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"Fear" of men

(233 Posts)
ComradeJing Fri 10-Jun-11 02:38:40

I have a question that relates to two recent threads so apologies for thread about a thread.

Allhailtheaubergine (hope you don't mind - it's your thread I'm referring to) said that she was worried when she walked on the beach and when a man came between her and her exit she became nervous.

Another poster in AIBU said she was unhappy about a male nursery worker taking her daughter to the bathroom.

The OP in AIBU was completely torn to bits over this. Allhail was given support and most people (including myself though I didn't post) agreed that they would have felt scared and validated her response.

Now my question is why is one response valid and rational and the other one not? Is it because one is a person in a job and the other could be "anybody?" I would imagine you're more likely to be attacked by someone in a job (ie taxi driver, gas man, builder or someone else you would invite into your home) than just some stranger off the street but I could well be wrong.

I suppose I was thinking that if one is a feminist issue then the other one must be too as they are both about a fear of men and what men can do to women.

expatinscotland Fri 10-Jun-11 02:41:05

Are they, though, really?

One OP is a grown woman. The other is posting on behalf of a child.

sakura Fri 10-Jun-11 03:39:59

You're right OP. It's like the rape myth that a rapist is a stranger, when really it's more likely to be your husband, boyfriend or someone you know.

If a man was a paedophile then naturally certain types of professions will attract him (catholic priest, for example)

To me, the issue is the little girl. How does she feel about having a man who is not her father in the toilet with her? Well.... about the same as you or I would feel about it, I should imagine. More than a little uncomfortable.

Yes yes I know I know, we have to trust men and bla bla, but lets be honest they don't have a good track record do they. So if someone doesn't want a man taking her daughter to the toilet she is not being unreasonable or hysterical ... she is generally worried based on the way that men behave in general. THere's not a booming kiddie porn industry out there for nothing. who is watching all that kiddie porn>? Not women I'M certain. It's men. ANd not just a few men either.. for the industry to be so enormous it must be quite a lot of men.

So how on earth do you know which men are secretly watching it and which men aren't?

Now, I'M not saying you have to presume that men are all dodgy, but I would really like an answer to the above question.

SlobbyBOB Fri 10-Jun-11 04:03:17


Would it be a feminist issue if you replace the man on the beach with a large dog ?. The OP may also have felt fear from that too.


The answer is you can't, I dunno if they fall under a soical profile or not, which in itself can be dangerous. look at the guy who was accused of the the girl from Bristol's murder before Christmas. He looked odd so he must be guilty.

I agree on yout point on who the girl felt in the situation. Indeed AFAIK look at other male female adult encounters. Doctor Teacher etc and a male will not be alone in those situations.

OldLadyKnowsNothing Fri 10-Jun-11 04:24:12

sakura, you do know there are female sexual predators/child abusers/paedophiles too, don't you? I am astounded to see such sexist crap spouted in the feminist dection, of all places.

OldLadyKnowsNothing Fri 10-Jun-11 04:24:28


madwomanintheattic Fri 10-Jun-11 04:27:20

i've had loads of male doctors peering at my fanjo without a chaperone.

if the girl was at all concerned, it will be because her mother grills her to within an inch of her life every day about who wiped her bottom.

way to give a child a complex.

i'm interested that feminists are suddenly afraid of all men though. even the angry ones. i'm used to a more empowered demographic.

it's really making me question my credentials. or is it just rad fems that are afraid of men? liberals are still ok because they are handmaidens?

important to check these things.

apologies for being flippant, but i'm bloody angry that the entirety of mn is apparently living in terror of any passing penis owner.

even a very limited grasp of statistics would suggest that this is some sort of conspiracy to keep women in low paid childcare jobs and persuaded they are weak and endangered.

bollocks to that.

don't be afraid, ffs. step up.

<disappears to rant in a corner>

madwomanintheattic Fri 10-Jun-11 04:29:04

oh, thank fuck for a voice of reason olkn. i typed about four pages of venom and then deleted most of it for fear of <section> myself.

allhailtheaubergine Fri 10-Jun-11 05:58:45


I do not like this fear of men. I do feel it though.

Last night my babysitter mentioned that she might bring her 18 year old son with her. I felt uncomfortable. I rationalised that if I didn't trust the woman with her 18 year old son then I should not trust her full-stop. I said "fine".

My rational brain is in conflict with my gut feelings.

BUT - I am starting to realise that my gut feelings have been manipulated by modern media.

The trouble is, regardless of the odds the stakes are so high.

madwomanintheattic Fri 10-Jun-11 06:23:28

like never crossing a road in case you hit by a bus? grin have you got your clean undies on?

