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Do people think a fear of men and what they can do affects their views of men but is unfounded in reality?

(319 Posts)
kim147 Sun 25-May-14 10:43:08

Thinking about all the NAMALT that stuff - some people on here, including me, said they fear male violence and that this fear held them back and that men benefitted from this fear.

But is the reality different? Most men aren't rapists. There is a figure on another thread - 6% of men. That is still a hell of a lot - but 94% aren't. Most men aren't abusers, don't attack women and don't use domestic violence.

If you meet a man, the chances are very very high that he won't attack or rape you. Chances are if you are walking in front of him, he is probably more nervous of worrying you.

But there is always that fear.

Do people think that talking about such things can make their beliefs of how men are differ from the reality of how most men really are?

It is important to talk about it and name the problem. But does it promote a climate of fear about men?

I'll be honest and I know that when I am in certain situations, I think carefully about what to say and what could happen - even though I know it's very unlikely. But the outcome for me could be awful. I am scared of certain situations and I try to avoid them. It holds me back.

ballsballsballs Sun 25-May-14 13:14:06

I don't think talking about it increases the fear. I grew up in a household dominated by male violence, and went on to have abusive relationships. I'm well out of both now, but when I share my experience there is a sense of relief that it's not just me. And sadness that it's not just me, particularly when people are going through what I went through.

Fear of men doesn't overshadow my life; it's more like the background music that accompanies it. But I avoid certain situations, for example I used to live in the centre of a beautiful market town. But after a certain time I knew to stay indoors as people were hugely drunk and therefore volatile.

I don't think it holds me back, but then as a middle-aged woman I don't attract the same amount of unwelcoming and scary attention that I used to. But it's there nonetheless.

ballsballsballs Sun 25-May-14 13:15:04

I'm sorry that your fear is holding you back Kim. flowers

JustTheRightBullets Sun 25-May-14 13:23:59

If I get abuse from a man while running, I don't respond as I don't know where it might lead. I don't run on certain badly lit lanes, I avoid running past busy pubs etc. My husband experiences none of this.

I am also unwilling to talk to strange men in situations where I don't feel totally at home (although lots of men seem to think they have the right to talk to you regardless). I've been made to feel uncomfortable in those sorts of scenarios once too often I think. And I'm always hyper conscious of people walking behind me at night etc.

I'm not frightened of the men in my life though. If I was, I'd find that worrying.

No, I think fear is pretty well founded.

You can't tell which men might be rapists. All you know is about 1 in 4 women get raped.

FloraFox Sun 25-May-14 15:56:46

I agree LRD. It is perfectly rational for women to fear men and male violence. It's not women talking about male violence that leads to fear. Male violence leads to fear and affects all women.

I think its a combination of the actual violence and the cultural idea that women should fear men. We see this manifested all the time, we're told not to go out alone, told that we're vulnerable, weak, in need of protection etc.

I think that the actual risk of experiencing male violence is less than this socialisation wants us to believe. Who perpetuates the socialisation? Who benefits from it?

Mmm.

The risk of experiencing that kind of male violence is less that socialisation wants us to believe. It's statistically rare to get raped down a dark alley but we're scared of it.

We're not scared enough of the kind of violence that is a real risk.

I'm very torn on this question.

On the one hand, yes, given the stats, it's rational to fear male violence.

On the other hand, is it rational to let yourself feel that fear everyday, around all men, when the vast majority of men will never harm you?

We use our cars and bikes every day despite the frequency of road accidents, we smoke and drink and eat junk food despite the health risks, we do all sorts of things that have a chance of harm.

I wouldn't say I do fear men, this is probably because I am used to living in dodgy places, working in dodgy bars, etc. Either violence will come out of nowhere, in which case you can't do much about it, or there will be some build-up, which I have a lot of experience with. So I just try not to think about it.

Basically there is a huge range in how much fear individual women have -- and I don't think this really has any impact on their chances of experiencing violence. So it's worth thinking about how afraid we should be -- not in a way that puts the blame for that fear on women, but more in a self-preservation way, for our own happiness' sake.

JustTheRightBullets Sun 25-May-14 17:34:26

This sentence in the op is definitely untrue

"Chances are if you are walking in front of him, he is probably more nervous of worrying you."

How on earth could someone be more nervous because they might be worrying you, than you are of being assaulted.

The first is a mild niggle, feeling a but awkward and guilty maybe. The second is real fear.

JustTheRightBullets Sun 25-May-14 17:38:07

I've lived in dodgy places etc - the circumstances in which I get scared actually have nothing to do with how 'nice' an area might be.

