A #metoo story on the Red Line

Kara recounts an incident with a stranger on the Red Line last October.

His hand brushes my shoulder and he leans in, “Hey.”

I don’t say anything. I turn my head. “Sorry. I’m a little drunk,” he says. I’m still frozen. That’s when he reaches down and slowly strokes my boot from ankle to knee.

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    Comments

    ME TO

    By on

    Thank you for having the courage to tell your story Hopefully more women and men will report these perverts who ride the subways.

    stop victim-blaming

    By on

    The problem here is not that the victim of sexual harassment didn't know how to "properly defend herself".

    The problem is the person committing the harassment.

    False dichotomy

    That's a false dichotomy.

    By analogy:
    The problem is people who break into houses and steal stuff, and not inadequate home security.

    That doesn't negate the benefit of buying and installing good locks.

    If someone breaks into my house and steals my stuff, it is, morally, 100% his fault and 0% mine.
    It might also be true that I could have avoided the problem by installing better locks. Yeah, I shouldn't have to do that; I ought to be able to leave my door unlocked at all times; the need to go and buy and install locks and carry the key is an unnecessary and unfair cost that is imposed on me by criminals.

    But nevertheless, installing good locks is still a good and practical idea, and suggesting that I do so to reduce my risk is in no way victim blaming.

    By learning street survival skills

    The analogy would be to learn the currently recommended, supported-by-actual-data, best practices for dealing with harassing creeps.

    Once again, in a just world women shouldn't have to learn such skills just to go out in public, and once again, the incident, and the misery it caused, was 100% the guy's fault and 0% the author's fault. But in no way do either of those statements change the value of good evasive / defensive tactics.

    That kind of misses the point

    Yes, that's the solution to the problem. And it's how I raised my son as well.

    Now, what about my daughter?

    Wen she was tiny, we taught her body autonomy by word and by example. We taught her that we, the trusted adults in her life, would stand up for her. She knew that if she said, "Don't touch me," we would take her side, and sternly say, "you heard her." even if it was to a beloved relative arriving at a family reunion asking for a hug.

    Later, we taught her that not everyone out there is nice. We talked about strategies for dealing with unwanted attention. We reviewed scenarios: "where would you go if you didn't like someone who was following you on the way home from the bus?" (her 12 year old answer, btw, "Probably into the liquor store because they are used to dealing with rough characters....") As she got older still, our conversations about problem scenarios and how to deal with them became more nuanced.

    Yeah, it's too bad that not everyone raises their sons the way you do. And it's too bad that girls and women need to learn how to deal with harassment and aggression. But are you seriously suggesting that the kind of education we gave our daughter is misguided, unnecessary, or off the mark?

    Oh, and by the way, you ought to take your keyboard in to get that stuck caps lock key fixed.

    Save your ridiculous lectures

    By on

    Or, better yet, start LECTURING MEN about NOT HARASSING.

    Go away until you grow up and stop victim blaming.

    Please educate me

    Go away until you grow up and stop victim blaming.

    I don't believe in victim blaming. If you explain to me what victims I am blaming and what blame I am placing upon them, then I'll of course stop.

    This is ridiculous. You

    By on

    This is ridiculous. You shouldn't have taught her any of those skills!! Stop blaming her!!!!!!!

    What's so ridiculous about it?

    By on

    There's nothing ridiculous, wrong or victim-blaming about the idea of teaching a daughter, sister, cousin, friend, neighbor, or other relative skills in self-defense, as well as how to de-escalate a potentially violent situation.

    Omission is ridiculous

    By on

    The fact that we ACTIVELY demand that women learn these skills and modify their behavior while never ACTIVELY teaching men to not grope and rape is ridiculous

    What you mean "we"?

    The fact that we ACTIVELY demand that women learn these skills and modify their behavior while never ACTIVELY teaching men to not grope and rape is ridiculous

    First of all, I take exception to "demand".

    Second, your assertion that we don't teach men not to grope and rape is false on the face. Parents teach it at home, and it's been a conspicuous part of the message taught to my kids at school all the way from kindergarten ("Keep your hands to yourself,") through college ("Let's explore some of the nuances about what consent actually means, in a variety of contexts.")

