Response to “The Thing All Women Do That You Don’t Know About”

I was scrolling through my newsfeed on facebook, and I came across this gem: http://driftingthrough.com/2015/11/20/the-thing-all-women-do-that-you-dont-know-about/

Straight away from the title, figured it was a 3rd Waver post.

Before we get started – anyone here ever play Legend of Zelda: Link to the Past?  I know that’s a weird turn, but bare with me.  Link uses a mirror to transport between the “light world” and the “dark world”.  I’ve sometimes wondered whether or not these weren’t the exact same worlds… when link looks in the mirror, maybe he sees a part of himself that makes him reflect on all of his past actions.  Maybe he questions whether or not he’s really the good guy, and this makes his world seem “dark”… so when he looks away from the mirror, that’s what he sees.  A dark world.  It’s the exact same world, but everything appears different, because when your thoughts are dark, your world is dark.

The movie “A Beautiful Mind”, which was based on the life of John Nash, does a fantastic job of showing how a person can live in a completely different world from the rest of us.  I also explained in another post how people may genuinely be experiencing a mental health challenge if they walk around each day, truly, honestly believing, that everyone around them is a potential threat.

I work in mental health and have received numerous trainings in psychology, and I’m certified as a peer support specialist, as recognized by the state of Oregon.  So I handle topics that I consider might be related to mental health issues a lot more delicately.  If a person really is experiencing a challenge, it’s not something I want to be overzealous with.  Part of the 4th Wave movement is checking the 3rd Wave back into reality, and this is a major part of what motivates me.  People who are mentally and emotionally wounded, who are trying to recover, may have their recovery severely disturbed once they encounter a narrative that tells them all men are rapists, all men control everything, they’re all out to get you, you have to be careful because they’re everywhere, male gaze, man-spreading, man-splaining, so on and so on.

It actually saddens me to imagine what it must be like to be constantly scMental healthared everywhere you go.  You can’t get on a bus without feeling as though you’re getting stared at.  You can’t sit down because the guy’s leg is slightly taking up too much space and you can’t simply ask him to move over.  You can’t walk alone anywhere, because you think you might get raped.  You wake up in the morning and the first thing you do is start preparing yourself for what you believe is a horrible, horrible world, filled full of people who – for whatever reason – are all out to hurt you.

As for the article:

>> There’s this thing that happens whenever I speak about or write about women’s issues. Things like dress codes, rape culture and sexism. I get the comments: Aren’t there more important things to worry about?

^^^ Most of these claims have been refuted a thousand times by multiple peer reviewed sources.  I’ve probably linked this page more times than any other page.  It’s unthinkable how sexism is a rampant systemic thing, when as a woman, I can point the finger at any guy at work, at any time, say he’s harassing me, and HR will launch a full investigation.  Men can’t do that.  I can.  The wage gap is probably the second most common thing I link.

So it’s not that they aren’t important, it’s that they’ve been addressed, and have been refuted with peer reviewed data more times than creationism has been refuted by evolution.

But you still believe it anyway – and this is where we’re getting into the sensitive part of this.

>> We have all learned, either by instinct or by trial and error, how to minimize a situation that makes us uncomfortable. How to avoid angering a man or endangering ourselves.

^^^ If anyone out there reads this, and has had similar experiences, I would first ask why you’re uncomfortable.  Why do you think the interaction you’re currently having will anger a man?  Not a woman – specifically – a man.  Why do you believe you’ll be endangered?

>> We have all, on many occasions, ignored an offensive comment.

^^^ Most adults will encounter a situation where someone says something offensive – either because they don’t know they’re being offensive, or because the offending person is angry and is trying to get under your skin.  Sometimes the best thing is to ignore it and move on.  But if you’re ignoring it because you feel threatened, again, why?

Why do you walk around feeling threatened?  Do you feel this way all the time?  Walking in public, at 2pm in the afternoon, next to a park where children are playing… a man talks to you, and you feel threatened?

>> We’ve all laughed off an inappropriate come-on.

^^^ I get this all the time.  Men hit on me, and of course I enjoy it.  Why wouldn’t I?  A man is giving me his attention because he finds me pretty and attractive.  Why is that a bad thing?  Occasionally a guy might be *really* direct – but hey, some guys are that way.

>> We’ve all swallowed our anger when being belittled or condescended to.

