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The Threat Effect

August 3, 2013

“You shouldn’t leave your purse in the front seat like that,” said a man’s voice just behind me.

My head snapped up, startled, as he walked past me. It took me a moment to register what he said. Why was this man talking to me? Who was he? What had he said? My “purse” was on the tailgate, but my bag was, in fact, in the front seat.

“Oh,” I stuttered. “That’s just got books in it.”

“Still. They broke into a car at my gym just to get a bag with gym clothes,” he warned a complete stranger. A second man walked out of my peripheral vision, a bag of dog food over his shoulder.

I grabbed my purse, carefully shut the tailgate and then the back window. The man was opening the door of a black truck parked beside my little car. The second man headed around the passenger side.

“Oh,” I said again, looking into the back of my car. “Damn.” I tried the latch. It didn’t budge. I tried the door handle. “Damn,” I repeated.

“What’s wrong?” the second guy asked.

“I just locked my keys in the car.”

“Do you have another?” the first one asked.

“No,” I replied, pulling out my cell phone. “I’ll call my boyfriend.”

“Do you need us to wait with you?” dog-food man asked.

“I keep a spare in my wallet,” first man offered.

I was in a busy Petsmart parking lot in broad daylight across the street from a police station. I said no. They left as I dialed the phone and looked through the window of my now locked car. Archer looked bad at me with a calm but curious expression as I explained to Colin that I’d locked my keys in the car. And I’d locked the dog in the car, too. Thankfully, it was a cool day and I’d parked in the shade. And my boyfriend is awesome.

Archer waiting calmly while locked in my car. Photo by Monica Sanford.

Archer waiting calmly while locked in my car. Photo by Monica Sanford.

Men can be wonderful. Especially when the come to your rescue on days when you’ve locked yourself out of your car and your dog in. I love a large number of them. I’ve lived with several over the course of my life and count many as family.

But why do some of them think it’s perfectly okay to walk up behind a distracted woman in a parking lot and talk to her out of the blue? Like she hasn’t spent her entire life being warned about rapists and murderers and being alone it parking lots? Like she hasn’t been told since before she could talk not to talk to strangers? As though she hasn’t been warned that daylight doesn’t make her safer and that bad things happen to women even in good neighborhoods? Like she wouldn’t be surprised to hear the voice of a total stranger less than six feet behind her especially when, despite her culturally ingrained vigilance, she didn’t even know he was there? As though she hasn’t already figured out through personal experience that overly-familiar men are trouble? And that two of them would be so much less threatening that she would ask them to wait with her to protect her from other complete strangers on the off chance that they were good and the other strangers were dangerous?

That’s not to say that these guys were bad or dangerous or rude or callous or in any way ill-meaning. They were strangers, so I really couldn’t tell you. It’s just to say that they fundamentally don’t understand what it’s like to be a woman in a world where the most dangerous thing to a woman is a man. And I think that is a shame. I think it’s utterly inexcusable.

Louis CK, a comedian I don’t always appreciate, has a bit about dating. “It takes a great deal of courage to go out on a date,” he explains. Guys are petrified to ask a woman out on a date. She could say no, but it takes a lot of courage for a man to ask. “She might say yes. That’s the woman’s courage. The courage it takes for a woman to go on a date with a man is literally insane and ill-advised and the whole species existence counts on them doing it! And I don’t know, how do women still go out with guys when you consider the fact that there is no greater threat to women than men? We’re the number one threat to women!” A rare moment of insight from a man who love poop jokes. “We’re the worst thing that ever happens to them! That’s true!”

Nevertheless, when women act distant, cold, unfriendly, or any other of the somewhat nastier words often used to describe cautious female behavior, men frequently demonstrate great offense. At the very least, they often look baffled and feel misunderstood or unappreciated. Very few realize that this is an inevitable consequence of the threat under which all women constantly operate. Protective behavior from women is a direct result of threatening behavior from men. Maybe not of the particular woman or particular man in any given interaction, but of enough women and enough men within our society for these messages to become deeply embedded not only in our culture, but in every culture.

In fact, men have been so dangerous to women over the eons that their behavior has frequently been used to deny women’s rights, privileges, and freedoms. Although I, personally, have never been physically harmed by a man, I have often been on the receiving end of this patriarchal “protection.” My family worries about my inclination to join the Navy, even as an officer and a chaplain, because it exponentially increases the likelihood I’ll be sexually assaulted. Women are discouraged from pursuing largely male professions in part because of threats to their personal safety. Our freedom of movement and career is curtailed. Here’s an idea: rather than saying women can’t leave the house at night because they might be assaulted, let’s say men can’t leave the house at night because they might assault someone? That sucks, right? It’s horribly unfair, right? Yet women have been told and accepted these messages and restrictions on their freedom since early childhood. Inappropriately “protective” behavior, usually by men, is often passed off as well-intentioned, despite its impact on the “protectee.”

