“A woman’s worst nightmare? That’s pretty easy. Novelist Margaret Atwood writes that when she asked a male friend why men feel threatened by women, he answered, “They are afraid women will laugh at them.” When she asked a group of women why they feel threatened by men, they said, “We’re afraid of being killed.””
http://www.pbs.org/kued/nosafeplace/articles/nightmare.html (via alullaby)
That sums it up
[trigger warning for the commentary below]
This reminds me of a discussion we had in school, and one girl was talking about living in fear of her safety because she is a girl, and this guy chimed in and was all “It’s hard for guys too! I’m so awkward around girls! It’s embarrassing!” Yeah, not the same thing, exactly?
This reminds me of an article about online (heterosexual) dating that I read a while ago. It listed men’s and women’s worst fears about meeting someone from online. The highest ranked fear that men had was that their date would be fat, whereas the highest ranked fear that women had was that their date would turn out to be violent and kill them.
I think that says a lot.
Its interesting also that these fears sit subconsciously until woman are asked to exams their responses to men. We women will operate with this fear in mind, the way we protect ourselves, make sure our friends know where we are when we go on a date, words that we use while interacting with men, all in hopes they will not kill us, but simultaneously love us.
I think bell hooks made a point about this in her series on love. something along the lines of how can women hope to love and receive love from men when at the foundation of our relationships there is this strong fear of men. you can’t build true trust when your foundation is crumbling under you.
the scariest part is, once you recognize this fear, and face it, how do you address it when there is evidence of “good” men abusing, hurting, and killing women everyday?
I was in my early 20’s when one of my homegirls broke this down for me.
I was in a broken relationship, and one of the things was that bugged me at the time was that the girlfriend at the time would freak out whenever I got angry - I never yelled, never throw or hit things, mostly, I just needed some time to cool out.
“Why does she get scared when I’m angry? I’d never hit her!”
“But she doesn’t KNOW that. She can’t assume that. Look at how many dudes are out there pulling shit.”
And that stuck with me for a hot minute. The relationship was broken on so many levels anyway, but that fact still remains, as a man, I can’t fault women for assuming the worst in order to protect themselves, especially how the world’s patriarchy and misogyny rolls.
My brain knows that my husband won’t hit me. Really, the logical part of me totally gets that. But when we’re arguing he has to stay on the other side of the room & not yell too loud because my fight or flight instincts have 25+ years of being hard wired that loud = violent & our 11 year relationship isn’t long enough to undo that.
I’ve had continual discussions with Tchy about this, and I don’t expect to stop. It’s fair to say that there’s no one in the world that I trust more, and he has been extremely careful with me, but… the fact remains that he leans quite a bit towards the masculine, and this means that that fear is always there. The news of transmasculine folks abusing/raping people doesn’t help that fear any. :(
I’m learning not to apologize for it. It’s not my fault (nor, really, is it his) that I’m scared of dude-type people. But it’s always there. Which is another reason why I get so pissed off when trans men try to make transmisogyny about them.
men, read all of this please. including the commentary. esp if you consider yourself a Nice Guy.
This is an incredible thread of responses. I’ve seen this quote before, but not the dialogue that built up around it. The part about loud=violent hits home particularly hard for me. I am terrified of getting into irl arguments with men, especially when they get loud. It’s always going to sit in the pit of my stomach.
That part resonates for me too, although from a completely different angle. Despite being more terrified of sexual violence than I am of anything other than my own brain, I do not hesitate to yell, confront, get up in the face of, threaten, even hit men twice my size and many times my strength. Faced with a threat of violence from men, I will either imply or state “I dare you to.”
I also, as previously established on this blog, have a death wish.
To me, that encapsulates everything about the violence, especially sexual violence, coded into relationships between men and women in our society: for a woman to assert herself in the face of maleness may require the woman in question (such as me) to be perpetually suicidal.
Reblogging for commentary. I have been frightened and scared by men being loud with me, even if I don’t think they’ll be violent. Like people have said above, it’s just a latent response in your brain to fear violence from men.
I went out to dinner with someone a couple of weeks ago (LONG story, was supposed to be a group dinner but it ended up just being me & a strange man) and I told him I blogged about feminism and politics, and he went off on me. He told me feelings were bullshit and women just wanted special privileges, and then he said, “Women don’t give men enough credit for not being violent psychopaths. That’s what we are, deep down. We want to rape and pillage, and we don’t, and women don’t give us enough credit for that.” I burst into tears. That shit was terrifying.
