t see this happening in front of me. Sure, I’ve stepped in when something was overt and couldn’t be missed, but how many did I miss? We’re all trapped in our own point of view, so it’s hard to recognize another’s view unless we’re told. I’m a big guy, a really big guy, and there are times I feel afraid and watch my surroundings. I can’t imagine what it’s like for someone half my size. I spent the first half of my life blind to a lot of things. Even now, I look back and wonder how often women were afraid of me, and how I wish I could go back and apologize. Since I’ve ventured out in the social media world, I’ve learned so much that shocks me.
    Thanks for writing this, and continuing to say it. I try to listen, but after your article, I’ll try even harder.

  33. Just so you know, most men do a fair amount of avoiding confrontations too, both physical and otherwise. You may notice the big, pushy alpha-male guys more than the rest, but most guys aren’t that. Learning to shrug off the attempt of the drunk dude showing off to his buddies by trying to bait you into a fight, the guys talking smack to show everybody around how tough they are, etc etc — this all comes with the territory. The experience of being hypervigilant when walking alone at night, learning to bite one’s tongue when the boss says something awful — these are by no means unique to women.
    Women have my deepest sympathies for all the crap they put up with, but if it makes you feel better there’s plenty of “putting up with crap” to go around. Consider that when we hear about a guy punching a woman in the face, we say “she was assaulted” whereas if we hear about someone punching a man in the face we say “I guess he lost the fight.”

  34. My husband’s uncle used to chase me around the house until he got a hug. He hung all over my waist as my wedding reception was ending (I had to flirt my way out of it). Some years later he tried to hug me and I quickly stepped back and went for the handshake. This hurt him, apparently. Poor baby. My husband did try to protect me. But my father-in-law brushed it aside and said “oh he just does those things because he’s being nice”

    1. I had such an uncle who would squeeze my legs so hard he left bruises. Sick of it I responded by calling him “Uncle Nasty”. Even though they knew he did those things since he’d done them to others my parents made me apologize because Uncle Ralph just “loves little girls”.

      It’s NOTnice. It’s NOT love. It’s sick. It’s a dominance play. It’s disgusting. I have never forgiven my parents for not supporting me. You can say so. Hell, you can yell it, scream it, and no matter who tries to belittle you out of it–stand up for yourself because nobody will do it for you.

  35. Thank you for speaking truth even though there are a few men who are too invested in maintaining male superiority to see it.

    Having been the target of three pedophiles by the time I was 8, I find myself doing a lot of looking back over my shoulder in all sorts of situations. One of the worst places is in the men’s restroom. I am very careful about getting dressed in a place where there are no windows (make sure the blinds down—really down). An open shower environment (like in the locker rooms) is a nightmare. I don’t like dark parking lots. I don’t get the key between my fingers ready, but I know how to do it.

    It started when I was 4 and I’m 5+ decades beyond my last abuse around age 13.

    I don’t think my situation is typical but I may be wrong. I do know I have not taken the “macho” response to it. That sort of thing makes me sick. “Macho” is inhuman.

    When I was in Vietnam, there was a group of guys who were conspiring to kidnap me and get me raped by a prostitute because I wouldn’t join them in their delight in degrading the women they used. I was transferred out of that unit before they could carry out their plan.

    I don’t trust men…or at least it takes me quite a bit longer and even then I am cautious about those relationships, there is a reek of male privilege in too many.

    I do know that other male sexual abuse survivors are at least as fearful if not more so than women…particularly fearful of telling their story. My story is on the web in a couple of places with my blessing and I still cringe when somebody says, “I saw you on…”

    As I work with abuse survivors, I see repeated and strong support for what you describe as what women experience in this.

  36. You absolutely need to make it known. And we absolutely need to listen. Again you must make it known for things to change or exactly as you wrote we will not know and brush off the once in a while you choose to tell us.

  37. Reblogged this on Creo Somnium and commented:
    I hate that I have to deal with this and my Wee One. I have to protect her from it, to the extent that I’m able, teach her about it, help her name it, help her learn, see her deal with in. I hate it.

  38. It Goes Both Ways. I Understand it; but What about the so Called Females; that also Prey on Men; for Equal or Much More ??? You See it on the News; In the Newspapers/Magazines; in Stores & on Social Networks. Just Go to a Club; Bars; Restaurants/Cafes; Hotel Bars; Back Stage; at Games or Concerts & Casinos & even @ the Supermarkets. It’s; Give Me; More Times than You Truly Want to Believe.

    1. We aren’t talking about things we see in the papers. We’re talking about things which happen in our lives–to us. If what you took away from this is that “Women prey on men and that’s the real story” then you maybe need to read again. This is women talking about men actually physically harming them because they’re women, not abstract stories you once heard about women who are opportunists. And if that story is important to you, feel free to tell it, But don’t interrupt women who are talking about our issues to insist we include the things you prefer to talk about.

  39. As I was reading this, I kept thinking, “Yes!” and “I should sent this to my husband.” Then, I thought that if I were to share it with him it proves his point about why I shouldn’t stay out late by myself or with the girls or even why it’s more important for women to call & check in than it is for men. I want equality in our relationship but I also want him to think about these things as we are raising our daughter. Which is more important? Are they mutually exclusive?

    I feel that this is even a question proves everything you wrote. It makes me question how I/we can achieve fair & equal treatment. Can we change the next generation without changing ours?

  40. Not too long ago I found out that one of my best friends was sexually abused 3 years ago and it broke my heart on the inside… She’s a very good friend of mine, with whom we’ve shared secrets, chat a lot and always have a great time together.

    I cannot speak for every male in the world, nor would I’d like to, but I never thought one of my close friends would have to deal with this… I know it happens, I don’t like that it happens and yet it felt so far away from what I knew…

    I think and know that this IS an important topic and that we need to keep on talking about it, things shouldn’t have to get to “rape” to be talked about.

    Thanks for sharing

    1. From a man’s perspective; I have personally prevented six rapes/beatings of women in my life and been a voice of reason to men who intended to harm others. I am a large man and often women look at me like I would rape them and to me this is a form of rape. The look on their faces, with FEAR, judging a stranger, projecting the thoughts of what I might do is insane. They have no idea I would put my life on the line if they were in danger. I do not date anymore because of this, like how does a man like me meet a perfect stranger and get a date when every girl is afraid of being raped? I would rather you be comfortable so you will never meet me. oh well life goes on

      1. “I do not date anymore because of this, like how does a man like me meet a perfect stranger and get a date when every girl is afraid of being raped?”

        and this is exactly why misogyny, rape culture, sexism, etc hurts everyone (not only women.)

      2. “I’m SUCH a nice guy, these fearful women who dare to judge me are insane. Being frightened of men because of bad experiences is exactly literally rape. My diaper is 100% full. I totally didn’t read this article or I’m thick enough that I completely missed the point, it’s the women’s fault they can’t read my mind and know that I’m their hero. The most important thing I’m taking away from this writing is that it’s bullshit that I can’t get a date because women don’t trust me fast enough. What were you saying about women having to make snap judgments about men out of fear, I was too busy being the nicest guy on earth. These bitches, man.”

        Fixed it and highlighted your underlying stupidity and prejudice for you.

        1. as you said. They are fearful. They don’t judge. They just don’t risk Which means the woman above wasn’t ‘stupid’ when she said sexism hurt everyone. She felt for you, and you attacked her. Why?

          As for ‘it’s the woman’s fault for not reading your mind’. can you read women’s minds? No? So why do you expect them to read yours?

          What do your actions say about you? When you go on a date, what do you talk about, hopefully not about how you protect women. I’d advise against that. Talk about your dreams and your passions. Your hopes and your fears.

          1. the “seriously?” user was replying to the “anonymous” user, not sooyoung. “seriously?” just replied to the same comment 8 mins after sooyoung did so her comment ended up below sooyoungs (but you’ll note it was not nested beneath, as it would be for a direct reply).

            *rainbow* the more you know!

      3. It bothers me that you refer to yourself as a man and refer to women as girls. This also contributes to the way males view females. It makes many men think it’s ok to look at females who are developed physically though the age appropriateness may not be present in the current situation.

      4. This is silly. How many dates begin as two strangers bumping into each other anyway? There is no reason whatsoever you can’t get a date without just asking random girls on the street. Join activities and groups, meet women that way- then you’ll actually know you have something in common with her anyway. Then, if you do get a date, we willing to allow her to decide what she feels comfortable with. Maybe she prefers to meet you at the restaurant instead of being picked up, maybe she’d rather just go for a drink after an activity rather than having a full dinner-and-a-movie kind of date.
        If the safe of women is important to you, then these things shouldn’t be a problem. Sure, you may be a nice guy, but the next guy they meet, or the last guy they met might be a horrible person. You don’t know. Expecting trust from strangers is unreasonable.

    2. Thank you Gretchen for such a well crafted presentation of sexism in our culture. In no way did I find it diminishing of women. Your level of awareness of what most women have been accustomed to accept as normal behavior from men is spot on. The brainwashing has ended. Especially because of women like yourself who have moved beyond denial and fear into an arena that most women would’nt dare enter. They are numb and comfortable and angry when disturbed. Keep on disturbing. Please. The positive note I can add is that a male friend of my daughter’s posted your link. Now that’s encouraging! A problem rightly understood disappears. And your part in bringing it to our awareness is not only courageous, but brilliantly said. Thank you❤️

    1. I don’t know, raise kids to have an open mind, consideration for others, and foster a culture where listening and communication take precedent over self-aggrandization?

    2. Mmh good question.

      I started saying to my 5 year old son: “You know what to do when a girl cries ?… Just hug her” (OK the talking part will come when he is older ;o))

      Maybe it starts with mums explaining things to their sons ?

  41. I didn’t read through all of the comments – so I apologize if this is a repeat. De-escalation is completely a thing women do all day long, and I agree it generally leaves men in the dark.

    But I think, in a lot of scenarios, de-escalation is the strong choice. Making sexist behavior visible is absolutely an important and noble cause, but not every woman has to do it all the time. I think of that football drill where a player runs down a corridor of people hitting him with pads, and he has to hold on to the football. It’d be much easier if nobody was hitting him with pads, if sexism didn’t exist, but it’s also much easier to run through the other players, letting their blows glance off to the sides rather than dealing with each one head on. The important thing is that the player, the woman, gets to where she wants.

    My point is that de-escalation is a strength, a judo-move, that women can choose whether or not to use. They shouldn’t have to use it, of course. It’s horrible that it’s a thing we have to develop. But it’s a skill women deserve credit for. We’re awesome.

    Thanks for posting!

    1. I disagree. De-escalation is yes, a learned behavior that aids in self protection, but it’s a preferred response because we have yet to learn how to live independently in a principally male-dominated world. Changing one’s awareness and preferences so that you live free from domination is every womans’ story; whether she’s aware of it or not.

  42. There are so many great, important points in this blog! Thank you and well done. I really liked the closing, with Listen… Listen… Listen. It’s a hard thing for most people to actually stop processing our own reactions, and listen, listen, and continue to listen. But most of us need to do it so much more than we do. My Dad was a wonderful listener. Your blog is a reminder to me to try to be better at it myself. Thanks again… I hope you continue to expand your voice, to share your story, and to broaden and deepen your own life through doing so.

  43. The issue for me isn’t that men don’t get it; it’s that they refuse to believe it when they are told. That it shouldn’t take not only this essay, but dozens or hundreds of others, each repeating essentially the same message. It shouldn’t require corroboration to “prove” that someone’s point of view is valid. When a woman says that rape culture exists, that she’s experienced it, a man who says “no it doesn’t” is actually saying “only my experience counts”. And that’s wrong. It’s wrong when anyone does it to anyone, but particularly when someone who has never been the victim of a problem tells someone who has that the problem doesn’t exist. So. very. wrong.

    1. This is so true and even the ” good men” don’t seem to understand/believe
      .I’m not sure where primitive man ends and education starts but we don’t seem to be making much progress on this issue. Been there, done that.

    2. This is a fair point. Some of us do believe and recognize that every person’s experience is valid and needs to be believed and respected, especially if we expect the same in return. I think too many men get wrapped around the idea that when this topic is brought up, they here “all men” and immediately get defensive and think “I don’t do this!” and mentally think because they don’t (or they don’t think they do) it discounts the argument because it isn’t “all men.” Of course the vast majority of posts and essays like this never say “all men.”
      Yes, we as men need to do better. We as a society need to do better.

    3. And the problem is we get harassed, threatened when we are alone.
      When we walk around with the guys, it never happens…so they can never get the proof.

      But a Belgian student made a film about this. Her friend was behind her, walking in the streets of Brussels…filming.
      Another one did the same in the US I think…
      How often have I wished to have recorded the situation !!

      It’s terrible when they don’t believe it. I have been there. :o(

  44. This is why I never go to the grocery store or the gas station at night, and it’s also why I sleep in my daughter’s bed instead of my own when my husband has been calling me names for not having sex with him after watching a James Bond movie, as if he were entitled to it just because there was some sex onscreen. Even my own man doesn’t get it. It’s taking place right here in my own home.

    1. I wonder, why you marry that guy?…If it’s taking place in your house….The question is, what are you going to do about it? It is up to you.,,,if it’s okay for you that you are being called names because you refuse to have sex with that man.

      And also why .can’t you go to a grocery at night? It so strange.
      I can go to a nearest 7 Eleven store at 3:00 A.M and no one will dare to bug me.hahahaha!

    2. I’m so sorry that your husband has done that. It’s completely not okay and you shouldn’t have to put up with it.

      1. Your empathy for her is great, but it accomplishes nothing. Jeanne is right: DO SOMETHING about it. Life’s problems don’t fix themselves. It’s not about “blaming” Jen, it’s about improving her situation.

        Of course it’s “completely not okay” for her husband to be like that. But it’s also not okay children starve to death in the world. It’s not okay that people die in war that they wanted no part of. Life isn’t fair and those problems don’t go away on their own.

        And honestly, you aren’t helping her by saying Jeanne is wrong for asking her some tough questions and thus encouraging her inaction. Seriously, if her husband threatens her to the point she has to sleep in her daughter’s bed, why is she still with him? Why continue to put yourself in that situation? Do something about it. Talk to him, let him know how it makes you feel–if that doesn’t work, leave.

        We all have responsibility to take for ourselves, whether or not it’s a “fair” situation we were put in. That’s life, unfortunately.

        1. Decisions like this are always easier from the outside. It’s neigh impossibly to understand if you haven’t been in that situation. Maybe she is worried about how she’ll support her children on her own. What if he controls the money and there isn’t enough for her to find a place to live while she finds her new life? What if she’s afraid he’ll come after her? You’re right, people need to be encouraged (read: given courage) to change their lives for the better, but making judgments based on what is undoubtedly an incredibly complex situation, based solely on a few words in a blog post comment, are never going to accomplish this.

          1. I’m sure that there are two sides to every story. If you are not interested in a physical relationship with a partner that you claim to love, why are you still there? It must be obvious to you that you are not compatible with each other? Own it and move on, stop playing victim and respect yourself. Apply this to every aspect of your life and you might enjoy life again. Looking at a woman is not disrespectful, staring and oogaling is. Understand the difference. If you are an attractive person this will happen to either sex and if “looking” alone hurts you the issue is yours to fix, not society’s.

    3. I’m so sorry your husband does that. What an awful thing to live with.

      Don’t reply to me, Jeanne, you made your point. Respect my request.

  45. To all women:
    If your son as much as look at my daughter or ever consider making a comment, I will beat the living shit out of him!

    Why does women raise their sons to be like this?

    1. I notice you think it is the job of mothers to teach their sons. Do you not think fathers should be stepping up here? This is just another way women are blamed, every day, for bringing their abuse upon themselves. Victim blaming at every turn.

      1. I cannot agree with AnnieL enough. Children model the behaviour of their parents. It’s the responsibility of -all- parents to raise their children to decry this behaviour. I spend a goodly amount of time deprogramming my son from the messed-up gender norms society tosses at him at every turn.

    2. Excuse me? Better ask why men raise THEIR sons to be that way? Your very comment about ‘beating the shit’ out of a guy for making a sexist or inappropriate comment is exactly the kind of attitude that perpetuates this kind of ugliness. Go to bed with a mirror and wake up to yourself.

  46. The trick is not minding the jerks. Jerks are men who feel insecure of women who are successful. They do those things, to attack your self esteem and make them feel better about themselves. Such pathetic isn’t it?

    The perfect way to deal with these “jerks” is make them feel unimportant and invisible. Make them feel they don’t exist and they don’t affect you.
    The more you retaliate, the more you lose to their tactics. They want don’t give it to them! If you pay attention to their innuendos, they will do it again and ruin your day.

    I have an experience once with a guy who flashes his penis in public. I am on my way to work. I saw him when I am walking and I notice that all the girls are screaming when they got on his spot. So what I did is , when I am approaching, he flasher his penis., and I shout out loud “It’s so fucking small and then I laugh out loud!”

    The next day, he is nowhere to be found on that spot! hahaha….So all the female student are relieve. It was an exclusive girls school. I came from one, so it’s not new to me. I just know how to react with those kinds.

    Don’t be afraid of these kind of men. DOn’t let them INTIMIDATE you. It should be the other way around.

    I believe that as women, we should know that these things are meant to happen. This is reality.
    The problem is not how men feel about it….because we know that they will never understand never understand)
    ., the problem is most women do not know how to react when they are in this situation of double standardism, sexism and inequality.

    Instead of making the problem big as it is already., MAKE A SOLUTION!

    It starts with ourselves….We women.

    This is just the same as being bullied., in a sense.
    I always believe that there will never be a bully., if you don’t let them bully you!

    A wise women, (regardless if you are a feminist or not) Knows exactly when and how to react and defend herself in different situation.

    What we need is solution not emphaty. And the solution begins in Us.

    If God make Men Physically Superior., GOD Make Women Psychologically Superior., so USE IT! 🙂

      1. Getting punched for standing up for ourselves? Happens to guys all the time. Why is it that women never are concerned about what men go through in life? Oh, yeah, ’cause we’re men and we’re bad. Got it.

        1. Because, men get punched in the face by other men and it will knock them out or hurt them. Women get punched by men and it could kill them. Also attacks on women so often are also a sexual attack. Men might beat the shit out each other, but an attack for a woman is a lot different.