This was brought home to me recently in a Petsmart parking lot in broad daylight across from a police station. In this case, perhaps the stranger’s warning had nothing to do with my gender, but my reaction was certainly in response to his. I did not like having a strange man suddenly so close to me and speaking to me out of the blue. I felt threatened. I was startled. I got distracted. And I locked my keys in the car with my dog. Good one, fellas! Way to go, Monica!

To all the guys out there: you don’t have to stop protecting your sisters, wives, mothers, and daughters (if they want you to). However, please realize what you’re protecting them from. As a consequence, strange women will view you as just as threatening as you might view other men to the women in your life. So don’t walk up behind them and start talking to them, anywhere, but especially in parking lots. We don’t like it. It’s not personal. And believe it or not, we don’t like having to live our lives under this constant threat effect. But that’s largely up to you guys to make unnecessary. Talk to each other.  Teach your sons, brothers, and friends that violence against women is never okay. Make it stop. Could you work on that?  We’d appreciate it.  Thanks!

19 Comments leave one →
  1. buddhakaruna permalink
    August 3, 2013 10:10 am

    Thanks Monica. I female friend of mine recently remarked about me that she has never seen anybody who acted as “proper” as I did. By this she meant that I watched carefully what I said around people, was careful about who I looked at and how I looked at them, and, to the best of my ability, was careful about the thousand other ways of sending messages that may be interpreted as threatening. This was especially true in my interactions with women. I’ve learned that even though I would not hurt a fly (literally, I capture and put them outside), there are people (men) who are not that way. Just look at the rate epidemic in South Africa where a huge percentage of the men rape or force women. Not a majority, but darn close to it. Given this context, that admiring male hetersexual look, can and sometimes will be seen as a threat.

    I also remember my childhood. In rural Montana there were bears, cougars and other large wildlife, as well as some pretty scary people. Yet I, as a male, was allowed to run around at will, sometimes embarking on 30+ mile bike trips to visit my friends who lived far in the boondocks. Would my sister been allowed to do this? No (she is 15 years older than me, so I didn’t see it in person, but I’ve heard the stories). Should she have? Some of the people I met were terrifying. They didn’t bother me because I made absolutely sure I didn’t cross them in anyway, but a women? Given the level of sexual assault (ignored and rarely prosecuted) there was in my community. Absolutely not. The freedom I had is a form of male privilege rarely acknowledged by men.

    My Mom talked about how cloistered and protected she was as a child. She snuck out at night, just to experience a little bit of freedom. She wanted to be a firefighter as a child, but of course, that was impossible (this was 80 years ago).

    Thank you for continuing to educate me about the lived experience of women, both in writing and in our conversations. I deeply appreciate this. Non-harm is the key to a good Buddhist practice and a good life (for everyone), but sometimes we ignorantly harm others and it is good to be educated once in awhile.

  2. August 3, 2013 3:01 pm

    No spare key? Learned your lesson on that one, did you not? The point is, men are not the cause here, imagine the same situation had it been two women, what excuse would have you used then? Side note: My car will not let me lock my keys in it, same with my wife’s car. I’m amazed that your car will let you do that, I thought it was a new car? Well, how much does it cost for a spare key and a hide a key box?

    • August 3, 2013 4:33 pm

      Missed the point of the ENTIRE piece, Blaydes. Shall I give you a rundown again, since you failed to read it and instead gave MORE unwanted “advice”? It scares women to have strange men come up to them (from behind!!) and give unwanted advice. We’ve all been told a zillion times that the parking lot is where dangerous men try to prey upon women. If you care so much about safety, how about hanging out at a distance and keeping an eye, or at least giving some warning that you’re approaching. It is thoughtless. And keep your goddamned advice to yourself unless someone is doing something really stupid.

      • August 5, 2013 12:34 am

        “Missed the point of the ENTIRE piece, Blaydes.”

        A. I read it all, but I chose to ignore the rhetoric of an age old faint of spells spewed out by women who feel the world is man vs. woman. I don’t see it that way until cause warrants that ugly rudimentary thinking.