    We shouldn't fucking have to

    By on

    We shouldn't fucking have to Bob. What is scary is that you don't see that you and your response are part of the problem b/c the first thing you did was blame her for not knowing how to protect herself.

    Please read again

    b/c the first thing you did was blame her for not knowing how to protect herself.

    Please look again; that was not me making that statement

    Relevance?

    The relevance of your comment regarding home security to an account of attempted physical assault, and a commenter's response referring to the victim as too meek and uneducated is what, exactly?

    there's a line that the commenter either did or did not cross...

    Responding to "My house got burglarized," with "Get a home security survey and install better deterrents." is one thing, and is not victim blaming. Responding to "My house got burglarized," with "You're an idiot for not having installed better locks, and this is your fault." is another altogether.

    Similarly, responding to a threatening encounter with a drunken creep with, "It's always good to have a plan in mind for such encounters, and to take a street smarts course," is one thing, and is not victim-blaming, and "You were too meek and didn't know what you were doing," is another altogether.

    I didn't initially read the comment as "you were too meek and uneducated," but, upon rereading it, I can see how reasonable people could interpret it that way.

    I find it funny....

    By on

    That you posited the poster was creating a false dichotomy (which, by the way does not mean what you want - a dichotomy is a contrast of two things that are opposed, so a false dichotomy would mean a valid equivalence) is quite ironic, because you went on to create a false equivalence (that's the word you're looking for, by the way).

    But good for you on your parenting skills.

    Definition of a false dichotomy

    That you posited the poster was creating a false dichotomy (which, by the way does not mean what you want - a dichotomy is a contrast of two things that are opposed, so a false dichotomy would mean a valid equivalence)

    A false dichotomy is not a valid equivalence, because "not opposed to" does not mean "equivalent to." For example, a classic false dichotomy is "either you practice religion X or you are a bad person." It's a false dichotomy because the two positions are not in fact opposed, there are plenty of "neither A nor B" responses.

    In this case, the false dichotomy being set up is that teaching our daughters to deal effectively with assault and harassment is somehow in opposition to teaching people not to assault or harass; that they are mutually exclusive; that if you are doing one, you are therefore not doing the other. The two are not mutually exclusive; it's certainly possible to do both; hence the false dichotomy.

    Here's a definition from a reputable source: http://www.iep.utm.edu/fallacy/#FalseDilemma

    Here's a more concise definition:

    "A false dichotomy is a dichotomy that is not jointly exhaustive (there are other alternatives), or that is not mutually exclusive (the alternatives overlap), or that is possibly neither. "

    http://wiki.c2.com/?FalseDichotomy

    Wrong

    By on

    The problem is people who break into houses and steal stuff, and not inadequate home security.

    That is, in fact, the problem. You are confusing problems with solutions. You can do that when you're talking about property theft and door locks, but when you're talking about human beings, you need to knock it off.

    Yeah

    Shame on him for posting thoughtful, well-reasoned comments on the matter

    Shame on you

    By on

    And shame on you for your poor reading comprehension. His statement:

    The problem is people who break into houses and steal stuff, and not inadequate home security.

    ...taken in context, claims that THE PROBLEM is in fact inadequate home security.

    Eh?

    Eh? What? How is it that when I specifically wrote,

    The problem is people who break into houses and steal stuff, and not inadequate home security.

    you say that I'm claiming

    that THE PROBLEM is in fact inadequate home security.

    I'm honestly just not following this at all.

    You're mostly right, I think?

    By on

    From your original post, made in response to the remark that the problem is the harasser, not that the victim didn't know how to defend herself adequately:

    By analogy:
    The problem is people who break into houses and steal stuff, and not inadequate home security.
    That doesn't negate the benefit of buying and installing good locks.
    If someone breaks into my house and steals my stuff, it is, morally, 100% his fault and 0% mine.
    It might also be true that I could have avoided the problem by installing better locks. Yeah, I shouldn't have to do that; I ought to be able to leave my door unlocked at all times; the need to go and buy and install locks and carry the key is an unnecessary and unfair cost that is imposed on me by criminals.
    But nevertheless, installing good locks is still a good and practical idea, and suggesting that I do so to reduce my risk is in no way victim blaming.

