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Is this a feminist issue?

(116 Posts)
allhailtheaubergine Wed 08-Jun-11 11:54:31

Due to a mix-up with parking instructions, I ended up walking about a kilometre along a mostly deserted city beach at dusk last week.

I noticed a man on the beach between me and my exit and immediately felt nervous.

This is an illogical reaction.

I have no personal experience that could cause me to be nervous of men. Quite the opposite.
The vast, massive majority of men are decent people.

There is no way he felt nervous of me. We are just two people on a beach, so why did I feel nervous of him? I would not have felt nervous of a woman. In fact I would have felt reassured not to be alone.

I am trying to decide - is it because I have been brainwashed to fear men on some level? Or is it because many men are capable of causing harm to women in a way that women are not? Is it because I am a scardeypuss who needs to get a grip?

BooyHoo Wed 08-Jun-11 11:56:14

i think it's very sad

i am raising two men and i hate that they will be feared by people for no reason otehr than they were born male. they are good boys.

sparky246 Wed 08-Jun-11 12:31:38

i would of felt uncomfatable in that situation Allhail.
another thing that used to make me feel uncomfatable was workmen ect coming round-i used to get in a right state about it.
it dont bother me now but ive since found out [through talking to others]that a lot of women that i know also feel uncomfatable about this.

AMumInScotland Wed 08-Jun-11 12:45:32

I think the fact that we live in a world where violence against women is commonplace is a feminist issue. And the way it is commonly reported, which implies women are taking a silly risk with their safety if they dare go out on their own, when it's dark, or in secluded areas is also a feminist issue.

So I don't think you are exactly "brainwashed", as violence happens. But you are feeling something which both the issue and the way people talk about it have influenced, and that's all quite definitely a feminist issue!

Prolesworth Wed 08-Jun-11 12:46:58

Message withdrawn

allhailtheaubergine Wed 08-Jun-11 12:58:05

As well as feeling - well, a bit scared, I also felt very cross with myself for feeling scared.

Is true equality a time when women don't feel nervous when alone and vulnerable with a strange man? That idea seems laughably unlikely, but men have that. Men don't, as a rule, have to feel nervous of lone strangers.

But then I don't have to feel nervous either. I bet many women would not have felt remotely nervous in the situation in my OP.

I talk myself round in circles with it, and I can't decide what I think.

Prolesworth Wed 08-Jun-11 13:02:28

Message withdrawn

ElephantsAndMiasmas Wed 08-Jun-11 13:15:07

I would probably have felt afraid too, and annoyed with myself.

Firstly, violence against women is ridiculously common, so we live in a society where women's deaths at the hands of men (albeit usually known men) are reported in the papers and on the news every single day. This is the factual context. Secondly, "woman murdered/raped by stranger in isolated place" is the story that is being told all the time on TV/in detective fiction/on film. I no longer watch dramas that have the murder of a woman (esp a young/ish woman) as their plot, because it makes me feel like shit and they happen so often, and are so at odds with the truth (of domestic violence, and men's danger on the streets) that I wonder WHY we are constantly being told that story.

I'm not saying it's an overt agenda to keep women in our place by keeping us afraid. But maybe it's a callousness towards the fear felt by women, because being "at risk" and nervous is our natural state. Also it's for our own good, apparently, to self-restrict by e.g. not going out after dark. hmm In fact this self-restriction curbs our lives and opportunities. I have never in my life heard a man say "oh I can't go to that - how would I get home?".

Also, I think we all know, in the back of our minds, that if something bad was to happen, one of the first questions most people would ask would be "what was she doing there?".


InmaculadaConcepcion Wed 08-Jun-11 13:28:25

You're absolutely right, it is a feminist issue for the reasons mentioned upthread, allhail.

It's shit that women are made to feel nervous when outside their homes (and even shitter that statistically they are less safe in a domestic setting than in a public space).

But don't discount pure instinct as well. It's possible you felt worried about the presence of the man for no other reason than he was a man and a stranger (and we are taught to fear that situation) - but it's also possible something less explainable was alerting you to danger.

If that sounds a bit woo, the best way I can illustrate is by way of my own experience while hitchhiking.
In my younger days I hitched everywhere and mostly on my own. I always asked where the motorist was going before they asked me - to give me a moment to assess them (and a handy excuse if I didn't feel happy getting into their car). I accepted loads of lifts from lone male drivers. I think I turned down maybe two lifts - for no other reason than gut instinct told me something wasn't right.