          1. Man, I deal with this all the time. Okay, a few things: despite what you see in media, women are not that much weaker than men. Getting punched in the face by somebody who is 130 lbs. is not much less painful than somebody who is, say, 170 lbs. Being kicked by a woman generally hurts more than being kicked by a man. Women have a demonstrably higher pain tolerance, and aren’t significantly likely to be that much more injured by a blow from a man than a blow from a woman.

            The rape component, while it happens to both genders, is certainly more likely to happen to a woman, yes. But it’s frustrating that so many women buy into the myth that they’re weak. You’re not. They’re not. With minimal training, a woman is fully capable of defending herself.

          2. “With minimal training, a woman is fully capable of defending herself.”
            What an idiotic statement. Maybe it would be true if you’re assuming that all the assholes who attack women never work out or do any kind of physical activity. I don’t think you have the tiniest grasp on how much training it takes for a woman to gain any muscle mass. Even when I was doing weight training classes for several months I barely gained any muscle. It would take a LOT of training for a LONG time, and even then the man will still likely have a significant height and weight advantage.
            I’m so sick of people saying women just need to learn to defend themselves- there are countless situations which we cnanot defend against and yet people repeat this crap like it’s gospel.
            Self-defense can only go so far- it is not some magical answer to end all sexism.

          3. It has nothing to do with working out. Muscle mass is of minimal use in an actual combat situation. It doesn’t matter how big you are when somebody closes your windpipe, or pops a thumb into your eyeball, or tears your ear off, or snaps your fingerbone. There are plenty of vulnerable points on the human body. With the vast majority of attackers, you do them significant pain in a short span, and they will flee. It’s not like the movies, where the bloodied attacker keeps coming and coming.

            I’ve been teaching self-defense to women for twenty+ years. You frankly have no idea what you’re talking about.

            Self-defense is not an end to all sexism, obviously. That requires education, and is a change that has occurred and will continue to occur generationally. In the meantime, idiots will still abound, and people who are frightened of them can get some confidence with the knowledge that they can stand up for themselves.

            Also, can you quit it with the insults, please? I haven’t done anything to earn your contempt.

          4. I did not insult you, I merely pointed out that your statement was idiotic. Once again, you said “With minimal training, a woman is fully capable of defending herself”
            You did not quantify, you did not say she would be better able to defend herself, you said “fully” and that is idiotic.
            “I’ve been teaching self-defense to women for twenty+ years. You frankly have no idea what you’re talking about.”
            You are not a woman, but you think teaching self-defense qualifies you to talk about what it feels like for a woman to be attacked by a man?
            I am not even a small person, nor without training, but there are dozens of situations in which that will not make the smallest amount of difference.
            In college, a guy grabbed my arm as I was walking across campus alone- there was a campus festival and there were people all over, I just left my friends for a minute to run back and grab my coat. He wanted me to come drink with him. I was lucky his friends told him to let me go. The guy was complete hammered, slurring his speech, and yet managed to turn my wrist black and blue in the space of a few seconds.
            To suggest that “minimal” training (which I have had) would have kept me safe in this instance is foolish.
            Had there not been others around, maybe I could have fought him off and most likely would have gotten a broken wrist in the process. The guy was almost falling over drunk and still could have caused me serious harm. Suggesting that a little training will keep women safe in such situations is taking the matter much too lightly.

  47. I am still reading a very interesting book “so you have been publicly shamed”
    And I may not have it exactly right, but …
    The thing men fear most is being laughed at by their spouse/female friend.
    The thing women fear most is being killed/raped by a man.
    What is going on here?

  48. This was a painful read for me. It’s not because I take issue with anything you’ve written. It hurt because I know that at some point I have been part of this problem for someone without being aware of it. I’ve never been the type to grab an ass or make lewd comments, but not all of this that you wrote about above is so overt as that.
    I’m sorry and I’m trying to be better.

  49. One thing about this article that struck a chord with me was the discussion around de-escalation. See, I’ve talked with my wife pretty extensively about gender issues, and she seems baffled by the reality you describe. She’s experienced it to some degree, but she simply puts a stop to it, precisely because she doesn’t de-escalate. She starts firm and escalates from there.

    I think de-escalation is part of the problem. Women in our society are trained to believe they can’t stand up for themselves. When they do, in my wife’s experience, the reactions they get range from confusion (men who are so ignorant that they don’t believe what they did is wrong) to apologies to anger, but rarely go beyond that.

    Yes, violence and abuse happens, and no, I’m not saying it’s the victim’s fault. What I’m saying is that being direct and straightforward is a way to lessen it — the type of men who are prone to violence are bullies, and bullies generally go after people who display vulnerability, while backing down from people who don’t seem afraid.

    Another negative side effect of the de-escalation is the “well, we talked about That Guy” thing that happens among women. That Guy might be a rapist who is getting away with it because no one has the courage to confront him. That Guy might be a socially awkward person who is entirely unaware that he’s offered offense. That Guy might be somebody being painted with an unfair brush by a jerk whose gender might just be female.

    In none of these cases does de-escalation help the overall situation. Yes, confrontation is scary and has risks, but I think it’s necessary. I think the rewards are worth it, and if my wife’s experience (which differs so dramatically from what you’ve written) is any indication, it’d make women’s lives a lot more comfortable while we go about the business of dismantling patriarchal attitudes.

    1. I’m not one to de-escalate either but I had to learn how to do it eventually for several reasons. First, most men might not react in a physically aggressive way but are generally verbally abusive and attempt to physically intimidate women – the less one refuses to act intimidated the madder they get, sometimes up to the point of attempting physical violence. And you know absolutely nobody is going to come help you if things get worse – the cases when somebody intervenes are a minority. Especially if a physically aggressive male is involved: other women don’t think they stand a chance against him and men mostly look the other way.
      Secondly, if it’s in a work environment and is subtle enough – and depending where you work is both subtle enough and frequent enough – it ends up playing against you. Most management posts are still held by men who don’t want their sexist attitudes to be called out.
      Thirdly, it’s exhausting. Even whre not using de-escalating tactics all the time or even most of the time these situations are so frequent that we need to pick our battles.
      Maybe your wife is blessed enough to live in a parallel world where she never gets aggressive or violent reactions from entitled men or maybe she stopped counting certain instances. Maybe – depending how old she is -she is thinking about how men react to her now but not how they did when she was 20: as I get older, random men don’t pay as much attention to me or back up quicker if they do and I’m not having it… and it’s a relief!
      I can’t say all instances described in the article have happened to me, but many of them have. And telling all women to just react differently instead of addressing the men who do this is shifting the focus and responsibility to women yet again.

      1. Thanks for your reply. Let me make this clear: I do not think any of the behaviours the article describes are rare, acceptable, or women’s fault. Quite the opposite.

        I -do- think that we can talk about how women can help eradicate this crap without it shifting focus and responsibility to them. Men are responsible for this behaviour; beginning and end of story. But I won’t disempower women by claiming they can’t provide a powerful influence in rendering this behaviour unacceptable.

        You talk a lot of about the risks involved in confrontation. And I agree. There are risks. Men who stand up to abusive men are taking risks, too. Trust me. I’ve lost jobs, lost friends, and been the target of violence over it. I don’t pick my battles; I just stand up when I see bad things going down. I’ve paid for it, and gladly. It makes a better world for my kids.

        I posed your question to my wife. She responded by saying she’s experienced aggressive reactions from men, and threats of violence, to which she’s responded with equal threats. The men have always backed down. She pointed out that she’s actually experienced more violence at the hands of women than men, which I didn’t expect. She agrees that her experience with aggressive men has lessened as she’s gotten older.

        I’m not telling all women to react differently. I’m suggesting that de-escalation is rarely helpful to anyone but the individual choosing to de-escalate. Not everybody has to push back, but it seems a little questionable to point out these offensive behaviours, and then be wholly unwilling to do anything about it.

        1. My wife just pointed something out: we live in Canada. Sexism exists here, certainly, but not quite on the scale I saw when I lived in the U.S. So that colours her experience.

        2. “I’m suggesting that de-escalation is rarely helpful to anyone but the individual choosing to de-escalate.”

          But it’s that individual who chooses to de-escalate that has to deal with the consequences. Yes, society might be better if women pushed back every time they experienced sexism. But it’s exhausting. Sometimes I just want to get home.

          1. I’m not suggesting you should push back every single time. One has to act within the limits of one’s tolerance. However, standing firm is habit-forming. Once you get into the habit, you may find a) that you experience less misogynist bullshit and b) that it gets less tiring to stand up.

            One of the things I’ve had to deal with when teaching women self-defense is the utter lack of self-esteem many have, largely because of continuous de-escalation. De-escalation doesn’t do anything to make you feel good about yourself. Confrontation does.

    2. 99% of the time, when you call someone out on harassment, they will just go quiet and leave. They didn’t expect to be called out, but you only need to hear about that one girl who stood up and was beaten to death, or raped, to realise yes, there’s a 99% chance it’ll be fine, but SOMEONE has to be that 1%. I know that I wouldn’t want it to be me. You can’t undo rape, or beatings, or murder. You can’t undo those things. Women are – rightfully so! – fearful of these things happening to them, to risk it is terrifying.

      Someone who is afraid of spiders seizes up and cannot – just cannot – touch a spider, or put it in a glass. That’s what fear is. It’s not discomfort or misery, it’s crippling – paralysing. We all know a common house spider really isn’t going to do anything. I don’t personally know anyone who has been killed or grievously wounded by a common house spider. I do, however know too many people who have been assaulted in public – often at night, and often for being women (or for looking female to the assailant).

      Telling people to ‘just speak up to the harasser’ is the same as telling the arachnophobic person to ‘just pick the spider up’, only the former statement wields potentially life-threatening consequences. The arachnophobic person CANNOT pick the spider up, even with little-to-no real threat, even though they logically know no harm can come to them. The women fearing for her well-being or life does not know this, because at some point in her life she will have encountered someone who did not fare so well. Her fear is a very realistic one. You would not expect the spider-fearing person to just get over it simply because you say it’s probably going to be fine, how can you expect someone who fears for their life or well-being to call out someone who is potentially a dangerous enemy to make?

      1. For the same reason I expect it of myself — because living in fear sucks and I don’t want to live that way. Since the jerks aren’t going to magically evaporate, I need to stand up for myself. And it’s not any less frightening if you’re a guy, so let’s dispense with that hoary old myth before it even gets dragged out.

  50. I read this and immediately knew what this was about and I applaud the writing of it.

    I found this because it was posted in a group on FB. That group has more men than women and the women who responded negatively to it and with derision saying “Never happened to me” are the ones who have to show in the group how “strong” they are in the group. One in particular is saying it never happened to her. Sorry but I don’t buy it. And then the subsequent ass kissing by other women declaring “well she must be really strong then” instead of calling her out for the lie that it is. Nobody can live in a bubble that closed up unless they intentionally put themselves in the bubble because they do know it exists. I was told we are not a collective of women and I noticed another woman commenter above mentioned that as well. I say “knock it off” you are a part of half the gender of the world and I say to the other half of the gender of the world that we already know you can go through bullshit too. Bottom line this blog piece pointed a light on something to create a conversation and it surely did that. Can we say before this happened and we read this that we were actually calling it out quite so well and having the conversation at all? Most of the commenters here surely can understand what this piece did and did it well.

    Ms. Gretchen (blog author can’t remember your last name at almost 2 am) please don’t allow yourself to minimize here too in the comments. Stand true to your message. There are going to be people as you stated in your opening, that just will not get it and cry but…but..but and while I think you are kind to address this I also want you to know that you don’t have to explain yourself too many times to count. I have already witnessed on that FB post the complete denial of what you wrote happening to someone and they take issue with my not believing them. See I think it works to their benefit to say they haven’t in a group full off men who like to see a woman hold her own (translation not admit her gender plays a role in certain POV, when it does many times) and honestly it makes the point for them even if they refuse to admit it. It is not strength to deny something , quit the opposite it is strength to admit it. Quite like white privilege existing.

    Lastly I hope you also understand how many minority women have this experience double down on them most of all.

  51. i’m a guy. and several times while reading this article i got upset. *I* never did those things… yeah maybe someone i kinda knew did, but… *I’m* not a bad guy…

    then i got to the end. maybe i never listened. maybe i was never told. maybe i just never understood, or saw the effect on others.
    maybe we should listen to each other. maybe it can be better.

  52. Do we need to make one of these for men? Because I’m not seeing a lot of descriptions here that men don’t go through. Not only do men have similar experiences women know nothing about, but it doesn’t need to have some sensationalist title about “ALL men”.

    Please these are issues that occur with everyone in society. You think that women are exclusive in how they’re being molded by society? In how people don’t understand every little detail of their existence? Are women exclusive in feeling unsafe when alone or feeling bothered when belittled? Are women the only ones given societal expectations? If you really wanted to combat sexism, these articles wouldn’t take this ridiculous form. Talk about human issues instead of making a mockery out of feminism.

    1. If someone chooses to make blog posts about men’s problems, that’s absolutely fine. They should. This post is about women. Talking about women is not “making a mockery of feminism-” I’ve literally no idea where you got such an idea. But regardless, if someone wants to talk about women and not include men’s problems, they most certainly have the right to do so. Feminists are *not*-let me say that again for the people in the cheap seats- *not* required to talk about men to be valid.

      1. While I agree with what you’ve just said, generalizing men is definitely not the way to go. All of these articles have no problem generalizing men, but fight adamantly against the generalizing of women. If you truly want the support of men, stop the generalization. It detracts nothing at all from this article by saying “men who do X” instead of saying “all men do X”. Practice what you preach and stop alienating the men who are here to support you.

        1. Ctl-F “All men”

          Not found in article.

          Maybe you should practice your reading comprehension, stop taking things personally, and realize that almost NO article about feminism EVER says that “all men” do anything.

          If you read a woman’s lived experience like “grown men ogled me when I was in middle school” and your response is “Hey, not ALL men ogle middle school girls”, then maybe step back, take a deep breath, and realize that it’s not about you. Try rereading the last part of the article. And LISTEN.

      2. That is not the point. These problems are not exclusive to women. Yet the article talks about “sexism.” Labeling these issues as sexism is dishonest. It would be the equivalent of attributing these problems to racial or religious discrimination. Sorry, it’s simply not the case. So yes, if the point of feminism is to bring to light real problems with the equality of women, bringing up issues that are not exclusive to women and attributing their causes to sexism makes a mockery out of feminism.

  53. as a guy, i´ve got something to say about this.

    First: i understand!

    Second: without trying to belittle this problem, i want to make you awere this is the same way eveny men grow up, only it´s not directly related to sexuality, thus it´s involved many times.
    We see this happen, but if we are not partecpating and oppose to our clansman, we get in trouble ourselfs…
    As a men, you´ve got to be tough, cool, strong, a real man!
    not a sensitive empatic softy!
    If you are, you´re lost…you will be bullied, excludet, beaten and so…
    this are the rules of our patriarchal, hierarchic society.
    An empatic sensitive man will be called gay, cocksucker ans so, he will get beaten, mistreated, get worse job opportunity, and worst of all be avoided by a lot o women because of hes “weakness”.
    And why? Because hes “weakness” doesent make him a good defender form the other agressiv man. And so many women chose better the worse assholes, “the winners of the bad game” cause he is the best defender.
    This are the laws of fears, we (allmost) all are ruled from.
    Only if we are strong enough to defeat our fears we can change the game.

    Be strong, be fearless …get free

    a random guy

    1. Men have problems too. Yes. We do know this. Men have similar problems, men have different problems. That’s great. Go write a post about that. This is a post about problems women have, which yes, are different because men and women are perceived as different. And the problems men face are not because of women. I’d suggest that 9 times out of 10, the kinds of “standards” men are held to are enforced by other men. Question: how often do women insist that you “Come over here and give them some sugar?” ‘Cause that’s one I’ve dealt with. Is that kind of expectation of affection for a stranger something a man deals with on any kind of regular basis? How many times have you had your presence in a public place used as an invitation for sexual behavior? How many times have you been touched sexually in public? Unsolicited. Before puberty? Again, I’m not suggesting that men don’t have problems. I know y’all do. But let’s stop pretending it’s all equal or that we have to talk about everything when we start talking about something which involves us. Go and make your own post if you choose and link it here. This is a space for people who are talking about women’s issues, not a free for all.

      1. Two points where I agree, and sorta wished you’d left it at that: It’s not equal. And this is not an appropriate space to be discussing men’s issues, if only because of the nature of the article.

        However, you make a number of sweeping generalizations that I’d like to address. So, first, I’ll answer your questions in order: Fairly often. Yes. Uncountable times. Many times. More than once.

        In terms of equality, while I agree that the issues both genders face stem from patriarchal attitudes, those attitudes are as often enforced by women as men, in my experience — certainly not the “9 out of 10 times” you suggest. It’s not men coming up to my son and telling him not to play with “girl toys,” it’s women. Exclusively. It’s not men telling my wife that it’s weird that she doesn’t cook and that I don’t drive, it’s women. It’s not men challenging my fitness as a parent when I’m out alone with my son, it’s women.

        It’s okay to suggest that this isn’t an appropriate venue for a big discussion about how patriarchal attitudes screw over men, too. It’s okay to say that women have it worse. They do. It’s not okay to pretend that men experience a tenth of the issues women do. As much as we honour women’s narrative on these topics, we also have to honour that of men, too. Otherwise, it’s just gaslighting.

        1. Please do read the comments from other women here. There’s at least one who, in the course of doing her job was asked to “sit on a man’s lap.” Is that actually something that men face? And are you asked to brush it off? What do you think would happen if you did confront the woman who asked that of you? More questions: Have you ever bought a wedding ring and worn it in public so that you could ride public transportation in the morning without being harassed? I have. Did it for years. Why? Because lots of men think that unless you have a “good reason” to not want to be bothered, it’s their right to infringe on your day. And if you ask them to stop, many times they do not. Unless you imply that there is another man around who might stick up for you. Unless you imply that you’re another man’s property. This is my reality and the reality of many women. And I won’t stop talking about it because it’s not okay to be treated this way.

