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How am I supposed to take this?

(13 Posts)
rememberthetime Mon 17-Oct-16 17:49:42

Was out for a walk on the weekend and part of my route involved an alleyway between houses. it is relatively short, you can see both ends and it is nice suburban area. Absolutely no concerns on my behalf going down this alley during the day for me anyway.

As I was entering the alley a man entered at the other end. he saw me, stopped, stepped backwards out of the alley and waited until I exited before smiling at me and continuing on his way. There was more than enough room for each of us to comfortably pass by each other had he continued without stopping.

What was in his mind? Was he letting me feel safe, knowing that being in an alleyway with a strange man might make some women feel uncomfortable?

If so, should I feel pleased that there is a man out there who "gets" it. Or should I feel sad that good men feel they must do these things. If I didn't think twice about him walking on his way at lunchtime on a Sunday, why should be have to curtail what he would normally do?

I felt sad and pleased all at once. Overall though, I liked that man. He was thinking about my needs - erring on the side of caution.

Or maybe he just didn't trust me??

VestalVirgin Mon 17-Oct-16 18:51:49

Hehe. I think he was letting you feel safe. If he didn't trust you, he wouldn't have smiled.

Also, if I may add, you only know that he was a good man because he did something to make you feel safe.

Yes, it is shit that we live in patriarchy and men rape women, and men who do not rape women have to actively work to show that they would not rape a woman.

But I don't think the man is the one to be pitied here.

Janey50 Mon 17-Oct-16 19:08:35

Sounds like a nice considerate man IMO. It's a shame more men aren't like this. An incident came to my mind on reading this,that happened to me last November. I boarded a train at Upminster,on the District Line,travelling back towards London. This stop is the terminating/starting point for trains,so the train was virtually empty when I got on. It was about 8pm,so it was already dark. After I had been sat in the carriage for about 2 minutes,a middle-aged man,on his own,got in the same carriage. He stood just inside the doors for a moment,looked around,saw that there was no one else in the carriage,then came and sat down,RIGHT NEXT TO ME. Now,I know there's no law saying where he can or cannot sit. But really? He had the whole carriage,if not practically the whole train to choose from,and he goes and sits next to a woman on her own,in an otherwise deserted carriage! To say I felt uncomfortable is putting it mildly. After a minute or 2,I got up and moved to a carriage further down the train. Thankfully he didn't follow. This is an example of a man who was either up to no good,or was just completely clueless. I hoped it was the latter,but I took no chances just in case it was the former.

Dervel Mon 17-Oct-16 19:57:26

It's fine, and as a man I'll deliberately cross the street at night rather than come up in the dark behind some strange women.

It's neither the time or the place to try and explain who I am or what I'm like. I was brought up to do things like not approach women at night, and if I were to come across a woman in obvious distress rather than go charging in, to maintain a respectful distance and enquire if there is anyone they would like me to call for them.

Unless it's a full blown medical emergency it's best left not to cause distress. I recall an occasion where at a bus stop a bus failed to materialize and there was just myself and this young woman, I thought fuck it and got a taxi and told her where my stop was, and would that help?

She got in and we dropped her off en route, she wasn't particularly chatty, although certainly not rude, so didn't press and simply explained I had a younger sister I would hope someone would do the same for. I just would have been mortified if I'd learned of any attack happening and I could have done something.

I know a few male friends who would do similar and it's not remotely praiseworthy. Just faintly embarrassing and awkward that there is even a need to think this way.

MostlyHet Mon 17-Oct-16 20:03:49

Janey - I've had a guy do that to me on a completely empty bus. I got up and moved seat too.

Hassled Mon 17-Oct-16 20:04:50

I always remember my late father telling me how on his walk home from the train station, he hated it when he worked out he was walking behind a lone woman. He'd cross the road so as not to freak her out, and said he wanted to call out "it's OK, I'm not a rapist". And this was in the 80s, a far less enlightened time. I think about it often when I'm walking somewhere quiet in the dark and I'm aware there is a man behind me. It sounds like the alley man was similarly thoughtful.

