Sometimes you just have to be a woman


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.

~V.A. Luttrell

  • guest

    I think the thought of shifting the focus from men is important… I sometimes get confused which standards I’m supposed to adhere to. I generally leave women (as all people) completely alone when out and about, but have been culturally conditioned by women close to me of all ages that door-opening is a responsibility of men and a way to show submission and respect to women.. That if I don’t do so I’m as vile as the construction worker shouting “crackin’ view miss!” at the lady walking by.

    Enter double-standard: hold door open for woman in city, I get one of two responses-

    1. “Oh my, what a lovely gesture, nobody does that anymore!” (typically the 30+s or disabled)

    2. *dirty look like I’m trying to get into said woman’s pants*
    (typically under-30s- especially if they have heels or any level of attractiveness)


    • Yes, definitely. And I was going to put a section in this post about the double standard of expecting men to behave perfectly while ignoring the behavior of the woman. 

      I think it’s true, though, that we do have a double standard for men’s behavior. And I think some of that comes from different generations expectations of what they want from men. It’s not easy to know what’s appropriate when interacting with people. 

      I don’t think society knows what it wants right now, and that is why I think it is important for women especially to be upfront and forthright about what they want out of the interactions they’re having. 

  • Dorothy

    Women get some bizarre messages from the media.  If they are threatened with job loss or physically attacked in the workplace because they’re not welcome there or don’t flirt enough for the boss’ satisfaction, well, um, let’s not talk about it.  But if they get unwelcome flirtation, they are being traumatized and it’s a big deal!  The latter issue got a lot of coverage in the old movies, in which it was considered the norm for a woman to respond with a blistering wisecrack or a slap across the face.  Today, however, women are expected to be submissive and timidly flirtatious instead.  Maybe it’s time to give women permission to be strong!

    • yenator

      Have you been living under a rock the past couple decades??

  • tehpet

    sure, women need to be taught to be confident and to respond assertively.

    that doesn’t mean that guys shouldn’t be expected to treat women like human beings.

    surely we can manage both?

    • Absolutely. But there is so much message on the guy side of things, and not enough encouragement for women to take charge. Both need to happen, but it seems that people are only interested in chastising men.

    • Nobody here said that men shouldn’t treat women like human beings. Managing both is precisely what has been suggested here.

      Also many of the men in the linked articles may not even realize they are behaving poorly because of the trend of people being passive and not letting them know in the first place. If the only attention you ever get for an action is the positive kind, how do you make that association?

  • Joshua West

    Grats on blocking me. Guess today really is all about censorship of ideas you don’t like.

    • You will always be welcome in any public forum of mine in which you are respectful. However, I am pretty much done with having my own personal troll. You are not blocked here, or on the TOL FB page. I’d hardly call that censorship. However, I am under no obligation to keep a poisonous influence in my life. So our interactions can stay public, political, and civil. 

  • This is me applauding you for that article! This is the era of equality! Women need to own their sense of security and strength and articles like the two you posted and “Schrodinger’s Rapist” do not help that.

  • guest

    I’ve had roughly this same talk with a lot of people. They talk about being offended by somebody and wanting someone else to step in whenever someone is being offensive. Why? You can’t control what someone else does, but you can control how you react. Don’t give them the power by acting offended. Be secure in who you are, and you will take away a lot of the power you thought others had over you. 

  • I like your idea that you should been a woman. I know that you would be able to fix all the problems that you are encountering right now. I think that many people are starting to become and act like a woman do.

  • I wonder about how the ideas here relate to the current controversy over Anita sarkenseen and her women vs. tropes Video.

    Also where are our fun fridays? :p ^_^