I’ll always reblog this when it comes across my blog with different commentary! It’s all important!
I referenced this quote in a discussion I was having with a teacher a few weeks ago. He shifted uncomfortably and didn’t say anything for a few minutes, then told me “I couldn’t write like that in an essay.”
The truth hurts, huh.
14K and I are twins because I will not hesitate to answer a physical threat from a man. It’s a built-in response from years of watching my mother get hurt that I WOULD NOT go down so gently.
And even with non-physical responses. I don’t let anyone in, I don’t lean on anyone, I don’t trust anyone because damnit I will not let myself go through what she did. And I’m definitely a “I’ll hurt you before you hurt me” kinda person.
Therapy’s making it better, but these ingrained fight or flight defensive mechanism aren’t uncommon.
I too am reblogging this for the amazing commentary.
When supposed feminist ally men deny this very basic, simple truth - that’s how you know they are an ally to no one.
This all gets taught to women at a very young age, how dangerous the world is when you’re in it being a woman. I’ve been struggling to write about something that happened with my daughter a few weeks ago, how to form the words, but this is possibly the best context.
We were in the wine shop, in line to pay, and she was so excited to get her lollipop (in the time honored tradition of wine stores everywhere). A man two people ahead of us started fighting with the woman behind the counter about how much money he’d given her. As I was moving her behind my body, my daughter froze, and when I say froze, I mean wasn’t moving a muscle except to shake.
It sorted itself out pretty quickly. We paid and left.
Once we got back into the car, she started crying. I asked her what was the matter, and she said, “Mama, I was so scared. When men get angry they shoot people.”
That’s a direct quote. When men get angry, they shoot people.
I asked her, “baby, why do you think that?” She replied, “on NPR, that’s what happens. When men get really mad they kill people. That guy was really mad, what if he had a gun? What would you do?”
The talk we had afterwards was difficult; no one said parenting was easy. But this is the life we live as women. If my 9 year old understands it, then men of the world, alleged feminist allies, Nice Guys, random douches on the street, and even actual non-dangerous men: so can you.
I cant take men posturing me. Or getting loud with me. Fight or flight kicks in. And, like karny, ima be as far away as possible while talking if im feelin some kinna way. I have every reason to respond that way. We all do. Its the norm for us to incur the wrath of men. (via bad-dominicana)
Reblogging for the truth in this thread. There are two men in my life who I know will never hit me. One is my dad, the other is a guy I’ve come to consider my brother. Everyone else, if you do anything that implies any sort of threat to my person, fight or flight will kick in because that’s what I’ve been taught. And, if I feel like I can take you in a fight, I will not stop until you’re immobile on the ground because then you can’t come after me when I run away.
Sorry, dudebros, but that’s how it is. I’ve seen some fucked-up shit happen to my female friends at the hands of Nice Guys(tm) and I refuse to let that happen to me.
As a man, I think the best thing I can do here is repost this for all of my followers to see and learn from.
You know, this makes me think that this is partly the reason why I always tense up and/or dissociate when my dad talks to me. Because I’ve absorbed this message too. Well, besides that my dad is emotionally abusive. Even once when I annoyed my boyfriend-who would never hurt me in any way-I freaked out when he said he was annoyed at me and it took me awhile to figure why I was so unsettled before I could talk to him about it. Ugh, I hate the world.
every time i see this post, i see so much more commentary that resonates with me. all these thoughts and feelings from so many people is really… well, it’s validating, because for so long i thought i was crazy for being afraid.
i had to have a hard conversation with someone i’m (sorta) dating recently, and i was scared to death. i was literally afraid for my safety and for my life. same thing as karn — stood on the other side of the room, though that wasn’t far, and up next to the door jamb with my hand on the knob, because even though i didn’t want to believe anything bad would happen… well, you know.
loud men scare me, angry men scare me, physically intimidating-looking men scare me shitless — all of these things make me feel like there is an imminent threat that i have to escape from, and that is so messed up, so very fucked up, and knowing i’m not the only one makes me feel—
it makes me feel human.
(and you know, i can’t help thinking about all the MRAs and dudebros reading this and missing the entire fucking point of how frightening this shit is for us, and how fucked up is it that that is all i can think about when responding to thoughts like these, and when voicing my own fear of hostility, perceived or otherwise, because deep in my neural net, it’s all the same fucking thing. most of y’all scare the shit out of me, and i feel like so many of the people reading this aren’t even going to give a second thought as to why that might be, and that shit is scary too.)