          1. Yes, it’s something men actually have to face. I’ve faced it. What happened when I confronted it was I got asked if I was gay, because obviously all men will jump at any opportunity with sex, because we’re lust-crazed animals. When I went to HR to complain, I got told I ought to feel lucky — after all, a woman wanted to have sex with me. Isn’t that what all straight men want all the time?

            Nope, never bought a wedding ring to avoid being harassed on public transportation. Did wear one for a while so I could actually talk to a woman without her assuming it was a come-on. See the aforementioned “lust-crazed animals.”

            I’m not suggesting you stop talking about it. I’m suggesting you recognize that patriarchy hurts everybody, and stop assuming it’s so heavily weighted towards women. It is -more- heavily weighted towards women, definitely. But nowhere near as much as you think. Men aren’t supposed to complain or even mind it. We’re supposed to want sex whenever it’s offered, accept violence from women (after all, we’re bigger and stronger, so it’s not a big deal when something gets thrown at your head), etc. etc.

            We go through all this stuff. Most men don’t even realize it’s happening or that it’s wrong, because we’re conditioned in very specific ways. I’m extremely grateful that I was raised by parents who didn’t buy into gender norms, and that I’m able to see it isn’t right on -either- side of the equation.

        2. Also, I didn’t say we should ignore men’s stories. We should honor each other. But it’s really hard to honor the stories of people who say “You’re lying, I never saw anything like that!” or “Stop complaining, others have it just as bad/worse!” Seriously, I’ll listen when you talk (the general you) when you start listening when I do. We’ve heard men’s experiences. Time and again. Line up how many men’s stories exist in the world. Some good representations, some not so good. Then look at how seriously the world takes them. Look at how the men are treated as subjects of the stories. Then look at stories which feature women. Rarely are women treated as subjects, rather we’re objects. And the stories are most often told from the POV of men, not women. Women telling our own stories are neither listened to nor believed in the mass culture.

          1. Yep, I definitely agree that’s a problem, which is why I said that going on about men’s stories isn’t appropriate in this forum. The only reason I brought it up was because your view of what we experience was so skewed. “We should honor each other.” Yes, agreed.

            And now I’ll shut up about it, so we can get back to the point of the article. I’ve said my piece, and hope you’ll consider that men might have it far worse than you seem to believe.

      2. Quote: “And the problems men face are not because of women.”

        I was supposed to show you the (indirect) connection:
        Quote: “and worst of all be avoided by a lot o women because of hes “weakness”.
        And why? Because hes “weakness” doesent make him a good defender form the other agressiv man. And so many women chose better the worse assholes, “the winners of the bad game” cause he is the best defender.”

        and with this women unvolontary enforce the vicious circle….

        best regards

        a random guy

        1. That’s ludicrous, and buys into the whole “women don’t pick nice guys because they like assholes.” It’s simply not the case. It’s buying into the “nice guy” myth. Most self-described “nice guys” are nice because they think it’ll get them laid — perhaps in a roundabout way (“If I’m a dashing prince, she will be my princess!”) etc. etc. — but it’s pretty much all about objectification.

  54. I’m really shocked at how many people suggest that de-escalation is either a) totally natural or b) a bad habit that should be broken.
    It’s especially annoying because, while the original post draws attention to the de-escalation that many are oblivious of, the author doesn’t appear to me to be advocating for women to necessarily change their behavior, but for everyone to be more aware of it. To be aware and listening to what may be hurting others in our lives.
    Some here are advocating that women fight back instead of de-escalating, while others argue that de-escalating is normal, but you’re once again bringing it back to what the victim is doing. It’s not about what the victim did- believe me, she is second-guessing herself about this- should she have stood up to that guy, or, would he have left her alone if she’s ignored him?
    I feel like at this discussion about what the victim should or should not do totally misses the main point of this article, which is about human compassion. It is about not being dismissive of something that may hurt your loved one, however insignificant that thing may seem at first.

    1. Everyone in life has to stand up to someone in some form or another–both men and women. This is life. You can either wait around for someone to change, or you can be proactive and make them change how they treat you.

      1. All right then. You go find the girl I went to high school with, and tell her to be a little more proactive about changing the way her boyfriend murdered her.

        I’ll wait.

  55. My husband and I were watching a tv show the other night, where one of the men in it was a very capable killer. He had to defend himself in a horrible situation and he dispatched his assailant quickly and efficiently. Both my husband and I expressed that it must be nice to know that you could do such a thing if you really had to. And upon talking about it – it became clear that he wanted to be able to do such a thing so that he could be able to hurt someone if he had/wanted to whereas I wanted to be able to do such a thing so that no one could hurt me.

  56. Are you just championing Burqua? Hope not…then you must know that men have to go through a lot lot lot more, where girls are trained to sit and judge, even though most are totally clueless. It is like knowing that this girl is totally into you, the way she is looking, but the same girl will laugh out loud alongside friends when you talk to her. Guess whom the people around will support anyway? It is when your girl friend walks out on you just because some other guy showed her more money. It is when you are doing all the heavy lifting, waiting while you dress up, holding the door for you, picking up the tab. And “you” can be anyone – sister, girl friend, wife, a casual date, a boss. I can go on and on and on about many more situations, like you did! But most men also learn how to deal with “it”, they don’t crib, simply because they are better at dealing with “it”.

    Bottomline, girls won’t have a problem if they really want to be EQUAL. Don’t expect privileges without the downsides of it.

    1. I’m not sure what you’re responding to, but this article is about women fearing speaking up about the sexual harassment they experience on a daily basis because they fear being murdered and raped.

      Please don’t derail this conversation. It is an important one. It is not about girls who like money, or girls who like X, Y, Z. It is also not about the high, unattainable standards set before men. This is about women who are scared for their lives, so they stop calling out harassers. It is about the belittling these women face on a daily basis when they finally do decide to speak up about it, because they’ve outwardly never mentioned it before (because they try to de-escalate the issue in their minds), and what you’re doing is belittling the experiences of these women by – instead – attempting to draw attention to your own issues.

      Write a blog about your own problems, and the problems you see with the unattainable standards men face in this society. Link it to me. I will read it. I will listen.

      But for now, what you’re doing is the opposite of listening. Listen, and others will listen to you when it’s your turn. This space is not the space for your turn.

  57. Thank you G. Kelly for your honest and thorough article! I have shared this with friends and family and also will share with our work diversity committee. We are dealing with Unconscious Bias and interpretation/perception issues. This article can serve as part of an antidote to that “she’s over-reacting/too sensitive, etc.” line of thought.

  58. That article is spot on…thanks for putting my life experience as female into words. It is second nature to de-escalate. And not even be aware that I’m doing it most of the time.

  59. On behalf of good men:
    Not going to say that this is ok. But women have made a pretty strong effort *not* to accept protection from men. Most men are not sure how we are supposed to help but not be seen helping so that women feel independent.

    This sort of behavior was nonexistent before the “liberation movement” because her father or husband would kill the offender. Now, when we step in to take that role, we are portrayed as mindless brutes, or childish.
    If we aren’t going back to those gender roles, then women simply have to defend themselves. It’s as simple as that, unless I’m missing something here?

    1. Actually, this behaviour has been around for a very, very, very long time. As the rights for women have increased in number, it’s become more obvious, but women have been de-escalating for as long as time. Perhaps the reason you feel this behaviour recently sprung into existence is because people are finally speaking up about it – and loudly.

      This article is not asking for the protection of men. This article isn’t even asking people to stop catcalling. It’s not asking for anything other than for people to listen, and not belittle the issue when women speak up about it.

      There are not simply two options. This is not a case of ‘well, we can beat up those jerks, or you’re on your own’. That would be ridiculous and yes – barbaric, brutish, and juvenile. There are a number of ways men can help.

      -Listening is the biggest one. Accepting these experiences, and not defending the behaviour of these harassers, simply because the listener feels men as a whole are under attack. Listening – and not denying, defending, or belittling – reminds the woman that some people can be trusted, and that is the first step to gaining confidence to call out others. Women want to know that people will not just stand by and watch her be murdered if she calls someone out. It’s happened. That’s actually happened. We – as humans – have to ensure our community trusts each other – and we have to back up those promises, which brings me onto my second way to help.

      -Calling out other men (and women) who make lewd, misogynistic remarks – even when they’re not directed at any specific woman, or any women present… ESPECIALLY when they’re not directed at any specific woman, or any woman present. Calling out the person making such remarks reminds them that it is not okay to harass people behind their backs… and if they know they can’t even make a remark behind someone’s back without being called out, they’ll think twice about making remarks in public to someone’s face.

      -Giving support and help to confront people, when asked for it. A woman may never ask you for this help, but should she ask for it, do not respond with ‘well, you didn’t want us men to beat up these jerks, so you’re on your own now’, or ‘this is your problem, not mine’. Go with her, back her up. Even if you don’t say a word, your presence holds weight. Perhaps just having you around makes her feel safer – that is a compliment; take it as such.

      The attitude of ‘we want these men to stop what they’re doing, so we beat them up’ actually feeds into the attitude of ‘you can get what you want with violence’, and that attitude directly leads to ‘I want this, and will hurt people to get it’. That last one sounds an awful lot like sexual harassment or assault, or mugging, or murder. A violent attitude towards this will not solve the problem. It’s part of the problem.

  60. Reading things like this makes me feel obligated to have kids. I’d like to think I’m one of the guys that’s never done any of this stuff. I was raised to be respectful and gentle toward everyone, particularly women. Hippies for parents and all…But I see how many men get such a screwed up idea of masculinity from their screwed up fathers, and it makes me think I’m almost obligated to raise a son that will treat women right…or a daughter who would expect to BE treated right. The more people like that in the world, the better.

  61. I have experienced just what you are talking about but I also recently heard a professor (who studies these same kinds of things on racial matters) call the incidents micro-aggressions. It puts people in “their place” (often unconsciously by member of the dominate group: men or white men in our culture, could be another group in another culture, I guess). With women, of course, there is not only the threat of violence behind it but the threat of sexual violence. But the need for de-escalation has also been required from black men who have risked their lives by standing up for themselves. It seems it is all part of the same thing.

    Some of the people who do not experience this micro-aggressions do not understand because you cannot tell them about every one. It is not just the occasional big thing but the tiny little things every day. That is what is difficult to get someone who doesn’t experience these things to understand.

    I remember a TV documentary about the problems between men and women that started off with a quote that said something like, “Half the world does not understand that the other half is afraid of it.” In some parts of the world, instead of training men to not be aggressive towards women, they have tried to make the women disappear behind full face and body coverings.

    1. Thank you for clear thoughts on this. Your last sentence corroborates the first sentence of my comment a little above. Also, you are spot on when you say that micro-aggression are played differently in different cultures. I am a good looking man from India, where we have multiple divisions along religious, linguistic, caste, creed and even neighborhood lines. And then I traveled/connected with the whole world, and witnessed these being issues in most places. Problem is, good people don’t come out and stand ground. I try to be an exception.

      I am very respectful towards women, and treat others like I want them to treat me. And I have been subjected to multiple situations:

      1) racially abused by dominant group in different countries,
      2) non-cooperation from others because key people (and pretty girls) happen to like me,
      3) girls who are only too happy to have one-night-stands with others talking marriages on first date,
      4) bullies trying to be violent (I’ve been shot at twice! Thankfully both time they missed. And I am not even beginning to talk about other mild forms of violence including the verbal ones).
      5) terrified for being hit by a car driven by some dumb girl with lipstick, drinks, and cell phone in hands.

      My observations about girls are:
      I) they don’t follow their conviction or common sense enough,
      II) their obsessive compulsion about playing it safe, and judging men by what they see in paid media, deprives them of most good men out there,
      III) if some guy is reasoning with a girl in this day and age of busy lives, he is not being ‘disrespectful’ or ‘naming and shaming’.

      Those girls who are normal, get it of them is my wife 🙂

  62. I’m not a fan of the term “victim blaming” as a way to shut down certain arguments. victim hood ends when we start taking responsibility for our experiences. victim and abuser create each other. stop being a victim in life, take full responsibility for your experiences, and the abuser will vanish. it worked for me.

  63. This is brave. Not the long and sad list of the unfair burdens of femininity – that’s needful to know and, as a man, I’m aware but, as was mentioned, only in a watcher’s position. Second hand. The bravery is the admittance that its not something that constantly intrudes into our awareness, as it does yours. We dont see hear or sense it. We have versions of it and mirror-opposites of it but they’re not shared either.

    I once saw a woman, in a parking lot, look past me and, with a suddenly frightened eagerness, fish her keys out to get into her car. She was clearly shaken. I looked behind me to see who was tormenting her……….. there was no one. She hadn’t seen me as she approached and when she did, noticed instantly that we were relatively alone in a darkened parking lot. Something I’d not even noticed. She was terrified and there was nothing I could do to make her know she was safe, except get quickly into my car and distance myself.

    She could not have known that I’d have defended her, in that parking lot; if she’d been attacked. Not knowing is the problem. Thank you for shedding light.

  64. I’ve lost all hope that men actually care. Yes, some do, but there are just too many who don’t give a damn and no amount of talking or examples are going to make a difference. Look at Scott Adams, the creator of Dilbert. He just doesn’t get it. Doesn’t get one thing about women and he probably never will. There are just too many people out there who are ignorant and don’t make any effort to see life from another’s eyes. And even if we can get through to some, the waves of jerks keep coming in a never ending sea of people who want to harm others.

  65. Imagine a world in which we were simply Respected.
    A world in which we were not only listened to, but actually Heard. Imagine a world in which we were even acknowledged – not only our words and needs; often our very presence.
    Imagine a world in which our perceived value and purpose for existence extended beyond simply being of service for some need. And sadly, this applies less often to the strangers we encounter or the business associates, and more often to the men in our lives.
    BEING minimized, marginalized, and disregarded is a subtle, frequent and pervasive means of dis empowering us, and influences how we perceive ourselves and interact in relationships, often without our even being cognizant of it.
    Will it ever change? CAN IT ever change, and how to go about it? I don’t know.
    All I do know is that, while reading this, my mind was being flooded with memories – not just hundreds; Thousands of memories of times, situations, and experiences of every single one of the incidents mentioned herein, and many far beyond those mentioned here, that have occurred in my life and continue to, even at this ripe old age. And hundreds more I’ve heard about from friends, or that women simply shrug off and joke about, because what else can we do?
    For the rare guy who might actually have read this far, if you think these things don’t matter, think again. These things, collectively, are a powerful force that shapes how we live our lives, where we go and when, where we live, what we wear, how we comport ourselves, what we say and how we say it, who we spend time with, the jobs, professions, and even leisure activities we choose, the relationships we enter into, who we marry, and how successful and enduring that union is. If you think it doesn’t matter to YOU, think again. That useless old lady you could easily have helped down the stairs might be ready to give $1000 to the next person who simply shows her any consideration. That one thousandth comment you just ignored from your wife or girlfriend might be the one that made her decide to leave you. The boring neighbor you couldn’t be bothered to wave at might have a son or husband who is the president of the company you just applied for a job with. The invisible aunt you can’t be bothered to acknowledge or respond to might be the one who just changed her mind about leaving you a huge inheritance. The woman you just cut in front of to take her taxi from the airport might be the one flying in to interview you for that position you want. And the pregnant woman you couldn’t be bothered to stand and give your seat to on the bus? Might be carrying the daughter whose ass you will be pinching 14 years from now.

  66. Very interesting post, myself I see as an equal to women no better or worse. I may have been part of the problem throughout my life but I try to be a better person from learning from my mistakes. I have four older sisters who instilled in me how to treat the opposite sex. It is difficult for both sexes to refrain from not listening or acting out on our primal natures due to programming from our peers. I feel society is geared towards this behavior, our media perpetuates this behavior. Women also portray these same traits, many time I have been called sweetheart, had my butt pinched and have been whistled at by woman. This is a human problem, Men and Women are the ones partaking of this debilitating behavior and it affects both sexes. We all are responsible for our own actions, as individuals we can make a change happen in all things, stop the stereotypes, everyone has a choice in this matter. It is great to vocalize something that needs to be changed and this topic definitely is that. But it is not so one sided as this article suggests, it takes both sexes, working together and not making broad judgement. We are all unique individuals trying to survive in a society that is a free for all, we should be looking to change the underlying problems within our society that breeds this sort of behavior in both sexes and practice patience and tolerance

  67. Reblogged this on and commented:
    “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.”

  68. I’m male and this applies to me well as I assume t applies to anyone whom traps problems internally to avoid external repercussions. I’ve do so (I belive) in part related to being physically and emotionally abused as a child which provides a horrific and potentially not to shocking of a parallel.

    The problem for me has become when I became good at this action of hiding feelings – they are actually hidden. So while asking for people to listen is helpful, it’s also on us to understand when to speak and whom to trust. It’s easier that I would like to admit to hide the problem and blame the environment but I can’t do so without acknowledging my own inaction. And though past experience has rewarded my deescalation how do I know I’m not over-reacting now.

  69. Love this! I to have been sexually harassed since childhood and was raped in college I couldn’t even tell my fiancé or parents at the time. I look over my shoulder every day. Thanks for this article. More people need to read this!

  70. I don’t usually comment on things like this, but this just hits a nerve. I’m one of those men who NEVER acts that way, and this article pisses me off. Not just because it implies that all men are the same, or that it implies that most men are pedophiles, or that it implies that all men are rapists waiting to happen, or because it implies that a man would rape a woman in a Home Depot parking lot and everyone would ignore it. It pisses me off because women are just as responsible for this behavior as men because the majority of women WANT to be treated this way. I wish I had a nickel for every time a friend has come to me as “the trusted guy friend” to complain about her abusive, disrespectful, douchebag boyfriend, and then, when she’s finished getting her emotional needs met by the respectful guy, she goes home and sleeps with the abusive one. Does she really think the abusive, disrespectful behavior is going to stop if she keeps rewarding it like that? She’s not “de-escalating” it, she’s not “ignoring” it; she actively encouraging it! The truth is, women ignore men when they’re respectful because respectful men are boring. So, here’s an idea, stop SAYNG you want men to be respectful and ACT like it. Give some positive attention to the nice guys instead of ignoring us. Stop sleeping with the disrespectful guys just because they workout eight hours a day and drive expensive cars. Stop complaining about the MEN in your life and start complaining about the WOMEN. Maybe if fewer women insisted on dating only football player rapists, because even though he beats her he’s “just so hot,” maybe if fewer women only wanted to date “bad boys,” maybe if fewer women dated abusers just because he has lots of money to buy her things, maybe if fewer women BEGGED for this kind of treatment, more men would continue to be respectful even when it obviously gets them nowhere with women (because that’s not the behavior you reward), maybe more men would be respectful because being a bastard wouldn’t get them everything they wanted (like it does now), maybe more men would act like me! Stop painting me with the same brush as those bastards, and start yelling at your girlfriends to stop rewarding men for this kind of behavior. If you want men to stop treating you this way, ACT. LIKE. IT.

