Dear Eric, you know I adore you, but in this case, I have to say that you are completely and entirely out of line. If I say that I, a strong and confident mature woman run a constant threat assessment sub-routine, and that all other women do this, who are you to question that? If I quote multiple other women who say the same thing, why do you doubt that it is real? All women do this from the time they are 9 or 10. It doesn’t ever end. We have to constantly evaluate our safety in a way that men don’t. The fact that you don’t know this doesn’t make it any less true. The fact that the women you’ve known have never spoken of this means nothing. It’s entirely ingrained, and happens with no overt effort. Most women don’t realize it’s even going on — even as it clearly is. It’s just the ocean that they swim in. It’s what it means to be female in this culture.

This is one of those instances where you really should be quiet and listen. You don’t know what you don’t know — so stop imagining that you know what it’s like to be in my shoes (or that of my sisters) and be open to educating yourself. The World Health Organization says that by compiling and analysing all available data from studies designed to capture women’s experiences of different forms of violence, this report provides the first such summary of the violent life events that many women experience. It documents not only how widespread this problem is, but also how deeply women’s health is affected when they experience violence.

I’m not in constant overt fear for my life. I do however always evaluate every situation I’m in where I am alone with a man to determine if I am truly safe or not. Like I said, it’s mostly low level and somewhat subconscious, but that doesn’t mean that it’s not always in play. Every woman does this every day of their lives, no matter their politics, no matter their demographics. It is the reality of being female in this culture.

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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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