[Content note: gendered violence, sexual assault, sexual harassment]
Highly Recommended Reading: They Have To See It With Their Own Eyes: Men and Violence Against Women by Miri, Professional Fun-Ruiner
Miri’s post quotes from a post by Madeleine Davies on Jezebel that relates a history of her male roommate’s vociferous disapproval of her personal safety precautions, where he called Davies ‘cowardly and weak’ for taking a taxi home from work late at night rather than taking the short walk, and how he only years later conceded that she had had a rational reason to feel unsafe once he had directly witnessed (and intervened on behalf of) a woman being assaulted in a lonely area late at night. Miri adds some observations and analysis then goes on to draw some conclusions:
That it was not enough for Davies’ college roommate to know that their classmate had been murdered by an intruder to understand Davies’ fears honestly terrifies me. That a woman had to get attacked right in front of him in order for that to sink in is horrifying. And as Davies points out, he was not some anomaly. This is common.
I’m going to go out on a limb a little here and then solidify that limb as much as possible. Men who refuse to take violence against women seriously until it happens right the fuck in front of their faces are as complicit in this injustice as men who commit violence against women. This is not to mean that they are as individuals just as bad or just as sexist or whatever. It just means that, without their silence, their ignorance, their shrugging shoulders, this situation could not continue as it is. It cannot continue without the participation of men who commit violence, and it cannot continue without the participation of men who shrug it off or blame the victims or accuse them of “overreacting.” Both of these are gears have to turn in order for it to continue.
I myself have noted in the past that I don’t hear of any of these disbelievers in the rationality of women’s precautions deciding not to Stop, Look and Listen for oncoming traffic before they step out onto a pedestrian crossing, because after all the possibility that a car won’t stop is so minuscule given that #NotAllDrivers are irresponsible or reckless or likely to be distracted by a wasp sting, so taking such precautions would be “cowardly and weak”, amiright? All the Decent Drivers out there are being terribly insulted by the irrational over-wariness of pedestrians every single day.
At this point I’m also going to quote from Miri’s netiquette guidelines for her post, and note that they apply here too:
Moderation note: No, I did not discuss violence against men in this blog post. That was a deliberate choice. It is not the subject of this blog post. Do not turn the conversation in the comments section into a conversation about violence against men. Do not insist on reminding me that men can also be the victims of violence.
You are, however, welcome (as always) to draw analogies to other axes of oppression, because these dynamics play out in all of them.
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