Are all men truly a perceived threat to a woman? It sounds melodramatic unless you actually start looking into statistics of assaults on women who are just out in the world walking, running, working and living. These “perceived threats” are overwhelmingly men who commit assaults on women just out in the world existing. As someone who didn’t even grasp the depth of it until I’d experienced enough, I can tell you this is not an attack on all men. But it IS a literal attack on women. While so many of us women do tell men we feel they are a threat and dangerous to us there is a disconnect in that conversation. Most of them don’t know guys who are out and about attacking women which by their perceptions means it can’t really be that big of a thing. Many are simply unaware of their dangler privilege. I’m married to a man and have 3 boys ranging from ages 3 -17 years old and even they were relatively ignorant to our plight. In order for them to understand I had to develop patience. I started to tell them things I’d experienced, point out how rampant domestic violence is, and more importantly how it all makes me feel. Suddenly, the narrative wasn’t the same for them.
Just One Of The Guys
I’m 38 years old and since I was a child I have gotten on better with the opposite sex. There always seemed to be less drama, I was always included, and we liked the same stuff. (I did still play with what then was typical “girl” toys too – I just liked both) This continued through adulthood. Almost always I’ve been treated like one of the guys, an equal. The occasion has been rare where it wasn’t. Even now when I enter a room I typically feel more comfortable talking to men over women. It’s just always been that way.
We Need To Talk
Even so, with my positively influenced male-dominated life, I still look at a man as a physical threat if he is unknown. This is not something society has taught me, this is something I have had to learn. As a woman, it’s not fun.
I’m about as badass and tough as they come. More importantly I’m capable and confident. Any man that ever attempts to assault me is going to pay a mighty price. As confident as I am in my abilities it doesn’t change the basic dynamics that men are stronger than us. I don’t like it. I hate typing the words. It pisses me right off. But it’s true. I’ve had to learn self-defense techniques, how to use weapons, and you better believe it’s one of the reasons I keep my health and fitness level where I do so I CAN be confident.
But it’s not just learning self-defense, it’s a constant awareness of your surroundings or a potential threat. I don’t walk into a room without looking for exits, looking for possible weapons to defend myself. I watch the physical cues from people and am always aware. Situational awareness has just become a habit for me. Frankly, if it hadn’t I have no idea what horrors I may have suffered because I’ve been in too many situations that could have gone wrong if not.
The Danger In Running
On my most recent run, I went through my local neighborhood suburbs and by a high school. I never take the same route or go out at the same time on the same day ever either. I crossed the main road and observed a unique truck and opted to cut through the school path instead of going around. As I run I approach man running slowly. Typically, if I’m on a road I’ll dodge to the other side if possible (I do this because of COVID now anyway), but there was no road so I turned off my music and reached for the blade in my pocket…..just in case. I alert him to my presence before I’m too close and he dodges off to the right and went behind a building which was just weird, but I wasn’t too alarmed. Also, physically I was way stronger. Nonetheless, I didn’t forget about him and as I came to the exit where the school was I surveyed behind me to find him and he was back on the path again. Meanwhile, right in front of me parked alongside the building is that silver truck. I stop and pretend to re-tie my laces, put my knife in my hand, cross to the other side of the school lot and he tears off by me and behind it. (Ironically to where the other runner was). Luckily I am in pretty good shape and I haul ass to the main road off the campus and am less than a mile from home, but I have one concerning area I pass with some woods. First I must cross the “exit” from the school parking lot and guess who’s there? You got it. Silver truck guy. I stopped, didn’t cross in front of him. Eventually, he pulled out and tore off. I crossed to the woods cautiously also keeping an eye out for the other runner and when I don’t see him I go ahead and see the silver truck is going maybe 4 or 5 miles per hour. At this point, it’s impossible to believe he isn’t waiting for me. I either have to run ahead and face a possible physical confrontation or hide. I hid behind a tree because I didn’t feel like dealing with the paperwork if I had to stab him. So Ibwaited while cars passed him (speed limit is only 25). Finally, he took off, and then so did I.
Reacting and Understanding
I went home and told my husband and my kids about it, just like I do every time. Because it happens all the time I keep telling them the stories and every time they respond aghast. It’s not just a stranger in a news report anymore, it’s their wife or their mother. I’m trying to teach them without persecuting them for not knowing any better.
I always ask myself what would have happened if I wasn’t more vigilant. There is no way of knowing. So yes, I perceive ALL MEN as a potential threat until they’ve given me a reason not to. This does not mean ALL MEN are a threat, but what other choice do we have?
What Do We Do?
The solution isn’t locking up all the sickos out there and arming ourselves (though that IS what we currently need to do), but it’s raising healthier, more understanding men in a society that doesn’t reward men for disrespecting or exploiting women. It’s not about shaming. It’s about talking and educating those that are in our lives and really let them hear our stories. Teaching them compassion. It was HARD for me to admit to myself that my whole life I’d been experiencing it because it was normal. It’s going to be a long, arduous journey and one I may never see the benefits from, but it’s one worth fighting for.