        B. If you’re so adamant (That’s a good thing) might I suggest equaling the playing field? Take self defense classes, carry a gun, pepper spray, mace (Spell?), etc. if it makes you feel better? I can help you solve something that’s been around since the caveman (excuse me, cave-person days) but I can use my free speech and reply to your comments without attacking.

        “Shall I give you a rundown again, since you failed to read it and instead gave MORE unwanted “advice”?”

        A. More? Do I have a groupie? LOL. I assume you’ve read some of my real world straight talk comments before? I’m glad I’m getting my voice heard, but attacking me won’t solve anything.

        B. Speaking of … since when does free speech become advice? Monica is a big girl and can take from her open blog what she wants, and leave the things she does not want. Otherwise, don’t blog something, and complain if people leave comments, that’s just gross ignorance.

        C. Also, I can’t seem to understand, did I attack her or you? Nope. I see you did you attack me, But I’ll be the NICE KIND GENTLEMAN you are seeking and give you the lead-in-time you so desire. Or maybe you need to let go from this blog? I don’t know, matters not to me.

        “It scares women to have strange men come up to them (from behind!!) and give unwanted advice. We’ve all been told a zillion times that the parking lot is where dangerous men try to prey upon women.”

        A. More hate on your part, but let’s see, all men are evil, got it. Good luck with that.

        B. Did I present an answer to the “men are evil” problem? Nope, because sorry to tell you, life sucks, life is full of uncertainties, “BAD THINGS DO HAPPEN TO GOOD PEOPLE.”

        C. Lashing out at someone on a public blog is not going to change the world, but buying a spare key will help more than your cruel words have done so far.

        “If you care so much about safety, how about hanging out at a distance and keeping an eye, or at least giving some warning that you’re approaching. It is thoughtless.”

        A. I have one better than that, live in Japan, where there is a 100% conviction rate, the the world is full of peace over here, oh wait, … the USA, dang it, I’m moving back soon, so, well my wife and daughter will have to deal with crime ridden, violent, murder, and rape capital of the world this too. Any suggestions on how to protect them?

        B. You are a product of the USA I assume, I mean you grew up in “Amer-ka” right? I don’t know where you live, but it seems that might be the root cause of your paranoia? My mother lived in rule Nebraska and never “feared” men, ever. She now lives in Omaha, has to lock her doors, etc. So she does not blame the people, she blames the place. I can agree on that, there are some really bad places in the world.

        “And keep your goddamned advice to yourself unless someone is doing something really stupid.”

        A. More attacks, I’m really shocked Monica would have such a violent person in her life, using the lords name in vain, berating someone and causing discourse in the Zen. Yikes.

        B. Monica, sorry to have upset your friend, they may want to seek some help or something like that?

        • August 5, 2013 8:15 am

          Eric, that response was really uncalled for. It was insulting to me and my readers. It was insulting to women. It was unreasonable, illogical, and staggeringly inaccurate. Finally, it is blatantly misogynistic. I’m very sorry that you can’t see that.

          We have not always seen eye to eye and I have frequently not appreciate your posts in the past. However, I have no illusions that the whole world agrees with me, so I’ve left them be. However, there is a line and you have found it. This is your warning. You are perfectly welcome to continue your argument, but if you cannot remain CIVIL and RESPECTFUL, then you will be banned.

    • August 3, 2013 5:15 pm

      Men are not the cause of women being threatened by men?

      As for whether or not these particular men were the cause of me locking my keys in the car – yes, they were. That doesn’t imply intention on their part or absolve me of personal responsibility, but there is a clear cause and effect relationship between my distraction and subsequent preoccupation with their potential threat and my otherwise forgetful behavior. Had it been two women, I would have been far less startled and distracted, far less fearful and preoccupied. And I might still have locked my keys in the car.

      You have a daughter, Mr. Blaydes. For her sake, please try to understand the point – which is NOT who’s to blame for my keys.

  3. August 3, 2013 8:31 pm

    Men are funny. They are rapists and they will stop on their way to a job interview to change a strange woman’s tire. If your life had been threatened, those two dumb men in the parking lot would have risked their lives to protect you–a total stranger, a lady.

    • August 4, 2013 10:41 am

      Maybe. I’d like to hope so. (Like to think I’d also do the same for them.) Trouble is, the rapists don’t wear signs.

      • August 4, 2013 4:14 pm

        No they don’t. I’m still sick of the current meme that all men are rapists until proven otherwise, preferably by dying to protect some female that wouldn’t give them the time of day. Yeah, everything is the fault of the evil male.