>> It doesn’t feel good. It feels icky. Dirty. But we do it because to not do it could put us in danger or get us fired or labeled a bitch.

^^^ I’ve been living as a woman for 2 years.  I’ve gone to clubs, pubs, meetup groups, and I very frequently do peer support and outreach at the homeless shelters.  I go under bridges and talk with the homeless people who are there, and I do this by myself.  I walk across town pretty frequently.  I talk to whoever wants to talk.

I honestly can’t imagine why I should feel scared that someone – just totally out of the blue – is going to scream at me, or put me in any sort of danger.

Now, if I had experienced a severe and traumatic experience, like domestic violence, then I may be suffering from PTSD.  Symptoms of PTSD involve reliving the experience of the event when you encounter an emotional trigger (that trigger might be talking to a man).  But if you’re experiencing symptoms like this, or if you really believe you are in danger for no other reason than a man is talking to you, I strongly urge you to speak to a counselor.

>> It’s not something we talk about every day. We don’t tell our boyfriends and husbands and friends every time it happens. Because it is so frequent, so pervasive, that it has become something we just deal with.

^^^ No, it isn’t.  Men do not frequently beat women all over town all day long.  You may FEEL like you are always in danger, but you ARE NOT.  You are safe.  The men around you are normal people.  They aren’t going to suddenly attack you just because you spoke to them, or moved the wrong way.

>> Maybe they don’t know that men our dad’s ages actually came on to us while we were working the cash register.

^^^ It’s extremely rare that men sit and *stare* at your cleavage, generally because doing so would get reprimands from everyone standing around him.  It’s not considered socially acceptable.  I mean even if I go out wearing something low cut, and a guy looks at my chest even slightly too long, he’s likely to be corrected by someone else standing nearby.

You might feel you’re being stared at, but I’ve never in my life seen someone stand there and just *STARE*.  Probably their eyes dart down at your chest a few times.  This is perfectly normal and everyone does it.

What’s more, interpersonal skills is something we try to teach clients in DBT therapy.  If someone you don’t feel attracted to is coming on to you (happens to me all the time), what you do is politely tell that person to stop.  An example might go like this:

The guy: Hey baby, come on! Let me get your digits!  (asking for my number)

Me: No, I don’t want to give you my number, but thanks for your interest.

The guy: You know you want to. It looks like you’re about to! Come on, out with it!

Me: Sir, I don’t appreciate this. I’ve said no. I don’t mean to hurt your feelings, but please stop.

100% of the time, the guy stops, and doesn’t feel at all like he’s lost any respect.

It’s because I acknowledged that he was giving his best shot, but also let him know this wasn’t going anywhere, and did so with direct eye contact and a firm voice.  These are skills not everyone has, but interpersonal skills are things that everyone can learn.  If you’re not able to tell the other person that he’s coming on too strong or that you want him to stop, then there’s no way for him to know.  And there is absolutely nothing at all wrong for a woman to express her interest in a man – or a man to express his interest in a woman.

Another example might go like this:

Random guy: (From across the street) Hey there! How you doing sweetheart??

Me: Oh I’m fine, thanks so much for asking. 🙂

Guy: Hey come here for a minute.

Me: No thanks, I gotta go somewhere. Maybe some other time!

(-or-)

Me: *goes over to the person*

Guy: Hey can I get your number?

Me: Sorry, I don’t give my number out to just anyone.

Guy: Oh I’m too ugly?

Me: No sir, that’s not what I meant. If I knew you beforehand, like from work or something, then maybe I would share my number with you. That’s all.

Guy: Can I get a hug?

Me: No you can’t. 🙂 I don’t hug random people either.

Guy: Well alright then. My bad.

Me: Okay! See you later!

This person did nothing wrong by asking for my number. Asking me for a hug was a little rough and maybe lacking of social skills, but you know, there was a time when I lacked social skills too. I don’t blame other people for lacking them. Plus I was never in any danger.

I could be an insensitive bitch by telling him to get lost and storming off.

Some folks would point out that it’s not my job to make him feel better.

Not caring about other people’s feelings is exactly what “insensitive” means.   Being unnecessarily rude to others is what being a “bitch” means.

>> They probably don’t know that the guy in English class who asked us out sent angry messages just because we turned him down.

^^^ What gets me is if I like a guy, and he selfishly turns me down, all my girlfriends will give me total support and say what a total bastard he was for being that way.