        1. Nope, actually pretty sure she got it straight on. Claiming women beg to be abused, and acting as if some majority of them was to date “football player rapists?” That pretty much takes you out of the nice guy camp, and into the “sexually frustrated pseudo-nice guy” camp.

          1. Noooo. She missed the point. The point of the comment, which was half the point of the article to begin with, is that women are just responsible for this behavior as men are. Stop complaining about it and DO something. Am I the only person here who’s ever heard of B. F. Skinner? If you reward the behavior, it will continue. Stop sleeping with your disrespectful boyfriend/husband. Stop ignoring the comments you find distasteful. Stop smiling when someone does something you find offensive. If you smile, that sends the message that you enjoyed it. If you act like you enjoyed it, he’s going to do it again. If you keep rewarding the guy who beats you with sex, he’s going to continue beating you. (And, yes, that IS begging for it. I worked with sex offenders and abusers for years, and I know how they look at this. If she continues to give him what he wants, he’s not going to stop because he has no reason to.) If you want it to stop, you have to stop just saying it and ACT LIKE IT. Stop expecting the men around you to change without you changing yourself.

          2. You’re operating off the presumption that women know they have a choice and feel empowered to take it…which is pretty much the point of this whole article.

          3. If you are unwilling to change your reaction to the negative behavior, then it will continue because these people will have no reason to stop. That’s the point I’m trying to make.

    1. You clearly don’t know the first thing about women or maybe people in general. See, there’s this term, and it reads, “insecurity.” While women do fall victim to abuse in their lives, they are NOT actively seeking that out. Holy moly, that is an insane idea. And really the main reason I’m replying to you. “We accept the love we think we deserve.” Ever hear that line? Women don’t date the “bad guys” ’cause they just LOVE being hurt. They keep coming back because they don’t know where else to go. Way deep down inside, they figure this is how they are meant to be treated. Since childhood, something happened to make these women hate themselves. But because we, as humans, are uncomfortable with the idea of putting ourselves down, these women let someone else do it. And when they fall in love with that someone else, they stay, because they figure no one else could fall in love with them. Keep in mind, this applies to some men, too. DON’T WANT YOU TO THINK I’M OVER-GENERALIZING. God forbid. C’mon now… stop assuming your perspective is 100% right. No one is saying ALL men are abusers and rapists. Who said that? Seems to be just you. It’s all in the way you look at life, my friend. We are all guilty for some things… I could guess what you’re guilty of, but that just wouldn’t be fair, so I won’t. Point is… it’s very true that most women don’t feel all together safe and comfortable in this male-dominated society. If you want to see change and if you are a “good” guy as you claim to be, show us. And if that doesn’t work, keep trying. Change YOUR perspective. Move on. Be honest, but do not ever assume you know more about something than someone in the thick of that something. I don’t feel sorry for you, because I think it’s great that you feel so passionate something, but I do think you need a little female ‘lovin in your life.

    2. Guys who think of sex as a “reward” are Not Nice Guys. You are sharing the EXACT SAME BELIEFS as that guy who shot up the sorority at UCSB. You don’t understand the difference between “abuse”, “beating”, “disrespect” and “rape”, since you use those words interchangeably. Your attitude is unbelievably distasteful to pretty much all women because it shows that you think of them as objects to be “won” or “lost”.

      You think sex is the goal of a relationship with a woman, and that friendship is some sort of booby prize. You probably use (or at least appreciate) the word “friendzone”.

      You’re not a nice guy. You don’t respect women, though you pretend to be friends with them when you want to get in their pants.

      I doubt you’re a rapist. But you are a perpetuator of rape culture, because you treat relationships as primarily an outlet for men’s physical desire rather than first as a friendship and emotional connection.

      You have a twisted view of reality. You claim to have worked with sex offenders and rapists, and yet you don’t know the slightest thing about their motivations (insecurity, self-hatred, possibly being victimized themselves at a young age). I suspect you are exaggerating your ‘work’ with these people, or you wouldn’t suggest “stop ignoring comments you find distasteful” to someone living under the shadow of domestic violence. You’d understand that if someone truly is being raped or beaten by a domestic partner, there are many things that need to happen before that person can leave, and that she’s often putting herself and/or her children in more danger by attempting to do so.

      Also, you’re quick to anger. You get angry when women express their feelings, or tell you that you don’t understand them, or otherwise show that they are subjects, not objects. That’s actually pretty scary. Maybe you’d never hit anyone, but anyone who got in a relationship with you is pretty much signing up for psychological or emotional abuse. Disrespect + lack of empathy + anger = abuse.

      1. You talk to me about being quick to anger? You’ve made up this entire imagined history and personality based on three or four paragraphs into which you are reading the wrong tone. You think that expecting women to voice their oppinions makes me abusive? If a woman’s boss slaps her on the ass, and she responds by smiling and saying boys will be boys, she has no right to expect it to stop because she has condoned it. How is someone supposed to communicate with a person who intermittently and unpredictably says the exact opposite of what she really means. If you’ve implied, through action or inaction, that the behavior doesn’t bother you, how is he supposed to know that it does?

        On another note, I resent your childish assumption that I believe sex is the only purpose of a relationship. You don’t understand male sexuality. If a man’s partner is having sex with him, he sees that as meaning everything is ok with he relationship. Where do think the concept of makeup sex came from? If a woman never tells a man he’s offending her, and instead has sex with him, how is he supposed to know there’s an issue? What motivation does have to change his behavior if she’s saying, in no uncertain terms, that nothing is wrong?

        It’s also worth noting that there was nothing of substance in your “argument.” It was just a personal attack. I have no problem with a discussion getting heated, but when you try to pass off anger as an argument, you’re just being childish. Grow up, kid.

  71. Every boy in every middle and high school needs to learn this by heart. (In other words, it deserves a place in the curriculum. It is more important than STEM.) And every girl in those schools needs to feel the surge of confidence that comes from knowing that their school and society around them is making that happen and making sure the message gets through, makes sense, and becomes a new way of life.

    1. That is the biggest load of horse shit I have ever seen typed out on my computer screen. Luckily, nothing like that will ever happen.

  72. Blessing on Humanity from Mehdi Imam and Adam Jesus Father and The Son with Holy Spirit.
    According to this Adams Mother or Imam wife is mother of all believers I would like to advise all who believe epically Muslims to be careful when commit adultery ( Zanna ) because certain thing cannot happens according to the divine interruption of Quran and other scriptures.
    Written by Mehdi
    511 Pine Street Bristol Ct 06010

  73. You realize everyone does this, right? Not just women? Men brush off “offensive” comments all the time. Men brush off sexism. Men bottle things up. Men are harassed, yes, sometimes by women, and laugh it off. Virtually everyone everywhere encounters actions and statements of others that make them at least a little bit uncomfortable. The difference is that most of us are adults about it and realize that part of living in a society with wide swaths of different people means encountering some bad apples. Getting worked up over usually harmless actions of very few people seems petty, which is why people continually ask you why you do it.

    From world hunger to poverty to disease to war to an overreaching government to an apathetic populace, there are much bigger issues. On top of this, these issues can be resolved at least in part. You’ll never be completely comfortable or safe, it simply won’t happen. People will still do harm to others and you’ll still be offended by someone insisting they pay for you on a date because they are the man. Isn’t it better to try and suggest to people what makes you uncomfortable and ask for accommodation rather than suggesting everyone tip-toe around to avoid stepping on toes that are in the aisle? Or to fixate on larger issues and take any real or perceived slight in stride? Stopping to smell the roses is great. Stopping to smell the petty bullshit is not.

    The greatest irony here is that you think women are alone or different in this issue, creating a false gender norm and insisting people listen harder because they just don’t get it. We get it, what we don’t get is how or why you don’t understand that these issues are petty and universal. We all can handle it, why can’t you? Please reflect.

    1. “We all can handle it, why can’t you?” Because when a guy is on top of us, trying to unzip our pants, we’re much less likely to be able to push them off. Guy on guy? Now, that could more potentially be a fair fight. And that’s just fact…unless of course you’re Ronda Rousey. Why can’t we be more like Ronda Rousey? I think that’s the better question…

      I think it’s important to note that, while you have a point–I think this kind of abuse DOES happen to both genders–women just simply don’t have the tools, resources, or MUSCLES to make it a fair fight. Thus, many women choose to play life on the safe side…ya know, far away from the threat of being raped, because we know for certain that we’ll lose that fight. And I mean that figuratively, too. The only reason men get so defensive about this subject is because 1) they know it’s true and 2) they know nothing about it.

      Also, you call for action. You want women to voice their concerns. “Isn’t it better to try and suggest to people what makes you uncomfortable and ask for accommodation rather than suggesting everyone tip-toe around to avoid stepping on toes that are in the aisle?” Um… read the article again. That’s what is being said here… That we educate men on how we are feeling so they are more aware. If you’re enraged at THIS writing, steer clear of any more mainstream feminist writings online…you’ll go insane. What you just read, or didn’t, is mild in comparison.

      1. Stephanie, as somebody who has taught self-defense to women on and off for twenty years, I have to differ with you. Women do have the ability to defend themselves quite successfully, they’re just trained not to believe it. In terms of lower body strength and pain tolerance, women frequently have men beat — it’s just as basic a biological fact as men’s generally superior upper body strength.

        I have to admit — when I’m teaching a woman how to fight, when a woman lands her first real punch without pulling it or flinching as it lands? The look on her face when she realizes she doesn’t have to be weak or afraid? That’s satisfying.

        You will not lose that fight for certain. You can stand up. You don’t need to be Ronda Rousey, any more than every guy you face will be Mike Tyson.

        1. I think it’s SUPER important for women to stand up for themselves, and take those classes. Because you’re right in that they do have the potential. They just have to realize it. Until they do, they’re going to inevitably feel defenseless. But it’s absolute nonsense to assume that women LIKE to be defenseless. That is so incredibly false. I mean maybe some do, but certainly not the majority….

          1. Yep, and that puts the lie to the whole “just stand up and stop being abused.” Many women are conditioned to believe they’re harmless, or that they deserve it, etc. etc. They de-escalate because they’re told over and over that to do otherwise is to court -certain doooooom-. Unfortunately, it’s not just the patriarchy telling them that now, it’s also become the litany among feminists, which is a disturbing trend.

  74. Jesus, this is a part of life. Men deal with shit all the time as well and you don’t hear them bitching away. Drop your shitty cause and stand up for something more noble & worthy.

  75. Reblogged this on Yes… And Maybe With You and commented:
    An excellent piece on the role women play every day in their own self-defense. I am fortunate to have an army of close male friends who make me feel secure that they would protect me, but they don’t go on every date with me. I engage in these behaviors as well.

  76. Women need to learn self defense. A real program that lands blows and teaches you how to fight for your life. Impact Personal Safety in Los Angeles is a model program; we fight back against fully padded assailants until we land what would be a knockout blow. We also learn how to spot, avoid, diffuse and escape without having to engage. EVERY female from 9-10 on up needs to know these techniques. They would change the world.

  77. Gretchen, you are absolutely right about this. I think I get it now, but it took a long time. I know it must suck to tell someone about this and for them not to believe your experience was quite what you’re telling them it was. I know I’ve done that, and all I can say in my defense is that it is difficult to understand when someone else’s reality seems to be so totally different from your own experiences. I just did not understand how pervasive the problem is.

    A lot of men don’t get it, and you are right that we need to be told about it, and that men need to listen.

    Guys, if you’re like me, at first it’s gonna sound like they’re telling you there is a sizeable percentage of men who are actually lizard people. But if enough women tell you about them, and you start to pay a little closer attention to the things going on around you, after a while it becomes clear. The lizard people are real.

  78. Good write and good read. I agree with most here. Its not something that gets talked about much. Yet everyone has there own perspective as well in these matters. I wish more people were genuine enough to speak up, say what’s on there mind, set it free. Look forward to reading more from you. Thanks.

  79. You should change this to, “The thing SOME women do..”.
    I have Black Belt in Taekwondo, I’m not going to be some girl that walks around calling herself a victim because Feminism is Trending at the moment.

    You make women look weak.

    You’ve probably got a t-shirt that has “I drink male tears” on it too.

      1. Sexual Harassment – be an adult and go to HR if they do nothing take it higher. Respect yourself enough to say something

        1. Yes. Or turn around and call him on it, right there in front of everyone else. Don’t tolerate it or ignore it. Your choice. Either stand up for yourself and be a strong woman, or stay home where no one can offend you. Damn, this is ridiculous. The sexual revolution and the 60s did more damage to women than anything else every has. I was growing up then, and I was working in corporate America in the late 70s and 80s. and now the chickens are coming home. We are no longer teaching our young men how to treat women and what is appropriate behaviour and we are not teaching our young women how to stand up for themselves not to tolerate the bullshit. I had ONE boss try that ONE time, on my last day at that job, when I was a teen. I turned around and walked out of the room. I didn’t denigrate myself, I acted like an adult (which he didn’t) and walked away. He apologized. Stop acting like a victim and do something about it. This stuff just pissed me off.

          1. so you’re saying that there was no such thing as rape or sexual harassment before the sexual revolution…? The point of this article is that not all men take what they see as “rejection” as well as a simple apology.

          2. Yes, stop and call him on it if you are fortunate enough to be in a job that you CAN. That you are protected. That you won’t be fired. If you are fortunate enough to have this job, absolutely call him on it, report to HR and follow through. But, please don’t dismiss those who have to grit their teeth and take it because they must keep this job.

          3. This may not reflect your character or experience, but it speaks to a lot of women. Try being supportive of perspectives that may add insight, possibly informing women about unconsciously falling into destructive patterns. Judging doesn’t eliminate the victim role that bothers you so much.
            If it weren’t for the 60’s and 70’s, I can’t imagine how much more difficult things would be today. We take so much for granted that was not possible back then. Watching a few episodes of “Mad Men” demonstrates how “good” things were for women. No thanks.

        2. I think that’s really unfair. My sister is an engineer – she had to choose to go to her HR department or be blacklisted and never work in her field again (as geological engineering is a male-dominated field). She chose to go to another company that had a much more modern approach to complaints like that.
          Don’t assume you know the whole situation. These kinds of things are never black and white.

        3. Actually, I punched him in the stomach and walked away. But the next night and the next night and all of the following nights at work I was horribly uncomfortable. I wasn’t sure if there would be retaliation or if he would try something when I was the only waiter left closing the restaurant. There was no Human Resources to file a complaint with. It was a privately owned restaurant. So, no, not a victim. Just a college kid (at the time) who desperately needed the job and left as soon as I found another one. Also, FYI, speaking about these things does not make you a victim. Far from it.

    1. Wow. Feminism is just a trend? You complain about women looking weak while simultaneously complaining about equality. #irony

      A black belt in TKD won’t do shit for you in most real predicaments. But let me get this straight… if all men and all women had a black belt in TKD, who will come out on top from that perspective? Men. In reality, more men than women learn martial arts. This is partially by choice and partially by socialization/society. I am a woman, I trained Aikido for 3 years. I don’t train it anymore because I don’t think it’s worth it when I could be doing other valuable things with my time that I enjoy more and that allow me to spend more time with women (because martial arts classes are always male dominated). I don’t think that 3 years of Aikido prepared me to defend myself from any serious attacker. It would have taken me 7+ years to reach black belt. Now I’m a dancer, and I’m studying massage therapy.

      I read an autobiography about a trans guy before he transitioned – so when he was presenting as a woman…. his dad was abusive and hateful toward him for not being feminine. So as soon as he could, he started learned TKD. His TKD instructor was famous, nationally renowned. Well, he ended up dating this guy, who told him he “fought like a man”… and when he tried to leave, his TKD instructor raped him and literally chased him down the street. So in trying to protect himself from his evil father, he got raped by the person who was supposed to be helping him. #irony

      You’ve got to be extremely arrogant if you think that having a black belt in TKD makes you impervious to sexism. Also, who goes around bragging that they have a black belt? Maybe someone looking to pick a fight. My dad always told me that a wise person doesn’t go around telling anyone they have any martial arts background because it just incites belligerent men to try to pick a fight with them.

    2. Tell me, how was I supposed to fight off the abuse from the pastor at church as a child? I’ve since learned martial arts, carry weapons, do and have fought off attack. But picture an eight year old as the target of your diatribe.

      1. male children suffer sexual abuse also. Sexual abuse is not limited to girls. I think girls are more likely to talk about it but many males go through abuse also.

        1. How is that relevant to this article or even to your comment? And what about older women? Should they just learn martial arts and beat everyone up too? What about women with disabilities? It’s great that you feel confident in your abilities, but not everyone can be as physically strong for varying reasons. Should they just be “victims?” Your attitude is not so much of “women should not be assaulted” and is more “Make sure someone else is assaulted.” And I’ll just about guarantee you, you’ll learn that physical strength will ultimately fail you. It does for literally everyone someday. Arrogance usually doesn’t serve you.

    3. And the reason you felt the need to obtain a Black Belt in Taekwondo is? You see you do it too, and you don’t even know you do it. You are prepared to physically defend yourself against attack. That is, of course, a good thing.

      This article does not make women look weak. Women are actually stronger than men in every way except general physical strength. This article isn’t about women being weak or being victims. It is about the fact that females are automatically, from birth really, a target for this type of unsavory treatment.

      Do some deep critical thinking about the bigger picture and maybe you will see that having a Black Belt in Taekwondo really does not do anything to change the reality of what all women, all over the world, are subjected to on a daily basis.