    So, by way of background, I have a friend who was stalked by her abusive lunatic ex-husband, who had a key to her house, and who entered her house at times when she was away, to (among other things) destroy some of her most cherished possessions. When it became clear to her friends that this was happening, we took various measures, including going to her house and changing/upgrading the locks. Obviously, I value preventative measures.

    But what we didn't do is tell my friend that she should have changed the locks last week. Not that you're doing that right now, not exactly...but #metoo is about women's stories about what happened, past tense. It's about making people aware that these things happened to every woman you know. They may not all be ready to tell their story yet (and they may not ever share it with you), but they all have those stories. #metoo is about hearing those stories and reflecting on them, for now. It's not about telling women what they should have done in the past, or should do in the future.

    I'm also not on board with "self-defense" as an answer. Physical self-defense skills take time to learn and constant practice to maintain, if you're going to use them effectively and appropriately. It's a substantial burden to an endangered person, to propose that as the solution. I practice martial arts, and every now and then we get a parent who thinks that martial arts are the solution to their child being bullied. In fact, they are a last resort. Physical self-defense is the last line of defense, when everything else -- appropriate child-rearing, socialization, establishment of boundaries, adults stepping up to stop inappropriate behavior rather than "letting the kids sort it out" -- has failed. And if your first response to your child being bullied is to take them to martial arts classes, you risk sending your kid a really bad message: the adults are washing their hands of this, kid, you're on your own. Only in the movies does this end well.

    This situation is similar. Telling women who have been victimized by harassment, without saying "First, we're gonna do the following things to curtail this behavior", to learn "self-defense", is an abdication of social responsibility. I am against it. Harassers need to stop harassing, abusers need to stop abusing, everyone needs to take responsibility for the culture in which these things proceed unchecked. Victims are not responsible for their victimhood.

    I sincerely appreciate your taking the time to write this

    And I completely agree with you that one should never say to a victim, "You should have done X, or been more Y." If learning how to X or how to be more Y are effective risk reducers, then you can learn about them as regards actions you might take in the future, not as regards actions you should have taken in the past.

    And I've been pretty careful not to say "self-defense," because that isn't what I mean, especially not in the martial arts sense. If my kid were being bullied, my first response would be to get whoever is in charge of the venue (typically the school) to control the bully and then, secondarily, to help my kid learn about the dynamics of bullying; how bullies think, how they identify victims, how they get away with it, etc. Once again, I implore people to hold in their hands at the same time two seemingly contradictory thoughts:

    • The problem resides 100% with the bully, and the solution is either reforming the bully or keeping the bully in a cage, and
    • Although none of the burden of dealing with this ought to be on you, it's still the case that knowledge will make you better at spotting bullies and less likely to be victimized by them.

    Finally, I'm really struck by this:

    you risk sending your kid a really bad message: the adults are washing their hands of this, kid, you're on your own.

    Whether it's a kid being bullied or a woman being harassed or abused, one of the most important things we can do is to say, "You're not in this alone, we're with you," and to back those words up with meaningful commitment.

    Thanks

    By on

    Thanks, Bob. Wise words. I applaud your commitment to making things better.

    Thanks

    By on

    Thanks, Bob. Wise words. I applaud your commitment to making things better.

    I sincerely appreciate your taking the time to write this

    And I completely agree with you that one should never say to a victim, "You should have done X, or been more Y." If learning how to X or how to be more Y are effective risk reducers, then you can learn about them as regards actions you might take in the future, not as regards actions you should have taken in the past.

    And I've been pretty careful not to say "self-defense," because that isn't what I mean, especially not in the martial arts sense. If my kid were being bullied, my first response would be to get whoever is in charge of the venue (typically the school) to control the bully and then, secondarily, to help my kid learn about the dynamics of bullying; how bullies think, how they identify victims, how they get away with it, etc. Once again, I implore people to hold in their hands at the same time two seemingly contradictory thoughts:

    • The problem resides 100% with the bully, and the solution is either reforming the bully or keeping the bully in a cage, and
    • Although none of the burden of dealing with this ought to be on you, it's still the case that knowledge will make you better at spotting bullies and less likely to be victimized by them.

