Leftist commentary from a mouthy bitch
This appears to have been removed from the CA NOW blog, so I thought I’d re-post it here.
Over at Kate Harding’s Shapely Prose, guest blogger Phaedra Starling wrote a post called “Schrodinger’s Rapist.” The comments on that one post closed at over 1,000 and then the mods shut it down. Subsequent posts discussing it logged another couple hundred responses, and it’s been widely discussed all over the web.
The post is directed at men, and attempts to explain why women react to them the way they do when strange men approach us on public transportation or on the street. It says simply that women often react with veiled or not so veiled hostility to men approaching them on the bus, train, whatever, because they don’t know whether or not you’re a threat and our entire lives are spent hearing about how we have to constantly be on guard. The author also offers tips for men on how to not appear creepy to women, one of the biggest (apart from “Don’t Rape”) being that if a woman is steadfastedly ignoring them in specific or everyone in general, leave her alone. If you start to talk to her and she answers monosyllabicly or in the negative, leave her alone. Etc…
Reactions have varied from “Right on!” to “How dare you accuse all men of being potential rapists?” to “You’re just furthering the mythology of stranger rape.”
Many (but not even remotely close to all) of the outraged responses came from men who were hurt that any woman would see them in all their awesome, good guy-ness (notice I didn’t say nice) as a threat in any conceivable way. Many men decried “How am I supposed to convince her I’m not a threat if I can’t go up and talk to her?”
Here’s the deal guys, and I’m thinking about one guy in particular, you don’t have a right to approach her. Seriously, those of you citing the First Amendment and Freedom of Speech, those words don’t mean what you think they mean. Many, many people have said it before and I’ll say it again: Your rights end where mine begin. This means that you emphatically do NOT have the right to try to force me to engage with you. If I’ve got my headphones on, holding a book or pda up in front of me and keeping my eyes glued on it, that means I don’t want you, or anyone, to talk to me, unless it’s an emergency like “That bus is about to run you over” or “Your hair’s on fire.” Your desire to hit on me does not trump my desire to be left alone. Period.
On the flipside, many men have also read this piece and said simply, “Duh.” My husband for starters. Thankfully.
This segues into something slightly off topic, but not really.
The hardest thing about writing about rape and sexual assault is not the writing itself. Nor is it the trolls who inevitably come out of the woodwork, on Livejournal there’s a guy whose username is Falserapeguy. Charming, right? I expect trolls. And yeah, sometimes when I’m writing about really intense and deeply personal things I do cry and shake while doing it. But the absolute worst thing is when my male friends out themselves as rape apologists or actual rapists. I’ve had this happen a couple of times.
It’s like getting punched in the gut.
I imagine that a large number of the women who read the Schrodinger’s rapist post and then gleefully showed it to male friends and family who then reacted badly had a similar reaction. Finding out that someone doesn’t think you, by virtue of your gender presentation, have a right to be unmolested in public, that they think their desire to try to score outweighs your desire to get to work on time and unbothered, sucks. Finding out that someone really doesn’t think you have all the same rights they have, sucks.
And for everyone doing the usual hollering of “What about the men? Bad things happen to men, too!” Yeah, they do. But that post wasn’t about that. It didn’t pretend to be about that. It focused on specific issue that is of importance to women and attempted to explain it to guys. That’s it. If you want the post on how guys can protect themselves from mugging or rape, or whatever, write it.