      The attitude and response you have had to this article actually makes you a part of the problem. Would you be one of those women who would tell another woman, one who had been gang raped and beaten nearly to death just because she was female, that it was her own fault because she failed to prepare herself for the possibility of that situation? Don’t you see that women should not have to prepare for that possibility because that possibility should not even exist. Maybe you could use your own strength/attitude to address the bigger problem and do something to actually help other women change the dangerous sexist culture that exists.

      1. Irene: “Women are actually stronger than men in every way except general physical strength.” Um. Wow? That’s a pretty horrible thing to say.

        “Don’t you see that women should not have to prepare for that possibility because that possibility should not even exist.” Yes, but since jerks aren’t going to all magically disappear, people who aren’t prepared for bad things are foolish.

        “Maybe you could use your own strength/attitude to address the bigger problem and do something to actually help other women change the dangerous sexist culture that exists.” How do you know she isn’t? Isn’t the very fact that she’s willing to stand up, not back down, and not take crap a valuable lesson, -especially- given the context of the article around “de-escalation?”

      2. You claim that women are stronger than men in every way except the physical, but can’t deal with the s*** thats going on in your own mind. You feminent are a f****** riot!!! You want equal rights but special treatment f*** you. Grow some thick skin.

        1. No, Women are not ” stronger than men in every way except the physical” that is a ridiculous arrogant statement. BUT so is “You want equal rights but special treatment f*** you. Grow some thick skin.” Jerks exist, yes, and you should be prepared for that…. to a degree. But lets be realistic, for most men, dealing with “a jerk” means the threat of de-escalating a potential fist fight with someone of similar physical strength, not being forcefully penetrated by someone with significantly stronger physical capabilities. My time is valuable to me and I shouldn’t have to spend 5 hours a week just to even the physical score because a large percentage of men don’t have the emotional/social maturity to not abuse their physical advantage.

    4. And this article is not about being a victim at all. It’s about awareness. Its about being aware that things like this do happen and it’s not something that should be swept under the rug.

      I also have a black belt in Taekwondo, but I doesn’t mean not a single one of these things have ever happened to me. I am still prepared and walk with my keys out because even though I can take care of myself doesn’t mean im going to be an idiot and assume that there is no one out there that can take me out. I also am not going to rage at every guy that stares at my boobs every where I go.

      I am not a victim because I have great boobs that men find themselves staring at them. I am not a victim because a man or even a women tells an inappropriate joke at an inappropriate time. I am not a victim because I may tell a little white lie when a man hits on me and it is unwanted. Sometimes that little white lie is the path of least resistance and it’ll get me out of the situation quicker.

    5. The author forgot to mention that it is a attractive woman’s issue. Not all of us have to deal with men after turning down a date or getting unwanted attention.

      1. That’s because the societal construct of “pretty” is a system of oppression. So, actually, it is very much an issue for all women.

      2. Honestly, not to invalidate your experiences, whoever you are, but I am *very far* from classically pretty and I’ve had several of these things happen to me. It’s about power, not attraction.

      3. Sorry, not true. I’m a size 24W and still get aggressively hit on, harassed, and sworn at by men for rejecting them…the list goes on and on.

    6. I know a woman with a black belt who was raped anyway. Your confidence is admirable but it isn’t a failsafe. Your comment is victim-blaming and that’s shitty. I don’t have a black belt so I guess I deserved what happened to me huh?

    7. You are able to say that Feminism is “trending” because you’re standing on the shoulders of giants – those that had to actually risk something so the rest of us could benefit. Not that long ago women weren’t allowed to study Taekwondo. Your accomplishment is amazing, but imagine trying to take it in 1960, along with the fallout a woman would endure for pushing for it. That’s real strength. That history should be respected, not insulted.

      1. I don’t think she’s insulting what feminism has been, I think she’s questioning what it is now. And frankly, it’s divisive on a number of levels that aren’t helpful. A young woman I know has essentially abandoned feminism because, as she put it, “feminists eat their young.” Many examples of it (though certainly not this article) seem to come across as, “Because our cause is right, anything we do is right, and questioning us makes you the enemy.”

        A group that is unable to address criticism thoughtfully, rather than simply attacking the critics, is going to lose the people it most hopes to help. Obviously, Annabel is interested in strong women with equal rights — why else would she be so concerned about the presentation of women as weak?

        Attacking her solves precisely nothing. Comments like “I’m quite certain you lack vital human qualities” (see below) only serve to further alienate her. Why not engage with her, instead?

          1. Actually, I was defending a woman who was being dehumanized for daring to differ from the accepted narrative. But nice try, really. And I’m not telling you how to do feminism, and I’m suggesting you be less of an ass. These things are only tangentially connected, so please put away your mansplaining shield.

        1. Good points, about polarization and how it can repel. But, if someone opens divergent conversation by polarizing – telling someone “how” they think; that they are simply wrong; insult/label – and expect not to be challenged, it’s a bit of a double standard, no? I can begin with an attack and react strongly, but if you respond in kind, I’ve decided to turn my back because you’re the inappropriate one? Strong is good, but HOW you are strong is relevant too.

          Respect, that’s all. I agree that Anabelle isn’t the only one being reactive though.

    8. Countering a societal behaviour with physical violence is a mere bandaid for an isolated situation. But the issue with your comment is primarily that it’s downright rude. I’m quite certain you lack vital human qualities rather than specifically woman.

    9. The guy who tried to rape me did it when I was unconscious. And before anyone tries to blame me, I was asleep in my own bedroom. Even if I had known Taekwondo that would have meant diddly squat. So maybe try to be less smug because not everyone has the same advantages as you. There are teenage girls harassed by grown men twice their size. What would busting out a karate chop accomplish, except make him angry? Also, nowhere in the article does it say girls have to call themselves a victim. It’s about raising awareness to the reality that a lot of women have to live with. Learning self-defense is one step, but that only goes so far.

    10. That’s funny, I didn’t realize my black belt (and instructorship) in taekwondo meant I didn’t have to be a feminist or that I was immune to harassment. Guess I should tell that to my black-belt friend, who has been assaulted.

    11. Why do you have to negate what she just said, like she said would happen.
      This needs to be brought up over and over and over until it is stopped.
      I am a big man and I do my best to make women feel comfortable when we end up alone in an elevator or stairwell. I have offered to wait for the next elevator so they aren’t alone with me. I slow down in parking garages if they are ahead of me. These things are a reality and no amount of martial arts training is going to change the world.
      Men need to educate and shame men into understanding their role in how women have been terrorized around the world. I do not allow my male friends to talk about women in a derogatory way, nor do I let strangers do it either. I call them on it whenever I can. It is the only thing that will stop this.
      This breaks my heart for all my women friends, my daughter-in-law and my 2 beautiful granddaughters that will have to experience this. Let’s educate boys now so they know not to do this. It is not girl’s and women’s problems, it is a men’s and boy’s problem.

    12. Being strong and suffering from sexist behaviour are NOT mutually exclusive, so the comment I reply to here founders on that false dichotomy. A strong woman can soldier on despite such behaviour, but that does not make the behaviour in question any more acceptable.

    13. Even after a Women’s Studies degree program and countless conversations with friends about pervasive sexism, I didn’t know. It took a specific anti-harassment campaign (and the followup conversations I had) to clue me in, because my friends assumed it was so normal as to be universal knowledge, but I rarely witnessed the harassment in person specifically because I was there, since men who might ‘own’ the woman in question (in the mind of the harasser) dissuade overt harassment.

      I say this not to earn points or excuse ignorance, just to validate the premise. There are also plenty of willfully-ignorant non-harassers as well as self-rationalizing harassers, and you can’t necessarily know whether men in your life are in any particular group, but if you think they’re trustworthy, it may be worth talking with them about everyday sexism.

    14. Wow, what nonsense. I’ve luckily never had any major issue at work, but have you ever taken a moment to consider:
      Someone who is desperate for the job and the offender is the woman’s direct manager or even the business owner.
      Someone who needs a letter of recommendation for their next job
      Someone who is needs the job for their visa
      Seriously- that last one- if I went around beating up assholes like you seem to be advocating, I would lose my job, my visa would be cancelled, and I would be deported. Have you ever stopped to consider that? Thousands of people rely on their job, internship, or studies to keep their visa.

      1. I don’t know how it is in your country, but in Canada, if you initiate unwanted sexual contact, violence is a legally acceptable response. All you have to do is demonstrate that you felt threatened.

        I’m curious — a lot of your posts seem to take the stance that standing up for yourself will often escalate into violence. Do you think it’s that common?

        1. Okay, that was awkwardly worded. Edit: “If someone initiates unwanted contact, violence is a legally acceptable response.”

  80. Women can be just as bad as anyone else at sexual harassment. One of the first times I was harassed was by a woman, who thought that groping me at work was totally appropriate. Needless to say, I corrected her assumption that touching me in any way was acceptable. Perhaps not gracefully, but “don’t touch me…ever…” kind of gets the point across. But she still continued to ask me out and try to flirt with me until the day I left. Now, I’ve been harassed by men more times than I can count – from being told my braids make nice handle-bars to being grabbed on the sidewalk walking home at night (Thank God that worked out better than expected), ,and some of these men are just really distasteful and disrespectful, but from some I’ve gotten to know, they have no idea how to interact appropriately with women. They think what they say and do is normal and sometimes even desired. One man I know came from an all male workplace, where women were discussed as objects, so when we started working together, he interacted the way he knew how. He needed to learn how to respect and ineract with women, and who better than a woman to break those negative patterns? He’s now one of the most respectful men I know.
    Sexism is real and happens way too often, but it’s not just men perpetrating it. I understand that pattern of thinking, because I’ve been there. For years I avoided men like the plague, because when I saw a man, I didnt see a cute guy, I saw a threat. But there truly are good men out there who are penalized by the stigma that all men are sexist jerks. Is it a woman’s fault that she’s been through experiences that shape her thinking in that way? No. Is it this man’s fault that so many before him degraded or hurt you? No. But it is a sad reality that we are slowly trying to change. As women we have to be cautious in this world, but we also need to be careful about blaming an entire gender – that resolves nothing. As men, you need to be aware that you are not the first man she’s met…And some of her reactions to you might be stemming from past experiences. Be understanding, be open. Be aware of the presence that you have as a man…probably larger and stronger…and do whatever you need to do to put her at ease, because you have no idea what she has been through before meeting you. And women…don’t be afraid to speak up, even gently to say that something makes you feel awkward or uncomfortable, because that varies with each of us, and he can’t read our minds. Perhaps he means welll, but he needs to know that your personal bubble isn’t the size of a grape…it’s more like a good year blimp. Maybe casual touching (no, I don’t mean groping) isn’t okay with you, but it was in his past experiences with other women. Give him a fair chance by giving him some clues. Sometimes it’s hard to find your voice, but if you don’t try, you might miss out. If I had continued to believe that all men were a threat, and hadn’t spoken up, I would have missed out on the greatest person in my life: my husband.

    1. I recommend this to you ccraig. Written by a white man, sent to you by a woman who is deeply tired of men who say “it happens to men too” and “women do it too”. Because you’re entirely missing the point. Absolutely and entirely. Please read. But don’t write back to me because … I’m so deeply tired of you and I know you can take care of yourself.

      “Unless we, especially those of us like myself who are white men, are willing to acknowledge the fact of our colonialist civilization, are willing to confront the fact of our legacy and continuation of systemic racism, are willing to acknowledge the role men play, collectively and individually, in the creation of a culture of misogyny, then how can we seek to be allies to those communities and movements that are fighting to end the long and terrible history of institutionalized brutality that directly benefited us and whose continuing, daily and pervasive manifestations still do?

      This is why talking about, seeking to understand and seeking to acknowledge our collective role in systemic oppression is an absolute necessity. Without doing so, it is very difficult to see how our society and civilization can ever begin to move past it..”

    2. Saying that women ‘can” be as bad is quite different from saying that there is a culture of systemic harassment of men by women in the same way that there is one of women by men. Understanding the difference is important. So sure, women can harass, but pointing that out does not actually challenge the point the article is making.

      1. It does change a lot of the reasoning. The articles reads:

        “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.”

        “Guys, this is what it means to be a woman.”

        It addresses men directly. It describes problems women have. One could conclude that the article blames men for these problems.

        If women are doing this too, one of two things must be true.

        A) People are unaware that women do this and men are being wrongly blamed for something both sexes perpetrate.


        B) These problems only qualify as problems when perpetrated by men, which would be sexist.

        These apply directly to the problems women face as described by the article (some people will not think everything discussed is necessarily an issue either). We are not even talking about analogous issues men may face (faux pas, I know).

  81. As a man I think this article is largely true but it misses something.

    It assumes unfair, gender based challenges are unique to women.

    As a man I am seen as a threat. A woman walks near a child and even speaks to a child and people are fine with it. A man does the exact same thing and is treated like a threat – other parents call their children over. Watch TV: a woman slaps a man and she is a hero… a man does the exact same thing to a woman and he is a villain. If there is domestic violence where both parties act inappropriately the man is assumed to be the one in the wrong. If two consenting adults have a few drinks and then engage in intimate behavior the woman can say she was intoxicated and taken advantage of – the man cannot. Heck, from personal experience I know when I used to hold my infant children I would repeatedly be told I was doing it wrong by different women – they would just approach me and start telling me how to hold MY child (yes, I was supporting their necks, yes they were comfortable… no, I was not tossing them up in the air and catching them!)

    Many more examples: men are seen as the heroes, that is true, but also as the villains. Men are threats. Men are abusers. Men are assumed to be wrong, and told they are valued less (women and children first!)

    I am NOT saying that this means men have it as bad as women… but I think we *do* hear a lot about the stereotypes and challenges of women (and I appreciate hearing it – it does open my eyes to things I would not otherwise see). We do not hear it as much about men because men have the advantage so their unique challenges are to just be accepted.

    1. I agree with you on this one. Men also have to be constantly aware of threats from other men (unfortunately playing into your threat generalization). Men of smaller stature are prayed upon by other men and bullied yet can’t speak up. My son takes public transportation home from school at the age of 12. I have to worry about him protecting himself etc., Its not only women and girls who experience fear at the hands of others.

    2. You make some important points. Pervasive stereotypes are so entrenched. They affect us all negatively in one way or another, even when we think things have changed somewhat…those roots run deep.

    3. I don’t know, I find that pretty much as soon as I open up any post about women, someone comes along right away to make sure I’ve heard about the plight of men.

    4. This is right on the mark and I was going to say exactly that, however you did a far better job than I could have:

      “. A woman walks near a child and even speaks to a child and people are fine with it. A man does the exact same thing and is treated like a threat – other parents call their children over. Watch TV: a woman slaps a man and she is a hero… a man does the exact same thing to a woman and he is a villain. If there is domestic violence where both parties act inappropriately the man is assumed to be the one in the wrong. If two consenting adults have a few drinks and then engage in intimate behavior the woman can say she was intoxicated and taken advantage of – the man cannot.” —–

      Men are sexualized very often. They are groped, harassed sexually. If a woman rages and throws things, she’s pissed off, if a man rages and throws things, suddenly he is told to go to anger management. Although I can identify with some of the things mentioned in this article, I don’t feel my trials and tribulations as a woman are any worse than those of young men I knew growing up.

    5. The article didn’t miss anything. The author wrote about challenges women face. The article never says or assumes that men do not face any gender-based stereotypes- that was something you very much chose to read into it. The author is a woman, so don’t you think it’s pretty unreasonable to expect her to magically be able to write a man’s perspective?

      Your comment is well-written and you seem to have personal experience with this issue, both as a father and simply as a male member to society. Perhaps you should consider addressing the lack of awareness about the gender-based challenges men face by writing your own blog post? They are important issues, but you cannot expect a woman to write about your challenges and personal experience as a male- she could try, but I think we can all agree that such a post would be more meaningful from someone like you who has personal experience on the subject.

      1. I had the same initial reaction too and made a post, but then realized the error in such a response. It wasn’t the core issue I had with the article at all. As a blog for female issues, I don’t find fault with omitting similar issues men face.

        Rather I find it disturbing that the author blames men for the issues women face. Looking through the comments, it is obvious that women are just as capable as men are in causing the issues as the article lays out. Therefore, the author should be addressing everyone regarding the issues women face rather than placing the onus solely on men.

        1. “Looking through the comments, it is obvious that women are just as capable as men are in causing the issues as the article lays out.”
          I’m not sure what comment makes you think that. I think you might be lying to yourself a bit. I have never had a woman question why I was cold to a guy who was making me uncomfortable, or accuse me of being unfriendly when the attention I was getting was unwelcome, I have never had a woman tell me that a guy’s inappropriate behavior to me was just a “misunderstanding,” I’ve never had women tell me “nothing really bad happened” when a guy grabbed me. I’ve never had a women accuse me of lying about having been followed.
          I do not think the writer did anything wrong in addressing men in her post. Yes, there are a few women who are insensitive about these things, but most women have experienced at least some of these fears, abuse, inappropriate behavior or insults, therefore they are more empathetic. The vast majority of insensitivity on this topic comes from males. That doesn’t make men bad, they just don’t usually have the same level of understanding because very few of them have experienced these things. Some of my close friends have said things like, “Why aren’t you more friendly?” That doesn’t make them bad people, I love them, they are my friends- but they are a bit insensitive on this topic.

  82. I guess it is a big secret that men also de-escalate. They do it at work to keep from being fired. They do it because men who don’t are jerks.(Not perceived as jerks. They actually ARE jerks (male bitches). If you find you have to de-escalate to avoid danger, you are seeking the wrong kind of men. You should change yourself to seek and attract different men.

    1. If you read the article you would know she isnt “seeking” anyone she is talking about everyday life..going to work to a store etc.. Never once does it say anything about dating these guys or seeking anyone out. Its about putting up w them in everyday life.

  83. This happened to me at work (a government job) on a daily basis for a very long time and made me so stressed i became physically ill. Im on medical leave beacuse of it and they do not believe me, rather they sent me to a psychaitrist because i must be ‘crazy’…… 4 months later i relive it every day sitting here. Its terrible because its apparently acceptable behaviour….if you speak out or question it, you get revictimized. All I am asking for is a safe healthy workplace to return to, which they are not providing….rather now recommending I apply for long term disability….. because apparently out of all of this, i am disabled? Ok.

