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I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what it might be like to be male.
Don’t you EVER wonder what it would be like? I’m going to do the standard disclaimer here so we don’t get inundated by ‘men experience violence on the street too’ remarks – which are super nuanced by the way – and say that yes, men can feel unsafe on the street too, and that when I make broad generalisations about ‘men’ I’m not referring to minority groups like gay or trans men who often experience significant levels of street harassment.
Got that out of the way? Good.
I was cruising over on XO Jane.com today (hooray for mindless internet browsing) and came across an article by Emily McCombs, where she talks about how often she is harassed, and what she thinks marks some women as more likely to be harassed than others – the markers that might make some of us more likely to be victimised than others. She says that the men she has spoken to about it describe women they see as easily victimised as “wounded wildebeests”. ERMAHGAWD
You can read the article here: ‘The Most Romantic Present I Ever Got Was This Pepper Spray’. Do it!
We know that street harassment is done to all types of women – but what is your experience of it? Do you feel like your ‘identifiers’, like Emily talks about, make you more likely to be harassed? Or mean you’re harassed more frequently?
Emily goes on the speak about how different her world is when she is walking down the street with her boyfriend. She writes:
“My boyfriend, 6’3″ with an ex rugby player’s build and more recently a red belt in Tae Kwon Do, has never been a wounded wildebeest, never had to feel unsafe in public. Walking down the street with him is a revelation, like stepping inside the forcefield safety of his maleness. The same guys who yelled at me coming down the street don’t say shit when I come back up with him.
I bask in it, my temporary maleness.”
Does this ring true for any of you? Because it got me thinking about what it might feel like to not: be constantly vigilant about my surroundings; constantly assess the group of guys coming toward me on the other side of the street to decide if I should cross; ever pull up level with other car’s windows at traffic lights in case there is a harasser inside just waiting to yell SUPRISE! at me and ruin my day.
In short, what it would feel like to not be making wounded wildebeest evasive movements constantly. Does the jungle/great wild links ring true for you?
Do you wonder what it’s like to be male? Is your experience like Emily’s, where you feel safer with a man inside his forcefield of maleness?
I wonder how to build a forcefield of femaleness? Would it involve being able to respond quickly and just kick “a motherfucker in the nuts” as Emily puts it? When I lived in the US for a while, all the girls I lived with carried pepper spray.
I dream of a forcefield of femaleness not even being necessary. Till then, how to build one?
Has it been possible for you? Tell us your stories!
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