<sorry, have calmed down a little since my earlier post. i do think it's tragic though. for both women and men. i don't want nor expect my daughters to live in fear of violence, and i don't want nor expect my son to instil fear into women - whether he's 6'4" and built like a brick shithouse or a weedy little dude.>

i'm pissed off with the media though. they are making us afraid, not men. (and i know some bright spark will point out that the media are part of the patriarchy, but you know what i mean)

i've not been raped. i have been assaulted. a group of men i knew from work pulled my shirt over my head so that i couldn't see them or struggle and groped my breasts. i fought and they let me go. it hasn't changed my fear level or behaviour. it was, what, 5 guys out of the thousands that i come into contact with every year - probably more. i can't imagine how many men i see/ walk past/ share late night transport with etc. and i have been known to pick up the odd male hitcher in the middle of the night. i rest assured he probably thought i was more of a danger to him.

but i bloody well refuse to be afraid. it's nonsense.

take back the night indeed.

i am really struggling with the notion that so many feminists think it is sensible and logical and necessary and understandable. and are teaching their children that it is so.

like on that other thread - the pierced brother (was it yours?) should have helped the lady up, smiled, and walked on. and then she would have been able to say 'i was afraid, which was ridiculous, he was helping me. not all men are attackers.' freed her from her own fears a little.

and the car chap - desperately trying to help a woman on her own in a potentially stranded car. good for him. i would have said 'dear god, you made me jump!' not posted about how fucking dare he try and help me, he could have been an attacker!

this place is crazy sometimes.

snailoon Fri 10-Jun-11 06:32:32

MADWOMAN You've said it all better than I could. Thank you.

ComradeJing Fri 10-Jun-11 08:53:59

Thanks for the responses. Very interesting.

Sakura & OldLadyWKN - of course there are female sex offenders but I would bet my left bum cheek that there are many more male sex offenders / pedophiles than female. I mean of all the mners who have been victims of sexual violence how many of them have mentioned that it was a woman who violated them? Also as women most of us have been victims of some kind of sexual harassment at the hands of men so it is rational to be wary of a group that repeatedly threaten and intimidate them. Yes, most rapists are people we know but I've been grabbed, whistled at, had remarks made more by strangers than people I know.

madwoman - You're also right of course.We shouldn't be afraid and the fear should make us angry. Of course the patriarchy teaches us to be afraid and it's a good technique for keeping us down.

It's difficult to overcome your inner handmaiden sometimes.

allhailtheaubergine Fri 10-Jun-11 09:54:38

No, not like never crossing the road in case I get hit by a bus. I have some control over whether or not I am hit by a bus. I can find a safe place to cross, look both ways and walk carefully, looking and listening as I go.

I have very little control over whether I am attacked. The best I can do is not put myself at extra risk. This way lies somewhere between never leaving the house, and walking around a deserted red light district carpark in a bikini and stripper heels. Everyone draws their own line, and yours is obviously less 'afeared' than mine - and that's GREAT for you smile I envy you your attitude a little, but not too much because my own line is drawn in a comfortable place for me that I don't find too life restricting. We don't need to start judging the precautions other women deem necessary when they differ from your own.

I said before "The trouble is, regardless of the odds the stakes are so high." and I think that the problem really lies in the fact that none of us actually KNOW what the risks really are. We're making our decisions blind to a degree.

HerBeX Fri 10-Jun-11 09:56:59

Look in a society where 1 in 4 women are raped or sexually assaulted (and that's a conservative estimate, because women are taught to underplay sexual assaults and not recognise them as such) it is not unreasonable to ahve that low level fear of men doing unexpected things.

You didn't challenge me on that thread madwoman, I was the one in the car when some bloke suddenly opened the door and made me scream. I very much doubt that a man would have such lack of inhibition, that he would open the door of another man's car, the same way they don't touch each other as freely as they do women - they respect each other's boundaries. Someone opening your car door, is not respecting your boundaries and actually, it is not unreasonable to be alarmed by that.

ComradeJing Fri 10-Jun-11 10:39:42

So back to my OP... Why is it valid to be concerned by a strange male in a public place but not of a stranger (though a crb checked one) changing a child?

Not trying to be dense but what's the difference?

HerBeX Fri 10-Jun-11 10:53:57

I think it's valid to have concerns about both of those things. The level of concern and how you deal with it, is what's at issue though, no? I'm not sure it's rational to have fear about either of those situations, but validity doesn't hinge on rational responses does it, it also hinges on instinctive responses. And validity is also about what you actually do about it; so it's perfectly valid to have a twinge of anxiety about a lone bloke on a beach; it's not valid to rush at him with a war cry brandishing a breadknife in order to carry out a pre-emptive attack.

I haven't seen the nursery thread but in general, I think it's a mistake to tell people that their feelings, fears etc., aren't valid. They may be irrational, they may be unfounded, but fears aren't actions and the way to deal with the fears, is to talk about them, recognise that they are real and try and deal with them, not just dismiss them out of hand - that's not dealing with htem really, because they still exist.

piprabbit Fri 10-Jun-11 10:56:37

In my mind the nursery worker is doing a job for which he has trained, been CRB checked and is working along side other professionals who know him better than I do. In this particular situation his identity is primarily 'nursery worker' not 'man (in the same way that if I go to my female doctor, her identity for me is that of 'GP' not 'woman'). So why should I feel more concerned about this particular nursery worker just because he also happens to be male?

