Communicator (communicator) wrote,
Communicator
communicator

A learning experience all round

This very long thread in metafilter (800+ comments) and this discussion of the thread (currently at 200+ comments) may seem impossibly lengthy to consider reading, but nevertheless I am going to recommend them.

The original thread is a discussion of a 'guide for men' about how not to appear threatening to women. And to understand why women get edgy when you - innocent man, with no bad intentions - approach them in a friendly way. The discussion kicked off with a range of comments from men saying the article was silly and attacks and street harassment by men on women were rare. For example (this is a man speaking):
I read the article and am saddened that this woman feels this way on a daily basis, but I also don't think she speaks for all women. In fact, I am pretty sure she doesn't. She's right in that she gets to set her own level of risk assessment, but I think she set hers on the level of paranoia. That's not a good way to go through life.

But then the thread took off with dozens and then hundreds of women posting their normal experiences of being pestered, harassed and threatened. Stories that are normally not shared. A very small number of men on metafilter interrupted the thread to try to stop what was happening, but the majority did not.

It was a learning experience for me too. Not because the stories of being followed, shouted at, groped, flashed at, frightened etc are new to me, but because I hadn't really ever considered that men don't know what it's like. Men literally don't realise what happens, and how often, and how upsetting it is. I've got to my age and I didn't realise that men don't see it happening the way women do. Because the harassers don't do it when you are walking with a man. And women don't talk about it much.

Don't get me wrong. I am old and plump with grey hair. I don't get hassled in that way. When I was young I did. I hated it, and I was frightened of it. I am so glad that it doesn't happen any more.
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