  84. While walking to work and seeing the 98985498493th man check out my girlfriend, I turned to her and asked, “How do you deal with all these guys look at you, check you out, eye you up and down, non-stop, over and over and over every day of your life probably from when you were a young lady, until today?”
    She looked at me and said “I just get over it.”
    The end.
    Stop being so butt hurt.

    1. That would be the de-escalating she was referring to. Just getting over it doesnt make it right that it happens. hopefully a little education can curtail some of it.

    2. It wouldn’t be such a big deal if guys just checked you out. Actually I wouldn’t really be offended by that. What I had to deal with walking to the bus stop: guys yelling nasty things at me, cussing me out if I didn’t give him my number, I’ve had guys push me, one guy actually grab onto my jacket and not let me go. And I was not wearing skimpy clothes! I was dressed for the office, pants and a blazer. The best thing is just to ignore it, I learned not to make eye contact, no saying “hello”, no smiling at guys on the street. It’s sad you can’t be friendly because some guys will take it as an invitation to harassment.

  85. well, how to live then? I’ve learned a lesson well – I am a man. Horrible, aggressive beast who abuses women just by looking at them. OK, I’m ashamed. I’m alone. I never speak to woman, unless spoken to. I avoid their company altogether, I don’t need to be arrested for looking in wrong direction, breathing too deep or too shallow, or, unimaginable, touching, purely by accident, but we know those men with only one thing in their monkey brains, yuck.

    So, dear women, that is how I live thanks to you. Since the childhood I’ve been told by women, how disgusting I am, so, now I am man of your dreams – alone and always afraid. Harmless as wet cotton.

    Thank you.

    1. I think you’ve really internalized things based on the worst possible interpretation of all this. Nobody who should be listened to wants you to suffer because you’re a man. You still have to live your life.

      Just don’t be all of those awful things you’ve listed! Don’t act entitled to women’s time or attention just because you want it, don’t leer at them, don’t cat-call, etc. It’s basic human decency, not some demand that you don’t live your life for fear of offending.

      I’m sorry you feel the way you do, because I know what it’s like to have poor self-esteem, among other related problems. You sound like you’re really suffering about this, but you don’t have to. There’s no need to use some awful stereotype about men to judge yourself, or to use feminist ideas as a scapegoat for why you don’t feel good about yourself. I’ve been there, it’s easy to blame something else for your problems.

      Try not to beat yourself up because sexism exists. None of us is perfectly able to avoid playing into sexism, and none of us made things the way they are, BUT we can all try to do better, and we can all live with respect for others.

      I’m a man too. It can be difficult to know where the line is when it comes to interacting with women, but the bottom line is just decency. With maybe an extra dose of trying not to creep women out. Again, we can’t control it 100%, but we can get close, especially when it comes to the bigger problem behaviors women encounter in public.

  86. How in the HELL did you get victim from this? Acknowledging and dealing with issues such as racism and sexism is not playing the victim. Grow up. Feminism is not a trend, it’s not a victim mentality. My god – who the hell are you people? Don’t talk about it – that makes you a victim? WHAT? Where is the logic in this argument – OH WAIT – there is NO logic in your weak argument. I’m so sick of seeing this shaming when someone speaks up, addresses the issue and tries to change the status quo.

  87. This was hard to read. Not because it isn’t true, but because it is. I will say a lot of this has changed for me now in my 40s because I’m not the cute little thing I used to be, but I don’t miss that sinking feeling of being smarmed. Yes, that is my own word. When a guy oozes leeringly at you and you aren’t sure if he is just clueless and harmlessly trying to be charming or actually dangerous.

    These kinds of things happen to both genders because we’re lost as a world, as a culture. We’ve forgotten how to respect each other and ourselves, we’ve forgotten how to have some self-control, that just because you think or feel something doesn’t give you permission to act or necessitate that you act or even speak your mind.

    If we want this kind of sickening stuff to stop for everyone, we have to stand up to it. Call it out, draw attention and force people to be better.

    1. Actually, men do not go through life being afraid of being raped and murdered by women. So it’s not a case of “both genders.” Men just trot out the “but women do it too!” crap whenever women point out male violence, as a derailing tactic.

    2. “When a guy oozes leeringly at you and you aren’t sure if he is just clueless and harmlessly trying to be charming or actually dangerous.”
      I had an experience with this just a few days ago. I was out with some friends, and a couple of guys we didn’t know ended up joining our group. At first it was fine, but the more drunk they got, the more uncomfortable I felt.
      They didn’t do anything overtly wrong, other than giving compliments that bordered on inappropriate and invading my personal space quite a lot (trying to whisper in my ear and a couple of times trying to put his arm around me). I have been around drunk people that acted worse, but all of my instincts were screaming ‘danger’ so I felt like spent the evening manuvering away from them, trying to put my male friends between me and them. I wanted to leave, but didn’t dare to walk home alone.
      When my friends and I finally left and walked home together, they (both male) mentioned how annoying those guys had been.
      It was eye-opening to think that what had been merely an annoyance to them had been fear for me. And I don’t think I’m paranoid or unreasonable even though it’s unlikely anything bad would have happened, but I still think listening to my instincts- to stop drinking, stick close to my firends, and not walk home alone- was the right thing to do.

      1. I’ve been there so many times. The worry is that we’re wrong, and will blame someone who was harmless. Why? Couldn’t we just say, I’m feeling like you’re pushing a bit hard against my personal boundaries. I need some room. A good guy won’t get angry. A bad guy will.

  88. Gretchen, well said, thank you! Women have lived with this far too long. Ms Maunder, congratulations on your Black Belt, well done, I am sure it will hold you in good stead during an attack and boosts your confidence. Women do need to take care of ourselves.

    An navel, The first tenet of Taekwondo is Yi-Ui…courtesy, somewhat lacking?

    In the Taekwondo oath the fourth article is a pledge to stand up for freedom and justice. The fifth is to cooperate in the creation of a more peaceful world!

    Gretchen was not making women look weak, nor was she calling herself a victim, because Feminism is Trending. She is stading up for freedom and justice and working towards a more peaceful world! She is simply stating facts, women do put up with a lot of things, and have to be continually aware of security. I applaud women who are willing to put these issues into print, to talk about sexist behaviour and to unify us to make the world a better place!

    I grew up in an era where women had been working in munition plants, nursing men and women whose bodies were shattered by bombs, etc., etc., to be sent back to their changed lives and expected to accept old traditional values of what women were supposed to be! We have worked hard to get where we are now for this new generation of stronger, fitter women! Hurrah, I am pleased, it just keeps improving. My daughters are strong, intelligent, loving women! We have come a long way, keep climbing!

  89. Of course there are men on here feeling sorry for themselves. As always. “Yes it’s bad for women, but just think about how the men feel in this situation! We are judged and labeled!” Wah.

    And the woman who feels that poor little delicate men “just don’t know how to act”… “be fair, give them a chance”. We don’t need more excuses for this behavior.

    No, it is 2015 and this has been happening to women for hundreds, if not thousands of years! It’s not time to be “understanding” and “consider what their previous experiences were”. It is quite clear that for a majority (notice I didn’t say “all”) of society, men’s previous experience has been treating women this way for generations upon generations. It is time for boys to be raised and taught that you don’t treat women this way. That you treat them with respect and honor and show some restraint and some decency as a human being. That women are not to be objectified and sexualized when they are 13! That women have a right to say “no” to you and that doesn’t mean you can get angry about it, and that women deserve to go on about their day without being bothered by some man who thinks he automatically deserve her time of day.

    I’m not saying there aren’t cases where men aren’t treated poorly or where they are not harassed, but on the large scale this is a much bigger problem for women and it is treated as the “norm” and that’s not okay. It’s time for all humans to treat each other with respect and decency.

  90. Spelling correction “I’m not saying there aren’t cases where when ARE* treated poorly or where they ARE* harassed”. Got a bit mixed up when typing.

    1. Makes another mistake trying to correct spelling…

      “I’m not saying there aren’t cases where MEN* are treated poorly”, etc etc.

  91. Great article. AND I would add this happens on even more subtle levels EVERY DAY within our most intimate circles and relationships – both with men and with women. It takes vigilence and strength and power to not hide in fear of speaking up even more in those circles to those that say they Love us…because what will they do if we speak up and point out the way they are wounding the Feminine in our relationship?

  92. I quite honestly think a lot of you are missing the point of her article. I’ll put it simply in two words. “Just. Listen.” She just asks you guys to listen when a woman does get mistreated because listening is the least we can all do.

  93. Im sorry – though Im really not this article pissed me off – if your statements at the start and middle of your rant are true then what is there to listen to cause according to you we as woman do and say nothing. I for one NEVER learned to say nothing – even to a boss (though I have never had a boss touch my ass)

    I have never said a woman deserved a rape because of what she wore, because I also know that woman can be raped or abused wearing sweatpants and sweatshirts but I have also said that woman should Respect themselves more than to show the world everything they have, Be a Lady, hold yourself in respect and maybe just maybe people will respect you

    I did listen to you and I call bull

    1. No, what’s bullshit is saying you have never said a woman deserved rape because of what she wore and then saying we should respect ourselves and not show too much skin because men will…. what? Respect us enough not to rape us? Total. Bullshit.

      1. I never said men – read what I said – “Be a Lady, hold yourself in respect and maybe just maybe people will respect you”

        You implied that with your own mind set not mine – That is the problem right there. This whole article is a poor us woman we are so looked down upon we have to let this happen to us and not say anything – it the I take offense to everything culture we live in.

        You saw my words and took offense because you though I was saying respect yourself so men wont rape you – which in no way did I actually say.

        So maybe she did get one thing right as people (not just woman) we need to listen to each other and look at it from outside our world views.

        Cause all I saw from my world view is you taking my words and spinning them for your own “Im offended by everything agenda”

        1. Being a “lady” and “holding oneself in respect” does not protect women against rape. A man who is raping a woman does not care if she is being a “lady” and does not respect her. He is doing it because he can – not because she isn’t being a “lady.”

          Your agenda is to blame women for being raped.

          1. I never said it did not once did I say that I actually even said that – “because I also know that woman can be raped or abused wearing sweatpants and sweatshirts.” I even said Maybe just maybe people respect you.

            Why is it that he thinks he can… because as she said woman are silent so WHY ARE WE SILENT, she says its cause we have been taught that way – as I said ” I for one NEVER learned to say nothing – even to a boss (though I have never had a boss touch my ass) ”

            You are just repeating what bibliomama2 said, which I should have known that replying to a blog with the tone this had that my opinions would be attacked and not seen as another side.

            I started my second paragraph with the statement that I dont blame the woman so how can my agenda be to blame the woman…..

            What I am saying is that Men (who do this stuff – cause not all men do – though this blog and many comments say all men do ) may , which I again say MAY, realize they are wrong if we stand up for ourselves and respect ourselves. Its the same with bulling- if we just sit back and take it, it will keep happening. If we stand up and say something it may keep happening but then at least someone else knows its happen and something can be done it.

            The man who rapes, or assaults a woman physically and/or verbally/ mentally is to blame I have never said he wasnt. As a matter of fact ANYONE who does anything against ANYONE is to blame. That is my point if we as HUMAN BEINGS respected ourselves and others wouldnt have these problems and if we live that way we can be examples to others and maybe we can finally live in a world where we dont have these issues

    2. Amanda, thank you SO much both for this comment and all the ones after it. I’ve said the same thing, and I was beginning to wonder if there were any women out there who agreed. If you don’t lift a finger to stop something, what right do you have to expect it to stop?

      1. John, what do you suggest when women do speak out and they’re simply ignored and invalidated? Unless there has been a severe physical transgression, often it’s merely her word against his.

        Unfortunately sexual intimidation doesn’t carry the same legal recourse as sexual abuse.

        Her concerns and fears are often dismissed as being “over sensitive”, or a “misunderstanding”. If she shares that her boss / co-worker / fellow-student / acquaintance is “handsy” she gets told to try and stay out of his way, or to “just ignore it”.

        There have been cases of young sportsmen who have sexually assaulted women and instead of focusing on why they would abuse a women, the conversation has instead been centred around why she would try to ruin their promising careers. This is one such instance:

        So what more do women need to do? If women are routinely ignored, if their concerns are routinely downplayed, if they are routinely discouraged from speaking out, what are they supposed to do?

        And why is it the sole responsibility of women to change the narrative and culture? Why do we never discuss the responsibility of men in this?

        What right do men have to think they can start?

  94. Hey – this is a great article. Thanks for writing it and posting it. I never read the comments. I’ve been told they will piss me off. But you mentioned them right off the bat so – I made an exception this time. They are not what I expected and I’m so sorry you have to deal with this bullshit. Please bask in the knowledge that you’re right. That ignorance is just that – ignorance. Ignorance leads to shaming and oppression. It also inspires the following:

    To the haters – even though as Brene Brown says – I’m not a JackAss Whisper – and I know my shouts will probably be ignored or stupid comments posted in reply but I have to say this:

    Feminism is not a trend. It’s not a four letter word.
    I’m older than most of you on this board. I don’t mean to “Patronize” It’s a fact.
    Most of you have NO idea what the world was like before you were born and the deep seated sexism that did and does still exists today. You have no clue why you have the rights you do have and the opportunities and choices you do have because of people like me.

    You have no clue what we fought for, the trenches we crawled through as warriors not this “victim” you claim Feminist are being. You can say that all you want, but you’re wrong.
    My god – who the hell are you people?
    Talking about and dealing with a problem? That makes you a victim? WHAT? Where is the logic in this argument – OH WAIT – there is NO logic in your weak argument. You are doing EXACTLY what she’s talking about and I guess you’re too blind to see that fact.
    TALKING and meeting an issue (ANY issue) head on makes you strong.

    Someone grabs your ass in a bar. Sure go all martial arts on their ass but you know what? Why should we have to deal with that shit in the first place? And because I don’t want to deal with it – THAT makes me a victim? Because I speak up and try to change the idea that that behavior is NOT acceptable by talking about it. THAT makes me a victim? I don’t think so!
    How in the HELL did you get victim from this article?

    If you are my age and you wrote one of those shaming comments well -shame on you back.
    Acknowledging and dealing with issues such as racism and sexism is not playing the victim. Grow up- no matter how old you are.

    Feminism is not a trend and it’s not a victim mentality.

    Recognizing these issues – or being subjected to them – doesn’t mean you want special treatment, hate men or society or people who post shaming comments on other people’s blogs. (well – that last one – I’m working on)

    The action of acknowledging that it happens and the subsequent discussion of these issues make you HUMAN.

    “Feminist” are insisting that we be treated as equals. Not better, not worse. Equals.

    You shamers are just one more attempt to silence people with non-facts, unsupported ideas and propaganda – fallacy arguments that have no foundation in reality or fact. Your idea of “Feminist as victim” has no substance. NONE.

    You are ignorant weapons and I’m sick of ignoring your weak ass arguments.
    I’m so sick of seeing this shaming when someone speaks up, addresses the issue and tries to change the status quo.
    NO ONE Is a victim because they talk about shit that needs to change.
    I shout again:
    We don’t speak up because we are a victims, but because the status quo needs to change and to change it you have to talk about it. Although right now, trust me – I would love to go all martial arts on some of YOUR asses.

    These comments challenge me not to become a hater.
    I didn’t quite succeed today but you know what –
    I won’t let you silence this author.
    I won’t be silenced by you and let you try to discredit these ideas without a fight.
    I won’t keep my mouth shut about the ignorance you are spouting.
    I won’t “Play the victim” by remaining silent or avoiding the conversation.
    I have the right to have this conversation and so do you because –
    I’m a feminist and I fought for and won that right.


    A Feminist Warrior.

  95. Great article. My only criticism is that not all women can be overtaken by a man-and we need to encourage more and more women to be part of that percentage. Get training in self defense, and carry more legitimate weapons than keys between your fingers. Use whatever you have to, but a gun/knife/pepper spray/tactical pen>keys or nothing. Training is imperative. Awareness is imperative. Standing up for yourself is imperative.

    It’s unfortunate that we have to face these battles all the time, and have to figure out how to lead future generations through the battle as well. Everyone can do their parts, though!

  96. 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?

  97. Wow, Gretchen. Beautifully written and expressed. I don’t see that many people could argue with much of anything you’ve said.
    Partly so I don’t cry myself to sleep thinking of my girlfriend and sisters struggling with this and partly because sadly, you just don’t see it, I would love to read the article that serves as a counterweight to this one. I’m sure there are many more things women do that I don’t know. (because even having been surrounded by women my whole life, I’m still pretty much entry level at understanding you ladies)
    Please tell me the things women do that revel in and celebrate all that it is to be female. Please share with the same passion, the stuff that makes you laugh… the little secret moments that most of us miss that make you happy to be alive in a way that is uniquely, joyously feminine. Maybe share the moment of flirtation you do enjoy that leaves a butterfly or two the next day and helps you forget all the awkward, stilted human interactions from those less skilled in the art of not being creepy.
    I ask this not because my male brain can’t handle the things you’re saying here. I ask because I believe them…

    Keep writing. I found your page by accident but happy I did.

  98. I have dealt with this issue very acutely these past six months as a professional doctor trying to get networked into the big leagues. I am actually hoping to publish a memoir on my journey soon. What I have learned is that instead of breaking ground and being seen as a competent colleague and peer I have been raped and molested and more. This is a thing people – don’t even try to say its not. And the worst is that I always have to face these guys professionally the next day, the next meeting, the next something, and they stare me down in full knowing. It’s not fair. In trying to call it out or make people aware I have been poorly received and lost friends-though admittedly anyone who would discredit me as a friend based on me calling out sexual harassment needed to go anyway, but this issue is sitting so vile with me right now. I am glad someone is out there calling it out. Its a sad, sad thing that we encounter every day.

  99. Reading the comments I would like to point out something, which should be obvious to everyone, that it is NOT ALL MEN doing this kind of stuff. In my experience it is a very small percent of men, usually the “loser” types with an inferiority complex, who make it up by being overly aggressive and hostile. I am blessed with wonderful men in my life who would be the first to condemn this sort of behavior. So the people saying this is an attack on all men, it’s not an attack on all men. If you aren’t doing this kind of behavior why shouldn’t you condemn it also? Don’t you have a mother, daughter or sister?

