It’s a dangerous business, going out your door. You never know who you will meet, what will happen to you, or where you will get carried to, if you don’t keep your feet.
Most people tacitly accept the dangers of leaving their home before they do so. The world is scary. People are unpredictable. You have to accept the possibility that you might not ever make it home.
Reflecting on how these particular dangers affect women, A. V. Flox writes on BlogHer about the harassment she faces as a beautiful women when she enters the world. Men feel it is their duty, obligation, or privilege to approach her and comment on her body, or to strike up a conversation. She describes how and why these comments feel threatening to her, and how men can generally not be creepy.
Colin Schultz on his self-named blog comments on this article from a male perspective, describing a situation in which he sees a young woman in a coffee shop attempt to, unsuccessfully, rebuff an older man who hits on her.
Both articles are thoughtful, well-written, and worth reading. However, I believe both authors make a crucial mistake. They attempt to advocate for women, but in the end they make a common mistake: by scorning men’s actions in these scenarios, they make women victims.
You are not a victim
Both authors call on the men in the situation to change their actions. By shifting the responsibility of the situation entirely onto the man, both authors gut the potential power the women have in the situations. They seem to accept that there is no power a woman can have in those scenarios. By chastising the men, they take away the power of the woman to take charge of what is happening. They make the woman a victim. By their accounts, the woman is powerless, a receiver of action by the man in question. They neglect that the woman is an agent in the situation, with equal power and force over her own destiny.
Remember always that it takes two to tango. In any given situation, either agent can give or take power. The real disadvantage of women is that they are conditioned to believe that they cannot or should not take control. But they can! And they should! Women should have power over every aspect of their lives, and by wagging a finger at the man while not helping the woman realize what she could have done to fend him off, these authors only make a victim of the people in their situations.
Criticizing men and asking their behavior to change does nothing to empower women — in fact, it only cowers them more. It keeps the power in the situation with the man, and it becomes up to him to act well or poorly. Instead, we should realize that people will very often act poorly. Women should be taught how to defend themselves and keep their own power, rather than expecting everyone to give it to them.
Self Defense 101
Some of the best self defense lessons I got from my mother. They didn’t have anything to do with strikes, blocks, or the best places to hit someone. They all had to do with being aggressive, confident, and taking charge of the situation.
Women need to learn -- they need to be taught – to exhibit signs of self-assurance and a desire to keep power in a situation. This is all psychological warfare, and it is the subtle ways in which some people are able to take control of situations while others submit control. Very often in our society, men are conditioned to take control of situations. Women need to be taught how to do the same.
Until then, you are not empowering women, you are crippling them.
One final note
I’ve heard several people comment that an aggressive woman is called a bitch (or other variations), and this is why they avoid confrontation with people who make them uncomfortable.
Okay, maybe I missed this day in social conditioning class (I missed a lot of days…), but what is more important 1) being secure in your mind, body, and surroundings, having control of the situations you’re in, and being able to fend off people who would hurt you? or 2) The opinion of some asshole you don’t know? Forgive me, but I’ll take power and security over the love of some jerkoff any day of the week.
Do yourself a favor. Google “powerful women” and look at those faces. Do you think any of those people care about being called a bad name?
I understand that most women are fighting lifetimes of social engineering in this, but I honestly think that women will get nowhere if we expect everyone to bend over backwards, give us power, and love us for taking it from them. It is foolish to let petty insults get in the way of your security of mind and body.
And that’s all I have to say about that.