All men are not predators but all women are prey. I know what other women’s experiences are because I talk to them and I read the newspaper. I too have known thousands and thousands of women, and they all have stories. Every last one I’ve ever talked to has stories — multiple stories. In the past year that topic has been talked about even more widely. I have two friends who are Trump supporters, and they have stories. Women from all over the country and all over the world say these same things. It’s not some political game to make men look bad. There are a lot of men in the world who would never do these things but there are plenty who will and do — hence the pervasive negative experiences of women.

“Why can’t we all get along?” Well, because little girls start getting sexually harassed on the street by adult men when they are 9 or 10, for starters. And a large percentage of street harassment escalates to following, groping, and assualt. Some it ends up in rape. So, girls learn from a young age that they are prey animals and that they have to always be mindful. It’s a threat assessment sub-routine that runs in the background all of the time. Unless you are a perpetrator, this has absolutely nothing to do with you and everything to do with the women who are victimized.

What the #MeToo movement has shown is just how universal these kinds of experiences are. It’s incredibly insulting and blind that you characterize that as some kind of bandwagon, rather than the coming to light of a truly horrendous actual problem. No-one talks about being traumatized as part of a fad. Your Menendez brothers example is specious.

Your rejection of statistics around all this is somewhat absurd, but no outside authority is needed. Ask every woman you know about when they first realized that they had to be careful around men, and how often they have been in situations that made them nervous, if not all out afraid. Ask your wife if she’s ever been groped by a stranger, or by someone she knew. Ask her if she ever thought twice about getting into an elevator with a man she didn’t know. This tends to be somewhat better for younger women, in that the culture is changing a little, but still, ask your female students about all of this.

My eighty year old mother had told me some of her stories around this subject, but recently she told me some more. One of them was going on a trip with her dad somewhere. They had adjoining hotel rooms. In the middle of the night the bellhop let himself into her room , although she woke up and screamed. None-the-less, her father (who was the world’s kindest soul) asked her what she had done to encourage him. In other words, how had she led the bellhop on, and also how much that hurt her, but also showed her the lay of the land in the world around things like this.

The next year she went to her regular doctor for a checkup and he French kissed her in the middle of the exam. She pushed him away, and went home and told her mother, who said there was nothing they could do as far as reporting it, because the doctor would deny it and no-one would believe her. But she did say to always request a nurse in the room in the future. All my life, when I’ve seen doctors (either male or female) there is always a nurse present also. Apparently, this was enough of a problem and enough people complained that formal procedures were put in place to stop it.

Have you ever walked a woman to her car after an evening out together or after an evening meeting? Why is there a need to do that? Why is purse-sized mace or pepper spray an item that is even on the market? Why are there women’s self-defense courses? Why are women not advised to jog with headphones in? My sister just started a business to train women how to handle guns safely so that they can get carry permits. She trains a lot of realtors because that’s a place where women are particularly vulnerable — in a house with a stranger.

Comedian Dave Chappelle tells a story about being involved with drugs when he was younger, and at one point having to walk home at night with thousands of dollars. He said he understood for the first time what it must be like to be a woman.

Here are just 34 things women do to “stay safe(r).”

1. Walk with our keys grasped between our fingers in case we need to use them as a weapon.
2. Making sure to have the correct key out and ready before we get to our door
3. When someone is walking closely behind us on the street, we stop to pretend to make a phone call or otherwise occupy ourselves to allow them to pass in front of us.
4. Walk past our destination, particularly if it’s our home, if someone has been trailing us for a while.
5. Scope out potential safe havens if someone appears to be following us.
6. Stay in well-lit areas at night even if it means taking a longer route.
7. Switch up our running routes to avoid potential stalkers learning our route.
8. Change direction if a car appears to be following us while we’re walking on foot.
9.Run outdoors with only one earbud in to keep the other on our surroundings.
10. Pretend to listen to music while walking by men who attempt to engage with us.
11. Change the locks when housekeys are misplaced.
12.Take alternative routes to avoid areas we know we are likely to face street harassment.
13. Cross the street when we see men who look like they might be drunk.
14. Late at night, cross to the other side of the street when anyone is walking towards us.
15. Avoid eye contact with men trying to get our attention.
16. Decide the cost of a taxi is worth it.
17. Avoid entering stairwells or elevators occupied by only one other person who is a stranger.
18. Text a friend before going out for a run or on a date with a stranger.
19. Avoid social situations if a man whose prior advance made us uncomfortable might be there.
20. Decide not to open Facebook messages from unknown men, who could see the message has been “Read” and become hostile and harassing.
21. Never open the door for someone we’re not expecting and stay still until the doorbell stops ringing.
22. When bringing heavy bags and packages into the house or apartment, locking and unlocking the door with every trip.
23. Avoid sleeping naked in case of an intruder or on-looker.
24. Buy pepper spray: for the purse, for the car, one for the home.
25. Make sure we’re not the only woman on the subway car or bus.
26. Avoid getting off at our bus or train stop if a man who has been staring exits at the same time.
27. Check our mirrors frequently while driving, noting characteristics and license plate numbers of cars trailing close behind.
28. Driving in a circle if we sense we might be followed.
29. Park next to a light post when it’s dark outside.
30. Wear a hoodie when driving late at night to appear male to other drivers.
31. Check for an official city medallion number when entering a taxi.
32. Never leave a drink unattended at a party.
33. Run outside in baggy clothes, even if it’s hot, to decrease the chances of unsolicited commentary on our anatomy.
34.Making sure we have enough cell phone battery life before leaving one location to last until we get to another.

Dispelling cultural myths with research-driven stories. My favorite word is “specious.” Not fragile like a flower; fragile like a bomb! Twitter @ElleBeau

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