    Finally, I'm really struck by this:

    you risk sending your kid a really bad message: the adults are washing their hands of this, kid, you're on your own.

    Whether it's a kid being bullied or a woman being harassed or abused, one of the most important things we can do is to say, "You're not in this alone, we're with you," and to back those words up with meaningful commitment.

    llb,

    By on

    Bob's responses are well reasoned and thought out. When someone gets attacked crossing a college campus, by way of example, the "authorities" always come out with suggestions such as "walk with a partner", "do not wear head phones", and the like. This is not victim blaming but ways to lessen the risk of being mugged.

    And your comment "you need to knock it off" proves my earlier posting regarding folks that try to squelch a person's right to free speech. Bob has done absolutely nothing, in his comments, that would need him to "knock it off". He has every right to his opinions as you do. You may not agree and that is fine.

    Bosh

    By on

    And your comment "you need to knock it off" proves my earlier posting regarding folks that try to squelch a person's right to free speech. Bob has done absolutely nothing, in his comments, that would need him to "knock it off". He has every right to his opinions as you do. You may not agree and that is fine.

    I'm sorry, are you suffering from the delusion that I'm in charge of this cite and can censor Bob? How, then, have I "squelched" him? Merely by pointing out that he's got the problem (those who commit sexual assault) confused with ONE possible solution (self-defense skills)?

    But I don't have them confused at all

    Merely by pointing out that he's got the problem (those who commit sexual assault) confused with ONE possible solution (self-defense skills)?

    But haven't I stated, from the first posting, front and center, that I believe the problem is people who commit sexual assault; that the fault lies 100% on the perp and 0% on the victim? And that teaching women strategies for dealing with it is merely a risk mitigation strategy and not the solution? Scroll back and take a look; I haven't edited anything. I'm not sure whether you're confusing me with another poster on this thread, or whether I've been completely incoherent in my writing, or what's going on here.

    Not only is this victim

    By on

    Not only is this victim-blaming, it assumes that even WITH training, a woman who is confronting an angry, drunk man twice her size can with 100% certainty take him down. I've gone through more than one self defense class, and in that situation I still say running is the better option. What if you don't incapacitate him? Do you go right for the eye-gouging and hope you don't get sued? It opens such a can of worms.

    Obviously self defense is something everyone should know, but fighting is a last resort.

    Maybe someday when women are getting raped

    they will at least be able to do so in a society that doesn't victim blame them.

    As I read the story, she didn't ask for help because she wasn't afraid enough. And she should have been!

    Saving yourself from a violent attacker is not self defense, martial arts or taking anybody down. It's about injuring or killing your attacker. Part of the education is to understand how quickly a social aggression situation can go where words are of no use, and to use words and get help while you have the chance.

    Pro Tip

    By on

    Instead of lecturing women about what they should do in your theoretical non-real universe ...

    START LECTURING MEN ABOUT WHAT THEY SHOULD NOT DO.

    I don't think you have the guts to start doing that, though. Easier to attack women ... again.

    It's a calculus

    Do you find yourself in this situation regularly? I have, and when I've been in this situation, here's what goes through my head:

    1. What will happen if I make a fuss? Will anyone actually engage or will they do the blank stare thing because they are afraid to (or just don't want to) get involved?

    (The first time I was grabbed inappropriately was in elementary school and when I complained, was scolded and told to stop making a scene and that boys would be boys. Nothing was said to the boy in question about appropriate behavior. I am not an outlier. We women have been taught to shut up and put up from childhood. You can know its wrong, but it's also hard as hell to deprogram yourself, particularly when the rest of society is much more comfortable ignoring that the issue exists at all.)

    2. What will this man do if I raise a fuss? Will he turn violent? (Men do sometimes, even when you try to be polite or low key about it.) Well, right now he's being creepy, but it looks like I can walk away from this intact, just disgusted and violated. Is it worth risking raising the alarm?