        • August 4, 2013 6:36 pm

          Violence against women is doubly unfair. First, it’s unfair to women who are the victims of violence and who live under the lifelong fear of violence. Second, it’s unfair to good men who are otherwise perfect gentlemen, but get short shrift from women who are understandably cautious.

          However, I have no sympathy whatsoever for people who get their nickers in a twist because they think that anyone pointing out that violence against women is a bad thing and that living in fear isn’t fun means they must also think that all men are evil. Please grow up.

        • Colin permalink
          August 4, 2013 10:50 pm

          Did you know that the average chance of being attacked by a bear, on a daily basis, is 0.28%? That means that if you live to be 72 years old, you’ve got a ONE-IN-FIVE (that’s 20%) chance of having a bear brutally savage you, and possibly kill you, in your lifetime. If you’ve ever seen the aftermath of a bear attack, it’s a life-altering event. I’ve read articles about people who’ve gone through it and it’s ruined the idea of camping or enjoying the outdoors for them forever.
          Do these statistics seem odd to you? That’s because they’re actually the statistic for rapes in the U.S. Why did I choose to talk about bears instead? Because, for the average woman, who is thirty pounds lighter and six inches shorter than the average male, trying to fend off a rape is probably a bit like trying to fend off a goddamned bear.
          And if you survive a bear attack, you know what the rangers do? They kill the bear. I’ve read about ZERO cases of bear attacks where the person lived and didn’t report it.
          By contrast, 54% of rape cases go unreported because of societal pressure, PTSD, fear, or a variety of factors beyond the scope of my response.
          The point? A woman would have to be fucking NUTS not to be aware of and act on the constant threat that we as men pose to them. If you told me that a scuba diver had a one-and-five chance of being bitten by a shark in their lifetime, you know what I’d say? I’d say it’s about time I picked a different hobby.
          Women don’t get that choice. They walk, every day, surrounded by the violence-potential equivalent of a bunch of bears, knowing that today might be the day their number is up.
          Are you upset at this conversation? Good. DO SOMETHING. Be aware of your behavior and how it affects women. Be conscious that even though you might think you’re the nicest teddy bear on earth, to a strange woman you probably look like a goddamned Kodiak. Vote to get people out of congress who are insensitive to the rape issue; for example, dickheads who think that “women’s bodies have a way of shutting [pregnancy due to rape] … down”.
          And when a woman talks about the problems she faces as a result of our failure as a society to create a safe environment for EVERYONE, instead of viewing it as a personal attack (it wasn’t), maybe listen and feel a little empathy for what they have to go through.

  4. August 5, 2013 1:04 am

    “However, I have no sympathy whatsoever for people who get their nickers in a twist because they think that anyone pointing out that violence against women is a bad thing and that living in fear isn’t fun means they must also think that all men are evil. Please grow up.”

    Who’s nickers are in a twist? Mine? Did I say that what you said was a bad thing? Nope. I simply stated:

    Blaydes — “No spare key? Learned your lesson on that one, did you not?”

    A. I can’t break this one down any more simple than it already is, but here we go.

    1. No spare key? Who’s fault is that? Men? I did not say that, I chose to ignore the whole cave man is bad, cave man smash woman part and focus on the part that I can lend advice to.

    2. Think of Colin and how inconvenient it was for him to drive all the way over to you to unlock your car. What if he’d gotten into an accident on the way to you? How would you feel about a spare key then?

    3. What if Colin had been too far away, on vacation, or whatever? Paying $100.00 for a locksmith would have really been your dose of caster oil had it not? But I guess you’re a big girl, but still learning that on your own. Sorry to lend some advice, sheesh, bet Colin or your parents said the same thing about a spare key when they found out, did you bite their head off too? Such nickers in a twist over a spare key comment.

    4. WHAT if it had been a HOT DAY? Your dog may have been in trouble, that right there warrants a big “Uh-oh” on Monica’s part.

    Blaydes — “The point is, men are not the cause here, imagine the same situation had it been two women, what excuse would have you used then?”

    A. The fear of men aside is what I was saying, and that being the underlining message here was you made a mistake and found a perfect opportunity to take it out one someone else, to blame someone else for YOUR mistake of locking your jeys in your car, in this case, TWO MEN. Grow up.

    B. You never answered my question, what if it had been two women? What, you “just locked my keys in my car”

    C.. Would you have posted this distaste for men had you NOT locked your keys in your car? Never mind, I’ll never get the truth from that question, LOL Yikes!

