Yesterday I posted on my Instagram story about a guy who had sent a completely unsolicited and rude message to me on a dating app.
This post is not about that jerk, this post is about everyone else’s reactions to that jerk.
As expected, my friends started messaging me outraged over his comment. What I had not expected was the noticeable different between the reactions of each gender.
While the majority of the women who messaged me were outraged, for the most part they also did not seem surprised. Their comments expressed anger paired with solidarity, saying things like “I hate those jerks! I hope you told him off!” or “Ugh, these guys are the worst, we just have to laugh it off and not let them get to us!”.
The men who messaged me were equally outraged, if not more so, but they were also SHOCKED. Their messages said things like, “I cannot believe there’s someone out there who would actually say this!” and “Wow… I don’t even have words…”. It was a good reminder to me, that a lot of the men in our lives are really unaware of how frequently this happens.
Whether it’s this guy messaging me how pretty he thinks I’m not, the men who stared and cat called as I walked in to grab my food then waited by my car for me to come back out so they could hoot and hollar at me all over again, or the guys who’ve threatened violence and rape when I’ve turned down their propositions, my encounters with these guys aren’t happening daily, but they’re more frequent then they should be. They aren’t the majority of my experiences with men, but they are often louder than the day to day interactions with friends, or the guys who message me on the dating apps telling me that I have a nice and an interesting about me section.
If I walk down the street and pass 50 different men on my way, and just one of those 50 men yells out a crude comment, that is the man I remember. He is the one who defines my experience with men on this walk, not the 49 other men who were minding their own business. It’s not correct, and it’s not necessarily fair to the 49, but that is the man I remember. I know it’s not all men, but unfortunately on that walk, it feels defining.
But that doesn’t have to be the experience that sticks.
Sometimes, on that walk, when the man calls out with the crude comment, there’s another man. There’s a man who yells out at the offender, telling him to knock it off. Sometimes there’s another man who sees a man walking uncomfortably close and staring, and gives me a look of reassurance before stepping between the two of us to create a barrier. Sometimes there’s no one on the walk stepping up, but as soon as I get home and tell my friends about the experience, the men in the circle tell me they’re sorry that it happened. Instead of shrugging their shoulders, they tell me they’re mad about what happened, and THAT is the experience with men I remember that day. That anger is the reminder that the good guys outnumber the bad. It is the reminder that the men in my life are not the team I’m fighting against, they’re not even hanging out silently on the sideline, they’re actually on my team.
So thanks. To those of you who step up, stand between and support. To those of you who get mad with us and create a new defining experience. To those of you who listen and try to understand instead of just telling us to stop focusing on the one loud guy during our walk home. Thank you for not just being silent, but for being louder than the other guys. Thanks.
Thanks for getting mad about this.