    My first time was in grade school and has happened regardless of city I've lived, urban/rural, whatever. It has happened regardless of how I am dressed or how closely I've aligned with conventional beauty standards. There are creeps everywhere and attention needs to shift from training victims to going after the perpetrators...who in my person experience have sometimes been "nice guys" I knew casually from the neighborhood/from work/through friends/or (worst of all) men I thought WERE my actual friends who thought that kind of behavior was somehow okay, sober or not.

    Women are making these judgements every hour of the day we are not in our homes alone...and well, sometimes, I'm sure there are women who are wondering about their safety then as well.

    Why not both?

    There are creeps everywhere and attention needs to shift from training victims to going after the perpetrators

    I'm very proud of the way we've trained our daughter to, basically, stand up for herself, and I wouldn't give that up for the world. I don't see why we should shift attention away from that. I also think we should go after the perpetrators a hell of a lot more aggressively than we do. We certainly have enough time, energy, resources, and love to do both.

    Because, as a woman

    By on

    IT SHOULD NOT BE MY GODDAMN PROBLEM TO "PROTECT" MYSELF AGAINST HATEFUL MALE BULLSHIT!

    No, it shouldn't

    No, it shouldn't be your problem to protect yourself against hateful male bullshit, or hateful bullshit from anybody for that matter.

    But, while we're working to rid the world of hateful bullshit, until such time as we reach that goal, in the mean time do you think it's better for women to study, develop, learn, and teach effective ways to reduce their risk, or not to do so?

    p.s. I genuinely believe you have something to say, and I'm listening to you. The caps lock thing makes it kind of a challenge.

    "We"?

    By on

    But, while we're working to rid the world of hateful bullshit

    "We"? Did you actually say "we"? In all your screeds of what the woman should have done better, apart from the case of what you teach your daughter, I have yet to see you taking any responsibility AT ALL.

    p.s. I genuinely believe you have something to say, and I'm listening to you. The caps lock thing makes it kind of a challenge.

    If you think "the caps lock thing" is a bigger challenge than listening to a man who has nothing, NOTHING to say about himself or other men taking responsibility, nothing beyond "it's too bad" that people don't raise their sons right, you are simply the most fragile, entitled snowflake in the entire fucking avalanche. You seriously need to check your shit on this one, Bob.

    What responsibility do you want me to take?

    In business situations I've led, I've generally received pretty good grades from women, gay people, racial minorities, and other traditionally marginalized groups for running a pretty inclusive, empowering shop. In any social or professional group I've been a part of, I have made it clear that disrespectful, objectifying bullshit, which some dismiss as "locker room banter," is flat-out unacceptable around me. I've raised a son who seems to be living by the same principles.

    What, beyond this, is the responsibility you're asking me to take?

    You really can't imagine yourself doing more?

    By on

    In business situations I've led, I've generally received pretty good grades from women, gay people, racial minorities, and other traditionally marginalized groups for running a pretty inclusive, empowering shop. In any social or professional group I've been a part of, I have made it clear that disrespectful, objectifying bullshit, which some dismiss as "locker room banter," is flat-out unacceptable around me. I've raised a son who seems to be living by the same principles.

    Hey, that's great! So, you've been an ordinary decent human being. But you're living in a culture that denigeates women constantly. You don't think you could do anything proactive about this culture? Like, not wait until it's in your face and in your home to deal with it?

    Well, that's your choice -- and this is a very important point, Bob, that it IS a choice for you. It's entirely optional what you do with regard to this problem. You can opt out, and the worst consequences you'll face are someone being mean to you on the internet. Because it's NOT YOUR PROBLEM. Because it won't happen to YOU.

    You could do more, and what it would cost you is less than what it would cost a woman to become proficient in self-defense. Less cost, less risk, more reward. Will you do it? Or will you opt out?

    Because it's NOT YOUR PROBLEM

    Because it's NOT YOUR PROBLEM. Because it won't happen to YOU.

    It is my problem. It has happened, is happening, and will happening to people I love.

    You could do more

    And I'm asking you, What?

    I think we're on the same side here. What do you think I ought to be doing?

