Hatter, suppose you have a niece or daughter about 12 or 13. What would you tell her about what she can expect from men in public as she gets older? Do you tell her nothing, and let her think it is her fault that she gets sexual comments and more from men she does not know? A grown man in a park holding a baby asked me if I wanted to f--k him. I was a skinny, ugly 13 year old. The man scared me to death, because I had never been prepared for such a situation.
You wonder if there is something wrong with you-- why are you attracting this? Are you supposed to learn to like it? You begin to think about how you dress, how you walk, what expression you have on your face. You hate anyone who seems to like the attention, and join in condemning the people who do end up attacked-- they were asking for it, right?
From the time we are little girls, we are taught that we cannot be as free to move about in the world as our brothers, because stuff--even if it is not clear what-- happens to girls that is less likely to happen to boys. And the way we are treated when we are out and about reinforces what we have been told. I have many other stories, some far worse than what happened to me on the bus. And I don't think I have been particularly unlucky.
How different life would be for men, if any time they left their house, they could expect that gay men would randomly call out comments to them from passing cars, openly assess their body parts, rate them as a 2 or an 8, sometimes try to touch them, proposition them, make lewd gestures at them, and so forth. Imagine how aggravating and exhausting that would be.
If you react negatively to any of this, you can be expected to be called even worse names or threatened with attack. Like the lady at the atheist convention. Sometimes the same sh!t comes from people you know, people you like and respect, so you don't know how to respond. Kick him between the legs? Right. You have to keep on interacting with the neighbor, coworker or friend's father. It never even occurs to you to tell anyone.
And women have less recourse when stuff does happen because of the power relation thing. Most women don't do anything about it, even when assaulted-- some don't even tell anyone it happened. Amazingly, it does not make women hate men.
After being assaulted by men, women continue to work beside them, befriend them, date them and marry them. Seriously, it is almost impossible for women to avoid men completely, even if they wanted to. So I don't get the "women over react and hate all men" crap.
What more is there to understanding the issue--it is a fact that women need to be wary of men. Men need to be wary of men as well. Men are the people most likely to do bad sh!t to other people. And being wary does not mean that women hate all men. We have been taught by experience and from accounts by other women to watch out. Any interaction with a stranger, friend, neighbor, boss or celebrity can turn sour.
The problem here is that if women are not wary of men, it is still the women who are blamed if something bad happens to them. Just like the lady at the atheist convention--she reports what happened and she is the one who gets the insults, the rape and death threats, not the guys involved. That is why most women don't tell. The accounts that get public attention are just the tip of a very ugly iceberg.
Now I have to teach my daughter how to deal with the comments and so forth she is beginning to get when she is out.