But if he likes me, and I turn him down……….. then all my girlfriends will give me total support and somehow, he’s still a total bastard.

It’s normal to have hurt feelings when someone rejects you or turns you down.  Men line up for women and do everything they can to impress us.  They work hard so they can afford the most expensive suit they can find, will go so far as to rent and expensive looking car just for that night, then put on their best “game”, and from there we turn down the ones we don’t like and send them on their way.  We do the choosing, because we’re the ones with the agency ( … in a patriarchy).  But yea, this is generally how the dating game works.

But no, he’s not going to suddenly beat you up.  If this theory were true, then I should see men beating up women at least every few minutes in any club I go to.  Just explain that you’re not interested, with direct eye contact, a firm voice, and with respect, and he’ll get the message, and feel respected.

>> Not showing our suppressed anger and fear and frustration. A quick cursory smile or a clipped laugh will  allow us to continue with our day. We de-escalate. We minimize it. Both internally and externally, we minimize it. We have to. To not shrug it off would put is in confrontation mode more often than most of us feel like dealing with.

^^^ See, this isn’t normal.

Normal, average, mentally healthy people do not walk around constantly fearing assault this way.  I’m friends with lots of women.  We don’t all walk around being smothered by this air of oppression, feeling forever frustrated, holding in all these emotions because we’re surrounded by imagined dangers.

>> We learn at a young age how to do this.

^^^ BINGO!

Somewhere, somehow, you LEARNED this.  The idea that the world is a horrible, mean place, full of people who will jump out and harm you the moment you let your guard down, is a LEARNED style of thinking!  Its not how most people think and feel.

I met one woman near one of the homeless shelters who was convinced everyone around her was a pedophile, and kept her phone wrapped in paper and plastic because she thought people were using it to spy on her.  I’m not licensed to diagnose thought disorders, and I lack the training to do anything more than facilitate basic recovery.  But what I WOULDN’T do is start telling her that “yes, there really ARE pedophiles around here! They’re everywhere!  And they’re listening to your thoughts!”  That would only make her anxiety and insecurity worse.

>> We go through a quick mental checklist. Does he seem volatile, angry? Are there other people around? Does he seem reasonable and is just trying to be funny, albeit clueless? Will saying something impact my school/job/reputation?

^^^ Again, if you go through your day, honestly scared that every person you meet, may at any time, fly into a rage of violence at the drop of a hat, simply because they are male and for no other rason, please, please be aware that these thoughts are not in line with reality, and that you are not actually in danger.  If you are distressed this much, there is help.  Call a help line and ask where mental health resources are in your city.

>> It’s the reality of being a woman in our world.

>> It’s laughing off sexism because we felt we had no other option.

>> It’s feeling sick to your stomach that we had to “play along” to get along.

^^^ This honestly does remind me of the movie A Beautiful Mind.  The poor fella honestly, truly saw a little girl, an FBI agent, and a college friend – and 3 people that only he could see.  They walked around and talked, just like everyone else, and were so real that he finally only became aware when he noticed that the little girl he saw never got any older.

I met a guy on the bus the other day who told me someone was using sorcery on his leg.  I tried to talk to him about this – but I only ended up validating his concern that spells were being cast on his leg.  He got louder and louder, and shouted for the wizard on the bus to stop using sorcery on him.

When I stayed over at the Peter Paulson during my transitional housing, there was a person who was utterly convinced that magicians lived in the building, and they were attracting ghost.  He thought this was what made the building hot during the summer, and he’d often times leave his room, scared to stay inside, because of the ghosts the magicians were summoning.

Some people might read this and laugh, but I work with such people on a regular basis, and it’s terribly sad.  They cannot find any sort of peace.  They live in a completely different world than the rest of us, and their delusions, to them, are totally real.

If you truly believe you live in a world where men control everything, and you have to go through a mental checklist because you’re afraid someone might spontaneously burst into a venomous rage, I really do wish I could help you.  Hopefully this site may help counter some of this narrative and provide you with actual facts and statistics on these issues.  I was once terribly afraid of flying, but after reading up on the actual statistics and seeing that flying was the safest way to travel, I was able to get over my fear.  I’m hoping this site might provide a similar effect.

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12 thoughts on “Response to “The Thing All Women Do That You Don’t Know About”

  1. Interesting perspective. It does seem as though you’ve been fortunate in your encounters, but it’s important to point out that not everyone is. Either way, it’s good to have both point of views on the topic. Thanks for sharing.