    What you can do

    By on

    What you can do: listen, think, talk, support, organize. Some good ideas here, but summarized:

    • Think about your own reactions to situations where women are harassed (I'll just use that as an umbrella term for anything along the spectrum of behaviors). Notice how you feel and how you respond.
    • Listen when people try to speak about this. Listen in preference to responding and definitely in preference to retorting. Listen, then think, then (maybe) respond.
    • Speak up -- anywhere, everywhere, and to everyone -- against harassment. Too many people won't do this with a friend, a family member or a coworker, because they don't want to have conflict with someone they care about. By speaking up, you may stop this person from doing something that you will simply not be able to live with.
    • Donate your time, money and efforts. Rape crisis centers and men's anti-rape organizations always need your help.
    • Organize -- if you don't find organizations that you want to support, start your own!

    I hope we're on the same side too.

    I've been working on many of these

    I've been paying a lot of attention to the "don't be a bystander" message. I'm lucky enough (combination of inherent race/class privilege and where I am in my career) that I don't need to 'keep my head down', or 'go along to get along': I can pretty much speak up, in almost any circumstance, without a lot of personal risk or fear. And I do. Most of the time but not always. And the times when I've missed the opportunity to do so, kind of keep me up at night.

    LLB

    By on

    Do you have an, ahem, problem with men? 'cause this post really makes me wonder.

    Again, everyone has a right to speak. Bob's words are just as valid as yours. Bob does not need to "check his shit", my dear. Perhaps you need to get some good counseling for your anger cause you sound pretty fucking angry.

    Um whaduck?

    By on

    What, exactly, is your problem with women?

    Wow

    By on

    Do you have an, ahem, problem with men?

    my dear

    you sound pretty fucking angry

    Congratulations, you win the trifecta of talking down to women.

    Yeah sure

    IT SHOULD NOT BE MY GODDAMN PROBLEM TO "PROTECT" MYSELF AGAINST HATEFUL MALE BULLSHIT!

    And as a pedestrian, it should not be your goddamn problem to watch for traffic when you're crossing in the crosswalk with the light. But you're still dead if someone makes it your problem.

    That's nice dear

    By on

    Now, how about STOP DEMANDING THAT WOMEN NEED TO CHANGE TO "SOLVE" THE PROBLEM.

    Because solving VICTIMS does not solve the PROBLEM. Solving the PROBLEM solves the problem.

    And stop demanding that pedestrians need to change to "solve" the problem of bad driving.

    Are you at least capable of understanding that? At all?

    People aren't hearing each other

    Teaching pedestrians how to look out for bad drivers does not solve the problem of bad drivers, and nobody is claiming that it does. In no way does it shift blame onto pedestrians, or distract from the job of getting bad drivers off the road. And certainly nobody's demanding that pedestrians solve the problem.

    But teaching pedestrians to look out for bad drivers is still a good idea, is it not?

    You have learned nothing here

    By on

    nobody is claiming that it does

    We live in an ENTIRE SOCIETY THAT BLAMES WOMEN FOR BEING BEATEN AND GROPED AND KILLED.

    You simply aren't paying attention because you don't have to.

    Maybe I wasn't clear?

    We live in an ENTIRE SOCIETY THAT BLAMES WOMEN FOR BEING BEATEN AND GROPED AND KILLED.

    I know this. I've seen it up close and personal, directly affecting people whom I love dearly. What have I written that would lead you to think I disagree with it?

    Look, Einstein

    And stop demanding that pedestrians need to change to "solve" the problem of bad driving.

    1) I'm not "demanding" anything.

    2) I never claimed that pedestrians' behavior will "'solve' the problem of bad driving."

    I pointed out that if a driver breaks the law and runs you over, you may be in the right, but you are STILL DEAD!

    Can you understand that?

    If not, please find someone who can explain it to you.

    So true

    By on

    Kara writes: "But we all have these stories, don’t we? You reach a certain age and it becomes an almost regular occurrence. The unwanted attention, the words, the moment of fear, the looks, it all becomes normal."

    It becomes background noise after a while, until something like the #MeToo hashtag goes around and we're reminded that we shouldn't have to be dealing with this and it isn't what life's like for the other half of the population (with some exceptions).

    I doubt I know a single woman who couldn't say "Me too".

    This

    It becomes background noise after a while, until something like the #MeToo hashtag goes around and we're reminded that we shouldn't have to be dealing with this.