However, the stranger on the beach is an unknown quantity. What is he doing? what are his intentions? I have no information on which to reassure myself about him. Therefore I am likely to react more cautiously than if I knew him. The only thing I know is that he is a man, there is nothing to offset this, so I would be wary (if not actually fearful). If the stranger was doing something which gave me some additional context (perhaps walking a dog, fishing or flying a kite) then I would be able to assign him an identity as, say, a dog walker, and then feel less wary.

I'm not saying that nursery workers and dog walkers are never a threat - just that their roles make them feel slightly less threatening than just being a random male who has no obvious reason to be taking your child to the toilet or standing on a beach.

sparky246 Fri 10-Jun-11 11:19:19

having a crb check doesnt necesserrily mean someone is ok.[in general]
someone has to be caught first before they are a known offender.

piprabbit Fri 10-Jun-11 11:28:25

You can say that about anybody, your DP, your own parents, even mothers.
At some point you have to give people a little trust because it is simply not possible to raise children in a vacuum without any human contact at all.
If an adult chooses to exclude themselves from society on the basis that human contact is too risky, then they have that right. However for a parent to exclude their children would be abusive (i.e. more risky to their child's emotional and behavioural development than the risk of sex abuse).

Mamaz0n Fri 10-Jun-11 11:32:18

One was a woman, outside, in darknes, with noone around to help when an unknown male approached.

the other was a trained and vetted individual surrounded by other people in a safe and secure enviornment.

In the first it is a sad but understandable response, the second is a ridiculous over reaction based on DM style scaremongering.

SpringchickenGoldBrass Fri 10-Jun-11 11:32:53

Why aren't women more frightened of love and marriage, then? Given that they are far more at risk of being raped, beaten and killed by a partner than a stranger? Could that be because the patriarchy wants women to be owned by one man and at work in the home rather than out and about by themselves....

Mamaz0n Fri 10-Jun-11 11:34:30

That was a similar point to the one i made on the other thread SGB

ElephantsAndMiasmas Fri 10-Jun-11 11:41:43

"i'm interested that feminists are suddenly afraid of all men though. even the angry ones. i'm used to a more empowered demographic."

madwoman - I think this is a bit of a strange comment really. There is a whole other thread that lots of people have posted on, and the main thrust of it is that while a low level of fear is based in fact, the more general fear of "strange men" has been drilled into us by media/police warnings/TV drama etc. Telling a woman that she has no right to be scared of a man is hardly feminist, is it? Especially on the grounds that she's doing him some wrong by feeling that way. Because feminists are the ones who know/speak out about the rates of VAW and therefore aren't going to brush off fears about it.

BUT at the same time if you see a thread on here about rape it is NOT the feminists in general who will be saying "don't go down dark alleys/ don't wear a short skirt/don't walk the dog alone at night" etc etc because these so-called "rape prevention tips" don't work, they keep women afraid without making them any safer.

SardineQueen Fri 10-Jun-11 11:42:12

Interesting one.

I would possibly be a bit apprehensive of the bloke on the beach.
DDs nursery has a male worker and I wouldn't mind at all if he took her to the bog or when she was younger changed her nappy.

The difference is a psychological one I guess. The bloke on the beach is an unknown quantity. The man at nursery has been CRB checked, obviously the people who work at the nursery with him think he is fine, I think he is a lovely bloke. (Not that that means anything I know, people hoodwink others to get into positions of trust, but that;s how I feel anyway).

You have to draw a line somewhere. And I suppose for me it is that I am prepared to trust people that I know and trust, and not people that I don't.

I am also happy for the DDs to play with the builders who have been here for nearly a year. I just think that most people are nice and kind and it's not worth "protecting" children to the extent that they never get to play with any men outside the family. Especially as they are most likely to be abused inside the family. Same goes for little boys too.

That's sort of how it works in my brain I think.

sunshineandbooks Fri 10-Jun-11 11:42:27

I think if you're a woman that any reaction you have is wrong.

The only abuse I've ever suffered in my life is from my XP, and I grew up with quite a lot of personal freedom and encouragement to go after what I wanted and never see myself as different from a man. I have walked around city centres and country lanes at night and never felt afraid.

However, I have often been told - mostly my men - that in doing so I am placing myself at unnecessary risk. I accept that they are well-meaning and it's possible I am, but they wouldn't say it to a woman would they? But if I refused to go anywhere by myself after dark I would probably be accused of being silly and OTT.

You can't win. I have decided not to play and just do what the hell I want anyway. grin

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