I read this story and kicked me in the goddamn heart, because I know the scenery; I live in Long Beach. I was under the incredibly false impression that, even if this sort of thing starts to happen, there would be someone willing and able to step in and put a stop to some psychotic fuck screaming “SUCK MY DICK, BITCH!” Now, I’ve realized something.
The point of this story isn’t that men are awful, or that only men can do terrible things. The point is that men (who, generally, have a physical advantage and a more reckless temperament) don’t really get why women are afraid of us. We know that people are victimized, but we don’t feel it. When I walk out my door, down the street, and I pass a man, I think “I could take him,” not as an answer to any question, but as a (possibly false) matter of fact. I know that bad things happen, but never to me, because I’m over six feet tall and weigh over two hundred and sixty pounds. “No one would dare try it,” my physique and naturally fallacious judgement tell me.
Women share none of that comfort. They don’t have the crazy idea that they can fend off anyone who tries to attack them, and they can’t rely on their physique like men think they can. They are forced, by sound logic, to play it safe, because they don’t know if they can trust other people not to hurt them and it isn’t worth gambling their life on it.
You want to change that women are afraid? You can’t. There’s no switch to flip.
The thing I realized after reading UnWinona’s story is that men should not be so trusting. I used to feel this camaraderie because I thought that we men were manly. I thought that we could be offensive and rambunctious, but in the end, we were all noble and honest and that bad people were villains. I knew I was wrong, but I didn’t feel wrong. I was stuck with “can’t happen here,” because I’m here and I don’t see it. I don’t know how I could be so blind. I was stupid.
People, men especially, have to make it clear that intimidation and threats are unacceptable, particularly against people who can’t defend themselves. This isn’t about being male or female; there was a man on that train who couldn’t defend himself, and he was terrified too. The people who act like the three miscreants or the bike man have to be taught that when they try to threaten people who don’t deserve it, they’re standing alone and they’re wrong. They don’t fear women and they think that they can take whoever tries to stop them. They’re just as arrogant as I am, and they’re just as wrong as I was.
I just thought to myself that if I saw this unfold, I would have beaten him to a pulp and taught that guy a lesson. That’s the lie that I’ve told myself that makes me think I can fight some stranger and win. It’s the same lie that the three miscreants and the bike man told themselves before they decided to threaten UnWinona, a person they had never met.
That’s male privilege. Everybody has to do their best to make the people around them feel safe, and saying that everyone should just feel safe the way things are is idiotic. You can’t tell someone to relax while they’re constantly afraid of being attacked. You can only try to help them feel safe by telling them that you’re on their side and doing your best to get as many other people in their corner as you can. Men may be oblivious or in denial, but this story is not about hating men. It’s an explanation of why, even when some girl is doing her best to mind her own business, she’s afraid of the people around her, and she has to deal with this fear every day.
I just wanted to reblog this because I thought it was very well-put.