    This right there, to me, is the core. Progress is made by people whose response to "that's just the way life is...." is, "maybe it doesn't necessarily have to be that way."

    The problem

    By on

    is that it wears you down after a while. There are so many bigger related problems to deal with (yes, I hate being catcalled by construction workers, but I'm already trying to actively deal with guys groping on the T and the guys who molest and...)

    Having allies who will actively speak up when things happen makes an important difference - especially when you see men, not just women, saying "this is wrong."

    That's nice dear

    By on

    I see you lived to tell us all about it.

    Many women are brutalized and killed for fighting back.

    In Florida, women who "stand their ground" are prosecuted for murder.

    Happens a lot more than most are willing to say?

    By on

    From my experience sexual predation is as old as human kind. So old that it is internalized and assumed to be expected. How recent was it that in the US a man could rape his wife with impunity?

    What about the co-signers to sexual predation of family members?

    When I was a kid I had a family member who lived in apartment where she had 2/3rds of floor and a man (not someone that anyone in her family knew) had the other half. The bathroom was shared. The man was supposed to use the kitchen in a basement of the building.

    The man masturbated periodically masturbated in front of her. He would physically press himself upon her trying to force her to let him kiss her.

    He would only stop when her son heard his mother moaning "Oh no, no..."

    Her sisters and aunts (her parents were dead) knew that an unrelated, unknown man was living on the same floor. If confronted they would claim they didn't know what happened. It never occurred to them that a woman who doesn't have much agency, or self-confidence, should to be left to live with a male stranger.

    Her relatives did not even wonder why she did not want be in her apartment when her son was at camp in Boy Scouts. It didn't occur to them to wonder why she wanted to stay with one of her sisters when her son was gone for a weekend. Her husband had abandoned her a few years after the birth of her son.

    This sexual violence did not end until her teenage son, in his late teens, came home one night, and somehow knew that he could call the police.

    Why didn't the woman ask her sisters and brothers for help? Probably because she somehow felt that she was at fault. Her relatives went out out of their way to make sure she felt shame where any kind of sex was involved.

    So she spent 8 years of her young adult life fearful of this stranger's sexual predation. Her relatives did not wonder about the situation. Her relatives actually effectively gave the man permission to do what he wanted.

    Ironically one of the sister's includes in her likes both Jesus and Trump.

    What is the point that her son wants to make? That for centuries if not millenia girls and women have been told they are to suffer in silence. Don't fight back. Women are inherently sinners, daughters of the first sinner Eve, if a woman is not a madonna then she is a whore. The terms change but it's horridly consistent across the world.

    Kara deserves praise for sharing this story. I also hope she gets a bottle of pepper spray. Not because she should have to. She shouldn't. Yet there are depraved men in the world (there's one in the newspaper everyday) and when they act out they deserve to burn. (Note about pepper spray - it does not work against everyone).

    An observation for my fellow men

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    If you were sitting on the train, there's a real good chance you wouldn't have noticed anything was amiss. Ever notice a disparity between what the amount of sexual harassment you observe and the amount that is reported in #MeToo and similar? It's because these creeps are pretty good at this.

    They'll use a low tone of voice, or a buddy system (I've seen this! one of them distracted me while the other hit on my friend), act as if they're an acquaintance. They'll also do it more when there aren't other men around. I don't know how much of this is conscious and deliberate, but it sure is effective for avoiding confrontation and gaslighting their victims.

    I don't have a good takeaway other than I guess "keep your eyes and ears open" and also "believe women".

    Me too

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    Several years ago I was waiting for the green line at Gov Center minding my own business as most do when...waiting. I notice a shorter gruff older man puddling about and next thing I knew he was right there next to me - I could smell the beer and cigarettes on him.