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  2. I’ll keep this short, because I don’t usually comment on posts that I don’t agree with. You’re very fortunate to have avoided the unwanted attentions of men. I wish you well. I don’t even mind that you live in a fantasy world where all men back off as soon as you tell them to. I’d like to live in that world, unfortunately I can’t seem to find it.

    Also, it’s important to know that I know very few women who DON’T live in constant fear of being assaulted and a few who have been assaulted and somehow found the strength to move on. It’s kind of sad and insulting that you’re likening all of them to demented people and calling a legitimate concern a mental health issue.

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    • I completely agree with you. I have never heard of “3rd wave feminism” which the author seems to despise, but every woman I know has had to be wary of unpleasant interactions/potential assaults since they reached puberty.

      It must be wonderful living in this author’s delusional echo chamber, where you can just ask for the harassment to end.Where you can just ask that the poor, friendly men don’t verbally harass you while you’re going about your day. Where you can just “ask” not to be raped.

      Liked by 1 person

      • @athena Also, if you think A Beautiful Mind was anyway an accurate representation of schizophrenia, you’re the one who needs to go to a mental health professional, or at the very least, a library.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Yoki, and thanks for your thoughts.

      First, I’m not sure where I gave the impression that I have “avoided unwanted attentions” of men, especially when I gave examples of unwanted attentions and interactions in the post. I do occasionally get very aggressive attention, but the principle of asserting boundaries stays just the same. It’s not a fantasy. Looking someone in the eye and addressing them directly with respect and assertiveness makes them stop. Women generally aren’t taught how to do this, which is the problem. When they try, it usually comes out as them being shy, timid, looking at the ground, giving one-word answers, and hoping the guy will “take the hint”.

      I just finished reading one such account where a young lady had an encounter with a man, and the most she did throughout was look at the ground, give short answers, and “hope the guy will go away”. She never once actually said “I don’t want to talk”. Her method was to mentally will the man to leave, and hope that he was able to read minds. He did finally give up and leave. She describes feeling so helpless throughout the encounter, but never once actually told the guy she didn’t want to talk, or wanted to be alone, or wasn’t in the mood for company – nothing.

      If a woman has been assaulted and found the strength to move on, that’s wonderful! I’m not sure where in the post I insulted the process of recovery, or likened it to “demented people”. I did mention that someone who has experienced violence might have PTSD, and this would explain irrational fear coming from everyday interactions. This is a very understandable thing of course, and I was also diagnosed this way after being assaulted on the street and sent to the hospital in an ambulance. However, recovery does happen.

      Recovery can be disrupted and even halted entirely if the person is told that everyone, everywhere, may possibly harm them again at the drop of a hat simply because they’re male, and for no other reason. That’s why the 3rd Wave narrative is something that needs to be addressed.

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      • ” Looking someone in the eye and addressing them directly with respect and assertiveness makes them stop.”
        No, it doesn’t. I have done this. I have seen other women do this. It does not work. Also, why does a person harassing me deserve any respect when they don’t even respect me enough to stop bothering me?

        If you talk to a stranger you met on the bus, and they look at the ground and don’t respond in any way, does it mean:
        a) They want you to continue talking
        b) They want you to stop talking

        If that stranger then tells a friend of hers about how uncomfortable you made them, and their friend responds by telling them they need to be more assertive and respectful, are they:
        a) A delusional,victim blaming asshole
        b) A delusional,victim blaming asshole

        Sure, all men aren’t out to kill/assault/rape women. But enough of them are.

        Liked by 1 person

      • >> Also, why does a person harassing me deserve any respect

        ^^^ Well first, if the 10 Hour Walk through New York City is any indication, “Hello”, “God bless you”, and “Have a nice day” is harassment. That’s generally true with anything a man says in public when a woman is present. https://4thwavers.wordpress.com/2014/09/05/for-men-sexual-harassment-and-objectification-how-do-they-work/ — Even going “psst”, according to Hollaback (yes, even making a noise with your mouth) is considered harassment.

        These are documented examples, so they go beyond our claims of personal experience. A man could just as well say that his personal experience is that women harass him all the time, and they won’t stop when I ask them to, so he’s not safe when he goes out. No matter how much this conflicts with our worldly experience, and goes against everything we know in regards to how the world works, we can’t falsify what he claims to have experienced. So it remains only a personal claim.