AnyFucker Mon 17-Oct-16 20:11:22

Sounds like a nice, normal well mannered bloke. He might have even held open a door for you (shock ! horror!)

Don't overthink it. My H would do the same. He is gentlemanly without being being patronising, creepy and sleazy. It's what decent men do.

Bikermum82 Mon 17-Oct-16 20:19:28

I bad a man in an empty coffee shop pretty much sit on my lap once. I dobt get why some people do that but may be the same reason people park right against your car door in an otherwise empty catpark!

rememberthetime Tue 18-Oct-16 09:53:41

I am pleased to hear that men generally seem to think like this - that is comes naturally to some of them. it gives me positive feelings towards men at a time when it is easy to think all men are sexist and scary.
It is a polite thing to do and not in the slightest bit patronising.

Men are by their very nature larger than women and stronger, therefore they will naturally have the ability to be more protective. if they can put this to good use then I admire them for it. Recognising that your size and strength is also a little frightening sometimes is a good thing and i suppose it is natural to want to offset this by being overly careful.

I just don't want all men to think that they must avoid lone women all the time. In some ways it perpetuates the feelings that us women have. The less contact we have with these "good" men the more we are left to the dubious approaches by the "bad" men. Our view becomes skewed.

Interesting stories - i can't believe that men would sit next to a lone woman like that. Even another woman wouldn't do it.

deydododatdodontdeydo Tue 18-Oct-16 11:03:13

Way back when I was at university I vaguely remember somebody saying when walking at night and approaching a lone female, men should cross the road to give them space and make them feel safe.
A lot of the male students were outraged of course, but clearly the message is out there and some men are hearing it.
They're probably just naturally courteous though - some people are. Just as some are totally oblivious to others. Not deliberatly intimidating (though some are!) - just oblivious.

BottleBeach Tue 18-Oct-16 12:16:11

I was once aware of a man walking behind me as I was walking home late at night along a quiet street with no-one else around. He was walking slightly faster than me so the distance between us was getting closer and my heart rate was increasing. As I got almost to my door, keys in hand, he overtook me and asked me the time. I said I didn't know and turned up my path, hands shaking as I opened the door. I could feel his eyes on me and was so relieved to get inside and shut the door.

When I told my (now ex) boyfriend about it the next day his take was that the guy was probably aware I was feeling nervous and asked me the time so that I could see he wasn't a threat. He had absolutely no comprehension about why that would have had the opposite effect, and took my fear as some kind of personal insult because Not All Men.

HillaryFTW Tue 18-Oct-16 12:49:38

"He had the whole carriage,if not practically the whole train to choose from,and he goes and sits next to a woman on her own,in an otherwise deserted carriage! "

I know I keep banging on about The Gift of Fear, but this is the sort of thing that would be a rude boundary crossing incident (would he have done that to a guy? hell, no) and you were totally right to move (the book points out there's no need to be polite to someone who clearly doesn't give a fuck, whether unconsciously or more likely consciously about your boundaries)

0phelia Tue 18-Oct-16 13:20:54

bottlebeach Absolutely your ex is wrong and you were right to feel that way.

On an empty London underground carriage, I had a situation where a bloke chose to sit directly opposite me, out of all the many other available seats. Annoying and makes you feel uneasy.
He stared for a bit and then asked me for the time please! I said "It's three thirty" or whatever. He then took that as an invitation to come and sit right next to me, ask where I was going, stare down my top etc. Needless to say I got off at the next stop which was not my stop, made myself late, because some creep was on the tube.

Asking for the time is like checking you out, are you English, are you available for chat type of approach in my experience.

OP you're alleyway guy was being a decent bloke and probably viewed it like he didn't want to worry you, so held back, he may even had held back if you were male yourself.

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