    "I just want to tell you you're beautiful." He says. "Oh thank you" I reply. I'm terrible at confrontation and am too polite for my own good - too many years working customer service. He gets closer and closer to the point he has his arm around me and I'm wondering if anyone else is seeing this. It's gets to the point where our foreheads touch and his hand is going further down my back - I don't know what what to do, it was like everything went black and it was just the two of us (in the most unromantic way possible) and he tells me he's married but we should go do something. At this point I say, "No no I'm good, I'm in a happy relationship." He tells me he doesn't need to know and that I don't need him. The train is pulling up - the Lechmere train I need - I tell him, "You should get on, go back home to your wife." He reluctantly gets on and I sick down on a bench and realize I'm sweating - what just happened?! I'm mad at myself for not telling him off, for being polite, for no one else stepping in an old helping. I waited for the next Lechmere train in a daze.

    I forget about it every now and then but every now and then when I roll through Gov Center I'm reminded and it's like a shadow of sadness and anger. I hate that I have to worry if it's going to happen again and if I'll act as weak as I did in that moment.

    Hey now

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    Take it easy on yourself. Most of us don't have a plan of how to act in abnormal situations. I froze the first time i was groped on public transit, because i didn't have a blueprint for what to do. I still remember the guy leering at me as i fled off the bus onto a stop nowhere near where i needed to go.

    I took my anger&channeled it into a series of unpleasant what-ifs so i wouldn't feel so powerless next time. Forgive yourself for reacting totally normally (not "weakly") to a screwed- up situation.

    Not on you

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    Drunk people are less likely to react predictably. While it's not the most empowering reaction, being polite "keeps the peace." Speaking from experience, he could've got more aggressive or tried to follow you. Please don't be so hard on yourself.

    These stories matter a lot

    These stories matter. Bearing witness matters. Most men (myself included) don't have the necessary experience to understand at a deep level what this constant baseline of fear must be like. We know it's there, but hearing about it, putting ourselves in the shoes of the women we know and love, brings it home in some kind of visceral way that statistics just don't. The more of these stories I hear, the more I notice classic patterns of PTSD, which is a devastating, debilitating consequence of trauma. Real psychic damage gets done here, and the amount of loss and misery is staggering.

    At what point do women simply burn it all to the ground?

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    Especially for whyaduck and anyone else who thinks that women are "angry": you're fucking right.

    "I wonder why we sit by and let this shit slide, why we all grew up getting our bras snapped and our tits groped and our pussies grabbed and aren’t setting this whole motherfucking place on fire.

    "We will never be enough for them.

    "We better become enough for ourselves."

    I'm going to make the assumption here....

    ... that pretty much everyone on this thread, including the people who are yelling at me, and the people who are yelling back at them, is a fundamentally good person who sincerely wants to be part of the solution rather than part of the problem. Beating people up because their (entirely reasonable) anger gets in the way of their persuasive effectiveness, or because you don't like the way they argue, or because you think they aren't sufficiently woke, doesn't move anybody forward. At all. Fight the real enemy.

    Bob, you do realize

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    that this is not about you, right?

    You have done a great job hijacking this story to talk about how great and generous of a businessman and father you are.

    Good for you and whatnot, but I hope that in your brilliance and progressiveness and perfect-man-ness, you realize that you are still part of the problem. I know it's hard not to be the center of attention, but give it a shot.

    WOW!

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    lookit all these menz telling us wimminz how we should react, how we should behave, what's best for us.

    guess what? your need to constantly be the protagonists is a central part of the problem.

    be quiet. listen. learn. stop. talking. you do not know everything and until you have to live with the reality that every day is potential harassment in big and small ways (which later, men will claim is "nothing" or a "compliment" or call you "crazy" for objecting), you have absolutely nothing to say. look inward, deal with your own issues and help your brothers, sons, nephews, friends and colleagues to do the same.

    Let's follow this through,

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    Let's follow this through, because I see a lot of men here who want to help. If personal stories and hearing form friends and relatives helps you to understand the magnitude of the problem more than statistics, it's because this is otherwise a bit difficult to relate to, since it doesn't happen to you. This is normal and I'm glad for any man who has admitted this and still makes an effort. By that same logic, don't shout down women with your advice about how to handle these situations. You've already admitted that you inherently don't relate to or understand what is happening. Yes, teaching young girls that they have autonomy over their own bodies will help, and that is patently a good thing anyway. However, "self defense," in many of these situations, will make harassment drastically worse. We know this. You don't.

    Don't make women do the emotional labor of explaining this again and again. Please just listen.