Thursday, October 8, 2009

Men and Women Interaction

I found this article today.

I sent it to a couple of female friends to see if they agreed with it or not. Both of them did, which completely astounds me as a guy. Being a 5'10", small shouldered, 165lb guy, I've never considered myself much of a physical threat. To see that women think like this is pretty shocking. Frankly, more disturbing than shocking.

My favorite part was actually one commenter who wrote this:

"I have to admit I’m troubled by the idea that somehow every man should be viewed as a potential rapist. Yes, using common sense makes sense. But, to me, assuming that a guy who says hi to you on a bus may want to rape you is taking that a step too far, and isn’t much different from the parents who refuse to allow their 11-year-old to walk two blocks to the bus stop lest they be kidnapped by one of the child molesters hiding in the bushes. Child sexual abuse happens. It’s wrong, it’s tragic, and it should be dealt with so it becomes less common. But, viewing every adult or situation with suspicion is not the best way to go about that, and I think viewing every man or social interaction with a man you don’t know as a potential rape threat is also not particularly productive.

For me, I refuse to live my life in fear. I also refuse to let the fact that some men are rapists keep me from engaging in a friendly way in everyday social interactions with men, even if those interactions aren’t always the ones I’d most want to be having. Do I take reasonable precautions? Of course. If I get a genuinely creepy vibe off somebody, or I suspect I’m being followed, I take action. But, I just don’t get scared (or annoyed, or put out) because a guy on a bus or at a coffee shop or in the library starts talking to me. Because odds are they are NOT a rapist, odds are I’m in a situation where they could not do me any physical harm without causing a scene even if they wanted to, and I just won’t view others through the lens of fear.

I mean, yeah, it’s annoying when you are trying to listen to your iPod and somebody starts talking to you on a bus, whether it’s a man or woman. But, honestly, I feel like I see a little bit of trying to justify that annoyance at having your sense of personal isolation/space invaded by treating it as a genuine threat, when in most cases it isn’t. I don’t know, I feel like part of the price we pay for living in a society–like paying taxes–is having to at times endure social interactions we would rather not be engaged in. It means sometimes listening to the woman sitting next to you in the waiting room tell you about her daughter’s wedding or the guy sitting next to you on the plane tell you about his job even though you’d really rather not have to deal with either of them. We are not guaranteed the right, when we go out in public, to not have any social interactions we don’t want to have. We do have the right to not be harassed, of course. But, a guy (or women, or child) saying hello and trying to strike up a non-sexual conversation isn’t engaging in harassment, even if he is annoying. Some people just don’t have the same set of social skills that we might expect, and in general they mean no harm, and really in a public place they could do very little harm even if they did intend it, so I don’t really see why they need to be treated as a potential rapist rather than as a human being who might just want some human connection of some kind in a culture that seems to be sorely lacking in opportunities for it.

I just see so many people complain about having to deal with other people, and honestly I think it’s something we just need to suck it up and accept as part of life. Some people can’t stand ever having a child make noise around them. Some people (and I admit to being one of them, although I try to just get over it and deal) can’t stand having to sit next to somebody on a bus who doesn’t have the same hygiene habits we expect, or having a fat person near them on a plane. Some people don’t like men talking to them. And while people will have reasons of varying degrees of validity for those feelings, I’m not sure we can expect the world to cater to any of them, unless we go off to live in isolation somewhere, or that we should expect the world to cater to them. I may want to knit and listen to my iPod on the plane, but that doesn’t mean that I have some inalienable right to do so without anybody interrupting me, or that somebody is committing a grave wrong if they dare try to engage me in conversation.

I live in an area with a really high rate of property crime. And yet I’m not going to approach every male between maybe 15-30 (those most likely to commit the crimes) as if they may or may not be a purse-snatcher. I’m just not. I will not live my life in fear like that. I won’t demean the vast majority of men between 15-30 living here who aren’t thieves by doing that. That is, for me, no way to live. And it saddens me enormously that so many women seem to view every single man they don’t know as a potential rapist, just like it saddens me how many parents raise their children to view every adult they don’t know as a potential child molester. We do need to be aware and alert, but I also think we shouldn’t let that awareness turn into a paranoia that causes us to deny the fact that most people–male or female–are basically good people who have desires and intentions not much different from our own."

As a nice guy who this kind of behavior is outside the realm of possibility for, that just summed it all up for me.

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