There is sort of an unspoken secret among all men that we are all aware of, and have always been aware of since the moment we became old enough to recognize our interest in women. It is something that is not frequently spoken about and therefore women do not usually have the same innate understanding of the issue. They may not even realize that it exists.
Here it is: It is terrifying for a man to approach a woman.
As (single) men, we find ourselves in the midst of countless women that we would like to talk to every single day. Whether it be passing in the halls at work, on the subway, or even just on Facebook. Yet, many rarely actually walk on up and just say ‘hello.’ Why is this?
Because it is not only scary, but risky. One thing men will not openly admit is that it genuinely does put our ego on the line, if only for a short time. Nobody likes to be rejected, no matter how confident they are in themselves. Even then, men may be intimidated by you or not really know what to say, so he will just say nothing at all.
Many times this may happen because he perceives her as unapproachable for one reason or another. Maybe she has closed off body language, maybe her headphones are in and she has her head down, walking swiftly. Clearly not a good time to try to start a conversation. Eventually, as we see more and more of these women, we reach a blanket conclusion:
Women are unapproachable.
This automatic assumption gives men even more pause when it comes to talking to a woman because he automatically thinks she will have her guard up, and most of the time he is right. But, why?
The answer is equally as simple: Men. Men are the reason why. Not the men who have genuine intentions to just start a conversation and maybe actually make an attempt to get to know her, but the men who make women uncomfortable every day on the street and give the rest of us a bad name.
Last night I watched an interesting segment on The Daily Show With Jon Steward (Please take the few minutes to watch it here). The segment followed Daily Show correspondent Jessica Williams around New York City as she did nothing more than walk along the street and document the experiences she had being constantly approached and yelled at by men. Subsequently, she gathered a group of women who had also experienced street harassment and discussed their experiences as well as mapped out all of the locations that they happened throughout the city. The frequency of how often women deal with this might surprise you.
What is the only logical response to this being a consistent problem? The answer is easy – ignore people. Put your headphones on. Put your head down. Make no eye contact. Look unapproachable.
Are we seeing how things are coming full circle here? Men become frustrated because they can’t meet women because they think women are unapproachable. Women are unapproachable because of men who are idiots. And the cycle continues on and on and on.
The reality is that most of these men are equivalent to a dog chasing an ice cream truck…even if he actually caught it, he would have no idea what to do with it. They are looking for attention, they are looking for validation, and they are probably so bored with themselves that any sort of reaction from a woman would add a little excitement into their lives, whether it be positive or negative.
But, “boys will be boys,” right? I don’t know about any other men reading this but I find this both insulting and degrading on a personal level. As a man, the thought that I cannot control my own hormones or outbursts around an attractive woman is essentially calling me a caveman incapable of a civilized coexistence with the opposite sex. Not exactly something I find to be accurate, and definitely not a perception I would calmly allow to permeate society. How about you, guys?
Are we supposed to just submit to the perception that if a woman wears a short skirt around us or whatever it is that she has the right to choose to wear, we immediately revert back a few hundred thousand years and start beating our chests and grunting nonsense at her to get her attention? And are we supposed to think it’s okay that women are feeling this way about us and therefore need to alter how they live their own lives just so we don’t harass them?
I think spreading awareness of just how prominent this issue is is important. If we stop allowing things like this to be ‘acceptable’ and just brush it off, the no tolerance policy will of course spread to other more serious offenses. These aren’t just some harmless statements yelled from a construction site, they’re an encroachment on a human being’s day to day activities which causes severe discomfort. Not okay.
What do you think are some necessary steps to take in order to help eliminate this problem? Have you had a direct experience with or witnessed street harassment? Leave your thoughts on this important discussion in the comments below.
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