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Not getting it

I read this post in the Carnival of Feminists about women reacting to men harrassing them on the street. It reminded me of an experience I had in San Antonio.

The husband and I were returning to our car from a walk in the downtown tourist area at night. It was brightly lit and there were other people around. Our car was parked in the parking lot of a Denny’s. As we headed back a group of three guys was walking down the sidewalk behind us. They were loud and animated. They were walking just a bit faster than us so they were gradually getting closer but not passing us.

Downtown, at night, loud guys gradually getting closer. My every woman instinct was screaming, “Danger!” At the same time I could intellectually say that they weren’t paying the least bit of attention to us but that didn’t damper the emotional response. My eyes were darting around looking for other people on the street, who of course disappeared about this time. I was calculating whether to try to make it to the car or to go into Denny’s. At the same time I knew that I was with a guy. Not that he could do anything if we were attacked but he was a deterrant. Just thinking that got my feminist hackles up a bit and then I looked at him. He was strolling along without a care in the world.

By the time we got to the car the guys were right behind us and I was about jumping out of my skin. We got to the car doors and the husband started digging in his pockets for the keys. Every woman has been taught from birth to have your keys in your hand. I would have had those doors unlocked as soon as we came into the range of the automatic locks. Instead I was standing at the door waiting for the husband to find the keys while the guys passed behind me without a glance on the sidewalk.

When I got in the car I looked at the husband and said, “Guys have no clue.” He of course had no clue what I was talking about but is used to that and let it go.

I couldn’t decide what bothered me more – that as a woman I’ve been trained to have that response and suspect men who have no intention of harming me or that as a man he has the luxury of not having it.

It reminded me of a story I heard from a guy. He was late for an evening class in college so he was running down the sidewalk from the parking lot to his class. As he went to pass a woman in his way, she spun around and threatened him with mace. He said she scared him to death. What he didn’t seem to understand is that he had that affect on her first.

5 Comments

  • Autumn

    I think if it had been me instead of letting them walk behind all that time I would have pulled my husband aside and say in a loud voice. Honey let’s let these people get by, they don’t want to be stuck behind old slow pokes like us. Then again I tend to be to trusting of people and might have sensed annoyance instead of danger. I don’t let a lot frighten me though so I am not a good one to comment lol.

  • quiltpixie

    I had a male friend who finally “got” it when a comedian pointed out that every female, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 52 weeks a year is responsible something no man has to be responsible for — a vagina!

  • Turtleheart

    I totally get that. It infuriates me that as a woman in this world, I have to be so hypervigilant; but as Kati says, its an instinct that has developed to help save us from harm. Really sad, but really true.

  • Kati

    I can totally relate. And while this conditioned response most of us have is what saves some of us from abuse & harm, it’s sad that we must feel so insecure & watchful at all times, nonetheless.

    I’m laughing about your hubby being so cavalier with finding his keys & finding the correct key. Even in a perfectly empty parking lot, in the light of day, I still find myself digging my keys out as soon as I exit a building, and palming them in a way that’d make nice claws.

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