Monday, July 27, 2020

Male Menace

Surprise, surprise: a man just called me a “fucking bitch” on the street today.

We were both on bicycles. I was going across the street, and he was going perpendicular to me; but we were both on the curb at the same time. I was headed down the little curb-cut across the street, but I was in his way and he wanted to go across my path. He had to swerve. So he yelled, “Up yours, you fucking bitch.”

Wow, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and I have this in common, too.

I’m sure any other woman and I have this in common, too.

I just finished reading Invisible Women: Data Bias in a World Designed for Men. We may all know the big ones (drugs not tested on female subjects, female prescriptions not covered by health insurance, etc.) but Caroline Criado Perez uncovers hundreds more. Glaring examples of how science, government, and corporations cater to the Default Male.

In one section, she looks at all the behaviors that men do that “make – and are often calculated to make – [women] feel uncomfortable … that add up to a feeling of sexual menace.” Mostly, these don’t happen when women are accompanied by men, “So men who didn’t do it and didn’t experience it simply didn’t know it was going on. … Another gender data gap.”

So, for example, you can use Google maps to get directions that are the fastest, that use the least mileage; but can you get one that shows the “safest” route? Men don’t see it, don’t collect it, don’t care to make that information useful to women. It took women to create Safecity, which crowd-sources personal stories of sexual harassment in public spaces to create a map indicating trends at a local level, mostly in India, but around the world.
A couple weeks ago, before Anchorage had a mask mandate, Tim and I went to Baskin Robbins for ice cream. Baskin Robbins has plexiglass to keep the staff separate and decals on the floor to keep the customers separate. It’s hard when everyone wants to look at the ice creams to see the selection, so I stayed way back, waiting my turn. I was the only one in a mask. (Tim was in the car, still futzing with trying to tie his on.)

One unmasked man kept moving over towards me. We weren’t near the counter, so there was no reason to. I moved away. He moved closer. I moved away. Finally, I told him, “I keep moving away, you keep moving closer. Please keep your distance.” He walked right up to me, stood in front of me, swelled his body, and STARED. I stared back and walked out.

I passed a now-masked Tim just coming in and told him we were leaving.

Yes, yes, Covid-19 has added a new agenda to the world, but he was an asshole looking for an excuse. And yes, I’m a reasonably assertive woman who can hold her own. And no, I don’t think I attract any particular negative energy in the universe. And no, I’m not a “victim.” And no, I was not going to get the young, teenaged, ice cream scooping staff involved in this. And yes, I’ve gone through multiple after-the-fact responses I could have made but didn’t and wish I had.

So this is what I’m doing. I’m reporting these instances of female-targeted male aggression to my husband. To my brother. To men around me. They’re all nice men, men who treat women with dignity, but I don’t think they know how common “fucking bitch” behavior is. And they need to know this. Not to protect me, but to know.

Actually, I experience it less often during Covid-19 because I’m not near other people, but obviously, it still lurks.

I don’t even have to ask any woman: you know what I’m talking about. I will take any and all suggestions for responses. Ones that illuminate, educate, humiliate preferred.


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  2. I agree with Zibabird. In addition to the health threat, there are so many people walking around with concealed weapons, especially in Alaska. In general I try to ignore people who are acting like that and if it isn't possible or safe to ignore them I will quickly and quietly remove myself from the situation, even though I am usually fuming inside.
    If you attempt to humiliate a guy like that it will probably just escalate things. You will be pushing all his buttons.

  3. Why respond? For safety’s sake, do not engage with stupid, angry and crazy people. Even if you have excellent defense skills, do you want to take a chance of being permanently harmed by a POS predatory human?

    I understand your anger, disgust, etc. However is endangering your safety worth waving a red flag at a bull? Think of your possible verbal responses and their possible physical response. You anger and humiliate them. They break your jaw, knock you down and crack your skull, maybe go after others that are with you.

    Do you have a GoPro or other video & audio camera? Share clips of people behaving badly. Social Media can do far more damage to these failures of humanity than anything you could say.

    Thank you and please keep rocking the keyboards!

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