    Blaydes — “Side note: My car will not let me lock my keys in it, same with my wife’s car. I’m amazed that your car will let you do that, I thought it was a new car?”

    A. How in the world did you manage to lock your keys in a new car? The last car I had that allowed me to lock my keys in it was back in 2002. Might you send a letter to your car maker they add that neat feature to their next model?

    Blaydes — “Well, how much does it cost for a spare key and a hide a key box?”

    A. $5.00 http://www.amazon.com/Master-Lock-207D-Magnetic-Keycase/dp/B003WXGLS2

    B. $20.00 for a key http://www.ebay.com/sch/Key-Blanks-/40016/i.html

    C. Attacking a man whom you know is not one of the bad guys, berating him so he does not wish for nor care to read a response from you or your friend and severely solidifying my own confirmation and single most prominent reason I will never EVER marry an American woman. COST: PRICELESS.

    TOTAL COST: (You tell me?)

    Peace! <3

    • August 5, 2013 8:04 am

      Eric, I honestly don’t know why you read my blog. You “chose to ignore the whole cave man is bad, cave man smash woman part.” You chose to ignore the actual purpose of what I wrote (by characterizing it so simplistically, inaccurately, and insultingly that you could write it off) so that you could provide unsolicited advice? So that you could lecture me about consequences of which I am perfectly well aware? So that you can treat me like a child? Why? Why would you think that behavior (in real life or an online forum) is EVER okay?

      “The fear of men aside is what I was saying…” The point of my post is that I CAN’T put the fear of men aside. Nor can any woman I’ve ever met. Why do you insist in only reading what you want and dismissing my ACTUAL message?

      I’m going to point out one more thing. I never blamed those men for the situation. I pointed out a chain of cause and effect which you cannot refute. You weren’t there. In fact, I never once used the word “blame” in my post. Only you have used that word. And you should note that I DID, in fact, answer your question as to “What if it had been two women?” I stated in my reply to you: “Had it been two women, I would have been far less startled and distracted, far less fearful and preoccupied. And I might still have locked my keys in the car.” I accept responsibility for the consequences of my actions. Blame is not the point.

      You feel attacked? Who’s spent more words lecturing whom in this exchange? Who just insulted ALL American women because he feels “berated” by ONE? Am I not allowed to disagree and state my disagreement? Do only you get freedom of speech? Why do you post comments and ask questions when you neither “wish nor care to read” the responses?

      Finally, let me ask you this: if you’re not going to read what I write and have no interest in the message I am attempting to convey, why, in all of samsara, do you read my blog?

  5. August 5, 2013 2:14 pm

    Lady, you need counseling. Get it. Men, by and large, are no more evil than women. That is not an insult, you attitude indicates that you seriously need competent counseling. And not from someone who takes the stance that men are evil

    • August 5, 2013 4:27 pm

      Sanford, what are you reading? I never said men are evil. In fact, I said the exact opposite several times. I didn’t even use the word or any of its synonyms. I don’t believe for a second men are evil. I’m truly baffled. Where are you coming from? Do you understand what I was even writing about?

  6. christopher mohr permalink
    August 5, 2013 11:54 pm

    There’s some level of failure that can be seen on both sides of the conversation. Yes, there is a legitimate concern when any stranger says anything in passing. But there is also the tendency in humans to overthink things.

    Don’t get me wrong, rape and/or sexual assault of various types is a real problem, that much is uncontestable truth. But the prime driver for many of these acts is power and dominance. Who has power over who, and how that is manifest. And as much as women see men as an inherent threat, we as a society pretty much never look at the threat that women are to decent males.

    Example 1: teaching. The almost unspoken reason more men don’t teach? Fear of a false accusation. Don’t for a second deny that those are a reality as well, and just as devastating. Girl doesn’t get her way in male teacher’s class, girl knows she can go to the authorties and claim male teacher made advances/touched her. Before he has a chance to do anything to defend himself or efute the accusation, he has already been found guilty by the public. The effects last a lifetime. The same applies to things like family. I keep a measured distance from my niece, not because I would do anything to her (I wouldn’t), but because I fear the consequences of any accusation, which would be an attack against me. So you live in fear of being attacked by a potential predator? Imagine that, so do I.

