Read this article (it’s not long, and it’s what I’m talking about, so there’s not much point in you reading this blog if you’re not going to follow the link).
She makes a good point. I wouldn’t say I was afraid on the internet but then I realised I am more likely to adopt a pseudonym and so on out of fear of some kind of stalking/harassment resulting from that. Which is why I haven’t put my whole face on that photo post I did; rather than any of the reasons she lists for men adopting internet pseudonyms. In the case of Cloudlife, of course, there were plenty of other decent reasons for my anonymity that, well, probably still hold, but I can’t become anonymous again. None of those reasons, anyway, were about getting unwanted male or sexual attention.
Are we, as women, trained to fear men? As the author says,
‘And again: why would women fear this more than men? Random internet person develops some weird obsessive fixation on another random internet person, stalks and threatens him/her. I’ve seen this happen to both women and men. But guys don’t seem to fear it the way women do.’
She then goes on to say that men who wolf-whistle in the street, or do the same kind of thing online (I got a ‘hey there’ from a builder the other day) don’t do it to get a date or a phone number because they know they won’t be successful – they do it to instil fear in us. I’m not entirely sure I agree with that in its entirety. Sure, that kind of behaviour won’t get you dates, bared boobs or phone numbers, and obviously she isn’t claiming (I think) that it’s a conscious attempt to instil fear in women, but I’m not sure that that’s the subconscious reasoning behind that kind of behaviour anyway. Not that I have any answer for what is the reasoning behind that kind of behaviour – it tends to put me in a bad mood and make me walk quicker whilst also feeling slightly flattered (perhaps that’s it, perhaps it’s the flattery, perhaps that does work on some women. But who, pray? Thinking about it I did have a friend who used to work at a drive-thru McDonald’s and would give out her number to, well, every man that came through. But she’s a rare (and mental) case (we’re not friends any more)).
She also goes on to say that the safety advice women are given tends only to increase that fear. Yes, it’s sensible having a women’s bus run from the Union to any residence within two miles; yes, it’s a good idea to carry a personal alarm (I refuse to call them rape alarms), yes, it’s a good idea to never walk home alone (although I do it regularly as a sort of ‘fuck you’ to the rest of the world because I am not afraid). All those things are a good idea – so why don’t men do them too? Why isn’t there just a students’ bus from the Union for any student needing to get home safely? Why don’t men make sure they don’t walk home alone unless they have to? Why don’t men carry personal alarms?
Our women are afraid and our men are in danger but don’t realise it because culturally we completely sexualise violence. It’s not all about rape, about the power rush of subjugating a woman, because for crying out loud to go and rape a random stranger you have to be, frankly, sick. But to go out and mug someone you just have to be angry and poor and disadvantaged, your friends are doing it, whatever, but you’re not unbalanced. So it’s not all about sex – it is almost always just about getting that phone or that wallet or kicking the shit out of something, and that something just happens to be a person – statistically, probably a man.
I’m not being a crazy feminist here, I’m just being sensible. Basically, I’ll start taking taxis when I’d otherwise be walking home alone when you do the same. So there.
More importantly, what do you think about the theory that society these days as much or more than ever instils in women a fear of men and of that sort of assault?