Simply existing as a woman can be dangerous, and men are finally taking note of that fact
Every woman knows the collective struggle we all face. We have to be on alert at all times. When we walk anywhere alone, we’re constantly vigilant, scanning for dangers, listening for footsteps behind us, planning how we would escape if someone tried to attack. It’s simply how women have to live in this world, and it’s something men truly can’t understand.
But are they at least starting to listen?
With the flood of sexual assault allegations in the headlines recently and the chorus of “Me too’s” on social media, the real dangers that women face simply by existing in a world full of patriarchal oppression and toxic masculinity are being noticed. And it’s about damn time.
Author and New York Times columnist Farhad Manjoo got a lesson in this when he tweeted his revelation that the world is a “legit horror movie” for women.
I am at the point where i seriously, sincerely wonder how all women don't regard all men as monsters to be constantly feared. the real world turns out to be a legit horror movie that I inhabited and knew nothing about.
— Farhad Manjoo (feat. Drake) (@fmanjoo) November 20, 2017
“I am at the point where I seriously, sincerely wonder how all women don’t regard all men as monsters to be constantly feared,” he wrote. “The real world turns out to be a legit horror movie that I inhabited and knew nothing about.”
That tweet opened the floodgates. Thousands of women came forward to explain how exactly we do live in this world. The common theme: It’s not easy.
See, we do. But we recognize that's no way to navigate the world so we do what we can to mitigate risk. And this is exactly why "but I didn't mean anything by it!" behavior by men can set off the be-careful shield. Then men get mad at the shield.— Jenna Beacom (@jfbeacom) November 20, 2017
Surprise! The answer is that we do, and we must, regard all men as potential monsters to be feared. That's why we cross to the other side of the street at night, and why we sometimes obey when men say "Smile, honey!" We are always aware the alternative could be death. https://t.co/hvgT7c5GBa
— Monica Hesse (@MonicaHesse) November 20, 2017
Ask women how often they walk to their cars with the sharp end of their key strategically pointing out between their knuckles.— Liz Gumbinner (@Mom101) November 20, 2017
Not all men are monsters. But men are a minefield. Not every inch has power to devastate, but devastation lies hidden everywhere. https://t.co/4lRbg9Sxll
— Clara Jeffery (@ClaraJeffery) November 20, 2017
the answer is: we do. and i’m glad you’re figuring it out, but i think there’s a second piece needed: why not listen to women before now?— 🎄i am sarah’s placeholder christmas username 🎄 (@oscarmiked) November 20, 2017
We do. We just make probability calculations in real-time, and we're really good about hiding our feelings while we do it.— Jam Today (@saucissonsec) November 20, 2017
Knew nothing about? Hmm ... every single woman knows that men are dangerous. Every single one of us.— Mary Ehret (@NativePalate) November 20, 2017
One aspect is that men are finding out how often a woman’s apparently positive or accepting demeanor hides fear, confusion, disgust, or misplaced shame. Wearing a mask is a survival tactic.— Stannie Holt (@stannieholt) November 20, 2017
What we really want to know is this: Now that men are opening their eyes to this reality, what are they going to do to fix it? This is the world that men have created for us. The vast majority of the people who put women in constant danger are men. The people whose voices are listened to are men. Men need to step up, or change still won’t happen.
And men need to do more than the bare minimum. They need to do more than vow not to attack women, or tell their sons to treat women with respect, or choose not to talk over women at work. Those aren’t improvements, they’re basic requirements for being a decent human. Men need to put their own comfort and safety on the line before real change will happen. They need to stand up to their colleagues and bosses who harass their female employees, not keep quiet to protect their own jobs. They need to show relatives the door if they make misogynistic comments at the dinner table this Thanksgiving, not stare into their plates to keep the peace.
Finally, men are paying attention to what we’ve been telling them — screaming at them — for as long as we can remember: We are not safe in this world, and maintaining the status quo means we never will be.