I never had a problem with anyone who gave me a lift. Sure, some were a bit odd, but nobody was remotely threatening.
I got lots of lectures for hitching alone, though... "if I don't give you a lift, someone else will...."
I used to explain that statistically, I was at greater risk of an RTA with them than personal violence.

If I had taken those two lifts, who knows...? But I think you can do a lot worse than trust to your instincts about something, even if they don't seem especially rational.

InmaculadaConcepcion Wed 08-Jun-11 13:29:45

...and yes, if I had been a victim of violence from any of those lift-givers, I'm aware I would have had to shoulder some of the blame....for putting myself in a supposedly risky situation.

That's definitely a feminist issue.

Prolesworth Wed 08-Jun-11 13:30:16

Message withdrawn

Prolesworth Wed 08-Jun-11 13:31:28

Message withdrawn

allhailtheaubergine Wed 08-Jun-11 13:32:21

Very interesting tangent there Elephants. I have recently found myself wondering what on earth is so entertaining about young women being raped and killed. And it must be entertaining because so, SO many television series and films have it as the plot.

I was watching a film recently and they actually showed the young woman being gang raped. Mainstream film. There's me and dh sitting side by side on the sofa slurping tea and half discussing the school run tomorrow, and suddenly there's a harrowing scene of her being tied up and repeatedly raped. HOW is that entertaining? It upset the hell out of me. Not just the scenes themselves which were disturbing, but more the fact that this is acceptable mainstream entertainment.

dittany Wed 08-Jun-11 14:00:38

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

dittany Wed 08-Jun-11 14:05:48

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Insomnia11 Wed 08-Jun-11 14:11:40

I'd rather not even watch sex scenes in mainstream films TBH - don't have a problem with sex myself but would just rather not watch others at it, I just find it embarassing rather than entertaining. I don't have this problem with books, it's something about having the images imposed on you, especially in the cinema. With books you get to make up your own pictures.

HaughtyChuckle Wed 08-Jun-11 16:28:53

It must be horrible OP to feel nervous like that

I never feel scared in that circumstance I actually quite like walking around at night , so I can't quite relate but you can't tell who's who

It also saddens from the position of a mother I have a DS who is going to be a big bloke, probably going to have to deal with this assumption the rest of his life because he's big & male.

buzzsore Wed 08-Jun-11 16:34:24

I agree with Immaculada that perhaps something about this particular guy made you nervous as well as the larger context of VAW.

buzzsore Wed 08-Jun-11 16:37:48

Well, that's part of 'patriarchy hurts men too' isn't it? rapist Schrodinger's rapist.

buzzsore Wed 08-Jun-11 16:38:23

Oops, scrub the first rapist.

PenguinArmy Thu 09-Jun-11 03:48:04

I think as others have said there is a large element of we have been taught to fear other men if on our own. 'Don't walk by yourselves late at night etc'. Where as men aren't taught this and yet are statistically in more danger. However there are also strange men out there who will attack you. I have dealt with this and actually it has normally been in board daylight but always with plenty of other people around.

Beachcomber Thu 09-Jun-11 07:55:22

I was going to post exactly the same thing as buzzsore - it is the Schroedinger's rapist phenomenon.

Gonna repeat the link as buzz's lead to an empty page.

Your reaction was normal - patriarchy is to blame not you.

WoTmania Thu 09-Jun-11 07:57:24

I also think a lot of it is learnt - I recently went out with a friend and drove rather than train'd due to timings and cost but my mother was incredibly relieved I was driving as 'getting a train at that time of night isn't safe' hmm I am a 30 year old woman. I have walked through town centres (often the worse for wear) since I was 16 and still not come a cropper but if I went by my mum's paranoia rather than my experience I would be a nervous wreck.

HaughtyChuckle Thu 09-Jun-11 09:36:00

Well, that's part of 'patriarchy hurts men too' isn't it? rapist Schrodinger's rapist.

was that in reply to my comment ?

HaughtyChuckle Thu 09-Jun-11 09:37:25

I agree WoTomania my mum asks my dp to come withme to corner shop ffs 'for safety' its quite opressive and patronising

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