        >> If you talk to a stranger you met on the bus, and they look at the ground and don’t respond in any way, does it mean:
        >> a) They want you to continue talking
        >> b) They want you to stop talking

        ^^^ It could mean they’re just shy. Maybe they’re lonely and depressed. Maybe they need you to touch on an interesting subject before they come alive and start talking. Maybe they’re apprehensive at first, but appreciate someone trying to talk to them. Maybe they need company. Maybe they don’t have any friends and wish someone would talk to them.

        There’s utterly no way to know. But all of that is instantly known the moment they look up and say “Sorry, I don’t want to talk right now”. 7 words, 1 breath, that’s all it takes. But that’s too much, and we have to resort to mind reading because asserting yourself to any degree, no matter how slight, makes you feel uncomfortable.

        >> If that stranger then tells a friend of hers about how uncomfortable you made them, and their friend responds by telling them they need to be more assertive and respectful, are they:

        ^^^ I’m sure you’d say delusional and victim blaming – UNLESS! That person was a man. https://4thwavers.wordpress.com/2015/09/05/does-feminism-empower-women/ . Because then learning to assert yourself would be the first order of business. If it’s a woman, she doesn’t need to learn self confidence, social skills, how to assert boundaries, how to navigate social situations, or how to advocate for herself. If it’s a woman, the entire world needs to walk on eggshells and be ultra super careful that we never make her “feel uncomfortable”. Which one would you say is empowering?

        Sure if my friend told me someone made her uncomfortable, I’d show empathy, but I’d also encourage the development of interpersonal skills so everyday interactions aren’t overwhelmingly difficult.

        >> Sure, all men aren’t out to kill/assault/rape women. But enough of them are.

        ^^^ Links / citations / sources or it didn’t happen.

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  3. I’m thinking generalities don’t help much. The blog post you respond to doesn’t say that all men are rapists, and my own experience has disproved your comment that any woman can go to HR. Fighting over generalities doesn’t do much to promote change of a culture in which domination is perped as a way of life — whether it’s white over black, male over female, cis over trans, etc. ad nauseum. And maybe that’s the point — as long as we’re getting frustration out via debating who’s right and who’s wrong, we can somewhat evade the impact of ways we’ve been enculturated, and the harm caused by that.

    I didn’t know anything about 3rd/4th wave feminism, so I looked it up, but the first webpage I read about it had a much less adversarial approach than your “Part of the 4th Wave movement is checking the 3rd Wave back into reality…” That page said, “Much like the Third Wave lived out the theories of the Second Wave (with sometimes surprising results), the Fourth Wave enacted the concepts that Third Wave feminists had put forth.” http://www.feminist.com/resources/artspeech/genwom/baumgardner2011.html

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  4. I am the author of the blog post you are writing about. I would like to clear one major point up. (This causes me to wonder if my writing wasn’t clear enough or if the perception of the reader is clouding their comprehension. Assuming my writing was not up to par, I’ll explain.)

    I do not walk around in fear. I am an independent woman. I travel alone frequently. I go to festivals, concerts, museums, walk the streets in a crowded city. I am not waking up fearful every day. What I was pointing out in this article are the times when an interaction with a guy turns ugly. Many guys will offer a nice “Hello” and I reciprocate. It’s friendly and even if it’s a little flirty, it is a nice thing to be friendly with our fellow humans. But on occasion, the guy will take my “Hello” that I respond with and get angry that I don’t stop and talk further. Or the guy that will mention what he wants to do “to you.” That’s not exactly cool. It reeks of entitlement and control.

    MOST men I meet and interact with are great people. I have always had a large group of guy friends. I have been in many long term relationships and have had wonderful experiences with every single guy I dated. I have been with my husband for 19 years. I’m not fearful of men. Not in the least. But have I had a boss hit on me, kiss me, grab my ass? Yep. Could I report it to HR? Not every small business has an HR department. Sometimes the boss that is harassing you is the HR dept.

    I only read the first few paragraphs and decided to address your misunderstanding. Hope my comment clears things up.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. You sir, are an totally utterly psychopath or at least autistic if you really think this kind of behavior, presented by male or female, is “socially accepted”. And, at least the writer of the reference article had the guts to write en public.
    Eva Kraan

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