Women’s Guide to Being Patronized By the Sensitive Guy Trying to Protect Women from Rape Culture

There’s an article being passed around on facebook, written by a super nice guy who wants to help other guys understand their complicity with Rape Culture, and further educate them as to how best to behave to lessen their complicity.

I read the article, and got so angry that I thought I had extreme coffee jitters, until I realized that it was straight-up anger.

I was raised by feminists. My dad is a feminist. My mom is a feminist; her old dog-eared copy of Sisterhood is Powerful rests proudly on my bedside. My ex step mom, a devout homemaker, is a feminist. My step father is a feminist, because he believes in the absolute equality of every individual toward self-determination. Eventually I married a feminist, who himself was raised by a pair of feminists. None of us is ashamed of this designation (although we feel strongly that the movement should not have excluded women of color). The concept of equality between the sexes is still good, and it means equality among the sexes regardless of color. All colors are equal, all sexes are equal. That’s the deal.

Women get raped. That super sucks. We know that super sucks. Nothing about rape does not suck. Rape should not happen. Rapists should be imprisoned, and rehabilitated when possible.

I’ve never been afraid of men. It is my understanding that I have the same rights, privileges, and opportunities as men have. Further, it is my understanding that the differences between women and men are primarily in the area of genitals, and sometimes, hormones and chromosomes. None of those differences are relevant when it comes to equality. Equal is equal, in every case, in every circumstance.

If you haven’t read the article, you can read it here.

First off, I would like to say that not all men are responsible for rapes committed by other members of their sex. Only the men who commit the rape are responsible for the rape committed. Each individual is responsible for their own actions, and not the actions of others.

As a woman, I do not move through the world in perpetual fear of rape. I’m much more terrified of climate change, the potential emergence of a neo cold war, and being late to pick my kid up from school.

I do not blame men for sustaining rape culture, rather I blame men who rape for those rapes they have perpetrated. Men are not responsible for the poor actions of the rest of their sex, neither are women responsible for the poor actions of the rest of their sex.

I do not need to be, nor do I wish to be, coddled and protected by male strangers who are worried that I find them threatening. Odds are I’m not thinking about you at all, guy, so I’ll thank you to not think about me. If you approach me to let me know you’re not a threat I will immediately assume that you are a threat, because what kind of asshole goes up to a stranger and says “we are of opposite sexes, and I wanted you to know I’m not a threat to you.” Really, what a dick move. I don’t need you to make sure I’m either safe in the world or feel safe in the world. I don’t need you to acknowledge my vulnerability in the same way men of the past would acknowledge my timidity with regard to financial matters, or swearing, or talk of fornication. I’m not timid, I’m not vulnerable, I can handle it.

I don’t spend alot of time in life feeling vulnerable because I have a vagina and am smaller than lots of men. I don’t spend much time thinking about my vagina at all, or the implications of that vagina on the men around me. Don’t use the fact of my femaleness to assume anything about me. Not. Anything. The author says: “Imagine always feeling like you could be at risk, like you were living with glass skin.” I have no idea what it would feel like to be living with glass skin. My skin is made of flesh, and I will not break.

The author suggests that “…modern men seek out danger… in order to feel like we’re in jeopardy. We make games of our vulnerability. That’s how differently men see the world from women.” Good point, guy. That’s why you’ll never see female soldiers, pilots, astronauts, base jumpers, extreme skiers, race car drivers, rodeo performers, thrill-seekers. Enjoy your freedom, and I’ll enjoy mine. There’s a real good chance that I won’t walk down a dark alley on a dark night, but my guess is that my husband won’t either, and he’s even a big strong guy. Much like you, guy, only he doesn’t think I’m vulnerable just because his arms are bigger than mine and he has a cock. He knows that we’re equals.

Women may have pussies, but we are not sissies. Treat us with respect, just like you would treat anyone else. If you don’t treat people with respect, you have a problem. The author suggests that his readers “…may think it’s unfair that we have to counteract and adjust ourselves for the ill behavior of other men…” A better solution to counteracting the behavior of assholes is to not be an asshole, which can be done by treating all people with respect.

The author eventually lands there, by saying “Be a human being.” However, that’s where he should have started. Instead he backs up the lesson by pitying those sad, terrified, vagina-clad, glass-skin-wearing women, letting us know that he is there to protect us, and advising other men to protect us, too.

The sex of females do not need protection from or by the sex of males, instead we all need to step into the world with our best selves, without making assumptions about any individual or their sex, with respect for all people, and a determination to treat everyone we meet the way we would like to be treated.

Ladies, when a man asks you what his responsibility is with regard to Rape Culture, let him know that his responsibility is to be kind to everyone, and that women are no different.

Me and mom.
Me and mom.

3 thoughts on “Women’s Guide to Being Patronized By the Sensitive Guy Trying to Protect Women from Rape Culture

  1. This post has been on my mind since I read it right after you published it.

    You are so lucky to have been raised by feminists. To feel equal to men in your bones from childhood. To refuse to feel fear more than natural self preservation while in public. I’m incredibly envious of your worldview. I also like you a hell of a lot and admire you, so I feel weird about disagreeing with you.

    I liked the article. Actually sent it to my parents. While I was reading it I initially felt condescended to as well. But by the end I thought his care around women was more based on realizing how many women feel moving through this world rather than an impulse to protect the “weaker sex”.

    Luckily my parents raised me to believe I could do anything a boy could do. But I was also raised to believe that “good girls don’t”, and to believe how I dressed would play a role in if I was asking for it or not. While in college I was sent clipped article after article about women who were raped and murdered in my weekly letters from my mom. I know she wanted to keep me safe. Let’s just say if I had a daughter I wouldn’t make the same choice.

    I am a feminist. I am also deeply influenced by my upbringing. I don’t believe the things I was taught anymore. But I have never ever been unafraid while walking through a parking garage alone.

    And it is really fucked up and wrong, but I think there are a lot more women like me than women like you in America. Men need to understand how women can feel in our society. And I’d appreciate it if they were a little fucking sensitive about how scared I or other women might be in public.

    But what I really hope is by the time that your C and mine are men that all women feel safe enough in America to find this dude’s piece every bit at offensive as you do.

    1. I’ve been thinking about your comment.

      I remember a story Ed Allan Baker told at Sarah Lawrence. He said he was walking late downtown one night, and there was a woman walking ahead of him. She looked behind her a few times, and he could tell that there being a man walking behind her late at night in downtown New York was freaking her out. He had the impulse, he said, to call out to her and let her know that he was not a predator, but realized how creepy that would be, and crossed the street, instead.

      Do we approach the world as we want it to be or how it actually is?

      I would rather someone not cross the street because of me, and I’d rather not feel that I have to cross the street because of someone else.

      Equality may be more dangerous than a society where one group protects another group, but it’s my ideological hope that it’s worth it.

      1. Weird. I also have been thinking about man-following-woman story.

        In ’99 or ’00 I was followed out of the subway by a guy. I had the keys to my apartment out and was trying to figure out if I had time to get into the lobby before he could grab me. It was late and I knew the quick stop across the street was closed. As I rounded to corner I saw the owner of the quick stop locking up and he called out my name. The guy behind me turned around and I felt so lucky and grateful that Hussan the quick stop guy got out of there late that night.

        I’m not sure what I’m trying to say. I don’t want our culture to view women as objects, but it does.

        This dude was trying to educate other guys. There was a very “bro” tone to the piece that was off putting, but that is his target audience.

        We are so far from equality existing. I want it to as well. Even if it is more dangerous. I hope we get closer in our lifetime.

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