Yes, All Women and Not All Men
I've followed a bit of the "YesAllWomen" and "NotAllMen" Twitter stuff, and as usual, it's taken me a few days to put my thoughts together.
Here's what I'd like to say to the men:
Guys, of course we know that you're not all woman-hating sleazebuckets. But too many men are. That's why women are too often put into situations where we have to worry about our personal safety, even when we've been cautious.
I don't go to bars because men do creepy things there. Do you ever think to yourself, "I'm not going to go to a bar tonight because a woman may scare me, follow me to my car, and not take 'no' for an answer?"
I can't put those cute little stickers on the back of my car showing my real family dynamic: just me and my daughter, because if I do, it's more likely that a man will see that I'm unprotected and break into my home.
I hold my keys between my fingers in parking garages in case I need to jab a would-be attacker.
I've been stalked online and in person-- once by a professor. (My online stalker killed himself in police custody.) I've been followed from the train to the subway to my would-be college (decided I couldn't handle the city as a young woman). It's made it much harder to trust anyone.
I was riding the train, holding a strap, when a man came over and pressed himself up against my backside and insisted on sharing my strap even though there were several straps open all over the car.
My first boyfriend hit me with a seatbelt to my face. I was 14. My father said I probably deserved it.
I cannot say "I'm not interested" to a man who hits on me. I have to say, "I have a boyfriend," because I know from experience that "I'm not interested" doesn't stop most men. It turns into, "Why not?" and "You're a bitch." (Of course, even "I have a boyfriend" doesn't always work. "I have a boyfriend who has served prison time for assault, and he's on his way over here" sometimes works better.)
I've given fake phone numbers for the same reason-- because it's less dangerous than saying, "I'm sorry, but I don't want to give you my phone number."
There should not be pepper spray in my bag and 911 programmed into my phone when I go on a first date.
Guys, I still think the majority of you are A-OK, but you have to understand that this fear and defensiveness shouldn't be part of a woman's daily existence. It would be pretty amazing if more of you paid attention and put other guys in their place when they're being creepy to women. I really don't know what effect it would have because I've so rarely seen it, but maybe next time you see a drunken butthead invading a woman's personal space and not leaving her alone, you could join forces with a friend and "redirect" the man to the nearest exit. Maybe when you hear guys making sexist or hateful jokes about women, you could say, "Not cool" instead of laughing along. I don't understand why many decent men stay friends with that one jerk who makes all the women uncomfortable. Straighten him out or ditch him. He isn't funny.
Just recognizing that the problem exists and wanting to do more than just throw your hands in the air and say, "I'M not like that" would go a long way toward helping. At the very least, it would be nice to know that our surroundings are mostly made up of our allies.