    1. My two cents as a guy:

      There are “enough men do it” who act out in these ways that it makes the “not all men” group irrelevant.

      Those “not all men” types need to be the agents of change challenging those “enough men do it” types.

      That’s why I’ve been working as a volunteer at the local sexual assault agency for 23 years.

      1. I’m gonna hop in on this one. I refuse to believe that men are all vile creatures waiting to attack a woman. If you think the “not all men” group are irrelevant, then you are part of the very problem you are trying to eradicate. The NAMs of the world aren’t cruising through life seeing how many women they can degrade. They are already agents of change unjustly labeled because yourself and other women believe we are irrelevant. We are already doing what’s right. Thus, a basic lesson in stereotyping needs to be learned here.

        1. I’m not talking about doing what’s right as much as actively countering those who are doing what’s wrong. Perhaps you misunderstood me as to my gender: I’m a male who is an activist about challenging those who are not doing right by others.

        2. Or to put it another way, I in no way insinuated that all men are vile creatures. And, yes, the NAM are irrelevant if they are not seeking to counter the rape culture we live in.

          1. Their actions already counter it. Just being the complete opposite of what the author described is counteracting that culture. People need to see and understand that as much as they need to understand their is an issue to be dealt with. That gives a clearer picture of the issue.

          2. No, dude. Thinking you’re a good guy does nothing to counteract the bad guys. And if you think patting yourself on the back for being a good guy because you didn’t rape a woman today is enough, you’re part of the problem.

          3. First.. I know I’m a good guy. You’ve been corrected there.

            Second… it’s no pat on the back to ask not to be included with the group of men the author speaks of. You’ve been corrected again.

            You not realizing that request constitutes your contribution to said problem. So what are you gonna do about it?

        3. And as to simply doing what’s right: how does that change the attitudes we see increasingly in pornography, in the rapes by Frat brothers, in the sex trafficking of women and children?

          Just because you don’t do it doesn’t mean that you’ve had any impact on the larger questions.

        4. Could you get further off topic? “Not all men” is an inappropriate response to this article because the article is not saying “men do bad things” it’s saying “women put up with a lot of shit- so listent to the women in your life and don’t be dismissive of her concerns”
          It is amazing how many men jumped to prove the author’s point by dismissing what women face with “I’m not like that, you’re stereotyping me!”

          1. I’ve read most of the recent comments and I see you’ve been battling anyone who doesn’t give the “appropriate response.” Doesn’t that mean you’re just as “dismissive?” Seems like it. And here I thought this piece was supposed to spark discussion. Way to participate.

            I shall explain myself no further. Read the civil discourse between myself and Gretchen. You’ll see all I have to say.

            Do what you’re asking me to do. Listen.

      2. Tedd — I am sure every woman’s experience is different, whether it is 1 in every 10 men, 1 in 20 or whatever, my point was that some men on these comments are taking it like we are accusing them personally. If you’re not raping/harassing/abusing women, why shouldn’t you be against other men doing it? That’s what I don’t understand.

        1. I mean don’t these men have women in their lives that they care about and don’t want these kinds of things happening to them?

        2. I quite agree. I know men who are good husbands and faithful. I’m one of those. And, very big yes—we must not be silent in the face of the rape culture/objectifying women.

      3. It’s not an issue on an individual level, it is a systemic issue. So forget about “us vs. them.” However, thank you for being an ally. It becomes so tiring as a woman to always have to try and explain these issues and the support, voices, and actions of men are needed.

  100. I really try to read these articles with an open mind. However, it irritates me that men are painted as such jerks. I’m not saying any of what Gretchen wrote is not true. I know SOME guys can be relentless when talking to a lady. The threat of rape, walking alone in a parking lot, being cat-called is prevalent. I won’t excuse the behavior. Just know that I, for one, am not thinking about you one bit when we pass each other in the parking lot.

    1. Jarrod I assure you that I was not insinuating that “all men are jerks.” This is more of a message to all those men out there who are good guys (which I actually believe is the majority of men). The good guys don’t see how often this happens. Mainly because they aren’t doing these things themselves and/or hanging out with guys who do it. And also because if you’re with a woman (a friend or wife/girlfriend) you won’t see it happen either. The guys that engage in this type of behavior do it when women are alone and occasionally when woman are with other women. Once in a while, yeah, it’s done openly in front of a larger crowd.

      1. I appreciate your response, Gretchen. Your article is actually eloquent. The comments section not so much. I apologize for my contribution to that chaos.

        As I’ve stated, I don’t condone the behavior of the men you’re talking about. It just bothers me because I’m easily grouped.

        I may not know how prevalent it is. For that, I say thank you for enlightening me on the topic. I just want people (please read some of these comments) to understand there’s more good than bad as you’ve stated. Sadly, as I’ve been told, treating women right is irrelevant. That’s kind of confusing because it seems that’s what is being asked of men. Correct?

        1. I think what’s being asked is that you listen and not be dismissive of women’s concerns. Getting defensive, and saying you don’t act like those jerks, made you appear dismissive of what the women commenting have experienced and thus the chaos.
          The author writes about personal experiences, and never once implies that all men are like that- no sane person would read it and infer that she thinks all men are like that.
          Honestly though, some guys who are so defensive, the way you are being, can be very difficult to be around, because you are offended by women’s basic instincts to stay safe.
          For example, if a man invites a woman to his house for a first date, and she won’t go because that’s an unsafe thing to do. The man might then get defensive, as if it’s the woman’s fault for not trusting him immediately. Now the woman has to worry about not only her safety, but also how her safety precautions might offend some men.
          Another problem with this is that men who get defensive tend to then try to convince women that their instincts regarding their safety are wrong, or that they’re paranoid because most men are not like that.
          We all KNOW that most men are not like that, but unfortunately, we’re kind of likely to run into some men who are like that in our lifetimes, and a glance doesn’t tell us who is the jerk and who is the nice guy, trust takes time, and should not be demanded of anyone.

          1. Men get defensive because we all get lumped together in these discussions even though women “know” all men aren’t like that. You want me to acknowledge the behavior the author described in which I have, but outside of me treating you right there’s not too much I can do. Situations have to present themselves for grandiose actions of change to occur. From what I’ve been told by Tedd,that’s the only way to help the problem. Those type situations haven’t happened to me. So, I live my life to respect people. Hopefully, my behavior will break stereotypes of gender and race.

            I’m not inviting a girl to my house for a first date because I’m very aware that false rape accusations occur. I don’t even want to be in a situation as such. Meet me in public so we are BOTH safe. Yes, my safety matters too. And trust goes both ways.

            By all means, keep yourself safe. Protect yourself. I’m not saying women are paranoid or trust a guy in seconds. It’s just incredibly insulting to know that we can walk past each other and you’ll be scared because I’m a guy. That’s like the old lady that clutches her purse because I’m black.

            Lastly, Stating “all men don’t” may seem dismissive, but I assure you it’s not. It’s wanting to distance yourself from that behavior because once you get labeled as a vile male it sticks with you. Somethat’s of us don’t want that label. That’s all.

  101. This is well-written and all the fighting in these comments makes me sad. We should be working together to work for a quality. We shouldn’t be fighting amongst each other because we don’t want to be seen as weak and we don’t also want to go on the attack against all men because there are so many good ones. We all deserve to feel safe

  102. Thank you. This is a great conversation and one that needs to happen more often among women and men and children. It is important for us to stop pretending.

  103. Yeah I find it very disappointing that there are comments coming from women.. the first comments you read, saying “don’t be victim”. When the reality of the situation is that a person is a victim. Victimhood is not a choice. Especially not one a person would make unless they are mentally imbalanced. Some people claim victimhood for attention, or out of masochism, or even out of habitually being made a victim, that they know no other form of love, but the majority of victims do not enjoy being a victim, which is what makes them a victim. People who have not been abused think that they can glide around and look down on people who have been abused as if it is there fault. And place themselves above them to win the acceptance of who? Other abusive or uncaring people. So certain flowers, in nature have survived because they are beautiful. They are more noticeable and so insects are more drawn to them and pollinate. Humans picked up flowers and ensured their survival because those flowers were beautiful. Similarly with women, it is something that is treasured, a lot of our purpose, is carrying genetics that would create beautiful children and those children survive. But our beauty, our greatest gift is then something that is a danger to ourselves. As if you know, at 14 years old, having breasts and a figure, makes you just game. To other people. She has breasts, and a figure, so therefore she wants to sleep with people, is a really stupid connection to make. The fact that we have to go to extreme lengths to prove we are not sex objects, and then we are made into sex objects anyway. You could have a Master’s degree, a PHD, be running for president, make an incredible speech, I could sit there and talk to someone about theoretical physics, and the response from many men would be so when u gonna suck my hood bitch. See.

  104. Hi, I am on the publishing board of the online feminist magazine Knú and we would love to have your permission to translate this piece – can you get back to us by email,

    Best regards,

  105. All this shit about being able to do anything a man can do but they can’t deal with the pressures of life. So busy trying to be men but complain about being women when they should be handling that s*** first.

  106. I really liked your article. Thank you for writing it. It brought to mind my old boss (a principal) who spread sexual rumors about me to all of my colleagues and parents. She said I was sleeping with a married friend of mine (who she had seen but had never met). How do you deal with women who do this? Maybe this can be your next article.

  107. BAH I SAY! these are things ALL PEOPLE DO ALL THE TIME. Yes, the man to woman scenario tends to take a more inappropriate sexual slant, but this article reads like at first “ah yeah i see no that totally does happen” but then you realize this is part of normal social interactions. Deescalation, minimization, ignoring comments, “letting things go”, topic aversion, turning the other cheek, being non confrontational to appear to another person, THESE ARE THINGS EVERYONE DOES every single day in conversation with other humans. Some things make certain people uncomfortable. Some people disagree with things others say. This is usually not communicated due to a) people wanting to avoid physical violence b) people wanting to elevate or maintain their social standing with a person c) people wanting to avoid triggering inappropriate emotional or otherwise responses in others.

    Im NOT saying the sexual aspect of it isnt true and a problem, but this article was framed way too broadly and didnt do it any justice.
    This article should have been about normal everyday sexual harassment. Men do not understand at all the amount of sexual advancement/inappropriateness that women have to just deal with every single day.

  108. A really well-written piece that certainly got me thinking rather than being a defensive male, which is all too often the case these days with angry, anti-male sounding articles. (Queue the predictable barrage of abuse).

  109. You just did the perfect thing. You lined up the whole nightmare end to end. Perfect. Just absolutely devastating. You’re right, guys don’t get it. The moment to moment necessity of awareness. Yeah I talk to my female friends, I’ve heard the stories that were about particular incidents. But it’s the day to day grind that is the issue. That’s the part where tiny details add up to an emotional death by a thousand cuts. Living under siege.

    I recall a couple of times I asked a female friend to meet me somewhere and she was exasperated because it was a place she dare not be by herself and could not safely leave if a problem arose. It took a while for me to grasp that women don’t spend money on cabs to avoid messing up their hair on the way to the club- they can’t take a chance of not being able to park close enough and get stuck walking back through a dark, empty street later. A place might be safe at 2:00pm, but a deathtrap at 3:00am. A girlfriend walked to the store to get groceries but came home empty-handed because there was a “gauntlet of assholes” in front of the store and she just didn’t have the energy to face it. She wasn’t being a weakling- she’s punched out guys who have grabbed her. But that’s the point- guys have grabbed her. And these were those kind of guys. Sometimes the headache is just not worth it. No one should have to live like that. :/

    1. I appreciate your understanding for this. Only just the other night I was out with some of my guy friends and realized I was in a situation where I did not feel safe walking home (I was at a bar, past midnight on a Friday night and a couple of the guys at the bar had made me feel uncomfortable- invading my personal space too much, too many times, and ogling me), and I was faced with either staying when I just wanted to get home or asking someone to walk me home. It wasn’t a dangerous situation in that I was with friends and knew they wouldn’t let anything happen to me, but it’s very frustrating to have to think that way.

  110. Do not comment on this stating the author is stating all men are vile. She provided examples of men who walk her to her car. That’s not vile. She did not write this because she thinks women are weak and men are strong. She did not write this because “men don’t get raped”. She knows men get raped. She didn’t write this because she thinks she is “attractive”. Do you honestly have the audacity to say out loud or in a comment that someone got raped because they were “attractive” and not “ugly”? Because that’s what you would be insinuating. This is why people don’t speak up, because people like some of the commenters act butthurt and offended. She very well can’t provide every example of everyone’s experience. She is speaking of her experience, and those experiences she has learned of through being a human who has women who are friends. Support women who support women and support men. She is making a statement of the real, true definition of feminism, as we should all know by now as: equality of the sexes. Everyone else screw off.

  111. Years ago when Anita Hill called out Supreme Court Nominee Clarence Thomas, people criticized her for not coming forward with the information earlier, back when she was interning for the judge. At the time, I had been in two or three jobs where I had faced blatant sexual harassment and had turned a deaf ear to it so as to keep the peace in the office. I defended Anita Hill saying, “I’ve never accused any of my bosses publicly or privately, but you can bet I would confront them if they ever ran for office.” Your post reminds me of that time in my life when I held back, essentially–but not really–ignoring the chauvinism of my daily life. Thanks for this great piece!

  112. Put it this way ; if a good friend tells you that she feels bad or fearful or sad because she has experienced one of the situations described in this article. Would you listen? And respect her feelings in this matter? Or would you tel her to man up or that not all men are like this? The point is. Listen.. and be aware these feelings are real to your friend.. it’s up to you if you feel you have to put up a reason or defend. It’s about caring for people who are hurt by this. We can’t change the fact that these things happen. But we would care right. I would, being aware of it is something we can do.

  113. The fact that there are people commenting negatively about this blog post tells me a lot about the state of mind of our society. I’m so happy to see this post. It gives a name to the verb that I use every day.


    Every single day. Without fail. Shouldn’t that say something?

  114. Wow…….sucks being a woman huh? Sorry, I’m 50 years old and have worked in a predominantly male job for 25 of those years. I’ve been in the workforce in retail and service jobs since I was 15 and had a paper route before that. So, I’ve been working a long time. While there are times and incident happens, they are typically rare. I’ve had guys check out my boobs, and I look at them and say “Hey, eyes up here”. They don’t do it again. A customer hold a tip to get a hug? Um no. That is inappropriate and I would quickly tell a customer he was being inappropriate. A boss that pats my butt? Um, no. I don’t think that’s been happening on an scale since, what , the 50’s? Maybe I live in a dream world. But I find it hard to believe women walk around oppressed by all these things on a daily basis. I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve truly felt offended or harassed throughout my lifetime. Stop being a victim. And, maybe I choose my friends better, but I’ve NEVER had a male friend expect any “benefits”, drunk or not. So perhaps you need to re-assess who you are hanging around with? Here’s the deal, if somebody does or says something that pisses you off, then say something about it. If you are too worried about what they will think of you, then that is on you. And who are all these angry people where you live? Sheesh…….

    1. I am truly happy that your experiences have been different. If only it were so for most women. When I wrote this I actually worried that maybe it was just me. But then I started thinking about things my friends have experienced. Things my daughter is already experiencing. As for getting your ass grabbed in the work place? Sadly it’s still a thing. The response I’m getting to this post confirms it (I’m at 500,000 views and countless comments here, on Twitter and FaceBook and Huffington Post) It still happens. The “friends with benefits” incident was in high school. It was also the end of the friendship.

      I think you’re missing the larger point. That de-escalation happens at an early age. Not many 12 year olds or 16 year olds or even 25 year olds are going to speak up if they aren’t sure there will be retaliation. I have had aggression thrown at me for simply walking down the sidewalk.

      The men in my life have been good guys. Guys that are respectful to women. The guys I dated in college were great guys who treated women with respect. My husband is a great man who treats all women with respect. I have been blessed to have some truly great men in my life.They are part of the reason I wrote this. There are a lot of us out here who just want to understand each other better. To learn and understand each other’s experiences. If we all could pause for a minute and try to see what others go through and experience without dismissing or berating, we’d all be a lot better off.

      1. “If we all could pause for a minute and try to see what others go through and experience without dismissing”

        Excellent advice for anyone who claims they know how great men have it.

        Wait, relativism doesn’t work that way! Silly man, complaining is for women, sucking it up is for men. Somehow this is true both in patriarchy and in anti-patriarchy. Yay. When we want actual honest-to-goodness equality, instead of just social vengeance, gimme a call.

        1. Keith wrote, “When we want actual honest-to-goodness equality, instead of just social vengeance, gimme a call.”

          You apparently did not read her piece. Or else you are so defensive that it renders you incapable of empathy. If you are not the cat-caller or jerk, then she is not talking about you.

          1. I think that you missed Keith’s point. It sounds so horrible to be a woman. And yet, like Kelly said above, her life experience is simply not anything like the author describes. That shouldn’t minimize any person’s experience, but what seems to be occurring in today’s culture is this out-sizing of victimhood. And yes, I realize that can be read as a micro-aggression, sexism, or even just insensitivity, which kind of speaks to my point.

            What seems to be lost on the current “victims” is this – there’s a whole big world out here, and we’re mostly just trying to survive – just like you. I am 56 years old. When I was a kid, roles were pretty well understood. And then all heII broke loose. Now a days, if a man opens a door for a woman, that can be an insult. If he doesn’t, an insult. If he compliments a woman in any manner, it’s an insult, an aggression, sexism, or creepy. If he doesn’t compliment her, it’s insensitive, boorish behavior.

            Today’s women’s movement claims that they are equal, and yet they also are so weak that they need the government to stick up for them in a wide variety of issues from wages to healthcare to killing their unborn children.

            If you’re equal, then shut up and woman-up. If you’re not equal, then stop acting like it or expecting to be treated so. You simply cannot expect the planets to revolve around your every whim, expectation, while being endlessly insulted by a glance, a word, or a gesture.

            My mom was one tough lady. She would find the modern victim status of some women to be a tremendous insult.

