The risk

Projects like Everyday Sexism and Hollaback are awesome, bringing attention to the problem of the pervasive street harassment that women experience.

But I can’t agree with this (the part I cited below specifically).

Guys who care about sexual harassment – you can help. When you see sexual harassment, call it out. If you see a guy wolf whistling at a woman trying to go about her day, yell loudly at him “Show some respect, asshole.” Let women and most importantly MEN know that you won’t stand for it, that women deserve better.

In such a situation, men are much more likely to be violently attacked than women are for speaking up. Why? Sexism, of course. A woman challenging a man (by most of these guys) is seen as inconsequential. To them, women are low-status. From their perspective, it’s like a gnat arguing with him. Terrible to hear, but it’s true.

But a man challenging these types? That matters to them. That threatens their status. A lot of them will respond with violence.

Most people – including most men — are scared of violence. I feel sympathy for this. When you as a male stand against these harassing men, your risk of experiencing violence goes way, way up, far more than a woman’s does.

I’d never ask anyone to possibly bring great violence on themselves for me as I have sympathy for that fear.

And also most women may not realize this or think about it (just as most men don’t realize or think about street harassment), but when you stand against a man or group of men in public as a man, you usually stand alone. No one will come to your side and fight with you. Often, no one will even look at you.

So when you open your mouth, know that you will be fighting alone. If you can’t accept that risk, probably best to keep quiet. I can accept that and have in the past. Such is life.

I am not a violent person by nature. But violence does not scare me — although perhaps it should — so I generally call out men who are acting like idiots and non-humans. I can’t help how I was born, though. My risk profiling is all screwed up. I know this. Can’t help it. Don’t be like me.

But I think it’s wrong to ask anyone else to do these scary (to most) things on your behalf. Most people piss themselves when true violent situations are cropping up. I think it’s morally wrong to ask people to expose themselves to such fear. I’d never ask that of anyone.

But here’s my dirty secret. I like confrontations. I like fighting*. If I didn’t worry about brain damage, I’d be in a boxing ring every day. Hand-to-hand combat training was my very favorite part of being in the army. However, I don’t provoke people and I am an introvert by nature. I don’t walk into fights. And I retreat even if people call me a coward because I also don’t like prison. But if someone pushes me and I have no way to escape (or my companion does not), then I will dispose of them as calmly as I do everything else. My nature is what it is.

I have no real point to this. Just that I think it’s wrong to ask someone to potentially get beaten, stabbed, or shot, no matter how much potential good it might do for society in general. There has to be a better way.

*Engaging in street-fighting recreationally, though, will lead to a very short life as there is always someone faster, smarter and stronger than you are. And even the best fighter has very bad chances against two or more assailants.