The amount of fear felt by any individual probably has more to do with previous experience of violence in certain situations etc than anything.

kim147 Sun 25-May-14 17:43:09

I meant the chances are the person behind you is more worried about making the person nervous compared to the chances of an assault happening.

JustTheRightBullets Sun 25-May-14 17:43:51

I would say it's rational to fear it, and try to protect yourself against it / avoid it. It's not rational to change your life, stop going out etc.because of it.

Fear men? Sounds ridiculous. Fear random acts of human idiocy and emotion but one gender entirely? I really can't take that even slightly seriously.

Might as well fear all Christians, or Muslims, or blacks.

BillnTedsMostFeministAdventure Sun 25-May-14 17:58:00

"I meant the chances are the person behind you is more worried about making the person nervous compared to the chances of an assault happening."

Do many men think about this?

kim147 Sun 25-May-14 18:01:31

I know when I have "in the old days" been walking home late at night and find myself behind a lone female, I have crossed the road to the other side and tried to show that I am not following with any intent.

And nowadays, I think about my safety when someone is behind me when I walk home. I do get a fear - and have to somehow rationalise it.

So mini you've never had anyone advise you to avoid walking alone at night? To be careful not to leave your drink unattended? To stick to well lit areas? Not go back to someone's home if you don't know them well? To tell someone where you are and when you expect to be home when online dating?

These pieces of advice aren't founded in a fear of random human idiocy, they are advice for women to protect themselves. Against whom? It's rarely stated. Who do you imagine is the unnamed danger in those scenarios against which women should guard themselves?

And another question for you: how often do you let men you don't know well how they make you feel when they shout out 'compliments' to you on the street? Or talk to you on the train when you know you will probably be alighting at a deserted station? How often do you do that awkward smile and hope he leaves you alone thing?

Yeah, you're probably so sensible and tough that you don't notice these things, eh. hmm Not like us silly billys able to step back and analyse socio-cultural phenomena using a gendered lens.

calmet Sun 25-May-14 18:07:50

Yes fearing men makes rational sense. 1 in 4 women at least, are raped. Many women, especially young women, are cat called on a daily basis. Many women experience sexual harassment. Why wouldn't women be afraid of men?

BillnTedsMostFeministAdventure Sun 25-May-14 18:15:26

I appreciate that. I don't know how common it is though.

almondcakes Sun 25-May-14 18:16:58

I don't fear walking home late at night etc.

What I fear (in a whole victim blaming of myself) is that when I am in conversation with a man, I may in some way give him the impression that I am in some way interested in pursuing a sexual or romantic relationship with him. The ways I may do this are many. For example, if he is talking about a book/film/musician he likes and I like them too and know a lot about it, I don't tell him, because I don't want to create the impression that we have something in common and have a 'bond.'

I do this because I don't want men to be attracted to me, particularly in a romantic way, because then they may feel friendzoned/rejected/led on and stalk/verbally harass/assault/rape/torture/kill me.

There are probably about six percent of men I meet and don't feel this way about. I met one yesterday. The rest I'm scared of and constantly modify my behaviour to avoid provoking their anger at a later date. I don't walk around thinking about how I am afraid of men; it is just ingrained in me through years of experience that I constantly modify my behaviour without thinking about it.

BillnTedsMostFeministAdventure Sun 25-May-14 18:21:11

(That was to Kim)

BillnTedsMostFeministAdventure Sun 25-May-14 18:28:52

I'd be interested to know what percentage of men are "cat callers" - I think climate of fear wise, that is a bigger factor than calculations about rape, especially stranger rape.

minnie - but they're not 'random acts'.

On average, more than two women a week are killed by their partners.

One in four women will be a victim of rape.

Violence is gendered. This doesn't mean we can see the pattern as it applies to us - but if we could, we wouldn't be discussing this in terms of fear. We'd know.

I don't see what the possible worries of a man walking behind a woman have to do with it. Sure, a man might cross the road if he's worried he might scare a woman in front of him, I can imagine that. A kindly bloke offered to walk me home the other night and his thoughts will have been similar: maybe this woman is afraid, maybe I can do something to help.

Thing is, most violence against women doesn't happen in that situation. And the fear women have is not comparable to the worry men may have that they'll come across as a threat, is it?

And those men who are worried about women are worried because they think women have something to fear from other men.

Scarletohello Sun 25-May-14 18:37:22

Have people heard of 'Schrodinger's rapist' ?

researchtobedone.wordpress.com/2012/10/18/for-those-who-dont-understand-schrodingers-rapist/

Makes interesting reading...

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