      2. Gretchen, I totally understand what you are saying, but your article says ALL women, and it implies ALL women suffer this every day, in every aspect of life. That’s just not so. Does it happen? Sure, but I don’t know too many women who walk around in an oppressive atmosphere every day. If your boss pats your butt at work, you better call him on it. And if it’s a problem, then HR better do something about it. It is not something ANYONE should put up with. Maybe that’s what bothered me most about your article, it’s all about how ALL women have to put up with this crap for fear of retaliation. Nobody has to put up with this crap, and if there is any retaliation, then you go after them. You don’t allow this crap to continue. You just don’t. There are other jobs, other bosses, other customers, etc etc. I also am very lucky to have awesome men in my life. That doesn’t mean I have to put up with crap from anyone else.

      3. (male here), I was reading your article. , and at first… I was thinking, to quote kelly5472, “Wow…….sucks being a woman huh?”.. But after a little (and comments) while I was like.. No way this sound like horse shit.. I realize this is an opinion piece since there is absolutely no factual information except for you own experiences and whatever friends, family etc. you have also sampled, before you decide to generalize to the entire female and male populations. It may be opinion and experience based, but I feel if you are posting it online for everyone to read, you are also open to defend and justify your generalizations.

        If on the off chance the article was really describing your own experiences and how you feel. I personally would then recommend you get a great lawyer and sue for sexual harassment (in the end it will be well worth the ass taps for you, be prepared to be able to prove it thought). As for feeling like you are vulnerable all the time, Maybe hit the gym, take some self defense classes and build up your self-esteem and confidence. You will start to feel the changes pretty quick. But in this day and age maybe being a little bit more alert isn’t such a bad thing.

        Maybe thought, since it is only your opinion, and you feel passionate about it. Maybe you can do some real investigating and look into what you are claiming is true. That I would really like to read. Because to be honest, you painted a pretty depressing picture of women (It certainly is so some, and there is some heinous shit that goes on this planet, that people do to each other. It sad really). I certainly feel and hope that this is not the common experience for females.

        One thing i will say though, is that without a doubt, women are being objectified from very young and it does look, like you say, “accepted and de-escalated”. Prime examples is the level of nudity, sexual appeal in virtually every type of consumer product, music videos, direction porn is going, ads etc.. Of course it appears like this, because that is what we are exposed to on the mass scale, doesn’t mean day to day experience of every female is such. However, it would be really interesting to know how women actually feel about all this (from young to old), and why they don’t ask from the feminist movement to work on fixing that.

        1. It is estimated that at least 1in 5 women are raped and 60%of rape victims are under 18. The whole world is an oppressive atmosphere!
          Think about how much more common rape is than terrorist attacks. Wouldn’t it be crazy for women to not be fearful? For them to not learn how to assess situations and de-escalate? This is about all women. And frankly all men need to take this seriously or take a good look at their own behavior.

          1. No, it is not estimated that 1 in 5 women are raped.

            There are very flawed studies suggesting 1 in 5 are “sexually assaulted,” which is not the same. For example, it includes such things as groping, unwanted kisses, or ass pats. While this absolutely should not happen, it’s clearly not as bad as actual rape.

          2. How dare you trivialize sexual assault! “It’s not as bad”… Really? Who are you to judge the severity of such things? Sexual assault is traumatizing. Period.

          3. Because being penetrated repeatedly until the person achieves some form of ecstasy at your entire expense is far more traumatic than being patted on the ass.

          4. And how do you know that? How do you know that “being patted on the ass” isn’t in itself frightening, especially when one is a child? I was 12 when a man put his hands on me in public, wearing an expression which said “We both know you want this,” and it fucking terrified me, because I thought that I had in some way given some signal that doing that was okay and I didn’t know what it was. And I had no way of knowing that he wouldn’t drag me into the back and do. ..something to me. And at 12, I had no real idea what he might do, but the fear is real, let’s stop minimizing it.

          5. When I was working in my first job as a 16 year old my employer (and father of one of my friends) asked me to climb up on a table to switch on a plug, I did not expect him to help me up onto the table by pushing me up by my vagina, not even my ass. This incident was not reported.

            When I was in my early twenties I was date raped, I remember being given a glass of wine and then nothing until I woke up and he was inside me and I ran, I ran (stumbled) as fast as I could. Thank god he let me. This incident should have been but was not reported.

            As far as the flawed studies go, not all information is in. Did they get the reports from women that have tried to report assault or rape but have been turned away from police stations because they do not have proof? This might not be a problem in 1st world countries but it is a huge problem elsewhere and rape is worldwide. Did they get all the info from the small obscure townships around South Africa not just offices and bars in America? Generally it’s full blown rape here, no cutesy little ass pats in Africa or India or other places where women have ‘less of a voice’.

            I have been assaulted and I have been raped and both actually are quite equal on my cringe meter.

          6. Please stop being anecdotal. If you are serious about the topic, lets talk intelligently about it, not anecdotal.

            Let quote some credible source about this, because spreading miss information as also just as dangerous.

          7. do credible sources about this even exist ? it’s so difficult to get these kinds of statistics, considering the so many bias, and the so many unreported, and etc etc.

        2. Unfortunately, I can say that this is also the experience I have had in my life, as well as the people around me. This is not uncommon.

          Suing for sexual harassment is not only expensive, but fails over 50% of the time to even have reasonable cause (source:

          You talk about vulnerability as though it can be easily “fixed”; however, just “going to the gym” or taking some self defense classes can only give you a small feeling of security. Even a self defense teacher teaches women that they should be aware at all times. Even the teacher feels frightened walking to her car at night, although she might have a higher chance of defending herself from a potential attack.

          In regards to trying to tell your boss about a coworker who is harassing you- if you’re working a minimum wage job they will be happy to remind you that “if you don’t like the job, than quit”. Most of these places do not want to deal with the hassle, and prefer to replace you as an employee than confront another about an incident that you can’t prove. A a server, I’ve been told by my boss that it is my fault that the dishwasher touched my butt because I am “too friendly” with him. I wish I had the means to hire a lawyer and correct this injustice, but again, no proof and no money will not get me results- only losing my job.

          As a woman being on constant alert makes everyday life just a little bit more challenging, waiting for your coworker to walk you back to your car, holding your keys in your hand if you’re out anywhere alone, always watching for people who might be following you…

          When I was 12 years old I was being sexualized before I even knew what sex was. I was taught to watch out, but have, stupidly, put myself in situations where I could have easily been raped and only escaped by sheer luck alone.
          This is not the case for every single woman, and there are women who are lucky enough to have never experienced this- but these are a minority.

        3. Another man here.

          Get self deffence classes/buff up: good one, except maybe there is always someone bigger, or with a weapon or ready to spike your drink.

          On another thought maybe try listening, why not ask women in your life about their experiences and wait for it…listen, I mean really listen, don’t say anything, just listen.

          Finally as a man, I know this is the way it is, I have met/seen/had other men seek my male approval for undertaking activities like these. The road side assist guy changing my battery hitting on the woman walking her dog..ten metres away. The guy form my school talking about grabbing boobs in mosh pits, The waiter at my work obsessed with a 15 yr old asking if I “would go halves in a rape charge”, the guy who tells me he hates girls with big breasts and a big ass (I dunno what he expects), the guys leering in uni classes at the other girls, the guys who called a girl’s face boring as he knew he could never dream of getting with her, the guy in a car demanding a female cyclists show him her breasts, the guy who would get drunk and then lecherously fondle women he knew whilst hugging them, the guy with a girlfriend who decided to fondle my housemate in front of his girlfriend so that she had to call me to help so she could have an excuse to get away.

          It is real, it is happening and it is men choosing to take these actions and in part because they feel they can get away with it.

          Listen, that is all the author asked you to do, but you failed at that too. So maybe go try again, ask the women in your life for the brutal truth, let them know you dont want sugar coating and force yourself to not judge them for whatever arbitrary social boundary they may have crossed, just fucking listen.

          1. I have to disagree with you.
            ” Get self deffence classes/buff up: good one, except maybe there is always someone bigger, or with a weapon or ready to spike your drink.”
            By that rationality why do anything. Don’t be such a defeatist. The major benefits of working out and doing self defense is to gain control, not to get in fights. Something that someone who feel helpless would find rather helpful don’t you think?

            “try listening,” I am listening.. but hearing personal stories emotional calls. For that I can only show sympathy for. Maybe that is the problem, rather than listening start acting and do something. Why does the author pain as so helpless? Why doesn’t she contrast that against those who are not? What are they doing different?

            On small scale, in our little universes things can look far worse than they much more globally. I personally do not accept the I am victim only stance. Its like saying I am overweight, but I sit around all day, eat without reason, don’t exercise.

            I 100% agree that the general young male behavior is exactly like what you are describing. But there there is also more to it. Young women seem to be encouraging it at times, by acting provocative because that is what seems to be cool now. IT DOES NOT justify any derogative behavior against girls, but like the fat person, you are letting yourself be a victim.

            Just look at your average high school dress code, the music they are listening to, look at what they are looking up on their own time online, and talking about with their friends.. There is a hell of a lot more to every social issue than initial appearances.

            Why is it also sob stories and rarely, this happened to me this is how i solved it.

          2. If someone is overweight and they are being harassed, the solution is not to ask the person to lose weight. The solution is to tell people it’s wrong to harass people for the way they look.

            I am not letting myself be a victim. I am victimised BECAUSE I am a woman. An overweight person may be able to lose weight, I can’t just stop being a woman.

        4. This may be an opinion piece but it reflects accurately to the daily experience for many women. The simple fact that you think so little of it kind of shows what she’s saying.

          1. Please don’t simplify the situation incorrectly to make it seem like you are saying something meaningful.

            you like the author claim ” opinion piece but it reflects accurately to the daily experience for many women “..
            but violent crimes against women (at least in US) are lower than ever (
            If we are expecting a perfect world, than you are fool and a dreamer, victimizing yourself.

            If you follow the link above by Laur do some math. Then there are ~0.004% of all women employed experiences and filed sexual harassment claims with EEOC & FEPA in 2011..

            Rather than the writting about how women should feel less stressed now a days, author and yourself are presenting your unfortunate experiences as generalization without any evidence.. I am not saying its not happening I am saying stop treating yourselves as powerless to influence your experiences.

        5. I’ve experienced plenty of what is described in this article, and I do stand up for myself as much as I can – in the shock of it, whenever something happens. That doesn’t stop anything from happening again at another time in another place. I’ve had strangers expose themselves to me on the street (super scary), I’ve had my ass grabbed by a stranger as I was ordering a drink at a bar, I’ve dealt with the “friend” who cornered me with some creepy ideas, I’ve stood up to guys who were harassing other friends. I’ve stood up for myself, I’ve had friends stand up for me (which I was very grateful for at the time).

          I’ve also been told not to make a big deal of some of these things by other friends, even women, which was disheartening.

          While you might not see the things that Gretchen describes happening in your presence, please know that they do happen all the time, probably in your community, definitely in mine. When something like this happens, we need to call it out for what it is (unacceptable) and address it as a community, not dismiss it as an anomaly. I hope you’ll do so when you eventually have the chance.

          And for what it’s worth, I do think it’s important fight objectification in our culture, but it hasn’t kept these things from happening to me. I hope that community-scale conversations and broader awareness of harassment will.

        6. What you mean by “real investigating” would be actual living. Every female friend I have, including myself, has been harassed or treated a weird way at least once a day. You don’t have to do “real investigating” whatever that is if you’re living it. Saying things like that makes it seem like none of this is real, when it is.

        7. Everything I read here was so accurate in my day to day life. It’s not something you can just get a lawyer for, say its for sexual harassment and call it a day. It’s a relief to read an article like this that genuinely makes me feel like I’m not alone that deals with things like this.

        8. So, she needs to sue her boss if he taps her on the ass, but she needs proof, which she probably won’t have because that’s not something that can be proven. You don’t see a problem with that advice?

        9. I am probably the author’s polar opposite and that’s my reality. Almost every example she gave has happened to . I don’t know a woman who hasn’t had at least one of those experiences. IIf a woman hasn’t had that happen to her, she’s the exception, not the rule.

          The author is right. It happens all of the time. It started when I was 10. I don’t talk about it. You just incorporate it into our lives. We live in a hypersexual ssociety, but for a grown man approaches a young is disgusting. It’s not just random guys on the street. It’s our friend’s father, a family member, a friend of our pareparents. You come to accept it as a price you pay for having a female body. You accept that the world is an unsafe place for you.

          I’m so glad I read this. I am so grateful to her for writing it. Hopefully, young girls will read this and know it’s not okay.

        10. ValZu you’re not listening.
          Furthermore, taking about something is not playing the victim card. If YOU “certainly feel and hope this is not happening” then YOU should get the stats and figures, that is, if the actual lived experiences of the women around you (just ask And Listen) aren’t “real”enough for you. Money and /or retribution does not make sexual violation “worth it”. If you are under “no doubt” about the objectification of women from a young age then you can be under no doubt as to the awareness and experience of that objectification BY women from a young age. And finally, though there is so much more to say, the people on the receiving end of these heinous actions are not the ones that should have to do something (although if you listened you will hear that they bend their lives to it, all you have to do is make a list of the things you would tell any girl on how to keep themselves safe, to see the tip of the iceberg. It is the perpetrators of these heinous actions, the people who help deny that the perpetrators are the problem, and the people who think that identifying the problem and talking about it are the problem are what needs to change.

          1. It is up to those who are screaming injustice to demonstrate it, not for me to defend it. I want a fair discussion, not one loaded with personal experience that is generalized to every women.

      4. As an 18 year old (I’m now in my 40s) I had the boss who would call me “darling”, who would rub my shoulders when standing behind me when I was seated at a the computer, who always managed to find a reason to squeeze past me in the narrow corridor. None of these things seemed like overt sexual harassment – but I always felt uncomfortable, and I knew if I called him out I’d be accused of “overreacting” or “being too sensitive” or being up myself.

        About 10 years after leaving that job, I found out that this former boss had faced jail time for assaulting another young female member of staff. Perhaps the fact I had been going out with a cop whilst in his employ spared me anything more aggressive.

        And I can’t count the number of times when being polite to a man has been taken as flirting. And if you’re not polite – if you don’t smile and answer questions about your weekend (and whether or not you have a boyfriend) – you’re accused of being an ice-princess/bitch. Even online, I’ve had to drop business connections because a chat on LinkedIn or G+ has started getting overly-friendly and crossing boundaries (but you say something and you’re accused of “reading too much into it”).

        There have been the times when standing on a crowded train, or waiting to be served at a pub, or at a concert, where some random guy has either copped a feel or rubbed up against me with a hard-on. If you call them out, you’re “mistaken”, or it was “an accident”, or “you rate yourself”.

        I’ve also had a bouncer corner me and tried to force a kiss (that resulted in a slap across the face); a male friend also tried to force a kiss at a party – then, when told that was unacceptable, threatened to kill himself; another time, a college friend’s fiancée tried to force himself on me at a party telling me all the while how he fantasized about me while they were having sex (then he stalked me for about 3 months until I threatened to tell his fiancée and the police about his unwanted attention. I probably should have done it anyway, but I questioned whether I had inadvertently done something to send the wrong message, and then justified that there really wasn’t anything to report. I regret not telling his fiancée, but at the time I just wanted the whole thing to go away).

        And there are always inappropriate comments from much older men which are equal parts sad and creepy. On my 11th birthday, one such man(old enough to be my grandfather) wanted to give me a “special birthday kiss”. He used to hang out by the pool where we swam and befriended my mother. Fortunately we moved before he escalated things further. But I never told my mother – I felt embarrassed and ashamed.

        Which is part of the problem. Women and girls are made to feel it’s somehow their fault.

        They’re “liars” (even if they’re not).

        They “wore the wrong clothes” (even if they didn’t).

        They’re “being over-sensitive” (even if they’re not).

        They “got the wrong idea” (even if they didn’t).

        They “don’t have a sense of humour” (even if they do).

        They somehow “asked for it” (even if they didn’t).

        It seems it’s never the fault of the guy. It seems they’re never expected to consider if their behaviour could be “misconstrued” and reconsider what they do and say. It’s all too easy to fall back on “You got the wrong idea”, rather than “I acted inappropriately”… or even “Sorry. I didn’t mean to make you feel uncomfortable.”

        And I know I’m not alone in this. I also know too many women who have dealt with the same crap all their lives.

        But women can only do so much. They are only one half of the equation. Men need to realise what other men are putting women through and help change the dialogue and change their behaviour too. We can only do so much on our own.

      5. Definitely not just you Gretchen. I relate to so much of what you (and commenter Jane) said. After 20 some odd years, I am so frustrated and exhausted with trying to explain this to my male partner – never mind how exhausted I am trying to either avoid situations or confront them. Thank you for sharing this.

        1. I’m not young and I’m very vexed and tired of this. Have been for a long time. None of this is new. All that’s new is being able to talk about it with a wide audience.

      6. Once when I was 13 I went to venice with my family, and while walking in the middle of a huge crowd, a grown up grabbed my ass. I started crying because it was really uncomfortable. My dad asked me why I was crying and I told him. I remember him looking for the man through the crowd, not being able to see him. But I remember me seeing his face as he looked back on me.
        When I was about 17 I was at a party and while walking up some stairs, a guy walking down stroke his hands on my vagina. He also disappeared through the crowd.
        I will never forget these moments, because of how I felt.

      7. (Male here) great article and all true. But you should write how women sexuakise themselves or used in media in sexual way but accepts and love these?

        1. If you want that story, write it. This writer wrote what was pertinent to her and I’m reasonably sure she’s not looking for requests.

    2. Good job with that listening thing. Your experience is not everyone’s. And neither is hers. But I happen to relate to it completely. There’s no reason to invalidate someone’s experience.

    3. Also, let’s get rid of the notion once and for all that speaking or writing about something is wallowing in victimhood. That’s petty and quite an antiquated notion and frankly a tired response.

      1. I would like to add that “victimhood” accusations are a way of shaming the victims into silence so that the issues are not addressed and the victimizers can continue their abuse.

        1. If someone beats you up there is no way too think away the bruises, to prevent getting bruises even though you are beaten. Mental “damage” is different. If someone “offends” you with words it is you who is making it offensive. If you really think the person in question is talking shit you would not take said person’s opinion seriously and there would be no offence since you don’t care. The “victimizer” isn’t necessarily the one who “offends” you.