    Let’s transpose the parking lot situation for a second. I have my bags in a shopping cart outside my car in a [insert store here] parking lot. Some random female walks up to warn me about a recent rash of car burglaries. How do I respond? Immediately I am on my guard. Not because of the burglaries, cause it’s just stuff. I am on my guard because she might take anything I say as a hostile sexual advance and have me arrested. I nod my head and go back to what I was doing, keeping one eye on this random stranger as she walks away. Now, in that interaction, I didn’t lock my keys in my car out of distraction caused by random female talking to me. Let’s petend I did, to compare.

    Keys are locked in my car, and while I wait for someone to bring a spare, the lady parked next to me decides to strike up a conversation, ask if I need help. I am _paralyzed with fear_ and mentally note that there are only the security cameras to back me up if she wants to make a claim against me. I very cautiously say as little as possible, look only at the ground (or anywhere but her direction), keep my tone as non-threatening as I can, and generally do everything but fall to the ground and ask her to leave because I’m terrified of her being there. To paraphrase your words, false accusers don’t wear signs, so I have to be on my guard, sterile and cowering in fear of a life ending accussation.

    What did I do wrong in that interaction (aside from just being male)?

    Example 2: I work with and directly supervise a female chaplain assistant. she knows my movements, activities, general location, and means of communication, or lack thereof, to the point where she could plausibly invent/fabricate a story that would get me sent to Leavenworth for a very, very long time and make me unemployable forever. Now, I trust her not to do that, and I would entrust my life to her protection in a combat situation, but I have to be at all times aware of how, when, where, and what I say to her and keep close tabs on all of our interactions.

    There have been, and will likely be in the future, times where she forces me to change course on legitimate activities with the mere mention of any variety of gender-based issues, and I tread on unspoken pins and needles every drill to avoid upsetting her. Yet I also go out of my way to make sure she knows she is both a professional I trust and a woman who is empowered, cautiously hoping to nurture and assist, rather than provoke. So far, so good, but you see the fear -the very real fear – I and other men have to deal with?

    True, it’s not (generally, anyway) the physical fear women deal with, but in the end fear is fear, and it’s not all that different. I’m not blaming men or women for being men or women and interacting as they will. That just distracts from the real problem (the culture of dominance which both men and women engage in and encourage). If we are to really move forward, taking jabs at one side or the other is useless. For men to acknowledge women’s legitimate fears, the flipside must also be acknowledged by women, rather than just the typical ‘men don’t have to deal with this, and men directly cause what we have to deal with.’

    Perhaps the men in the parking lot were (in an unspoken way) just as afraid as you were. Or maybe their social culture simply requires them to make basic conversation with people they meet. I wasn’t there, and can’t say, but might there be a slim possibility you are not presenting their side fairly, just as I might not be presenting my parking lot strangers fairly?

    Do men cause problems? Some do, for sure. Most don’t. But so do some women, even if most don’t. And it’s the utter human failures on both sides of the gender coin who ruin life for the rest of us.

    Ultimately, my point is this: we could all use to calm down a little. Me, you, your commentors, all of us.

    • August 6, 2013 7:10 am

      Chris, I can agree with you to a certain point. But the statistics on this are so lop-sided, that after a while, I run into trouble. It’s like trying to cut in line at the emergency room in front of a person with a sucking gunshot wound to the chest because you twisted your ankle. Yeah, it hurts and requires medical attention, but at some point don’t we have to do cultural triage?

      The statement that harm to a man’s reputation is “just as devastating” as harm to a woman’s body is a little hard to swallow. Being raped can result in almost everything a false accusation might cause (loss of job, social ostracism; in some countries a woman who’s raped can still be stoned to death) except jail time (in America), but also includes physical harm, sometimes crippling injury, and frequently post-traumatic stress disorder. I agree that both are problems, but at some point I have to state my clear priorities.

      Finally, let’s just consider this: if sexual assault, harassment, and violence against women weren’t as prevalent, if they were vanishingly rare, it would be MUCH more difficult for false accusations against men to get any traction at all. As it is, have you seen the statistics on how few assaults and harassment incidents are reported? And in the military particularly, how few of those reported are actually prosecuted? Or even investigated? (NPR did a series of stories on the problem this year.) Blaming the victim is rampant and for every innocent man falsely accused, there are many more guilty men walking free. Women know this. We know our accusation, true or false, probably won’t be taken seriously, which only puts us even more on our guard and prevents us from interacting with men as authentic human beings. Yet both problems have a common solution: end violence against women.

      Can we at least agree on that?

  7. holly permalink
    August 6, 2013 9:52 am

    Thanks Monica. I heard you.

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